ComReg has issued a warning to telecommunications company Meteor Mobile Communications Limited (Meteor) in relation to an effort by Meteor to move mobile phone customers over to e-billing. The telecoms regulator says that Meteor failed to notify customers of the change in their contracts and that customers have a right to be offered an opportunity to opt-out of, or reject changes to, their contract under EU legislation.
Meteor began moving 207,000 mobile customers on Meteor and eMobile packages over to e-billing from paper billing in August, attracting criticism from consumers groups as a result. The move to e-billing affects users that have registered to use an online portal to access and pay bills online and to track other mobile data. Concerns were raised, in particular in relation to elderly customers who may not have been comfortable with the switch.
ComReg specifically referred to Regulation 14(4) of the EU Universal Service Regulations which, in effect, requires Meteor to “notify subscribers of proposed modifications to contractual conditions and to advise subscribers of their right to withdraw without penalty from the contract if they do not accept the proposed change”.
Meteor stated that it was disappointed with the position taken by ComReg and noted that customers could opt out of the proposed change by replying to notices that they would have received by e-mail or text message. ComReg had indicated in its Strategy Statement for 2012 – 2014 that it would monitor issues related to online billing and has followed through on this by giving Meteor until the end of September to respond to its claim, or remedy the issues concerned, before further legal action is taken before the High Court to enforce compliance.