Fair and unfair practices

The Czech Telecommunication Office conducted an analysis of contractual documentation of all three mobile network operators and a significant provider of Internet access. It also evaluated how far their contractual terms and conditions comply with the updated CTU Recommendations for Subscriber Contracts. The most up-to-date contractual terms and conditions of the provider concerned were subjected to analysis.

The contractual terms and conditions effective from 1.9.2015 were examined for operator O2, the contractual terms and conditions effective from 26.1.2014 for T-Mobile, the contractual terms and conditions effective from 5.1.2016 for Vodafone and the contractual terms and conditions effective from 15.1.2016 for UPC.

The result of the analysis is a consumer semaphore which reflects whether and in what way operators have incorporated the recommendations in question into their contractual documentation. One of three colours is assigned to each area under evaluation for individual providers, together with reasoning as to why the relevant part of contractual terms and conditions has been evaluated in this way.

The principles for assigning colours are as follows:

Green is assigned to a provider that has not only amended its contractual documentation in the relevant area in accordance with legal regulation, but which also respects the recommendations of CTU or whose draft contract includes certain other pro-consumer provisions over and above the law.

On the contrary, red is assigned in the relevant category under consideration to a provider whose contractual documentation (albeit not necessarily at odds with the law) shows signs of vagueness, incomprehensibility, incompleteness etc., meaning practices which the Office deems to be unfair in its recommendations.

Orange is a sort of average level and is assigned to a provider on the condition that contractual terms and conditions can be deemed entirely satisfactory in certain aspects in a particular category, whilst in others they show signs of vagueness or incomprehensibility for the consumer.

CTU evaluated 12 areas of contractual terms and conditions which it considers crucial:

  1. the structure of contractual documents (clearness of arrangement and comprehensibility);
  2. the arrangement of contracts by remote means and outside premises normally used for business;
  3. the chance to try out a service;
  4. the description of a service (minimum offered and minimum guaranteed quality);
  5. the automatic extension of contracts (automatic prolongation);
  6. information about terms and the manner of billing;
  7. returning unused credit for prepaid services;
  8. the transfer and drawing of available units;
  9. contractual penalties;
  10. the unilateral amendment of a contract and the way in which subscribers are informed of such amendment;
  11. how warranty claims are made and warranty claim proceedings are conducted;
  12. termination of a contract by notice and payments associated with premature termination of a contract.