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UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland (Read 20,767 times)
Ian G
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UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
May 26th, 2014 at 9:05pm
 
With 18 days to go before the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3134) come into force in the UK I decided to take a look to see how the EU Directive has been implemented in the Republic of Ireland.

While the UK legislation has a number of exemptions (especially the financial sector), many of which will eventually be closed down by other forthcoming regulations, consumers in Ireland appear to fare far worse from the very start.

UK:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/regulation/41/made
ROI: http://www.djei.ie/publications/sis/2013/si484.pdf

In Ireland the equivalent legislation is the EUROPEAN UNION (CONSUMER INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND OTHER RIGHTS) REGULATIONS 2013 (2013/si484).

Ireland has the same exemption as the UK for the financial sector. This is as expected. A different regulator is responsible for that sector. I have no idea whether the Irish financial services regulator plans to regulate the price of telephone calls to banks. Here in the UK, the FCA will be taking action, albeit slowly. Even without regulation, several UK banks have started to do the right thing for their customers.

In Ireland, passenger transport is exempt from the "basic rate" requirement. This is the exact opposite of the UK position where passenger transport was eventually included in the ban after successful campaigning.

The Irish legislation defines basic rate calls as being those made to a standard geographic or mobile number as in the UK as well as those made to freephone numbers. I have no idea whether freephone numbers in Ireland are free from landlines and mobiles, or only from landlines - the latter currently being the case in the UK until 26 June 2015.

However, the Irish legislation additionally allows "Shared Cost (Fixed)", "Shared Cost (Timed)" and "Universal Access" numbers to be used. I have a horrible suspicion that "Shared Cost" means a call where the additional cost of the non-geographic call features is shared by the caller and the called party, i.e. the caller is effectively subsidising costs that should be borne by the called party.

If that is the case, it sounds similar to the way 0845 numbers currently work here in the UK with the caller incurring a 2p/min Service Charge and the called party paying very little apart from perhaps a small monthly rental. I assume the "sharing" of costs would therefore make these calls more expensive than a call to a standard geographic number, very expensive on mobiles and prevent them counting towards inclusive call allowances.

Reading elsewhere, 1890 "shared cost" numbers appear to be charged at "local rate" but that "local rate" is a different rate to whatever each operator charges for a call to a geographic number. Additionally, and as I had already guessed, it appears that 1890 and 0818 numbers do not count towards inclusive call bundles. This sounds very much like the 0845 situation in the UK. If this is the case, Irish consumers have badly lost out.

Shared cost numbers begin 1850 and 1890. The fact that there is a website called www.saynoto1890.com and that these numbers are still permitted under the Irish implementation of the CRD indicates Irish consumers have gotten little or no redress from the new legislation.

1850 numbers have a "fixed rate". I'm not sure how that works, but I'm guessing it is much like the fixed fee 0844 and 0871 numbers where although the call fee might be quite low, these calls are never included in call packages and bundles (with every call pushing up the caller's phone bill). I have no idea if these are revenue sharing numbers but I assume they are, or at least that the caller is subsidising the running costs of the non-geographic number.

It gets better! These numbers are known as "lo-call" numbers.
http://www.askcomreg.ie/home_phone/what_is_a_locall_number.1.138.LE.asp
This is beginning to sound all too familiar.

The Irish regulations do specifically rule out "premium rate" numbers but I have no idea what pence per minute rate they might start at.

There are a few areas where the Irish law appears to be better worded then the UK version. It is specific in stating that an offence is committed by breaching the "basic rate" regulations, thereby making the whole contract null and void. Additionally, it is the retailer or trader, not the consumer, that is required to prove their number is "basic rate". However, the Irish definition of basic rate is so wide it means consumers will continue to have to call numbers where the call charge contains additional undeclared fees benefitting the called party.

