A to Z contract issues

The contract for television services is important as it establishes your rights and obligations in relationship with your provider.

WARNING! According to the legislation in the electronic communications field, the providers of television services have no obligation to include the names of the retransmitted programmes in the contracts concluded with the users.

Based on the chosen package, the users usually benefit from a minimum number of programmes, the names of the TV channels included being not specified. Thus, by contract, the providers undertake to retransmit a minimum number of TV channels, but they reserve the right to unilaterally amend the structure of the programme grid (i.e. the actually provided TV channels) within the contract duration (following negotiations with the broadcasters, legislative amendments, rating etc.). This type of amendments does not interfere with your right to unilaterally terminate the contract without paying penalties.

On the other hand, when you benefit from a dedicated package, for which you pay an additional fee (e.g. movie package, adult content package), the provider undertakes by contract to offer the programmes included in the respective package.

In addition, if you have opted for cable television, you must necessarily receive those programs from the list established by the National Audiovisual Council (CNA), which must be modified annually, depending on the audiences of the TV channels (the list of “must-carry” programs). The list of updated must-carry programs can be consulted on the National Audiovisual Council’s website.

Television service contracts may be concluded in written form, at a distance or off-premises.

1. Contracts concluded in written form

Usually, written contracts have two originals. Ask your provider for your contract and keep it throughout its validity period!

The contract usually consists of several documents: main page, general terms and conditions, tariff leaflets, specific provisions related to the television service etc. Check whether you have received all the documents. Otherwise, ask the sales operators for all these documents.

Most of the contracts concluded between providers and consumers are non-negotiable agreements, being drawn up exclusively by the providers. Therefore, in most cases, you cannot force the operator to modify the contract, but you can choose another operator whose offer best suits your needs.

Ask your provider for the Framework-Contract!

The Framework-Contract is a contract providing the general clauses applicable in the relationship between a user and a service provider, irrespective of the actual offer chosen by the user.

The television providers must post on their websites the Framework-Contract they conclude with the users, as well as the complaint handling procedure. They are also required to provide you with a copy of the Framework-contract if you ask for it.

Therefore, you do not have to sign the contract on the spot! You can take these documents at home or study them directly on the providers’ websites.

Compulsory contract provisions

According to Government Emergency Ordinance no.111/2011, your contract with a television service provider must include at least the following minimum clauses:

  • provider’s identification data;
  • services offered, including the minimum number of channels offered under a subscription and the list of the contracted programmes whose retransmission is included in dedicated packages, for which a user pays an extra fee, in addition to the chosen subscription (e.g. movie package, adult content package), as applicable;
  • the tariffs for each service and product contracted along with the service, charging method, how one can obtain updated information regarding the various tariffs charged by the provider, payment methods;
  • the cost of the equipment purchased along with the contracted service or its lease-related costs, as the case may be;
  • amount of the penalties or their calculation method in the case of jeopardizing or losing the equipment offered in custody, by your fault, as applicable;
  • contract duration and initial contract period;
  • contract extension terms;
  • terms for cessation of the service provision and of the contract;
  • service suspension terms;
  • the situations when compensations apply and the amounts of the compensations you are entitled to, where the provider breaches the quality standards and other clauses stipulated in the contract;
  • quality levels the provider undertakes to ensure (term of initial connection to the network and/or services offered, fault repair term, complaint settling term);
  • complaint handling procedure;
  • steps taken by the provider in case of incidents and threats regarding network and service security and integrity;
  • technical assistance services and customer relations services offered by your provider and how you can contact them;
  • restrictions in the usage of the terminal equipment, as well as in accessing certain services or applications, as applicable;
  • minimum usage term of a certain service before benefitting from certain promotional offers or other advantages;
  • total amount owed to the provider upon contract cessation, e.g. early termination fees, the applicable compensations related to the contracted terminal equipment;
  • manner and terms for returning the equipment offered in custody upon the contract cessation, as applicable.

About what, how and where you can complain

If the provider does not comply with the contract, you can notify the National Authority for Consumer Protection! In this situation, ANCOM can provide counselling and mediation, but cannot sanction the provider.

ANCOM can take steps if:

• a provider offers the television service and bills it without a proper contract concluded with you;

• your contract does not include all the aforementioned minimum clauses.

Find out how you can send a complaint to ANCOM in the section Complain to ANCOM!

