A row is brewing in the premium rate industry over the rebrand of its regulator ICSTIS as PhonePayPlus. Premium rate trade association the Network for Online Commerce (NOC) is touting a poll that suggests the new name should be scrapped on grounds that it's rubbish. Top brass at ICSTIS felt the slew of TV phone-in scandals had …
An ineffective name for an ineffective regulator....
...seems very appropriate. From what i've read about ICTIS they seem toothless and slow to do anything about offenders. The whole 'premium rate' phone industry in this country is anti-consumer and overly confusing.
Mobile phone networks now routinely charge for '0800' "freephone" numbers. Numerous companies are allowed to use premium, revenue generating, numbers for customer contact including, amazingly, ITV for all of its employees as far as i can work out and to brand them as "local rate" or "national rate" when such terms are no longer used by either the fixed line or mobile operators.
Even "07" numbers which used to be exclusively for mobiles are now used for services charged at up to 50p per minute by mobile operators.
More Marketing Madness
Anyone remember Consignia?
What part of this poll does ICTSIS not understand?
>A telecoms consumer protection agency - one per cent
>A new way to pay for things using a telephone account - 26 per cent
>A new form of prepay phone account - 23 per cent
>None of these - four per cent
>Don't know - 46 per cent
Seems pretty damn clear to me..
>On Tuesday, ICTSIS spokesman Rob Dwight said: "The name change is >going ahead in October. The NOC know that.
>"No disrespect to YouGov, but with these polls you get the answer to the >carefully worded question you're looking for." He added that the >PhonePayPlus monicker will not stand alone, but be backed with a tagline >something like "the regulator for the premium rate industry".
Getting the answer to a 'carefully worded question' seems like that's what's supposed to happen isn't it? Otherwise you could just make up any old shit and say it fits with your perspective. Oh wait. That's called marketing, isn't it?
Ah, hang on. It's going to be backed with that memorable tagline. So that's alright then.
Rushing ahead regardless
""The name change is going ahead in October."
Typical response from an organisation that KNOWS its doing something stupid and feels it needs to get it over and done with before too many people can say how stupid it is.
Agreed, ICSTIS isn't a very consumer-friendly name (nobody not in the know would have a clue what it did). But replacing it with another name that still doesn't convey anything useful is even less sensible.
October is still more than a month away. Why not do the sensible thing, call it off for the present, have a month or two to invite other more sensible suggestions and then go with one of them that has both meaning and public support.
I wonder, did this name come from the same twit that came up with the Olympic logo? Another case of rushing into something unpopular (and more than grossly over-expensive) to try to get something rushed through instead of rolling a few heads for gross abuse of public money as definitely should have happened.
A Meeting of Minds
"We also foresee a potential clash with Payforit and Paypal."
That would be an interesting marriage, Payforit Paypal. Very Circular.
One of the things which ICSTIS has been striving to do over the last few years is "increase stakeholder engagement", which you do by talking to the people that you deal with and, if you're going to do something major which might affect them, asking them first. That's called consultation. By their own admission, the ICSTIS rebrand is a major undertaking; yet there was no consultation with the industry.
ICSTIS are funded by the premium rate industry, who're in the position of seeing what's effectively their money spent on a rebrand dreamed up by a PR agency without their input. And it wouldn't really matter if it was universally accepted; that, though (to put it politely) hasn't been the case.
I would have thought it would suit the premium rate operators to have a "regulator" that the public do not recognise so less likely to call.
I always dislike calling ICSTIS a "regulator" as they seem to be a protectionist organisation run by the industry and very ineffective.
To the first commenter...
"Even "07" numbers which used to be exclusively for mobiles are now used for services charged at up to 50p per minute by mobile operators"
Not so... 07 numbers have never been exclusively for mobiles - they were brought in as 'personal numbers' or 'reach me anywhere numbers' and include things like pagers, redirected numbers and personalised numbers (ie 07000MyNameHere). The most common non-mobile service is provided by yac.com - they assign you a number which you can direct anywhere you want; service costs nothing but people calling you pay a premium to do so. I use it for all my online purchases because they have an anonymous filter option so that calls with no number go straight to voicemail, which comes to me as an email.
And no, I don't work for them.
PhonePayPlus indeed "feels like" a payment service of some kind...
You expect goverment agencies to be known by immemorable initials. Having had ICSTIS for a few years it's just beginning to sink in to the public physche. Don't change it now!
Their problem is not the name, but that they're toothless. Since privatistation of the telecoms and other industries the Government emphasis seems to be far more on deregulation (mustn't do anything to get in the way of free-trade, including enterprising scammers) than on consumer-protection.
In practice these days you're far more likely to stumble across 070 "personal" numbers in the context of a scam (e.g. missed-call spam) than any decent use.
Witness ICSTIS' recent consultation on the possibility of allowing spoofing of the sender of text messages, "for joke-services". It's obvious this opens up a whole range of scams and malicious applications and will cause far more tears than laughs. It should never have left the drawing-board.
Just can it ...
"ICSTIS are funded by the premium rate industry"
Interesting thought ... the premium rate industry could presumably make this "problem" go away by setting up a different organisation with a more sensible name, and funding that instead.
I very strongly suggest they do just that, if ICSTIS doesn't back down and come up with a more sensible name.
Icstis the Great Consumer Con
Icstis have spent years masquerading as a regulator for consumer protection when they clearly were not.
The same premium rate companies they were "fining" and "severely reprimanding" in 2004 are still being fined and severely reprimanded today for committing the same offenses. When is the DTI (or somebody) going to tell Icstis that billing for unsolicited reverse billed text messages is criminal theft and should be reported to the police?
There are a lot of names the thousands of victims of this premium rate industry call Icstis and PhonePayPlus is not one.
What about Ofcom?
Covering various bits of telecoms regulation are the ridiculously named PhonePayPlus, the Telephone Preference Service, the information commissioner, the office of the telecoms adjudicator, the office of the telecoms ombudsman and CISAS, not to mention more generic regulators such as the competition commission, trading standards departments and the office of fair trading. Shouldn't Ofcom be doing all this rather than delegating things left, right and centre?
Yes, what about OFCOM?
OFCOM claims that some EU thingy means that it can't take ICSTIS's role. So, unlike with most EU restrictions, this one means that the customers get shafted. Not that that matters because you'd have to be an idiot to dial a premium-rate number.
Nothing to do with me Guv
Clearly they've been fielding too many consumer complaints and have worked out the perfect way to reduce the number of punters savvy to what they actually do. Hitting those ever popular KPIs should be a cinch after this.
Government stupidity clearly knows no bounds. Whats next, Ofcom to change their name to "Comms 'R' Us"?