Revised Industry Code of Practice for Telecommunications Service Contracts to enhance consumer protection

     All major fixed and mobile network operators in Hong Kong have implemented the revised Industry Code of Practice for Telecommunications Service Contracts (Industry Code) from May 1, 2015 onwards. The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) today (May 4) complimented this industry initiative and said it was confident that the revised Industry Code would further enhance consumers' protection as and when they sign up to telecommunications service contracts.

     The Industry Code, which was promulgated by the Communications Association of Hong Kong (CAHK), an industry association representing the communications sector in Hong Kong, is a self-regulatory initiative of the telecommunications industry. The Industry Code aims at drawing up contracts that are fair, balanced and reasonable for both consumers and the industry, and providing improvement measures to address major concerns in the complaints lodged by consumers in relation to telecommunications service contracts which include contract content, as well as arrangements for contract termination, contract renewal and customers' service relocation requests. The Industry Code is applicable to telecommunications service contracts signed or renewed by personal and residential users. The telecommunications industry has implemented the Industry Code since July 2011.

     "The number of complaints received by the OFCA involving telecommunications service contractual disputes has been declining continuously since the implementation of the Industry Code in July 2011, from 1 116 in 2012 to 894 in 2013 and further down to 588 in 2014. We consider that the Industry Code has effectively improved the transparency of the contracting process and customer satisfaction, as well as reducing the number of disputes on contracts," a spokesman for OFCA said.  

     Having reviewed and analysed the consumer complaints on contractual disputes received since the implementation of the Industry Code, the OFCA has made a number of suggestions to the CAHK to further improve the Industry Code. The CAHK and participating operators accordingly revised the Industry Code in October 2014. Major revisions of the revised Industry Code include:

* improving the arrangement for contract termination so that the arrangement must not cause inconvenience to customers or involve unreasonable delay;

* improving the arrangement for the provision of written confirmation for extension or renewal of contracts;

* stating clearly in the contract the calculation of termination charge or the maximum amount involved, if it is not feasible for the operators to provide service at the relocated premises due to the absence of network coverage;  

* stating clearly in the contract the calculation of the first bill and the last bill within the contract term; and  

* encouraging operators to implement a better cooling-off period arrangement with greater flexibility.

     The revised Industry Code has taken effect starting from May 1, 2015.

     The OFCA's advice to consumers is that, before signing up to a new contract or renewing an existing contract, they should read through and understand the content of the contracts, drawing reference from the revised Industry Code where necessary, and seeking clarification from operators on any of the contract terms in case of doubt. On such issues of consumers' concerns such as arrangements for contract renewal/termination, calculation of monthly charge, and arrangements for customer moving location, etc, consumers should request the operators to confirm that their service contracts are in compliance with the revised Industry Code.

     "The OFCA will continue to closely monitor the implementation of the revised Industry Code and its effectiveness and, taking into account the experience from the implementation and the feedback of consumers, continue to work closely with the industry to enhance and improve consumer protection under the Industry Code. We will also organise public education activities to assist the public in understanding the protection provided by the revised Industry Code," the spokesman continued.

     Please visit CAHK's website ( or OFCA's website ( for the full text of the revised Industry Code.

Ends/Monday, May 4, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:38