Highway robbery

I almost went for “Hightech robbery” but actually, it’s not that hightech at all. Just send a premium rate reverse charge SMS text message to someone who didn’t ask for it and collect. Who on earth thought they would be a good idea?! Especially when they arrive without any chance to accept or reject them before the money is taken. Even worse, there’s no way to stop it keep happening: Vodafone won’t let me block any future reverse charge messages to my account. So every time it happens you have to look up the number on the ICSTIS site (try 80122 or 81404 for example) to attempt to get a refund.

Magic.

Your mobile account is being treated like a debit account for ‘services’ (not that I even got a ring tone for the money) without any of the protection of a bank account. I’ve wasted the entire evening writing to Vodafone, the two companies who stole money, ICSTIS, and my MP. I’ll also be writting to OFCOM and possibly the Information Commissioner’s Office. Wonder who will reply first… I don’t think Vodafone have ever replied to me in writing, I’m not holding my breath for Tanla Mobile Ltd or Zamano Ltd, and I suspect ICSTIS, OFCOM and the Information Commissioner’s Office are going to be completely disinterested. MPs are usually pretty good though, and I did actually vote for this one; maybe I should have mentioned that in my letter!!

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9 thoughts on “Highway robbery

  1. Wow. That… sucks.
    I had great fun dealing with Carphone Warehouse a while back. I suspect you will have the same dealing with Vodafone. Good luck. The threat of major legal stuff (OFCOM etc) might help.

  2. Well Vodafone got their letter on September 29th so will give them a few days before chasing them up.

    (Obviously I’m not expecting a written reply, which is a subject for a future post I think!)

  3. I’m in disupte with T-Mobile at the moment over £100.50 of reverse charge SMS. I have cancelled my direct debit with them and only pay legitimate charges. The culprit, Zamano.

  4. Seems like reverse charge SMS is just a license to print money! Out of interest, do T-Mobile allow you to block future reverse charge SMS texts?

    Amusingly I got a voice mail from one of the SMS companies (at least it’s amusing until I discover I got charged to receive it I guess!) asking me to phone them to provide an address for a refund. Not quite sure why they need my address- didn’t seem to be necessary for taking the money. Makes me wonder whether Vodafone contacted them though, since they would have had my address if they had received my letter.

    Another thing that occurred to me is that if I wanted to find out what reverse charge messages I’d received on a regular basis, I would have to pay Vodafone £1 a month to get an itemised bill. Seems very much like paying to get a receipt/invoice.

    Still, I’m sure that the letter explaining how Vodafone are going to address the problem is just stuck in the post at the moment…

  5. Pingback: Highway robbery - update « Notes from a small field

  6. I had a similar issue with Zamano, I have never heard before of this companies existences, my phone company is Orange. Orange all the other phone companies collabrate with Zamano. It is a publicly approved robbery. Best way to kick their asses is, “mention that you want to go a small claim court”. You will hear from them immediately. I hope this helps. I managed to get my 25 pounds from Zamano. It works. :=)

  7. Fortunately I didn’t have to mention the small claim court to Vodafone before they refunded me (Zamano never did respond) but that’s certainly a good option. I’m pretty sure none of the companies involved would want to go near a court because they know they don’t have a leg to stand on. It would be much nicer not to have to be charged in the first place though so I’m still plodding on with various complaints. Next on the list is trading standards, who have been very helpful in the past. Failing that, a letter to Watchdog maybe!

  8. T-Mobile were the first UK mobile Telco to allow you to block these reverse charged texts, have done so for many many years.

  9. That is interesting, thanks for letting me know. I might give Vodafone another call to see if they offer the same service now. If they don’t, I could be tempted to sign up with T-Mobile. What are they like as a phone company in general?

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