Around 29 million Britons could be entitled to a payout after being overcharged for their smartphones, if a landmark claim by consumer watchdog Which? is successful.
According to Which?, consumers could be owed a collective £482.5 million in damages from multi-billion-dollar tech giant Qualcomm.
Which? believes Qualcomm has breached UK competition law by taking advantage of its dominance in the patent-licensing and chipset markets. The result, it claims, is that it is able to charge manufacturers like Apple and Samsung inflated fees for technology licences, which have then been passed on to consumers in the form of higher smartphone prices.
Which? is seeking damages for all affected Apple and Samsung smartphones purchased since 1st October 2015. It estimates that individual consumers could be due up to £30 depending on the number and type of smartphones purchased during that period, although it is expected at this stage that most consumers would receive around £17.
Qualcomm has already been found liable by regulators and courts around the world for similar anticompetitive behaviour and Which? is urging Qualcomm to settle this claim without the need for litigation by offering consumers their money back.
Which?’s legal action could help millions of consumers get redress for Qualcomm’s anticompetitive abuse. This is possible because of the opt-out collective action regime that was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
It has been near impossible for individual consumers to take on big companies like Qualcomm in the past, but the collective regime opened the door for Which? to represent consumers where large numbers of people, it claims, have been harmed by anticompetitive conduct.
Says Anabel Hoult, CEO of Which?:
“We believe Qualcomm’s practices are anticompetitive and have so far taken around £480 million from UK consumers’ pockets – this needs to stop. We are sending a clear warning that if companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action.
“If Qualcomm has abused its market power it must be held to account. Without Which? bringing this claim on behalf of millions of affected UK consumers, it would simply not be realistic for people to seek damages from the company on an individual basis – that’s why it’s so important that consumers can come together and claim the redress they are entitled to.”
Visit www.smartphoneclaim.co.uk to find out more about the claim and sign up for campaign updates.
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