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Another competition supervision proceeding launched as a result of the Black Friday sales of an undertaking

In line with its Digital Consumer Protection Strategy the Hungarian Competition Authority aims to respond effectively to the challenges presented by new markets.  The GVH has initiated an investigation due to the latest Black Friday sales promotion activity on the eMAG webshop. It is alleged that this conduct infringed the prohibition of unfair commercial practices against consumers.

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal: hereinafter GVH) has initiated a competition supervision proceeding against the operator of the webshop, namely, S.C. Dante International S.A. It is alleged that the undertaking in question failed to adequately set and monitor the conditions, prices and discounts of its Black Friday sales promotion in november 2018. The GVH also suspects that the undertaking failed to stock the appropriate amount of goods necessary to meet the expected demand during the sales period. It is alleged that during the sales period the undertaking infringed the prohibition of unfair commercial practices against consumers due to its failure to meet the requirements of professional diligence.

According to the websites’ own estimates (only available in Hungarian), on the day of Black Friday the website of eMAG had 2.7 million unique visitors, with orders totalling HUF 6.8 billion. Consequently, the alleged distortion of consumer decision-making may have had wide-ranging negative implications for competitive processes.

The GVH has recently been paying special attention to unfair commercial practices concerning the digital and data-based economy, and within this framework it very closely monitors the content appearing on online market places and communication channels. The Digital Consumer Protection Strategy of the GVH is available on its website.

The initiation of the competition supervision proceeding does not mean that the undertaking in question has in fact committed the alleged infringement. The aim of the proceeding is to clarify the facts and to demonstrate the alleged infringement. The time frame for the proceeding is three months, which in justified cases may be extended twice by two months each time.

Case number: Vj/50/2018.

Budapest, 10 January 2019

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service

Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
E-mail:
http://www.gvh.hu

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Total fine of more than 100 million forints imposed on well drilling companies for participation in a cartel

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, GVH) imposed fines amounting to a total of 105 million forints (0.33 million EUR)  on four water welling companies for entering into an agreement aimed at restricting competition in public procurement procedures.

The GVH conducted competition supervision proceedings against Vikuv Vízkutató és Fúró Zrt., Aquazit Szolgáltató Kft., Drillingwater Kft. és a Geo-Sivo Építőipari, and Környezetvédelmi Tervező és Kivitelező Kft. The GVH established that the four companies had divided among themselves public procurement tenders relating to well drilling, restoration and utilisation in certain cities. In order to achieve this goal, the undertakings entered into an anti-competitive agreement with one another; furthermore, they co-ordinated their bids in advance and agreed on the winner of each tender.

Three of the concerned undertaking, namely Vikuv, Aquazit and Drillingwater, did not deny that the agreement had been concluded; however, they claimed that in practice Aquazit and Drillingwater belonged to the Vikuv group and that therefore their co-operation could not have infringed the prohibition against the restriction of competition. The GVH, after considering all of the arguments and evidence put forward by the companies, did not accept their standpoint, as the undertakings could not prove that Vikuv legally exercised full and permanent control over the two other undertaking. In its decision, the GVH’s therefore qualified the parties to the agreement as independent, colluding undertakings.

Furthermore, it was established that in relation to the procurement tender of Kengyel village, Vikuv, in addition to submitting its own bid, also prepared the bid of Geo-Sivo Kft, which it set at a higher level in order to ensure that the former would win the tender. Additionally, the third bidder, Aquazit, also submitted a higher, so-called supporting bid, in order to guarantee that Vikuv would win the bid.

Bid rigging is a very serious offence and in certain cases it may have criminal consequences. The GVH imposed the maximum fine possible under the provisions of the Hungarian Competition Act on all four undertakings.

Case number: Vj/111/2015.

19 December 2018, Budapest

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
E-mail:
http://www.gvh.hu

Printable version in PDF

Vodafone to refund several million forints to the subscribers of RED VitaMAX as a result of the GVH’s procedure

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, GVH) approved the commitments undertaken by Vodafone Magyarország Zrt. In accordance with the submitted commitments, Vodafone will reimburse the balances that were deleted due to a change of tariff to those subscribers who switched between 1 November 2012 and 1 May 2014 to RED VitaMAX tariffs from their previous tariff packages.

The GVH in its competition supervision proceeding investigated whether Vodafone had infringed the provisions of the Act on the Prohibition of Unfair Commercial Practices against Consumers through its advertisements promoting RED VitaMAX tariffs, as these advertisements did not make it clear that the 30-day balance usage period, which is much shorter than the average, applies not only to balances after a change of tariff but also to previously accumulated outstanding balances. The company undertook to refund the deleted outstanding balances to all of those customers who were disadvantaged by the above-mentioned rule, provided the balances of the customers exceeded the amount of HUF 100 and they are still subscribers of Vodafone.

The GVH – without establishing the existence or non-existence of an infringement – accepted the commitments of Vodafone, as it considered that through the fulfilment of these commitments the affected consumers could be fully compensated. The reimbursement of amounts less than HUF 100 was considered unessential due to the minor disadvantage that would be suffered and the administrative burden it would impose. Furthermore, the compensation of non-Vodafone subscribers – due to the difficulty to find the previous subscribers and their negligible number – was not sufficiently justified. As no infringement was established, the GVH did not impose a fine on the company.

Case number: Vj/15/2018.

