The National Communications Commission (NCC) will negotiate with telecoms carriers the terms of agreement to be included in new week-long trial contracts for mobile Internet services, commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said yesterday.
Last year, the commission reached an agreement with various consumer advocacy groups to extend the trial period for mobile Internet services from three days to seven days.
However, a study conducted by the Consumers’ Foundation found that standard trial contracts have many traps. For example, consumers must agree not to file any compensation claims because of bandwidth deficiencies or poor signals during both the trial period and if they become full users.
The foundation also found that users are automatically enrolled in a plan if they fail to indicate that they wish to terminate their service after the trial period expires. Also, if a consumer has already signed up for a trial with a carrier, they cannot have another trial with that same firm.
The NCC made the unprecedented move of inviting representatives from Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications, Asia Pacific Telecom and VIBO Telecom — the nation’s five major 3G service providers — to the commission to answer questions from reporters.
With the exception of Asia Pacific Telecom, which provides a removable ID chip to customers who sign up for a trial, the other four carriers said they would now provide customers with a SIM card or a SIM cardholder for the trial period.
Customers are required to make a deposit of between NT$1,200 and NT$3,300 for the test run.
Full deposits would be returned to customers who wish to discontinue the service, the carriers said, adding that the details of this clause were already mentioned in the contract.
Should users want to continue using the mobile Internet service, the deposits would be used to offset their service fees, the carriers said.
Customers will still only be allowed one trial period, as carriers fear some people could seek to exploit the offer, the firms said.
While the commission respects different promotional plans offered by the carriers, Chen said they must do everything they can to inform customers about the terms in the contract.
The commission might also negotiate the deposit amount for the trial period with the carriers.
“Limiting the trial period to once in a lifetime is unreasonable. Let’s see if we can increase the number of times allowed,” Chen said, adding that the commission would conduct a comprehensive review of the contracts to see if they contain unreasonable requirements.