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Friday, March 1, 2024

Vectra fined by UOKiK. It’s a subscription increase

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Vectra fined by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The Office accuses the company of unlawfully changing the provisions of the contract for an indefinite period, and then increasing the price list for Internet and television without justification. The fine is to amount to PLN 22 million.

“President UOKiK has repeatedly indicated that a change in the essential terms and conditions of an ongoing contract concluded for an indefinite period may only take place if the contract expressly provides for it. In such contracts, each change should be made on the basis of the correct modification clause, which specifies what terms of the contract and under what circumstances may be changed.

Additional clause in contracts with Vectra. Charges and sentencing decision

The communication explains that in 2019-2020 Vectra unilaterally, without the required legal basis, informed consumers about adding a modification clause to existing contracts that did not have it, changing the provisions of the general terms and conditions of the contract. Then, over the following years, based on this unlawfully introduced modification clause, it suggested to customers unilaterally increasing the subscription fee by PLN 5 per month for each of the telecommunications services – television or Internet access (PLN 60 or PLN 120 per year). At the same time, the entrepreneur set a deadline within which they could not agree to the changes and terminate the services provided. If they did not, Vectra charged unilaterally increased fees.

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It was added that the President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny in November 2021 brought charges against the company. Now it issued a decision in which it decided that both the modification clause and the subsequent increases in subscription fees were not effectively introduced into the existing contracts, as it was done without a legal basis, which was misleading to consumers. Both these actions and the subsequent charging of subscription fees in an increased amount constitute a practice that violates the collective interests of consumers.

– The entrepreneur should keep the contract concluded with the consumer both in terms of content and terms of service provision. The contracts with Vectra concluded for an indefinite period did not contain a clause specifying the criteria and scope of possible changes. This is necessary for consumers to be able to anticipate in which situations unilateral changes may be introduced, for example when the price of a service may increase, said President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny, quoted in the release.

Consumers can get a refund

As indicated in the communication, consumers are to receive a refund of part of the paid subscription.

The President of the Office also reminded that entrepreneurs cannot arbitrarily change concluded contracts, he has already emphasized this many times in his decisions issued to entrepreneurs from the telecommunications sector.

Incorrectly introduced changes to contracts were also questioned in the financial, insurance, e-payments and e-commerce industries.

Until the publication of the material, Vectra did not respond to a request for comment on the fine imposed by UOKiK.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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