We know that it’s often a puzzle if you see any unexpected charges for Premium Text Messages on your bill – you’re going to want to find out what you’ve been charged for.
We've put together this guide to help you to work out what the charge was for, and what you can do about them.
What's a Premium SMS?
A Premium SMS is a message that is charged at a higher rate than standard SMS messages, often provided by a third party.
You might use them for voting in a TV show like Strictly Come Dancing, or entering a competition to win a prize. It’s often a great way to get involved in your favorite shows, but you do need to be aware of the costs will be deducted from your credit for pre-pay or billed for contract customers (Premium SMS aren’t included in your tariff, no are the other services we describe below)
The main three reasons Premium Text charges will appear on your bill are:
Premium SMS You might use them for voting in a TV show like Strictly Come Dancing, or entering a competition to win a prize. It’s often a great way to get involved in your favourite shows, but you do need to be aware of the costs will be deducted from your credit for pre-pay or billed for contract customers (Premium SMS aren’t included in your tariff, no are the other services we describe below)
Subscription Services When you pay to receive content on your phone (like ringtones, wallpapers, competitions, news and sport updates) the company sending the texts will continue to send these messages and charge your mobile account until you ask them to stop sending them.
Other Premium Services A lot of shows have also started using ‘Mobile Short Dial Codes’ (MSDCs). These are numbers to call (not text) from a UK mobile where your charged a fixed price for the call, e.g. The Voice UK normally charges 25p to vote for a contestant.
These MSDC numbers are shorter than typical telephone number, between 5 to 7 digits which makes it easier to recognize them. If you dial one of these there is normally an automated message confirming your vote.
MSDCs are becoming more popular than premium SMSs as it’s quicker to count and verify the votes, without the risk of potential delays with too many texts flooding the various mobile networks at peak times.
How and why do they start?
These phone-paid services can be activated in any of three ways:
Sending a text message to a 5-digit number.
Sending a request through a website.
Calling a shortcode from your mobile.
Who charged me?
The phone-paid service provider contracts Virgin Media (the network provider) to run the service. Virgin Media do not own the service, but we are completing the charge on your mobile account.
We are responsible for explaining what the charges on your bill are for and providing the contact information of the phone-paid service provider.
The phone-paid service provider is responsible for explaining the services you have used, the charge and provide proof of having purchased the service. Depending on circumstances, the phone-paid service provider may or may not provide a refund for the service you used.
The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) regulates and oversees the market for phone-paid services in the UK.
If you are unsure as to why you have received the charges you will need to locate the information of the phone-paid service provider to ask them what the service was and what you were charged for.
Firstly, please check your mobile bill and your text message inbox for the number linked with the charges. These are usually 5 digit shortcodes or a long Service ID starting 700 or 7000.
Once you have the shortcode (usually in your text messages) or long Service ID number (usually appears on a bill) it is time to work out who runs the service. You can use the PSA’s #NumberChecker to obtain the phone-paid service provider contact details or alternatively you can contact us at Virgin Media and we will find this information out for you and provide you with the contact details.
If you have been able to locate the phone-paid service provider through the number checker you will then have various ways to contact the company and most importantly a shortcode that you can use to stop the service. Please get in touch with us if you cannot find the details.
Stopping the Charges
There are different ways to stop the charges appearing on your bill and it really depends on the provider of the phone-paid service and what you are being charged for.
Once you have obtained the shortcode for the service you will need to send a text message containing the words STOP or STOP ALL to it. This should then unsubscribe you from the service.
You can also contact the company directly to opt out of their services using the contact details obtained from the number checker or using the information we provide you. This will usually be a telephone number or email address.
If you have contacted the service provider and still noticed you are being charged for the same number then please get it contact with the PSA to assist you further. You can find everything you need to contact them - and what you need to provide them with - on the PSA website
Thanks for reading and I hope this makes sense of the everything related to Premium SMS.