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Warning! entering in mobile competitions with Sybase 365 or Mbill

September 25, 2008

I cannot believe the underhanded tricks that companies such as Sybase 365 and Mbill will go to make a fast buck.

I received my mobile bill last month to find over AUS$20 worth of “received” Premium SMS charges on it. I have 3 Australia (www.three.com.au)mobile account and it has Premium Numbers disabled. The Premium SMS charges were billed as “Sybase365”. I had no recollection as to what these charges were so I contacted 3.

I was initially told by 3 that they could do nothing about the charges. They then gave me a 1300 number for Sybase 365 which was only an automated IVR system and could get through to any support people.

I eventually discovered the company’s head office number 02-9258-9600 and after another IVR finally got through to a person. The Sybase 365 individual took no responsibility for the issues as he claimed that “the charges are not ours but from a partner of theirs called Mbill”. I was told by the Sybase 365 individual that they had already had complaints about them and that they probably wouldn’t call me back, so the person said he’d call them on my behalf. I heard nothing back.

After 1 week of not receiving any return calls from Sybase 365 or Mbill to my requests, I escalated the issue to Hutchison 3G Australia (“3”) who were very responsive to the issue.

I then received a call on my mobile earlier this week from an Mbill support person. This individual was very difficult to understand, but he claimed that I had entered a competition on a web site for an iPhone. I recalled the incident and remembered getting the SMSs, but I had replied STOP to all of them.

In order to prove his point the Mbill support rep sent me via email some Excel spreadsheet logs to prove it was my device and that I had subscribed. Unbelievably their logs show clearly that they sent me a discontinued notice to a STOP response from me (see line 4) and they still sent chargeable emails to my device.

image

It gets better. Notice how they send 3 Premium SMSs to my devices in a very short interval (lines 8,9,10), which is AUS$15 in 1 minute! So, even before I can reply STOP to the first one I’m already charged for the luxury of receiving their spam.

It gets even better. Notice how they use 2 different premium SMS numbers, so even if you respond with STOP on one, they still SMS on the other number.

Even with this evidence the Mbill support person argued through email that it was still my fault and not Mbills.

Here is an example of some of the difficult to understand emails I received from this support individual….

image 

I don’t even think Google Translator would be able to interpret this……

Eventually with the evidence of Mbill’s log files, 3 Australia agreed to refund me the full amount.

So, I strongly urge everyone not to enter into any mobile or web based competitions by Mbill (mbill.net) as they will Premium SMS you to an early death.

The Australian mobile industry needs to deploy rules and regulations to prevent irresponsible companies such as Sybase 365 and Mbill from getting away with these scams.

 

Posted By Shane Williamson

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