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Many consumers will enter into contracts with a fixed term with operators when subscribing to telecommunications services. To avoid unnecessary financial loss or misunderstanding, before the expiry of the contract term or switching to another operator, customers should examine in detail the arrangement under the existing or new contract in relation to the expiry of the fixed term, the terms and conditions as well as procedures that should be followed for terminating service.

Some operators may state in their contracts that the customer may opt for automatic renewal of the contract after the expiry of the fixed term. Before signing the contract, you should check whether such arrangement is stated in your contract.

In addition, some operators may state in their contracts that if a customer does not request service termination upon the expiry of the fixed term, the service will not be terminated automatically. Instead, service will continue to be provided to the customer on a month-to-month basis with relevant monthly fee applied. The advantage of such practice is that the existing service will not be terminated abruptly upon the expiry of the fixed term, thereby causing inconvenience to the customer who has not contacted the operator in advance. However, you should note that the monthly fee charged by the operator thereafter may not be the same as that within the contract term. For example, promotions that are normally applicable to the fixed-term plan may no longer be provided after the expiry of the fixed term. As such, if you want to continue using the service provided by the same operator after the expiry of the fixed term, you should consider renewing your contract or signing a new service contract with the operator concerned.

If you decide to terminate service, you should note that operators normally require at least one-month notification (or other notification period) as specified in the contract. Charge may be imposed if customers fail to give the required notification. As such, you should notify the operators of service termination according to the required notification and allow sufficient lead time to complete the required procedures and formalities. Furthermore, the expiry date of the fixed term and the last day of the final bill cycle may not be the same. You are advised to pay attention to how the service in this period will be charged (for more information, please refer to Be a Smart User). If you have signed a contract with a fixed term, early termination before the expiry of the fixed term may result in early termination charge.

With the implementation of the Industry Code of Practice for Telecommunications Service Contracts ("the Industry Code"), consumers can enjoy the following enhanced protection:

  1. The contract must specify whether service will continue to be provided to the customer after the expiry date. If the service is to continue after the expiry of the term, the contract must specify the charges as well as whether the service provision will have any changes.
  2. Unless otherwise agreed by the customers, the contracts should not be automatically renewed upon expiry.
  3. Contracts must provide customers with a right of termination even if the customer has indicated his/her consent for automatic contract extension or renewal.

The Industry Code was revised in October 2014 and has been effective since 1 May 2015. The new provisions further improve the arrangements for service termination, including that the arrangements must not cause inconvenience to customers or involve unreasonable delay. The revised Industry Code also encourages operators to make the service termination form available on website, accept any written termination request by the customers, acknowledge the receipt of any verbal, written or in person service termination request promptly and handle the termination request without unreasonable delay.

Please refer to the Industry Code for details.