Telecommunication – 900 Numbers Laws
It was only prone for the technological revolution to materialize in losses for some players. One such loss is determined by the increased access children have to technologies and how they wrongfully use this access to browse through pages of inappropriate content on the internet or make 900 phone calls. The situations in which adults have received enormous phone bills due to children’s usage of the telephone are countless. And corporate entities have also contributed to this matter by addressing the children as independent customers. At numerous points in time, children were watching television and in the commercial breaks would see an advertisement for a toy and would call in. As the complaints of adults increased, so did the official concern for the matter. Consequently, the state institutions implemented several public and private policies, revolving around advertising to children or the minors’ call phones to 900 numbers. Two of the most eloquent such endeavors are succinctly presented below:
The 900-Number Rule of 1993 – it reduced consumer abuses, but other types of problems soon emerged. The policy saw that telephone service providers had to inform the audience about the costs of making the telephone to the 900 numbers. The information had to be presented on the screen throughout the entire commercial, as well as during a preamble message before the commencement of the advertisements.
The laws of 1993 also forbade the organizations to address children younger than 12 in their commercials. Special disclosure was required for the callers between the ages of 12 and 18. “The original Rule also prohibits advertising of 900-number services to children under the age of 12, requires special disclosures to callers who may be under the age of 18, and requires disclosures for services that promote sweepstakes or that provide information on a federal program that is not operated by the government. The original Rule also established procedures to enable consumers to dispute charges for billing errors relating to audiotext services” (Federal Trade Commission, 2008).Also, the laws saw the ability to implement a system blocking the 900 numbers.
Amendments to the 900-Number Rule – brought in three major improvements. First of all, it obliged vendors to get the direct permission of the person who would be billed for the conversation and/or the order. Then, increased billing for pay-per-call services would only be possible after signing an agreement and informing the customer of the conditions of the agreement. Finally, customers would be given the right to contest their bills and have the unauthorized charges removed from the phone bill. The amendments were voted with unanimity (Federal Trade Commission, 1998).
Other specifications relative to this matter include the fact that the cost information cannot be hidden in small print; the first thing to hear when calling a 900 number is a message that tells the caller where he has called, the services offered by the organization and the charged price of the phone call; the message will also tell children to hang up if they do not have the permission of their parents or if the service is not an educational one (Bureau of Consumer Protection).
The vital recommendation is for DWI to follow all implemented regulations. Finally, if despite these regulations, DWI customers have become victims of 900 calls and unauthorized phone billings, the company should advise them to contact the Federal Trade Commissions and have the bill disputed. Also, if parents or grandparents suspect that their offspring of placing such calls and being illegally exposed to obscene material, they are to contact the Federal Communications Commission, the Common Carrier Bureau, the Complaints and Investigation Branch (Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission).
October 23, 1998, Commission to Seek Public Comment on 900-Number Rule Revisions, Federal Trade Commission, http://www.ftc.gov/opa/1998/10/ninerule.shtml. Ast accessed on November 26, 2008
900 Calls: How to Handle and Avoid Pay-Per-Call Charges, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, http://www.wutc.wa.gov/webdocs.nsf/de53b07997d108ea882563b50072c5b3/5a831c3ddb95e9f788256666005712af!OpenDocumentlast accessed on November 26, 2008
900 Telephone Numbers, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Retrieved at http://www.datcp.state.wi.us/cp/consumerinfo/cp/factsheets/pdf/Nine-900-HundredNumbers156.pdfon November 26, 2008
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