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The Hungarian Competition Authority screened GTCs of online dating services

The Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) screened the General Terms and Conditions (GTC) of seven popular online dating services in the framework of a global collaboration project between February 7-8, 2018  

In the framework of Sweep Day initiated and coordinated by ICPEN, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, an umbrella organization of 58 countries’ consumer protection authorities, the participant members investigated the target sectors according to harmonized criteria. The members browsed and searched the Internet in order to unveil misleading or deceptive practices of the web based services.

Through the widescope sweep entitled „Contract terms in digital economy” the GVH screened the General Terms and Conditions of online dating services available on PC, Android- and iOS tools, basically investigating whether the content of GTCs allow the consumer to make informed transactional decisions.

Highlighting the outstanding popularity and widescale use of online dating sites, the GVH warns that the practices of online dating services’ consumer information must meet criteria of fair information providing. It is essential that all basic conditions and circumstances, such as the exact content of services, the service fees, the cases that prompt a change in service fees, the methods of entering and terminating a service contract must be communicated in a clear, transparent and accurate manner to the consumer.

Accordingly, the online dating services shall provide that

  • the cancellation of services is not made technically more complicated than the simple, few-click subscription process;

  • GTCs must be available in Hungarian language;
  • the wording of informative and legal documents such as GTCs is not lengthy and unstructured, without any guiding highlights of essential conditions and interrupted with cross-references - to enhance clarity, comprehensibility and transparency of information;

  • no significant circumstances and conditions necessary for service use are hidden, unavailable or covertly published.

The users of online dating services can make more informed decisions and enjoy the services without unpleasant surprise if

  • they review the integrity and reliability of the selected service website (i.e. users should check if relevant data about the service provides appear on the website: is it an existing company or not; users should also check out user opinions, blogs, feedback about the online dating site – to make sure that the selected dating site lists existing profiles and users are satisfied with the services provided;

  • they devote time to read service conditions in the GTC that can be relevant for their own use, e.g. conditions on membership and related fees;

  • they contact the service provider’s customer service regarding questions on the GTC;

  • they changed their minds following registration and decided to cancel the services within the 14 days deadline;

  • they pay attention whether the contract is temporary or for indefinite duration, and whether a temporary contract is automatically renewed;

  • they check possibilities for contract cancellation prior to registration – it is practical to set up a phone or notepad reminder about the date of cancellation of renewal, to prevent unwanted service renewals;

  • they generate a separate email address for the use of dating sites;
  • hey store correspondence that is related to the cancellation of contract with the Service Provider, or save correspondence by means of print screens

The ICPEN Sweep provides greater insight for the GVH into practices typical in the online dating sector – if needed, such insight can ground the initiation of future competition surveillance procedures.

The ICPEN website provides detailed information on the Sweep Day – a comprehensive analysis of participating members’ reports will be published in the first half of 2018.

Budapest, 14 February 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The key to successful and more efficient competition law enforcement is the close collaboration of the V4+ countries’ Competition Authorities

The Authorities of the Visegrad Group countries, and also of Austria and Slovenia, often face similar questions in the course of their enforcement activities; whether it relates to the efficiency of their cartel detection activities and the legal toolkits at their disposal, or merger control and ensuring the right of due process. The close collaboration of the regional competition authorities may result in solutions being found to the above-mentioned questions. The representatives of the V4+ countries’ Competition Authorities – on the initiative of the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) – met for the second time at a competition conference held in Budapest during the Hungarian presidency of the Visegrad Group.

The representatives of the 6 countries (Austria, Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia) attending the 2nd Visegrad 4+ Competition Conference attempted to respond to common and current questions pertinent to the region. The conference was organised along the following themes: legislation and enforcement questions, cases in the retail trade, and the practice of the compliance programmes.

Miklós Juhász, President of the GVH, explicitly welcomed the benefits of the regional cooperation, emphasising: “We can learn a lot from each other, if we follow the developments of the V4+ countries’ competition law, which the Authorities encounter in their everyday work.”. Mr. Juhász stated that the existence and work of the Competition Authorities are unquestionable, due to the significant benefits they bring to society. The GVH quantifies the benefits of its activities every two years. The last assessment revealed that the budgetary spending on the GVH pays off, since in the period of 2011-16, consumers saved a sum that is more than six times the total budget of the GVH due to the work of the authority. He added that the GVH has taken a number of steps in order to promote the compliance of SMEs in the last 4 years, since the date of the last V4 conference.

