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Competition supervision proceeding initiated against the online dating site be2

The Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH – the Hungarian Competition Authority) initiated a competition supervision proceeding against be2 S.à.r.l. (be2), which offers an online dating service, for a suspected infringement of the prohibition of unfair commercial practices.

After the so-called ICPEN Sweep at the beginning of 2018, the GVH indicated that it wishes to place greater emphasis on the examination of online dating sites’ commercial practices. The necessity of this endeavour was supported by market signals coming to the attention of the GVH in relation to the behaviour of be2. On this basis, the GVH decided to initiate a competition supervision proceeding in order to investigate several aspects of the behaviour of b2e in relation to services offered on the website, which gave rise to the suspicion of the existence of unfair commercial practices against consumers.

The GVH, among others, investigates

  • whether be2 does in fact provide the services offered on its website free of charge or whether members only have restricted access to these services for free;

  • whether the average consumer is reasonably likely to notice the information relating to the automatic extension of the premium subscription and the applicable fee during the extended period;

  • the manner in which the concerned undertaking employs anonymous or pseudonym profiles which are created by the undertaking itself and which do not belong to real users, and whether it appropriately informs consumers about the employment of this practice;

  • whether it provides accurate information about the number of users of its service;
  • whether information necessary to enable a realistic evaluation of its service is provided on its website – through the publication in an understandable manner of its General Terms and Conditions (GTCs) – thereby enabling consumers to make an informed decision;

  • whether its communication employed in relation to the termination of the contract for the use of the service results in an unfair commercial practice due to the fact that

−     while the use of the service is possible after only a few clicks, the termination must conform to formal requirements (e.g. the consumer may only terminate the contract in a valid way by sending by post or via fax a declaration to an address abroad);

− the contradictory commercial communication relating to the deadline for termination imposes an unreasonable burden on the consumer as regards to the search for information;

− the display of the possible alternative choices is uneven (e.g. the option for deleting the user’s profile is displayed separately from other options, in a different location).

The initiation of the competition supervision proceeding does not mean that the undertaking in question has actually committed an infringement. The proceeding seeks to clarify the facts and to prove that the presumed infringement has been committed. The GVH must conclude the proceeding within 3 months; however, this time limit can be extended two times by a maximum of 2 months, respectively, depending on the complexity of the case.

The information made available earlier by the GVH on the dangers of online dating services may be accessed on the Authority’s website here (the page is only available in Hungarian). Further notices of the GVH’s campaign entitled “Think Through Calmly” are available (in Hungarian only) under the Think Through Calmly menu.

Case Number: Vj/19/2018.

Budapest, 16 July 2018

 Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:
Phone: (+36-1) 472-8851

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The GVH strongly intervenes on behalf of protected witnesses

In its final order imposing a procedural fine, the Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter GVH) made it explicitly clear that it strongly supports the institution of protected witness, which facilitates the uncovering of facts and thereby serves the public interest.

By its final decision in a recently closed competition supervision procedure, the GVH imposed a procedural fine on a legal representative who summoned a protected witness at a public hearing of a case and disclosed the name of the witness in documents that the legal representative considered non-confidential. As a result of this conduct of the legal representative, the personally identifiable data of the protected witness was made available to the public.

If a witness can demonstrate that his/her contribution to a procedure is likely to expose him/her to serious adverse consequences, the witness may reasonably request that his/her personally identifiable data are handled in a confidential manner. The view of the GVH­­, ­which has been affirmed by the final decision of the court, made it explicitly clear that the conduct of an individual must not reveal the identity of a protected witness, as to do so would jeopardise the public interest related to witness proceedings.

Consequently, a protected witness requesting the confidential handling of his/her personally identifiable data, is subject to special protection in the course of competition supervision proceedings. In such a case, the GVH handles the data of the protected witness separately from the rest of the documents relating to the proceeding; at the same time it orders that these data must not be disclosed to individuals except the case handler dealing with the case, the acting public service officer, the appropriate member of the proceeding Competition Council, the President and Vice President of the GVH, and other persons entitled to handle or know these data in a manner and scope defined by law. In order to grant the right of access to documents to customers, the GVH makes an extract about the report on the hearing of the protected witness in a manner that does not disclose the witness’ identity.

The GVH will continue to strongly intervene on behalf of protected witnesses in order to ensure that such witnesses can continue to make statements without the fear of being publicly identified.

Budapest, 13 July 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:
Phone: (+36-1) 472-8851

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Reduction of fine of more than 60 % was granted to an SME as a result of its compliance actions and cooperative efforts

The fine notices of The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter GVH) applicable from 1 January 2018 provide for significant reductions of the amounts of the fines imposed on undertakings which acknowledge their infringement, carry out proactive reparation or prepare a leniency programme plan. In the course of a competition supervision procedure where the GVH investigated the promotion of a food supplement known as ‘CalcioTrio’, the GVH granted the concerned undertaking a significant reduction of the fine to be imposed as a result of its acknowledgement of the infringement and compliance efforts.

In its final decision the GVH held that the statements included in the promotional campaign of CalcioTrio, which promised that the food supplement would be effectively absorped and claimed that the product held a leading market position resulting in it being ‘the favourite product of women over 40’, were deceptive.

