FoggyLog

Thu May 6th 2004 20:06:06: The Evil AXIS

Had a scare earlier

I got up to go to the loo and was just shutting the door when I heard my modem dial up. But my modem doesn't make noises while it dials. I aborted the toilet trip out of curiosity and returned to my computer and watched... "Connected to AXIS".

I've never switched the modem off so quick!

My guess is that the MP3 website I happened to be downloading from (humm de dumm) downloaded some kind of dialer to my computer (I had to allow Anti Leech more permissions than normal, so that might have been it), which made my normal connection hang up and redial their phone number. What that phone number was I don't know, as the DUN entry had the number "5", however it definitely dialed more than that and worked (connected me to the Internet). I hate to think how much it will appear as on the bill. Good thing I noticed as soon as it happened, else that could have got expensive.

In other news we finally re-caught the mouse. It got caught out by the ever moving mouse trap. Poor thing only got it's toes of one foot caught, however the shock must have killed it.

I got an email response from ICSTIS about this dialer, so here are some more details....

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Premium rate numbers: 0906 517 0090 - 0094

Thank you for contacting ICSTIS. As the regulator for premium rate services we set standards for the content and promotion of all premium rate services available to consumers in the UK. We investigate complaints about premium rate services that do not meet those standards and use powerful sanctions such as barring access to numbers or imposing fines to stop mischief.

Why has this premium rate number appeared on your bill?

The number you are enquiring about gave access to a premium rate charged games website, such as www.gamesplayground.com, at a cost of £1.50 per minute.

Whilst access to most websites is charged at the standard rate set by the user's internet service provider (ISP), for example AOL or BT, access can be charged at premium rate - up to as much as £1.50 per minute. Access to premium rate websites involves the use of "dialler" software that is downloaded onto the users PC. Clicking on the dialler icon and accepting the terms and conditions would disconnect you from your ISP and reconnects to the premium rate website by automatically dialling a premium rate number. The charge for calls to this premium rate number will appear on your telephone bill.

What are we doing about your complaint?

As this premium rate service appears not to comply with aspects of the ICSTIS Code Of Practice we are conducting an investigation at present. If you wish to know more about the outcome of the investigation, please go to our website at www.icstis.org.uk. You may wish to note ICSTIS has powerful sanctions at its disposal. The severity of sanctions depends upon the circumstances of each case. In complex investigations it may take up to 26 weeks before we are able to make details public.

Do you have to pay for the calls to this number?

Your network operator may expect you to pay for the calls to this service. Each network operator has its own processes for dealing with disputed bills so you must take advice direct from your own network. ICSTIS has already told each network operator that we are investigating the conduct of this service and we will follow that up with the eventual outcome. Beyond this, there is nothing further we can do to help you. ICSTIS does not have authority to get involved in billing disputes.

If you do have to pay the bill, can you get your money back?

Unfortunately ICSTIS cannot require companies responsible for the service (service providers) to give refunds. As the regulator we are responsible for dealing with complaints concerning compliance with our Code of Practice and not resolving disputes over bill payments. If you do wish to try to obtain a refund we would suggest that you write to the service provider, enclosing a copy of your telephone bill and explaining who was responsible for the Internet calls and whether you, as the bill payer were aware of the calls being made. We are able to supply the name and address details for the service provider but there is then nothing further ICSTIS can do to help you obtain a refund.

The company responsible for the services on your bill is:

Mr Keith A Goodyer

Telepay Ltd

Media House

Hiam Business Centre, New Road

Mauldon

MK45 2BG

0870 120 5399

If you do not receive a refund that you feel you are entitled to we suggest that you contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau with a view to making a claim through the small claims Court.

Can you stop this happening again?

We would strongly advise you to speak to all household members to find out who may have used premium rate services without your permission. We deal with thousands of bill-payers who are shocked to find that their children, spouses, visitors etc have done exactly that. You should note that ICSTIS is not able to help in disputes that a call has originated from their telephone line; if you feel this is the case in your instance, you should refer the matter to your telephone company.

You can prevent any premium rate service being used from either your telephone or computer by installing premium rate call barring on your phone line. Your telephone company will give you details of call barring arrangements. If you use more than one phone line provider you may need to speak with them all to have full call barring.

If you are concerned about the accessibility of adult material to minors in your household via your PC we suggest that you install one of the parental control packages that are available.

The majority of premium rate websites are compatible with these programmes. You will find the "Safe Surfing" section of the Internet Watch Foundation's website gives helpful information: www.iwf.org.uk.

Yours sincerely

ICSTIS Enquiries Team

Comment by Gary at 15:23 on Tue 24 August 2004

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