Failure to issue paper or email contracts helps land Sky Ireland €117,000 fine

Communications regulator tells broadcaster to inform customers of their consumer rights

Sky Ireland has paid the communications regulator a €117,000 penalty imposed over its failure to give paper or email contracts to 79,000 customers and “cooling off” rights to more than half of those. Photograph: Daniel Leal/AFP

Sky Ireland has paid the communications regulator a €117,000 penalty imposed over its failure to give paper or email contracts to 79,000 customers and “cooling off” rights to more than half of those. Photograph: Daniel Leal/AFP

 

Sky Ireland has paid the communications regulator a €117,000 penalty imposed over its failure to give paper or email contracts to 79,000 customers and “cooling off” rights to more than half of those.

The company has also agreed to implement, by September 15th, a range of remedial measures imposed by the regulator.

These require Sky to communicate with the affected customers, provide them with contracts in the form stipulated and to inform them of their 14-day “cooling off” rights from the date of receiving Sky’s communication.

Sky must also inform its affected customers how they can cancel their contracts, publish a corrective statement on its website and satisfy the regulator there will be no repetition of what occurred.

Penalty measures

The Commission for Communications Regulation imposed the penalty and remedial measures after an investigation by it found Sky failed to provide approximately 79,000 of its customers with a contract on a “durable medium”, such as paper or email.

The investigation found 41,000 of those customers were not afforded their right to a cooling off period in contravention of the Consumer Information Regulations 2013.

ComReg imposed the penalty via Fixed Payment Notices (“FPNs”) under Section 85 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

In a statement, the regulator said Sky “has accepted that it breached the Consumer Information Regulations 2013 and has paid the penalty in full”.

The regulator’s probe concerned how Sky had handled certain distance contracts entered into by existing Sky customers and whether those customers were given their right to a cooling off period and provided with a contract in a durable form.

ComReg said many broadband, mobile and TV customers engage with their service provider using the phone, or the internet/broadband, said.

They do so typically to sign up for a service, renew their existing contracts for a service, or to upgrade/downgrade a service.

Contracts concluded in this way are known as "distance contracts" and are treated in some ways differently in law than those concluded in-store.

Customers entering distance contracts have certain additional protections to reflect the fact they are not physically present with the trader.

A customer who has entered a distance contract has a legal right to a “cooling off” period of 14 days to withdraw from their contract.

Service providers must also provide such customers with a contract on a durable medium that the customer can store and later retrieve for inspection to see what their key terms and conditions are (including their cooling-off rights).

This is the second time ComReg has imposed FPNs for breaches of the 2013 regulations, which give "distance contract" consumers certain protections.

In 2016, the regulator imposed a €250,000 penalty on Virgin Media over failure to give durable medium contracts to "distance contract" customers.