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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Polkomtel will remove irregularities related to premium text messages and pay compensation to consumers

< previous | next > 08.06.2021

Polkomtel will remove irregularities related to premium text messages and pay compensation to consumers
  • Has Polkomtel rejected your complaint regarding premium services using 7218 and/or 60228 numbers? You will receive a refund in the amount of double the fee you paid for these services.
  • This is a result of the decision of the President of UOKiK - Polkomtel has been obliged to introduce systemic changes that will eliminate irregularities in the provision of premium rate services.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection received complaints from subscribers about the premium services "Czat towarzzyski" and "Subskrybcje Premium MT" using the numbers 7218 and 60228. They gave rise to proceedings against Polkomtel, the Plus network operator. Customers received text messages from the number 7218, for example, about a full phone inbox. To unlock it, they were urged to send a text message to 60228. For example: Info Chat: Inbox no [***] isfull! Read these messages for free! Send a free text message CZAT to 60228 before they are deleted! 7218.pl then 2.46/day. Sending a message meant the activation of the so-called subscription, in which the consumer began receiving one paid message per day. Subscribers were also able to have paid SMS social conversations with so-called operator centre. According to the complaints filed, not everyone was aware of the activation of the paid services.

"During the proceedings we identified irregularities concerning premium services provided by Polkomtel. The objections concerned the way in which consumer complaints were handled, as well as the lack of effective control over the companies providing additional services," says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

Allegations against Polkomtel

According to the telecommunication law, it is the telecommunication entrepreneur, in this case Polkomtel, that is the provider of premium services. It is responsible for them and holds consumers and possible contractors accountable. Meanwhile - as it turned out - Polkomtel did not have full knowledge about the entities that provided additional services within particular services. It also failed to verify irregularities reported by consumers.

"The Company received reports of irregularities from consumers, but did not take action to correct the source of the irregularities. There was an apparent lack of detailed knowledge of supplemental services and control over those providing them in the responses to the complaints. Polkomtel's responses to consumers were formulated in such a way that they could be misleading and make it difficult for customers to pursue their claims", says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

As the provider of premium services, it was Polkomtel that handled consumer complaints. Some allegations put forth by the UOKiK President concerned the fact that when rejecting claims, Polkomtel erroneously implied that another entity is responsible for performing the services. Additionally, responses to complaints were very general and did not clarify the given consumer's situation or facilitate pursuing claims or disabling the services that utilised phone numbers 7218 and 60228. In its responses, Polkomtel did not provide the name of the entity rendering the additional service and referred to the general terms and conditions of the special offer (and not the terms and conditions of the specific service), with the consumers unable to find information on the way of enabling or disabling the particular services, effectively making them lose time and put them at risk of further costs for unwanted text messages.

An example of Polkomtel's answer to a complaint: Each message received is subject to a fee. Detailed information on the provision of this service, including information on the method of its activation, deactivation and blocking, is provided in the terms and conditions of the "Zwrotny SMS, MMS, WAP Push Premium" special offer. Information and entertainment services are often provided by third-party service providers and not Polkomtel Sp. z o.o. Therefore, any remarks on service activation should be directed to the appropriate service provider. Considering the above reasoning, I have rejected your complaint.

Polkomtel's commitment

The President of UOKiK obliged Polkomtel to remove the effects of the violations and prevent similar situations in the future. This includes both the payment of compensation to all consumers affected and the introduction of special procedures for launching premium services and monitoring any irregularities.

Compensation for all injured parties. Have you submitted to Polkomtel a complaint on premium text messages from phone number 7218 and/or 60228 between 1 January 2015 and 16 July 2020 with the company rejecting it? You will receive a refund in the amount of double the fee you paid for these services. Compensation applies to both current and former Polkomtel subscribers, and the company will notify them about the possibility of choosing the form of refund. For existing customers, failure to select a form of compensation means that it is automatically returned to the subscriber's account (settlement under the contract). For details, see the decision of the President of the UOKiK.

Complaints. Polkomtel will accept them and return the questioned fees if the consumer was misled, especially at the stage of premium service activation. The same applies to the previous complaints if the company did not inform about the possibility of blocking premium rate text messages in the complaints. In addition, regardless of how the company handles the consumer's request, in any event, the company must provide the consumer with complete information about the premium service in question in response: the name of the service, the entity providing the additional service of the premium service, the terms and conditions, and the method of activation and deactivation.

Changes in the activation and provision of premium services. Polkomtel will obtain detailed information on all additional services from its contractors: name of the service, the entity providing the service, its exact address and e-mail and telephone contact, the service regulations and the maximum time for removing irregularities. If partners fail to provide information, Polkomtel will block the ability for consumers to use the service in question.

Monitoring and elimination of irregularities. Polkomtel will compile reports on complaints against individual Premium text messages numbers and individual service names. When it sees a 10 percent increase in requests, it will commit its partners to explaining the causes and eliminating the irregularities. If they fail to do so, Polkomtel will block the ability for consumers to use the service in question.

The decision of the President of the UOKiK is effective as of 28 May 2021.

What should you know about premium services?

  • Before a premium service provider can provide the service, it must state the cost and get the consumer's approval.
  • PLN 35 - this is the default amount up to which the subscriber can bear the costs of premium text messages in a given settlement period. The operator must also allow the consumer to choose another threshold from at least four: PLN 0, PLN 35, PLN 100, PLN 200.
  • Consumers can block premium services, including incoming calls, altogether with their operator, even if they are free.
  • The operator cannot charge for services performed in violation of the subscriber's wishes, e.g. if the operator has not set up a blockade despite the subscriber's request.
  • Premium services can be provided only by entities entered in the register kept by the President of UKE.
  • If there are any irregularities, the consumer files a complaint with his operator, which has 30 days to respond.

Consumer Assistance:

Phone no. 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 - Consumer Helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsman - in your city or county
The Office of Electronic Communications - Consumer Information Centre - 22 33 04 000

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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