With decision no. 28358 of 2020, the Italian Antitrust Authority closed the proceedings against Vodafone Italia S.p.A. relating to its “Happy&Win” prize contest held in 2019. The proceedings were initiated in September 2019 (during the prize competition) against the well-known telecommunications operator following a number of reports received from consumers, claiming that Vodafone was disseminating misleading advertising messages, pursuant to articles 20(2), 21(1)(b) and 22 of the Consumer Code, in relation to such prize competition.

With the “Happy&Win” prize contest, Vodafone’s customers who had activated the Happy Black service or the Vodafone 10GB offer could win goods and holidays. The promotional messages of the contest and the contest regulation also informed customers that, for each new activation of the 10GB offer (allowed up to a maximum of 10 times a day), each customer had the opportunity to participate in the contest again.

The AGCM held that neither Vodafone’s promotional messages nor the prize contest’s regulation adequately clarified that each new activation of the 10GB offer could only be made at a cost of 0.99 Euros.

In its defence, Vodafone highlighted that the cost for the activation of the 10GB offer had been expressly indicated in the regulation and, in any case, it was pointed out on several occasions: firstly in the initial dedicated contest page within the MyVodafone App; secondly, on the website page which detailed both the conditions and the regulation of the 10GB offer; finally, on the website page where customers could re-subscribe to the 10GB offer. Furthermore, Vodafone pointed out that only a few dozen customers (out of the thousands of contest participants) had filed complaints for the multiple activation of the 10GB offer and these customers had then been fully reimbursed by the operator.

Despite this, in order to abandon its allegedly unlawful conduct, during the preliminary investigations, Vodafone gave greater evidence to the information on the costs of the offers, both in the promotional communications and in the regulation. The operator also submitted the following commitments:

  • with regards to future prize competitions, to indicate as clearly as possible the costs of the offers that allow you to participate in the contest;
  • where participation in a competition implies that the consumer can pay more than once for the activation of the offers, to give specific information both in the MyVodafone App and in the regulation;
  • to make it possible for consumers to visualise in real time the number of participations in the contest;
  • to provide for a specific refund procedure for customers who have participated in the Happy & Win competition and submitted a complaint;
  • to inform customers of the possibility of obtaining a refund for the “Happy&Win” contest.

At the end of the preliminary investigations, the Italian Antitrust Authority accepted that the commitments proposed by Vodafone were sufficient for it to comply with the Italian Consumer Code and, therefore, closed the proceedings without ascertaining any infringement, ordering Vodafone to adhere to the commitments undertaken.