Abuse of loyalty agreements shocking says ANACOM

 In News, Telecoms

The President of ANACOM, Portugal’s telecommunications regulator, has called on members of parliament to look again at the recent electronic communications law (LCE), and urgently correct the issue of clients being tied to contracts to ensure the market “works competitively”.

João Cadete de Matos was speaking at a session of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Public Works, Planning and Housing, as part of the hearing of ANACOM at the request of the Communist Party (PCP) on planned increases in telecoms and postal prices, reports the Portuguese news service Lusa.
“For sure the law can be improved”, Matos stressed, acknowledging that several months after the LCE was approved, “changes were made” that he considers to be positive regarding the issue of client loyalty agreements; I guarantee that we could do it, we would have no doubts in considering it,” continued Matos.
Earlier this month, ANACOM called for a reduction of the maximum period for which contracts can tie clients from two years to six months, in a bid to bring prices down, following the announcement of the three main operators, MEO (owned by Altice Portugal), NOS and Vodafone Portugal, that they would be increasing prices this year.
“Another thing we proposed and unfortunately was not in the law — it is worth considering why it was not — was what the costs of loyalty were?”, Matos said, arguing that what the Portuguese were fed about the advantages in terms of discounts was a hoax.
“This illusion of discounts, of the advantages, has to be exposed in Portugal”, he went on. “I make this appeal to you: I know you looked at the Electronic Communications Law a few months ago, but I ask you to urgently look again and correct this”.
In the recent 5G auction — which was mired in controversy and stalling tactics on the part of the big three – , Now, Digi, and Dense Air have acquired licences, he noted.
“We have conditions, and we believe that It can happen in Portugal, as has happened in other European countries, that these companies have competitive offers, these companies are making their investments, acquiring their antennas and acquiring and doing their fibre optic expansion”, he said.
“We will have competition in Portugal”. These loyalty programmes “prevent customers from being free to join the new offers”.
The ANACOM president asked MPs to listen to the regulator and defend the interests of the Portuguese people” by creating market stimuli for it to work competitively”.
He confirmed that complaints in the sector “have increased” and praised that the regulator will “take measures” but in terms of supervision and sanctions, reiterating that the use of loyalty agreements is “truly shocking”.

Image: Lusa – A Kosters.