Latest: Latest Updates: EE terminate Mobitrans citing “ongoing concerns” but customers still reporting misinformation and lack of refunds from customer services
This page exists to document the ongoing investigation into unauthorised charges made by a company called Mobitrans directly to EE customers’ mobile phone bills, without their knowledge or permission.
The regulator, PhonepayPlus, claims its hands have been tied by a loophole in the regulatory framework which EE has inadvertently or deliberately used to exempt Mobitrans from the expected safeguards.
Ofcom has so far consistently washed its hands of responsibility, but the recent response from PhonepayPlus makes it clear that only Ofcom can investigate EE themselves, and there is clear evidence of wrongdoing that warrants investigation.
So far both EE and Mobitrans have been unable or unwilling to provide any valid evidence of consumers’ consent to these charges, but are refusing to refund or acknowledge the fault, insisting that consumers need prove that they didn’t consent to the charges.
Current Key Facts:
- Many people have complained that on inspecting their bills they are being charged a £3.33 per week subscription to “Mobile Academy”, and £4.50 a time for unsolicited text messages from this company.
- Mobitrans, who operate “Mobile Academy”, refuse to accept customers’ complaints that they did not subscribe (and usually have never even heard of Mobile Academy) and insist that they have evidence to prove subscription. Technical analysis of evidence so far provided shows it to be meaningless — the equivalent of citing a takeaway menu in someone’s bin as proof that they ordered a meal. It is presented in a technical fashion which leads most people to feel they don’t know enough to challenge it in the face of Mobitrans’ absolute insistence on its validity.
- EE (Orange and T-Mobile) claim that despite the money being taking from customers’ mobile accounts with them, this is nothing to do with them and is part of a scheme called Payforit which is regulated on Ofcom’s behalf by PhonepayPlus. The regulator has stated that this is false, and that Mobitrans are operating under agreement with EE.
- PhonepayPlus, on investigating, have responded that they are currently unable to act because Mobitrans and EE are effectively exploiting a loophole (referred to as “Own Portal“) which removes them from PhonepayPlus’s remit.
- The EE bill itself (in my case with T-Mobile) shows that these charges appear under “Other T-Mobile Services” as distinct from other Payforit charges which appear under “Third Party Services”, so this would appear to support PhonepayPlus’s position that EE are directly involved.
- However, EE’s customer service staff have no knowledge of this agreement and are only able to give the canned response they have been given on other, genuinely third party, Payforit services. When pressed sufficiently on the details admit to be out of their depth but that there is no process for them to escalate to anyone who is aware of the details. This is despite assuring Ofcom that steps had been taken to correct this situation.
- Ofcom have confirmed that the charges are EE’s responsibility but has so far declined to act despite there being clear evidence of wrongdoing on EE’s behalf.
- EE’s Data Disclosure Team aad Executive Office have confirmed that they do not have evidence of customer authorisation.
- The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has said in black and white, “If they cannot provide evidence they should refund your money.”
- Santander, commenting on the Direct Debit aspect of this, have stated that under the Direct Debit scheme EE are not permitted to take customers’ money and refuse to refund it. The must refund when challenged and seek payment through other avenues if they still maintain they are correct.
There are more blog posts on this site with more details. If you want to know who I am and why I feel qualified to investigate this and challenge the statements from EE, Mobitrans and PhonepayPlus, read here.
If you’re interested in seeing more complaints about this, google for “mobitrans charges” or have a look at the twitter hashtag #mobitrans. Note that in the UK it seems to be just EE (Orange and T-Mobile) customers affected, but that there are similar complaints about Mobitrans internationally, and that these complaints both here and abroad go back to at least 2014. Clearly, this is not being properly investigated by the the companies involved.