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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 21:30 12 Nov 2007

Think about it for a while, and you'll understand the difference between casting doubt on something and not accepting it at face value. I'm afraid I haven't the time to spell it out for you.

  Forum Editor 22:55 12 Nov 2007

I'm not surprised that you were angry. I wonder if you would be prepared to contact me via email, giving me some more detail about the dates in question?

Did you get the name of the person you spoke to at MBS by any chance?

  wee eddie 13:51 13 Nov 2007

Their software downloads when you click the Link accepting their Terms for the 3 day Free Trial and Membership if that Freebie is not cancelled within the prescribed time limit.

  Forum Editor 18:07 13 Nov 2007

You're entirely welcome.

  Forum Editor 18:16 13 Nov 2007

In very simple terms, so that you're no longer confused:

If you cast doubt on something you infer that you don't believe it - you literally doubt its veracity.

If you refuse to accept something at face value you're saying that you need more evidence. It is NOT the same thing at all, as any lawyer would readily confirm. If the two were the same thing there could be no such thing as the presumption of innocence. I can't draw proper conclusions about ann allegation someone makes unless I ask for verification of what they say - that much should be obvious. It doesn't mean I'm casting doubt on them at all, and I'm astonished you can't grasp what is after all a basic concept.

  Forum Editor 18:23 13 Nov 2007

There may well be ways that some people might achieve that, but the huge difficulty lies in detecting it.

Any system that relies totally on the IP address which appears in a server log is flawed unless there are alternative checks and balances, and that's where it all begins to get very complex indeed. I'm currently looking at the technicalities involved in Micro-billing as a concept in some depth, but I'm afraid it's hardly the stuff of dinner party conversation. Watching concrete set can seem quite entertaining when compared to an in-depth study of web-server technologies.

  wee eddie 11:20 14 Nov 2007

while surfing is going "click, click, click" and assuming that the Terms and Conditions are going to be fair and reasonable.

That is where the problem really lies. There is so much free porn about that many kids expect it all to be free, excepting those sites that will not let you enter without seeing the colour of your money, and as there is no block on the site.

They click Yes to "I'm 18". Yes to the unread Trial Period section and Yes to the unread T&C's. And of course they will not tell Mum & Dad that they were looking for Porn. Would you have done so when you were 14?

  Forum Editor 18:37 15 Nov 2007

Micro billing is going to be a very attractive proposition for music libraries offering downloads, or indeed any company wanting to sell subscriptions, or small value service items. It has obvious advantages as far as these companies are concerned.

  Forum Editor 23:16 15 Nov 2007

I suppose the real point is that if you buy something, or commit to pay for a service, and you receive that service or item there's no reason not to pay the bill when it pops up. It's no different in that respect to a bill popping through your letterbox.

The people who are annoyed about the MBS bill are angry because they have no knowledge of having agreed to pay a subscription to access a porn site - either they accepted the free trial and didn't realise they had to cancel within three days, or they say that they didn't visit the site at all. There's no requirement for a site visitor to provide any form of identification, and therefore no way - other than persuading an ISP to disclose the person to whom an IP address was dynamically assigned - that the billing company could possibly trace an individual. That's the big flaw in the system, as it's applied to the porn site in question. By making the billing system so intrusive and irritating the billing company is alienating the very people it seeks to trade with. If it adopted a slightly more transparent approach, and said (on the site's index page)

'Welcome. Please understand that if you decide to accept our offer of a free trial you are also agreeing to download some software that will generate a subscription bill on your computer's screen at the end of the three-day trial period, unless you contact us by email before the end of the three days and cancel your subscription. Please click here to see a full version of the terms and conditions to which you will agree if you proceed. Please click the 'Yes' button to enter the site and start your free trial'

If they did that there would be virtually no valid excuse for a person not to pay a bill if it subsequently appeared. There may still be people who would claim not to have agreed to the software download, or even to having visited the site at all, but that's a risk the content provider would have to take - it's the price, if you like, for running a system that doesn't ask for any form of identification before allowing access to the site content.

If the system was used for say, a music download site you would have to give a verifiable email address before being allowed to download. You would order your music, agree to accepting some billing software, and then be sent an email with a clickable link to your download. At least, that's the way I assume it would work.

  Forum Editor 01:04 16 Nov 2007

This can go round and round in circles, but if you read the full terms and conditions you'll see that you agree to the pop-up billing, you agree to the ever-increasing inconvenience, and you agree to a lot more besides - not least you agree to further software downloads as and when the billing company thinks fit.

In effect, you agree to what you call the 'mucking up' of your computer. Unless you pay, that is.

By the way, in a true micro-billing situation it's not the billing company that gets the money, it's the owner of the site - the billing company gets a fee for its services as a third-party payment collector.

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

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