2. Distance contracts

A distance contract is a contract concluded within an organized sales or services system, without the simultaneous physical presence of the two parties, using exclusively one or several distance communications means (for example, telephone, letter, e-mail, online applications etc.).

From June 13, 2014 you have increased protection at the conclusion of an off-premises contract.

Offer

Prior to concluding the distance contract, a provider must send the following information, in a clear and intelligible format:

  • provider’s identity and contact data (address, telephone, fax, e-mail);
  • main characteristics of the services and products to be contracted;
  • total price of the services and products: amount of the tariff plan, extra-options to be activated and corresponding fee, transport costs for the equipment delivered, as applicable;
  • contract duration, conditions for contract cessation and applicable penalties, as applicable;
  • conditions, terms and procedures for exercising the withdrawal right (see the sub-section below) in the contract; furthermore, you will receive the withdrawal form made available by the provider;
  • date on which the products or services are to be actually provided/delivered, the methods of payment and of equipment delivery, if you ordered equipment, as well; (further details in the following sections);
  • if you buy a product, the information that you will bear the cost of the product returning – in case you withdraw from the contract; if the product – by its nature – cannot be returned by mail, information regarding the returning cost;
  • if the usage of a means of distance communication in concluding a contract costs more than the regular/standard tariff, you must be communicated these costs (e.g. if you call a premium rate number);
  • specifications regarding the legal guarantee regarding the product conformity, the post-sale assistance services or other commercial guarantees;
  • information on advance payments or on the payment of a guarantee, if applicable;
  • how to make a complaint, as well as whether and how you can settle a dispute outside a court;
  • whether there are codes of conduct in force, which are relevant for the provision of the contracted services;
  • enforcement of technical measures for the protection of the digital content, its interoperability with the hardware and software components, if applicable and if the provider holds such information.

Main means of concluding a distance contract

Over the telephone Online/on the website
Due to the space and time limitations, the provider will initially offer, over the phone, the following minimum information regarding the offer:

· provider’s identity;

· main characteristics of the services and products to be contracted;

· total price of the products and services: amount of the tariff plan; extra-options to be activated and the corresponding fee, costs of the product transport, if applicable;

· conditions, terms and procedure for exercising the withdrawal right, as well as information regarding the withdrawal form;

· duration of the contract, termination terms and applicable penalties, as the case may be.

The other information in the offer will be made available in a manner which is adequate to the distance communication means used (on the provider’s website, by e-mail etc.).

Warning! Upon the offer presentation, the provider must send all the information regarding the offer, placing it on a durable support (for example, on paper, by e-mail, fax, by a message sent to the online account).

If you receive the offer on paper and you agree with it, sign it and return it to the provider.

As well, you can accept the offer by sending the provider a confirmation on a durable support (e.g. by e-mail).

The contract shall be considered concluded on the date when you signed the offer or when you sent the written consent on a durable support to the provider, not the date when the telephone call was performed.

Subsequently, the provider must confirm the contract conclusion on a durable support, at the latest prior to starting the service provision or on the moment of delivering the products, as applicable.

 

The contract confirmation will include the offer details, including the withdrawal form, if you have not already received this information on a durable support prior to concluding the distance contract.

 

When you make an online order, before you place it, you must easily find on the order page the following information:

 

· main characteristics of the services and products;

· total price of the products and services: amount of the tariff plan, extra-options to be activated and the corresponding fee, costs of the product transport, if applicable;

· duration of the contract, termination terms and applicable penalties, as the case may be;

· whether there are restrictions to product delivery and what are the accepted payment means.

 

All the other details in the offer may be made available on the provider’s website, by e-mail etc.

 

Warning! The order placement button must also present the warning that completing the order will imply a payment obligation. Should such a warning be missing, you have no obligations under the respective contract!

 

The order page in the online shop must offer the possibility of reviewing the order, to allow for correction of possible errors.

 

The provider must confirm – on a durable support – the fact that he accepted your order. This is, in fact, the moment of concluding the contract.

 

Subsequently, the provider must confirm the contract conclusion on a durable support, at the latest prior to starting the service provision or on the moment of delivering the products, as applicable.

 

The contract confirmation will include the offer details, including the withdrawal form, if you have not already received this information on a durable support prior to concluding the distance contract.

