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what is a premium rate number?

Premium rate numbers are phone numbers that start with 0900, 0901, 0906 (collectively known as 090x numbers) or 18[1]. (They may include the country code prefix for Switzerland (+41): e.g. 0900 123 456 is the same number as +41 900 123 456 and 0041 900 123 456).

Calls to a premium rate number often cost more than a standard conversation. In addition to a simple phone conversation, a specific service is being provided, which is charged to your phone bill. A wide range of services is available via premium rate numbers. Premium rate services answer specific needs and offer a convenient way to pay that is particularly suitable for smaller sums. Although the vast majority of premium rate services respect the regulations in force, there is a serious financial risk attached to expensive premium rate numbers. Voice, fax or data services are all offered in this way. Orange does not provide the services itself and simply collects the fee on behalf of the content provider in question. In return for its billing service, Orange receives a small proportion of the fee. Orange is obliged to provide access to these numbers (interoperability obligation).

Examples of premium rate services: CFF customer service, theatre tickets, competitions, computer hotlines, adult entertainment.

There are four service categories:

  • 0900: Business, Marketing
  • 0901: Entertainment (no adult content)
  • 0906: Adult entertainment
  • 18[1]: Phone book/Directory services

Your bill is higher than usual?

Possible reasons:

  • You have dialled a premium rate number (090x or 18[1]) without realising that a higher tariff is charged for this service.
  • You have dialled the wrong number. Instead of dialling an 090x directory service, for example, you have dialled a very similar, but much more expensive 090x number.
  • Without you knowing, someone else has been using your mobile phone and has dialled a premium rate number or sent an SMS to a short number.
  • You have downloaded ringtones or logos via an 090x number or an SMS short number onto your mobile phone without being aware of the premium rate applicable.
  • You have received an SMS inviting you to call back an 090x number (for example to listen to a so-called love declaration) and have dialled the 090x number given to listen to that message.
  • You have taken part in an SMS chat or ordered an SMS service and have received dozens of SMS for which you have had to pay.

Possible reasons for an unusually high bill can be found in the detailed list of calls enclosed with your bill. Calls to premium rate numbers are listed under 'Other services'.

Who is behind a premium rate number?

You can find out who holds a number by visiting the OFCOM website. It may be that the number holder and the content provider are not one and the same. In this case, only the number holder knows the identity of the actual content provider. It is the number holder who is responsible for the premium rate number and the service content.

Premium rate numbers are allocated by OFCOM to number holders on request. In order to put a premium rate number into operation, the number holder must enter into a contract with a telecom operator, who is responsible for the technical implementation of the number. Orange does not offer such contracts.

How much do calls to premium rate numbers cost?

The price of a call to 090x / 084x / 0878 / 18xy[1] numbers includes a connection fee of CHF 0.40 per minute for postpay customers and CHF 0.80 for PrePay customers, to which is added a fee for the service provided. This surcharge (tariff) is not set by Orange, but by the service provider. The service provider is entitled to choose the tariff to apply to its premium-rate numbers. As there is no legal upper limit for tariffs, these can be very high.

The tariff must be indicated each time a 090x or 18[1] number is published (advertisement, TV, SMS, Internet, etc.). These may include tariffs per minute of usage, but also one-off fees charged at any point during the call. Tariffs per minute may change during the call. A one-off fee means that a certain amount is charged in one go, independent of the call duration. A one-off fee charged at the start of a call (call connection fee) is called a set-up fee. This type of fee is charged even if the connection is immediately stopped. Set-up fees can be astonishingly high.

What do you do if you have a problem with your Orange bill as regards calls to 090x numbers and want to complain?

Orange simply establishes the connection to premium rate numbers and collects the fees. It is not Orange who is responsible for the service content, the provision of service or setting the tariffs, but the number holder/content provider. There is no contractual relationship between Orange and the number holder/content provider.

Given that several firms are involved in connections to a premium rate number, the only recourse available to you is to send a written complaint. Please send your complaint in writing directly to the number holder immediately on receipt of your bill. You will find the addresses of number holders on the OFCOM list. This is generally the quickest way to settle your complaint. Many number holders may also be contacted by telephone or e-mail (try an Internet search). The number holder should be able to help you in all cases.

If you don't succeed in contacting the number holder before the payment deadline on your Orange bill, or if the latter ignores your request, insofar as the connection in dispute is established by Orange, you can send your complaint to Orange in writing within the payment deadline. You are asked to comply with this procedure as it is the only way we can be made aware of your problem and any improper use on the part of the number holder/content provider. You can send your complaint either by post to Orange Communications AG, Customer Care, Rue du Caudray 4, Case Postale, 1020 Renens 1, or by email. Please describe the grounds for your complaint in precise detail and, if possible, enclose the supporting documentation (e.g. copy of advertisement including date, screen print for Internet ads, copy of your bill). Our Customer Care will be happy to answer your queries.

