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Old 08-February-2004, 20:50
dantodan
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Default Beware this SCAM.../ Mega Downloads & 1000 Games

Does this e-mail letter look familiar to you? If so then you and I have been the victims of a very dodgy website promising free downloads of software and / or games only to find that we have been charged 1.50 per minute to obtain the software which is actually free elsewhere and costs 0.00 per minute whilst it is downloading. In other words I have been conned to the tune of 325.00



9 January 2004

Dear Mr John Skinner,

Online Service - 'downloads' - 0909 792 7979

I am writing in response to your complaint about the charges you have incurred as a result of a connection to a premium rate number to notify you of the outcome of our investigations.

As you may now be aware, ICSTIS is responsible for supervising the content and advertising of all live and pre-recorded premium rate services in the UK, (that is to say, services which begin with the digits 090). ICSTIS ensures that the companies providing these services abide by the Code of Practice.

I will start by explaining how compliant premium rate internet services operate and I must advise that the charges which appear on your bill were made from your PC to chargeable content on the internet that would have been made accessible through a piece of software called a dialler. The individual accessing chargeable material is connected to a site on the internet through your usual ISP (internet service provider), and will be required to download the software to gain access to specific material promoted on the website. In order to view the material through the premium rate dialler, the PC user will be required to disconnect from their usual ISP and double click on the dialler icon that would have appeared on the screen.

In effect the dialler re-routes the PC user to restricted areas of the internet through a premium rate number which becomes a temporary ISP. The dialler will only connect to the chargeable material at premium rate once the PC user has agreed to specific terms and conditions. PC users are required to positively confirm that they accept the call charges detailed, and confirm that they are over 18 and have permission from the billpayer to use the service. Entry will be denied unless these conditions are agreed too.



Cont/...

-2-


Once access has been gained to the chargeable material, an on screen clock will inform the user of the time spent on the site, along with the accumulating costs. At 20.00 of call spend, the maximum cost currently permitted by the ICSTIS Committee for a single call to an internet service, or approximately thirteen minutes at a charge of 1.50 per minute, the site should disconnect automatically and users are required to re-dial, once again confirming the terms and conditions, in order to continue viewing the material. Should the PC user wish to disconnect before this time they can do so by closing down the application.

Once the application has been closed, the normal ISP replaces the dialler and access to the internet is charged at the normal rate. The dialler will remain on your PC as a piece of software until such a time as it is deleted.

Having said that, ICSTIS received a large number of complaints from consumers who stated that they had been downloading games, music or software and that in doing so, they had accessed chargeable content on the internet through a dialler. The dialler appears to have been downloaded from one of two websites that are known to the Secretariat called www.10000games.co.uk and www.megadownloads.info. Complainants stated that they were not aware that software which enabled access to chargeable content had been downloaded to their PC's, nor were they aware of the cost of accessing the sites.

The dialler software monitored by the Secretariat, downloaded from these websites, did detail the terms and conditions of accessing the service. However, this information was not displayed with sufficient prominence and appeared to be have been displayed in a manner which meant that it was unlikely to be viewed by the user - only two lines of the terms and conditions were visible at any one time, which required the user to scroll through in order to view all of the relevant information, including the cost and the telephone number for which users would be billed.

Consumers also reported being billed for calls in excess of 20.00, although a prompt did appear at approximately 20.00 of call spend when the service was monitored by the Secretariat advising that the connection had been interrupted and asking whether the user wish to reconnect. However, as the cost of accessing the service was not displayed with sufficient prominence, any user having accessed the site would not necessarily understand that the prompt was asking them to confirm that they wished to stay connected to a premium rate number. There was also a suggestion that there was no walled garden in place, which is designed to prevent access to the world wide web without first disconnecting the user from the premium rate number. Monitoring of the service also showed that there was no onscreen clock displayed at any time while connected to the service.



Cont/...

-2-


The website www.megadownloads.info also advertised 'amazing free downloads', when the service was actually charged at 1.50 per minute.

The ICSTIS Committee decided that emergency action should be taken to terminate access to the service, prior to it making a decision on whether breaches of the ICSTIS Code had occurred. This case was then put to the company responsible for the service, Distribuciones Telematica Premium (DTP), for their comment.

The Committee has recently considered this case and found that breaches of the ICSTIS Code have occurred for the reasons stated above, namely, that calls were not disconnecting automatically at 20.00, that users were able to access to the world wide web while still connected to a premium rate number. The Committee also found that DTP had failed to ensure that the cost of accessing the service and the number for which users would be billed was prominently displayed prior to a connection, as well as failing to ensure the presence of an on-screen clock and cumulative call costs once the service had been accessed.

DTP have taken steps to amend their dialler to ensure compliance with the Code. However, the Committee decided that sanctions should be imposed in respect of the breaches found. A fine of 50,000 has been imposed and the service is to remain barred until DTP can demonstrate that their service is compliant with the Code.

Finally, the Committee has instructed the company to offer redress to consumers. We therefore recommend that you contact the company directly, giving them the details of your claim, evidence of the disputed calls in the form of a copy telephone bill, and an opportunity to respond. For your information, their details are:

Distribuciones Telematica Premium S.L
Poligono Nuevo Calonge, Calle B
Parc.3, Oficina 21
Sevilla
CP 41008
SPAIN Contact: Mr Jose Sanchez

In respect of the charges you have incurred, in order to prevent any such occurrence in future, we recommend that you contact your telephone company directly and ask them to install a premium rate (090 number) access bar on your phone line.

