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RTR informs customers about what they can do in the case of price increases by operators

‘Customers of an operator who increases its prices have the right to terminate their contract free of charge and to port their number to another operator’, said Johannes Gungl, CEO at RTR. ‘We frequently receive enquiries from irritated subscribers, who have to decide whether to terminate their contracts and look for a different operator or to accept the new, inferior conditions’, Gungl states. ‘The legislator has entitled Austrian operators to alter contracts unilaterally; in return, however, customers have the right to terminate their contracts free of charge in such a case. It has also been stipulated by law that customers can have their phone numbers ported to their new operator. The original operator has to accept to port the number and must not refuse porting’, Gungl explains.

Special right of cancellation and right to port phone numbers are inalienable

‘Operators are also not allowed to agree on a waiver of the right of cancellation with their customers. The same is true for the right to port phone numbers. And even if such an agreement has been made it is not binding for the customer because it contradicts mandatory law. The customer can still make use of his or her right of cancellation and the right to port’, Gungl explains. ‘Only if a customer was aware of - and accepted - the new conditions when signing the agreement, he is not entitled to terminate the contract because in this case, the alteration doesn't count as unilateral. Other limitations to the special right of cancellation are possible if prices are increased based on an index-linked price increase clause which has been agreed upon in the general terms of business. In this case, the increase is guided by objective standards that are independent of the individual operator. So far, however, courts haven’t reached a uniform decision regarding this legal question and it is now to be decided by the Supreme Court. The right to port cannot be waived under any circumstances. Customers are entitled to it in any case’, Gungl sums up.

Well-informed customers strengthen competition

 ‘Competition is driven by customers who know their rights and make use of them. Customers can exert pressure by changing the operator and choosing the right products. This is how customers themselves can contribute to an offer that is diverse und prices that are stable and remain low. Particulary when customers get the chance to terminate their contracts on short notice and free of charge, it is advisable to gather information about offers and to make an informed decision. It is the Regulatory Authority's task in this context to make sure that operators adhere to the legal regulations. If customers have reason to believe that their operator unrightfully denies them certain rights, I recommend they get in touch with us immediately. Our experts will offer help and advice’, Gungl states in conclusion.

Further information about the conciliation body's services is available at https://www.rtr.at/en/tk/SchlichtungsstelleRTR . For information by phone please dial 0810 511 811 (EUR 0.07267 per minute) from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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