CICRA (the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities) is the independent organisation working on your behalf to ensure you receive the best value, choice and access to high quality services but what does that mean in practice for you, the consumer?
Over a series of articles, we will explain a bit more about CICRA’s role across the Channel Islands and particularly here in Jersey.
CICRA is one of several local organisations, including Trading Standards, Citizens Advice and the Jersey Consumer Council, that work to inform and protect the rights of islanders. As individual organisations we are relatively small but in partnership we support each other to ensure the best outcomes for you.
CICRA regulates the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey (the airport, harbour and marinas) and is responsible for administering and enforcing the local competition law
CICRA provides the information you need to make important purchasing decisions.
We publish telecoms customer satisfaction ratings and undertake independent mystery shopping surveys on the different telecoms providers. We’ll shortly be publishing the results of the first ever check on local mobile coverage as well as the results of the latest mobile mast emissions audit. We’re looking at quality of service delivered by Ports of Jersey at the airport, harbour and marinas and will be reporting on that later this year.
We involve government and local interest groups when changes to policy or law should be considered; for example our work on reviewing the supply of road fuel in Jersey led to a change in the law to require prices to be visibly displayed from the roadside at all outlets ensuring you are in a position to be fully informed and to shop around.
CICRA protects local business and consumers from anticompetitive behaviour by enforcing competition law.
We watch out for any businesses potentially causing consumer harm. This may be price fixing between competitors or unfairly obstructing other providers from serving you. The competition law spans all business sectors and not just those we regulate.
For the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey, we have a more active role in setting ‘the rules’ by which the businesses operate as we licence these businesses. We can set prices, quality of service targets and hold these businesses to account when things go wrong – all to ensure that the interests of fair dealing businesses and local consumers are protected. For example, we’ve recently required JT to reduce its landline prices by 13% over the next two years and we’re keeping a closer watch on Jersey Post quality of service after it experienced a dip in performance.
We can prevent or amend proposed mergers and acquisitions where there would be a detrimental impact on choice locally. Recently we made sure Sandpiper’s acquisition of the Costcutter shops was modified to protect consumer choice in St Ouen, St John and Green Island.
While we are able to resolve most issues informally sometimes this is not possible; we have the power to mandate changes and to issue fines. This is very much a last resort. We’ve fined the States of Jersey for breaching the law after it created a monopoly for itself in the emptying of septic and tight tanks by restricting access to another business, Bellozane from operating in the same sector. We’ve also fined JT when it tried to fix the minimum selling price of its pay-as-you-go SIM packs.
CICRA needs to ensure it continues to focus on what is important to you as a local consumer. We’re very grateful for the help provided by islanders recently, through participation in our annual telecoms satisfaction surveys and our focus groups discussing the quality of service provided by Ports of Jersey.
In the next article we will explain in more detail CICRA’s role with the harbour, airport and marinas in Jersey.
Incorrect charger use exposes weaknesses in the battery and is likely to cause damage.
By using a charger that is too powerful for the device you are charging, it can expose weaknesses in the battery and cause it damage, leading to a shortened life span of the item or in more extreme cases, the battery could fail and pose a fire hazard. For example, e-cigarette batteries generally run on lower amperage to mobile phone chargers. Nationally there has been a rise in fires involving e-cigarettes; the direct cause being due to failure of battery packs during charging.
A spokesperson from Electrical Safety First has commented ‘Always use the charger that is supplied, or designed to be used, with the device. If a charger with a different amperage is used, this could lead to an incorrect charge being supplied resulting in damage to the battery. A damaged battery is at risk of catching fire or exploding. Lithium batteries, which are common in products like e-cigarettes and mobile devices, are very sensitive and need to be charged carefully.’
When charging devices:
- always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Mobile phone chargers are generally too powerful for charging e-cigarettes
- never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact
- never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer
- check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection
- remove the battery from charge when complete, don’t overcharge
- never leave a battery on charge unattended
- don’t use if wet or exposed to water
- E-cigarettes -do not over tighten the atomiser or when connecting to the charger
- ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly
If you require any further assistance please contact Trading Standards on 01534 448160.
With thanks from Trading Standards & Jersey Fire Service
4G Data Usage…How MUCH?
Peter Zunino, Head of Marketing, Airtel-Vodafone.
The introduction of 4G data services has totally changed the way mobile data is being consumed, as well as the amount of data. For example, one of our sites now takes more data traffic than the whole of our network did before the launch of 4G!
The quicker 4G experience means you can do much more online in the same amount of time. This uses more data, and can lead to unexpected charges if users are not aware of this. We have done a lot of work to help educate customers around data usage and here are some of the key things smartphone users should be aware of.
