ANACOM imposes corrective measures on MEO, NOS, Nowo and Vodafone

By ANACOM determination, the telecommunications operators which made contractual changes (above all price increases) subsequent to the entry into force of Law no. 15/2016 of 17 June and which did not simultaneously notify their customers as to these increases and as to the option of customers to terminate their contracts, are now required to advise these customers that they have the right to terminate the contracts without any cost or alternatively obtain restoration of the same conditions as they had prior to the contractual changes taking effect.

The corrective measures imposed by ANACOM cover all subscribers who, at the time of the changes, were subject to contract lock-in periods or other obligations to remain in their contract and who are still in the same contract, with the same lock-in or same commitment to remain in the contract.

If operators choose to give customers the option of terminating their contracts, they must send this information to customers in writing, within 30 working days.

This communication can be made using the model draft prepared by ANACOM. However, operators may prepare their own draft communications, which they will submit to ANACOM within 10 working days for ANACOM’s evaluation.

The communication to customers may be included on the customer's bill in a prominent manner, provided that it is easily legible and understandable, sent together with the bill or be sent separately (including by SMS).

If companies opt to maintain the prices which were in effect prior to the changes, they will have to implement this within a maximum period of 30 working days, and must inform the customers within 20 working days.

These corrective measures do not apply to situations where contracts contain a clause providing for the possibility that prices may be updated on the basis of a consumer price index approved by an official national body of Portugal, provided that the price change did not exceed the variation reported in that index.

The need for this intervention by ANACOM stems from failure by operators to comply with the communication obligation provided for in Lei das Comunicações Eletrónicas (Electronic Communications Law) - article 48, paragraph 16.

The corrective measures (now defined in a final decision) were imposed on four companies (MEO, NOS, Nowo and Vodafone), after ANACOM investigated the procedures which they had adopted. These procedures had given rise to a significant number of complaints from consumers. It should be noted that the situations detected differed among the four operators, in terms of the procedures adopted, in terms of the number of customers affected, and in terms of the type of services contracted.