Did you receive an SMS or mail from your telecommunications operator saying that it is going to increase prices? How to terminate the contract with the operator without penalty

Rewrite this contentBearing in mind that the fight against the current pandemic has had a strong impact on the income of many Portuguese people, ANACOM has implemented certain measures that oblige operators to accept contractual suspensions without any charges for loyal customers. But did you know that, apart from this occurrence, there are other situations in which it is possible to terminate the contract with the operator without having to pay a penalty? The offer on the Portuguese market in terms of telecommunications services is vast. Although there are only four operators dominating the panorama – Vodafone, MEO, NOS and Nowo -, there is an infinity of services (Internet, mobile phone, landline, normal channels and premium channels…) and even packages (3P, 4P, 5P, with and without loyalty…). For consumers, it can become complicated to choose which one is best for them, and even more difficult when they already have a package, find another that they consider better, want to change it and are unable to do so because they are still within the loyalty period. It is precisely here that the need to terminate the contract with the operator may arise. What does the loyalty period consist of?loyalty periodIt concerns the duration of the contract during which the customer is “obligated” to remain with the services of the operator in question. In the Portuguese market, there are normally four options for consumers: a contract without loyalty or a 6, 12 or 24 month loyalty contract. For those who are loyal, if they want to terminate the contract, it is usually necessary to pay compensation to the operator. But this is not always mandatory. In what situations can the contract with the operator be terminated?#1 – Use of the right of free resolutionFirst of all, in cases where the telecommunications contract was concluded at a distance (over the telephone, via the Internet or with a door-to-door salesperson), consumers have a period of 14 days – counting from the conclusion of the contract or the day it was verbally agreed – to freely cancel services without any costs and without needing to give a reason to the operator. This is called the right of free resolution. But be careful:You can only invoke this right and cancel the contract free of charge if it has been concluded at a distance, outside the operator’s physical commercial premises. If the operator has not informed the consumer, before signing the contract, about the existence of the right of free withdrawal and the conditions for its exercise, then the period for terminating the contract with the operator is extended to 12 months. But if the latter communicates in the meantime, the period returns to those 14 days, this time counting from the day on which the consumer received this information. In order to exercise this right, you must inform the operator formally (ie in writing) within the indicated period. Also note that, normally, there is a termination form that must be given to you when you sign the contract. If you have been given this document, you must complete it and send it to the operator in question. Get termination draftAccording to ANACOM, the entity responsible for supervising compliance with these rules is the ASAE (Authority for Food and Economic Security). Decree-Law No. 24/2014, of February 14, on consumer rights, explains the right of free termination in telecommunications contracts. #2 – Non-compliance by the operatorIf the operator does not provide part or all of the services that the customer has contracted, the customer may terminate the contract with the operator in question without having to pay a penalty, as this is a situation of breach of contract. Consumers may also be entitled to compensation if there is damage resulting from such non-compliance or if this possibility is provided for in the contract. Note also that, if the contract you have refers to a package (which includes several services – television, Internet, telephone and the like) and if the operator’s non-compliance is recorded in only one or two services of that package (partial non-compliance), the Complete cancellation of the contract can become more complex. In this case, what the consumer has to do is demonstrate that without such services he would never have subscribed to that package. According to this rule, it is possible to verify that, as was reported at the end of July, customers who were affected by the increase in tariffs carried out by Portuguese operators in the last seven to nine months are entitled to terminate the contract with the operator without penalty, even within the loyalty period. Pursuant to Article 48, nº 16 of Law nº 15/2016, of 17 June (which reinforced the protection of consumers in contracts for the provision of electronic communications services with a loyalty period): Whenever the company proceeds, on its own initiative, to a change to any of the contractual conditions referred to in paragraph 1, shall notify subscribers of the proposed change in writing, in an appropriate manner, at least 30 days in advance, and shall simultaneously inform subscribers of their right to terminate the contract without any charge, in the case of non-acceptance of the new conditions, within the period established in the contract, except in cases where the changes are proposed exclusively and objectively for the benefit of the subscribers. In this specific case, there was non-compliance because, as legally established, consumers were not informed of this increase or of the possibility of terminating their contract free of charge. #3 – DeathIn the event of the death of a consumer, this situation must be communicated to the operator upon presentation of a death certificate. In the face of an occurrence like this, the contract expires and it makes sense that there is no reason to apply a penalty.But note that the contract only expires from the moment the death is communicated to the operator, in accordance with article 1175 of the Civil Code. #4 – Changing CircumstancesOutside of the aforementioned scenarios, situations that justify terminating the contract with the operator without penalty must be motivated by an abnormal change in circumstances that prevents the consumer from continuing to fulfill the contract under the terms in which it was agreed, namely: Unemployment of one or both members of a couple;Emigration;Change of address.If so, choose a new packageFaced with a request to terminate the contract with the operator, the latter will give you two answers: “no” or “yes, but you have to pay compensation”. In any of these decisions, you must proceed with two steps. First, read the contract carefully and check if you are subject to any loyalty period. Then, understand which documents you need to gather for this purpose and how far in advance you should place your order. Second, inform the operator in writing. If the company responds negatively to the annulment request, the first thing to do is to make use of article 437 of the Civil Code, which stipulates: “1. If the circumstances on which the parties based the decision to contract have undergone an abnormal change, the injured party has the right to terminate the contract, or modify it according to fair judgments, provided that the demand for the obligations assumed by it seriously affects the principles in good faith and is not covered by the risks inherent in the contract. 2. Once resolution is requested, the opposing party may oppose the request, declaring that it accepts the modification of the contract under the terms of the previous number”. However, it is necessary that you make a formal request in writing, either by registered letter or by email, requesting the termination, explaining the reasons for it and presenting proof of those same reasons (in case of unemployment, it must be proof of registration at the Center of Employment; a work contract abroad in case of emigration; in case of change of residence, a statement from the company where you are going to work, etc.). Even so, and in accordance with paragraph 2 of the article above, the operator has the right to oppose your request and, therefore, refuse to terminate without penalty or may even offer you, as an alternative, a package that has a more affordable price. Pay attention:When signing a telecommunications contract, carefully read all points/paragraphs. From the moment you sign the document, you agree to all the conditions contained therein. Even before terminating the contract with the operator in writing, it is advisable to get in touch with the operator to try to negotiate the best solution for you. Also note that if your request is made correctly, the operator has five working days to confirm receipt in writing and must inform you of the specific date on which the service will be cancelled. What if I continue to receive invoices after terminating the contract with the operator?The sending of invoices can be related to several factors, from missed days of notice to associated amounts still missing. Check the date of deactivation of the service, given that the…