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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Penalty for UPC for prohibited clauses

< previous | next > 13.08.2019

Penalty for UPC for prohibited clauses
  • The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has found clauses used by UPC to be illegal.
  • The disputed provisions concern, among others, the possibility of unilaterally increasing cable subscription fees and changing essential terms and conditions of executed contracts.
  • The penalty is almost PLN 33 million with an order to reimburse wrongly charged fees.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) received complaints about UPC Polska unilaterally turning off certain channels and increasing its subscription fees. Therefore, the President of UOKiK analysed the T&Cs and contractual templates and issued a decision finding the clauses used by UPC Polska to be prohibited. 

The President of UOKiK found clauses concerning the following issues to be illegal:

UPC Polska guaranteed only a number of TV channels on a certain subject matter and not specific channels indicated on the list. This was because the operator granted itself the right to change channels freely and unilaterally and could remove them during the term of the contract, as confirmed by consumer complaints. Many people chose UPC’s offering because of the availability of specific channels. Subsequently they were turned off.

UPC Polska stipulated that turning off channels was not an amendment to the contract. As a result, with fixed-term contracts, the consumer would have to pay fees if they wanted to opt out of UPC services. In the opinion of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, the operator may not change the material terms and conditions of its fixed-term contracts, which include the list of channels. In such a situation, individuals on fixed-term contracts should have the right to opt out of UPC services. In contracts for an indefinite period of time, channels may change only for important reasons specified in the T&Cs or contract.

Fee increases for no particular reason. UPC reserved the right in contracts to increase the subscription fee from PLN 5 to PLN 8 once a year, but did not specify the reasons for this.

Arbitrary decisions on whether a technician callout was unjustified. In such a situation, UPC would charge the consumer a fee of PLN 50. The assessment of whether a service callout was necessary was unilateral and could not be verified by the consumer. This may also have discouraged customers from making a complaint.

Too general conditions for termination of the customer’s contract or a lack thereof. For example, UPC stipulated that it may do so for “important reasons, in particular legal, technical, organisational or economic reasons”. Thus, the customer did not know what factors could render them unable to use UPC services.

The penalty for the use of prohibited clauses amounted to almost PLN 33 million (PLN 32,858,511). The President of UOKiK ordered UPC Polska to inform its consumers about the decision and to reimburse fees resulting from subscription increases or unjustified technician callouts. The entity should also restore cancelled TV channels to customers if they are still available in its offer. The decision is not legally binding. A register of decisions in which clauses have been determined to be prohibited can be found on UOKiK website.

Support for consumers:

Tel. 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 - Consumer Helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer Ombudsmen - in your city or district
Regional Consumer Centres: 22 299 60 90 - dlakonsumenta.pl

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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