Maintaining and increasing competitiveness is of crucial importance in Central Europe. Competition authorities have an important role in safeguarding competitiveness by blocking unfair market practices – Levente Magyar, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, pointed out in his opening speech. He emphasised that the 25 years of Visegrad cooperation has brought concrete results in the region, also in the field of competition law enforcement.

Paul Csiszar, Director, Directorate-General Competition of the European Commission, began his introduction by stating: “Effective competition law enforcement by our NCAs based on sound and fair policy considerations is essential for building strong social market economies in our region.  Such enforcement enhances economic growth, creates a level playing field for businesses including SMEs, and it leads to better prices, quality and choice to consumers.” He further added: “Today’s conference clearly contributes – by sharing the representatives’ experiences – to successful and more efficient competition law enforcement.

The members of the session on developments in the legislation and the competition law enforcement in the V4+ countries, which was moderated by András Tóth, Vice-President of the GVH, Chair of the Competition Council of the GVH, agreed that a number of similarities exist in the field of competition law in the V4 countries and Austria and Slovenia, which may lay the foundation for enhanced cooperation between the countries. Noted examples were the efforts taken to promote compliance with the rules relating to concentrations, and the introduction and operation of informant programmes aimed at facilitating the detection of cartels.

The session on the questions of compliance summarised the common characteristics of compliance programmes acceptable by the competition authorities in general, primarily from the perspective of the undertakings. Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi, Lawyer, President of the Hungarian Competition Association, who moderated the conversation, stressed that the GVH was the first competition authority in the region to make it possible for undertakings under investigation to obtain a fine reduction if they had an internal compliance programme. According to the notice published in January 2018, the GVH may reduce a fine by 10% if an undertaking has an internal compliance programme.

The presentations of the 2nd V4+ Competition Conference will be available on Tuesday (6 February) on the website of the GVH.

Budapest, 05 February 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu

http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The GVH held unannounced inspections at the premises of Telekom and Telenor

The Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH – Hungarian the Competition Authority) initiated a proceeding to investigate the cooperation of Magyar Telekom Nyrt. (Telekom) and Telenor Magyarország Zrt. (Telenor) which affects their networks and frequencies that are necessary for them to provide broad-band services. In the framework of this proceeding the GVH held unannounced onsite inspections at the premises of the two undertakings.

According to the suspicion of the GVH, Telekom and Telenor are suspected of coordinating their behaviours in respect of tenders published by the Nemzeti Média és Hírközlési Hatóság (National Media and Communications Authority) in 2014, in order to obtain rights to use frequencies that are necessary to provide broad-band services. It is presumed that the agreement may have been aimed at sharing the relevant market in advance and at coordinating the bids of the undertakings with the purpose of fulfilling the tender’s conditions. These practices may have violated provisions of the Hungarian Competition Act and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibit agreements restricting competition.

The case initiation is motivated by the protection of the public interest, taking into account the role of undertakings in the market, the nature of the service provided by them, the significant number of subscribers potentially affected by the conduct and the gravity of the alleged infringement.

The GVH is legally empowered to hold unannounced onsite inspections based on the provisions contained in the Hungarian Competition Act. These provisions require the GVH to obtain prior judicial approval before holding the inspections.

The initiation of the competition supervision proceeding does not mean that the undertakings in question have actually committed an infringement. The proceeding seeks to clarify the facts and to prove that the presumed infringement has been committed. According to the Act these proceedings must be closed within 6 months, however, this time limit can be extended two times by a further 6 months, depending on the complexity of the case.

Case number: Vj/1/2018.

Budapest, 25 January 2018.

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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According to the GVH’s new Notices on Fines significant advantages can be gained from cooperating with the authority

The Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH - Hungarian Competition Authority) incentivises undertakings to remedy the harm caused to consumers as a result of competition law infringements and to operate compliance programmes by reducing the fines imposed upon them.

Undertakings infringing competition and consumer protection rules falling within the competence of the GVH may face significant fines, which may even amount to 10% of their net turnover in the previous year. The principles and methods of setting fines are laid down in the GVH’s Notices on Fines. In the new Notices on Fines issued in December 2017 the GVH has further broadened the range of circumstances that may result in fines being significantly reduced and even eliminated entirely for undertakings cooperating in competition supervision procedures.