- Consider the activities and Apps that use lots of data, ie video streaming and downloading – think about doing them over a Wifi connection. Netflix for example can use 1GB of data per hour
- Most smartphones have built-in systems which track your data for you. These are not 100% accurate but will give you a fair idea of how much data you use
- Apps are constantly adding functionality. Facebook for example will auto play data hungry videos if this setting is not turned off
- Be wary of using your mobile device as a hot spot so your friends can connect to it, and watch videos for example – this uses a huge amount of data
- Contact your provider and ask them to review your plan – you may not have a high enough data allowance for the newer, faster 4G experience. You can bolt on extra data if need be
For a comprehensive guide to managing data, including step by step instructions on different smartphone operating systems, please visit our site
Telco Contracts – when does ‘Fixed Mean Fixed’?
When you sign up for a mobile phone, telephone or broadband contract you know you’re going to be committing to a fixed length contract, usually 12, 18 or 24 months.
You also know that the terms of that contract – including how much you pay for it – should be fixed over that period. The consumer is tied into that contract unless they pay an early termination charge (“ETC”) to leave before the end of the minimum contract period.
Remember that the Telco providers’ terms and conditions usually allow for price increases and variations to your contract during this term.
Thanks to a licensing condition called ‘fixed-means-fixed’ imposed by the regulator in April 2014, if your provider decides to increase prices part way through your fixed term contract, you should be given two calendar months’ written notice before the price rise and an option to end the contract penalty free. For example, if the amount of data included in your contract is reduced, you may end up paying more than originally agreed. As a result of change to licence conditions, you can exit the contract without penalty if the provider increases the cost of their deal.
This right only relates to changes to products within the list of services paid for by the recurring fee / subscription charge. If your deal includes a number of free services, the key point will be whether those were included in the original offer. If they were not, even if they were free originally, the operator is able to introduce a charge for them in future. It also does not apply other ‘out of bundle’ prices such roaming charges.
Please be aware that the protection afforded to you under ‘fixed-means-fixed’ only covers price increases ‘in-bundle’. In other words, your monthly allowances.
‘Out of bundle’ costs, being the amount you pay for exceeding your monthly allowances or new charges introduced for something which was originally free are likely to not be caught by this protection.
Our advice is to make sure you fully understand what is ‘in’ or ‘out of bundle’ when you sign up to a new contract and be aware that prices can change.
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
If you wish to stay in touch with friends and family either in the UK or overseas, here are some tips/information to help you through the various options of how to make the call as cost effective as possible. It no longer needn’t be expensive.Read More
Telecommunications –Buying the Right Mix of Services
What are bundles?
Bundles include a mix of mobile; fixed line and broadband services. Having a bundle will in most cases require you to sign a contract for at least a year; or perhaps longer. Breaking a contract if you subsequently find that the service is not suitable or does not really give you what you wanted, may be expensive. In this article we consider only bundles associated with contracts and not Pay As You Go offers, which will be considered separately.
The main bundle types include:
Top Tips – How to get the best from your BroadBand
What can I do to improve my broadband experience?
There are many factors that can have an adverse impact on the speed of your connection; a problem with your service provider’s network itself is only one.
If you feel that you are not getting the broadband speed that you are subscribing to you should first use a speed test to measure how your connection is performing. You can compare this to the service speed to which you have subscribed.
Here are some tips for improving your broadband experience
UPDATE your web browser or try a new one.
LIMIT the number of devices in your home – the more devices you have online at once the more likely they are to slow each other down.
Apps and Age ….
Like movies, apps have age restrictions to ensure content is safe and appropriate for our children. This information is displayed clearly on the app before it is downloaded; making the age rating one of the first things users see when deciding to download.
Also check to see if the App requires ‘In-App’ purchases as this can quickly add up unwanted costs. Make sure you are fully informed before you download.
However in some circumstances, like watching movies, you may decide to let your child download an app above their age limit. If you find yourself in this difficult position, always…
A Shiny New Mobile Phone
If you are thinking of buying a new mobile phone here’s some top tips you need to think about. In the next few weeks in the Christmas rush, Jersey’s mobile telephone providers compete hard for your business and as such, there will be deals on offer, and we suggest you shop around.
All providers offer PAYG and monthly plans (12 or 24 months) and a huge selection of additional bolt-ons, e.g. extra call minutes, text messages or data and some even offer free calls to the UK, Poland and Portugal and some offer free incoming calls when roaming in the EU. In addition, each provider offers around 50 different types of handsets for sale, so the choice of which plan to go for, which tariff and which phone can seem a little daunting.
Buying a new mobile phone and deciding which one to go for and deciding whether to go on a Pay As You Go Plan (“PAYG”) or a Monthly contract, can be a daunting and complex matter. This 8 Step Guide will hopefully guide you through the process, to help you choose the right phone and right tariff, suited to your own particular needs.Read More
Telecommunications –Buying the Right Mix of Services
When purchasing telecommunications products, service providers will invariably offer to sell us a mix of products across mobiles, landlines and broadband. These are known as Bundles.
What are bundles?
Bundles means that a telephone company includes a number of telecommunications services in a single priced product. This may be for a single service such as a mobile telephone contract or across a range of services. Many bundles include a mix of mobile; fixed line and broadband services.Read More