The equivalent laws in other countries do not appear to have been published in English. Presumably that will happen over the next few months. It will be interesting to see what each has done. The national implementation in Ireland seems to fall far short of what the EU intended. Travellers may well need to be wary. I suspect that will also turn out to be the case in a significant number of other countries.
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« Last Edit: May 28th, 2014 at 12:25pm by Ian G »  
 
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #1 - May 26th, 2014 at 9:06pm
 
EUROPEAN UNION (CONSUMER INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND OTHER RIGHTS) REGULATIONS 2013 (2013/si484)

Here's a couple of excerpts from the Irish regulations. http://www.djei.ie/publications/sis/2013/si484.pdf

Words marked up in
blue
are similar to the UK regulations and guidance, those in
green
are additional to those found in the UK regulations and those in
red
indicate areas where Irish consumers appear to lose out compared with the UK regulations.

Quote:
PART 5

Payment Fees, Additional Payments and Charges for Communication by Telephone

Application of Part 5

24. (1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) and Regulation 3,
this Part applies to each of the following on-premises contracts, off-premises contracts and distance contracts concluded between a trader and a consumer
:

(a)
sales contracts
;

(b)
service contracts
;

(c)
contracts for the supply of digital content
not supplied on a tangible medium;

(d)
contracts for the supply of water, gas or electricity not put up for sale in a limited volume or set quantity
;

(e) contracts for the supply of district heating.

(2)
Regulation 27 does not apply to contracts for passenger transport services
.

(3) This Part
does not apply to contracts for financial services
within the meaning of Regulation 2(1),
but applies to payments for such services in other contracts between a trader and a consumer
to which this Part applies.

(( snip ))
Quote:
Charges for communication by telephone

27. (1) Where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of permitting consumers to contact the trader about a contract concluded with the trader, calls by consumers to that line for that purpose
shall not be charged at more than the basic rate
.

(2) Where a trader operates a telephone line that contravenes paragraph (1), the
trader shall reimburse the consumer to the extent of the excess charged
, and a failure to do so is actionable by the consumer as a breach of statutory duty.

(3)
Any provision of a contract which requires the consumer to make a payment that contravenes paragraph (1) is unenforceable
.

(4)
A trader who contravenes paragraph (1) commits an offence
.

(5)
In case of dispute, it is for the trader to show that calls to a telephone line operated by the trader for the purpose of permitting consumers to contact the trader about a contract concluded with the trader were not charged at more than the basic rate
.

(6) For the purposes of this Regulation—

“basic rate” means the rate charged for a call to—

(a) an Irish
geographic number,


(b) an Irish
mobile number
, or

(c) any of the following non-geographic numbers as defined in the National Numbering Conventions:

(i)
Freephone
,

(ii)
Shared Cost (Fixed)
,

(iii)
Shared Cost (Timed)
,

(iv)
Universal Access
,

but, for the avoidance of doubt,
excludes the rate charged for a call to a Premium Rate Number
as defined in the National Numbering Conventions;

"geographic number" has the meaning given to it in Regulation 2(2) of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and Users’ Rights) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 337 of 2011);

“National Numbering Conventions” means the National Numbering Conventions as published by the Commission from time to time, and most recently on 9 March 2011;

"non-geographic number" has the meaning given to it in Regulation 2(2) of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and Users’ Rights) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 337 of 2011).



Ireland has missed a big opportunity to ban the expensive non-inclusive numbers:
http://www.valueireland.com/2009/04/say-no-to-1890-1850-and-0818-call-costs/

http://www.tomdoyletalk.com/2010/01/14/1850-1890-numbers-your-time-is-up/

http://www.saynoto1890.com/2013/02/1890-1850-and-0818-numbers-with-no-geographic...
http://www.saynoto1890.com/2013/02/calling-1890-1850-and-0818-numbers-from-mobil...
http://www.saynoto1890.com/2013/08/saynoto1890-com-in-the-farmers-journal/

http://www.moneyguideireland.com/1890-alternative-phone-numbers.html
[2013/11]
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« Last Edit: May 28th, 2014 at 11:24am by Ian G »  
 
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #2 - May 27th, 2014 at 12:20pm
 
So, what went wrong in Ireland? How did they end up with "expensive" telephone numbers being defined as "basic rate"?

Did the Irish government give the CRD proposals enough publicity when they were first being considered?

Was there a consultation on the proposals? Did anyone reply?
[There was a consultation http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2013/CRD.pdf in May 2013.]