Grounds for complaint can include:

  • The wrong price is indicated or not advertised with the premium rate number (supporting documentation required, e.g. copy of advertisement with date)
  • Wrong number (state the number you actually wanted to call, together with the type of service and price, requests must be plausible)
  • Unsollicited SMS with invitation to call back an 090x number (details of SMS required, such as date, time, sender's number, text of SMS message. Save the SMS wherever possible so that you can send it as proof to the Orange Customer Care)
  • No price announcement at the beginning of the call with an 0906 number (moreover, a new price advertisement decree comes into force on 1st June 2004, which stipulates that all premium rate numbers whose tariffs exceed CHF 2.–./min or CHF 2.– setup fee must have a price announcement played free of charge whereas for tariffs exceeding CHF 5.– /min or CHF 10.– setup fee a confirmation signal must be requested from the customer.)

Each case will be examined by Orange, if necessary together with the telecom operator who implements the premium rate number and who has a contractual relationship with the number holder. Generally speaking, the prospect of success is greater, the more supporting documentation you can provide with your complaint. However, Orange cannot decide on a refund itself, except in proven cases of improper use by the content provider, since the debt claim is determined by the content provider.

Orange will nevertheless make every endeavour to support you in any justified claims. You will be notified in writing of the details of our investigations. In the meantime, you must settle your outstanding bill, otherwise Orange may be compelled under the circumstances to suspend certain services on expiry of the notice period. In certain cases, the notice period can be extended.

How does a call to a premium rate number work?

Think of a call to a premium rate number as a kind of chain: The customer calls the 0900 xxx xxx number from his or her Orange mobile phone. The call is forwarded by Orange to the telecom operator, who implements the number. This latter passes the call to the number holder/content provider. As soon as the connection is established, a direct service provision relationship commences between the customer and the content provider. The service fee chain is similar: From the customer, via Orange, to the telecom operator, who implements the number, and finally to the content provider. Most of the time, the different steps are carried out by different firms and there can be up to four intermediate stations between the customer and the content provider. The customer's contact is primarly the number holder (see OFCOM list).

If the number holder does not provide a satisfactory answer to the complaint, the customer should immediately send a written complaint to the telecom operator having established the bill for the amounts in dispute. N.B.: Complaints must be received before the payment deadline has expired!

How can I prevent problems related to premium rate numbers?

  • You should remain vigilant regarding 090x and 18[1] numbers and make sure of the tariffs before you dial. Please be aware that the fees can sometimes be very high and there are cases of improper use.
  • We recommend you only dial this type of number if you are totally aware of the price and the type of service on offer.
  • Ask Orange Customer Care to block access to premium rate numbers from your mobile phone free of charge. You can ask for this service to be cancelled at any time.
  • If a mobile phone is used by several people, the blocking service is strongly recommended.
  • How can you recognise 090x numbers at first glance?
  • According to the law, the first 4 figures of a premium rate number (0900, 0901 or 0906) must be included together with the number in an advertisement and the price must be clearly mentioned. There have, however, been cases of numbers being given without prices in the form of a normal fixed line number (e.g. 090 123 45 67). No fixed line number starts with 090. Don't be confused if you see the international Swiss country code prefix '+41' or '0041' in front of an 090x number. Hence, beware of numbers that start with '090', '+4190' or '004190'. They could turn out to be very expensive.
  • The tariffs applicable to premium rate numbers can change daily. So check the date of the advert or publicity brochure. If you are in the habit of calling 090x or 18[1] numbers, remember to check regularly for any possible tariff alterations.
  • If no tariff is mentioned in connection with an 090x or 18[1] number, this constitutes an infringement of the law (Ordinance on the Notification of Prices - ONP). Do not dial that number under any circumstances. If necessary, notify the competent authorities or the seco in writing enclosing any supporting documentation.

    seco - State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
    Legal Department
    Effingerstrasse 1
    3003 Bern
    Tel. 031 322 77 70, Fax 031 324 09 56
    Contact: via email
    http://www.seco.admin.ch

  • Dial the number carefully to avoid calling the wrong number. If you do make a mistake, or the service is not what you were expecting, end the call immediately. Check the number before dialling again.
  • Take care when allowing other people to use your mobile phone. If a stranger asks for help, try to dial the number yourself. Remember that you are responsible for all calls made on your phone and can be forced to incur liability.
  • Avoid any unauthorised use of your mobile phone by a third party, e.g. by activating the automatic keypad block and by using a phone blocking code (see user's guide for your mobile phone).

What does Orange do about improper use in the provision of premium rate services?

