Premium rate telephone services
Since 2010 premium rate phone services in Ireland are regulated by ComReg (Commission for Communications Regulation). Comreg operates through a strict Code of Practice, which all service providers in Ireland must comply with.
ComReg is also required to assure consumer protection when using national or international premium rate services and to also set in place procedures to deal with consumer complaints that arise from using these services.
What are premium rate phone services?
Premium rate phone services are services you can pay for using your phone credit or phone bill. Premium rate means the numbers cost more to call or text than other numbers. Examples of premium rate phone services include:
- TV voting
- Charity donations
- Quizzes and competitions
- Advice and Entertainment services
- Ringtones and wallpapers
Premium rate phone services are sometimes called Information Services and have a unique 15 prefix, for example, 1530 or 1515.
There are also Premium Rate SMS Services (known as PSMS) and these are recognised by a 5 digit Short Code beginning with the number 5.
You can access premium rate services through fixed-line phones, mobile phones, the Internet, auto-diallers on personal computers, interactive digital TV or fax. The services are advertised in print media and on TV, radio and the Internet.
Calls to premium rate services cost more than ordinary phone calls and each prefix has a specific call cost. Call charges from mobile phones are generally higher and the cost varies according to your mobile network operator. Premium rate call charges will be on your phone bill and are generally listed separately. The overall charge to the consumer is shared between the network operator, the service provider or anyone else who contributes to the provision of the service.
If you would like to have all premium rate services barred from your phone, you should contact your telephone service provider. Some phone service providers provide this service free of charge.
Unsubscribing from a text service
If you want to unsubscribe from a Premium Rate SMS Service you should:
- Reply by text on your mobile to the last message you received
- Send the word STOP
If you do not have a 5 digit number to send it to, ask your mobile phone network operator for the number attached to the last message you received. You should be unsubscribed within 48 hours of texting the word STOP.
Service Providers must comply fully with the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 2018, (and any amendment or replacement legislation) for the collection, processing, keeping, use and disposal of personal data.
Services that collect your personal information, such as names, addresses and phone numbers (including calling line identification or caller display information) must tell you why they need this information. You must be notified if your information is used for any other reason and given the opportunity to stop this.
Advertising of premium rate phone services
The advertisement of premium rate phone services in Ireland on TV, print media and radio and online must comply with standards to protect consumers. For example:
- No premium rate service may be promoted as being "free"
- No product or service may be described as "free" if you can only get it by using a premium rate service
Premium rate services must be authorised by ComReg. Network operators must not issue a Premium Rate Number or a SMS Short Code until they get the ComReg letter of authorisation.
If a service is not aimed at children, it must have an age warning. This applies especially to competitions, all chat or dating services, ringtones and Logos, games and all subscription services.
If a service requires you to receive a price warning when you spend a certain amount, you must be notified when you spend that amount.
Service providers must provide a consumer helpline with a live operator to handle consumer queries and complaints. This helpline must operate during normal office hours
How to make a complaint
If you have a complaint or concern, first contact the premium rate service provider with your complaint. If you are not satisfied with their response you can make a complaint to ComReg. Complaints must be made within 9 months of use of the service, however, exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the Regulator. All complaints are dealt with in confidence.
Disputes about the call cost of a premium rate service cannot be dealt with by ComReg. You will need to get in touch directly with the service provider to make your complaint.