Hong Kong has one of the most competitive telecommunications markets in the world. Service providers compete with one other by offering a large variety of service packages with attractive features and price ranges. Quite often consumers may wish to switch to other service providers because of the attractive offers available in the market.
Consumers however should be aware that it is common for service providers to offer fixed-term contracts and customers are then bound to commit to the services for a certain period of time. The early termination of a fixed-term contract may be possible only with the payment by consumers of an early termination charge to his/her existing service provider. The charge payable may include the installation fee previously waived by the existing service provider, the value of any upfront gift or benefit given to the customer at the time when the contract was signed, and part or all of the remaining service subscription charges for the outstanding period of the existing contract.
Before making any decision to switch to another service provider, you should –
- Check whether you are bound by a fixed-term contract with your existing service provider. If so, you should check when the contract terminates and the termination charge payable in the event of early contract termination.
- Check with your existing service provider its service termination requirements and procedures, such as the notification period and the return of any equipment which is in your custody (such as modems or set-top boxes). The notification period for service termination may vary between service providers and it may take as long as 30 days. Some service providers accept written notice only. If you do not follow the designated procedures, your service provider may refuse your service termination request and you may be required to continue paying service charge even after you have asked to have the service terminated.
- Take careful note that the service contract which you have signed is legally binding. Once the contract is signed, you are deemed to be fully aware of and agree with the respective terms and conditions under the contract. You should therefore read carefully the service terms and conditions in the new contract and make sure you understand clearly your rights and obligations. In case you have any doubt, you should clarify the relevant details of service provision with the service provider before you sign the contract. If necessary, you should ask the salesperson to confirm the terms that he/she has agreed with you by recording them on the contract document and duly signed and dated.
- Check, before you consider switching to another service provider, whether your existing provider is offering you bundled value-added services, such as IDD service and Wi-Fi service, when you subscribed to their telephone or broadband internet access services. If you decide to switch to another service provider, you should ask your existing provider to terminate ALL services (including all the value-added services) if your intention is to discontinue using such services. In case you want to continue the use of some of the value-added services in the original service package, you should check with your existing provider on the terms and conditions for the continued subscription of such services.
- Beware of media reports from time to time that certain salespersons may, through cold calls or doorstep promotions, provide misleading information to consumers or make fraudulent claim during the sale process. Please be alerted to such possible fraudulent practices and think thrice if you are approached by such salespersons before making any commitment. In particular, you should NOT allow yourself to be pressurized into making any decision within an unreasonably short period of time. If you are approached by somebody who claims to be the salesperson of your existing service provider, you should ask for proof of identity. If in doubt, you should double-check through the official customer service hotline or the usual contact of your existing service provider details of your existing service contract.
Office of the Communications Authority
1 April 2012
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