Subscription and notification services

 
Definitions  
A “subscription service” is any service for which a customer is billed on a repeated, regular basis without confirming each individual transaction.  
A “notification service” is any service where there are ongoing charges for the service that are not individually authorised by the customer, but which are not subscription services, because the billing is not repeated/regular.  
Record keeping  
For all subscription and notification services the member must keep a record of the source of the service initiation request, and all subsequent interactions with the customer. Those records must be made available to the customer, on request. Records must be kept for a period of at least three years after the customer terminates the service.
General requirements  
A member must not require that a customer join a subscription or notification service in order to claim an existing reward, to be able to redeem existing loyalty points or to claim a similar benefit. (Example of incorrect marketing: “to claim your prize, join this service”.)  
A member may offer an incentive for joining a subscription or notification service, provided that it is clear that the benefit only applies once the customer has joined the service. (Example: “if you join this subscription service, you will be entered into a monthly draw for a prize”.)  
Once a customer has joined a subscription service, neither the amount and frequency of the billing nor the frequency of the service may be increased without the customer’s explicit permission.  
Once a customer has joined a notification service, the amount of the charges may not be increased, nor may the trigger for the notification service billing be altered without the customer’s explicit permission.  
Billing for subscription services must not exceed the total amount specified in the pricing information.  
Subscriptions initiated via a web page  
For all subscription services initiated via a web page, there must be an additional specific confirmation step before the customer is billed. This confirmation step must be provided in one of three ways:  
    The customer’s mobile carrier may implement the confirmation step.  
    The member can provide the customer with a “confirmation page”.  
    The member can send a “confirmation message” to the customer. The customer must not be charged for the confirmation message.  
A confirmation page must contain the following information:  
    the name of the service,  
    the pricing information,  
    a customer support number,  
    instructions for confirming the initiation of the subscription service, and  
    a link to any applicable terms and conditions.  
Additional information about the service may also be included, provided it follows the above information.  
Subscriptions initiated via an SMS  
For all subscription services initiated by the sending of an SMS, there must be an additional specific confirmation step before the customer is billed. This confirmation step must be provided in one of two ways:  
A confirmation message must contain only the following information, in this order:  
    (optionally) additional information about the service.  
Subscriptions initiated via USSD  
For all subscription services initiated via USSD, there must be an additional specific confirmation step before the customer is billed. This confirmation step must be provided in one of two ways:  
    The member can present the customer with a confirmation step via USSD.  
The confirmation step must present the following information, in this order:  
    a customer support number, and  
    instructions for confirming the initiation of the subscription service  
The option to unsubscribe must be listed in the top-level menu of any USSD-initiated subscription service, under the heading “unsubscribe”.  
Welcome message  
Once a customer has joined a subscription or notification service, an SMS message must immediately be sent to the customer confirming the initiation of the service. This message is referred to as the “welcome message”. The customer must not be charged for the welcome message.  
The welcome message must be a single message and may not contain any line breaks or carriage returns. The welcome message must begin with the word “welcome” and then contain only the following additional information:  
    instructions for terminating the service, and  
    (optionally) a link to a WAP landing page or a web page describing the service.  
Reminder messages  
A reminder SMS message must be sent to a subscription or notification service customer within 30 days of the initiation of the service, and once per calendar month thereafter. This message is referred to as the “reminder message”. The customer must not be charged for any reminder message.  
The reminder message must be a single message for each service the customer is subscribed to, and must not contain any line breaks or carriage returns. The reminder message must begin with the word “reminder” and then contain only the following additional information:  
Some notification services are of a seasonal nature (example: sports-related notifications). During calendar months where a member does not send the customer any notifications and where no billing takes place, the member is not required to send a monthly reminder message.
Terminating a service  
Any instructions for terminating a subscription or notification service must be clear and easy to understand and should be readily available to customers.
A member may not charge any fee for receiving a service termination request. Network fees may still apply.
If a service termination request received from a customer is unclear, the customer making the request must be provided with sufficient information to be able to terminate any services provided by that member to that customer.
If a member is unable to immediately act on a service termination request received from a customer, the customer must be informed. (Example: “This may take up to 24 hours to be processed.”)
The processing of any service termination request must not be unreasonably delayed and must be honored within two working days (48 hours).
Terminating a service via SMS
If technically feasible, a recipient must be able to terminate a subscription or notification service by replying ‘STOP’ to any SMS sent to the customer regarding that service, including the welcome message and any reminder messages.
If a ‘STOP’ reply could pertain to multiple services, either all services must be terminated upon receipt of the termination request, or the customer must be given a clear choice of services to terminate.
If the words ‘END’, ‘CANCEL’, ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ or ‘QUIT’ are used in place of ‘STOP’ in an opt-out request, the member must honor the unsubscribe request as if the word ‘STOP’ had been used.
Confirmation of termination of a service
Once a customer has terminated a service, a message confirming this must be sent to that customer. This message must specify the service the customer has terminated, and the customer must not be charged for this message.