MiWay has confirmed that an issue with a third-party lead provider resulted in users being charged to opt out of marketing SMSes.
MyBroadband readers alerted us to the issue, which saw their airtime balance being charged for their opt-out response to the following SMS:
[Name], want to see if MiWay can beat your current car insurance premium? Reply YES for a quote. NO=OptOut. Std rates & T&Cs apply. Licensed STI&FSP 33970.
Two different users showed proof of receiving this SMS on 9 June, and one showed MyBroadband proof that they had been charged when replying to the SMS with the word “NO”.
The billing of users who choose to opt out of direct marketing is against the rules of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).
The FSB (the predecessor to the FSCA) implemented these rules as part of changes made to its Policyholder Protection Rules (PPRs) in July 2018.
These rules require companies to adhere to specific standards regarding direct marketing through calls, SMSes, or voice messages.
Anyone who receives insurance advertising via these mediums must be able to opt out of future direct marketing from the company without being charged for doing so.
This is stated in Rule 10, which reads as follows:
The advertisement must allow the policyholder the opportunity to demand that the insurer or other person does not publish any further advertisements to the policyholder through any of the listed mediums.
The insurer may not charge a policyholder a fee or allow a service provider to charge a policyholder any fee for making a demand.
“We have investigated the two complaints raised by your readers and can assure you that MiWay has not received any fee from either of your readers,” a spokesperson for MiWay said.
“In saying that, your readers certainly do have reason to feel aggrieved.”
“We have traced the origins of the SMSes and found that a third-party lead provider sent the SMSes but had unwittingly failed to zero-rate the ‘opt-out’ responses,” MiWay explained.
MiWay confirmed that while the lead provider has not received any revenue from this, they should have been liable for the network charges.
As a result of this, MiWay has immediately suspended the campaign and said it will implement stricter controls regarding all service providers in the future.
“We have impressed upon the third-party lead provider to compensate identified users who have been charged network costs for ‘opting out,'” MiWay said.
“Please be advised that MiWay will not, under any circumstances, charge users who opt out of marketing campaigns.”