"Situations were also verified in which Meo did not provide subscribers with the complaint form that it is obliged to provide whenever requested", said telco regulator, Anacom.
Portugal’s national communications regulator (Anacom) has imposed a €2.5 million fine on telecoms provider Meo, Altice Portugal, for “violating the rules applicable to the termination of contracts”, the entity headed by João Cadete de Matos announced on Tuesday.
“Anacom has decided to impose a fine of €2.460 million on Meo for violations of the rules applicable to the termination of contracts at the initiative of subscribers, provided for in this authority’s decision on the ‘procedures required for the termination of contracts, at the initiative of subscribers, relating to the provision of public networks or publicly accessible electronic communications services, of 9.3.2012′,” the entity said in a statement.
According to the regulator, “the issue at stake is mainly the non-acceptance of contract termination requests submitted in-store and making the submission of contract termination requests subject to the prior receipt of a call from the holding line, without which customers could not submit the respective requests or the procedure already started could not proceed”.
In addition, “situations were also verified in which Meo did not provide subscribers with the complaint form that it is obliged to provide whenever requested, and others in which the company did not request from customers documents that were necessary to confirm the termination of their contracts, or requested documents that were not necessary because it already had them in its possession”, Anacom points out.
The national communications regulator also said that Meo “did not confirm several denunciations of contracts presented by customers and provided incomplete information about the means and contacts available for the presentation of termination requests – which can, at least, be presented in-store, by letter, by email, by fax and by phone”.
According to Anacom, “with such conduct, Meo aimed to place unjustified and impermissible obstacles in the procedures for termination of contracts at the initiative of subscribers, so as to hinder, delay or even lead to the withdrawal of requests for change of service provider, thus hindering the development of competition in the electronic communications market”.
Anacom points out that the rules introduced by Anacom in March 2012 were intended, on the one hand, to “promote competition and end-users’ freedom of choice regarding the operators they contract with and, on the other hand, to facilitate the exercise of subscribers’ right to terminate contracts and consequent change of operator”.
The rules prohibit the creation of conditions for termination of contracts that are disproportionate and of procedures that are excessively burdensome and discourage subscriber mobility, ensuring that end users can choose the operator that best suits them, thus being able to benefit from more attractive offers in a truly competitive market, Anacom continues.
“The behaviour adopted by the company is particularly serious, as it results in the non-compliance with a legitimate order of Anacom, which was regularly communicated to it, calling into question the very regulation of the market in which it operates,” it stresses, recalling that issues related to the end of the contract on the initiative of customers are one of the most complained about topics in the sector.