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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Play is to return unused money from pre-paid accounts

< previous | next > 30.09.2020

Play is to return unused money from pre-paid accounts
  • President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny has obliged Play operator to return consumers’ money outstanding after expiry of the pre-paid account.
  • The proceeding against Orange Polska is still pending. Earlier on, T-Mobile has committed to change its business practices and Polkomtel has been punished for similar practices.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection is verifying whether major mobile operators return unused funds to consumers when the pre-paid account expires. To date, President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny has issued a decision in this case against Polkomtel, on which he imposed a fine of over PLN 20 million. In addition, he has obliged T-Mobile to return the money to the customers. The proceeding against Orange Polska is still pending.

“Another decision concerns the Play network, which did not return unused money to its customers using pre-paid phones. We are consistent in our actions and we put the market in order, obliging operators to settle accounts honestly with consumers when changing service providers. Customers shall not lose unused funds accumulated in their pre-paid account due to lack of subsequent top-up. This is a practice of obstructing a change of operator, which is forbidden by the Telecommunications Law. The European Electronic Communications Code also obliges operators to settle accounts honestly with consumers when changing service providers,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

The most recent decision of the President of the Office and at the same time the second one binding one in this type of case concerns the P4 company, Play network operator. In the prepaid service contract specimens, P4 made a reservation that should the account validity expire, the unused amount or settlement units shall be annulled. The only solution to ensure that the money collected is not lost was another top-up extending the validity of the account. If a consumer failed to do so for example because they simply forgot and wanted to change operator, they would lost unused funds. This might have discouraged them from choosing a competitive company, even if they were provided with a better offer.

The issue of returning unused funds from an account to a card when choosing a new telecommunications company has already been regulated at EU level. In December 2018 the European Electronic Communications Code entered into force. It stipulates that when changing operator, existing pre-paid service providers are obliged to return the remaining funds on the account at the consumer's request. They may charge a fee for this operation which is commensurate with the costs actually incurred by them, if this has been specified in the contract. The EU law must be implemented into Polish law. In some European countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Spain, the reimbursement of funds has long been the rule.

President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny obliged P4 to  introduce a mechanism for returning the money remaining on the pre-paid account. The above must take place within 1 month from the entry into force of the decision. Until then, the company must inform all pre-paid service customers about the introduction of a refund services for unused funds, and individuals over 65 years of age will be informed about their new rights by text message.

How to claim money refund in P4?

  • The consumer must apply for a refund of unused funds within 30 days of the change of operator or expiry of the validity of incoming calls.
  • This can be done by contacting P4 customer service (in writing, by e-mail, by phone) or in authorized dealerships.
  • According to the European Electronic Communications Code, a company may charge a minor handling fee - however, on the basis of a binding decision, the amount of such a fee may not exceed PLN 20.
  • Funds above the nominal top-up amount shall not be reimbursed.
  • Within 30 days of the claim being submitted, the money will be transferred to the bank account indicated by the consumer.
  • Practical example: a consumer topped up his account with PLN 50. It was a promotional offer so they received PLN 25 extra and had a total of PLN 75 to use on their account. At the time of switching operators, they had PLN 55 left on their account, as they used only PLN 20. They are entitled to a refund of PLN 50 (nominal top-up value) less a handling fee.

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 – 22 330 40 00

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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