Consumer watchdog DECO is trying to force telecommunications operators Altice/MEO, NOS and Nowo, to repay €60 million “illegally charged due to a price alteration in 2016”.
The bid, marking World Consumer Rights Day, has been taken out in the interests of all clients affected, even those who have not complained.
DECO’s action entered Lisbon’s civil courts yesterday, with legal representative Paulo Fonseca explaining that the organisation has been trying for a year to get the three telecommunications operators to “respect the rights of consumers”.
The issue goes back to the summer of 2016 when all three networks announced price increases in August without giving their clients the statutory 30-day period to decide whether or not they would take their business elsewhere.
At the time, DECO received “thousands of requests of help by consumers affected”, and actively set out to redress what had happened.
But in spite of pressing 1,500 cases, not one saw any kind of financial restitution.
Say reports, DECO tried last year to denounce the situation to regulating authority ANACOM, which eight months later “imposed corrective measures” on the operators, but stopped short at obliging them to effect refunds.
DECO claims ANACOM’s response was “below expectations” and has thus taken out what is termed a “popular action” – meaning a civil case in the public interest.
Said Fonseca, the €60 million is a “conservative estimate” of the amount of money that should be repaid to customers.
Indeed, he has told journalists he “believes the final amount could exceed €60 million”.
So far, there has been no response from any of the three network providers.