Since 25 May 2019, telecommunication operators are required to make available, free of charge, to subscribers that request it, a bill that includes the minimum level of detail and information defined by ANACOM, irrespective of the format and means used. These bills, as well as non-itemised bills or bills with a lower level of detail, must be issued and submitted free of charge to subscribers, whether by paper or by electronic means.
Information provided in this bill includes the expiry date of the binding period, if any, and charges due by customers should they wish to terminate the contract before expiry of the binding period.
Operators must also include in the bill information on the possibility of opposition, by the subscriber, to billed amounts, the deadline for the purpose, as well as means to do so, being clarified that the service suspension does not take place where billed amounts are the subject of a written claim submitted to the company, on the basis of the non-existence or unenforceability of the debt.
The bill must also refer possibility given to subscribers to exercise their right to complain through the complaints book.
The main purpose of the definition of the minimum level of detail and information to be included in bills is to guarantee that consumers are provided with information that is more comprehensible and transparent, so they may check amounts which fall due for payment and take informed decisions to protect their rights and interests. The defined minimum level of detail allows expenses associated to services to be tracked in an easier, more itemised and continuous way, especially in case of any additional consumption.
In making this decision, ANACOM also took into consideration the fact that both the billing and termination of the service received a large number of complaints, which increased significantly again this year. It is deemed that this decision, by specifying in detail the various items which must be included in bills to be made available by providers, will make it easier for subscribers of electronic communications services to understand their content.
On the other hand, there are sections of the population that are less prepared to accompany digitisation and to use electronic means, such as citizens with no internet access or low level of awareness of how it may be used, who are often, also, citizens with a lower level of schooling and/or lower income. As such, they will still be able to receive their bills in paper, free of charge, insofar as they request their operator to send bills with the minimum level of detail defined by ANACOM. In case they receive a bill with a lower level of detail, bills will still be free of charge, regardless of the medium used.
This decision does not prevent electronic bills from being promoted, on the basis of a voluntary subscription by customers, and on their own interest, while ensuring at the same time that under no circumstances the population groups already most vulnerable are left unprotected.
ANACOM advises customers to request their bills with the minimum level of detail and information which is now defined, as such bills must be made available free of charge. This does not mean that operators are prevented, whether on their own initiative or at the express request of customers, from issuing or sending out bills with a level of detail and information beyond that defined by ANACOM, under terms agreed with their customers. Likewise, nothing prevents subscribers who so wish from exercising their right to receive non-itemised bills as set out in legislation on the processing of personal data and protection of privacy. In such cases, as with bills that include the minimum level of detail and information defined by ANACOM, operators must make available the bill free of charge, regardless of the medium or means used for that purpose.
Minimum level of detail and information to be included in bills, where items concerned are applicable:
Data on the identification of the subscriber and on the billing period
- Customer number or equivalent identifier
- Commercial designation of the billed service(s)
- Billing period
Elements for checking and monitoring costs incurred with services and communications engaged, on the basis of up-to-date information
- Total amount of the bill
- Service(s) installation and activation price
- Purchase or rental price of equipment requested at the time of the contract conclusion or subsequently, after the service provision has started, the corresponding billed unit(s) being indicated
- Price corresponding to the monthly charge or reference period on which the billing is based, service(s) covered being indicated
- Value of other service(s) or additional charges not included in the monthly charge or reference period on which the billing is based, the corresponding category(ies) and amount(s) being indicated
- Value of additional communications (calls and messages, including to non-geographic numbers, Internet traffic, among others) not included in the monthly charge or reference period on which the billing is based, the corresponding category(ies) and amount(s) being indicated
- Value of discounts applied
- Billing adjustments, as well as the subscriber’s debits and credits, duly broken down and justified, and itemised separately, where appropriate
- The value of subscriber top-ups and consumptions, balances carried oved from prior billing periods and existing balances at the end of the billing period, that may be carried over to the subsequent period
Information on how long costs are to be borne in case there is a binding period associated to the contract
- Expiry date of the binding period
Information on charges dues on the date the bill is issued for contract termination on the subscriber's initiative before the expiry date of the binding period
- Charges due on the date the bill is issued for contract termination on the subscriber’s initiative before the expiry date of the binding period
Elements that allows the subscriber to know how and by which deadline he/she are required pay the bill, and in case of doubts or disagreement as to the amount due, how the service provider may be contacted and how the right to complaint may be exercised
- Customer service contact numbers
- Final date for payment
- Admissible means of payment
- Reference to the possibility of opposition, by the subscriber, to billed amounts, the deadline for the purpose, as well as means to do so before the company providing the service(s), being clarified that the service suspension does not take place where the bill amounts are the subject of a written claim submitted to the company, on the basis of the non-existence or unenforceability of the debt
- Reference to the possibility of exercising the right to complain through the complaints book, companies being entitled to comply with this obligation by indicating on the bill the website where the electronic complaints book is available.