Public consultation on draft BEREC Report on termination of contracts and switching the providers

21 January 2019

This public consultation was seeking stakeholders’ views regarding a draft BEREC Report on termination of contracts and switching the providers.

The objective of this consultation was to gather stakeholders’ comments and observations on the content of the draft BEREC Report.

The ability and willingness of consumers to terminate contract or to switch between service providers is in the respect of electronic communications services (ECS) a key facilitator of consumer choice and effective competition in a competitive telecommunications environment. All consumers should have the right to choose their service provider at any time.

The level of consumer switching activity is an important measure of competition in ECS markets.

Barriers to switching (switching costs) are present in many retail markets and consumers may be discouraged from changing (switching) provider for a better contract by financial barriers or penalties for leaving contracts early. Less explicit barriers, such as uncertainty about the relative merits of different contracts, or the inconvenience associated with changing provider, may also decrease switching activity.

The implications of this however is that the consumer can be penalised for remaining as a loyal customer with their existing provider and not avail of the benefits that can be gained by moving to a new provider. The ability to switch operator enables consumers to drive competition and ultimately promotes that a better quality of service is offered by Communication Providers (CPs) hoping to attract those consumers who are willing to exercise choice. So, consumers have to weigh up various factors to determine if the costs associated with switching are worth it or if it is too hard or difficult to shop around.

This report collates information on the approaches to switching across different communications services focusing on nine categories. It discusses the processes used in MS and the applicable rules in each MS to ensure that there are robust safeguards and adequate protection for consumers against any failures or drawbacks within the switching process.

The public consultation was open from Wednesday, 12 December 2018, at 14:00 CET to Friday, 18 January 2019, at 17:00 CET.

Contributions received after the above mentioned deadline were not be taken into account.

All contributions will be published on the BEREC website, taking into account requests for confidentiality and publication of personal data.