Bulgaria to Step Up Consumer Protection in Telecom SectorBusiness | December 14, 2011, Wednesday // 14:44| views
Bulgaria's Parliament is about to approve amendments strenghtening consumer protection in the telecom sector. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria's Parliament is about to approve at second reading a set of amendments to the Electronic Communications Act envisaging increased consumer protection and heftier heftier penalties for non-compliance by mobile operators.
The changes, which will be subject to a second reading debate and a vote on Wednesday, envisage, among other things, the abolition of automatic contract renewal, increased powers for the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) and an entry into force of contracts with mobile operators within 7 days after signature.
The set of amendments first approved by Parliament in June, envisage the introduction of a 24-month maximum period of duration of the agreement with the mobile operator as well as an opportunity to sign one-year contracts.
After expiration of the initial term of the contract, it becomes a contract of indefinite term and can be terminated with a one-month notice and without incurring penalties.
Even after the expiration of the contract, the tariff for the subscriber remains the same.
Telecom companies will have to warn subscribers about the approaching contract end-date two months in advance via email, SMS, in monthly bills, or another format of their choice.
The amendments will also allow the communications watchdog to guard against overcharged bills and to make corrections to bills.
Under another new provision, subscribers will be able to terminate the contract with the mobile operator within a grace period of seven days without incurring penalties.
The clause will not apply in cases in which the consumer receives an end device (telephone or computer) or explicitly gives up the right to terminate the contract within a week.
The draft bill also targets slow number portability, with a fine of BGN 5000 - 60 000 for mobile operators in the case of a delay of 7-plus days.
Telecom companies will also be obliged to warn their customers when they reach 90% of their monthly limit.
Meanwhile, unsolicited text messages inviting subscribers to participate in TV games are expected to be banned through amendments to the Gambling Act.
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