‘I was charged for a subscription to MobPair that I never signed up for’: Vodafone customer landed with a service she didn’t want
- Mary was being charged £2.99 per week for the subscription
- She is not the only Vodafone customer to have been charged by the service
- We reveal what you can do to protect yourself from scam texts
A Vodafone customer was charged every week for a subscription service she never signed up to – and then refused a full refund.
Mary said she started receiving text messages from a firm called MobPair but initially ignored them as she thought they were a scam.
The first text she received read: ‘FreeMsg: Reminder. You subscribed to MobPair for £2.99 per week from MobPair until you text STOP to 89365. HELP? 02032890416.’
However, when she checked her phone bill she realised she had been paying £2.99 a week for a subscription. After Vodafone failed to refund her, she contacted This is Money for help.
The text that Mary received from MobPair, telling her she had subscribed to the service
Mary’s case chimes with a series of complaints from Vodafone customers online forums, who say they too have been signed up to pay for services they didn’t want.
She said: ‘I have not knowingly subscribed to MobPair and did not text stop or ring the number as I thought it was a scam to charge me for the text or the phone call.’
When she contacted Vodafone about the issue, she was told that she must have inadvertently clicked on a link whilst using the internet.
The phone firm did say it would block the messages for her but it took a very long phone call before they agreed to refund her 50 per cent of the charges.
Mary did not accept this and said she would cancel her contract and would pay the £400 early termination fee.
However, after This is Money contacted Vodafone, it agreed to refund her the full amount she was charged.
After doing some research, Mary saw someone claim in an online forum that Vodafone receive 30 per cent of the fee for the subscription charges. However, this is something the company denies.
It said it does not directly contract with merchants such as Mobpair but instead there are a series of aggregator partners who are connected to all Mobile Network Operators.
The aggregator partners are responsible for ensuring merchants deliver a value for money service in strict compliance with the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) Code of Practice.
Customers can get a shock when they discover mobile services they didn’t know they had (stock image)
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: ‘Vodafone, together with all other Mobile Network Operators, insist that aggregators and merchants use a two-step purchase process that adheres to the Phone-paid Services Code of Practise and ensures a customer gives their prior consent before signing up to a subscription-based service.
‘In addition, Vodafone also runs a 24/7 advert monitoring service to ensure all adverts across Vodafone are fully compliant and have recently installed a pre-sale traffic monitoring tool, malware and malign programing to protect customers from auto-subscription attempts.
‘Vodafone does not receive 30 per cent of the charges people pay. Margins for mobile operators are low and they remain business confidential.
‘Vodafone had cause to make the aggregator suspend this merchant in May this year and force a full refund on acquisitions for a full two week period. There is an ongoing investigation on the service. The aggregator partner has terminated the customers subscription and will complete a refund directly onto her Vodafone bill.’
The PSA, the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill, confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into this company.
Between February and September this year, it has received 132 complaints about services operated by MobPair.
Most of these are for Play Up – a games service, and Be Beauty, which seems to be a video streaming service.
A few were unknown, most likely because the consumer who complained to the service didn’t know.
For some of the complaints, the network was unknown. However, in call cases where it was known, the complaints were from Vodafone customers.
A PSA spokesperson said: ‘We’re aware that consumers have experienced issues with this service, and are looking into it.
More generally, we’ve tightened our regulation of these sorts of services. This has included new requirements for phone-paid subscriptions designed to make the process of signing for them up closer to what consumers expect.
‘Most phone-paid services operate with few if any problems and deliver for consumers. This includes games, apps, videos, music streaming, donations to charity and entries into TV and radio competitions. Our regulation is aimed at protecting consumers from harm while encouraging innovation and growth.’
Other Vodafone customers have taken to social media to report having similar experiences to Mary with some who have called the number in the text still unable to stop the weekly payments leaving their account.
On the website Who Called Me?, which aims to identify scam numbers, the number Mary was sent via text which has been named by users as ‘Dangerous’ with other customers saying they too have been charged for a weekly subscription.
This Twitter user said that a number of Vodafone customers have been charged for MobPair
Another user warned that texting stop to the MobPair text doesn’t stop the subscription
Another customer said they were told it was their fault for clicking on links on the internet
On the site, Who Called Me?, another Vodafone customer reported having the same problem
On the MobPair website, it says it provides customers with gaming services as well as videos about beauty products.
The company, which is based in India, claims on its website: ‘Mobpair Technologies is one of the most rapidly growing software development company in India with the international footprint in more than 20+ countries.
‘We specialize in the Internet advertisements, mobile games development and RTB related software developments.’
This is Money has contacted the firm for comment.
It is not just the MobPair service that mobile phone users have complained about, however.
This is Money previously reported on a subscription text scam called JammitUp where unsuspecting O2 customers were being charged for a gaming service they had never heard of.
The Mail on Sunday has also reported on the numerous scam texts affecting customers all over the country.
How to protect yourself from scam texts
The PSA have provided advice for consumers on how they can avoid being charged for premium rate phone-paid services in the UK.
• Remember, when online you can charge services and content to your phone bill.
• Watch what you click on – know what you are agreeing to before you click on an online promotion.
• Look for the price – promotions need to make it clear the costs before subscribing.
• Read the small print before entering a competition or making a charity donation. You may be subscribing to a recurring charge.
• Don’t ignore messages from the service provider. By texting ‘STOP ALL’ to the shortcode provided (five or six-digit number) you can stop unwanted subscriptions.
• Don’t ignore your phone bill. If you see anything unexpected, check it with your network or by contacting the service provider.