The government is preparing changes for prepaid card holders. Within 6 months of the expiry of the account, they will have the option to return any unused funds. If they fail to do so, the money will go to the government’s broadband fund. The changes will probably come into force in the middle of next year, but it depends on the course of work in the parliament, TVN24 Biznes informed Joanna Dębek from the Digital Policy Promotion Department of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.
The proposal is to be included in the new draft Electronic Communications Law (PKE). “The project was submitted for consultation within the standing Committee of the Council of Ministers, a meeting with representatives of the telecommunications market was also held to explain the assumptions of the changes. The aim is to ensure that customers can recover funds that are lost to telecommunications operators” – explained Joanna Dębek.
Before making calls, the prepaid service user must top up the account with an appropriate amount. However, the funds must be used within a certain period of time, if the validity period has expired, connections are blocked. In the event of no further top-ups, the money remaining on the account goes to the operators. Now, however, this is about to change.
Prepaid card – changes
The act is to guarantee consumers the possibility of returning funds within six months from the expiry of the account validity. The money will be returned at the consumer’s request. “This is the direction recommended by UOKiK and the European Commission – in connection with abuses in the implementation of consumer rights to recover funds” – indicated the representative of the Digital Policy Promotion Department of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.
The issue of prepaids for the largest mobile networks in Poland was dealt with by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The decisions of the Office in this matter were made last year. In February the President of UOKiK issued a decision against Polkomtel, the operator of the Plus network, on which he imposed a fine of over PLN 20 million. However, they undertook to return the money to the recipients T-Mobile, Orange and Play.
According to the new regulations, after six months, unused funds are to be transferred not to mobile operators, but to the broadband fund. “The funds will not go to the state budget, but to the broadband fund established at the request of the European Commission, which will finance projects related to the improvement of high-speed internet access and better equipment in educational institutions” – explained Joanna Dębek.
“In addition, the Fund will provide funds to combat addiction to electronic devices among children and adolescents – this problem has been particularly visible since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic” – she added.
Dębek, when asked about the projected annual revenues to the broadband fund as a result of the planned changes, emphasized that “the intention is that all the money should be returned to subscribers”. “The broadband fund would receive only the money that no one will ask for. Moreover, after consulting the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, we would like to propose that the client could provide an account number to which the funds would be automatically transferred after its expiry date” – she indicated.
The representative of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister informed that the new regulations will apply “probably from the middle of next year, but it depends on the course of work in the parliament”.
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