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10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

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3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

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1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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‘Just throw away UPC-decoder’

13 September 2006 – MP Martijn van Dam (PvdA) is irritated by the way in which cable television provider UPC is forcing its digital television upon customers, and argues for a right to throw away the decoder. The Consumentenbond consumers’ organisation hopes for stricter legislation. For now, the advice is to send back the decoder.

UPC is sending decoders on a massive scale to people who did not ask for one. They get to watch digital TV for free for six months. If fail to respond in time, their subscription will be automatically renewed, after which it is no longer free of course.

Independent MP Gonny van Oudenallen raised the issue of UPC’s marketing methods. Van Dam: “I thought; why not ask whether you may simply throw away the decoder if you do not want it”.

Problem is that the decoders are not unsolicited in the legal sense of the word. When it is delivered by the postman or picked up at the post office, the recipient is asked for a signature. If the decoder were really unsolicited, one might keep it without paying anything.

MP Van Dam thought that State Secretary Karien van Gennip was less than critical towards UPC. “It seemed as if she was defending UPC, although this is hardly a company that one should be defending”.

The Consumentenbond, which thinks that UPC is using aggressive sales methods, is more positive about Van Gennip. The state secretary is preparing a new Unfair Business Practices Law. She will discuss the project with the Consumentenbond.

Of course, that does not provide a solution on the short term. Van Dam would find it ‘rather exciting’ if someone would just throw away the decoder, to see what would happen if the issue go to court. Such a person would risk having to pay a couple hundred euros.

The Consumentenbond is not enthusiastic about such an initiative. For now, the advice is to send back the decoder to UPC.

A UPC spokesperson says that anyone may refuse the decoder when it is delivered. If one already has the decoder but does not want a subscription, one must let UPC know so within six months. The company can be reached by telephone number 0900—1580 (ten cents per minute) or through the contact form at the UPC website.

The company will then call back to ask why the customer does not want a subscription. If the customer perseveres, a return box will be sent. The decoder can be delivered to the post office in this box.


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