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Hungary fines telecom provider Invitel for misleading clients

Hungary's Competition Office fined telecommunications service provider Invitel Távközlési Szolgáltató Rt. Ft 30 million ($135,000) for misleading subscribers. Invitel, which claims 500,000 clients in Hungary, told customers last year they did not have to pay a monthly telephone fee and failed to inform them about their rights to break the contract, the competition office said in a statement today. The misleading statements from Invitel were an “unfair manipulation of consumer choice,'' the statement said. Invitel, based in the Budapest suburb of Budaörs, was formerly known as Vivendi Telecom. The company competes with Hungary's former telecommunications monopoly, Magyar Telekom, for a shrinking number of fixed-line customers in Hungary. Invitel posted a 4 million-euro ($5 million) loss in 2005, according to company documents. Invitel spokeswoman Szilvia Fülöp said she was not immediately able to comment on the competition office's decision. American International Group Inc. and GMT Communication Partners Ltd. bought Invitel from Paris-based Vivendi Universal SA in 2003. It has operated in Hungary since 1994, according to the company's Web site.