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OPTA’s response to a TROS Radar broadcast concerning telephone sales of Pretium Telecom

In a TROS Radar television broadcast on 29 September 2008 a call centre assistant made several statements concerning the involvement of OPTA, the Netherlands Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority [Onafhankelijke Post- en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit], in Pretium Telecom’s arrangement of telephone subscriptions by telephone. This assistant gave the impression that Pretium Telecom makes these calls with the approval or at the behest of OPTA. This is a misrepresentation of the actual situation. The facts are as follows:
• as a rule OPTA does not check the telephone scripts used by call centre assistants who offer telephone services;
• OPTA does not subsequently check the telephone calls made by call centre staff or the relevant voice call logs to investigate whether sales are agreed on in accordance with the provisions of the law;
• OPTA does not receive the voice call logs of call centre personnel, nor does it forward them to telephone network owner KPN.
A business bears its own responsibility for complying with the law. As a rule OPTA does not check this either beforehand or subsequently. If OPTA receives any indication that a business has contravened the Dutch Telecommunications Act [Telecommunicatiewet], for example, where complaints are received through the ConsuWijzer consumer information portal, OPTA may launch an investigation.

Rules governing telephone sales
If a business (telecommunications or otherwise) engages in telephone sales, it is required to comply with a number of regulations, including the Distance Selling Act [Wet koop op afstand]. Amongst other things, this legislation governs the manner in which a product or service is offered by phone. Our fellow regulator, the Consumer Authority [Consumentenautoriteit] regulates this. OPTA monitors whether businesses may at all call particular consumers for the purposes of telephone sales. Businesses may make an unsolicited call to a consumer to sell him something, unless that consumer has previously indicated that he does not wish to be called (opt-out). In addition, the ‘right to refuse’ applies: in the course of each telephone call a telemarketer must actively draw the consumer's attention to his right to register not to receive calls (opt-out), following which he will no longer be called. Consumers may submit complaints concerning telephone sales through ConsuWijzer. They will automatically be forwarded to the appropriate regulatory authority. If the regulators receive multiple complaints about a specific business, they may act on them in the event of a contravention of the law, for example by issuing a formal warning or imposing a fine.

Purpose of opening KPN's network
Since the beginning of 2007 other telephone service providers, such as Pretium Telecom, have been allowed to resell telephone subscriptions in addition to call minutes through KPN's network. To do so these telephone service providers do business directly with KPN and OPTA sets the tariffs which KPN may charge for this. Other telephone service providers are at liberty to present their own commercial offers to their customers based on this and to set their own charges for them. The purpose of opening KPN's network is to ensure that consumers have greater choice and that they are charged more affordable rates. The national fixed line call charges have been dropped by 39% within the period of five years since OPTA was established.