Consumer Protection & Market Review - What you need to know
As a consumer, you have the right to and responsibility for consumer protection. This article highlights some of these rights.
The Principles of Consumer Protection (“Consumer Protection”) and Market Review provide increased structure and accountability for providers in the electronic communications and electricity sectors. These standards also give consumers clear guidelines about their Rights and Responsibilities when interacting with their providers.
Consumer Protection ensures a single point of reference to protect consumers’ interests, promote the delivery of high-quality services and products, and encourage best practices. In the Electronic Communications and Electricity sectors, some of these protections for consumers include, but are not limited to:
- Clear Marketing and Honest Advertising: Sectoral providers are required to provide evidence and substantiate all marketing or advertising claims they make.
- The Right to Cancel a Contract Within Two Weeks: Sectoral providers must provide consumers with a 14-day cooling off period, which means that consumers who are not satisfied with the provider’s service(s) have the right to cancel within the first two weeks of a new contract.
- Fair Treatment and Access for Vulnerable Persons: Sectoral providers shall ensure that vulnerable persons have access to services, including but not limited to: wheelchair access to buildings; audio contracts for visually impaired persons; and a priority services register that includes postponed termination of services.
- Contract Summaries: Sectoral providers are required to provide a single page overview that summarises the entire contract in simplified language that is easy for consumers to understand.
- Right to Privacy and Confidentiality: Sectoral Providers are prohibited from engaging in unsolicited direct marketing by means of electronic communications networks unless the consumer specifically opts-in or provides explicit consent for this marketing activity. Sectoral providers must also comply with the applicable requirements set out in the Personal Information Protection Act 2016.
- Complaint Handling: Sectoral providers should hear their customers’ concerns and address complaints to a satisfactory level, which should be done in a fair and timely manner. The RA has created complaint handling standards for sectoral providers to follow which aims to alleviate and resolve many consumer complaint issues.
Protections for consumers that are specific to the Electricity sector include, but are not limited to:
- Right To Refuse AMI Meters: Consumers should have the right to refuse Advanced Metering Infrastructure (“AMI”) meters, known colloquially as smart meters, for a reasonable fee not to exceed the additional expenses incurred for providing the services to read the meter.
- Medically Necessary Service Restorations: Sectoral Providers would be required to retain or restore a consumer’s electricity service for a period of 30 calendar days where the consumer is medically dependent on special equipment whereby the disconnection of service would lead to loss of life or immediate hospitalisation.
- Electricity Consumption & Comparison Data: Bills shall include a summary of the consumer’s most recent kWh usage with usage during the previous month and the same month the year before to assist the consumer to monitor his or her energy usage.
The Market Review offers an additional degree of protection for consumers in the electronic communications sector by promoting a regulatory environment where positive consumer developments are sustainable and enforceable.
Additional information can also be found on the RA’s Consumer Protection page.
The RA can help advocate for your consumer rights with providers in the Electronic Communications and Electricity sectors. You should first address all complaints, disputes, technical issues and any other concerns with your provider. If the matter cannot be resolved directly with your provider, you can make a complaint or contact us through the RA’s website, or call 474