Israel’s Consumer Protection Council explains that despite the fact the Ministry of Communications has informed cellular telephone companies that they are acting contrary to the law by not verifying a subscriber’s agreement to content packages, three of the large companies in Israel are using phones to collect third party funds without the consent of subscribers. The practice has yielded enormous sums for the companies involved on the backs of their subscribers.
The consumer council has filed a NIS 400 million class action lawsuit against Cellcom, Pelephone and Partner for collecting money from customers for content services without their consent.
The council claims that although the Ministry of Communications made it clear to the cellular companies that they act unlawfully when they do not verify the client’s consent to a transaction, the cellphone companies used cellular phones for collection of third party content without obtaining the client’s consent. This yielded huge profits for the cellular companies at the expense of the costumers.
The lawsuit addresses a widespread phenomenon that existed for years, at least until the communication reform of 2011.
The companies used to earn funds for ‘content services’ including jokes, trivia, games and the like. This was done without the consent of the client. The company did not check to determine if the customer agreed to specific content, and the customer was billed on money for third parties furnishing content without agreeing or being aware. The cellular companies would earn up to 50% of the revenue supplied by the third party for content, hence yielding handsome profits.
In November 2018, as part of a class action lawsuit filed against Partner, a class action lawsuit against it was approved only for the funds collected by it for a specific content provider, and not for all funds collected for all content providers by the same method.
The Consumer Council’s position is that given the severity of the conduct of the cellular companies, the extent of the phenomenon and the volume of complaints received, it was decided to file a class action against all the cellular companies for all content services.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)