Action taken against Eircom, Meteor, Three and UPC
Telcos deemed noncompliant over consumer protections
The Commission’s chair, Isolde Goggin, said businesses have had “ample time to update the information which they give to consumers”
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the Commission) has today published details of seven compliance notices issued to telecommunications providers.
Compliance notices enable the Commission to direct a trader to cease a commercial practice which does not comply with consumer law.
The action was taken as part of an ongoing review to ensure compliance with the European Union Consumer Information, Cancellation, and Other Rights Regulations 2013, which transposed into national law the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive (known as the CRD).
The CRD came into force in Ireland last year. Since then, the Commission has been monitoring compliance by businesses, and in recent months it reviewed telecoms distance contract terms and conditions and the information given to consumers in relation to their cancellation rights.
In general, distance contracts are classified as those entered into online or over the phone. Following the review of their websites, Eircom (Eircom Limited and Eircom trading as eMobile), Meteor, Three and UPC, were considered not to be compliant with different aspects of the CRD.
The Commission’s chair, Isolde Goggin, said businesses have had “ample time to update the information which they give to consumers”, and the Commission will “take all necessary steps to ensure consumers are given the information and afforded the protections they are entitled to under consumer law”.
“It is clear from an analysis of the contacts we receive that a significant number of consumers have problems with their telecom providers. This is why we have reviewed the sector and have taken the resulting action.
“Under the CRD consumers have stronger rights than ever and they should know what their rights are, so that they can avail of them if they need to,” she said.
The non-compliance centred on the following three areas:
First, consumers must be informed, in plain language, of their right to cancel a contract and have the necessary cancellation form made available to them before entering into a distance contract.
As a result of the Commission’s action each of the four telecoms providers will now ensure they provide consumers with the required information before they are “signed up” to a contract.
Second, the correct cancellation period must be applied and communicated to consumers.
The Commission found that incorrect information was provided about the length of cancellation periods and, in certain distance contracts, incorrect information was given in relation to the waiving of cancellation rights. The Commission’s intervention means that all four firms are now applying the correct terms for cancellation of a distance contract.
Last, the Commission found Eircom and Meteor failed to tell consumers of their right to cancel under the CRD.
The companies are now required to write to the affected consumers and inform them of their cancellation rights.
The Commission’s website, consumerhelp.ie, provides information about services and contracts.