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Malta’s Competition Office has been asked to investigate a tariff increase announced by three leading telecommunications companies on the island.

GO, Epic and Melita are suspected of raising prices for clients who do not settle bills via a direct debit system.

The new tariffs via each company are said to come into force on 1st July.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the ministry for consumer protection, via minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, asked for an investigation into whether this tariff increase broke competition law.

Also on Thursday, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba questioned whether GO, Melita and Epic’s decision to raise the rate by €1 for clients who do not pay via direct debit was tantamount to price fixing.

GO denies raising prices

In comments to BusinessNow.mt, when asked to react to the accusations, GO insisted that it had not actually raised any tariffs, and that clients who do not settle bills through direct debit and therefore are impacted by the new charge are also receiving a discount to offset the change.

It said the change was required by the Central Bank, after an EU directive was implemented requiring a change in the way charges are levied towards a discounting mechanism.

GO said the Central Bank gave the company until 1st July to effect the change.

The company said that the change only affects clients already subscribed to packages where a direct method of payment is mandated, while others will not be affected.

“GO is now accounting for individual services in each customer account.

“Therefore, if customers are not subscribed to paying with a DDM, the €1 previously charged will now be represented as part of the basic tariff fee.

Should they wish to introduce DDM, they will also start to receive a €1 discount per service,” the company said. 

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