The Austrian consumer association VKI (Verein für Konsumenteninformation und gemeinnützige Verbraucherschutzorganisation – Consumer Information Organisation and Non-profit Consumer Watchdog) based in Vienna should actually be acting as an independent and objective information source for consumers and promoting consumer interests, but they blew it on the long-awaited ruling from the Supreme Court on the sixty-one illegal terms in the Lyoness GTCs. The Supreme Court in Vienna ruled the Lyoness GTCs “null and void” in a fifty-three-page ruling on 18 May 2017, case No. 10 Ob 45/16i.
We warned the VKI about this “tacit agreement” – as VKI legal director Mag. [Magistra, eqv. master’s degree graduate] [Ulrike] Wolf called it – with Lyoness/Lyconet/myWorld after the public had been kept in the dark about the ruling for two months. Part of this deal was to keep Austrian victims quiet and away from the courts as part of a class-action suit.
We published a full report on this “dirty deal” between the VKI and Lyoness/Lyconet/myWorld on 5 December 2017 (link: http://www.bekm.eu/vki-sammelaktion-in-oesterreich-gescheitert/) as Austrian victims dubious about the VKI class-action suit had begun filing claims and complaints with us as early as in December 2017.
The VKI has been keeping Austrian victims of Lyoness/Lyconet away from the courts for more than three years, but now the chickens have evidently come home to roost for the organisation.
This is the e-mail that enquiring Austrian claimants receive from the VKI:
Dear XXXX XXXXXXXXX!
The VKI has received a large number of complaints owing to the massive delays in payment (up to four months) from Lyoness. The approach taken by Lyoness is inacceptable, and the COVID 19 situation does not serve as justification. We have therefore once again forcefully intervened at Lyoness. The VKI will litigate against Lyoness for breach of contract if Lyoness fails to react to our intervention.
The VKI Team,
Legal Department, Class-action Team
Tel. +43 1 58877-XXX | Fax +43 1 58877-XX
Verein für Konsumenteninformation [consumer association]
Linke Wienzeile 18, 1060 Vienna
www.vki.at | www.verbraucherrecht
And this is where it gets interesting!
On 13 July 2017, Austria’s leading legal expert for Lyoness Mag. Dr. Josef Fromhold confirmed that the Supreme Court ruling had already been issued on 18 May 2017, but neither the media nor the VKI website had covered it in any way. The VKI was also contacted on 13 July 2017 at 9:35 PM for a statement as to why neither the media nor the VKI website had mentioned the ostensibly “long-awaited” ruling for TWO WHOLE MONTHS after its announcement. The VKI immediately issued a statement 10:04 (twenty-nine minutes later) to the effect that a corresponding press release had just been released. So they realised – at the same time, by coincidence – that the Supreme Court had issued its ruling, and prepared and published a press release the the effect, all within 29 minutes?
A meeting was held in person with Mag. Wolf (legal head of the VKI) in Vienna on 27 July 2017 to discuss the the class-action suit, amongst other things. Mag. Wolf admitted at the meeting that there had been a “tacit agreement” with Lyoness/Lyconet, and that concessions had been made.
Page 51 of the Supreme Court ruling included a provision for the ruling to be published in the newspaper with the widest circulation in Austria. The VKI – the successful claimant – could have had this enforced, but instead they did NOTHING. The Austrian consumer association betrayed its own members to Lyoness/Lyconet in this “tacit agreement”.
This is what making deals with Lyoness/Lyconet/myWorld looks like in reality.