Telia shuts down premium rate service numbers

Today, Telia shuts down the premium rate service (PRS) numbers for one of the companies offering services on the Internet. Telia has also decided to offer the service "Telia Kod" (version C) at no cost. Telia Kod (C) provides 100 percent protection against the problem of "kidnapped modems" when a customer dials up with Telia. The debate about "kidnapped modems" began in Sweden in January, when Telia warned customers about this problem.
After receiving a sharp increase in the number of customer complaints, Telia recently investigated how service companies use their 0900 PRS numbers. As a result of the investigation, Telia concluded that service companies employ unethical methods, and that there is an apparent risk that Internet users can be tricked into using a service they don't want. Telia then contacted the ERB, the ethical council for PRS in Sweden, to request the council to review Telia's investigation. The ERB has subsequently recommended that Telia shut down the services. In Telia's opinion, companies should be able to use PRS numbers to offer different types of services. However, these services must be designed and based on a level of knowledge that an ordinary customer has about the function of such toll numbers. Telia believes that the service company whose PRS number has been shut down bases its services on a level of knowledge that is too high for the ordinary user. Due to the methods that are employed, many customers are not aware that they are using the services of this company. Telia has also decided to discontinue the charge for the Telia Kod (C) service as of February 15, 2003. With this service, which was previously charged at a rate of SEK 10 per month, customers can block their number for PRS calls with 0900, 0939 and 0944 numbers, as well as for phone calls outside the Nordic region that are invoiced by Telia. With a personal code, customers can "unlock" their telephone subscription when they want to call blocked numbers. Telia is also reviewing its agreements with all services companies with 0900 PRS numbers. Among other measures, Telia intends to ensure that the dialer functions, which are downloaded to a user's computer, may no longer be used. Because of mistakes, or by clicking on a few simple buttons on the Internet, a computer's remote connection can be changed without the customer noticing it. Instead of the normal Internet dialup rate, the price can suddenly increase to SEK 30/minute.

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