Italy’s competition regulator fined Wind Tre, Telecom Italia and Vodafone Italia a combined sum of €3.2 million for violating the country’s consumer code when demanding payment from customers.
In a statement, regulator Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) said the three operators had been found guilty of “aggressive conduct” when sending payment reminders to customers deemed to be in arrears.
Authorities said all three operators threatened to add the names of late-payers to a national register of “intentional delinquent” consumers in payment reminder letters, when the customers in question did not meet the criteria for the sanction.
Among those targeted were subscribers which AGCM said could have contested the validity of the sums being demanded.
The register of non-paying customers, it added, was not yet up-and-running, but inclusion on the document would make getting credit from another operator unlikely.
In a translated statement, AGCM said the operators: “Induced the recipients to believe that regardless of the validity of their debt position it would be preferable to quickly pay the amount requested in order to avoid entry in the database, with the possible consequence of not being able to conclude contracts with any telephone operator.”