Marketing subscriptions and concluding a contract

When you are buying a telephone or internet subscription, the operator must always tell you about the main features of the subscription, the price and the duration of the contract, among other things. When you are selecting a new subscription, you can use contract summaries to compare different operators’ products.

Right to withdraw from the subscription is not always possible

Telephone and internet subscriptions can be marketed and sold on several different channels. For example, you can purchase a subscription

  • in operators’ stores
  • at pop-up sales points in shopping centres
  • in household appliance stores
  • on operators’ websites
  • on different chat or other instant messaging channels, and
  • by telephone.

Your statutory rights partly depend on the sales channel on which you make the contract.

  • Your statutory rights partly depend on the sales channel on which you make the contract. If the contract was made on the internet, on the operator’s chat channel or by telephone, for example, you have a statutory right to withdraw from the subscription within 14 days. You still have the right to withdraw even if you have activated the subscription, but in this case you usually have to pay the normal fee for using it, such as a share of the monthly subscription fee or an invoice for using the subscription.
  • If the subscription contract was made in a store, you have no right to cancel, unless this right has been granted by the operator.

However, you can get out of the new mobile phone subscription contract without charges if your old operator makes you a ‘win back offer’ before your phone number is transferred to the new operator’s network. If you think your current operator’s offer is better than the one you got from a new operator, you can take it if you wish, and the process of transferring your number will be cancelled. The operator may not charge you for any fees arising from the subscription until the connection is available for your use. The place where you made the subscription contract, either a store some other channel, is not relevant.

If you have an ongoing subscription contract, you can also always terminate it. In this case, your contract will expire after the period of notice, which cannot be longer than 14 days. When you are making a new subscription contract, always pay attention to the duration of the contract. The operator must also always tell you about the duration of the contract.

Telemarketing of mobile phone subscriptions is only allowed at the consumer’s request

Internet subscriptions can also be sold through telemarketing, but the telemarketing of mobile phone subscriptions is only permitted if the consumer has specifically asked for this. However, your current operator may market the other telephone subscriptions in its product range to you. If you wish, you can also prohibit any telemarketing by your current operator.

Marketing of subscriptions and concluding contracts are covered by consumer protection

The general marketing provisions of the Consumer Protection Act apply to selling subscriptions. For example, this means that giving misleading or false information that affects the consumer’s purchase decision is prohibited.

Before you conclude a subscription contract, the operator must give you certain information about your subscription, including the main features of the subscription, its price and the duration of the contract. The information that the operator gives you must be clear and easy to understand, and it must be in a permanent form or in documents that the consumer can easily download. When the operator has provided this information, it becomes an essential part of the contract, and the operator may not later change it unless you agree to this.

Even if the space on operators’ chat channels and different instant messaging applications is limited, these channels must also provide information on the main features of the connection, the price and the duration of the contract. You also have the right to cancel contracts made on chat channels within 14 days. The channels must also give you information about your right to withdraw from subscription and how to use it.

Use contract summaries to compare different subscriptions

To help you compare different operators’ subscription products and make the best possible choice for your circumstances, operators must give you a free contract summary before you make the contract. The summary contains key information about the subscription offered to you in a short and easy-to-read form.

Key information in the contract summary includes

  • the operator’s name and contact details for possible complaints
  • key features of the service, including the internet speed
  • subscription price
  • duration of the contract and the conditions for its renewal and termination.

Operators must follow the model laid down in an EU Regulation in their contract summaries. The summary should not be longer than one standard page.

If it is technically impossible to give you a contract summary before the contract is concluded, for example in telemarketing, the operator must provide the summary without delay after the contract has been made. In this case, your subscription contract will only be valid when you have received the contract summary and confirmed that you accept the contract.

The operator may not change the information in the contract summary later without your agreement.

When you conclude a subscription contract, you may also be offered a telephone, a tablet or another terminal device, or a pay-TV service, streaming service or some other entertainment service contract. While contracts on terminal devices or entertainment services are not subscriptions, detailed information on them must also be included in the contract summary.

Read the subscription contract before accepting it

The terms and conditions of the subscription contract specify the parties’ rights and obligations. The contract terms of the subscription typically consist of several different documents. The contract documents include:

  • special terms and conditions of a specific service (service description) that describe the features of your subscription, the duration of the contract and similar
  • the operator’s price list
  • the operator’s standard terms and conditions, which specify at a more general level the rights and obligations of the operator and the consumer as contracting parties, for example in case of a defect or delay; and
  • the contract summary.

Contracts on telecommunications services, including telephone and internet subscriptions, must be drawn up in writing or electronically. They may not contain terms that are unfair for the consumer.