TMobileSA (Mobbee) – The modern day THIEVES of the technology industry

Just how much time and money one is going to waste quickly becomes apparent when one receives an SMS text message on one’s cellphone similar to the following text message, which I received at 5:21pm on the 30th August 2010 from the following cellphone number: +27 (82) 0048440.

The text message reads as follows:

“Welcome to Mobbee. U can view unlimited content! To opt out in the promotion SMS STOP to 37459 help call 0878204085. T & C apply”

Now I should start off by saying the I have NEVER subscribed to TMobileSA’s Mobbee service, nor to a service called Mobbee, nor have I subscribed to any premium rated service (or other) offered by TMobileSA (Mobbee) or any of its subsidiaries.

It does not matter if you reply to them or not, or if you actually contact them, or if you contact your Service Provider (Vodacom SP in my case), because YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN CHARGED a premium rated SMS to receive that SMS text message.

Everytime you receive a text message from TMobileSA (Mobbee), you WILL BE CHARGED.

And, what makes it worse, is that TMobileSA (Mobbee) simply bills your Service Provider for the text message, and then your Service Provider simply adds the cost thereof onto your cellphone bill, WITHOUT your knowledge, consent, or otherwise.

Unsubscribing is a complete pain in the ass, and it is impossible to hold ANY party accountable, and even more impossible to actually be refunded for any costs that you have incurred on your cellphone account.

Essentially WASPS (Wireless Access Service Providers) that conduct business in this manner are the modern day THIEVES of the technology industry and are only being assisted in their endeavours by Service Providers that we come to trust and love.

Update (01 May 2011):

It looks as if TMobile is at it again .. they have recently been sending out “Inspirational Quotes” SMS’s to people (mainly MTN customers) so you had better check your cellular account!!! R5 per SMS!  If you read the comments below, it’s plain to see that most people have NEVER subscribed or requested this service.

What ever happened to the “double opt in” that was supposed to have been implemented???

Update (10 May 2011):

63 complaints about TMobile SA on helopeter in the last 2 weeks. Wow!

Link: Helopeter | TMobile SA | Complaints

MAJOR UPDATE (13 May 2011):

Thanks to Darren for the following update:

It would seem that TMobileSA/Wirels have been expelled from WAPSA!!! :)

Due to the complaints 10931, 11177, 11287 and 11296 lodged to WAPSA and WAPSAs adjudicators upholding the complaint it would seem that they have now expelled TMobileSA!

See: http://waspa.org.za/code/detail.php?id=11287
Other Sanctions: Expulsion from WASPA

Their details are also no longer appear on the “list of members” page: http://waspa.org.za/members/index.php

This in turn should result in the disconnection of all their services on the SA mobile networks. No company is allow to have a billing service on the SA mobile networks without being a paid up member of WASPA.

We will have to see if the SA networks do in fact disconnect them but at least in the mean time it’s a small step forward.

It would appear that the most damning report from the adjudicator is the one linked above (and again below) in which the complainant was actually an employee of WASPA!!!

The report makes for brilliant reading and is listed here.

Well done to all!!!! Beers on me!

Update (24 May 2011):

It looks like IOL have picked up the story as well. Link here.

Suggestions:

Here is a few suggestions of what you can do in order to assist the WASP from losing its licence:

Identify which WASP is actually billing you

www.smscode.co.za – Need help identifying the owner of a commercial SMS or short code?

Contact your Service Provider – but remember, it is not their fault that the WASP is billing you, so don’t get too angry with them, BUT they can give you all of the contact details for the WASP, and they can confirm the name of the service that you are being charged for!

Lodge a complaint against the WASP

www.waspa.org.za – Once you’ve got the name and contact details of the WASP, then it’s tme to report them to the Wireless Application Service Provider’s Association! (Whether or not they are actually going to assist is yet to be seen!)

Confirm your subscription and recover your money from the WASP

Once you have confirmed the service that you are being charged for, and once you have lodged a complaint against the WASP, then contact them directly in order to try get a refund from them… which might be dependant on the level of your anger!

Good luck!