18 December 2018, Budapest

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:

Phone:  (+36-1) 472-8851
E-mail:
http://www.gvh.hu

Printable version in PDF

GVH once again imposes a fine for the implementation of a concentration prior to authorisation

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter GVH) imposed a fine for the seventh time for the implementation of a concentration prior to authorisation by the GVH.

The background to the case concerns the notification of a transaction by ETS Efficient Technical Solutions GmbH in June 2018. On the basis of this notification the GVH determined that the acquisition of TGS Engineering Kft. by ETS Efficient Technical Solutions GmbH would not significantly reduce competition. The GVH acknowledged the transaction concerning the market of technical building services by issuing an official certificate.

However, when notifying the concentration the GVH became aware of the fact that ETS had gained acquisition of control rights before the GVH had delivered its decision, thereby infringing the provisions relating to the prohibition on the implementation of notifiable concentrations laid down in the Hungarian Competition Act. In such cases the GVH is entitled to impose a fine even if it determines that the concentration does not significantly reduce competition. In the present case, the GVH established the infringement during the competition supervision procedure and obliged the undertaking concerned to pay a fine of HUF 4.4 million (approx. EUR 13000).

The GVH seeks to handle concentration procedures in an efficient and timely manner. With this aim in mind, it has taken a number of measures over recent years: it has established a separate merger section and reduced procedural deadlines. Moreover, the GVH pays particular attention to detecting procedural infringements, as ensuring that undertakings comply with the prohibition of implementation prior to authorisation and that they submit complete and genuine of data, are indispensable conditions for the supervision of concentrations by the GVH. This is the seventh case in which the GVH has established such infringement and imposed a fine since the prohibition on implementation was introduced on 1 July 2014.

Number of the case: VJ/23/2018.

Budapest, 17 December 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority


Information for the press:
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service:

Phone:  (+36-1) 472-8851
E-mail:
http://www.gvh.hu

Printable version in PDF

The GVH recommends that consumers pay increased attention when purchasing tickets online

On the basis of received market indications, the Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter GVH) recommends that consumers pay greater attention when purchasing tickets online.

During the festive period there is a significant increase in the number of people who visit online ticket seller websites. It is a legal requirement for ticket seller websites to inform their visitors fully, and in a transparent manner, about the prices of the offered events and all of the additional costs that need to be payed besides the advertised price of each ticket.

According to the market indications received by the GVH, it is a very common occurrence that consumers ultimately end up paying a final price that is higher than the original advertised price. Consequently, in order to enable consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing tickets online, the GVH recommends that consumers pay enough time and attention during the purchasing process, in particular by fully and carefully reading the conditions of purchase related to possible additional charges and costs determining the final price.

At the same time, the GVH encourages undertakings engaged in online ticket selling activity to take advantage of the possibilities provided by technology and to strive to provide understandable, transparent and accurate information to consumers regarding the prices and contents of products and services offered by them.

The GVH noticed that the following circumstances may hinder the informed decision-making process of consumers:

  • The additional charges (administration fee, booking fee and value added tax) which have to be payed besides the published price are not indicated properly in advertisements and they can be barely noticed even during the ordering process (e.g. small print).

  • The websites display their terms only in English and do not provide the possibility of administration in Hungarian, despite the fact that Hungarian is among the languages that can be selected on the websites before the initiation of a purchase.

  • The existence and extent of additional expenses (e.g. transaction fee, comfort fee, ticketing fee, administrative costs) that may be charged for the same services under different names during the ticket purchasing process are not clear to consumers. Consumers sometimes only become aware of these expenses during the very last stage of the purchasing process.

  • On occasions certain important information can only be obtained by reading the General Contractual Conditions. However, the structure and wording of this document make it difficult for consumers to quickly and easily understand this information.

  • Certain websites require registration before the booking process can be initiated (e.g. name, e-mail address, phone number, billing data) even though such information is only necessary when an actual purchase is being made.

  • During the final stage of the booking process, before payment is made, consumers must accept the terms and conditions of purchase (e.g. general contractual terms, rules for data processing, information for consumers), by ticking a box. Consumers are presented with this information for the first time at this very final stage of the booking process and the available (20-25 minutes) timeframe for completing payment is not necessarily enough to enable consumers to review and understand the text, which also contains a lot of legal expressions.

Budapest, 14 December 2018

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
E-mail:
http://www.gvh.hu

Printable version in PDF

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The notification of a concentration can now also be filed electronically

Pursuant to Article 43/J (1) of the Hungarian Competition Act, the form for the notification of a concentration published on the website of the Hungarian Competition Authority (“Gazdasági Versenyhivatal” hereinafter: GV) may be submitted electronically.

A notification of a concentration can be filed electronically on the customised platform (Személyreszabott Ügyintézési Felület, SZÜF) of the governmental website using the electronic iForm application filing programme. In case of electronic submission the notification form shall be attached to the iForm application form.

The iForm programme can be accessed on SZÜF: HERE (available only in Hungarian)

The GVH emphasises that the size of the enclosed files in the iForm programme cannot exceed 20MB. If the attachment exceeds 20MB the notification of a concentration can only be filed in person or via postal services.

Further assistance concerning the electronic filing system can be downloaded in PDF format: HERE

Please note that this document is available on our webpage for information purposes only and the notification of a concentration can be submitted only in Hungarian (see here).


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