The Millions Amount Fine of AMCU for the Mobile Operator
The LLC “Lifecell” has to pay 19,466,840 UAH for the informing of uncertain circle of persons of false, incomplete, inaccurate information about the charging of the outgoing calls.
It was recently found out, that the antimonopoly agency had fined one of the well-known Ukrainian mobile operators a fair amount. As the AMCU informed, the operator had received such a fine for misleading consumers, reporting inaccurate, false and incomplete information on tariffing of the calls.
Namely in 2011, when the consideration of this case by the agency was started, the AMCU drew attention to the fact that the website of the LLC “Lifecell”, in the tariff plan “Optimal Life:)”, contained certain information regarding the calls cost (outgoing calls) and the international calls tariffing, namely: “The calls to all life:) numbers, UAH/min. – 0; calls to the numbers of the fixed-line networks and the numbers of the other operators of the mobile operators, UAH/min. – 1.00”. At the same time the above mentioned tariff plan contained the note of such content: “For the calls tariffing in Ukraine, the full tariff time unit – 30 seconds, starting with the first second. For the calls tariffing before 30 second the full tariff time unit of 30 seconds is used… ”
To the opinion of the Committee, having learned the information, the consumer could think that the calls tariffing is per-second. That is, the consumer/subscriber could assume that the payment is withdrawn for each actually used second of conversation, but in fact, as the AMCU found out that the payment was made in the first second of the conversation in the amount of the full minute, regardless the number of seconds spoken during this minute.
Also the Committee noticed, that the full information about the tariff plans of the operator and the calls tariffing in accordance to the tariff is not quite accessible to the consumers. A subscriber, having entered the website of the LLC “Lifecell”, has to make several transmissions before receiving full and exhaustive information about the chosen tariff plan and understand that the tariffing is not per-second.
In addition, according to the AMCU, the LLC “Lifecell” indicates the cost of only one minute of the conversation and does not indicate the cost of one second, nor does it indicate the initial cost at 59 seconds, which is included to the price of 1 second, which, to the opinion of the Committee, emphasizes the incompleteness of the provided information.
In order to confirm its statements, the AMCU also surveyed the consumers and subscribers of mobile communication regarding their understanding of the information “The tariffing of the outgoing and redirected calls (telecommunication voice communication service) is per-second and is carried out in the first second of each minute of the telecommunication service. At the expense of the first second of every minute of the telecommunication service, the next 59 seconds are provided without additional charge.” According to the results of the survey (512 consumers/subscribers were interviewed near the exits from the service centers of the operator of the LLC “Lifecell”):
- 213 of the surveyed accept the operator’s statement about the tariffing details as the payment per each second of the outgoing call, starting with the first second;
- 129 of the surveyed think, that the payment charging is conducted only for the first second of each minute of conversation in the amount of the second’s cost, the seconds from 2 to 59 are provided free (presented);
- 170 of the surveyed think, that the payment charging is conducted only during the first second of each minute of conversation in the amount of the minute’s cost
So in accordance to the results of the survey 66.8% of the surveyed consumers were misled regarding the operator’s statements.
Thus the AMCU recognized such actions of the company as the violation of the legislation, provided by the article 151 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Protection from the Unfair Competition” in the form of the distribution of the false information, by means of informing the unspecified number of persons the false, incomplete, inaccurate data about the tariffing of the outgoing calls, which can influence the intentions of these persons to purchase the services of the LLC “Lifecell”.
Moreover, the AMCU within two months since the day of the decision receiving made the company to inform the consumers and subscribers regarding the tariffing of the outgoing calls within the term, provided by the legislation, in the precise manner and procedure that does not mislead the consumers and subscribers of the telecommunication services.