Were there any responses from concerned citizens or from any sort of group opposed to inappropriate usage of "expensive" telephone numbers?

Did anyone advance the arguments
- that phone lines where the caller subsidises the additional costs of the non-geographic line are not "basic rate"?
- that phone lines that cost more than calling a geographic number are not "basic rate"?
- that phone lines that are excluded from call packages are not "basic rate"?
- that what's good for retailers and traders should also apply to passenger transport companies?

If any of those arguments were put forward by consumers, and then rejected by the government, what was the reason for rejection?

Thankfully the UK government did recognise these things and took appropriate action.

I wonder how many other EU nation states have ended up with a less then satisfactory implementation of the CRD?

It perhaps explains why a certain airline has changed to 03 numbers in the UK, cheap numbers in several other countries and has retained their expensive numbers in all of the rest. So much for EU harmonisation!


This is like deja vu all over again:
http://www.saynoto1890.com/faq/
http://www.saynoto1890.com/call-costs/
http://www.saynoto1890.com/2013/03/dublin-city-council-incorrectly-advertising-0...
http://www.saynoto1890.com/2013/09/pinergy-incorrectly-advertising-contact-numbe...
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« Last Edit: May 28th, 2014 at 11:34am by Ian G »  
 
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #3 - May 27th, 2014 at 6:28pm
 
CONSULTATION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DIRECTIVE 2011/83/EU ON CONSUMER RIGHTS

The original consultation wording http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2013/CRD.pdf from May 2013 looked to be quite strong and proposed covering more than the UK legislation:

Quote:
8. The Directive’s provision on telephone communication with traders provides that, where a trader operates a customer helpline for the purpose of dealing with queries or complaints from consumers about goods purchased or services supplied, the consumer should not have to pay more than the basic rate for the call. It is proposed to apply this provision to all of the contracts outside the scope of the Directive, including financial services.


Quote:
VIII COMMUNICATION WITH TRADER BY TELEPHONE

65. Article 21 of the Directive provides as follows:

Quote:
Member States shall ensure that where the trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of contacting him by telephone in relation to the contract concluded, the consumer, when contacting the trader, is not bound to pay more than the basic rate.

The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to the right of telecommunications services providers to charge for such calls. This provision applies to customer helplines operated by traders for the purpose of dealing with queries or complaints from consumers about goods purchased from, or services supplied by, the trader. It does not aim to regulate the cost of individual calls to helplines by consumers – this will depend on factors such as the consumer’s telephone package, whether the call is made from a mobile phone or landline, and the place from which the call is made. It seeks rather to ensure, first, that traders will not use such helplines as a means of generating revenue from consumers and, second, that they will not use high call charges to deter consumers from contacting them with complaints or queries. Though the provision precludes traders from using customer helplines as a source of revenue, it does not require them to subsidise such services.

66. Article 21 does not cover charges for either pre-contractual enquiries or for premium rate services such as horoscope lines or directory enquiries which are paid for directly by means of the cost of the call. If a caller to such premium rate services subsequently wishes to make a complaint or query about the service by telephone, however, the cost of that call should be at a basic and not a premium rate.

The provision is not intended similarly to prevent traders from offering technical support for complex products such as computers at a premium rate provided that it is made clear to the consumer that this involves a contract for a separate service and that the information requirements applicable to such contracts under Chapter III of the Directive are complied with.

This is in line with the requirements of the ComReg Code of Practice on Premium Rate Services. Paragraph 6.2 of the Code requires providers of premium rate telephone services to provide, or arrange for the provision of, an adequately staffed and resourced live operator helpline service during normal office hours which must be available on a telephone number priced at national rate or below.

67. Subject to review in the light of the responses to this consultation, it is proposed to apply the provisions of Article 21 to all of the contracts outside the scope of the Directive, including financial services, listed in Box 1. The exemption of financial services from the provisions of Article 19 (Fees for the use of means of payment) and Article 22 (Additional payments) proposed in the earlier consultation on those Articles reflected the fact that the Consumer Credit Act 1995 and the Consumer Protection Code for regulated financial services entities contain detailed provisions on the regulation of such fees and payments.

