The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) announced that customers of Vectra, which provides cable television and Internet access services, will recover money wrongly charged for enabling and providing the “Safe Internet” service without their express consent.
Vectra provides, among others: cable television and Internet access services. Before May 11, 2020, some of the promotional offers on the basis of which Vectra concluded contracts with subscribers provided for automatic launch of anti-virus software called “Safe Internet”.
As he explains UOKiK its activation was obligatory if the customer wanted to obtain favorable conditions for the provision of telecommunications services and could not resign from it at the time of concluding the contract. The service was free only for the first two or four months – depending on the type of contract. “Thereafter, if the consumer has not taken action to opt out of the “Safer Internet” add-on service, increased the subscription fee by PLN 6.90 per month,” the office indicates.
– The inclusion of additional, paid services must always be done with the express, informed consent of the consumer. It’s about providing real choice and the ability to refuse. The consumer should decide whether he needs the service and whether he wants to incur costs related to it, which go beyond the agreed fee for the basic service, e.g. access to the Internet or television – says the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, Tomasz Chróstny.
The Office reminds that the Consumer Rights Act is clear in this respect. Additionally, paid services can only be activated with the express consent of the subscriber. The announcement emphasized that “this should happen no later than when he expresses his will to conclude the contract, and not at the very end of the process.”
Vectra will have to pay back the money
The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection issued a binding decision in the Vectra case. “The Company will positively consider previously rejected complaints regarding the activation of the ‘Safe Internet’ service and will refund the funds collected for it (up to 24 payments, i.e. up to PLN 165.60). In addition, increased fees for a maximum of the first five invoices (up to PLN 34.50) will be refunded to all subscribers who concluded an agreement for the provision of Internet access services based on the terms of the promotional offer providing for automatic activation of the additional service ‘Safe Internet’ and resigned from it before receiving the fifth invoice,” the announcement said.
Vectra will have to pay back the money not only to current but also former customers. The company is to inform those persons affected by compensation about the office’s decision in three ways:
– in individual correspondence, – on the Company’s website – and its profile on the Facebook social networking site.
Vectra’s offer is no longer valid
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) indicated that “on May 11, 2020, Vectra withdrew offers whose conditions provided that the launch of the paid additional service ‘Safe Internet’ was necessary to conclude an agreement on promotional terms. From that date, new promotional offers no longer include such a condition, which means In each case, Vectra asks consumers a separate question about consent to the activation of the ‘Safer Internet’ service. This is currently an additional option, without affecting the terms of the main service. The consumer may not consent to its activation.
The decision is invalid. Vectra will begin implementing its obligation on the dates specified in the decision after it becomes final.
We asked Vectra for a comment, but by the time of publication we had not received a response from the company.
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