ACCC Gets Tough On Dodgy SMS Services

ACCC Gets Tough On Dodgy SMS Services
txtmessageIf you’ve ever thought those tiny disclaimers on “premium” SMS services were irresponsible and deceptive, you’re not alone — the ACCC is now hunting down advertisers who promote such services without making it clear what sort of fiscal hole the purchaser is digging for themselves.

Back in May the ACCC announced new regulations for premium SMS providers, but it is already cracking down on the advertising of such services. Last week it announced two prosecutions relating to inadequate disclosure of terms as acting chairman Peter Kell explained:

The busy layout of the advertisements appearing in youth magazines, combined with the inadequate and inappropriate use of fine print disclaimers, is misleading and in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974 Of particular concern was that the advertising did not adequately disclose the nature of the services being offered and their costs. Consumers would unknowingly be subscribing to an ongoing and costly service rather than acquiring a one-off purchase of a particular ring-tone, wallpaper or game. Preying on unsuspecting consumers, especially youth, is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

If you’re trying to track a mysterious SMS charge on your bill, check out 19 SMS. Picture from Wikimedia Commons


  • Bout time, I have a 42″ plasma watching these commercials in digital and still cant read the fine print, hate to think what it looks like on an “average” size TV.

  • I had a staff member show me a scratchie she got from a magazine – she said she’d won travel vouchers and needed to use my phone to text her details to receive them.

    Of course, the fine print on the back indicated I’d spend around $30 before she received her ‘holiday vouchers’.

    Googled the company associated with the vouchers and saw even more dodgyness – holidays stuffed up because of the company behind them.

    I told her flat-out ‘no’, and the reasons why, and she still went out next pay-day and put credit on her phone just to get this amazing ‘deal’.

    About time they were smacked upside the head by the ACCC.

  • @mentallyimpaired: Are you out of your skull? In one breath you say you researched it, found out how dodgy it was and warned your staff member about it and that she went and did it anyway – and in the next say that it’s the business that needs to be smacked upside the head!

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? We’re all so happy to vent our spleens at what is, in essence, a scam that can cost you very little, while we do nothing about big business, like banks and phone companies who truly scam you for big bucks.

    Because it’s too damn easy to go after something like SMS – it has no real value or use. But going after the ones who actually rip you off for thousands, no, that’s too hard.

    Best to just rage impotently about things that don’t really matter.

  • I am going to hunt down and sue the crap out of GameOn Trivia company which gave me lots of 191900 messages which I didn’t even suscribe to.
    GameOn or whoever did this, I am going to kick your phony little a**.

  • That IQ Quiz banner ad on Facebook should get the arse too. My Mum did it thinking I’d sent it to her, which was a reasonable assumption, given my picture was pulled from her friends list and plastered on the ad as an implied endorsement. Within hours her mobile was filled with 19-number sms messages.

    I advised her to go to the Telstra Shop near her and have premium SMS blocked from her number and the problem has apparently been solved. Kinda disconcerting that the guy at the shop didn’t bat an eyelid and said “It happens all the time” though.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!