Neither the Act nor the Code, however, appear to contain provisions corresponding to Article 21 of the Directive. It is proposed similarly to apply the provisions of Article 21 to off-premises contacts with a value of less than €50.

Quote:
Question 12
Should Article 21 of the Directive on Communication by Telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content. If not, what exceptions should apply and why?


Aha! As with many of these things, it often seems to boil down to the precise interpretation of half a dozen words or less.
The consultation perhaps makes the bold assumption that a "basic rate" number is anything that is not "premium rate".
In doing so, it ignores numbers which are non-inclusive and expensive to call, especially from mobiles, but outside the formal definition of premium rate.

This bit may also have been taken too literally:
Quote:
Though the provision precludes traders from using customer helplines as a source of revenue, it does not require them to subsidise such services.

I would read that as meaning the business does not have to provide a freephone number at the company's expense.

It appears the lawmakers read that as not requiring the business to pay for the additional features found on a non-geographic number and instead allow the caller to pay for those, with the caller thereby effectively subsidising the additional cost of the non-geographic line and thereby reducing the costs incurred by the business.

If that is the case, it seems to go against the spirit of the EU Directive.
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #4 - May 28th, 2014 at 1:17pm
 
To be absolutely clear, if the same thing had happened in the UK it is likely that numbers beginning 055, 056, 076, 0843, 0844, 0845 and 0870 would now be classed as "basic rate" and allowed to be used for customer service lines.

Thankfully that scenario has been averted.

The UK situation is...
Geographic-rate 01, 02 and 03 numbers comply - these are inclusive calls from most landlines and mobiles.
Standard 07 mobile numbers comply (071-075 & 077-079) - these are inclusive calls from most mobiles.
Freephone 080 numbers will comply after 26 June 2015 - these are currently not free from mobiles.

Freephone 0500 numbers do not comply and in any case are being scrapped in 2017.
055, 056 and 076 numbers likely do not comply.
070, 084, 087, 090, 091 and 098 numbers do not comply.
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #5 - Jun 15th, 2014 at 4:32pm
 
This prompts a wider question about how other countries have implemented Article 21.

It's very interesting to see how the Irish have implemented it. In addition to your observations about their neglectful inclusion of certain surcharged number types as "basic rate" and failure to remove the unnecessary exclusion of passenger transport services, they have also disallowed one number type that should have been allowed - international numbers. The original draft of the the UK's Regulation 41 (previously Regulation 39) excluded international numbers, but BIS reworded it after I pointed out to them that it would be unreasonable and possibly unlawful for the UK, as an EEA member state, to prohibit customer service telephone numbers in other EEA member states, particularly if the cost of international calls will be the same as domestic calls, as is currently being legislated for non-mobile calls.

Ryanair's contact numbers comply only by the bare minimum. It now publishes a surcharged number for "new bookings" and a basic rate number for "post booking queries" for some countries, e.g. the UK, Austria, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Finland. One could assume that all these countries, like the UK, wisely chose to omit the exclusion for passenger transport services in their national legislation. For other countries, e.g. Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Poland, it publishes a single number for "new bookings and general queries", so one could assume that these countries preserved the exclusion for passenger transport services in their national legislation.

I can't find the Spanish legislation on a government web site, but I did find an article which accurately quotes its wording.

When it comes to airlines, the variation in the exclusion of passenger transport services could have the effect that consumers all over Europe will contact airlines via their UK telephone number in order to avoid a surcharged number in their own country.
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #6 - Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:03pm
 
The situation across Europe is messy. There's a variety of failures and some very convoluted regulation in some countries. So much for "harmonisation".

The UK has ended up with one of the better implementations. The definitions for "basic rate" are spot on and there's no exemption for passenger transport.
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Reply #7 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 2:44pm
 
The Irish government has finally published the Guidance Notes for implementing the new regulations.
http://www.djei.ie/commerce/consumer/CRDGuidance.pdf#page=41

THE EUROPEAN UNION (CONSUMER INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND OTHER RIGHTS) REGULATIONS 2013

GUIDANCE NOTE

JUNE 2014

Quote:
Charges for Communication by Telephone

72. Regulation 27 gives effect gives effect to Article 21 of the Directive on charges for communication by telephone and applies to on-premises, distance and off-premises contracts within the scope of the Regulations, though not to contracts for passenger transport services. The Regulation provides that, where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of permitting consumers to contact the trader about a contract concluded with the trader, calls by the consumer to that line for that purpose must not be charged at more than the basic rate. A trader who operates a telephone line that contravenes this provision is required to reimburse consumers who have been over-charged to the extent of the excess charge.

