Following full implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), Ofcom introduced new contract requirements with an aim to protect consumers and end-users. These include ensuring that contracts for public electronic communications services include key information about the services they are receiving and that such information is provided to them in a one-page summary before they enter into their contract to allow them to make an informed choice.
The new General Conditions also set out requirements about contract duration, contract renewal, end-of-contract notifications, annual best tariff information, facilitating changes of communications provider and end-users' rights to terminate a contract. These are intended to ensure that end users are treated fairly and are able to easily switch to a different provider in appropriate cases.
The new requirement to provide a one-page summary of the key terms of the contract applies to providers of public electronic communications services when they provide such services to consumers, microenterprise or small enterprise customers, or not-for-profit customers, but does not apply to providers providing machine-to-machine transmission services. "Machine-to-machine transmission service" being a service made available to the public which allows for the automated transfer of data and information between devices or software-based applications with limited or no human interaction.
The requirement to incorporate new termination rights for consumers, on the other hand, applies to providers of public electronic communications services when such services are provided to subscribers, as well as to providers of machine-to-machine transmission services where the subscriber is a consumer, microenterprise or small enterprise customers, or a not-for-profit customer. "Subscriber" in this context meaning a person who is a party to a contract with a telecom provider for the supply of such services.
Ofcom recently initiated an investigation into EE and Plusnet (both subsidiaries of BT) after it received information which gave the regulator reason to suspect these companies may have failed to comply with the requirement to include a summary of the main contract terms before users signed up to the respective services. BT's Consumer spokesmen stated "we want our customers to be fully informed and we make sales information upfront, clear and transparent." This investigation will consider if BT has contravened the above referenced General Conditions as a result of the suspected infringements by each of its subsidiaries.
Find out more about Ofcom's open investigation here.
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