Broadband users that have signed up for promotional data contracts should take care to note the fine print of the deal, even after the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
The questions were raised when some users reported being placed on more expensive data contracts after the promotional deal for which they initially signed up had run its course.
According to these users, they weren’t contacted to inform them of their renewal or termination options; they were simply placed on a month-to-month data plan that cost significantly more than the promotion they signed up for.
There are (and were) a number of special contract deals available from network operators, offering significantly lower data rates than available on their normal packages.
“The contentious issue is whether the supplier is meeting with the requirements of renewal prior to expiry of the promotional contract period,” Thomson explained.
Thompson said that the terms of the new contract that follows the promotional contract period should specify material changes such as a higher price, as well as comply with other formalities.
“Failing which, the consumer may not be bound to the new contract,” Thompson said.
Another issue to look out for, Thomson said, is whether the original promotional offer was conditional on the consumer entering into any other transaction following the promotional contract period.
“The consumer may be bound to the terms of the subsequent contract albeit at a higher price,” she said.
Definitions of data services, Thomson said, are problematic in general, with several consumers unaware of the technical descriptions of the products or services.
“With this in mind and the overall intention of the Consumer Protection Act to promote plain language in contracts, suppliers should ensure that the terms of promotional offers and contracts are understandable to their consumers, particularly to new data service subscribers,” Thompson concluded.