In addition to mobile and console games, children are again running up surprisingly high invoices by using traditional SMS services.
A recent example is a case where a child sent hundreds of SMS questions to a service where answers are provided by a monkey character and accumulated a bill for hundreds of euros. The SMS service, which is directed at children and young people, costs three euros per question. Without the consent of a guardian, minors may only make ordinary, minor purchases considered typical for children.
Online and mobile worlds do not form an exception to this principle. Although, under the terms of the subscription contract, the parent is responsible for expenses associated with the child's use of the mobile phone, operators or companies that offer services through mobile phones are not automatically freed from their responsibilities by invoking the parents’ role as the responsible party.
It is nonetheless useful for parents to remember that they can prevent surprise invoices by setting barring functions, provided by operators, for their child’s mobile phone subscription. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is recommended that adults also bar certain numbers and text messages on their own mobile phones, or tablets equipped with a SIM card – particularly if children have access to these devices.
Children should always be guided and instructed on the use of devices and media. Inform your child about the fee-based features of games and services and agree on rules, including that the child must always ask permission from a parent in order to make purchases.
If unwanted purchases have been made, you can take the following steps:
Demand that the operator or company offering such services through mobile phones cancel the transaction, or try to negotiate with them over the matter. You always have the right to present claims to the operator when a fee is charged on your mobile subscription invoice. The operator has joint responsibility with the service provider for clarifying problematic situations.
State that you have not authorised or been aware of the purchases and that the charges were incurred by a minor.
To make it easier to resolve possible disputes, we recommend that all complaints be filed in writing. In addition to the instructions on our website, you can use our Complaint Assistant or our complaint forms (available in Finnish).
If you make no headway with the case, you can consult
- the Consumer Advisory Service, which provides information on consumer rights, and mediation assistance in disputes between consumers and businesses
- the European Consumer Centre Finland, which assists consumers with problems related to cross-border trade in cases where a product has been purchased or ordered from outside Finland and from another EU Member State, Norway or Iceland.
Children as users of mobile services and the Internet