More links and reading:

TMobileSA’s website (link) (re-directs to an IP address)

Uniforum SA’s details pertaining to TMobile SA’s website (link)

TMobileSA is run by Tsoko Information Technology (link)

Complaints on HelloPeter.com (link) (link) (link)

45 thoughts on “TMobileSA (Mobbee) – The modern day THIEVES of the technology industry”

  1. Nice article Andrew.

    All WASPS in SA are governed by WASPA and WASPS do get fined and/or turned off if they contravine the WASPA code of conduct so it’s definitely worth lodging a complaint with them.

    Usually when get bills like yours the user has just forgotten that they did in actual fact access the service. It could have been from any one of a number of different channels but wap and SMS are most common.

    There are strict rules in place on advertising and displaying of all relevant subscription information as well as sending of a welcome message and monthly comfort messages with all relevant info. If however you are sure you did not interact with this WASP then they may be one of the “naughty boys”.

    Oh btw they should not charge you for the sms they sent you (that should be a standard rate sms in case you reply with “stop”).

    Hope you got yours sorted out.
    Darren

  2. Thanks for the article – this happened to my wife as well on 30 August. These guys should be criminally prosecuted (any room for this?) because a quick internet search shows that this has happened to 100’s of people recently.
    We’ll report this to WASPA, but you know they will just start up under a different name and do the same thing again.
    Did you unsubscribe? Not sure whether to trust that process either.

  3. ame thing haappened to me. Tried all the contact details on all the sites and whois lookups – all don’t exist. All numbers listed at Vodacom are incorrect. Eventually found a number and got through – apparantely they had a “technical glitch” and the debit was a mistake. They will refund it – I won’t hold my breath. Anyway the contact number that works is 0738674845.

  4. I just got the same thing on my phone. I however do blame the cell service provider (MTN in my case), because as a consumer that is where my money is going. The phone that I received this on is old and can not do WAP. I very seldom use the phone and I don’t advertise that number in any way, so how the … did they get my number. Thieves indeed. I did SMS stop and hopefully it is the end of it, but I did lose R3 in the process. Now think, steeling R3 from thousands or millions of users, these guys are making a fortune and will never stop.

    This is not the first time, lost close to R30 that I know of due to “naughty” WASPs on this phone.

    NO!!! I do blame the cell phone company. They should provide an option to block all WASP services. But no, they won’t do that cause they to are making money from this and are just as greedy and corrupt.

  5. I was so pissed off. Went to Vodacom SP and demanded an explination. I eventually discovered that the company was owned by an Indian family. Trying to get hold of the owner was impossible. Phoning their 011 no resulted in being put thru to a computer generated system every time by the switchboard lady. I went to the SAP and laid a charge against them for theft. Got a docket no and all. I am sure nothing is going to come of this but you have to stop this shit from happening. I also have their physical address. Next I am in JHB, I will look them up and put a brick thru their window so that I can get some sort of pleasure back from the R29 they stole from me. Hope they all die a thousand deaths.

  6. Got two messages from them yesterday, sure I am going to be billed! Phone the STOP number in the SMS, surprise surprise it went nowhere. DId a lookup on SMSCode and got T-Mobile-SA, phoned these bastards (from the number listed on SMSCode) and the lady said it was just “promotional” and I am not on their database!

    If I wanted to unsubscribe however, I must SMS stop to a premium rated number (37459). Have emailed WASPA, lets see if they have any grunt, thinking probably not! Gary, shout if you need help, I have a good arm for lobbing bricks!

  7. This not acceptable, Gary/Shaun any feedback from WASPA ?
    Willem any commitment or assistance from MTN as I have experianced the same thing today re TMobiles?

  8. Hi Faadiel – I also got an SMS today from MTN advising that TMobile has charged my phone account with R5 for content “Inspirational Quotes”. I find these 35050 type ads are totally misleading, and am sure many people get caught out and end up paying R5 a day for something they may have thought is a once off. I NEVER subscribe to any of these things, and certainly did NOT subscribe to any “inspirational quotes”. I am intrigued that you were affected today as well. To me the evidence seems to suggest that cell no’s are being “harvested” and then abused. This is blatant fraud.

