In Belgium, the consumer must be clearly informed in case of a switch to digital. The consumer has always the right to refuse and opt for a paper invoice.
If the operators do not offer an alternative, the regulator, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT), can intervene, says Belgium's Minister for Telecommunication Petra De Sutter.
In 2022, the Belgian ombudsman for telecommunications service received noticeably more complaints on e-invoicing. In total there were 140, while only 25 complaints had been received two years ago.
“Not everyone is on board with the digital evolution,” responds Belgium’s Minister for Telecommunications Petra De Sutter (Green).
In absolute figures, 140 complaints seem low, but the increase is striking. In 2022, the ombudsman service received almost six times more complaints about the e-invoices compared to two years ago. Moreover, there is a chance that many people with the same complaints may not have reported it to the ombudsman service. Hence, the problem could be much bigger.
We do not know exactly who is submitting the complaints. According to Minister of Telecommunications Petra De Sutter (Green), a large group of people are struggling with digitisation.
“A paper invoice is still more convenient for a group of people, although electronic invoices are becoming the norm.” That is why Minister De Sutter calls on telecom companies to be clearer when they switch to a e-invoice.
The digital inclusion barometer of the King Baudouin Foundation, VUB and UCLouvain shows that especially people with lower qualifications have problems with digitisation.
“All consumers have rights,” says De Sutter. “Telecom is a basic right. The law is also clear and it is up to us to point this out to the operators.”
According to the guidelines for the switch to e-invoicing of the Belgian FPS Economy , the consumer must be clearly informed in case of a digital switch. They can always refuse and opt for a paper invoice.
If the operators do not offer an alternative, the regulator, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT), can intervene, says De Sutter.
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