Success Cases: Mobile Phone Operators Reimbursing Service Flat Rate

Mobile phone providers started charging service charges for the first time in 2011. 25 and 35 euros charged once a year; This fee has been criticized for some time. It was not clear what the flat rate was charged for, and it was often said that it consisted of services that were rarely or not used.

Six customers have sued A1 and Magenta and won. One case is already final, while the others are still awaiting appeals, according to newspapers. Attorney Matthias Strohmeyer, a trusted advocate of the Consumer Information Association (VKI), told the “Tiroler Tageszeitung” that he was responsible for a total of 1,000 cases. So expect more judgments.

The representation process is still ongoing

The “Curier” writes that a ruling says the flat rate is “grossly adverse and void.” According to Strohmeyer, customers have the right to a refund within 14 days — and that also applies to past payments and expired contracts. In more than 250 cases, A1, Magenta and mobile operator Drei were able to avoid judgments by paying back the flat rate, Strohmeyer continued.

The problem will only get bigger in the future and could mean millions in refunds for mobile phone users: the Chamber of Labor (AK) filed a collective action in January. Judgments are still pending. According to AK, there is no relevant consideration for flat rate. If the cases are successful, the mobile phone providers could have to pay up to 500 million euros in restitution.

The decision sparked a debate about fitness studios

“If services are listed, these are services that are not often or never used, or that really don’t make any effort,” Gabriele Zgubic, head of consumer policy at AK Vienna, told Ö1 at the time.

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The debate over the flat-rate service charge sparked a comparable charge for fitness studios, which the Supreme Court struck down two years ago. In January, mobile phone operators said it could not be compared – but VKI lawyer Strohmeier sees the rulings as confirmation that the OGH decision applies to the mobile phone industry as well.

Price advantages don’t always trickle down to customers

Three major mobile operators have now moved away from flat-rate service charges. However, this only applies to new contracts that will otherwise be charged, at least for now. Although customers believe they will get back what they paid for, in practice this does not always mean savings.

Because as the Chamber of Labor wrote in March, the cheapest mobile phone rates are significantly higher than the cheapest rates since 2020. Meanwhile, the Tarife.at price comparison portal provided ORF.at with data showing exactly the impact of the abolition on the total monthly expenses: as managing director Maximilian Schirmer explained, Magenta increased the average price for tariffs by the volume of the service. fee. For the A1 and Drei, costs have come down a bit – at least so far.

A1 discounter Pop also cut prices, and A1’s partner provider, Red Bull Mobile, added a flat rate to the price. Provider MTEL, part of Telecom Serbia, also raised its prices significantly. Schirmer pointed out that the situation has become more transparent to customers as a whole and that Magenta has already announced in advance that it will add a flat rate to the tariff.

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