Zamano calls on industry to unite behind regulator

Are you working in an mobile aggregator at the moment? Well, zamano (with a lowercase ‘Z’) wants your body. In the context of support for the UK industry regulator. With the European Commission finally getting off its fat behind along with PhonePayPlus announcing ‘action’ to tackle abuses by ‘rip-off’ ringtone vendors.

It’s good news. But it is also about 5 years too late. But me no buts.

Zamano is urging fellow aggregators to support the proposed clampdown on ‘rogue’ D2C content companies by regulators.

Here’s Declan Petit, Zamano UK country manager:

“As with any communications network providing an open channel between content companies and consumers, there is potential for misuse. zamano takes a great deal of care to minimize consumer harm.”

“We believe the mobile content industry can only fulfill its true potential when consumers have complete confidence in the quality and value for money of services they consume on their mobile. Working in complete alignment with regulation is the only way for the industry to achieve this.”

The European Commission is following up after consumer complaints led it to investigate 500 websites across 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland. Apparently it may act against 466 cases. It’s not clear what the definition of ‘act’ is, though.

Plus, everyone involved has already made their cash.

Meanwhile PayPhonePlus has confirmed that any company not allowing customers to stop a mobile content subscription quickly and easily will be barred from operation with immediate effect.

The crackdown is a throwback to 2004, when the UK regulator first imposed a mandatory ‘stop’ option for all consumers taking out subscriptions for mobile personalisation products. I was there. I remember the rubbish from a lot of mobile aggregators and mobile content companies. “Far too difficult,” they told any journalist that would listen.

I managed to get a piece in New Media Age… I think… declaring that this position was ridiculous and that we’d implemented it perfectly easily with our Impulse text-to-screen service for nightclubs.

Zamano reckons that this action appeared to work – reducing complaints, but also causing a slowdown in the off-deck mobile content industry. They also point out however, earlier this year PhonePayPlus revealed a dramatic rise in consumer complaints, with 4,500 in the first three months of 2008 alone.

Can we not get past this?

I suppose not. It’s far too easy to take cash from gullible consumers through the medium of mobile.

It’s easy because the aggregators look the other way.

Not all of them, of course. But a huge amount. They look the other way and cream off the top — many tacitly approving of the throughput. Until they get a PhonePayPlus wrist-slap.

But 10, 20 or even 100k is often pocket change when your client has brought in a few hundred grand in a weekend’s worth of scamming.

A few more PhonePayPlus adjudications at half a million pounds plus would get the attention of the dividend holders and cut out abuse.

I remember when we worked with iTagg, for example, Steve or one of his colleagues would more or less personally approve every use of their service. It was a quick and simple way of making sure their clients weren’t arsing about and that they knew the regulations and implications of non-performance. There was a basic underlying desire to ensure that no one was being billed for anything they didn’t want.

I liked that attitude. I’ve been consistently surprised when coming across other aggregators who really couldn’t give a toss about the end consumer.

It’s a difficult one, I suppose.

The aggregator perspective is very much geared around the fact that they’re simply a gateway. It’s not their responsibility to check every message and make sure every application is implemented correctly. They won’t be checking every single advert issued by their clients, will they?

Well, try getting your mobile application through testing at one of the North American operators. You couldn’t go live with anything until they’d thoroughly tested it. That was pretty good. But hugely annoying because of the delays.

Will all aggregators be standing in line with zamano then?

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