Due to the fact that the undertaking had infringed the applicable EU law relating to the provision of information concerning food products, the Competition Act did not enable the GVH to issue a warning to Innovelle Pharma Kft, the undertaking responsible for distributing the product.However, having regard to

  • the nature of the infringing conduct;
  • the fact that no previous competition supervision procedures had been launched against the distributor;

  • the fact that the undertaking acknowledged its failures and immediately modified its communication;

  • that it additionally took measures which demonstrated its serious, significant commitment to recifying the infringing conduct (it modified its contracting practice, and also drew its partners’ attention to  what is considered as desirable behaviour);

the GVH, in order to prevent future infringements, without imposing a fine, obliged the undertaking to create a comprehensive leniency programme and to disclose a remedial notice.

The authority also found it unlawful that it had not been indicated in any of the five articles published in ‘Patika’ magazine that the publisher had received remuneration for publishing the articles. According to the established case-law relating to advertisements cloaked as editorial content, both the advertiser and publisher are equally responsible and therefore the GVH imposed a fine on GALENUS Gyógyszerészeti Lap- és Könyvkiadó Kft., which publishes the magazine.

As a competition supervision procedure had already been initiated and concluded against the above-mentioned publisher, a warning was also unable to be issued againstit. However, according to the new fine notice of the GVH, the GVH has taken into account the corrective measures of the undertaking, namely:

  •  the remedial notice published before the decision was taken;
  • the modification of its model contracts and job description;
  • the acknowledgement of the infringement;
  • furthermore the commitment to work out a compliance programme

As a result the fine imposed on the undertaking was less than one third of the initial amount.

Number of the case: VJ/64/2016.

Budapest, 12 July 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:
Phone: (+36-1) 472-8851

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The competition supervision procedure against Airbnb has been closed with the acceptance of commitments

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter  GVH) accepted the commitments of Airbnb Ireland, private unlimited company (hereinafter Airbnb), which operates an online marketplace for renting and booking travel accommodation. According to the commitments undertaken in the proceeding, the company has to modify the information that it provides to consumers relating to its fares. As a result of the commitments undertaken by Airbnb, the GVH did not establish an infringement and therefore no fines were imposed.

The GVH launched a procedure against Airbnb in October 2016, on the presumption that the information provided by Airbnb in connection with its fares and costs was misleading to consumers.

The GVH may terminate a competition supervision proceeding without establishing that an infringement has been committed based on the voluntary commitments made by an undertaking. In the present case, the GVH required Airbnb on several occasions to amend and complete the commitments it had provided, in order for the given commitments to be deemed by the GVH as being sufficient to bring the undertaking’s behaviour into line with the relevant legal provisions, thereby enabling the public interest to be protected.

Airbnb undertook, among others, that on its Hungarian websites

  • consumers would be provided with (after stating their date of travel) the total price, including all the charges (eg. cleaning  charge, and the price to be paid for each additional guest), on all electronic devices (desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone);

  •  consumers would receive, when searching for accommodation without providing the exact date, a warning message highlighting the fact that the shown final price, which may increase as a result of tourist taxes, will only be provided once the exact date and number of guests are stipulated.

Furthermore, the submitted commitments also require the undertaking to bring to an end the differences resulting from the application of a conversion fee and the use of rounding.

As a result of the information that must now be provided to consumers on the basis of the accepted commitments, consumers searching for accommodation will now receive additional information and also more accurate information relating to prices, with the result that they will be able to make more conscious decisions.

Airbnb is obliged to implement the steps prescribed within 120 days of receipt of the decision and to prove its implementation to the GVH. Compliance with the commitments will be checked within the framework of a post-investigation by the GVH.

Number of the case: VJ/89/2016

Budapest, 19 June 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority


Information for the press:

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:
Phone: (+36-1) 472-8851

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The GVH terminated its cartel proceeding on the market of household paper products

The Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH – the Hungarian Competition Authority) terminated its proceeding initiated against AUCHAN Magyarország Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft., DM-Drogerie Markt Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft., METRO Kereskedelmi Kft., ROSSMANN Magyarország Kereskedelmi Kft., ESSITY HUNGARY Kereskedelmi Kft., SPAR Magyarország Kereskedelmi Kft., TESCO-GLOBAL Áruházak Zrt. and VAJDA-PAPÍR Gyártó Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft.

The GVH investigated whether the manufacturers which were parties to the proceeding, namely ESSITY HUNGARY Kereskedelmi Kft. and VAJDA-PAPÍR Gyártó Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft., had engaged in a concerted practice to raise prices, agreeing on the extent and timing of these increases, in relation to a number of their paper products (e.g. paper tissues, toilet papers); furthermore, it investigated whether they had also shared with each other any other kind of sensitive business information. The evidence uncovered in the course of the proceeding did not support the presumption that the manufacturers had been engaged in unlawful discussions – which went beyond the scope of their existing legitimate business relations – during their meetings.

The investigation of the GVH also sought to ascertain whether the manufacturers mentioned above had been engaged in co-ordinations aimed at concerting their pricing or other activities resulting in concerted prices with their trading partners.

Based on the evidence uncovered during the proceeding, however, it could not be proven that the investigated retailers had concerted their behaviour by using the manufacturers as communication channels or mediators.

The facts supporting the suspected infringement could not be ascertained in a way that was substantive enough to result in a resolution; consequently, given that the continuation of the investigation was unlikely to bring further results, the Competition Council terminated the proceeding in respect of all parties.

 Case number: Vj/22/2015.

 Budapest, 28 May 2018

Gazdasági Versenyhivatal

Information for the press:

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851

Printable version in PDF



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