The devil is in the detail when it comes to distance contracts, and Sky has learned the hard way.
Broadcaster and broadband provider Sky has had to pay a €117,000 fine to telecoms watchdog ComReg.
This follows an investigation that found Sky failed to provide around 79,000 of its customers with contracts in a durable medium. Not only that, but 41,000 were not afforded their right to a cooling-off period, a contravention of the Consumer Information Regulations 2013.
After investigating the matter, ComReg imposed the penalty in the form of fixed payment notices under Section 85 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007. Sky accepted that it breached the regulations, and paid the penalty in full.
Sky will communicate with its affected customers individually and provide them with confirmation of their contract in a durable form as well as inform them of their right to a cooling-off period of 14 days.
“Many broadband, mobile and TV customers engage with their service provider using the phone, or the internet/broadband,” ComReg explained. “They do so typically to sign up for a service, renew their existing contracts for a service, or to upgrade/downgrade a service.
“Contracts concluded in this way are known as ‘distance contracts’. Distance contracts are treated in some ways differently in law than those concluded in-store, and customers entering distance contracts have certain additional protections to reflect the fact that they are not physically present with the trader.
“By law, therefore, a customer who has entered a distance contract has a right to a ‘cooling-off’ period of 14 days to withdraw from their contract. Furthermore, service providers must also provide such customers with a contract on a durable medium that the customer can store and later retrieve for inspection to see what their key terms and conditions are (including their cooling-off rights),” ComReg stated.