Orange has signed an agreement together with other telecom operators to combat improper use in the provision of premium rate services, which forms an integral part of its interconnection contracts. The agreement enables effective measures to be taken against providers responsible for improper use of services, namely by blocking the payment of sums to the content provider. More details may be found in the press release.

Orange has also taken an active part in negotiations with ASUT (in German), which have resulted in an interprofessional agreement relative to premium rate telecommunications services, stipulating the rules to be respected, including fixed ceilings for premium rate service tariffs.

How do you block your mobile phone from accessing premium rate numbers?

You have two options:

  • either to block access to all premium rate numbers (all 0900, 0901, 0906 numbers and 18[1] numbers excluding 187),
  • or to block access to all adult numbers (0906 numbers).

The blocking service is offered free of charge by Orange. All you need do is contact our Customer Care (0800 700 700). Orange does not accept responsibility for any connections established before the block comes into effect.

Please note that adult numbers (0906) are blocked by default for customers and known users below 18 years old.

N.B.: By blocking access to all 090x and 18[1] numbers, you will no longer have access to premium rate services that you may have been used to accessing in the past (CFF customer service, alarm calls, weather, traffic, etc.). Unfortunately, selective number blocking is not possible for technical reasons.

You can request at any time the cancellation of the above blocking services, immediately and free of charge, by calling our Customer Care. Requests to block and unblock premium rate numbers can only be made by the holder of the subscription in question.

Can PrePay customers also call premium rate numbers?

Yes, but with certain limitations. For technical reasons, PrePay customers can only call premium rate numbers, whose tariffs lie within the bracket of most commonly applied tariffs (so-called industry standard tariffs). The price in itself is not the decisive factor, but standard tariffs set a maximum limit of CHF 6.66/min. or CHF 5.– for the setup fee.

Can normal telephone numbers also be charged at a higher tariff?

Yes, although these services are not charged to your telephone bill. Directly billed services such as these can also be proposed in the form of standard telephone numbers (so-called geographical numbers, such as 022 xxx xx xx). The content provider or biller thus sends a bill for the service fee directly to the customer. Only the normal fee for the call itself will be charged to your Orange phone bill. Your Orange bill will therefore only mention that call as a normal call to the Swiss fixed network.

Directly billed services are beyond the control of Orange in every respect. Orange is not aware of the service content, it has no contractual relationship with the content provider and is not involved in tariff setting. Orange does not forward any kind of customer data to such content providers or duly appointed billers, even at their request. Directly billed services may, for example, be collected by Telebilling AG. If you have a complaint regarding such bills, please direct your query to the biller. Orange Customer Care can only help you in a very limited way, e.g. by checking the connection data for length and time of call. A quick and easy way of checking is the list of itemised calls on your Orange bill. This serves as proof of the calls made on your mobile phone. Check whether, at the time in question, a call was actually made from your mobile phone to the number of the service. If you are in doubt as to the accuracy of the biller's invoice, we recommend that you be persistent and demand proof from the biller. Consumer protection organisations can be extremely helpful in such cases.

Should you receive a call from a biller, it is up to you whether you supply your name and address. The content provider must, before providing the service, obtain the customer's agreement and check the details. In the event of key codes sent by SMS for directly billed services, the content provider must also ensure that the customer agrees to pay the fee. By confirming his or her agreement, the customer is deemed to have entered into a contract under the terms of which the user of the service undertakes to pay the incurred fee. Verifiability must be ensured in all cases.

Legal situation regarding premium rate numbers

Orange is subject to the obligation of interoperability for all calls. This means that Orange is not entitled, except in a few rare cases, to block access to certain premium rate numbers.

An Orange customer can always guard against unpleasant surprises regarding premium rate numbers by ordering a personal blocking set from Orange Customer Care to block calls to premium rate numbers.

Orange is not responsible for setting tariffs, or for the service content of third-party premium rate numbers and has no influence in such matters. Orange simply provides the telephone connection and collection service. Orange has no contractual relationship with the number holder or the content provider. The customer has an implicit contractual relationship with the content provider, rather as it does for items sent through the post. The customer should therefore direct any disputes to the content provider first. The debt claim is determined by the content provider. Orange will nevertheless lend its support at the customer's request in settling written complaints against the content provider. The payment deadline for the bill under dispute must nevertheless be respected and is not automatically extended in the event of a dispute.

In the event of major infringements of arbitration regulations or legal provisions, OFCOM can revoke a premium rate number, in other words withdraw it from the number holder. The revocation procedure is relatively lengthy. In order to institute the revocation procedure, OFCOM requires detailed information on the facts of the matter and, if possible, proof. Customers can also write to OFCOM to report improper practices:

Federal office for communications
Telecommunications Department
PO box
2501 Biel
http://www.bakom.ch
Contact: via email