73. Though the Directive contains no definition of “basic rate”, it is defined in the Regulation as the rate charged for a call, to:
a) an Irish geographic number,[33]
b) an Irish mobile number, or
c) any of the following non-geographic numbers as defined in the National Numbering Conventions
(i) Freephone
(ii)
Shared Cost (Fixed)

(iii)
Shared Cost (Timed)

(iv)
Universal Access
.
“Basic rate” does not include the rate charged for a call to a Premium Rate Number.

74. Freephone (1800) numbers involve no cost to the person making the call. Charges to Shared Cost (LoCall) numbers are split between the person making the call and the person called and, when made from a fixed line, are charged at the rate for a local call with the caller’s service provider. The cost to the caller of a call to a shared cost (fixed), or 1850, number does not vary with the duration of the call. The cost to the caller of a call to a shared cost (timed), or 1890, number varies with the duration of the call. The cost of a call to a universal access (0818) number is charged at the price of a national call regardless of the location from which a call from a fixed line number is made. The cost of calls to LoCall or Universal Access numbers made from mobile phones varies, however, as calls to these numbers are often excluded from call bundles.

75. The Regulation seeks to ensure that consumers who contact by telephone a trader with whom they have concluded a contract do not have to pay a call charge that exceeds the normal price of an equivalent call charged by their telephone service provider. This charge will of course vary for different consumers depending on the charges applied by their telephone service provider. In particular, charges for calls to numbers provided by traders for after-sales communications by consumers should not provide traders with an additional revenue stream through, for example, arrangements under which part of the cost of the call is paid to the trader.

Note 33 “Geographic number”, “non-geographic number” and “National Numbering Conventions” are defined in the Regulation.

Quote:
POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT PROVISION ON CHARGES FOR COMMUNICATIONS BY TELEPHONE

Regulation 27 applies only to telephone lines operated by a trader for the purpose of permitting consumers to contact the trader about a contract concluded with the trader. It does not apply to lines operated by the trader for other purposes, such as taking orders or providing general information about the trader’s business or products. The Regulation does not apply to a telephone line that offers specialist technical support to consumers provided that such a line is separate from a line on which consumers can call to discuss post-contractual problems with a purchase and which offers a service over and above that available on such a line. The Regulation does not apply to calls to telephone lines providing information or other services such as weather lines. The Regulation does not require traders to provide a telephone line for the purpose of after-sales communications nor, if they operate such a line, to subsidise the cost that consumers pay to their telephone service provider for calls to that line. In the event of a dispute between the parties or of legal proceedings, the burden of proof as to whether a call to a telephone line within the scope of the Regulation was charged at the basic rate lies with the trader.

Regulation 27 does not affect the right of telecommunications service providers to charge for calls to telephone lines operated by traders for the purposes of after-sales communications from consumers.


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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #8 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 9:15pm
 
In the text of the guidance notes the government admits that some non-geographic calls can cost more than geographic calls, especially from mobiles. This is simply because these calls do not count towards inclusive allowances. However, despite this being known, they still went ahead with defining these numbers as "basic rate" in the final regulations.

This is a massive disservice to consumers and appears to be a failure in correctly implementing what the EU intended these regulations to do for consumers.

"Shared Cost" is a deceptive term. The casual reader may have assumed the business is contributing towards the part of the call cost that the caller pays to their provider and which is retained by that provider. This is not the case.

In many cases, the caller is instead contributing towards and subsidising the extra costs of running the geographic number. This is achieved by the caller's provider paying an enhanced termination charge to the benefit of the company running the non-geographic number. It is this enhanced fee that prevents these calls counting towards inclusive call allowances.