I hope that this is helpful and I would like to thank you for having taken the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely


ICSTIS - The Premium Rate Services Watchdog
Clove Building, Maguire Street, London, SE1 2NQ
Telephone - 020 7940 7474
Fax - 020 7940 7456
http://www.icstis.org.uk


__________________________________________________ ______________________Distribuciones Telematica Premium S.L

Last edited by dantodan; 08-February-2004 at 23:37.
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  #2  
Old 08-February-2004, 20:55
dantodan
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Mega Downloads have been responsible for illictly dropping their premium rate (1.50 per minute) diallers onto many unsuspecting users PC's. This dialler then somehow replaces your ISP dialler and you can run up a hell of a fone bill
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  #3  
Old 08-February-2004, 22:15
thefirs
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Default Get premium rate calls barred on your line now

Lots has been said about this here:

http://www.the-scream.co.uk/forums/s...&threadid=9833

The money is a dead loss, but you can protect yourself against future theft by asking BT or other provider to bar any call beginning 09xxx.

As usual, the watchdog is nothing but a lap dog.
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Old 08-February-2004, 23:34
dantodan
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Default Re: Get premium rate calls barred on your line now

Originally posted by thefirs
Lots has been said about this here:

http://www.the-scream.co.uk/forums/s...&threadid=9833

The money is a dead loss, but you can protect yourself against future theft by asking BT or other provider to bar any call beginning 09xxx.

As usual, the watchdog is nothing but a lap dog.
================= ====================

So I am wasting my time do you think in sending reminders etc to this Spanish guy Jose Sanchez?

BT Expect us to pay up. They are profitting from " Criminal" actions of Mr Sanchez. They should do the decent thing and distance themselves from crooks by waiving the charges as a gesture of goodwill.

ICSTIS say what to do. I.E. write for reimbursement, they should take our cases up on our behalf and try and get a result or negotiate with BT to assist the consumer in having the charges waived.

Wonder if Mr Sanchez has paid the fine imposed by ICSTIS?

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  #5  
Old 08-February-2004, 23:52
dantodan
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I think BT are acting badly with this. Basically they say "The charges were incurred legitimately by the user calling up the 090 number". Brilliant BT!!!

Hey BT, we couldn't make the calls without your equipment and your technological know how. The more hi -tech the world becomes the more hi -tech the criminals become. Be nice if you sided with the innocent parties instead of being almost in league with the rogues. Although this website and it's clandestine premium rate (090) dialler has made BT a tidy profit. A caring honest company should want no part of that "dirty money". Why not donate it to charity BT? Or let me off with the 325.00, Mr Sanchez has robbed me. BT don't have to as well!!
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  #6  
Old 08-February-2004, 23:58
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silver silver is offline
 
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part of the problem is that BT aren't making 1.50 per min for the call,. they making some - granted but the larger part is given to the telco where the call terminates (and eventually owner of the number),.

I guess really there should be some way to make sure the calls can't easily be made automatically,.. (i.e. w/o user being aware)..

the only idea I've come up with is whenever a premium rate number is dialled, before the call is put through it asks for a 4 digit pin (which is either related to your line or is randomly made up each time a premium no is called) i.e. you must press the following 4 numbers for this call to be put through..

I guess another way to see it is that BT should bar premium rate numbers on all lines and you have to ask to have the bar lifted.. (a bit like some mobile operators do with calling international numbers from UK mobiles etc)

I guess none of the options is perfect though

Sil
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  #7  
Old 09-February-2004, 20:12
dantodan
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Default Why allow calls @ 1.50 per minute

thanks Sil, Pin number idea would help but only if everyone concerned was playing fair.

Personally I can see no good reason why any call should cost 1.50 a minute. A reputable firm would not want to be seen to be charging such an extortionate amount. BT and the other Tel companies should bar the Premium Rate numbers and make them connect via a recorded message system warning us of the ridiculous charge.

My gripe with this Spanish site is not that they charged for connecting but that they did it dishonestly. They are still trading under another premium rate number as far as I know. Wonder how rich they are at ordinary PC users expense?

ICSTIS say ask for my money back, what are they doing to help? Probably nothing?

BT are not interested and have tried to make me out to be an idiot, telling me about adult download sites being expensive and unreliable. I took exception to that coz I wasn't on an adult content site. I was trying to get Kazza Lite and some other "!Free" software thats all.

It's now a month since I wrote to Mr Sanchez, no reply of course. I will fax a reminder then go and rob a bank for cash to pay my fone bill.

Please someone tell me they have either had their money back or BT have let them off
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Old 14-February-2004, 19:00
dantodan
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I have just registered with BT online, got to wait 5 days then I can check my fone account on line. Maybe I will get a nice surprise and find BT have written off the 325.00.

Well I am trying to be optomistic, anyone see that? Looked like a pig flying by
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  #9  
Old 17-February-2004, 06:55
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Worldlife Worldlife is offline
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Originally posted by silver


I guess another way to see it is that BT should bar premium rate numbers on all lines and you have to ask to have the bar lifted.. (a bit like some mobile operators do with calling international numbers from UK mobiles etc)


A good solution Silv (only just seen it!)

Wonder if it would overcome some of Gem's reservations set out in:-

New - Premium Rate Call Ban
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