In the framework of the above-mentioned - in addition to the benefits that can be derived from the leniency programme and settlement procedure, which were introduced a number of years ago in cartel and dominant position cases - those undertakings which take action to remedy (either partially or entirely) the negative effects stemming from their infringements, in particular as regards to the compensation of consumers, can expect substantial reductions in the amounts of the fines imposed on them. In such situations, the amount spent to entirely compensate consumers can be deducted from the amount of the fine that would have otherwise been imposed. The amount spent to partially compensate consumers can result in the reduction of the fine, as was the case recently with Vodafone when the undertaking was able to have its fine reduced by almost half, to 200 million HUF, - among other things- by offering to compensate consumers.

The GVH also incentivises undertakings to introduce compliance programmes by offering fine reductions for them. In the course of consumer protection cases it is possible for a fine to be completely eliminated if an undertaking has sought a legal opinion before launching its advertising campaign. In the course of cases concerning cartels and abuses of dominant position the GVH may grant a 7-10% fine reduction to any undertaking that terminates its participation in an infringement as a result of a compliance programme, or to any undertaking that has agreed to provide evidence to the GVH in any possible subsequent proceeding. Depending on the particular case in question, the GVH also encourages undertakings to take compliance programmes in its proceedings by granting a fine reduction of between 5-20%. The GVH remunerates the admission of infringements and the provision of evidence by reducing fines, to a degree of even 20-30% in consumer protection cases.

When preparing the new notices the GVH relied extensively on the opinion of the domestic and international professional audience.

Budapest, 9 January 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The GVH’s tips on the Public Procurement Authority’s “Daily public procurement” mobile application

The promotion of fair competition in public procurement procedures is considered a public interest. Consequently, repulsing public procurement cartels is a primary goal of both the Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH - Hungarian Competition Authority) and the Közbeszerzési Hatóság (KH - Public Procurement Authority). Currently, the GVH raises the awareness of potential tenderers and awarding contracting authorities of the risks of cartels and provides guidance on how such cartels should be dealt with via its daily tips”, which are available on the Daily public procurement” application of the KH.

The “Daily public procurement” application is the KH’s news channel, which provides daily updates for those who are interested in public procurement. Since its launch on 9 May 2017 more than 4000 users have downloaded the application, which can be downloaded free of charge both on Android and iOS devices.

In the “Daily-tip” menu point the GVH will be providing tips on a weekly basis for the next year. The short pieces of practical advice for contracting authorities and tenderers will be based on the two descriptive booklets of the GVH, which are also available in the menu point of “Daily good practice”. A push notification message is sent to the subscribers of the Daily-tip heading when a new tip is published.

The first tip of the GVH also conveys the basic message of the whole series:

Tip for contracting authorities: Public procurement cartels are also harmful to you!

Public procurement cartels increase the prices of the projects to be carried out and worsen the quality of them. In the absence of a cartel you can get more and better quality for the same amount of money.

Fight against the cartels!

For further details, see the brochure entitled “Public procurement suspected of cartel activities?’’ issued by the competition authority for contracting authorities.

The above-mentioned descriptive booklet entitled “Public procurement suspected of cartel activities?” helps the contracting authorities to recognise cartels and to support the GVH's investigations, as well assists awarding contracting authorities to create an unfavourable tendering environment for cartels. The- How to stay clean?” titled booklet helps small and medium sized tendering enterprises to avoid engaging in cartel behaviour in public procurements.

The mentioned booklets and tips of the GVH are aimed at developing competition culture in connection with cartels. The GVH launched a communication campaign against cartels with the slogan It cannot be kept secret”in 2015 and also created a microsite to enhance the education’s efficiency. As part of this campaign it also introduced an innovative contact option, known as the CartelChat.

Making the GVH tips and two of its booklets available on the KH’s mobile phone application is one of the forward-looking examples of cooperation between the two authorities. The KH also wants to provide other authorities with an opportunity to publish valuable content through its “Daily public procurement” news channel supporting the public procurement profession, however, it must be emphasised that this opportunity can only be taken advantage of after prior agreement has been obtained from the KH.

Budapest, 3 January 2018

The Hungarian Competition Authority

The Public Procurement Authority

Andrea BASA, Spokesperson

dr.Barcsa Tímea, Head of the Cabinet Office

H-1054 Budapest, Alkotmány u. 5.

1026 Budapest, Riadó u. 5.

(+36-1) 472-8902, +3630 618-6618

(+36-1) 882-8501, +3630 944-3847

,

barcsa.timea

www.gvh.hu

www.kozbeszerzes.hu

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