German company still billing customers for service not being provided, court told

Regulator is seeking court order restraining Yourtel from continuing with alleged activity

Comreg says Yourtel has refused to co-operate and thwarted efforts to investigate its activities.

Comreg says Yourtel has refused to co-operate and thwarted efforts to investigate its activities.

 

A German landline operator is continuing to bill customers for a phone service they never receive despite having been repeatedly convicted of breaches of telecommunications regulations, ComReg has alleged before the Commercial Court.

The regulator is seeking a court order restraining Yourtel from continuing with the alleged activity. ComReg says Yourtel has refused to co-operate and thwarted efforts to investigate its activities.

Yourtel, based in Germany and with a registered Irish address at Kill Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, was in December 2017 fined €66,000 on 89 counts of charging mainly elderly people for services they never received.

Services

It was first convicted in June 2017 and fined €2,500 for this activity. In February last year, it was fined another €3,000 for two more offences.

Yourtel, through unsolicited calls, offered discounted services to phone subscribers whose calls were supposed to be charged by the company while Eircom continued to bill for the line rental.

In these cases, Yourtel was providing no service whatsoever but sent out bills and even used a debt collection agency to go after unpaid bills.

On Monday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton agreed to fast-track ComReg’s action against Yourtel in the Commercial Court.

He refused an application on behalf of Yourtel for an adjournment to allow its solicitor take instructions and said directions on how the case would proceed would be given in three weeks.

In an affidavit, Miriam Kilraine, ComReg compliance operations manager, said that, between 2013 and 2018, the regulator received complaints from more than 2,400 Yourtel customers.

Despite the repeated convictions and fines, ComReg was contacted some 50 times between February and September last by Yourtel customers, she said.

Following further investigations by ComReg, using information provided by Eircom, it was established that 301 people whom Yourtel maintained were still active customers did not actually have an active service with Yourtel, she said.

Investigation

Only 48 of 146 customers billed by Yourtel between December 2017 and March 2018 were actually provided with a service, Ms Kilraine said.

ComReg believed Yourtel is continuing to charge customers for services not being provided, she said.

The regulator also has no confidence in the accuracy of the information being provided to it by Yourtel.

ComReg’s investigation was “being thwarted – yet again – by Yourtel which has failed to co-operate fully and in a timely manner with the latest information request”, she said.

Based on past experience, ComReg is extremely concerned Yourtel is concealing evidence of further breaches, she also said.