- Consumer champion and former Citizens Advice executive, Justin Gutmann is bringing the case against the UK’s four largest mobile phone network operators: Vodafone, EE, Three, and O2, and their respective parent companies.
- The £3bn plus claim alleges that the companies used their market dominance to overcharge on up to 28.2 million UK mobile phone contracts.
- The class action is the first to target the Major Network Operators’ practice of charging “loyalty penalties” – charging existing customers more than new customers for the same services.
LONDON, Dec. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Consumer rights champion Justin Gutmann and the law firm Charles Lyndon have today announced that class action proceedings have been launched against Vodafone, EE, Three, and O2 (the “Loyalty Penalty Claim”). The Loyalty Penalty Claim alleges the companies have been abusing their dominant positions in the UK mobile industry by charging a ‘loyalty penalty,’ in which long standing customers were overcharged for handsets beyond the end of their contractual term.
Mr Gutmann alleges the mobile operators have overcharged on up to 28.2 million contracts and, as a result, is seeking damages of at least £3.285 billion. If successful, someone who held a contract with just one of the mobile operators could receive as much as £1,823. Many consumers are expected to have claims against more than one mobile operator and so could receive even more compensation. The class actions have been filed in the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London, United Kingdom.
The Loyalty Penalty Claim is being brought on behalf of consumers who have purchased mobile contracts made up of a mobile phone and airtime services such as data, minutes and calls. When these contracts are agreed, their price during the minimum term of the contract includes both the mobile and the use of airtime services.
The Loyalty Penalty Claim alleges that the mobile network operators failed to reduce the amount charged once the minimum contractual term expired, despite the fact that consumers had already paid for their mobiles. This resulted in existing customers being charged more than a new customer would be if they were just paying for airtime services.
A typical example would be someone who agreed a two-year contract combined contract for a mobile phone and a SIM airtime services deal, paid off their mobile phone during the course of their contract, but then continued to be charged the same amount once the minimum contract term had expired, resulting in them paying far more than they would if they were a new customer on a SIM only deal.
Most customers of these mobile network operators who made payments after the expiry of their contractual minimum term are included in the Loyalty Penalty Claim, which is being conducted on an “opt-out” basis. This means that the claim is brought on behalf of a defined group of people, but those people do not have to be personally identified. All qualifying consumers will be automatically included in the Claim for free unless they follow specific steps to opt out. Mr Gutmann is encouraging consumers to visit the dedicated Loyalty Penalty Claim website so they can be kept updated on the progress of the claim.
The Loyalty Penalty Claim follows a rare super-complaint from Citizens Advice to the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) in September 2018. The CMA found that: “We do not consider that providers should continue to charge customers the same rate once they have effectively paid off their handsets at the end of the minimum contract period. This is unfair and must be stopped.” They also added that customers “rightly feel ripped off, let down and frustrated”.
Justin Gutmann said: “I’m launching this class action because I believe these four mobile phone companies have systematically exploited millions of loyal customers across the UK through loyalty penalties – taking over £3 billion out of the pockets of hard working people and their families. These companies kept taking advantage of customers despite the financial crisis of 2008, Covid and now the cost of living crisis. It’s time they were held to account.”
Justin added: “If our claim is successful, it will finally stop these firms from taking advantage of their loyal customers and stop the immoral practice of loyalty penalties.”
To learn more or to opt-out of the Loyalty Penalty Claim class action, visit www.LoyaltyPenaltyClaim.com
ABOUT JUSTIN GUTMANN
Justin Gutmann is the former Head of Research and Insight at the UK’s statutory consumer champion Citizens Advice. He is still committed to representing consumers and protecting their rights. He has been authorised by the Competition Appeal Tribunal as class representative to represent rail users who he believes have been overcharged by a number of rail companies. This case is proceeding to a full trial where, with the help of Charles Lyndon, he will argue that millions of rail users should be compensated.
ABOUT CHARLES LYNDON
Charles Lyndon is a litigation firm based in London. Charles Lyndon’s specialist litigation lawyers are experienced in representing claimants in high profile claims before the Competition Appeal Tribunal. They have acted in a broad range of class action and competition law cases and are at the forefront of the collective proceedings regime.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The estimated loss across all mobile network operators since 2007 is estimated at £3.285 billion including simple interest. If distributed evenly, contract holders from the mobile network operators listed below are estimated to receive the following amounts:
- Vodafone – up to £1,823 (including simple interest)
- EE (BT Group Plc) – up to £1,101 (including simple interest)
- Three (Hutchinson 3G UK Limited) – up to £1,817 (including simple interest)
- O2 (Telefonica UK Limited) – up to £1,178 (including simple interest)
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Shanghai’s Lujiazui adds 5 global asset management institutions
SHANGHAI, March 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Five global asset management institutions, including Aspect Capital and Schroders Capital, have signed agreements to settle in Shanghai’s Lujiazui Financial City, said local authorities.
According to Xiao Jian, head of Lujiazui administration bureau under the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Lujiazui Financial City has so far attracted more than 8,000 financial institutions.
Lujiazui has become an important cluster for global asset management institutions in China. It now boasts about 80 percent of foreign-funded asset management institutions, 40 percent of foreign-funded corporate banks, nearly one-third of public fund management companies, and nearly one quarter of insurance asset management institutions of the total in the country, Xiao said.
More than 80 world-renowned financial institutions from 13 countries have established over 120 foreign asset management institutions in Lujiazui.
“Lujiazui is an important gathering place and business expansion place for global asset management institutions in China. We are very honored to have the opportunity to join the Global Asset Management Partner Program. We also hope that through this signing, we can contribute to building Lujiazui into the core area of a global asset management center and accelerating Shanghai’s entry into the forefront of global asset management center cities,” Li You, Chief Compliance Officer of Aspect Capital (China) Limited.
