ECTEL / Did You Know?

Did You Know?

1. Customer contracts are written, binding agreements that are made between a customer (buyer) and a provider of electronic communication services (seller).  They are helpful for both the customer and the provider, as they provide written guidelines for the transaction.  Telecommunication services include landline and mobile phone services, Internet, Cable television, and networking for homes and businesses.

2. The legislation or regulation legally binds the provider to provide the relevant service on terms such as the quality of service, confidentiality and price that you would have agreed to in the contract agreement.

Customer Contracts are accounted for in  sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 of the new proposed Consumer Regulation.

The NTRC may require a Provider to submit its draft customer contract for approval by the NTRC, and can require changes to the draft contract. The approved contract must replace any existing terms of contracts used by the Provider.

A Provider must make its standard contract form available and provide a free copy to customers. Providers cannot require a customer to pay a fee for services or products that the customer has not ordered or charge a customer, except for the charges specified and agreed to by the customer. Customer contracts must be clear, easily understandable and easily accessible by consumers.

The contracts must include a description of the service to be provided, all charges and fees (including fees if the customer terminates the contract), minimum service quality standards, complaints code, dispute resolution process and bill payment terms and all other information stated in section 11.

Customer contracts cannot unfairly lock-in customers and must include fair provisions to allow the customer to cancel the contract under fair conditions. This means a Provider cannot automatically renew a contract without the customer’s agreement or charge the customer unfair fees to end a contract before the minimum contract period.

A Provider cannot tie its services together in a way that forces the customer to purchase services that the customer does not require, or provide a group of customers more favourable prices that are not justified by differences in cost, if that customer obtains a service that he/she does not require.

A customer may cancel a contract at any time, effective one day after the Provider receives cancellation notice from the customer or on the date the customer requests. When the contract provides a subsidized device (for example, a smartphone at a discounted cost), there are limits to the early cancellation fee that the customer must pay. The Regulation also sets rules for trial periods, and requires extended trial periods for people with disabilities.

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