5 September 2008

Reverse Charge SMS: Refund Received

In my last post I described how I’d been ripped off after receiving an unsolicited reverse charge text message. Three weeks have now passed and I’m no longer out of pocket, so I thought I’d let everyone know what exactly happened...

As planned, I called Tanla Mobile’s London office number and spoke to one of their very helpful employees who explained that they were just a service provider and that the message would have actually been sent by a client of theirs. They took my details (including when I received the message and the number from which the message was sent) and said they’d get their client to call me.

Having heard nothing for a couple of days, I called them again. Tanla Mobile had apparently done their bit and told their client – Music HQ Limited (site currently offline) – to call me, but their client told them they hadn’t been able to get hold of me because I’d not answered and had no voicemail (which isn’t true). So I got a number and email address for Music HQ Media (0870 046 6622 / and reluctantly called them myself.

After finding out that the girl I was told to call had left the company that week, I explained my problem to another one of Music HQ’s customer care representatives and was told they’d look into it and call me back within 30 to 60 minutes. Two hours later, having heard nothing, I called them back and got the full story of how this happened...

Basically, Music HQ had purchased a list of mobile numbers from a direct marketing company called Discovery Media Direct where I’d apparently subscribed to something and opted in to my number being sold for marketing purposes.

Music HQ had then “accidentally” sent messages to people from this list instead of their subscribers (who had actually opted in to receiving paid messages, unlike me). When I asked them how many people this had affected, they replied saying something like, “It was a hundred or so but most of those have requested refunds now!”

So on this occasion alone, at least 100 people had received the same message as me, Music HQ had illegally taken £1.50 from their mobile phone bill and then done nothing to try and refund this amount unless the victim of the theft requested it. And I say ‘on this occasion’ because the links I provided in my last post go back to July and September 2007, which seems to suggest this isn’t the first time this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last!

Anyway, they told me I would receive a refund of £2 (including a 50p “goodwill gesture”) by way of a text message sent to my mobile from the Post Office which I would then need to go and collect from any one of their branches. This should’ve arrived with 1-2 working days. So after 3 days, I emailed them and they increased the refund to £3 and I got the message the day after, one week later than originally intended. (As an aside, the Post Office staff were completely puzzled by the message when I showed it to them and they had to call a helpline to figure out how to issue my with the £3!)

Tanla Mobile say that for them to ban Music HQ, even though they’ve admitted to (allegedly accidentally but nevertheless) fraudulently taking money from me, they would need ‘lots’ of complaints to be made to PhonepayPlus who operate on a volume basis before taking action against any company.

In the process of all this, Tanla Mobile has now blocked my number from all their services at my request and Music HQ has requested my number to be removed and blocked from all their services and also from Discovery Media Direct. At least this should never happen to me again, but we’ll see...

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They do this on a massive scale and figure that perhaps 10 percent of people will go through the required difficult channels and process to get a refund - I mean most people would forget or get bored just to chase£1.50 and then let it go.It's the principle of the thing that really gets you cross though!!!

I've blogged about the same thing but with mBlox not Tanla. PhonepayPlus are a waste of time. This is fraud on a huge scale and no one cares about it.

I had the EXACT same reverse charge text message problem with Fido back in 2000. Month after month Fido sent me their own promotional texts and charged ME for receiving them.

It took me over eight months to get the proble resolved - by talking to a supervisor and cancelling my phone service.
Here it is:

yes i was shafted too, id never even heard of the company, just submitted my complaint to ppp.
pretty dodgy stuff...