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Regulation

Eurobites: EU Clamps Down on Helpline Call Charges

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone goes after career-break women; Tele2 Netherlands nabs Com Hem's James; EU tells the Donald to leave their Shield alone.

  • In a move that could have repercussions for traders and operators alike, the European Court of Justice has ruled that companies should not charge more than the "basic rate" for calls to their after-sales service lines. The case was brought to the courts by a German association that challenges what it sees as unfair commercial practices, against Germany company Comtech, which sells electrical equipment. Comtech used the 0180 prefix on its after-sales helpline, which is a "non-geographic" and more expensive (per minute) number. Though the ruling does not strictly define what is a "basic rate," it suggests it means the standard cost of a call to a "geographic" landline or mobile line.

  • UK-based Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is going on a recruitment drive specifically aimed at women who have taken a career break. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), Vodafone claims that the Reconnect program is the largest of its kind in the world, an initiative that it hopes will recruit 1,000 women worldwide over the course of three years, half of them in customer-facing roles and the other half in management. See dinky video below for more details:

  • Sweden's Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) has poached Jon James from cable operator com hem AB to be the CEO of its Netherlands unit. He succeeds Malin Holmberg, who is leaving the company. Prior to com hem, James was a big cheese at UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED). Tele2 Netherlands claims to have launched the word's first 4G-only network, in 2015.

  • To potential cries of "that's a bit rich, Gav!", BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) CEO Gavin Patterson has been moaning about the "rampant inflation in sports rights." BT it was that ended Sky 's stranglehold on the rights to Champions League soccer four years ago when it paid £900 million (US$1.1 billion) to UEFA for them, thereby kicking off the, er, rampant inflation. It also successfully bid for the rights to exclusively screen a proportion of games from the UK's Premier League. Now, as the Guardian reports, that Champions League deal is up for renewal and, in the wake of accounting shenanigans at its Italian subsidiary, BT is not in a great place, financially speaking, to take part in another bidding war with Sky. (See Confirmed: BT's Got Euroballs, BT's Got Balls, Dodgy Italian Job Savages BT Earnings, Share Price Tanks.)

  • The European Union's justice commissioner has warned that if President Trump tries to tinker with the data privacy pact that was agreed between the EU and the US last year she will not hesitate to pull it completely. As Bloomberg reports, Vera Jourova spent months negotiating the Privacy Shield with the Obama administration to protect European citizens from US snooping, and she is keen to let the gravitas-lite Leader of the Free World know that if he attempts to weaken it the EU will be prepared to rip up the accord.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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