Paris, 20 November 2006
In accordance with Article L.36-5 of the Code des postes et communications électroniques (CPCE), the Minister of Industry has asked ARCEP for its opinion on the draft law in favour of consumers as concerns the electronic communications sector.
This draft law follows the series of round tables between consumers and electronic communications providers (fixed and mobile operators, Internet access providers), organised by the Minister and in which ARCEP participated. Two major problems were identified:
- The problem of pricing technical assistance services, and in particular billing for waiting times
- The contract termination conditions for electronic communications.
ARCEP supports the Government’s initiative to strengthen consumers’ rights on these two points.
On free waiting times, ARCEP considers the Minister's request to forbid operators to bill waiting times when filling technical assistance services to be legitimate. In order to allow the rapid implementation of this measure, ARCEP proposes that these assistance services be assigned freephone numbers (numbers beginning with 0800, 0805 or 0809). However, providers would remain free to bill these services directly to their customers, this additional billing may be per intervention, for a flat rate or included in the monthly service charge ("free" after-sales service).
On the termination conditions of service contracts for electronic communications, ARCEP supports the introduction of measures in order to control:
- the maximum time during which a provider repays amounts received in advance
- the maximum termination notification period
Contract termination conditions (times, cost, penalties for early termination, simplicity of the process, etc.) play a key role in consumers’ ability to take advantage of competition. For this reason, ARCEP also supports the introduction of a measure imposing an obligation to specify the consideration in exchange for any payment due at termination and limiting the minimum commitment periods to 12 months.
ARCEP opinion no. 06-0847 is available for consultation and downloading