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Mobile Ringtones

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

9. What recent discussions he has had with mobile telephone network operators on regulation of the trade in mobile ringtones. (198419)

There has been no recent discussion with the five mobile network operators on the regulation of the trade in mobile ringtones. A code of practice was introduced in the autumn of 2005 by the Mobile Entertainment Forum, which required information providers and aggregators who trade mobile ringtones to be more explicit about cost, terms and conditions. In particular, mobile network operators have made it easier for customers to cancel subscriptions: they simply need to send a message consisting of the word “STOP”. I understand that that has resulted in a reported 62 per cent. fall in the number of complaints.

T-Mobile is the only mobile network operator in the United Kingdom that bans third parties from having direct access to customers’ phone credit for goods and services. A 13-year-old constituent of mine found that out the hard way when she was repeatedly conned out of money for ringtones that never arrived by a company that was trading illegally. Will the Minister look into how the regulator ICSTIS, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, could act more effectively to stop this unscrupulous practice?

I agree that many people have had to pay very large sums as a result of being misinformed or misled. The regulator formerly known as ICSTIS—now, I understand, known as PhonepayPlus—is examining the position carefully. It has a close relationship with the major regulator, Ofcom, and I will ensure that the hon. Lady’s concerns are brought to the regulator’s attention.