Right of withdrawal

You have the right to change your mind and withdraw from a distance contract, without any reason, within 14 days from the date of conclusion of the contract.

If the main purpose of your contract is to purchase a piece of equipment (set top box, TV etc.), the 14-day period is calculated from the date of receiving the product.

The provider must inform you of your right to withdraw upon the offer presentation and upon the offer confirmation/contract conclusion. Check whether you have received the withdrawal form!

If you have not received the information regarding the withdrawal right, the term within which you can withdraw from the contract will be extended to 12 months, starting from the end of the initial withdrawal period. If you received this information in time, you can withdraw from the contract within 14 days from the date when you received the respective information. Moreover, you have no payment obligations for the used services if you have not been informed on the withdrawal right and conditions.

You may request the withdrawal using the withdrawal form made available by the provider or you can send a request specifying your clear intention to withdraw from the contract. The request must specify enough data for identifying your contract in the provider’s database, i.e. at least your name and address, the date of contract conclusion and its object.

Warning! In case of a dispute, you must be able to prove that you have requested withdrawal from the contract. Thus, you should send the withdrawal form/request with advice of delivery or ask the provider for a registration number for the request sent by e-mail or submitted to a provider’s working point! Some providers may offer the possibility to fill in and send an online withdrawal form. In this case, you should receive an automatic reply confirming the reception of your request.

Additional obligations in case of withdrawal:

  • If you have received a product (set top box etc.) based on the distance contract concluded, you must return it within 14 days from the date on which you notified the provider that you wish to withdraw from the contract. You may use the terminal to determine its nature, characteristics or operation tips, but if you return it broken or damaged, you have the obligation to pay for diminishing its value or even the whole value, as applicable. Therefore, we recommend you not to remove any protection foils, if these exist, and to manipulate the equipment with care.
  • You will bear the cost of returning the product if the provider has not offered to cover that cost or has not informed you on the fact that you have to bear these costs.
  • If you requested your service to be activated before the 14-day withdrawal period expires, you are required to pay for the services you have used until the date you have announced the provider that you wish to withdraw from the contract. The provider may also ask you to pay the equipment installation fee, if applicable. If the services began to be provided before the 14 days have expired, though you have not made a request in this sense, you have no obligation to pay for the services used/equipment installed.
  • The provider must return all the amounts you have paid related to the service contracted/product purchased at a distance, not later than 14 days from the date on which it is informed of your withdrawal decision.

Service provision/Product delivery

As a rule, the services contracted at a distance will be provided after the expiry of the 14-day withdrawal period.

If you want your service to be provided before the expiry of the 14-day period, you should submit a written request therefor. The provider must inform you on this possibility, as well as on the fact that you must clearly ask this.

If you ordered a product along with the service, this must be delivered without undue delay, within a term agreed with the provider or within 30 days, at the latest, from the date of concluding the contract.

About what, how and where you can complain

If you are a residential user, you have concluded a distance contract and the provider did not observe your rights, you may complain to ANCOM or to the National Authority for Consumer Protection.

If you are business user, you have concluded a distance contract and your provider did not observe your rights, you may complain to ANCOM.

See how you can submit a complaint. Visit the Complain to ANCOM section!

3. Off-premises contracts

The off-premises contract is, usually, the contract concluded in your presence and in the presence of a representative of the provider, in a place that is not the provider’s commercial space (for example, your home).

From June 13, 2014 you have increased protection at the conclusion of an off-premises contract.

The Offer

When the offer is presented to you, you must be provided with a clear and comprehensible set of information on:

  • the provider’s identification data (name, address, telephone, fax, e-mail);
  • main characteristics of services and products;
  • the total price of services and products: the value of the chosen tariff plan, the extra-options to be activated and the corresponding fees, the transport costs, if applicable;
  • the duration of the contract, the contract termination terms and the applicable penalties, if applicable;
  • the conditions, terms and procedures for exercising the right of withdrawal from the contract; you will also receive from the provider the withdrawal form.
  • the date on which the services/products will actually be provided/delivered, the methods of payment and of equipment delivery, if you ordered equipment too;
  • if you buy a product, the information that you will bear the cost of the product returning – in case you withdraw from the contract;
  • if the usage of a means of distance communication in concluding a contract costs more than the regular/standard tariff, you must be communicated these costs (e.g., if you call a premium rate number);
  • specifications regarding the legal guarantee regarding the product conformity, the post-sale assistance services or other commercial guarantees;
  • information on advance payment or payment of a guarantee, if applicable;
  • how to make a complaint, as well as whether and how you can settle a dispute outside the court;
  • whether there are codes of conduct in force relevant to the terms of contracted services;
  • enforcing technical measures for the protection of the digital content, its interoperability with the hardware and software components, where applicable and if the provider holds such information.

