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SFR gets fined for the print of its fine print

Bill Contract Tear

French telco SFR has lost its argument in the Paris Court of Appeal for illegal and abusive clauses, with the ruling also noting font size T&Cs was too small for the consumer to fully appreciate the contract.

The case itself was brought forward by French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, which claimed a number of the clauses in SFR contracts were not fair to the consumer. One of these clauses allowed SFR to deny responsibility for any network issues resulting in up to 10% failure rate in calls and texts. Another clause would allow the telco to add additional fees to the users contract should the user want to change payment method.

These clauses would certainly be of interest, but perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this case is the ruling on font size. The Paris Court of Appeal upheld the complaint that 3mm was too small for users to read and appropriately understand the agreement into which they were entering. This is of course a common tactic for the more nefarious individuals and organizations around the world, but considering the ‘creative’ advertising strategies which we have seen in the telco space, we are not surprised by any underhanded tactics employed by operators to secure additional profits.

Whether this is the beginning of another trend remains to be seen. The ‘up to’ metric is being done away with and operators are generally being forced to be more realistic with speed promises in advertising, but the T&Cs is another area which needs to be addressed. Right now understanding mobile contracts comprehensively is limited to those with legal degrees, this is unfair and unreasonable so should be given consideration. Making the type font bigger would certainly help.


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