October 20, 2003


The Following message (you may need to click "Continue Reading ICSTIS") is most of a message from ICSTIS regarding a message I kept receiving from a company saying I Had won money and to call them on a Premium rate number.

I was suspicious, so when I got a 3rd, I complained to ICSTIS. Although it took them a while, they eventually replied to me!

Dear Sir

Unsolicited text message marketing

I am writing with reference to your complaint about the receipt of an unsolicited text message which advised the recipient that they had won a prize and asked them to dial a premium rate number in order to make a claim. Please accept my apologies for the delay in my reply which is unfortunately due to a backlog of complaints.

ICSTIS supervises both the content and advertising for premium rate services. ICSTIS develops and applies a Code of Practice to the companies which operate premium rate services (service providers). These companies are bound by their contract with the network operators such as BT, Cable & Wireless and Vodafone to comply with the requirements of this Code. Premium rate numbers are usually prefixed with the 090 code.

For some time now ICSTIS has been receiving a significant number of complaints from recipients of unsolicited text message marketing. Some complainants contest the claims made in these text advertisements, while others object to or even take offence to the subject matter. However, most complainants simply express aggravation at the undue inconvenience of receiving unwanted unsolicited text messages. In our experience the companies who advertise by unsolicited text message appear to obtain recipients> '> mobile telephone numbers using one or more of the following methods:

* Random dialling of 07 number ranges.

* From recipients who have previously requested aftermarket ringing tones or
logos to be sent to their mobile telephone.

* From people who pass on their > '> friends> '> mobile telephone numbers for > '> recommend a friend> '> marketing schemes of various sorts.

* Purchasing lists from brokers - the numbers held by list brokers are obtained from an almost infinite range of sources.

In recent months we have used our emergency powers against a number of companies who have been advertising services which appear to be in clear breach of the ICSTIS Code, such as those which claim that the recipient has won a prize of some monetary value when this is not the case. These messages often imply an unnecessary sense of urgency for responding and often fail to clearly identify the cost of a call and the identity of the company providing a service. Most fail to provide information on > "> terms and conditions> "> which consumers need to see before deciding whether to dial a premium rate number or text a premium short code.

Our emergency powers allow us to require the suspension of a service prior to an adjudication being made on a case by the ICSTIS Committee. In all recent cases involving services of this kind, our investigations have resulted in the continued suspension of services and the imposition of substantial fines.

The service you have identified is one which is known to us. It has been the subject of other complaints. I can assure you it is under investigation. Based on what we have seen it is likely that breaches will be found and that any adjudication will result in a fine and bar on the company involved. Details of the ICSTIS adjudication will be available on our website www.icstis.org.uk .

If you wish to purse redress or to ensure that your details have been removed from a company> '> s data-bases, should contact the company responsible for the > '> service> '> and message in question at:

Lifestyle Promotions
Suite 8
2 Crawford Hall, Western Road
Co Cork Contact: Keiron Fallon
Republic of Ireland Tel: 00 353 861 694 485

With reference to the general issue of text messaging, unlike telephone calls, faxes and terrestrial mail, currently there is no method of blanket barring unsolicited marketing text messages. ICSTIS is currently liasing with the relevant lawmakers - The Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) - regarding the legality of text advertisers targeting recipients who are already TPS (Telephone Preference Service) registered. In the meantime, ICSTIS > advises complainants to register their mobile numbers with the TPS. The TPS are available on 020 7291 3300.

If recipients still receive text messages after registering with the TPS, they may contact the OIC on 01625 545 700 to register a formal complaint.

We are also working with mobile networks to prevent spamming and with Oftel to send the message out to all premium rate call-terminating networks that they should not make numbers available for any services of the kind described, without proof that the service has been viewed by ICSTIS.

I hope that this is clear and we would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Posted by Gadget17 at October 20, 2003 07:04 PM | Symbian/Phone | TrackBack
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