  9. These bastards did the same thing to me today.And trying to get hold of them is a waste of time. This must be the biggest modern day scam ever! Imagine scaming R5 from a million people, and they become R5m richer! Government has to seriously stop this fraud!

  10. Same thing happened to me today. I phoned MTN straight away and they assured me that they would “unsubscribe” me – (I did not subscribe in the first place!!!!!) and credit my account. Apparently the SMS was sent in “error” but MTN is launching an “investigation” due to the number of complaints received. As far as I can see this is an across the board scam involving all cell phone providers. How the heck do companies actually get away with this?

  11. same happened to me today. R5.00 debited….THIEVES and they are getting away with this !!!!!

  12. These guys are crooks. They debited my cellphone and plan to take them to court. I rather spend money than allow invasion of privacy. Asked my lawyer to look at the consumer protection act so we can sue them.
    Lawrence

  13. Hi Guys,

    MAKE sure that you Lodge a complaint against the WASP !!!!!

    Nothing is going to happen unless people Lodge complaints against the WASP – TMobileSA!!!!!

  14. Hi All,

    I just got the same thing done to me, thought it might be an error but I am furious now that I see all the complaints. This is nothing more than theft, can you imagine how many people have been caught by R5.00, they making a killing at our expence – these thieves should be jailed.

  15. I have lodged a complaint with Carte Blanche Consumer. Hopefully they have enough clout to put an end to this. Perhaps you should do the same.

  16. This happened to me this morning, the strange thing was that a couple of days before I had a call from Autopage? I was too busy to talk to them at the time but now I wonder??

  17. I too received this message! It enrages me that companies are allowed to do this WITHOUT our consent! If I think of the impossible procedures when trying to terminate a contract with a SP, I think that it is their DUTY to protect us. Does their first obligation not lie with their clients and should there not be proof of our acceptance of a such an offer? I agree with Willem:This is theft with consent from our service provider. They should be looking after our interests and protecting us against such blatant fraud!!

  18. I have just looked at the WASPA complaints reports and there are a number of complaints about this that have been upheld by the service providers so dont give up make sure you report it

  19. MTN has just informed me that TMobile stated that the SMS’s went out by mistake. MTN will forward the numbers affected to TMobile and TMobile will refund everybody. How stupid do they think we are? This “mistake” started on Friday and is still continuing today. If this was a mistake it could have been sorted on Friday already. Convenient to rake in a couple of mill and then refund when it suits you. Nothing but outright theft !!!!!!!!

  20. I was scammed out of R90.00 by Mira Networks an overseas company.It was only when I used my phone and found no money that I realized that I had been scammed. Our trusted service providers should be able to block these thieves out

  21. Add me to the list of MTN subscribers who were debited R5 for “inspirational quotes” from T mobile!! Inspiration my ass–not having much luck getting through to any body with common sense at MTN today, maybe tomorrow (holiday) or more likely Tuesday. Looking forward to getting my refund. LOL

  22. The number to call to get this resolved is 0861 876566 or 011 312 0524. Good luck.

  23. I logged a complaint with WASPA. MTN should be ashamed with this kind of action. TMobileSA is an official partner of MTN (according to MTN’s website!)…

    Seems that all of this weekends scams are MTN related…

    TMobile got these mobile numbers illegally as I for one never had any dealings with them.

    What a shocker….

  24. The fact that SP’s (MTN in my case) can proactivley send us an SMS to inform of TMobile daylight robbery, my take is that they are aware of this blood sucking corporates and can stop this malicious act before we are robbed further. It still remains our expensive excercise to contact TMobile and try to recover the R5.00, and for all these indefinite calls to recover our monies, magine who gets all the revenue.

    SP’s are colluding…

  25. It seems that TMobile (Mobbee) is “Wirels Connect” (www.wirels.com / http://www.wirels.com/index.php/why-us)
    Wirels also seems to sell data lists (http://www.wirels.com/index.php/services/data-lists) for mobile marketing but TMobile might be abusing this list to subscribe users without their knowledge.

