The Office of Electronic Communications has summarized an educational campaign called "Trust but verify" aimed at supporting the subscribers and preventing unfair practices in the telecommunications market. In 2013, 32 face-to-face meetings of UKE experts and consumers in the entire country were held.
One of the main objectives of the "Regulatory Strategy of the President of UKE until 2015" is consumer empowerment. As part of its consumer policy UKE takes action aimed at empowering the consumers by means of regular dissemination of knowledge about consumer protection and awareness of subscribers' rights and obligations. This is a very important obligation that results from the provisions of the Telecommunications Act.Start of the campaign
Preparations for the educational campaign were started in the Department of Retail Telecommunications Market at UKE in the second half of 2012 due to increasing number of unfair practices applied by commercial representatives of certain companies active in the Polish telecommunications market. It was necessary to take such educational action both in response to an increasing number of interventions made by UKE and to signals received from consumer ombudsmen and the subscribers. The first meetings were held as early as in December 2012 in Piła, Wągrowiec and Ełk and received very good feedback, resulting in invitations to organize further meetings in the whole country.Assumptions, objectives and campaign target group
The campaign is addressed to people aged 50+ who are the most important target group because they are the most frequent victims of unfair commercial representatives. However, the "Trust but verify" campaign is addressed not only to the elderly people - the information is also shared during meetings with materials in the form of leaflets and educational films being helpful for all subscribers irrespective of their age.
The objective of the campaign is to educate consumers who are most vulnerable to unfair commercial practices applied by representatives of certain telecommunications companies active in Poland, to have permanent influence on consumers so that their decisions to switch to another service provider, to prolong a contract or to conclude a new contract are well-informed, which undoubtedly should result in reduced number of cases where contracts are concluded not in line with good commercial practices.
Constituent elements of the campaign:
Face-to-face meetings with subscribers
- face-to-face meetings and discussions between UKE experts and the subscribers (at the invitation of municipalities and districts);
- distribution of leaflets, posters and other materials related to the campaign;
- publication of educational films on the Internet and manuals for subscribers, campaign promotion in local media.
In total, 32 meetings with consumers attended by almost one thousand people were held in 2013. The presentations of UKE experts took place in small and larger cities all over Poland. The experts who on a daily basis deal with many problems faced by the subscribers could share their knowledge and experience with the inhabitants of: Będzin, Sosnowiec, Bydgoszcz, Golub-Dobrzyń, Szczytno, Giżycko, Leszno, Dębica, Mielec, Tychy, Pszczyna, Słupca, Konin, Wrocław, Oława, Szczecin, Stargard Szczeciński, Pyrzyce, Namysłów, Kluczbork, Lubań, Zgorzelec, Jelenia Góra, Drawsko Pomorskie, Łobez, Maków Mazowiecki, Gniew, Tczew, Zamość, Lublin, Krasnystaw and Pułtusk.Educational films
As part of the campaign the UKE Consumer Information Centre prepared 4 educational films addressed to subscribers.Opinions and evaluation of the campaign
The meetings enjoyed huge interest of consumers, both in the target group of mature consumers as well as among younger people, who attended the sessions in great numbers.
After each session, the participants asked many additional questions, for instance, about number portability, basic rights and obligations of telecommunications subscribers, standard contractual provisions, provision of connection to a public telephone network and out-of-court dispute resolution between consumers and telecommunications undertakings.
The meetings were covered by the local media and the interviews held with the employees of UKE and consumer ombudsmen were published in the press and on the Internet.
It would not be possible to organize so many meetings without support of local authorities, municipal and district consumer ombudsmen and local media, thanks to whom the information reached a much larger group of recipients.Plans for 2014 - what's next?
We are asking Renata Piwowarska, Director of the Department of Retail Telecommunications Market about plans for the next year.- The campaign was planned for 2013. We already know today that it was well received both by consumers and consumer ombudsmen. The spokespersons and district chief officials report further needs with regard to the meetings under the "Trust but verify" project. Therefore the campaign will continue. I am sure that the campaign continued in 2014 will produce many good results. It will allow us to better understand new opportunities and services in the telecommunications market and it will contribute to the reduction of the number of "unwanted" contracts for the provision of telecommunications services. We have interesting educational materials at our disposal and we intend to broaden our activities this year thanks to cooperation with the media, and in particular public radio and TV in order to reach as large consumer groups as possible
- Director Piwowarska says.