Ireland’s telecoms regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), has published two decisions to redress the problem of overcharging caused by opaque and inaccurate billing systems, and establish a new code of practice. The first decision relates to the provision of directory enquiry (DQ) services, such as call completion services. ComReg conducted a market survey which highlighted an alarming lack of consumer awareness concerning the cost of DQ services, and in particular a worrying number of people who were unaware of the higher costs associated with accepting an offer to connect to the number sought. In future, DQ providers will be required to inform users of such charges. The new rules will be implemented from 1 October 2004.
In the second decision, ComReg is demanding that all telecoms operators adhere to a code of practice designed to ensure that tariff information is correct, comprehensive and accessible to end users. The move follows a spate of recent overcharging by eircom, O2 and Vodafone, the bulk of which is related to billing errors for services such as call forwarding and call answering. In August 31,500 eircom customers collectively overpaid to the tune of EUR409,000, while in June O2 was found guilty of overcharging some 136,000 users a total sum of EUR722,000 and Vodafone cited for over-billing 22,436 customers by EUR147,739.