Telecoms watchdog Icstis has clamped down on two Liverpool-based companies that have been asking hotels to fax back information on premium-rate fax lines.
It has fined Protoria Communications £7,500 and Hoteldata.com £1,500. Both firms have been barred access to the service for six months, and Icstis has issued a general warning about Protoria Communications' activities to all telephone network operators.
Both were guilty of five breaches of the Icstis code of practice, including a failure to provide any pricing information or contact details to the recipients, or additional information requested by Icstis, such as call volumes.
The higher fine imposed on Protoria partly reflected its total lack of co-operation. It ran its service on four different telephone networks, switching from one to another as soon as its numbers were closed down.
Fines also reflect such factors as revenue, how deliberate the breaches were and the level of harm to consumers. The highest fine imposed by Icstis so far is £100,000.
Icstis is also looking into a hand-written fax sent twice to the New Mill Restaurant in Eversley, Hampshire, by Finger Contracts Co, requesting details of the Christmas menu and sitting times. The only details provided were the company name and the (premium rate) fax number.
Icstis has established that a Bradford man is responsible for the contract for the service on BT Networks, and will be contacting him.
by Angela Frewin