My Son, Daughter, Dog, Cat etc subscribed my phone/their phone to a ‘service’.

We hear this quite often. Sometimes people say they were subscribed because their phone was unlocked and moving about in their pocket or handbag.

Let’s be clear about this. If the rules are being followed it should be all but impossible to subscribe accidentally. We’re not saying it can’t happen, but it’s incredibly unlikely!

When subscribing to a subscription through ‘Payforit’ the first page you will see is a ‘landing page’. You may be sent to this page by clicking a banner on a youtube or facebook page.

The landing page should provide clear contractual information, information about the company running the service and many other details. There should be a link to the Terms and Conditions. The page should clearly state the charging amount and frequency. If any of these things are missing or deliberately vague, the subscription would be invalid.

The landing page should have a button clearly marked and saying something like ‘Subscribe for £4.50/Wk’. Note that it is a requirement that the subscribe button includes both the amount and frequency of the subscription. Some services don’t comply with this and put the amount and frequency in small, faint, print underneath the button. This does not appear to be legitimate.

Clicking this button should take you to another page, repeating the information about the subscription amount and frequency, and with a button labelled ‘confirm’.

If your Son/Daughter/Dog/Cat/Pocket didn’t see these pages, then the correct procedure cannot have been followed and you have a case for a refund.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that you should lie  about this. If your child knowingly signed up to one of these services, they should probably be made to pay. However, you should still satisfy yourself that the signup was legitimate.

Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, the burden of proof rests with the supplier of the “service” to prove that a legitimate contract was created when you allegedly signed up for the service. This is made clear in Chapter 1, para 17(1) of the legislation.

You should insist that the company provide you with full details of the signup. These details should include:

  • Screenshots of the subscription workflow where you were alleged to have signed up for this service (as they were at the time of your alleged subscription).
  • A description of what the service you are supposed to have subscribed to provides. Is this a newsletter, access to a web portal, a competition? How would it have been accessed if you had used it?
  • Any evidence that after supposedly signing up for the service, you actually used it
  • The complete web server log of the subscription, including the User Agent strings containing all device details (browser, device type, device IP address) together with dates and times.
  • Full company details of the company claiming to have a contract with you, country of registration, full name of company, company number and registered company address.

These details are required by the regulator, so they should be able to provide them. (Often they can’t or they just pay up to avoid having to do the work). If all these details are correct AND your child knowingly subscribed, it’s probably best not to pursue the matter further.

If your child is not sure what happened the chances are that they were signed  by a javascript exploit on a web page, or by malware on the phone. It’s probably better at this stage not to tell the company the phone was being used by your son or daughter, as they will seize on it to try to persuade you that they must have been responsible for the subscription.

Just tell the company that the phone has been subscribed to their ‘service’ and that you have no idea how this happened. Follow the process on the other pages of this website to get a refund.

With the demise of Payforit, and a PSA consultation on a new Code of Practice for Phone-paid Services, we have decided to launch the Phone-paid Services Consumer Group (PSCG). You can visit the new website by clicking here. IF you need help, please contact us via the contact link on the new website.
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