One of the problems with enabling consumers to download and install apps from anywhere on platforms such as Android is that unscrupulous folk can have a lot of fun with it. And make a pile of cash. I do like the flexibility myself however I can’t help but shake my head at the poor end-consumer who doesn’t quite understand the potential pitfalls.
Witness for example, the £135,000 that a firm made by offering Android users a battery life extender app and then whacking them for premium rate text messages without their consent (and no way to easily unsubscribe). I picked this up from the latest PhonePayPlus adjudications email:
A number of complainants reported to having received unsolicited chargeable text messages after downloading an Android application on their handset to extend the life of their phone battery. Users were signed up to a subscription service after downloading the application and the complainants reported to having had difficult in cancelling the service. The Tribunal found that users were misled into entering the subscription service, pricing information and contact information was not given and users were unable to leave the service by sending the ‘STOP’ command. The Tribunal also found that the promotion did not make it clear that the service was a subscription service, nor state the terms and conditions or advertise the ‘STOP’ command.mBlox Limited was given a formal reprimand, ordered to refund all affected consumers and fined £135,000
It really is amazing. This shit is STILL going on, but now with a slightly different Android angle.
I wonder if the app asked the user for ‘control’ over their SMS messages during install and then sent the premium SMS requests itself? It wouldn’t surprise me. This is a lot worse than the standard scams that rely on a poorly worded advert in some newspaper to sort-of trick unwitting consumers. Somebody actually *programmed* an app to deliberately hose people.