Phonepay Plus has published its long awaited 13th Code of Practice and has enshrined a number of key changes to the code that signal ever-more willingness from the regulator to work with the industry to allow for innovation and growth while protecting consumers.
Key changes in the code include:
• A new rule requiring providers to possess any qualifications and/or licences necessary in law before operating a PRS.
• An updated rule on the requirement not to take advantage of vulnerable consumers.
• The removal of any spending caps currently contained within the Code or prior permission regimes – with the amounts and actions associated with them to be set outside the Code.
• The raising of the “forced release” cap on live chat and sexual entertainment services from £30 to £45 per call (incl. VAT) – with new requirements to inform consumers clearly when they have spent £15 (incl. VAT) and require them to clearly opt in to continue when they have spent £30 (incl. VAT).
• The raising of the single purchase cap, and monthly subscription cap, on Children’s Services from £3 to £5 (incl. VAT), and a new purchase cap for Children’s Services of £20 (incl. VAT) per service in any given billing cycle.
• The removal of a universal requirement for all PRS to supply and promote a non-PRS UK phone number for consumer enquiries (but to maintain appropriate and effective free or low-cost complaints processes).
• The introduction of Special Conditions to apply to defined higher risk service types – these will replace existing “prior permissions” regimes.
The removal of spending caps and other amounts and actions previously found in the body of the Code has been made possible by a new framework for imposing such caps, thresholds and actions as required. This is set out at section 3.12 of the Code.
PhonepayPlus published the first Notice of caps, thresholds and actions on 26 March 2015 and the requirements set out in that Notice take effect as of today.
The changes to the Code also led to a full consultation on new Special Conditions for a range of service types that PhonepayPlus considered to pose a higher level of risk. The framework for Special Conditions is found in section 3.11 of the Code, and the introduction of Special Conditions is to make sure those risks are managed and achieve high compliance standards.
The full collection of Guidance includes both those items consulted upon earlier this year and the existing Guidance which continues to offer effective advice for compliance with the 13th Code. Those items of Guidance that have been transferred across to continue to support the 13th Code have had minor factual amendments to present correct information and clear paragraph numbering from the new Code.
Industry body AIME has welcomed the new code, but warns that “The PhonepayPlus 13th Code of practice becomes effective today and it is important that you are familiar with the changes. The largest change was to introduce Special Conditions as an alternative to existing Prior Permissions but this is not a direct swap in-out and some new conditions have been added to the service types and outdated conditions removed. “
The Code, updated Guidance and Special Conditions documents are available here