Consumer Rights Regarding Electronic Communication Sector
Authors: Hatice Ekici Tağa, Sümeyye Uçar, Bensu Özdemir
The procedures and principles for protecting consumer rights and interests in the electronic communication sector are regulated by the Regulation regarding the Rights of Consumers in the Electronic Communication Sector. It is required to reorganize the consumer rights and operator obligations as a result of the current needs arising from the changes made in the consumer rights legislation and the developments in the electronic communication sector. In this regard, yhe Information Technologies and Communication Authority (“ICTA”) published the Draft Regulation on the Amending the Regulation regarding the Rights of Consumers in the Electronic Communication Sector (“Draft Regulation“)
With the Draft Regulation, additional obligations for the operators and new rights are regulated for real or legal persons who are party to a contract made with an operator for the provision of electronic communication services defined as a subscriber. The regulations bring the following amendments:
Under the obligation of transparency and information, the operator will be obliged to ensure that the subscriber can easily access the traffic management actions that affect the service of the subscriber. In addition, those who want to benefit from electronic communication services will be able to compare operator offers over the e-Devlet system. If a call is made that may be charged other than the tariff it is registered, a free information announcement about the fee and the scope of the service must be given. A request for removing the mentioned announcement may be forwarded to the operator by the subscriber.
For the subscription agreements, contracts must be established in writing or electronically in compliance with the Regulation on Identity Verification. While the origins of the identity document or equivalent documents for the establishment of the subscription agreement are requested, a copy of the relevant documents will be also requested. The requested copies will be transferred to the operator's information systems in such a way that they are permanently recorded to be associated with the date and time information and the transaction performed.
Also, the operator will present an understandable summary of the contract to the consumer as a separate page before the contract is concluded, then it obtains the approval. A copy of the contract summary will be sent to the consumer by the operator on paper or electronically.
As stated in the Draft Regulation, the charging of the service will begin with the actual delivery of the service to the subscriber. In addition to this, it is essential that the subscriber lines are closed to international roaming services, and their lines are made available to these services with a provable declaration of the subscribers.
Regarding the committed subscriptions, the validity period of the commitment, the service and device characteristics subject to the commitment, the monthly price of the tariff without commitment, the discounted monthly price, the price of the device and the monthly device fee, all other amounts that may be subject to the withdrawal fee, and the calculation method of the fee to be paid by the subscriber in case the commitment is terminated before the deadline should be made available to the subscriber. The commitment period determined between the operator and the subscriber cannot exceed twenty-four (24) months. Proposals for the new commitment can be submitted up to forty (40) days prior to the expiry date of the current commitment.
The operators must perform the service uninterruptedly, except there is any force majeure. Otherwise, the situations that the service may be limited and stopped are regulated. In a reasonable time before the service is restricted or stopped, subscribers must be informed via text message, call or voice response system.
In case the service is stopped because the invoice is not paid on the due date, no service fee is charged to the subscriber, excluding the device fee and radio usage/license fee, as of the date the service is stopped. After the payment is made, the service continues within twenty-four hours at the latest. In the event that the service is stopped, the termination of the contract can be made at least 3 months after the suspension, unless otherwise requested by the subscriber.
However, it is expressly stated that subscription agreements can always be terminated free of charge, except for a committed subscription. After the termination, the operator will be able to send the last invoice to the subscribers who owe debts for the remaining receivables within two months at the latest after the termination request date of the subscriber.
The process of receiving the opinions of the public regarding the Draft Regulation has been completed, and the work continues on the side of the ICTA to finalize the Draft Regulation.