Belgium’s federal government is taking steps to protect consumers from unscrupulous providers of GSM games and SMS pay services. The Council of Ministers on Friday approved tougher rules after the telecommunications mediator received hundreds of complaints. “Whoever does not comply will feel the difference,” Telecoms Minister Alexander De Croo said.
Most of the complaints came from consumers who said they’d never requested such services and were unable to get rid of them, which sent their bills sky high.
A charter had been drafted last year to call for respect for consumers but some actors refused to adhere to it. The rules will therefore be toughened, the Flemish liberal minister said on Friday.
In future, service providers will need to communicate clearly and transparently about the costs of proposed services, mentioning the highest tariff. Moreover, the proposed commercial services may not be activated without the explicit agreement of the client via an SMS sent to the paying number of the provider.
The subscriber will be able to end the service by texting “STOP” in an SMS sent to the same paying number.
Finally, the powers of the IBPT, the supervisory organ for the sector, will now be beefed up. It will be able to impose fines of up to 5% of their gross earnings on offending service providers and business operators.