    It might be best to contact wirels directly and ask to be unsubscribe and have your number permanently removed from their data list (they sell their data lists to anyone willing to buy it) as this is in contravention with both WASPA and the new Consumer Protection Act.

    Good luck!
    P.S there are many WASPS working hard to keep this industry clean and sustainable and provide users with real value on their mobile devices. Unfortunately companies like TMobile give the industry a bad name.

  26. I also received the TMobileSA “Inspirational Quotes” message from MTN. Tried getting through to MTN or Tmobile was a nightmare. I have lodged a complaint with WASPA. Looked at their previous complaints and see that TMobileSA has already been sanctioned due it’s conduct in Jan 2011 already. Yet they still persist in their fraudulent activities. Were does one go now?

  27. I to have been charged R5 by Tmobile for”inspirational quotes”
    Phoned Richard Sebotsa 012 644 0838-no dial tone
    phoned 0861 876 566 voicemail box full
    phoned 011 312 0524 no answer
    emailed “bothal@tmobilesa.co.sa” threatening criminal charges if R5 PLUS R50 inconvenience charge is not refunded to my account.
    Have registered complaint at WASPA # 12864.
    Can anyone help me with a person’s name to put as the Tmobile person liable for criminal charges

  28. You can at least have some fun by phoning the head of TMOBILE Marketing on his personal cellphone – Sizwe Zwane +27 72 502 3161
    Or email him on sizwez@gmail.co.za

    See http://www.whoswhosa.co.za/sizwe-zwane-28902

    Had a good laugh this morning! I promised him to phone him at 1am everyday until he gives all of our money back ;-)

    Or go visit him and get your own back:

    Rosen Office Park, Invector Avenue, Midrand, 1685

  29. I too have been charged R5.00 by TMobile (inspirational quotes) I suggest we lodge complaint with the National Consumer Commission on 0860 266 786.

  30. I am leading a personal crusade against Tmobiles. Their physical address is ROSEN OFFICE PARK, Corner Invicta and Matuka Street, Midrand. The name of the MD is “Botha”, a PDI.

    This address is correct. I visited them today. The address on the MTN website is incorrect. I have a meeting with “Botha” tomorrow…let’s see if he appears.

    T Mobile is stealing from us an the best MTN/Autopage can do is tell us to contact T Mobile directly.

    On principle I am laying a charge of theft/fraud against them.

    Need help, call me,
    Roger, 083 226 8656

  31. The boss of T Mobile is called “Botha” His personal cell number is 073 205 4653. I just spoke to him on the phone. Try in. The more pressure we put on them the better.

  32. Just received the following sms “Dear Customer, your account was irregularly deducted by TMobile, We are in the process of reversing the deduction and taking action against the Provider, MTN.” sender MTN.Sent 5 MAy,2011
    This is after the “Yello! TMobiles debited your account for R5.00 content “Inspirational Quotes”. Please contact them if you wish to query the transaction. To opt-out of these *MTN Billing notifications*, at no charge , please SMS “STOP” to 30540. SMS are sent between 08H00 ad 19H00), MTN – sent 30 April 2011.

  33. Hey guys, below is a high level overview of the impact of your complaints on TMobile to date.
    Thanks for all your efforts and complaint logging with WAPSA. It is enabling the weeding out of those giving the industry a bad name.

    Action taken against T-Mobile:
    Vodacom cut-off T-Mobile and linked company HRComputek in November last year.

    MTN also cut-off T-Mobile’s services at the beginning of the year, although they have subsequently been able to run other services somehow.

    WASPA has historical complaints from consumers and recommended that services related to those serious complaints be terminated, which did happen.

    There are ongoing investigations into new complaints recently received.
    It is possible WASPA will terminate T-Mobile’s membership of the industry association.

  34. T Mobile – Anybody who needs help, call me. I met with the cell network service provider this afternoon and they are co-operating fully. A few of us on this blog are working together to sort out the issue.

    Darren, thanks, but MTN still has T Mobile on their web as approved partners (including an incorrect physical address).

    If MTN and Voda cut off services, how come T Mobiles can still operate thru the said networks?

