Telekom & Co. will have to pay compensation in the future

Work on the house distribution box

In the event of disruptions, telecommunications providers will have to quickly remedy the situation.

(Photo: dapd)

Düsseldorf Wait for hours – and then the technician doesn’t come after all. Many consumers know of such problems with telecom providers. However, the pressure on companies to work reliably is likely to increase soon.

An amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG), known as the Telecommunications Modernization Act, provides for stricter requirements for troubleshooting, as it is called in legal German. Compensation for missed customer service appointments is also planned.

With the law, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Transport want to jointly create a regulatory framework “for a faster and comprehensive expansion of gigabit networks”, as they announced on Friday – in future, consumers will have a right to fast Internet. In this context, a “harmonization of consumer protection at a high level” is planned: “Topics are being addressed that repeatedly pose challenges for consumers.”

So providers like Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone, Telefónica and 1&1 Eliminate malfunctions within one working day – if this does not succeed, you are obliged to provide precise information on how you want to resolve the problem and by when. Three working days after receipt of the report, consumers can demand compensation, which initially amounts to five euros or ten percent of the monthly fee. If the provider misses an installation date, the customer can claim ten euros or 20 percent of the fee.

Even if the providers do not adhere to the guaranteed bandwidth, they must expect future consequences. If the speed “significantly, continuously or regularly” falls short of the information in the contract, the consumer is entitled to reduce the price – in the proportion in which the service deviates from it. In addition, there is then an extraordinary right of termination.

No revolution expected

Changing the telephone or internet provider often causes problems. This is shown by a survey by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations in March 2019: 21 percent of customers who had signed a contract with another provider within 24 months reported problems. For example, many were offline for several days. In another study by the association, 54 percent also reported interference with DSL, cable or fiber optic connections.

A revolution in terms of customer friendliness is not to be expected. “The innovations in connection interference suppression are a concession to consumer associations, but they will not fundamentally change practice in the market,” says Torsten Gerpott, Professor of Telecommunications Economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The penalties are useful to “exert a little pressure”, but the amount does not hurt the company particularly. Ten euros only change a cost-use assessment to a limited extent.

The telecommunications expert even considers possible price reductions for deviations from contractually agreed speeds to be a placebo. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the fact that a provider cannot always provide the promised bandwidth.

“In case of doubt, providers will take the view that they are not responsible for the underperformance. It takes a lot of time until it is clarified whether the internet access is too slow due to the WLAN or the core network. ”He therefore classifies the passage as political activism:“ In everyday life, that does little. ”

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