Do you experience frequent internet drops, can’t get through or telecoms bills don’t add up? You can complain to your operator. Complaint procedures in the telecoms world are different in many ways from those you are familiar with for ordinary consumer goods. So what does it look like to complain to your operator about your service or bill? And what to look out for?
First of all, it is necessary to distinguish what is and what is not an electronic communications service. According to the law, it consists in the transmission of signals over electronic communications networks. Thus, the operator is only responsible for ensuring that you can call where you need to from your number, that you can surf the internet or watch TV and that the quality of the transmission corresponds to the contractual agreement.
“On the other hand, if you buy an electronic ticket for a tram, it is not the operator who provides the service to you, and therefore you cannot file a complaint with them in case of problems,” explains Eduarda Hekšová, director of the consumer organisation dTest, adding: “The same will be the case if downloaded apps are not working. Even modem rental is not an electronic communications service and its claim will be governed by different rules.”
You can either complain about the service itself or the billing. You must be able to submit your complaint to the operator within the statutory time limit, which is two months from receipt of the complained of bill or from the defective service. The operator then has one month to deal with the complaint. However, if the complaint is about, for example, roaming and the operator has to discuss the bill with the foreign operator, then the deadline for dealing with the complaint is extended by another month. You should always send your complaint by registered letter with a return receipt, in which you describe exactly what you are complaining about and what solution you want.
In the case of a complaint about a defective service, you can request that the defect be rectified and a reasonable discount be made from the price. “However, the operator is no longer obliged to compensate you for the damage caused by not being able to use your phone or the internet. If you need an internet connection for your work, always think of a backup solution – you will not be compensated for lost profits for internet outages,” warns Eduarda Hekšová. Remember that claiming incorrect billing does not relieve you of the obligation to pay for the service. The operator must refund any difference in price.
If you are not satisfied with the decision on the complaint, you can file an objection with the Czech Telecommunications Office within one month of receiving the decision. There is a fee of 100 crowns for initiating the administrative procedure, and if it is justified, the authority may decide that you do not have to pay the incorrect bill until it decides the matter itself. Failure in the administrative procedure can be resolved by filing an appeal, which is basically an appeal against the decision, and then a lawsuit in court. However, if you do not succeed at the Czech Telecommunications Office, you may be ordered to compensate the other party, i.e. the operator, for the costs of the proceedings.
Submitting a claim does not have suspensive effect – this means that even if you dispute a price that you believe you have been charged unjustly, you must first pay it. “However, the Czech Telecommunications Office may decide at your request to grant suspensive effect to a complaint, in justified cases, for example if your tariff is CZK 190 and you receive an invoice for CZK 50 thousand. There is no appeal against this decision of the authority. If the operator rejects the claim and you object to the authority, you must pay or submit a new request for a deferred payment,” concludes Eduarda Hekšová.