I must admit that I have always been a skeptic when it comes to mobile subscription services. The idea of some intangible, unknown, and unreachable company/individual or thing, taking my money every day, week or month (depending on the ‘contract’ entered into) has always annoyed me. In fact, I do not even respond ‘STOP’ to the marketing messages my bank sends me, just in case it turns out to be a ploy of sorts to get me to subscribe to something I didn’t want in the first place. Am I paranoid?
Perhaps…However, I like to think that this is justified paranoia, based on the numerous complaints I have heard about mobile subscription services. It seems that so often people are ‘fooled’ into subscribing to something, which is then very difficult to terminate. If, like me, you share these sentiments then read on, as I have since discovered that it is not so much mobile subscription services that are the problem but rather uncouth ie. dodgy, service providers.
Having dug a little deeper -in other words beyond the ads on TV that tell me I should subscribe to get the latest love poems, horoscopes, dating tips, games, and farting monkeys – I have discovered that there are some fairly cool subscriptions out there. Music subscriptions for example, and they seem to be on the rise. In fact, Janus Fries, one of the founders of Skype Technologies, is of the belief that, “The whole download model is going away.” Now, whether we agree or not is a discussion for another time, however, the point is that it is possible to subscribe to some cool stuff, if we just know what to look out for. And hey, if farting monkeys are what you’re after that’s also fine, as long as you don’t get fooled. So having said that, let’s continue with the uncouth service providers….
The problems with mobile subscription services generally arise when service providers do not adhere to the rules regulating these services. In light of this I thought it’d be good to list some of the rules in this article, so as to give you a better understanding of how mobile subscriptions are supposed to function. According to WASPA (The Wireless Application Service Provider’s Association), which to a large degree oversees our mobile industry, the following things must be in place with any mobile subscription service:
Firstly, advertising material relating to subscription services needs to very clearly state that this is in fact a subscription service, as well as the cost of the subscription.
Secondly, the terms of the subscription need to be stipulated. In other words, is it a daily, weekly, or monthly subscription.
Thirdly, by law, mobile subscriptions require a double opt-in confirmation from anyone wanting to subscribe. In other words you would need to receive two SMS’ to confirm that you actually want to subscribe.
Fourthly, a monthly SMS reminder, which contains the cost and option to unsubscribe, needs to be sent to every subscriber.
Fifthly, to unsubscribe, the subscriber should only have to SMS ‘STOP’ and the name of the service, to the short code they initially subscribed