If you feel that you have an unusually high phone bill or that your airtime disappears as quickly as you load it, then maybe you are being charged for premium WASP (Wireless Applications Service Providers) services that you didn’t ask for or perhaps inadvertently subscribed to.
This was the experience of Hermanus resident, Clare Wise de Wet, who, after visiting and sending various emails to her mobile provider, is being credited with airtime to the value of R1 110 “as a once-off gesture of goodwill for the WASP charges” according to an email she received from Vodacom.
“I could not work out why I was going through about R500 airtime a month when I rarely make phone calls. When I went into the Vodacom shop to enquire about changing to a post-paid contract, as clearly something was amiss with the pre-paid service, the sales assistant sent an SMS to 31050, typed in STOP ALL, and sent it” said Clare in a Facebook posting on The Village NEWS – All Over Overberg.
“To my horror, a text message came back stating that I’d been unsubscribed from ‘BeFit’ and, the next day, another text came in for ‘QZtech‘. The worst part was being told that I had “accidentally” subscribed to these things, which I absolutely did not, and then being made to feel like an idiot when I insisted there was no way I would do this,” said Clare in the posting.
Unlike applications that one can download as an icon to a mobile phone from iTunes or Google Play either free, or at a one-time or monthly charge, WASPs, also known as premium content providers, are internet-based applications and services that typically charge a daily fee.
In Clare’s particular case, she was being billed R7 a day each for ‘BeFit’ and ‘QZtech’. Later, she found out that Vodacom was also charging her a daily fee for Vlive, a platform that provides content, picture messaging, games, polyphonic ringtones, 3D Java games and video messaging.
Vlive was not cancelled when an SMS was sent to 31050. Instead, a Vodacom customer service representative needed to block this service.
Examples of WASPs include ringtones, mobile wallpapers, horoscopes, jokes, mobile downloads such as games, interactive voice prompts, news and traffic updates and receiving location information such as the address of the nearest restaurant or police station.
WASPs are big business for the mobile industry. Vodacom, for example, charges a WASP a connection fee of R8 334.00 (excluding VAT), a monthly access fee of R1 320.00 (excluding VAT) and then shares a portion of the revenue they receive from the daily charges.
How to Unsubscribe or Block WASPs on Your Mobile Phone
Cell C requires users to complete a double-opt-in process to subscribe to a WASP service and allows users to manage subscriptions via a USSD menu.
Customers can dial *133*1# to access the Content Services menu and manage any subscriptions active on their number. Users can also block their number from being subscribed to any WASP services.
MTN requires users to complete a double-opt-in process when subscribing to a WASP service. There are four separate USSD strings to manage premium content subscriptions. Each one needs to be accessed for a user to check if they are subscribed to a WASP:
Dial: *136*5#, *464*970#, *156*12# and *123#.
MTN users can also block premium-rated services, such as a WASP, by following these steps:
2. Select Option 2 (Content Services),
3. Select Option 2 (Manage Premium Rated Services),
Select Option 2 (PRS Charges),
Select Option 1 (Block PRS Charges).
Vodacom features a double-opt-in process for WASP services on its network, and customers can unsubscribe to all content services by sending an SMS with the words “Stop All” to 31050.
If you are subscribed to WASP services, you should receive a response indicating that your request to unsubscribe has been received. You should then receive messages confirming that you have been unsubscribed.
Alternatively, dial *117# and choose “Unsubscribe”. It is also possible to block all future WASP subscriptions by dialling customer care (135).
Telkom customers are required to complete a double-opt-in process to be charged by a WASP service.
Block all WASP subscriptions by enabling a setting in the Telkom app:
1.Log into the Telkom app and navigate to My Products > Manage > Protect Your Mobile Number, and set it to “On”.
2. To manage premium content subscriptions, navigate to My Products > Subscriptions > Content Services.
Alternatively, dial 180 and follow the prompts.
If you are unable to unsubscribe from WASP premium services, visit a shop of your mobile provider. If your mobile operator is unable or unwilling to assist you, contact the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) on firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a complaint form at waspa.org.za/lodge-a-complaint/
Information courtesy of WASPA