Agcom imposes €1.16 million fine on TIM, Vodafone, Wind Tre and FastWeb
Agcom, the Italian telecoms regulator, has said it will fine operators TIM (Telecom Italia), Vodafone, Wind Tre and FastWeb the maximum sanction of €1.16 million each, over 28-day bills.
The decision comes as Italy’s ruling democratic party banned the use of 28-day bills, as the calculation of fixed line invoices on the basis of a 28-day period, overcharges customers and effectively results in a 13th monthly bill every year.
The ban came into effect in October, at which time operators were given 120 days to adapt to the new rules and return to issuing monthly bills.
In addition to the individual €1.16 million fines, the operators will also have to pay compensation of no less than €50 to each user who has been affected by the illegal billing practice.
In the statement shared on Twitter, Agcom said that the authority has issued specific guidelines regarding the supervision of the implementation of the fines. According to la Reppublica, the guidelines, explain to operators how to correctly interpret the obligation to make a "monthly" rate, as indicated by the last Budget Law. It goes on to explains that the obligation to respect the solar month. In short, operators can not follow 30-day billing, as they intended to do. Which they tries to do to avoid the new obligation and thus increase the frequency of billing.
Telecompaper says that “a return to 30-day bills will result in average consumer savings of 6.4 percent a year” as indicated by price comparison site Sos Tariffe.
Additionally, the Communications regulator is not contesting the increase in prices, it says it opposes the lack of transparency from companies and the lack of awareness of customers, regarding the change billing.
Speaking to la Reppublica, Antonio Nicita, a member of Agcom, said: "It is not enough to communicate to people that something has changed in terms of payment. What counts is the effectiveness of communication in terms of understanding: the consumer - especially if they have signed a contract with automatic renewal - it tends to be absent-minded and lazy, and in a certain sense has the right to be so, precisely for this reason they must be informed in a very timely manner by companies, otherwise we are at the limit of deception. Our role as regulators? We want to keep the discussion going and inform families so that they can come back fully aware of the situation they are experiencing. And we are confident that Parliament will give us more effective and pointed tools to ensure this happens"
In related news, Agcom has been caught up in the recent controversy surrounding Vivendi and its controlling stake in TIM. Saying that “it was concerned that Vivendi was not only the dominant shareholder in TIM but also a 28.8% shareholder in Mediaset, Italy’s biggest broadcaster.