Vodafone Hungary slapped with HUF 200 mln fine for unfair practices

Hungary's competition watchdog GVH has fined Vodafone Hungary Zrt. HUF 200 million for unfair practices, with the amount reduced substantially from the original after Vodafone showed outstanding cooperation and gave proof of clear steps to change its behavior, the GVH said in a release. The mobile provider had repeatedly been fined for unfair practices and is considered a habitual offender.
The competition authority looked at whether Vodafone informed its customers truthfully about the price of phones in a promotional campaign launched in October 2013, as the discount prices of HUF 1 to HUF 19,999 did not contain an extra monthly charge to be paid in relation with the devices.

The GVH found that Vodafone gave misleading information about the actual cost of the phones in ads that did not contain this monthly device fee, even though it charged customers a monthly amount for using the phones. The ads may have made the impression that only the one-off cost had to be paid, the GVH said.

The competition authority found Vodafone's communications regarding the monthy charge in breach of regulations. Vodafone, while not admitting culpability, has
  • introduced stricter compliance standards above and beyond regular market practices;
  • amended its commercial practices and subsequently the schemes in question; and
  • offered affected customers to cancel the definite-term contracts free of charge, thereby taking on substantial costs.

The GVH considered the above as mitigating circumstances and set the fine, which was calculated based on the cost of the promotional campaigns, at HUF 200 mln.

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