Following the investigation launched by the Italy’s Antitrust watchdog last November, Wind and Vodafone, two of the biggest Italian telephone services suppliers have been fined 800.000 euros each for geographical discrimination regarding conditions of payment.
The issue was raised by ECC Italy that had reported to the authority the complaint of a Belgian consumer who was not allowed to pay the bill for the services by direct debit because his bank is based in another EU country and, as a consequence, his IBAN does not include the Italian country code (IT).
Findings from this investigation confirmed that consumers holding a bank account located in another EU are not able to pay by direct debit whenever their bank is not Italian and such a practice is quite common amongst the Italian telephone services providers. The behaviour of Wind and Vodafone, according the ICA’s statement, prevents from reaching the goal set by the EU Regulation n.260/2012, namely the creation of an integrated market for electronic payments in euro, with no distinction between national and cross-border payments for a proper functioning of the internal market.
Notably, the practice adopted by the telephone operators breaks art. 9 of the EU Regulation according to which: “A payee accepting a credit transfer or using a direct debit to collect funds from a payer holding a payment account located within the Union shall not specify the Member State in which that payment account is to be located”.