ACMA calls for premium mobile service spending limits

Report finds consumers want greater control

Research into mobile premium services by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) suggests that while most people are satisfied with the services, many have an interest in limiting how much they spend.

According to the Mobile Premium Services User Survey report, over two-thirds of parents think it is extremely important to limit their child’s expenditure on mobile premium services.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said in a statement that the research is relevant to its continued monitoring and assessment of mobile premium services.

“This is also bridging to the future by indicating the desirability of robust consumer safeguards for future mobile payment mechanisms, particularly the ability to more generally limit expenditure.”

The report also found that a quarter of Australians used at least one mobile premium service, either for a one-off purchase or a subscription service, in the 12 months to April 2010.

Only one in ten users of mobile premium services were dissatisfied with the service but almost two thirds of respondents reported interest in having greater control over how much they spend on mobile premium services.

Thirty eight per cent of users received an unrequested premium SMS message in the last three months, and nearly a third of these had difficulty stopping the service.

The ACMA has encouraged mobile carriers to develop arrangements which give mobile customers more control over how much they spend on premium services.

“Mobile phone based payments will soon become increasingly common for a wide range of day-to-day purchases. The ACMA is leading consideration of appropriate consumer safeguards for the next generation of mobile phone based payments, by shining a light on the needs, expectations and behaviours of consumers in this increasingly complex space,” said Chapman.

The survey follows news in July that that Optus and Vodeafone were struggling to meet ACMA’s deadline ti implement premium SMS barring for customers.

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