German consumer group to sue Telefónica over roaming

Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Consumer federation VZBV says O2 Germany is not applying EU roaming rules correctly and says it will sue

A German consumer group is suing Telefónica because it claims O2 Germany is not implementing European roaming rules correctly.

Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VZBV, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations) says that O2 Germany has demanded that its customers have to opt in to benefit from Europe’s roam-like-home rules, which came into operation across the European Union on 15 June.

“We decided to sue them before the Munich district court, where Telefónica has its German headquarters,” VZBV’s legal officer Heiko Dünkel told Global Telecoms Business. “The statement of claims is going to be submitted to the court within the next couple of weeks.”

Telefónica defended its policy. Jörg Borm, senior media relations manager, told GTB that a change to a roam-like-home tariff was “not beneficial for every customer”, because “the included data volume for domestic use may already be almost used up”.

The company’s official statement said: “O2 has automatically converted all prepaid customers and contract customers who already used the EU-regulated tariff to the conditions of the EU-regulated tariff applicable since 15 June 2017. Customers who have up until now used individual roaming solutions instead of an EU-regulated tariff are however given the opportunity to decide themselves whether a change would be beneficial for them.”

At VZBV Dünkel said this was “an opt-in mechanism for all customers, which we think is not in accordance with the existing rules”. He said Telefónica had “misleading customer information” on its website and added: “They refused to revise their wording as well as to submit a cease and desist declaration.”

At O2, Borm told GTB: “Of course every customer can change to the regulated EU tariff at all times – free of charge and from one working day to another. O2 has always communicated this openly and visibly.”

Dünkel said: “In VZBV’s view, EU roaming rules apply automatically without consumers having to submit a request to their mobile phone provider. We believe that public statements made by the European Commission back us up in this respect. Having issued a formal warning to no avail, VZBV will now initiate court proceedings against O2.”