The provider will then put at your disposal an original copy of the contract signed by both parties or the confirmation of conclusion of the contract on paper or, if you agree, on another durable support.

Right of withdrawal

You have the right to change your mind and withdraw from a distance contract, without any reason, within 14 days from the date of concluding the contract.

If the main purpose of your contract is purchasing an equipment (set top box), the 14-day term shall be calculated from the date of receiving the product.

The provider must inform you on your right to withdraw both upon the offer presentation, and upon the offer confirmation/contract conclusion. Check whether you have received the withdrawal form!

If you have not received the information regarding the withdrawal right, the term within which you can withdraw from the contract will be extended to 12 months, starting from the end of the initial withdrawal period. If you received this information in time, you can withdraw from the contract within 14 days from the date when you received the respective information. Moreover, you have no payment obligations for the used services if you have not been informed on the withdrawal right and conditions.

You may request the withdrawal using the withdrawal form made available by the provider or you can send a request specifying your clear intention to withdraw from the contract. The request must specify enough data for identifying your contract in the provider’s database, i.e. at least your name and address, the date of contract conclusion and its object.

Warning! In case of a dispute, you must be able to prove that you have requested withdrawal from the contract. Thus, you should send the withdrawal form/request with advice of delivery or ask the provider for a registration number for the request sent by e-mail or submitted to a provider’s working point! Some providers may offer the possibility to fill in and send an online withdrawal form. In this case, you should receive an automatic reply confirming the reception of your request.

Additional obligations in case of withdrawal:

  • If you received a product based on the off-premises contract concluded, you must return it within 14 days from the date when you notified the provider that you wish to withdraw from the contract. You may use the terminal to determine its nature, characteristics or operation tips, but if you return it broken or damaged, you have the obligation to pay for diminishing its value or even the whole value, as applicable. Therefore, we recommend you not to remove any protection foil, if it exists, and handle the terminal with care.
  • You will bear the cost of returning the product if the provider has not offered to pick it up, to cover that cost or has not informed you on the fact that you have to bear these costs.
  • If the products have been delivered to your home at the conclusion of the contract and cannot be customarily returned by mail or your provider did not inform you that you must bear the delivery costs, the provider must then pick up de products and bear the returning cost.
  • If you requested that your service be activated before the expiry of the 14-day withdrawal period, you have the obligation to pay for the services you have used by the date of announcing your provider that you withdraw from the contract. Moreover, the provider may ask you to pay the equipment installation fee as well, if applicable. Where the service provision started prior to the expiry of the 14-day term, though you did not submit a request therefor, you have no obligation to pay the services used/equipment installation fee.
  • The provider must return all the amounts you have paid in relation to the service contracted/product purchased off-premises, not later than 14 days from the date on which it was informed on your decision to withdraw from the contract.

Service provision/Product delivery

As a rule, the contracted services will be provided to you after the expiry of the 14-day withdrawal period.

If you want your service to be provided before the expiry of the 14-day period, you should submit a written request therefor. The provider must inform you on this possibility, as well as on the fact that you must clearly ask this.

If you ordered a product alongside the service, this must be delivered to you without undue delay, within a term agreed with the provider or within 30 days, at the latest, from the contract conclusion date.

About what, how and where you can complain

If you are a residential user, you have concluded an off-premises contract and the provider did not observe your rights, you may complain to ANCOM or to the National Authority for Consumer Protection.

If you are a business user, you have concluded an off-premises contract and your provider did not observe your rights, you may complain to ANCOM.

See how you can submit a complaint. See the Complain to ANCOM section!

4. Initial contract period

Generally, the commercial offers include promotional tariff plans, discount equipment prices or free installation services, triggering costs for the recovery of which the providers establish a minimum contract period.

The initial contract period (minimum contract period) is an interval within which you cannot terminate the contract with your television service provider without paying penalties, save when the provider amends the contract.

