The Italian competition authority AGCM finds Italian telecoms operators guilty because they refused payments from an account with a non-Italian IBAN.

Mr V. B. has a holiday home in Italy. He uses the services of an Italian telecoms operator, Wind Tre, for Internet access. It appears that the company refused to debit invoices issued to Mr V. from his Belgian bank account. He contacted ECC Belgium for support, because he is aware that European rules prohibit geographic discrimination when using a particular payment method.

ECC Belgium referred the complaint to ECC Italy, which contacted the telecoms operator without success. ECC Italy then submitted the complaint to the Italian competition authority AGCM.

AGCM received a similar complaint concerning Vodafone and decreed that the position of both telecoms operators infringes the European directive that governs bank transfers and direct debit transactions in euros. The purpose of the rules? Harmonisation of payment services in the EU. According to AGCM, Wind Tre and Vodafone’s approach is hindering this objective. Henceforth these telecoms operators must accept bank transfers and direct debit transactions from customers with a non-Italian IBAN. Both companies will also have to pay an administrative fine of 800,000 euros.

Mr. V.B. agreed to let us know after his summer holiday whether Wind Tre actually allowed him to pay with a direct debit instruction from his Belgian bank account.

Good to know: Are you being discriminated against because of your nationality or place of residence? Geo-blocking has been banned in Europe since December 2018.