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MBS billing

  Forum Editor 11:41 02 Sep 2007

This is a continuation of the thread that was originally posted in the Helproom. That thread ended up being 21 pages long, with over 800 posts, and has been closed. In response to requests I'm opening this here, in Consumerwatch which is a more appropriate place, so the discussion may continue.

You can read the original thread if you click here

  Forum Editor 12:50 10 Nov 2007

"We should ask fhiufhyrefyer if he has any updates or anything to add to his excellent post which is now more than a year old."

You may do that if you like, but don't use our forum for the purpose.

"We should create a check list of all potential nuisance files relating to this problem to assist others in removing unwanted software. FE can perhaps set this up and monitor it?"

We will not be doing either of these things, because we aren't in the business of advising people how to circumvent the terms of a legal agreement they may have entered into.

I've made it clear before - I have been advised (by two lawyers) that there is nothing illegal in the terms and conditions of the MBS agreement, and that we would be acting irresponsibly if we actively collaborated with anyone in finding ways to deactivate the software.

Time and again I've reiterated the fact that I find the MBS billing system unpleasant, unduly intrusive, and likely to cause distress and alarm to thos people who may have inadvertantly agreed to the download. I shouldn't have to constantly defend myself against silly personal criticism because I'm acting responsibly and sensibly in this respect.

  Forum Editor 13:03 10 Nov 2007

"I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that you are wasting your time expecting the FE to believe something that hasn't actually happened to him personally."

What a juvenile comment to make. If you had been with us for a few years instead of a few months you would realise just how untrue your comment is.

You are certainly wasting your time if you think that I'll accept everything I'm told at face value, without question or investigation - years of experience in this forum have taught me just how foolish it is to do that. What I've asked for since this all began is some evidence to support the allegations that people have made about MBS software appearing on their machines without their knowledge.

I've called nobody a liar, and have not once suggested that it couldn't happen - I've simply asked for proof, and I haven't received a shred of it. If I was a lawyer, and I walked into court to prosecute a case without anything other than the plaintiff's word that he/she was telling the truth I would be laughed out of the profession, and rightly so. It's not a bit of good someone like you insinuating that I'm biased, or that I'm not interested in helping people - it's all meaningless waffle. I have worked for over a year on this subject, and I know as much about it as anyone here. I'm standing ready to help and support anyone who comes to me with some evidence of wrongdoing on the part of MBS, but until that happens I'll try to maintain a sense of reality and balance - MBS trades legitimately as far as I have been able to determine, and that means we'll have no defamatory statements here.

  Forum Editor 23:00 10 Nov 2007

I haven't deliberately tried to subscribe accidentally - what gave you that idea? What I have done is to visit the website involved, and see if I can find any way that someone could download the MBS software without deliberately clicking on a link to enter into a three day free trial.

I have clicked on the link that displays the terms and conditions in full, I've done it several times, and at no point did any software download. If you click the link to enter the site you are presented with the following statement, clearly displayed in white text on a black background:

By clicking "Get Instant Access Now" you are confirming that you are aged 18 or over and have read, understand and accept the full terms and conditions governing your access to and use of this website including your use of the Micro Bill Systems (MBS) billing account. You are confirming you wish to receive a free three day trial subscription to the Website and that unless you cancel within the trial period you automatically become a full member billed at less than 45p per day billed every 90 days in advance on a recurring subscription basis until Membership is cancelled."

You must tick a box, confirming that you have read and understood these terms before you can enter the site.

It would seem, therefore, to be virtually impossible to receive the download by accident, or without your knowledge, unless it arrives in some other way, and at the risk of being boring I repeat what I said earlier - thus far nobody has presented me with any evidence to show that's what happened in their case.

  Forum Editor 17:42 11 Nov 2007

So what did you see? Are you telling me that you somehow got the MBS software onto your computer without ever visiting the site concerned?

  Forum Editor 17:43 11 Nov 2007

Are you also saying that your daughter got the software on her computer without ever visiting the site?

  Forum Editor 23:10 11 Nov 2007

I think you need to consider the implications of publicly advising people how to breach a binding agreement before hitting the keyboard with sweeping condemnations.

