Paying a Premium: Consumers and Mobile Premium Services


Eden Maher, Janet Lo


Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)




This report details the consumer experience using mobile premium services (MPSs) from the consumer’s first contact with MPS advertisements, to the process of purchasing MPSs, to unsubscribing from services, and finally, to disputing MPS charges.
This report also details the technical functioning of MPSs, the MPS industry, the various players within the industry, the profit-sharing arrangement between industry players, and the self-regulatory model surrounding MPSs.

Findings indicate that consumers’ problems are both under-detected and underreported, and that industry often dismisses the complaints that are brought forward. No single agency in Canada tracks or handles consumer complaints with respect to MPSs. The CCTS receives several complaints about MPSs and the CCTS plays an important role in resolving consumer disputes about MPS charges, but can only do so when a consumer brings forward a complaint. The CAFC tracks reports of fraud and provided useful statistics on the rising trend of text messaging fraud in Canada. However, no agency has conducted a systemic inquiry into the regulation of MPS and the efficacy of consumer safeguards in Canada.

In light of the findings from their study, PIAC recommends a number of measures to improve consumer protection for MPSs.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
285 McLeod Street, Suite 200
Ottawa, ON   K2P 1A1
(613) 562-4002
(613) 562-0007

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

Date Modified: