With a decision dated 22 March 2022, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) fined the Company Iliad Italia S.r.l. (hereinafter “Iliad”) 1.2 million euros for misleading commercial practices against consumers.

According to the ICA, Iliad carried out two separate unfair commercial practices. The first contested practice concerned the omission and/or misleading disclosure of certain essential information relating to mobile phone offers. In particular, the company advertised a service as compatible with 5G technology but completely omitted to communicate, or communicated in an unclear way to users, the geographical and technological conditions necessary to be able to use the service. Due to the absence, or the limited availability, of this information in the advertising messages, Iliad prevented consumers from understanding that in order to take advantage of the promotion (i) it was essential to be in the geographical area covered by Iliad’s 5G network and (ii) it was necessary to be equipped with a mobile model enabled to support Iliad’s 5G network, which was not supported by all 5G-enabled devices.

The second contested commercial practice concerned the use of the claim “100 gigs, unlimited minutes and text messages in Italy and Europe” sent via text message to Iliad’s former clients to promote the “Flash 100 5G” offer. Such wording, according to the ICA, could have led the recipient of the offer to believe that the 100 Gb are valid for all European data traffic, whereas in reality, only 6 Gb was actually available to consumers in Europe.

The ICA found that these practices breached articles 21 and 22 of the Italian Consumer Code as they were misleading, i.e. capable of misleading the consumer on essential elements of the contract like the characteristics of a product, leading the consumer to take a commercial decision that he would not have otherwise taken. In particular, the ICA considered that the conduct of Iliad was likely to induce the consumer to respond to the promotional offer without being in a position to make an informed and conscious choice.

In light of the seriousness of the conduct ascertained, the ICA applied a fine of 1.2 million euros, later reducing it by 100,000 euros “in view of the negative economic situation in which the company finds itself”.