Telecom Authority fines Magyar Telekom for Unlawful and Uncomfortable Appliance Return Policies
Based on its General Terms and Conditions and the applicable laws, Telekom may charge a so-called flat-rate compensation if the subscriber fails to return technical appliances owned by the service provider, such as set top boxes, routers or the accessories thereof upon termination of the agreement. Telekom, however, demanded flat-rate compensation for appliances that had been returned to them earlier. By doing so, between 5 August 2013 and 22 April 2015 it diverged from its General Terms and Conditions in at least 468 cases, therefore the NMHH found on 26 October that Telekom had violated the law. Telekom also acted unlawfully when six out of the seven checked customer service desks did not allow personal return of the technical appliances.
What did the Authority require of Telekom?
NMHH levied a fine of HUF fifteen million and obligated the service provider to end the unlawfulness and work out a plan of action in which Telekom must provide information as to how and when it intends to compensate wronged customers. In addition, Telekom must review the receipts of flat-rate compensation in the one year period preceding 30 March 2016. When determining the amount of the fine, the Authority considered all of the circumstances in the case, including the large number of clients, repeated breaches of the law, the violation of interests caused, but it also considered as a mitigating circumstance that Telekom constantly cooperated with the Authority.
The Authority found Magyar Telekom’s practices related to charging a compensation and to return of technical equipment unlawful six times since 2013, fining the provider a total of HUF 12 million and obligating it to act in accordance with the terms of its General Terms and Conditions.
In order to expand consumers’ rights last December NMHH issued a Decree on the detailed rules of subscriber agreements, which strengthens interest protection and decreases consumers’ defenselessness against such agreements. The Authority regularly investigates compliance with the Decree, which included proceedings this March for the legal safety of several hundred thousand Invitel clients to compensate for one-sidedly increasing monthly and traffic rates within telephone, internet and TV subscriptions.