EU closes 54 Web sites for consumer law violations

301 European Web sites that sell mobile phone ringtones, wallpapers and other services violated consumer law

The European Union published findings of an 18-month investigation Tuesday finding that 301 Web sites that sold mobile phone ringtones, wallpapers and other services had "serious breaches of EU consumer law," according to a statement.

"All of this work has been about tackling hidden charges and nasty surprises in the small print of Web sites that rip off and cheat consumers," said Meglena Kuneva, the European Commission member in charge of consumer protection, during a press conference.

Of the sites investigated, 70 percent of the cases have been resolved, 159 sites have been corrected and 54 sites have been closed.

The investigation, called 2008 Ringtone Sweep, found three main problems: unclear pricing where consumers wouldn't find out about the cost of a ringtone or wallpaper until they received their montly invoice; failure to provide complete trader contact information; and misleading advertising that promoted ringtones as free when in fact they were tied to a contract. More than half of the Web sites specifically targeted children by using cartoon characters.

"These days, people want to be careful about their spending and for that they need transparent prices. They need to be able to compare offers, shop around and find the best deal. For these mobile products, younger consumers are particularly at risk," Kuneva said.

In February and May nine companies in Italy were fined €2 million (US$2.5 million) for not providing clear information to consumers. The companies were Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind, Dada, Zed, H3G and Zeng, Fox Mobile and Tutto gratis.

"Another type of violation was found related to unsolicited supplies. We found traders send unclear SMS, [and] by replying consumers are unwillingly activating subscriptions to ringtones and wallpaper download services," said Paolo Saba with the Italian Antitrust Authority, who also spoke at the press conference.

According to the Commission, Europeans own more that 495 million mobile phones. Ringtones made up an estimated 29 percent of the mobile content market in Europe in 2007 amounting to about €691 million in sales.

The Commission will work to conclude outstanding cases and plans to conduct several other sweeps and joint actions in 2010.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobile applicationseuropean union2008 Ringtone Sweep

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Win pair of MOMENTUM True Wireless

Three PC World readers will be in the running to take home a pair of MOMENTUM True Wireless which are meticulously crafted with every fine listening detail considered. *T&C's Apply

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?