Internet service refund, bill adjustment measure gets House OK
MANILA, Philippines — The refund bill for customers “adversely affected” by outages and disruptions of their internet or telecommunications services has been approved by the House of Representatives.
House Bill No. 9021 or the Refund for Internet and Telecommunications Services Outages and Disruptions Act hurdled the third and final reading during Tuesday’s plenary session, garnering 278 affirmative votes.
“Stable Internet is tantamount to a basic human right nowadays given its many applications that make life easier,” said Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in a statement.
“Since this is paid service, getting a refund for service failure is only just,” he added.
Under the bill, all ISPs and PTEs nationwide will be compelled to provide automatic refund credits, with several exceptions.
The bill mandates public telecommunications entities (PTEs), including internet service providers (ISPs) to “provide a refund credit to a customer, or adjust a customer’s bill, who was adversely affected by an Internet service outage or interruption for an aggregate period of twenty-four (24) hours or more, within a month”.
The PTEs and ISPs shall apply a bill adjustment automatically without need of demand from the subscriber, after a standard process but shall not preclude the consumer from filing a complaint to the appropriate administrative or quasi-judicial agency for disputes regarding refund or bill adjustment amount.
A refund, however, is not warranted if the reason for such outage is due to scheduled maintenance; a “fortuitous event”; or acts of third party or subscriber.
A fortuitous event is defined by the bill either an “act of God” or natural occurrences such as floods, typhoons, storms, earthquakes; or an “act of man”, such as riots, strikes, wars, governmental prohibitions, robbery, theft, sabotage, cyberattacks, deliberate destruction, or accidental damage to telecommunications facilities by third parties.
The bill also stated that the scheduled maintenance should be notified 48 hours prior to the scheduled maintenance and should not exceed 48 hours in a month.
PTE or ISP violators will face a fine of not less than ₱50,000 but not more than two hundred thousand pesos ₱200,000 for each count of violation once the act becomes a law.
Repeat violators may face, aside from fine, the revocation or cancellation of their license, registration or franchise, whichever applies, including the waiving of any pre-termination fees of affected subscribers and timely disbursement of any remaining credits from excessive downtime.
The National Telecommunications Commission is tasked to coordinate with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and other concerned agencies to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to ensure the effective implementation of this Act.