The initial contract period is not the contract duration.

At the expiry of the initial contract period, the contract does not usually cease. It will continue for an indefinite period or will be extended for periods equal to the initial contract period, based on the actual provisions of each contract type. Check the provisions of your contract!

The contract may cease either on your or on your provider’s initiative. The contract termination terms and procedure for each of the abovementioned situations must be stipulated in the contract. Read your contract!

Warning! The law provides two types of initial contract periods: 12-month and 24-month periods.

The television service providers must offer you the possibility to conclude a contract for an initial period equal to or shorter than 12 months.

The providers can also conclude contracts for an initial period longer than 12 months, usually offering the users additional benefits, provided that this period does not exceed 24 months.

The contract may also be concluded for an indefinite period, and the provider cannot charge termination penalties when you decide to terminate it.

Find out which is the most advantageous situation for you!

If you need more flexibility in switching providers, choose a contract with a shorter initial period.

If you want more benefits and switching providers is not a major concern for you, choose a contract with a longer initial period.

About what, how and where you can complain

Does your contract stipulate no provisions regarding its duration or its initial period? Your initial contract period is longer than 24 months? Has your provider not offered you the possibility to conclude a contract for an initial period of at most 12 months? Send a complaint to ANCOM. Find out how in Complain to ANCOM! section.

5. Contract extension

At the expiry of the initial period, the contract is automatically extended, for a definite or indefinite period.

This aspect must be clarified in the contract concluded with your television service provider.

If your contract has been extended for an indefinite period, the service provision will continue as long as you or your provider let/lets the contract run. Therefore, when you decide to terminate the contract, you won’t have to pay any termination fees, since the minimum contract duration has expired.

If your contract has been extended for a new period equal to the initial one, the same conditions as for the initial contract period apply.

A contract may also be extended by means of an addendum, upon your request or on the provider’s initiative. Where additional benefits are granted (discounted equipment, preferential tariff plan), most often, this extension triggers the beginning of a new initial contract period.

About what, how and where you can complain

You have the right to be notified 30 days prior to the date on which the contract is extended automatically to express your option for its validity extension. If you did not receive such notification, you can complain to the National Authority for Consumer Protection.

If you concluded a contract that does not stipulate whether and how its validity can be extended, ANCOM may take steps. Find out how you can send a complaint in Complain to ANCOM!

6. Contract amendments

Upon your request:

Based on the offer you benefitted from upon the contract conclusion, the tariff plan or other clauses may be amended according to the specific contract provisions or following direct negotiation with the provider.

Upon the provider’s initiative:

In certain situations, the provider has the right to amend clauses in your contract (services provided, tariffs, charging details etc.), while being bound to notify you on these amendments, by at least 30 days prior to their entry into force. Within this interval, if you do not agree with the notified amendments, you have the right to terminate the contract without paying any penalties.

The provider must send you the notification by one of the following means:

  • mail
  • fax
  • e-mail
  • SMS
  • on your customer account on the provider’s website, accompanied by an SMS and/or an alert e-mail on the submission of the notification.

About what, how and where you can complain

ANCOM may take steps, in certain cases, if the provider amends your contract without prior notice or does not inform you on the possibility of terminating the contract without paying penalties. See how you can submit a complaint. See the Complain to ANCOM section!

7. Contract termination

Generally, a contract concluded with a television service provider may be terminated under the terms provided therein. Nevertheless, following direct negotiations with you, a provider may accept different termination terms. If you decided to give up a provider’s services, read the contract, check the initial contract period (the applicable fees, if this period has not expired), when and how you can submit a contract termination request, and the timeframe in which the provider will handle your request.

Certain providers allow you to communicate your termination request also by telephone. However, you should write down your request, and either send it by mail, with confirmation of receipt, or submit it to any of the provider’s work stations/shops and receive a registration number. Furthermore, take into account that some providers will not process your contract termination request unless you return the equipment offered in custody/leased to you and pay the outstanding debts.

About what, how and where you can complain

You don’t find the terms of termination in your contract? Notify ANCOM! See the Complain to ANCOM section!

If the provider breaches its contractual terms regarding the cessation of service provision or if the fee requested for early contract termination is a fixed amount, which you deem too high compared to the possible loss incurred by the provider, you can complain to the National Authority for Consumers Protection.