Were you charged on your wireless cell phone bill for mobile content subscriptions or services (i.e., ringtones, games, joke a day messages, premium text messaging services, SMS text alerts, horoscopes, etc.) that you never authorized, ordered nor wanted (nor ever received)?
If you were, you are definitely not alone. Thousands of cell phone subscribers have shared their stories and experiences about this emerging problem facing cell phone customers and users nationwide. And they are not happy.
Mystery Charges? Phantom Billings?
Cell phone users have complained about mysterious or phantom charges appearing on their cell phone bills and accounts out of the blue, charges they claim were never authorized, for mobile content services and subscriptions they never heard of, from mobile content companies and merchants they often never knew existed, and for products they never wanted nor ever even received. These customers are upset, and rightly so.
They claim that money has literally been stolen away from them by their mobile telephone carriers and wireless service providers, from billing agents and billing aggregators and the mobile content providers or merchants, all of whom share in such premium SMS content revenues.
The “Third Party Charge” Wild Goose Chase
Cell phone customers say that when they call to complain (if they are lucky enough to find contact information and are able to actually speak to a human — a rarity) they are usually told that they simply must have authorized it. Ya right. They then are sent on a wild goose chase from carrier, to billing aggregator and to content provider, each of whom blame the other for the unauthorized third party charges.
Sometimes credits or refunds are given, usually weeks or months later — after persistent calls, complaints and customer threats — and then typically only partially, with the customer getting credits and refunds for only a small portion of the unauthorized charges. Of course, the customer will have spent considerable and valuable time uncovering, understanding and disputing the fraudulent charges.
The Cancellation | Un-Subscription Problem
Unfortunately, the charges are typically recurring (renewing each week, month, etc.), so the cycle repeats, unless the customer is lucky (and persistent enough) to be able to cancel or unsubscribe from the mobile content subscription that the cell phone customer was never subscribed to in the first place. Ironic, isn’t it?
The cell phone customers say that they are told to send an outgoing or reply text message (which typically costs them more money) to the content provider’s five (5) digit short code with words like stop, end, cancel, quit, unsubscribe, etc. Some users have reported getting more unauthorized charges (and more SMS text spam) after doing so. Others have reported being told that they were never subscribed to such services (well why were they being charged then?).
Some users are told that before they can cancel they need to provide their cell phone numbers and other personal information (addresses, etc.) to the billing aggregators and agents and mobile content providers — the same companies that charged them for products and services without authorization or permission (or spammed them with SMS text messages, etc.).
Tip of the Iceberg?
And these are just some of the stories we have heard…
If you were you charged on your wireless cell phone bill for mobile content subscriptions or services (i.e., ringtones, games, joke a day messages, premium text messaging services, SMS text alerts, horoscopes, etc.) that you never authorized, ordered or received, remember this:
You are not alone!
If you haven’t been hit yet with these unauthorized charges, god bless you (though, please keep your fingers crossed). If you are like everyone else and haven’t shared your story yet, please do so below.