What is there to know about invoices?

Information from the Media and Infocommunications Commissioner on issues related to the invoicing of telecommunications services

Published: 14 December 2016

Over the past one year, numerous complaints were received by the office of the Media and Infocommunications Commissioner concerning a lack of invoices of services or their delayed receipt. Experiences show that a common problem is making sense of the information listed in the invoice and invoice letter as well as accessing information related to the invoice from the service provider.

What should be known about invoices?

1. How and when are invoices received?

  • Invoices are received every month at a fixed time, as determined by the service provider’s General Terms and Conditions (GTC).
    Invoices are traditionally received by post, or when stipulated, via electronic mail or through a subscription account on the service provider’s website. In the case of postpaid subscriptions, the service provider issues invoices subsequently, at the end of every invoicing period, at a time specified by the contract (GTC). The invoice includes the subscription and/or one-time fees, as well as all miscellaneous fees
  • If the invoice is not received on time, you must identify the reason for the delay; however, this will not exempt you from your payment duties
    If the monthly invoice was not received by the time specified in the contract, this shortcoming must be indicated to the service provider, otherwise the service provider will consider the invoice to be delivered. The reason for this is that failure to send an invoice has no delaying effect on its payment deadline. In such cases, a copy of the invoice must be requested, which is free of charge until the deadline indicated in the service provider’s GTC.

2. What does the invoice state, what can be known from the invoice?

  • The invoice basically contains the itemized fees of services as well as a range of important data.
    Amongst other things, it includes the data of the service provider and the subscriber, the name of the service, the fees itemized according to the nature of the service (for example, call direction, premium rate services, text messages) as well as the invoice’s payment deadline.
  • Payment deadline – when must the amount of the invoice be settled?
    A common misconception is that it is enough to pay the cheque at a post office or initiate the transfer on the day of the payment deadline. However, the payment deadline is the date when the payment must arrive on the service provider’s account. Therefore, the invoice should be paid at least one workday prior to the payment deadline – in order to ensure it would not be considered a late payment.
  • The invoice or the letter included with it contains a range of important additional information
    Always read the text below the fees. This is important because service providers notify subscribers of maintenance or changes to the channel distribution via the letter included in the envelope, as well as of the expiry of fixed period contracts. If you fail to carefully study this information, you cannot exempt yourselves by claiming you suffered from a failure of notification.

3. If something is not clear on the invoice or you challenge its contents – ask questions!

  • Contact the service provider – in person, over the phone or through their social media page
    If you are not certain about some items of the invoice or its amount seems unrealistically high, you should make inquiries through the customer service contacts included in the invoice. It is important to keep the subscription identification number and the invoice at hand when making the call! If you continue to contest the amount of the invoice despite the information you received, you may file a complaint with the service provider which they are required to examine within 30 days and provide notification in writing.
  • You can request itemized call lists
    At your request, the service provider is required to include an itemized call list with the invoice which features a detailed statement of the traffic and invoicing data for the calculation of the fee (for example, call lists).

4. Who can you contact concerning invoice-related complaints?

  • If the service provider feels the complaint is unjustified, they must list at the end of their letter the organisations or bodies that can be contacted in such cases.
    In their letter to the subscriber, the service provider must list the agencies, bodies and their contact information which can be approached if you – continue to – dispute the contents of the service provider’s letter.
  • Even contested invoices must be paid
    The invoice-related complaints filed with the service provider or other competent authorities do not exonerate subscribers from their obligation to settle the amount of invoices! In such cases, you may request the service provider to allow for the contested fees or partial fees to be settled only after the adjudication of the complaint. Requests of such nature must be thoroughly justified. If you fail to settle the amount of the invoice on time, the service provider may call on the subscriber to settle the debt and apply the sanctions of the GTC applicable for such instances, for example, charging default interest or arranging for the collection of the debt. The service provider is obliged to allow the subscriber to pay for the non-contested amount (partial fees) of the invoice.

5. The failure to settle the monthly invoice on time may entail serious consequences

  • The service provider may pose limitations on the service
    If the outstanding amounts are not settled within the (minimum 30-day) deadline indicated in the notice, the service provider may limit services – with preliminary notice. In such cases, services may only be partially utilized (for example, the initiated or received traffic may be disabled or the quality of the service may be impeded), however, the service provider must continue to ensure that the subscribed could be reached, emergency calls transferred and access to the customer service and error report services must be provided.
    For additional detailed provisions, see: hírközlési interaktív tájékoztató alkalmazás.
  • The service provider may terminate the contract
    The service provider may terminate the contract within a 30-day deadline if the fee due isn’t settled subsequent to the second notification.
  • The debt may be collected
    Beyond a certain point of time, the service provider may stop attempting to collect the debt themselves and employ the services of an executive or debt collector agency. It is worth preventing this from taking place, since the service provider could be left without the information on the circumstances of the debt and be unable to assist subscribers even for equity purposes.

Important information

Read the contract before signing it!

It is important to devote time to this since, for example, in the case of fixed period contracts, you are undertaking long-term payment obligations.

Study the monthly invoice! Do not just study the payable amount, but rather verify whether you received any notification of changes, for example, the expiry of the loyalty period.

Keep the invoices and the contractual documents! This is important whether filing the printed forms, downloading them to a computer or storing them in your user profile on the service provider’s website. They might be necessary later on, for example, when disputing fees with the service provider or when moving and transferring the service to the name of the new tenant, since this can help you verify that there are no outstanding debts towards the service provider. If something seems puzzling in the future, these records can be studied and a great number of misunderstandings can be avoided with a thorough search for information.

All is not lost if the contract is misplaced or cannot be located. Once a year, a copy of the contract can be requested from the service provider (according to its current legal status), who is required to render it free of charge within 8 days, in a printed form, on a data recording device (USB, memory card, hard disc, CD, DVD, etc.) or via e-mail, as preferable for the subscriber.

Memorize the date of expiry of the loyalty period! It is useful to mark the date of this in your calendar or set up a reminder on your phone.