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Title 16: Commercial Practices
§308.5 Pay-per-call service standards.
(a) Preamble message. The provider of pay-per-call services shall include, in each pay-per-call message, an introductory disclosure message (“preamble”) in the same language as that principally used in the pay-per-call message, that clearly, in a slow and deliberate manner and in a reasonably understandable volume:
(1) Identifies the name of the provider of the pay-per-call service and describes the service being provided;
(2) Specifies the cost of the service as follows:
(i) If there is a flat fee for the call, the preamble shall state the total cost of the call;
(ii) If the call is billed on a time-sensitive basis, the preamble shall state the cost per minute and any minimum charges; if the length of the program can be determined in advance, the preamble shall also state the maximum charge that could be incurred if the caller listens to the complete program;
(iii) If the call is billed on a variable rate basis, the preamble shall state, in accordance with §§308.5(a)(2) (i) and (ii), the cost of the initial portion of the call, any minimum charges, and the range of rates that may be charged depending on the options chosen by the caller;
(iv) Any other fees that will be charged for the service shall be disclosed, as well as fees for any other pay-per-call service to which the caller may be transferred;
(3) Informs the caller that charges for the call begin, and that to avoid charges the call must be terminated, three seconds after a clearly discernible signal or tone indicating the end of the preamble;
(4) Informs the caller that anyone under the age of 18 must have the permission of parent or legal guardian in order to complete the call; and
(5) Informs the caller, in the case of a pay-per-call service that is not operated or expressly authorized by a Federal agency but that provides information on a Federal program, or that uses a trade or brand name or any other term that reasonably could be interpreted or construed as implying any Federal government connection, approval or endorsement, that the pay-per-call service is not authorized, endorsed, or approved by any Federal agency.
(b) No charge to caller for preamble message. The provider of pay-per-call services is prohibited from charging a caller any amount whatsoever for such a service if the caller hangs up at any time prior to three seconds after the signal or tone indicating the end of the preamble described in §308.5(a). However, the three-second delay, and the message concerning such delay described in §308.5(a)(3), is not required if the provider of pay-per-call services offers the caller an affirmative means (such as pressing a key on a telephone keypad) of indicating a decision to incur the charges.
(c) Nominal cost calls. The preamble described in §308.5(a) is not required when the entire cost of the pay-per-call service, whether billed as a flat rate or on a time sensitive basis, is $2.00 or less.
(d) Data service calls. The preamble described in §308.5(a) is not required when the entire call consists of the non-verbal transmission of information.
(e) Bypass mechanism. The provider of pay-per-call services that offers to frequent callers or regular subscribers to such services the option of activating a bypass mechanism to avoid listening to the preamble during subsequent calls shall not be deemed to be in violation of §308.5(a), provided that any such bypass mechanism shall be disabled for a period of no less than 30 days immediately after the institution of an increase in the price for the service or a change in the nature of the service offered.
(f) Billing limitations. The provider of pay-per-call services is prohibited from billing consumers in excess of the amount described in the preamble for those services and from billing for any services provided in violation of any section of this rule.
(g) Stopping the assessment of time-based charges. The provider of pay-per-call services shall stop the assessment of time-based charges immediately upon disconnection by the caller.
(h) Prohibition on services to children. The provider of pay-per-call services shall not direct such services to children under the age of 12, unless such service is a bona fide educational service. The Commission shall consider the following criteria in determining whether a pay-per-call service is directed to children under 12:
(1) Whether the pay-per-call service is advertised in the manner set forth in §§308.3(e) (2) and (3); and
(2) Whether the pay-per-call service, regardless of when or where it is advertised, is directed to children under 12, in light of its subject matter, content, language, featured personality, characters, tone, message, or the like.
(i) Prohibition concerning toll-free numbers. Any person is prohibited from using an 800 number or other telephone number advertised as or widely understood to be toll-free in a manner that would result in:
(1) The calling party being assessed, by virtue of completing the call, a charge for the call;
(2) The calling party being connected to an access number for, or otherwise transferred to, a pay-per-call service;
(3) The calling party being charged for information conveyed during the call unless the calling party has a presubscription or comparable arrangement to be charged for the information; or
(4) The calling party being called back collect for the provision of audio or data information services, simultaneous voice conversation services, or products.
(j) Disclosure requirements for billing statements. The provider of pay-per-call services shall ensure that any billing statement for such provider's charges shall:
(1) Display any charges for pay-per-call services in a portion of the consumer's bill that is identified as not being related to local and long distance telephone charges;
(2) For each charge so displayed, specify the type of service, the amount of the charge, and the date, time, and, for calls billed on a time-sensitive basis, the duration of the call; and
(3) Display the local or toll-free telephone number where consumers can obtain answers to their questions and information on their rights and obligations with regard to their use of pay-per-call services, and can obtain the name and mailing address of the provider of pay-per-call services.
(k) Refunds to consumers. The provider of pay-per-call services shall be liable for refunds or credits to consumers who have been billed for pay-per-call services, and who have paid the charges for such services, pursuant to pay-per-call programs that have been found to have violated any provision of this rule or any other Federal rule or law.
(l) Service bureau liability. A service bureau shall be liable for violations of the rule by pay-per-call services using its call processing facilities where it knew or should have known of the violation.