Cyfrowy Polsat S.A., digital TV operator, and PZU S.A., Poland's largest insurance company, have been recently fined nearly PLN 1 million (c €250,000) and PLN 15 million (c €3.7 m), respectively, by the Competition Authority (UOKiK) for practices infringing collective consumer interests.

Cyfrowy Polsat is also obliged to run an announcement of the decision in a daily newspaper and to publish the decision on its website for six months.

The fine was imposed for unlawful use of a clause in Cyfrowy Polsat's provision of services regulations stating that, in the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond its control, it may change or remove the number and type of channels in programme packages without customers having a right of withdrawal. An identical clause can be found in the abusive clauses register, making its use unlawful.

During the second investigation, UOKiK examined PZU's terms and conditions for motor, property, travel and personal accident insurance.

UOKIK found several clauses that infringed consumers' interests either because they appeared in the prohibited clauses register or because they breached insurance law. These included clauses:

  • allowing PZU to reimburse the cost of repairing a vehicle excluding VAT
  • stating that motor insurance would not cover vehicles brought into the EU if the consumer included any untrue information on their customs form or other document, without specifying the particular types of information to which this applied
  • specifying that consumers would only be entitled to refunds proportionate to the unused term of insurance protection and the unused sum insured and not the unused term of the insurance agreement only
    Any business infringing collective consumer interests, including using a prohibited clause, may be fined up to 10% of their turnover for the previous year. In the first case the fine amounted to 0.09% of the 2008 Cyfrowy Polsat's turnover, in the second – 0.18% of the 2008 PZU's 2008 turnover.

Both decisions are not final. The companies have a right of appeal to the Court for Competition and Consumer Protection.

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The original publication date for this article was 20/01/2010.