The simple version: The plaintiff purchased a twelve month phone service from United Tel for her family. Sometime in January 2009, the plaintiff was charged for premium content that she never authorized and which the phone company still hasn’t acknowledged.
The complicated arrangement: This class action complaint filed in the state of Minnesota does an excellent job outlining its allegations about how the defendants business model works to take advantage of the consumer. United Tel is a subsidiary of a company called, ClickSpark which offers “premium content” such as access to websites such as “Findyourdiet.com” which they guarantee will result in weight loss of ten pounds within five weeks. For this, subscribers are “automatically” billed $14.95 through their phone company. BUT the billing goes through a third party called, “Enhanced Billing Services” which serves as the conduit between the premium content providers such as the weight-loss site and the phone company.
Billing not authorized: The charges made by the billing service that end up on the phone bill are not identified as charges for the weight-loss website. Worse, the billing service need only verify a link between a phone number and the person’s name as receiving phone service for them to charge them for services such as a subscription to a weight-loss website that they didn’t want, request or authorize.
Regardless of whether the allegations made in this complaint are true, it will lead me to scrutinize my phone bill for squirrelly charges.