Referring to these various calls as "CallSave", "Local Rate", "lo-call" or "National Rate", etc, is all part of the deception. These appear to give an assurance of low cost while ensuring the caller pays more than they would have paid to call a standard geographic number.

This appears to be precisely the sort of deception the EU intended to be removed and which the Irish government now permits businesses to carry out on their customers.
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Reply #9 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 9:15pm
 
The Irish government has finally published the consultation responses from June and July 2013.
http://www.djei.ie/commerce/consumer/crdconsultations.htm

Here you can see what various businesses and organisations were thinking in regards to the proposed restrictions placed on call charges for post-sale telephone contact.



Airtricity

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/airtricity2.pdf#page=5

Quote:
12. Should Article 21 of the Directive on communication by telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content? If not, what exceptions should apply and why?

No comment.




Bord Gáis Energy

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/bordgais2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



Bord Gáis Networks

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/bordgaisnetworks2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



Commission for Communications Regulation

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/comreg2.pdf#page=7

Quote:
Communication by telephone

12. Should Article 21 of the Directive on communication by telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content? If not, what exceptions should apply and why?

We note that the Department states that this provision applies to customer helplines operated by traders for the purpose of dealing with queries or complaints from consumers about goods purchased from, or services supplied by, the trader. It does not aim to regulate the cost of individual calls to helplines by consumers – this will depend on factors such as the consumer’s telephone package, whether the call is made from a mobile phone or landline, and the place from which the call is made. It seeks rather to ensure, first, that traders will not use such helplines as a means of generating revenue from consumers and, second, that they will not use high call charges to deter consumers from contacting them with complaints or queries. Though the provision precludes traders from using customer helplines as a source of revenue, it does not require them to subsidise such services.

The Department states at para. 66 that Article 21 does not cover charges for either pre-contractual enquiries or for premium rate services such as horoscope lines or directory enquiries which are paid for directly by means of the cost of the call. If a caller to such premium rate services subsequently wishes to make a complaint or query about the service by telephone, however, the cost of that call should be at a basic and not a premium rate. The Department here state in a footnote:

“This is in line with the requirements of the ComReg Code of Practice on Premium Rate Services. Paragraph 6.2 of the Code requires providers of premium rate telephone services to provide, or arrange for the provision of, an adequately staffed and resourced live operator helpline service during normal office hours which must be available on a telephone number priced at national rate or below”.

In light of the above, ComReg agrees with the proposal that Article 21 of the Directive, which deals with “communication by telephone”, should apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services, or digital content.

We note that the second subparagraph of Article 21 explicitly provides that “The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to the right of telecommunication services providers to charge for such calls”. ComReg notes that to a certain extent, there is an overlap between Article 21 of the Directive and provisions relating to settlement of disputes contained in the Universal Services Directive, as transposed by the Universal Service Regulations.

Regulation 14(2)(g) of the Universal Service Regulations provides that a contract provided to consumers and other end-users in relation to connection to a public communications network or publicly available electronic communications services has to contain, amongst other things, specification in clear, comprehensive and easily accessible form the means of initiating procedures for settlement of disputes in accordance with Regulation 27.

Regulation 27 provides that an undertaking providing electronic communications networks or services shall implement a code of practice for settling unresolved disputes, including complaints between end-users and the undertaking concerned, and relating to the contractual conditions or performance of contracts concerning the supply of electronic communications networks or services and any other issues arising under, or covered by the Regulations. Amongst other things, the code of practice has to make provision for the first point of contact for complainants.




Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/dttas2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #10 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 9:16pm
 
European Consumer Centre Ireland

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/eccireland2.pdf#page=8

Quote:
Question 12: Should Article 21 of the Directive on Communication by Telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content. If not, what exceptions should apply and why?

In terms of those contracts which are currently exempted from the scope of the Consumers Rights Directive as provided for under Article 3(a)-(m), it is considered that Article 21 on the costs of communicating by telephone should not apply to Article 3(c)–(f) and (j).

Reason for Exemption:

These provisions would either not be appropriate given the nature of the contracts themselves or the sectors would be better served through sector specific legislation.




