Don’t get sucked in by premium mobile phone content

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning this week to providers of ringtones, games, wallpapers and other “premium” mobile content, noting that “attempts to distract and confuse so that consumers cannot make informed choices are not acceptable”. At the same time, it reminded consumers not to dive into these deals without careful consideration:

Television advertisements with small print disclosure and busy or distracting images and magazine advertisements featuring tiny print and confusing clutter mean that many consumers would not appreciate the significant ongoing costs they could incur by simply texting in to the number on the screen or in print.

While this may seem obvious advice, it’s worth reinforcing in an era when people will rush out to buy the latest fashionable phone and its accessories (though arguably one advantage of the iPhone is that it doesn’t work with most of these providers). If you want to make your own ringtones instead, here’s how to get it done for Windows and Mac users.


  • It’s worth noting that almost all of the content you see advertised on TV and magazines by the PremiumSMS companies is available on the official telco WAP decks for a once off no-strings attached price (almost always cheaper too.) be it Planet3, BigPond or OptusZoo.

    Say what you like about their broadband, data, fixed line and mobile contracts, but when it comes to mobile content, ringtones, wallpapers, etc you won’t get ripped off $60 for a crappy wallpaper (only $2) by buying from the big three.

    And as a plus, if you think you been ripped off or decieved, you can always call them on an Australian number, during Australian business hours and get any problem sorted.

    *Self confessed telco employee

  • Perhaps they could change the guidelines for television advertising for mobile phone content. I am thinking that perhaps they could do something similar to the authorisation messages at the end of political content; black background, white text, read aloud. Nothing else on screen.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!