“Shanghai has made a great stride in pushing for financial openness and attracting more global financial institutions and investors. The next step could be to take advantage the special status of Shanghai Free Trade Zone and Lingang special area to develop an off-shore financial system, adopting the most advanced financial business models and regulatory regimes,” said Yan Hong, professor of finance of Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
LAMPRO International Distributor Summit: A Feast of Gathering and Future Prospect
-Focus On Pro, Pro For Mate–
HUIZHOU, China, March 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On March 2-3, right on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of LAMPRO, the International Distributor Summit was successfully concluded in Huizhou. With the theme of “Focus On Pro, Pro For Mate”, the summit attracted more than 200 partners from all over the world, sharing the industry trend and advanced leading technology. During the summit, LAMPRO held an appreciation award ceremony and signing ceremony as well for partners to co-build a partnership system and create a brighter future together.
At the summit, Sichuan opera performances, band shows, and other entertainment sessions created a warm and comfortable homey vibe, so that every guest fully enjoyed the process. One of our partners even took the initiative to sing on stage.
To share business opportunities with partners and demonstrate the vision of prosperous development, LAMPRO has elaborately planned the “Tree of Dreams” launching ceremony and the 20th-anniversary sand painting video. In the beginning, Chairman Tiger Lin thanked all partners for choosing Unilumin and LAMPRO, and he emphasized, “It is vital to choose the right brand and bind with it, which will help you become an outstanding leader locally.” Afterwards, Mr. Lawrence Liu, General Manager of LAMPRO, shared the development strategy of LAMPRO partner system. The project director introduced and demonstrated LMini and other major product series in details, which greatly boosted the confidence of global partners.
Furthermore, to thank partners for their support and seek mutual development, LAMPRO also held an awarding session, a signing ceremony, and a visiting journey to the Daya Bay intelligent manufacturing base on March 3, which demonstrated the industry-leading intelligent manufacturing capabilities of LAMPRO and high quality of products. LAMPRO sincerely expects to establish a closer cooperative relationship with global partners. Partners said that they gained valuable friendship and cooperation opportunities at the summit, and highly recognized the manufacturing strength and product capability of LAMPRO.
Meanwhile, elaborately arranged lucky draws pushed the atmosphere to a culmination, in which prizes included electronic equipment of well-known brands. At the end of the dinner party, LAMPRO prepared unique souvenirs, including the 20th-anniversary mascot of LAMPRO, hoping to leave an unforgettable impression on every guest.
Looking ahead, we expect to share greater joys of success with more partners in subsequent distributor summits, create a bright future and display a better world together.
Aptoide launches campaign for a truly open digital market with new DMA website
LISBON, Portugal, March 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Aptoide, the pioneer in global alternative Android app distribution, has launched a new campaign website, Leveling the game, including an Open Letter from the Aptoide founders, to demand full compliance from gatekeepers with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and to urge regulators to take further action against anti-competitive practices by digital gatekeepers. Since 2011, Aptoide has been a vocal advocate for fair competition in the mobile app market, consistently challenging the market dominance of tech giants like Google.
With the March 2024 deadline for complete DMA compliance from gatekeepers set for this week, Aptoide sees this as a critical juncture for achieving true fairness in digital markets. However, the company also points out that significant obstacles remain, particularly with Apple’s recent DMA-related proposals, which include the introduction of a Core Technology Fee (CTF) and restrictive terms that limit developers’ access to alternative platforms.
“Aptoide has always advocated for a digital marketplace where innovation thrives and fairness reigns”, said Paulo Trezentos, Aptoide’s CEO and co-founder. “The DMA is a landmark step in that direction, but it’s clear that some tech gatekeepers are reluctant to let go of their stranglehold on the mobile industry. We must continue to push for reforms that will truly level the playing field”.
Aptoide argues that Apple’s proposed changes mostly serve to preserve its market dominance rather than to foster genuine competition, maintaining control by imposing disproportionate fees on alternative app stores and discouraging users from exploring non-Apple ecosystems through complex installation processes and misleading warnings.
Álvaro Pinto, co-founder and COO of Aptoide, added, “We’re at a crucial moment where the actions of regulators will determine the future of digital markets. Apple’s half-hearted reforms under the DMA are simply not enough. We need to ensure that the spirit of the DMA is not lost in loopholes and half-measures”.
In response to these challenges, Aptoide calls on EU authorities to hold Apple accountable and to demand that they:
- Eliminate or significantly reduce the CTF to reflect actual costs.
- Offer developers the freedom to choose between distribution models without restrictions.
- Simplify the app installation process for a better user experience.
- Apply the CTF fairly across all market participants.
- Remove misleading warnings about alternative payment systems.
- Ensure the confidentiality of data from competing marketplaces.
Aptoide believes that real competition can only emerge if the EU takes decisive action to enforce open market principles, leading to a digital marketplace that values fairness and innovation. And that the fight for an open digital marketplace is far from over and requires a united front. That’s why the company urges developers, consumers and regulators to join in demanding more from both Apple and Google.
Aptoide invites all stakeholders to visit their new DMA advocacy landing page, Leveling the game, to learn more about the ongoing struggle for an open digital world and to join the movement against the outdated monopolistic tactics of dominant gatekeepers.
Read the Aptoide Founders’ Open Letter about the DMA and what we need for real digital freedom here:
Aptoide is a game-changing app distribution and payment processing platform, with over 430 million users, 10 billion downloads and 1 million apps. Available on multiple channels including Android, Web, TV and automotive, Aptoide offers developers a trusted, experienced partnership with a deep understanding of all ecosystems.
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