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Mobile providers adjust invoicing for prepaid calls to paid information services in line with tariff announcements

When calling paid information services using numbers such as 0900, 0906, 0909 and 18xy, consumers must be presented with an announcement of the rate per minute applicable for the service that he is calling and information about the costs of using a mobile phone (“call charges”) before the call. A number of mobile phone service providers used to charge their prepaid subscribers a combined flat fee for calling paid information services varying from EUR 1.10 to EUR 1.30 per minute representing the total of both the service tariff and call charges. This meant that consumers paid this flat fee irrespective of the service tariff of which he had been notified. This was not clear to consumers, because this combined flat fee was not mentioned before the call. The new regulations, which OPTA has been enforcing since 1 October, stipulate that, if a mobile phone service provider charges a combined flat fee, he is required to notify consumers of it before each call. It is then clear to consumers precisely what they will pay for calling such a service.

These new regulations have resulted in a number of mobile phone service providers no longer charging such a combined flat fee. As of September the mobile phone service provider, Vodafone, has abandoned combined flat fees for prepaid subscribers and now charges the stipulated service fee and call charges of no more than EUR 0.35 (depending on the subscription). It has just been revealed that T-Mobile will also be abandoning its combined flat fee of EUR 1.10 and will be charging prepaid consumers a separate service fee and call charge. As such, Vodafone and T-Mobile have adjusted their invoicing for prepaid calls to paid information services to accord with the relevant tariff announcements. OPTA notes that this will save prepaid callers millions of euros each year. By way of illustration, the savings amount to EUR 0.65 per minute in the case of a service fee of EUR 0.10 per minute, being the difference between EUR 1.10 and EUR 0.10 plus call charges of EUR 0.35. To comply with the rules, KPN will change the notification for prepaid callers and will announce the flat fee before the call as of the beginning of January. As it happens, Tele2 does not charge a combined flat fee for calls to paid information services but rather call charges of no more than EUR 0.20 (depending on the subscription).

OPTA monitors whether mobile phone service companies make it sufficiently clear to consumers what they are required to pay for calls to paid information services, and enforces the rules based on complaints received from consumers. Using a special online complaints form, consumers can report their experience through ConsuWijzer.