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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Pre-paid mobile services - UOKiK's decision

< previous | next > 10.02.2020

Pre-paid mobile services - UOKiK's decision
  • UOKiK is verifying whether mobile operators return unused funds to consumers when the pre-paid account expires.
  • In countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Spain, the return of unused funds is a common practice.
  • The Authority issued the first decision in this matter.

In September 2016, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection initiated proceedings against the four largest operators - Orange Polska, P4, Polkomtel and T-Mobile Polska. The doubts concerned the fact that failure to purchase another mobile phone top-up meant the unused funds were forfeited. Consumer complaints were the basis for examining this practice. The first proceedings have just ended. - I decided that Polkomtel had infringed collective consumer interests, so I imposed a fine of over PLN 20 million. We expected the operator would propose to issue a commitment decision, but despite the long duration of the proceedings this did not happen. The practice is still in use - says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Polkomtel's regulations say that, for example, in the so-called Flexible pre-paid tariff, topping up the account for PLN 50 allows users to make calls for 90 days. If the funds are not fully used and the account is not topped up again, the funds are forfeited. The only way to recover money is to file a complaint - however, the funds are returned to the subscriber's account, not paid in cash. This option, however, does not apply to people who no longer use the services of the given operator. Thus, Polkomtel makes it difficult to change the telecommunications company.

- There is a lot of competition on the telecommunications services market, so the consumers should be able to choose freely the best pre-paid offers, but they are forced to buy top-ups from only one operator for fear of losing money. It is the operator who handles its clients’ funds and should return them automatically at the consumer's request. This is the case in other European countries - adds the President of UOKiK. In countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Spain, the return of unused funds is a common practice.

The fine for the infringement of collective consumer interests accounted to over PLN 20 million (PLN 20,433,226). The President of UOKiK requested Polkomtel to discontinue this practice and publish the Authority's decision on the operator's website.

Consumers are encouraged to file complaints - everyone can refer to the UOKiK's decision and demand the return of unused funds.

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
e-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl
Office of Electronic Communications - Consumer Information Centre - +48 22 330 4000

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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