FTC Issues Guidelines

Pursuant to section 5(2) of the Fair Competition Act (FCA), the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has issued Guidelines for telecommunications service providers who alter the terms and conditions under which pre-existing services are offered to the public. The section allows the FTC to issue general information to persons engaged in business with respect to their rights and obligations under the FCA and for the guidance of consumers regarding matters affecting their interest.

The FTC has received numerous complaints against various telecommunications service providers. Most of these complaints arise from the failure of providers to give the public adequate notice of changes in the terms and conditions of existing services or promotional offers. Such failure will be problematic in any industry, but is considerably more pronounced in dynamic industries such as the telecommunication sector where innovative services are constantly being introduced, modified or withdrawn. In accordance with its mandate, the FTC encourages change and innovation as this fosters a competitive environment. While such product innovation is potentially beneficial to consumers, such gains are likely to be eroded substantially if unambiguous information about these changes is not disseminated to the public in a timely manner. It is for this reason that misleading representations, intended or unintended, constitute a breach of Section 37 of the FCA, which address Misleading Advertising.

In light of the growing number of complaints, the FTC has formulated a set of general Guidelines for providers which alter existing service offerings in a manner which is likely to affect consumers adversely. These Guidelines will help to prevent misunderstandings and reduce complaints of this nature in the future.

The Guidelines are posted on the FTC website, located at http://www.jftc.com.

CONTACT: David Miller, Executive Director
52 Grenada Crescent
Kingston 5.
Tel: (876) 960-0120-4
Fax: (876) 960-0763
Email: ftc@cwjamaica.com