Running a successful computer help forum doesn't mean that you have to slavishly agree with everything people tell you, or recklessly expose yourself to the risk of litigation - it's perfectly possible to help people without being foolish.

I have not, at any point said that people should not attempt to remove MBS software from their computers - I'm simply confirming that we're not going to advise them about how to do it. There's no evidence to show that the MBS billing system is in any way illegal, in fact as far back as May of this year West Yorkshire Trading Standards said of the MBS system

"It would appear to be very difficult to subscribe to the service without realising. As such, any contracts that are entered into are likely to be legally binding."

In the same month the Guardian Online Technology section said:

"One aspect of MBS's operation remains clear: extensive investigation by the Guardian and security companies has shown no evidence that it is ever installed by stealth. In all the cases found, the program is explicitly downloaded and installed, with the user giving permission at a number of steps, before it runs."

That is precisely my position - the extensive investigation I carried out also revealed no evidence of installation by stealth, and that's why I ask for evidence. You might do better to reflect a little more deeply next time you're thinking of accusing us all of missing the point.

  wee eddie 18:08 12 Nov 2007

They want to make money.

Given a bit more refinement the technique is actually a pretty good one as it appears to work.

Once they get it right, I can foresee many Internet Companies doing business with them.

  Forum Editor 18:34 12 Nov 2007

"...but frankly, that's your problem not ours"

I'm afraid you're a bit wide of the mark there - it might be very much your problem. I didn't think it would be necessary to mame the point yet again, but obviously it is. If you post a libelous allegation in this forum, and the person or company you have libeled decides to enter into litigation it would be you who received a writ, and we might be joining you in court. When you publish a libel here we also publish it, and in the past the owners of a web forum have been faced with paying out hefty amounts of damages in just this set of circumstances.

I'm not going to allow you, or anyone else to put yourself and us in such a vulnerable situation, and that's why I am so careful when it comes to some of the things that people merrily post in threads like this.

Finally, please don't accuse me of openly casting doubt on what forum members tell me, because I have not once done such a thing with regard to MBS software. If someone tells me that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the download of the software to their computer I believe them. If they want me to provide them with help and assistance to remove the software however, I expect them to provide me with some kind of evidence to back up their inference that the software must have been installed by stealth - no reasonable person would do otherwise. If you think that I'm going to blindly accept someone's assertion that a company is covertly sneaking software onto peoples' computers so it can charge them for non-existent services you have another think coming. I need to be able to face said company with confidence when I take the matter up with it, and so far I haven't been provided with any ammunition - nor to the best of my knowledge has the Guardian newspaper, nor has Leeds Trading Standards.

  Forum Editor 18:48 12 Nov 2007

Forgetting the melodrama of "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh." you don't need to say it very often at all - I'm sure nobody here doubts your daughter's word, and I certainly remember our correspondence. I'm not incredulous, as you seem to think, and neither am I too concerned about criticism - feel free to criticise all you like.

The problem with what you say is encapsulated in this:

"but to me if someone can prove that there was no-one in the house at the time stated that is proof enough. I concede that something must have happened to sign them up; I would simply like you to concede that this sign-up was absolutely unintentional."

But it's not "proof enough", that's just the problem. What I need is evidence to show how, if your daughter wasn't in the house, and nobody else had access to her computer, the software got onto her machine. Suggest a way that could have happened, and provide me with some evidence, and I'll most certainly be very interested indeed. If you can do that you'll be the first person who has.

I'm perfectly happy to concede that your daughter may not have intended to enter into an agreement with MBS, but that's hardly the point, is it? What's important is that the software got onto her computer, and if she didn't agree to the download how did it happen? Answer me that, even speculatively, and we can have a discussion, but please don't expect me to just sit here and accept everything you say, simply because you say it - I'm entitled to look a little deeper into what is alleged or suggested.

  wee eddie 19:58 12 Nov 2007

I assume that the house was absolutely empty. No Kids, Partners, Cleaners, Tradesmen or any other Visitors.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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