Anti Optus & Telstra graffiti in Newtown Sydney
Anti Optus and Telstra graffiti in Newtown Sydney
Anti Optus & Telstra graffiti in Newtown Sydney
Anti Optus & Telstra graffiti in Newtown Sydney

Investigative journalist Michael West has accused Optus and Telstra of being complicit in a “predatory multimillion-dollar billing scam”, centering around content subscription services, and this piece serves as a timely reminder to keep an eye on your mobile bill, and to be vigilant when clicking on ads and other things online, as it seems only too easy to accidentally subscribe to premium content rorts which may be very hard to get out of.

In today’s news, West’s story centers on supplier MIA Sphere Live and subscription to a service called “Youlaugh2”, which is apparently an ad-free viral video streaming service that’s advertised on Facebook, which makes it too easy to unwittingly sign up to premium content. According to West, one of his associates started receiving text messages advising of a $9.99 weekly charge for Youlaugh2, despite not actually signing up to the service:

“Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of broadband customers around Australia are unwittingly ‘opting-in’ to services by clicking on ads and paying $40 a month for content they never intended to buy.”

West says that Optus declined to respond to questions about its relationship with MIA Sphere Live, but did say that they require content providers to double-opt-in when adding subscribers to their service, and they had noted that Youlaugh2 had circumvented that process. As a result, Optus has suspended the service.

To read his story in full, visit Michael West’s website. You may also be interested in West’s ongoing coverage of domestic gas and electricity pricing practices.

If you don’t have premium content barred on your mobile (and let’s face it, you probably should), you need to be very careful clicking around ads and other content, especially on social media. We’re not sure of the precise mechanic used to get people to unknowingly subscribe to stuff, but it’s a risk we’d rather weren’t there.

If you’re concerned about accidentally subscribing to such “premium content” subscription services by accident, you can call your mobile carrier customer service line and ask for all premium content billing to be blocked on your account. You should also ask for confirmation of this change to be emailed to you. We’ve got some information for the major carriers here:

Other smaller carriers and MVNOs have their own processes, which if you’re at all concerned, you can readily investigate.


Source: Michael West.
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Patrick McInnes

You uneducated hack. Looking to recycle news from the early 2000’s to put fear into today’s consumers. Premium SMS as you relate to is NOT PROVIDED BY TELCOS but THIRD PARTY COMPANIES. Telstra subscription services (as an example) include AFL NRL and Netball apps which is openly advertised priced and easy to unsubscribe. And another thing. Most premium content CANNOT BE CANCELLED BY THE PROVIDER. Maybe… just maybe you should do something called research before you write and other articles. Do us all a favour and write about something current, or is your next article about Monica Lewinsky in the… Read more »

Peter Gillespie

You’ll need to ring optus to get your monthly premium limit reduced to $0. The self service option in their FAQ had been broken for some time.

FWIW The simple solution to this scam is for all Telcos to bar premium content by default. Customers wishing to vote in TV contests etc. Would need to activate the service first. Would solve a lot of complaints.

Dean Rosolen

Does barring premium services cause problems with carrier billing via the Play Store?

Peter Gillespie

No. But if it did you could always unblock it.


It does with me. If I block premium content then I cannot use my Telstra credits in the play store. Otherwise I would have it off 24/7.

Gregory Eden

Step one remove your phone number from Facebook. They do not make it easy.
Step two go into your mobile account settings and set the spend limit on Premium SMS to zero. The Optus web page would not let me set mine to zero for some reason, so I used online chat through My Optus and got them to do it for me.

This rort should not be allowed. Facebook do not care and the telcos shrug their virtual shoulders and say it is not illegal so too bad and pay up.

Gregory Eden

BTW my experience was not with MIA Sphere Live but another dodgy purveyor of so called Premium services through a Facebook link.