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back to article Regulator spanks quiz line with record £800k fine

UK premium-line regulator PhonepayPlus has slapped Churchcastle Limited with the largest fine it has dished to date, ruling the phone-quiz host guilty of misleading and bamboozling callers with impenetrable terms and conditions. After it received 15 complaints, PhonepayPlus found Churchcastle guilty of targeting the elderly, …

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So many scams

This business model will always be successful for one simple reason

'lol we made 80000 by being douchebags, lets move it to an offshore account as 'expenses' We're being investigated and fined 80000? We don't have 80000... Better go bankrupt"

Two weeks later, they reopen under the same or similar name using 'Venture capital funding'

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Re: So many scams

Correct. It's teh same model used by cheap travel agents. They get a few cheap trips, so it looks like a working business, and when the holiday season hits they cash in and disappear. They tend to use fake IATA numbers now as well - always check..

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A nice little earner

> all of which mounts up to a £800,000 fine and refunds to anyone who asks for one.

Just call our premium rate number to apply

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Not enough

The company here didn't make mistakes or errors that resulted in those callers facing massive bills. This was an organised and premeditated action.

It seems to me that this company was running a scam under the guise of a competition and all they face is a fine. This company should be shut down, it's directors banned from ever running a similar business again, perhaps even imprisoned for a short time. All the company's assets should seized and the victims fully recompensed with any remaining assets put into the public purse.

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Unhappy

Re: Not enough

I'm with you on that, but "white collar crime" remains an area where penalties are derisory, and which politicians simply won't do anything about.

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Premium rate numbers

Why do these things still exist?

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Flame

Why aren't premium-rate numbers an "opt-in" feature ?

Funny, all the talk from government about making 18+ content on t'web opt-in, but no-one has ever had the balls to call for these phone lines to be an opt in feature.

Personally I resent having to *pay* per month to block premium numbers. But we had to when our son started trying to call the premium numbers some games companies have.

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@JimmyPage Re: Why aren't premium-rate numbers an "opt-in" feature ?

You asked the same question in the El Reg forums on the Friday the 4th May 2012 at 13:22 GMT and I pointed out to you then that that did happen in the day of the old 0898 Adult Chat numbers.

Unsurprisingly perfectly legitimate and legal businesses suddenly found that nobody was calling their numbers because people didn't want to phone BT or whoever and say "Give me access to the porn, please".

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2012/05/04/cameron_default_isp_filtering/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why aren't premium-rate numbers an "opt-in" feature ?

I was under the impression that if you want a permanent block it's free, but if you want to be able to switch the block on and off with a PIN, it costs £2.50.

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Re: Why aren't premium-rate numbers an "opt-in" feature ?

My phone provider (TPG) treats them as opt-in, and they're not the only one around here to do so. I don't know what the situation is outside Australia though.

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Anonymous Coward

excuse me

it did not happen in the days of the 0898 numbers. Certainly not in 1994 when my flatmate ran up a £2,000 bill and then did a runner.

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Re: excuse me

@excuse me

It did happen, but, as I said, it was later rescinded.

See the article which I linked to in my post www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/bt-blocks-direct-access-to-telephone-porn-lines-personal-code-will-be-needed-for-adult-premium-rate-numbers-1494484.html

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"requiring players to complete a word search over the phone"

How does that work then? Do they read out the letters over the phone?

On a premium rate call they must have been raking it in.

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Alert

Regulatory solution to refunds

Your telco has to give you a full refund for the call. It then bills the next company down the line for the charges it paid, plus a surcharge to cover the cost of processing the refund, and so on, until the billing reaches the last non-bankrupt company in the line. If that means telcos that have dealt with sleazy premium-rate operators get stuck with the whole bill, tough luck. If that policy wipes out the premium-rate industry completely, it's a win for society.

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Anonymous Coward

Industial thieves

It will be interesting to see if they collect the fine, I'm pretty sure phonepayplus or ICSTIS as it used to be know, was big on shouting about fines 'see it is safe to use the premium rate shysters' and very quiet on how much and from whom they really collected.

Industry body of thieving bastards (yes I have experience) self regulating bollocks

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Re: Industial thieves

A request under the FOI would give you the answer you seek.

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cool

wrist slap in 2006, big fine evidently just a cost of business, what are the idle twats at the regulator doing all day?

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FAIL

Big downside to allowing these numbers

I'd love to disable all numbers starting 07, 084, 087 and 09 by default since they all carry hefty surcharges (except 0845 and 0870 these days, on BT) - or at least have landline-mobile calls charged the same as mobile-landline, instead of being ripped off for them to pay for "free" handsets.

Charging for blocking them is a scam in itself and shouldn't be allowed - I object to being charged to block anonymous calls, too, particularly when making them is required by law to be free of charge! (And, while typing this, I've just had yet another %&$ telemarketer, number withheld, plugging feed-in-tariffs, completely disregarding my TPS registration on the excuse it's a "government incentive" not "sales".)

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Re: Big downside to allowing these numbers

TPS - don't get me started...

OOPS too late. I did an FOI enquiry to the ICO. The answer (4 pages condensed to one sentence) was: "No penalty has ever been applied to any organisation regardless of the number of complaints received". The legislation allows for a fine fo up to £5000 for each call made to a number on the TPS register. If applied that would wipe out the budget deficit - or maybe the ****s who operate those dodgy companies would move on to another scam. TPS don't even publish a list of companies people have reported.

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