A week ago she got a text out of the blue entitled “FreeMsg” saying “This is NOT spam! Due to a technical error we owe you a small refund for text messages to your mobile. Please call 08448243696 so we can refund you.”
What to do?
The immediate reaction is that this is another scam. I mean seriously, given all the press articles about reverse charge numbers and the like, would anyone ring a number like that? A quick check on the PhonePayPlus website and the first thing one discovers is that the number is owned 2ergo Limited. The last time these guys sent us a text it cost us £3, so our first reaction was how much did this one cost?
After some discussion we decided to ring the number from a landline on the basis that it is hard to charge landlines for reverse bills or text them. The first thing that happened is that we got through to a recorded message (more alarm bells ringing). It is a polite, recorded message claiming to be from 2ergo and after a minute or so it asked us to input our mobile number so they could check it against their records and see if we are due a refund (surely they already have this as they texted us in the first place?). They also explained that a customer service rep would ring us to get our name and home address. At this point we put the phone down. We had no idea what to think. Is this genuine? Is it a further scam?
Is this another scam?
I truly don’t know whether this offer of a refund was genuine or not. However, this paranoia is a reflection of the lack of consumer trust in the whole premium rate industry. Just check out the the Scream forum to get a feeling for how deep it goes. You get a text from someone you don’t know and immediately think the worst. You seldom know who to trust in this industry and this is precisely the reason why PhonePayPlus needs to do so much more.
There is a worry we are sounding ungrateful here. If this is genuine then surely I should congratulate them. However, if you want to restore customers’ trust you need to do more than send a dodgy, anonymous, text pointing people to a recorded message.
What should 2ergo do?
Assuming it was a genuine attempt to refund the customer then the refund process should be much more seamless and engender trust.
2ergo have records of all customers who sent texts by Win4Fun. If it can’t identify genuine texts from those sent as a result of their technical error it should refund the lot. This list of numbers and amounts should be sent to the network operators who have the ability to credit the relevant accounts (or hold onto the credit until the PAYG is topped up). A short text to the customer telling them this has happened will be fine. Vodafone can clearly credit customers – it did so in this case when my colleague complained. Yes there are higher costs associated with this route but, sorry, once you have sent out rogue texts, the onus is on you to restore the trust.
The application of these simple rules would be in the customers’ interests and it is surely them we should be worrying about?