When minors uses Premium rate services

Can minors use Premium rate services?

The legal situation is not entirely clear regarding the use of Premium rate services by minors. It is the responsibility of the subscription holder to cover the costs that arise from telephony, including premium rate calls and international calls. If the subscription holder allows someone else, spouse, child, neighbor, etc., to use the phone, this person is given the authority to charge the phone subscription with any possible costs. Regarding prepaid cards, it can be argued that the actual agreement is made when purchasing the card.

To protect oneself from unwanted costs, one can request a block on Premium rate services. In this case, one contacts their operator and requests the block.

As a parent, it may seem strange that it can work this way, but there is no contractual difference between when a minor makes a short call to a friend for a cost of about 50-60 cents, a call abroad, or a Premium rate service. The subscription is charged, and the person responsible for payment of the subscription is also responsible for all telephony used on the subscription.

The Swedish Consumer Agency refers to the rules of the Parental Code that minors cannot enter into contracts, but there is no legal case that fully covers their claim. With that interpretation of the Parental Code, a person under the age of eighteen would never be able to buy anything without the consent of their legal guardian, except for the person's own means acquired through their own work, which applies to a person over the age of sixteen. In other words, it must be remembered that there are several exceptions to the rules of the Parental Code in practice.

Regarding Premium rate services, it is also true that it is the subscription holder who is responsible, and to obtain a subscription, one must be of legal age. It is possible to prescribe in law or agreement that a certain person is always responsible for the use of something in a certain way. An example is that a car owner always pays for any parking tickets regardless of who used the car. Another example is the provisions of agreements on telephone subscriptions, according to which the person responsible for the subscription is liable for the phone fees regardless of who made the calls. The Swedish National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN) established in a decision in 2005 that this is the case.

However, in several decisions in recent years, ARN has concluded that various internet communities have entered into contracts with minors in violation of the above-mentioned rules, and therefore, the responsible companies have been asked to reimburse the costs incurred on the minor's parents' subscription. If your minor child or any other minor person has used a phone subscription that you are responsible for and purchased Premium rate services without your permission, you can file a complaint with us. We can then help you contact the responsible company and try to clarify what has happened. In most of the cases we have handled, where minors have purchased paid phone services without permission, the company has chosen to reimburse.

An investigation into the legal situation regarding Premium rate services was conducted in 2012. The investigator then concluded that there was currently no need for legislation in this area, but that the legal rules that already existed, in combination with the self-regulation established in this area, would be able to handle these issues appropriately.