Three Easy Ways to Keep on Top of Mobile Billing

Published on: November 25, 2016

WASPA’s insistence that its over 370 members provide mobile content and applications in accordance with its enforceable Code of Conduct has seen the total number of consumer queries lodged via the WASPA Unsubscribe Query System (WUQS) plummet.

To illustrate, the total number of queries lodged via WUQS for 2015 amounted to 292 905. This is significantly down from 2014’s comparable figure of 472 721.

WASPA, or the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of SA, attributes this positive trend of fewer mobile users being subscribed to unwanted mobile services to stricter mobile network opt-in measures, proactive monitoring of various media by the WASPA monitoring team, and better educated consumers.

“While mobile users today tend to be more discerning when it comes to subscribing to the different categories of mobile content and applications provided by WASPA members, some cellular users do still inadvertently sign-up for mobile services they did not intend to,” says WASPA’s Ongopotse Motlhanke.

The mobile network opt-in process helps eliminate unintended subscriptions, as does the welcome message sent to the subscriber, and the monthly SMS reminders of the subscription.

However, one cannot always account for simple human error and Mr Motlhanke therefore provides three easy ways mobile users can help reduce their chances of being billed on a recurrent basis for currently unwanted mobile content and applications.

1) The advent of free messaging services like WhatsApp has meant some mobile consumers don’t always screen their SMS inbox. Remember to check this daily for double opt-in reminders.

2) Download your mobile network’s app that will allow you to regularly screen your itemised billing. You should only be seeing mobile content and applications subscriptions that you have proactively requested.

3) Memorise your network’s USSD code for quickly checking balances so you can load airtime and then check if it’s been depleted several hours later following a time when you didn’t make calls, send texts or consume data. You can then immediately rectify any issues.

An additional hint, according to Mr Motlhanke, is for parents to supervise their children’s use of mobile devices as this often results in inadvertent subscriptions to paid services.

The mobile networks allow consumers to manage mobile content subscriptions by sending USSD commands from their cellphones. The various subscription management commands are as follows:

Cell C

Using the USSD string *133*1# subscribers can block all existing and future content billing.

MTN

MTN also offers a USSD string (*141*5#) to manage premium content subscriptions, but it doesn’t block all future subscriptions.

Vodacom

Most Vodacom users can unsubscribe from all WASP services by sending “STOP ALL” to 30333.

In summary, check your SMS inbox for double opt-in reminders, download your mobile network’s app to screen your itemised billing for anomalies, and memorise your network’s balance check USSD code to quickly pick up depleted airtime. Finally, you can perform a USSD command on your cellphone to manage mobile subscriptions.