The RTR conciliation body recorded a renewed increase in the number of conciliation cases in 2014, following a decrease in the previous two years, with cases rising considerably from 2,859 in 2013 to 3,879 in 2014. “Even though this development is not that positive, ultimately customers benefit from the efforts we stepped up last year to work more closely with network operators,” commented Johannes Gungl, Managing Director of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, referring to the findings of the report. “I wish to underscore two facts: the average amount in dispute fell from EUR 654 in 2013 to EUR 433 in 2014, and the settlement rate rose by an average of 15 percentage points to 69%,” Gungl explained. “Here, we found it particularly gratifying to observe the operators’ increased willingness to make concessions when processing the cases.”
The main reason underlying the significant increase in cases is content services, which gave rise to 1,400 conciliation procedures in 2014. “Content services can only be provided via mobile connections. Such services are charged directly by way of the telephone or internet bill issued by the network operator, simply by the user clicking – often inadvertently – a command button to authorise payment,” Gungl explained, adding: “Examples of such often dubious transactions include competitions without winnings or prospects of free mobile phones.”
“Generally speaking, content services are worthwhile and are widely and readily accepted. The ‘boom’ in cases involving content services is attributed to several factors. Firstly, users often receive little to no information, in part because network operators make little or no effort to inform their customers. Secondly, no legal provisions to protect users currently exist that would put a stop to unintentionally ordering services,” Gungl stated, summarising the problems involved. “Yet we do see a bright spot on the horizon, inasmuch as some network operators have at our suggestion already installed protection mechanisms, which would make the legal protection that we would otherwise support unnecessary.”
“Apart from unregulated content services, the numerous regulations we have issued to protect customers in recent years have definitely been effective. We expect conciliation procedures to decrease again in 2015 and estimate 3,000 cases,” Gungl forecast.
“In addition to daily activities, the agenda of the RTR conciliation body currently includes an evaluation of the number porting process and of porting costs as well as an analysis of customer loyalty programmes and the review of the operators’ general terms and conditions,” the Managing Director of regulatory authority RTR announced, providing an overview of focus topics in the current year.
Discussions with the network operators will also continue. The objective of conciliation procedures is the quick resolution of disputes in line with customers’ needs.
The Activity Report of the RTR conciliation body is published (in German) on the RTR website at https://www.rtr.at/en/inf/STR_Bericht2014. Further information on RTR’s consumer services can be viewed at https://www.rtr.at/en/tk/Konsumenten_Service