Deco petition fights “lengthy” customer commitment periods

Customer commitment periods imposed by telecommunications companies must be reduced, said consumer watchdog Deco, which believes the law that foresees 24-month “loyalty” schemes is not justifiable.

A petition has thus been launched by Deco this week with the aim of reducing the binding period for telecommunications service providers, which results in thousands of complaints each year from customers.

“So far this year we have received more than 34,000 complaints relating to telecommunications operators, and often the main reason is the commitment period imposed by these companies,” lawyer Paulo Fonseca from Deco told Lusa news agency. The telecommunications sector has led the ranking of complaints at Deco since 2005, he said.

“Commitment schemes limit consumer choice of provider. Consumers need to be able to opt for better deals without being tied to a service that no longer serves their needs,” said Deco.

“People’s financial situations, particularly in times of crisis, are ever changing, and what was once an acceptable monthly charge may no longer be the case a year-and-a-half later,” said Paulo Fonseca, who admitted he knew of cases where consumers suffered penalties of between €700 and €800 for cancelling a deal before the commitment period ended.

A minimum of 4,000 signatures were required for the consumer association to hand the petition into Parliament. On Wednesday, more than 16,000 people had already signed the petition, calling for the reduction of the “loyalty” period and requesting limitations on penalty charges should a consumer opt to change service provider.