  35. T Mobile did the same to me! Threatened to charge me R5 for “Inspirational Quotes”. I was LIVID. That is highway robbery. I also just happen to be an MTN customer.

    I have reported T Mobile to the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (and had a pretty pointed reply)and I also phoned MTN and warned them that if they valued me as a customer to rather not let people do this kind of thing to me and also that I would hold them responsible for ANY money that is debited off of my account.

    Now the situation begs the question.. how many people have been caught by these robbers and how many have just paid? Scandalous.. Just imagine if it was pornography instead of “Inspirational Quotes” and it was to our young children? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

    A soft warning.. This is nothing more than cyber crime. T Mobile be very careful who you mess with. South Africans are some of the worlds most taxed and poorest people. We will NOT stand for this. Think very carefully before stealing from honest people.

  36. It would seem that T-Mobile/Wirels have been expelled from WAPSA!!! :)

    Due to the complaints 10931, 11177, 11287 and 11296 lodged to WAPSA and WAPSAs adjudicators upholding the complaint it would seem that they have now expelled TMobile!
    See: http://waspa.org.za/code/detail.php?id=10931&sortby=
    Other Sanctions: Expulsion from WASPA

    Their details are also no longer appear on the “list of members” page: http://waspa.org.za/members/index.php

    This in turn should result in the disconnection of all their services on the SA mobile networks. No company is allow to have a billing service on the SA mobile networks without being a paid up member of WASPA.

    We will have to see if the SA networks do in fact disconnect them but at least in the mean time it’s a small step forward.

    They do still seem to be displaying the WASPA logo on their home page (http://www.wirels.com/) which is not allowed.

  37. Anybody need help with refund from MTN/any of the service providers, please call me. Let your friends know. Forget the customer care route. I have sorted it out with the highest execs. Please, please email me and I will get you a credit in no time at all. The more the merrier. Mass action the modern way against networks that partner with alleged unsavoury operator. If we don’t fight they will take the R5 off each person. 175000 people affected. This translates to R875k going out of MTN subscribers’ pockets. email rogergallow@gmail.com. Ask any MTN subscriber if they have been affected. Remember MTN and the service provider may get a porion of the R5 you have been charged therefore the incentive to solve the problem is possibly not as strong as it might might be if they were losing money. Speak up for the 175000 people!

  38. hi guys i have the same problem here with my airtime and this thing is driving me insane i need to unsuscribe this download now thing it is taking my airtime how do we get these misirable thieves please give me a contact number if any one has help. i am really pisted off i need your help guys.

  39. Latest trick is to SMS that you’ve won R250 000.00 in their T-Mobile Rica draw, then when you phone they ask for your bank details. Nice try BOET!!!

  40. Strange how they are manageing to get you subscribed by deceiptful links online too. I am a South African musician and when doing a search for my band and songs online, there is even a false link saying my music can be downloaded at a site (which is illegal and shouldn’t be possible since I own all my own publishing ) then following the links to “download” it takes you to a page designed to make you give your cell no and in verrry small print below you see 35050 and tiny terms that you will be billed R2 a day. It is filthy. the bastards are rotten to the core!

  41. I was scammed recently by Buongiorno under the guise of 35050 and they took R110 off my account before it ran dry and I realized something was amiss. I visited my service provider MTN and they gave me the contact details of these crooks. I phoned the number they gave me and some foreigner who sounded Italian claimed I had subscribed to their service. Absolute lies I would never subscribe to any service on the internet or cellular networks there are too many criminals out there. It appals me that these criminals are allowed to continue on their merry way making billions out of the poor(I am a pensioner) and the Authorities do absolutely nothing to stop them. The sevice providers love it as it puts more Rands in their already overloaded coffers. Surely we have legal recourse through the consumer protection act? I have laid a complaint with WASPA but who knows if they care!!!!

  42. I think this is again just a case off some very–clever(like scams) What is going on that there is no-??? control over these socalled Clever people??? or get this out and off if I found any charge to my account I know where to look. You dont get rich on inocent people -Where is the Law and order of this COUNTRY FFFFFF

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