The Italian Almanac

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Mobile Operators Fined

Mobile operators Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) and Vodafone have each been slapped with a 500-million-euro fine for improperly raising their rates. Italy`s antitrust authority took the action after determining that the two operators did not properly inform their clients on the details of rate plan changes, which cost clients between 49 euros to 83 euros a year and in some cases hiked the cost of single calls by 100%. The two operators were also cited for a lack of transparency in regard to transferring a number from one operator to another and the reimbursement of eventual credit.

TIM and Vodafone changed their rate plans last summer and informed their clients by SMS rather than by written letter with full details on the changes and costs involved. According to the antitrust authority the text messages which were sent were both misleading and confusing, as well as incomplete. Consumer groups said the action taken against the phone operators confirmed the need to enact a law on class action suits, which was passed by parliament but postponed by government decree.

The fine, the groups observed, punished the operators for their misconduct but will not result in any reimbursements or compensation for customers.