Saturday

17th Nov 2018

EU to crack down on ringtone swindles

  • Many ring-tone websites are misleading consumers on costs, the commission has found. (Photo: wikipedia)

The European Commission will on Thursday (17 July) announce that it will launch inquiries into ringtone websites across Europe, as a result of an initial investigation that found that many are tricking consumers into expensive subscriptions when they thought they were downloading a single ringtone for free.

It has checked some 500 websites offering mobile phone services such as ringtones and wallpapers - images to be displayed on-screen - in all EU states as well as Norway and Iceland, and has found that 80 percent of them need to be investigated further "for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Some websites offered unclear price information, not including taxes. Others were "hiding key information in very small print", and did not provide required contact details.

Additionally, some portals lure customers into long-term contracts by offering "free" tunes; and many people thought they were buying a single ringtone, while they were in fact signing up to subscriptions, the commission found.

"Far too many people are failing victim to costly surprises from mysterious charges, fees and ringtone subscriptions they learn about for the first time when they see their mobile phone bill."

"There will be a Europe-wide enforcement action to track down each of these traders," EU consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva stated in announcing the investigation.

Children are the main "victims" of such websites. Some 50 percent of them were found to be targetting a young public, notably by using cartoon or well known TV characters.

"We need to get a clear message out, particularly to teenagers and children: Be on your guard! It's all about the small print!," commissioner Kuneva said.

The UK, the Czech Republic and Romania had the highest number of checked websites, while in 10 member states – Denmark, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Finland and Sweden – all checked websites will need further investigation.

The initial commission inquiry took place from the 2 to 6 June and, following its findings, national authorities are now to contact the companies responsible for the websites, asking them to correct the irregularities.

Those companies that fail to comply may face fines or be forced to close their websites.

The national authorities are to report back to the commission in the first half of 2009.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Resetting the gender balance through football

Many sports, like football, have been so heavily male-dominated at every level that women and girls have battled against poor odds to be treated as equals in the game. FIFA aims to change that.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation

The EU Commission has received several million responses from citizens, businesses, and organisations on whether to end the daylight summertime savings. Any tangible change would take ... time.

Exclusive

Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs

Wegate.eu, which received €1.2m in EU money since its launch almost two years ago, has less than a thousand registered users - from a possible target audience of at least 10 million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us