Vodafone ordered to tell customers how to exit contracts

Those who signed up online over last year can now cancel contracts penalty free

Vodafone has been hauled over the coals by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission after it broke the law when selling services online. Photograph: Bloomberg

Vodafone has been hauled over the coals by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission after it broke the law when selling services online. Photograph: Bloomberg

 

Vodafone has been ordered to tell Irish customers how they can cancel their contracts. A state watchdog said the telecoms company was not complying with consumer protection legislation.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission found the company was in breach of the law when selling services online.

As a result anyone who signed with the mobile giant online over the last 12 months can now exit their contract without fear of penalties.

The Commission found that Vodafone was giving people who signed up for its services remotely incomplete information concerning their cancellation rights and it has ordered the company to change and correct information concerning its cancellation process.

Under the EU Consumer Rights Directive consumers have a right to cancel distance contracts within 14 days.

Traders are obliged to provide information to consumers about their cancellation rights before they make a purchase. Vodafone was found to be in breach of this directive.

“Consumers are increasingly buying online and over the phone,” said the Commission chairwoman Isolde Goggin. She said the CCPC had recently conducted research which showed that 55 per cent of adults had bought goods or services online.

“Reflecting the nature of buying online and over the phone; consumer law provides important protections, particularly, in relation to cancellation. Consumers should be aware of the rights they have.

“Customers of Vodafone will in the future be given the correct information as required by law. In addition, customers who bought goods or services online from Vodafone in the past 12 months and who now wish to cancel their contract can find details of how to do so in the customer notices section of the Vodafone website,” Ms Goggin said.

The window in which those who signed up online can exit their contracts penalty free will be open for two weeks.

Ms Goggin said the obligations placed on businesses under consumer law are not just limited to the telecoms sector and apply to all sectors.

Earlier this year Compliance Notices were issued to eircom, eMobile, Meteor, Three and UPC as part of a review of compliance with the Consumer Rights Directive.