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Pricing and consumer protection
What rules govern retail pricing for telecoms services?
Retail prices are freely fixed by telecoms operators.
What rules govern consumer service contracts?
Consumer service contracts are generally governed by Sections 1092 to 1122 of the National Civil and Commercial Code and Law 24,240 (the Consumer Law). In addition, a specific consumer regulation governs fixed and mobile telephones.
The general standards of consumer protection prohibit contract clauses that:
- waiver or restrict consumer rights;
- extend the rights of the other party; and
- impose the reversal of the burden of proof to the detriment of the consumer.
Are telecoms service providers bound by any consumer disclosure requirements?
Yes. Section 1,100 of the National Civil and Commercial Code and Section 4 of the Consumer Law establish that the supplier must provide clear and detailed information concerning:
- the essential characteristics of the supplied goods and services;
- their commercialisation conditions; and
- any other circumstance relevant to the contract.
Under Section 4 of the Consumer Law, such information must be provided in writing, unless otherwise expressly accepted by the consumer. Further, Section 4 of Decree-Law 1798/1994 establishes that suppliers of goods or services must immediately inform the competent authorities and consumers of any dangers discovered after said goods or services have been introduced to the relevant market.
In particular, as regards public domiciliary services, Section 25 of the Consumer Law states that companies providing such services must provide information in writing regarding the conditions of the supply and the rights and obligations of both contracting parties. This information must also be made available to public service offices. Similarly, companies must include the following statement in all bills for public attention: "You have the right to claim for compensation if we invoice undue sums or concepts or improperly claim the payment of bills already paid, Law No. 24,240 ".
Section 28 of the Consumer Law sets out that bills must also state whether there are owed periods or other debts, including details of dates, concepts and interests, if applicable. Otherwise, the bill must include the following wording: "There are no outstanding debts". Finally, Section 30 of the Consumer Law foresees that users of public domiciliary services should be adequately informed about the safety conditions of the systems and appliances delivered for the provision of services.
Under Resolutions 45/1997 and 242/2006, telecoms service providers must supply the following details to consumers:
- data on which billing is based;
- the amount of local and international calls made and the resulting costs; and
- any increases of tariffs at least 60 days before their implementation.
Joint Resolutions 29/2014 and 81/2014 of the Secretariat of Trade, the Secretariat of Communication and the Secretariat of Trade Resolution 176/2017 state that mobile communications service providers must provide information on a regular basis via invoices, their websites, consumer emails and free telephone lines regarding:
- the price of:
- hire plans;
- local, national and international long-distance calls per second;
- text and multimedia messages;
- internet access by the hour, day, week, month, kilobyte or megabyte, as appropriate; and
- all of these services in and out of tariff plans;
- bonuses and promotions in a clear, truthful manner, without concealment or inaccuracies that may lead to error or confusion regarding the availability and characteristics of the offered service; and
- details of outgoing calls, text and multimedia messages, internet use and other charges.
Issues and concerns
Are there any particular competition issues or concerns in the domestic telecoms market?
There are no relevant competition issues in the domestic telecoms market at present other than the Telecom Argentina-Cablevision merger, which is under review by the antitrust and telecoms authorities.
The Ministry of Modernisation is expected to revise the spectrum cap for mobile services.
Do any sector-specific competition regulatory/legal provisions apply (eg, special conditions for dominant telecoms market players)?
Dominant market operators are subject to specific obligations concerning interconnection, including:
- maintaining an updated public interconnection offer; and
- guaranteeing to unbundle the local access network.
Are there any requirements for structural, functional or accounting separation of operators’ activities?
Telecoms and mobile operators are subject to accounting separation for cable television services. Further, dominant operators must have separate accounting for interconnection-related activities.
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