The ICP has notified Portugal Telecom and operators of land mobile services that they have to insert a minimum call unit of 5 seconds in their tariffs for users accessing voice mail. The new measure has to be deployed by 15 July.
This 5-second unit is free, and counted from the moment that messages become audible to the user. The intention is to avoid charges for a service not requested. If the user wishes to record a message, however, the call will be charged at the normal rate.
The decision comes as a consequence of point 4 of article 9 of Law nr. 24/96 of 31 July, which states: ''The consumer is not obliged to pay for goods or services which he/she has not previously and expressly ordered or requested.''
Although the deadline for implementation of the free call unit is 15 July, an extension of fifteen days is given for cases shown to require special technical intervention.
Voice-mail services are provided both by land mobile service operators and the fixed telephone operator. They allow the caller to leave a message when the called party does not answer.
From now on, users only have to pay when they leave a message or when the 5-second period is exceeded. Calls are charged as for normal communication between the caller's equipment (the voice-mail user) and the called party (the voice-mail subscriber).
The change applies only to public voice-mail services. Domestic answering machines are not included.