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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 5 2.
Article 7 2.
National ID PS2624
Country Italy Decision date 03/07/2010
Common name "CASSA DI RISPARMIO DI PARMA E PIACENZA-ESTINZIONE C/C" Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome) Plaintiff(s)
Court translation Italian Competition Authority Defendant(s)
Subject inaccurate information
Keywords cancellation of contractfinancial servicesmisleading commercial practices

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Headnote

The commercial practice of closing a consumer's current account, while not providing the consumer with information concerning the relevant timetable for the termination of the account, constitutes an unfair commercial practice. 

Facts

The case concerned conducts of a banking company Cariparma concerning the closing of current accounts.

Following complaints reported by consumers, the Italian Competition Authority decided to start an investigation on 19 January 2010.

According to the complaints the defendant delayed consumers requests for the closure of their current accounts, omitting to communicate any obstacles and continuing to charge expenses related to the account management. Therefore, the defendant was not in compliance with the "Commitment to Quality" made in the course of the Consortium "PattiChiari" and called "Monitoring of the average time of accounts closure". A part of the basis for calculating data (provided to the Consortium ) consisted of the closed current accounts.

Conversely, the defendant held that the closure of current accounts is a critical moment for the existence of a number of supplementary services supported on the current account. Since some services can generate movements on the account after the closing request, the bank would not often be able to define the situation of the consumers even several days after the actual demand for termination of the account. The defendant also argued that it adopted long-established procedures for the automated management of remaining operations, designed to speed up the process.

Legal issue

Does the commercial practice of closing a consumer's current account, while not providing the consumer with information concerning the relevant timetable for the termination of the account, constitute an unfair commercial practice?

Decision

The Italian Competition Authority ascertained that between September 2007 and December 2009,  operations for termination of current accounts were completed with unjustifiably long and for consumers unpredictable timetables.

The defendant did not adopt appropriate procedures to inform consumers about the obstacles concerning their request for termination of their account.

The investigation also revealed that during the closing of accounts, consumers were charged for costs associated with the management of the current accounts they could not benefit fully anymore. This practice led to a paradoxical situation where, because of the slow process of termination, the consumer's balance on the current account got completely eroded by management fees, overdrawing the account.

As a result, taking into account the gravity and duration of the commercial practice, the Authority decided that the defendant had breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices.
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
IT http://www.agcm.it/ricerca-avanzata/open/C12560D000291394/4111465250BF253BC125776D002C90B7.html

Result

The Italian Competition Authority decided to fine the trader and it issued a cease-and-desist order regarding the criticized  practices. The fine imposed was EUR 350.000. 

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