The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, GVH) has extended its competition supervision proceeding against be2, to the market practices of academicsingles.hu site, which is also operated by be2.
The GVH initiated competition supervision proceedings against be2 S.à.r.l.-al (be2) in July 2018. The GVH is investigating several aspects of the behaviour of be2 in relation to services offered on the website www.be2.hu, which have given rise to the suspicion of the existence of unfair commercial practices against consumers.
Based on market indications, the GVH is now also investigating whether the operation of the online dating site www.academicsingles.hu, which is operated by be2, constitutes unfair commercial practices.
The GVH, among others, is investigating
- whether the website 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 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 a declaration of termination by post or via fax 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 need to search for this 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.
The press release related to the international Sweep Day initiated and coordinated by the ICPEN at the beginning of 2018, under the framework of which the GVH screened the General Terms and Conditions of online dating services, can be accessed here.
Case number: Vj/19/2018.
Budapest, 11 December 2018
Hungarian Competition Authority