/ Money

Scam watch: have you been stung by a games subscription?

Mobile bill

​One sharp-eyed Which? member spotted an unexpected charge ​on his phone bill ​for a mobile phone game that he didn’t sign up for…

Which? member Ian Darling from Rochdale wrote to us about an unexpected charge on his phone bill:

‘When checking my bank statement, I spotted that my monthly mobile phone bill had increased significantly. My account listed this charge as ‘games subscription services’.

‘Unknown to me, I’d been signed up for two games at £7.50 plus VAT per week. My account listed a contact number and email address for the company involved. I emailed to contest this charge, and received two separate replies, both stating that my subscription had been cancelled, although by this time I’d been charged for several more weeks.’

Our advice on mobile games subscription services

We’ve seen many complaints about mobile games companies like this one. They send phishing texts to trick mobile users into signing up for services. There are also suggestions that they can send fake confirmations to mobile providers to get further payments authorised.

If you’ve been hit by one of these charges then contact the games company that billed you to ask for a refund. If this is unsuccessful, contact PhonePayPlus, the regulator for premium-rate services. Mobile providers should be able to block any further charges from the company. If you never use premium-rate numbers, your provider can also block them all from your phone.

When was the last time you looked carefully at your mobile phone bill? Have you ever spotted any charges you weren’t expecting?

Comments
Peter Butler says:
1 June 2016

Some people will look but others do not bother or even care about the money they are throwing away.More money than sense

D Smith says:
10 June 2016

I am using pay as you go, had no problems to date, that does not mean there will not be any in the future.

*****************************************************************************************************************
EE enable third parties to use the direct debit arrangement set up between EE and it’s customers to take money without permission.
*****************************************************************************************************************

Beginning in January of this year we saw a steady increase in charges for our 4G Broadband router (Osprey box). The unexplained amounts were shown on the bill as ‘Payforit’ – no description of what the charge was for or who had initiated it. A £30 per month charge over three months has risen to nearly £1,000.

We spoke to EE who said they would investigate and a few weeks later responded with a list of the third party companies whom EE had permitted to take monies from our back via direct debit. EE told us we would have to chase the third parties down – we’re still doing this (with not much success – these companies do not answer the phone or respond to email, yet they are allowed to take money from our account via EE being a trusted user of the Direct Debit system….

Even though we have been unable to recover the amounts, EE are sending threatening ‘debt recovery’ letters. As well as this EE have still to offer an explanation as to how our account / broadband circuit was compromised, worse still they have not offered any assistance technical or legal to help us trace the perpetrator.

In one conversation between myself and EE they told me that “I should have been offered the option to prevent this from happening when I purchased the modem” – I’ve since been in a shop and tested this assertion – the EE shops just don’t do this…….

What I think should be done here:

EE should have their direct debit ‘license’ revoked or suspended – yes it will cause them serious harm, but their actions undermine the trust we all put in direct debit. I’m sure their cognizant of the trust placed in them by consumers who sign their direct debit agreements – they are abusing consumer trust.

EE should not be allowed to license ‘anonymous’ third parties to piggy back on the trust of consumers.

EE should issue transparent bills – they currently do not ( I can send copies).

EE should conduct the investigation and resolve the issue and cancel our debt to them.

The third parties are licensed by a group ‘Payforit’ owned jointly by the operators (i.e EE O2, Vodafone etc) – one can only assume the operators get revenue from this, so no wonder EE aren’t enthusiastic about helping here.

Finally the legal view here is that EE is operating outside the ‘substance’ of the law – which implies there is a loophole here or operators are skirting close to the edge…..

Help?

Nick

*****************************************************************************************************************
EE enable third parties to use the direct debit arrangement set up between EE and it’s customers to take money without permission.
*****************************************************************************************************************

Beginning in January of this year we saw a steady increase in charges for our 4G Broadband router (Osprey box). The unexplained amounts were shown on the bill as ‘Payforit’ – no description of what the charge was for or who had initiated it. A £30 per month charge over three months has risen to nearly £1,000.

We spoke to EE who said they would investigate and a few weeks later responded with a list of the third party companies whom EE had permitted to take monies from our back via direct debit. EE told us we would have to chase the third parties down – we’re still doing this (with not much success – these companies do not answer the phone or respond to email, yet they are allowed to take money from our account via EE being a trusted user of the Direct Debit system….

Even though we have been unable to recover the amounts, EE are sending threatening ‘debt recovery’ letters. As well as this EE have still to offer an explanation as to how our account / broadband circuit was compromised, worse still they have not offered any assistance technical or legal to help us trace the perpetrator.

In one conversation between myself and EE they told me that “I should have been offered the option to prevent this from happening when I purchased the modem” – I’ve since been in a shop and tested this assertion – the EE shops just don’t do this…….

What I think should be done here:

EE should have their direct debit ‘license’ revoked or suspended – yes it will cause them serious harm, but their actions undermine the trust we all put in direct debit. I’m sure their cognizant of the trust placed in them by consumers who sign their direct debit agreements – they are abusing consumer trust.

EE should not be allowed to license ‘anonymous’ third parties to piggy back on the trust of consumers.

EE should issue transparent bills – they currently do not ( I can send copies).

EE should conduct the investigation and resolve the issue and cancel our debt to them.

The third parties are licensed by a group ‘Payforit’ owned jointly by the operators (i.e EE O2, Vodafone etc) – one can only assume the operators get revenue from this, so no wonder EE aren’t enthusiastic about helping here.

Finally the legal view here is that EE is operating outside the ‘substance’ of the law – which implies there is a loophole here or operators are skirting close to the edge…..

Help?

Nick

Anisa Shoaib says:
10 May 2019

Hi there, I’ve just noticed an additional charge of £12 on my Vodafone bill. When I queried it, they said it was a 3rd party services provider and that I needed to contact them. Vodafone gave me a number and an email address to contact. So I rang the number and they were weren’t the 3rd party service provider Chillax games. The man said they were an independent subscription phone line and he gave me the same email address that Vodafone gave. He said to email them and explain I had unauthorised charges and I did not consent or give permission to such charges. He said they usually refund if they know you will take it further. Does this sound right? Does anyone have a template letter that I can use? I’m so annoyed that this is happened especially when I cant even use or see the service they are saying that I subscribed to! Can anyone tell me if I will get a refund? Or direct me the way on how to proceed please?

Ange says:
9 August 2019

Hi,
we have had the same problem recently lots of transactions for chillax games? Daughter doesnt even play games but does surf the net? So is confused what these charges are for, it’s naughty how it happens, vodafone told me it is from a 3rd party and it can be from a pop up accidentally clicked on and that’s that you end up paying £16 for that error? It’s not right legally surely, you would think there should be a click to accept subscription if they want to bill you repeatedly as then you have signed up & agreed for this, but not through a innocent surfing the internet
Sounds dodgey to me, hoping if I ring the number providing by vodafone this is rectified & refunded, vodafone have now put a bar on so this can not happen again, shouldn’t have happened in the first place

Ange says:
9 August 2019

Forgot to ask how did you get on, did you get it resolved
Ange

Just checked my Vodafone bill and found a charge of £12 from Demon Games for a weekly subscription of £3. I immediately contacted the company by e-mail and demanded a refund and to stop making the weekly charge. I also text STOP to the number indicated but it keeps saying it is undelivered. What is the point of that. Waiting to hear from Demon Games.
In the meantime, I will be contacting Vodafone to block all premium rate and Direct to Debit sites on my number. I will also make a complaint to the PSA. It is an absolute disgrace that these companies can make money from unauthorised subscriptions by simply sending a test message.