Thanks to the interventions and mediation proceedings carried out by the President of UKE, in 2014 the Office recovered 1 434 670,69 PLN for the consumers.
Consumer policy is one of the main objectives of the strategy of the Office of Electronic Communications' President, who conducts a number of activities for the benefit of both consumers and other users of telecommunications services.
The President of UKE undertakes, on request or ex-officio, interventions in matters related to the functioning of telecommunications services market. Moreover, information and education activities are carried out, and telecommunications entrepreneurs are controlled as regards compliance with the provisions of the Telecommunications Act.
An important source of information on the irregularities in the telecommunications operators' conduct towards their clients are information from the telecommunications services users submitted to the Office. Taking advantage of the wider and wider, and at the same time more complicated offer of the telecommunications services provided by many service providers can be connected with problems faced by the telecommunications services users. The scale of these irregularities is still large, which is indicated by the number of requests to intervene with the service providers submitted to the President of UKE.In 2014 the Office received 5474 requests for an intervention of the President of UKE, of which 3857 requests (70,46%) have been resolved in favour of end users.
Conducted proceedings required i.a. obtaining detailed explanations from the telecommunications services provider, examination of factual and legal situation. Each time the experts of UKE had interests of the telecommunications services user in mind and were striving to fully explain circumstances of the case.
A dispute between a consumer and a provider of telecommunications services may be ended in a conciliatory manner in the course of mediation proceeding. In the previous year, the President of UKE conducted 2878 mediation proceedings, of which 1365 proceedings (47,43%) have been resolved in favour of consumer.The most common problems faced by the subscribers using telecommunications services in 2014 included, i.a.:
- unfair commercial practices applied by commercial agents when subscriptions are taken out,
- problems with or lack of mobile network coverage,
- activation of Premium Rate SMS subscription without users' consent,
- being mislead by internet service providers indicating to the lack of limits that in fact exist,
- automatic extension of contracts for the subsequent fixed term,
- number portability when changing service provider or localisation.
Each request for the intervention of the President of UKE was examined individually and explained in detail with relevant providers of telecommunications services. In case when a number of requests concerned the same issue - apart from addressing the individual case - also general interventions of the President of UKE were undertaken in order to eliminate a given problem.
One example of wide scale activity was initiation of the proceeding to impose a financial penalty on PTS S.A., undertaken following information gained in the course of conducted mediation and complaint proceedings against PTS S.A., and an analysis of model contracts applied by PTS that showed violation of the provisions of the Telecommunications Act.The proceeding was finalised on 16 July 2014 with a decision of the President of UKE imposing on PTS S.A. a financial penalty of 497 120,34 PLN,
for i.a. violation of information obligations towards end users, failure to comply with obligation to provide telecommunications services to end users, preventing subscribers from using their right to choose service provider and providing the President of UKE with false information.
Any irregularities occurring on the side of telecommunications services providers are examined in detail by the President of UKE, not only as regards compliance with binding provisions of the law, but also from the point of view of providing services of the best quality to consumers.
Consumer Information Centre
An important element of the Office activity is also running the Consumer Information Centre (CIK) and helpline for consumers, operating at 801 900 853.
Office helpline employees on duty every day answer consumers' numerous questions in the field of telecommunications services, provide advice and resolve any doubts regarding consumer rights, as well as initiate various social and educational campaigns.In 2014 employees of CIK UKE answered over 14 thousand phone calls and provided over 2 thousand advices to individual queries from the consumers, submitted to the Office in writing or electronically, in cases concerning the functioning of telecommunications services market, provisions of the law and other issues and problems that consumers face every day while using fixed and mobile telephony and Internet.
Consumer policy, which I would like to emphasise in particular, is one of the most important objectives of the strategy adopted by me
- says Magdalena Gaj, the President of UKE. - It is based on two pillars - first of them are explanatory, mediation, control and administrative proceedings initiated on the basis of legal provisions, the second - development of the counselling and protection system for consumers. One of the elements of consumer empowerment is popularization of knowledge and consumer education as regards their rights and obligations. Thanks to this they can execute their rights and seek redress.
The President of UKE is also an initiator of numerous social actions primarily aimed at educating users with respect to the rights available to them.
Taking into account the scale of problem and the number of interventions concerning the practices applied by unfair commercial agents, in 2014 UKE continued "Trust but verify"
educational and information campaign initiated in 2012, that was based on face-to-face meetings with consumers. Its aim was to educate elderly persons on the specifics of telecommunications market functioning and to warn them against unreliable commercial representatives, who take advantage of their credulity and trust in a deceitful way to persuade them to change their telecommunications services provider. Within campaign, in the years 2012-2014, a total of 67 meetings were held, with the participation of over 1,5 thousand consumers.
In December 2014 the President of UKE finalised the "Trust but verify" campaign. The summary of campaign is available on the UKE website (in Polish): http://www.cik.uke.gov.pl/ufaj-ale-sprawdzaj-podsumowanie-kampanii-15134
Certificates of the President of UKE
Another important element of consumer policy of UKE is the certification programme for telecommunications services.
The programme is aimed at supporting equal and effective competition in the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure consumer protection to the broadest degree. The certificates of the President of UKE are granted in categories: Safe Internet, Senior and Offer Comparison Website.
In early 2014 Magdalena Gaj, the President of UKE, granted certificates of the President of UKE for 2014 to the following entities:
• Orange Polska S.A. and UPC Polska Sp. z o.o. – in the Safe Internet category,
• CenterNet S.A. – - in the Senior category,
• FOSET Paweł Szubczyński – in the Offer Comparison Website category.The certificates of the President of UKE awarded for several years form a "quality stamp" important both to the subscribers and telecommunications undertakings
- emphasises the President of UKE. - The objective of the certification programme is to promote practices that are not only aimed at selling services, but in which care for the client to whom the service is dedicated is visible. It is equally important to provide easy tools that facilitate various groups to find their feet in a tangle of new services.
Relation from the ceremony of awarding certificates is available on the UKE website: Award ceremony of certificates granted by the President of UKE for 2014>>>
The most important information on protection of consumer rights and the rights and obligations of telecommunications undertakings were published in information brochures and leaflets, as well as published on the CIK UKE website dedicated to consumers http://www.cik.uke.gov.pl
, where i.a. advice on how to assert their rights, educational films and models of useful documents can be found.
The materials include information on the following subjects:
• well-informed conclusion of contracts with operators,
• procedures for complaints about telecommunications services,
• Premium Rate SMS,
• the principles for porting telephone numbers to another operator's network,
• roaming charges for calls made within the European Union.
In addition, the President of UKE supports consumers by providing guides of an education and information character, that are available on the UKE website. The following publications can be found there:
• Guide for users of publicly available telecommunications services,
• Guide for consumers - telecommunications services,
• Guide on illegal ways of using telecommunications services, as well as available options to protect security, privacy and personal data when using publicly available telecommunications services,
• Guide for consumers "10 principles of protecting personal data in telecommunications services",
• Guide/Porting fixed service to a new localisation,
• Guide/Expensive SMS,
• Guide/Mobile and fixed access to the telecommunications services/Coverage.Soon, on our website we will publish another guide for the telecommunications service users prepared in reference to the new act on the consumer rights. I invite you to read the publications
- encourages Magdalena Gaj.
We invite all consumers to use our advice and to contact CIK UKE:
• hotline +48 801 900 853, +48 22 534 631 834