Eircom

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/eircom2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



Electric Ireland

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/electricireland2.pdf#page=5

Quote:
Q12. Should Article 21 of the Directive on communication by telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content? If not, what exceptions should apply and why?

Response 12 Electric Ireland accepts the proposed provisions in relation to application of Article 21.




Fáilte Ireland

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/failteireland2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



Irish Banking Federation

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/ibf2.pdf#page=1

Quote:
Financial Service are exempted from the scope of Directive 2011/83/EU as outlined above.
However, as the Minister is considering the extension of the scope of the Directive to the
Financial Services sector in relation to question 12 of the consultation I set out below the industry
response on this matter.

Consumers currently use a variety of telecommunication services to contact telephone helplines
of Financial Service providers including landline, mobile and internet. Consumers also have the
choice to use a 'pay per use' or packaged option from their telecommunications provider. In
relation to Financial Services in Ireland, consumer helpline numbers are provided at or below the
basic rate and include standard local charges along with Call Save (1850), LoCall (1890) or
Freefone (1800) numbers or their equivalent.

We believe that all Premium Rate Services, as regulated by the Comminssion for Communications
Regulation (ComReg) should be excluded for the purposes of customer helplines in the Financial
Services industry as is the current practice. We also note that the Code of Practice for Premium
Rate Services requires that suppliers provide clear and transparent information on the usage of
any Premium Rate number. This information would enable the consumer to identify where such
numbers were used to provide a helpline.




Law Society of Ireland

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/lawsociety2.pdf#page=6

Quote:
12. QUESTION

Should Article 21 of the Directive on communication by telephone apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services or digital content? If not, what exceptions should apply and why?

ANSWER

There seems no reason in principle why the rule proposed by the Directive (that where the trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of contacting him by telephone in relation to the contract concluded, the consumer, when contacting the trader, is not bound to pay more than the basic rate) should not apply to all consumer contracts.


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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #11 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 9:39pm
 

Sky

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/sky2.pdf#page=1

Quote:
1.3 Some of the issues raised by the implementation of the CRD could have significant impacts for businesses in Ireland. In particular, Sky Ireland uses call centres and we are unclear what definition the DJEI is proposing to use for the “basic rate” for contacting customer services in respect of post-contract enquires. Sky Ireland would welcome confirmation on what the DJEI’s proposed approach is, as this could have very significant impacts for us in practice.

2. PROPOSED GUIDANCE SHOULD BE CONSULTED ON

2.1 The consultation states that:

It is proposed, as far as practicable, to adhere to the wording of the Directive in the Statutory Instrument that will give effect to its provisions and to provide clarification of those provisions in guidance to be issued by the National Consumer Agency.

2.2 Sky agrees with the proposal to provide guidance and there are a number of matters arising from the implementation of the CRD that will need to be clarified. Some implementation issues could have significant and / or unintended consequences if potential problems are not identified and resolved in advance of implementation. Therefore, Sky considers that, it is important for the DJEI and the National Consumer Agency to consult on the draft Statutory Instrument to give effect to the CRD and the proposed accompanying guidance.

3. ARTICLE 21-PROHIBITION ON CHARGING CONSUMERS MORE THAN THE “BASIC RATE” FOR CONTACTING CUSTOMER SERVICES IN RESPECT OF POST CONTRACT ENQUIRIES

3.1 Article 21 of the CRD states that:

Member states shall ensure that where the trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of contacting him by telephone in relation to the contract concluded, the consumer, when contacting the trader is not bound to pay more than the basic rate.

3.2 As the DJEI is aware, the CRD does not define the term “basic rate.” It is therefore open to DJEI to provide guidance on how “basic rate” is to be interpreted.

3.3 While Sky considers that consumers should not be required to dial a premium number to contact a trader, many businesses in Ireland (including Sky) run call centres and they often use “revenue sharing” numbers, where the business and the service provider for the communications service share a portion of the revenue generated from each call. Therefore, Sky would advocate a broad definition of “basic rate” to at least include such calls. Sky urges DJEI to work closely with the Commission for Communications Regulation (“ComReg”) in determining which number ranges could be considered “basic rate” and which would be appropriate for use in the Irish market. This would assist DJEI in arriving at an approach which reflects the practical use of number ranges in Ireland.

