Largest Ever Survey of Digital Subscriptions – 78% Don’t Want Fixed-Term Subscriptions

90% of consumers state the ending of a subscription to a service should be entirely their decision.

5th August 2021: Research of 1,000 consumers, commissioned by aimm in June 2021, observed that 93% described the process of signing up to a subscription to be clear and transparent. Just 1.5% of consumers found themselves subscribed to a service that they didn’t want. Unsurprisingly then, 90% of consumers felt that they alone should be responsible for choosing when to end their subscription, and 78% don’t want to sign up for a fixed term.

The research found that when it comes to digital subscriptions, regulation should guide consumer behaviour, but not be an imposition.

The current regulations already require robust consent, so any new regulations that impose stricter criteria will automatically discriminate against subscribers who are passively happy. The natural suspicion of consumers to click on links to renew a subscription means that services, including charity fundraising, will suffer, should this become a requirement.

The recommendation from the research, which asked about consumers’ preferences regarding reminder messages and length of subscriptions, is that for monthly subscription services a reminder message should be sent every month for the first 3 months, then once a quarter following that, with an additional service summary sent annually.

Joanna Cox, General Manager at aimm said “We wanted to ask consumers what they wanted when it came to digital subscriptions. The results of the research overwhelming show that the current regulations provide enough security for consumers and if anything they’d like to be contacted even less than they currently are.”

Over 97% of consumers felt that an annual service summary, that was for information only and did not need to be acted on, would be beneficial. Consumers now think of digital subscriptions as long term and not in 12-monthly timeframes. This is backed up by the fact that 75% have subscribed to a service or donation for over a year.

“We want to make sure that consumers are protected and feel safe using mobile subscriptions to sign up to services or donate to charity,” said Neil Johnson, Chairman at aimm. “However, we also want to make sure that we don’t create regulations that are too stringent, that actively dissuade consumers from signing up to quality subscription services, or mean that they are inadvertently cancelled. Too much unnecessary regulation risks damaging the consumer experience and the subscription business model; a model which creates a convenient way for users to pay for services they enjoy.”

 

Details about the research

Research was commissioned via Mobile Squared during June 2021. This research asked a panel of 1,000 unbiased people about their experiences, with the expectation that this would provide a meaningful insight into the world of those with a passive happiness with the service they receive. The panel was evenly split by age group, gender and location, to ensure a fair cross-representation of society.

Whilst recognising there have been challenges with phone-paid subscriptions in the past, these have now largely been resolved. This research addressed the experiences of those with a passive happiness with their subscription; the silent majority of people now using phone-paid subscriptions without concern.

aimm launches new consumer information site PhoneCharges.org

Today is a really great day, as we launch our brand new consumer-facing website PhoneCharges.org.

Consumers needed a better way to investigate unknown charges on their phone bill, identify who charged them, and resolve their query as quickly as possible, and this is why PhoneCharges.org was born. In its simplest form, the site will signpost consumers to their own network’s number checker or to the PSA’s service checker to quickly identify who has charged them and obtain their contact details. It also contains basic information around what phone-paid services are, why consumers may have been charged, when refunds may be due etc.

PhoneCharges.org will provide users with links to the relevant pages of their mobile networks’ website or to the Phone-paid Services Authority Number Checker so that they can find out quickly where any charges have come from. Additionally, it will provide easy-to-understand information about how phone-paid services work, why users may have charges on their bill and when a refund may be due. It will also provide topical news stories from within the industry which will help consumers understand the types of services that use charge-to-mobile billing.

The website is funded by aimm and its membership, but has been built free of charge by The Cute Group who have a wealth of experience in handling customer queries in this area.

Andrew Fisher, CEO of The Cute Group said ““When aimm approached The Cute Group with a concept to help consumers navigate the maze that is the phone-billed services industry, we knew immediately it had our name on it. As a leading UK player supporting digital services for brands, publishers and content owners, Cute has rich experience understanding the kinds of queries, frustrations and confusion consumers face – and how to resolve them helpfully, and with as little fuss as possible.  We are excited to partner with aimm to bring PhoneCharges.org to life, building the site itself and contributing our experience to support the project as a whole.”

Joanna Cox, General Manager of aimm said “More often than not, queries about phone-paid services are due to a lack of post-purchase information and consumers end up complaining to the regulator who are unable to resolve specific cases. PhoneCharges.org is there to help consumers get the information they need and solve their queries as quickly as possible.”

We hope this site can help consumers better resolve any issues they have, increase their confidence in phone-paid services and, ultimately, create the conditions for growth in our industry.

Media Partner Post: 10 reasons why rich messaging is re-writing the rules of customer communications

Post written by MEF as part of MEF Connects: Rich Communications digital event starting on the 29th September.

Rich business messaging is unleashing a new era of consumer marketing, customer care and conversational commerce. It is giving people a wider choice of channels. And it is enabling post-pandemic comms with low-human contact. This is a revolution, and every brand has questions about it. Ahead of MEF Connects Rich Communications this month, MEF ponder a few of them in their blog…read the full post

  • Rich messaging could displace the native app
  • Lots of platforms to choose from
  • Rich messaging is as easy as SaaS
  • Rich messaging will supercharge the era of the chat bot
  • Shopping inside messages? It’s coming
  • Fresh business models to suit all requirements

aimm will be co-hosting elements of the event on the 30th September and we are pleased to be able to to share the full speaker details for the event. Further details and agenda can be found here, but the full agenda will be released on the 17th September.

As part of MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme this all-new digital event brings together enterprises, brands & agencies to connect with MNOs and messaging providers to showcase the business messaging channels that are transforming customer engagement.

The 3-day global event features the latest use cases from brands revolutionising their customer engagement strategies with RCS, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger and more. Plus, daily analyst briefings, regional deep-dives, industry roundtables, EXPO and facilitated networking sessions.

PSA consultation on revised Special conditions for ICSS

PSA proposes extension of regulatory requirements to all call connection services and strengthens requirements

The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has opened a consultation on revised Special conditions for ICSS – third-party services that connect or signpost callers to popular helplines via a premium-rate number.

The proposals are intended to improve the information about these services that is given to consumers, both in search results and on service websites, to make it clearer that they are third parties and that calls via an ICSS may be more expensive than calling the desired number directly.

These proposals follow changes in January 2019 to extend the scope of Ofcom’s Premium Rate Service Condition to include all ICSS within the definition of controlled premium rate services. This extended PSA regulation to all ICSS irrespective of the number range they are operating on. This consultation proposes that the PSA’s Special conditions for ICSS should apply to all ICSS, regardless of number range.

The consultation is open until 10th June 2019. Respondents are advised to use the new PSA consultations response form, available from the PSA website.

Review of the 070 number range

Ofcom has today published a draft statement on the regulation of telephone numbers beginning with 070, following a review of this market.

070 numbers are designed to be used as a ‘follow me’ service, where calls are diverted from one number to another, so the person being called can keep their own number private.

Ofcom has found that 070 numbers are often mistaken for mobile numbers, which can lead to bill shock, as the prices for calling these numbers are usually much higher than they are for calling a mobile number.

Ofcom have provisionally decided to set a cap on the wholesale termination charge for calls to 070 numbers, which would be aligned with the existing regulated cap set by Ofcom for mobile numbers – currently around 0.5 pence per minute.

16/8/18