The President of UKE imposed a fine of PLN 1.5 million on Telekomunikacja Novum S.A. for requiring subscribers to pay inflated and unsubstantiated penalties for early termination of the agreement.
The decision of the President of UKE of 31 October 2012 on the fine was issued in connection with the complaints of subscribers about the activity of Telekomunikacja Novum. During the proceedings, the President of UKE requested the Company to provide the rules and model agreements for the provision of services as well as price lists of services for customers. In addition, UKE also requested the presentation of procedures for employees or representatives of Telekomunikacja Novum, which determine the mode and manner of presenting offers to customers to encourage them to switch to Telekomunikacja Novum (i.e. use of the service provided by Telekomunikacja Novum by a subscriber using the telephone network of another operator, such as the network of Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. or Netia S.A.).
The analysis of the mediation proceedings and an inspection at the Company conducted by UKE showed an infringement of the Telecommunications Act associated with two types of penalties incorrectly charged by Telekomunikacja Novum. The violation in the case of the first type of penalty consisted in an incorrect reduction of the amount of the penalty compared to the time that has elapsed since the date of signing the agreement until its termination, while in the case of the second type of penalty it consisted in claiming for payment of penalties not associated with the benefit granted.
Art. 57(6) of the Telecommunications Act provides that in the event of conclusion of an agreement for the provision of telecommunications services, including connection to the public telecommunications network associated with a benefit granted to the subscriber, the amount of claims for unilateral termination of the agreement by the subscriber or by the service provider at the subscriber's fault before the expiry of the term of the agreement must not exceed the value of the benefit granted to the subscriber decreased in proportion to its value for the period from the date of the agreement until its termination.
During the proceedings the President of UKE compared the amounts of claims contained in the notes issued to subscribers by Telekomunikacja Novum with the value of benefits at the moment of termination. The results of the comparison show that the Company improperly calculated its claims for early termination by overstating their value as well as made claims for early termination of the agreement associated with benefits that actually had not been granted to the subscriber.
Referring to the second type of violation, i.e. making unjust claims against the subscribers, it is necessary to indicate that claims in respect of early termination of the agreement arise only when the subscriber was granted a benefit. Telekomunikacja Novum confirmed that it had made unsubstantiated claims against about 9,000 subscribers (i.e. nearly 5% of the Company's subscribers). The irregularities involved the period from May 2011 until the end of January 2012, and consisted in an erroneous calculation of a charge for the benefit associated with the activation of the service prior to its activation at the subscriber's place. As a result of these practices Telekomunikacja Novum made unjust claims for undue penalties for a total amount of about PLN 2.25 million against subscribers in relation to whom the Company had not started to provide services.