3.4 Sky considers that consumers should be able to make calls at a reasonable, non-premium rate and in the absence of an established definition of “basic rate” we suggest it would be appropriate for the DJEI to define it as non-premium rate.




Telefonica

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/telefonica2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.



UPC Ireland

http://www.djei.ie/publications/commerce/2014/upc2.pdf

The specific consultation question was not answered and there was no further comment on this topic.


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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #12 - Jun 28th, 2014 at 12:23pm
 
Airtricity, Bord Gáis, Electric Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are users of high-rate telephone numbers but had nothing to say on this matter in their consultation responses. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport also had nothing to say.

ComReg failed to recognise the difference between the number user subsidising the part of the retail call price retained by the caller's phone provider (which the number user is not required to do) and the caller subsidising the additional expenses incurred by the business in their use of a non-geographic number. The latter is achieved through higher termination charges which leads to calls to those types of telephone numbers not counting towards inclusive allowances. ComReg failed to mention this latter situation and DJEI subsequently allowed it even though it seems clear that this is not what the EU Directive intended.

ComReg agreed that the "basic rate" provisions should apply to all consumer contracts for goods, services, or digital content. The Law Society of Ireland agreed with this point. DJEI did not act on that. On the other hand, ECC proposed that certain sectors should be exempt or would be better covered by sector-specific regulation.

The Irish Banking Federation stated that callers either pay for individual calls or pay for an inclusive call plan. This is true. They stated that calls to financial service providers are charged "at or below basic rate". This is often not true. They failed to recognise that calls to Call Save (1850) and LoCall (1890) numbers (and to 0818 numbers, which were not mentioned) increase costs incurred by those callers with an inclusive allowance because calls to these numbers do not count towards that inclusive allowance. Every such call made, pushes up the caller's telephone bill.

Sky appeared worried that their usage of high-rate numbers would be affected by the regulations and wanted a chance to comment on the draft SI when it was produced. Sky advocated that revenue sharing numbers should be included in the definition of "basic rate" and suggested it should cover all numbers that are not "premium rate".

Eircom, Telefonica and UPC Ireland are telecoms companies using high-rate numbers, in some cases supplying these numbers to businesses, and charging callers for calling these numbers and yet had nothing to say on these matters in their consultation responses.

There was no input to the consultation from anyone associated with sayNOto1890 or ValueIreland or from anyone representing consumers or their interests. There was no input from campaigners opposed to the usage of high-rate numbers. Misunderstandings and misrepresentations went unchallenged and unsuitable provisions subsequently passed into Irish law and to the detriment of very many consumers.
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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #13 - Aug 24th, 2016 at 11:23am
 

Two years on...

In the UK, usage of expensive 084 and 087 numbers for inappropriate purposes is in rapid decline.

Cabinet Office guidance recommended central government departments, their agencies and private partners and other public sector bodies replace their premium 084 and 087 numbers with cheaper 03 numbers.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmg-guidance-for-customer-service-lin...

Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 requires retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to use numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 for post-sales helplines.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/regulation/41/made

FCA regulations covering financial services such as banks, card companies and insurers have similar provisions, requiring usage of 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers.
https://www.fca.org.uk/news/ps15-19-improving-complaints-handling

Ofcom regulations require all remaining users of 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers to declare the Service Charge in close proximity to the number everywhere it is advertised or promoted.
http://ask.ofcom.org.uk/help/telephone/businesscalling


In Ireland, there has been no visible reduction in the use of 1850, 1890, 0818 and other 'expensive' telephone numbers.

Irish consumer law continues to allow, perhaps even encourages, their use. This is most apparent when you see a number of companies offering an 03 or 080 number for their customers in Northern Ireland and a 1850, 1890 or 0818 number for their customers in the Republic of Ireland.

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Re: UN-Fair Telecoms in the Republic of Ireland
Reply #14 - Nov 15th, 2016 at 1:46pm
 

Interesting news....

http://www.scottishlegal.com/2016/11/15/advocate-general-szpunar-phonecall-to-af...

Seems to show that Ireland is out of step with what is required.


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