Jumping in to the competition for mobile web payments, T-Mobile is introducing a new bill-to phone payment service to its subscribers. Pricing and credit terms of the service have not yet been announced, nor have dispute resolution policies and procedures.
This month T-Mobile is rolling out its plan to let its customers buy digital content and services (such as games, magazines and more) through their mobile Web browser and charging them on their phone bill.
T-Mobile has offered this service, called direct carrier billing, since 2009 for apps purchased through Google’s Android Market. But by expanding it to browser-based purchases, it’s now becoming available to T-Mobile users on any type of Web-enabled mobile device — potentially even feature phones.
Most wireless carriers offer some form of direct carrier billing, but it is unusual to extend it to browser-based purchases.
This and similar services have caught the ire of Consumers Union, who point out the differences in consumer protection associated with credit, debit, and phone-billed purchases:
In June, Consumers Union published a report that laid out the landscape of consumer-billing protections:
“Consumers who link mobile payments to credit cards have the strongest rights. … Consumers who link their mobile payments to debit cards or bank accounts have the second best set of consumer protections. … On the other hand, consumers who link their mobile payments to general purpose prepaid cards and gift cards don’t have the same guaranteed protections as credit and debit cards.
“The same applies to mobile payments that are debited directly from a prepaid mobile account or are charged to a mobile phone bill. These payment methods are likely limited to voluntary protections, which may provide no protection at all.”
Consumers Union reviewed the direct carrier billing terms in contracts for 18 wireless carriers — and found them all lacking. For instance: “Sixteen of the 18 wireless contracts require consumers to pay for charges resulting from merchant mistakes or other errors while an investigation of disputed charges is pending.”
Click here for more: http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/08/10/direct.carrier.billing.gahran/