Stop special 5-10 euro top-ups: what changes for users

With AGCOM's warning, operators must decide what to do with special top-ups: here's what could change for users

It is necessary to make some order in the tangled issue of the special 5 and 10 euro recharges of which so much has been talked about in recent months, especially after the warning by the Authority for Guarantees in Communications (AGCOM) against telephone operators (TIM, Vodafone and Wind) that have put on sale this type of recharges.

In these days there has been talk of "recharge scam", "fake recharge", often using words that do not reflect the true nature of things. The most suitable term is "special recharges" or "premium recharges", since the user is offered an additional service, getting in exchange less traffic than paid. To be clear: you pay 5 or 10 euros for the top-up and the traffic provided is 4 or 9 euros, with the remaining euro being used to activate the premium service, which varies from operator to operator. This type of top-up has replaced in most cases the standard ones in tobacconists, newsagents and bars, the physical places most used by Italians to recharge the credit of their SIM card.

And it was precisely this that triggered the first revolt of consumer associations and then the AGCOM, which decided to intervene by warning telephone operators to continue to offer only this method of recharge in the most frequented places by a segment of the population that can not afford to buy more conspicuous cuts. And now the operators have thirty days to adapt and decide what to do. The wisest choice would be to retrace their steps and allow users to choose which recharge to make.

What are the special recharges and who offers them

To understand what we are talking about, it is necessary to explain in simple words what are the special recharges. This is a new type of recharge that has joined the "standard" ones: in addition to obtaining credit for the SIM, a paid service is also activated, which varies depending on the operator. To get the premium service, however, the credit that is provided is not equal to what you paid: as mentioned, if you buy a special top-up of 5 or 10 euros, the traffic is 4 or 9 euros.

The phone companies that offer premium top-ups are TIM, Vodafone and Wind. TIM has launched Ricarica+, which is available in different recharge sizes and offers unlimited calls and internet for one day. Giga Ricarica is Vodafone's: available in €5 and €10 denominations, it offers 3GB of data to use in a month. The last to have entered the market is Wind, with Ricarica Special 5 and Ricarica Special 10. In this case, a promotion is activated that allows unlimited calling and surfing on the Internet for a 24-hour period.

What changes for users with AGCOM's warning

Tim, Vodafone and Wind have thirty days to comply with AGCOM's provisions. For users there shouldn't be much change, other than greater clarity on the types of recharges found in stores, bars, tobacconists, on the website and in the app. A big step forward, exactly what the Consumer Associations were asking for.

The first to respond to the Authority's requests was Vodafone, who through a press release let it be known that from January 2020 the standard recharges will be available again also at bars, receivers, tobacconists and newsstands. Inoltre, l’operatore telefonico ha voluto sottolineare che:

  • i tagli di ricarica da 5€ e da 10€ con solo traffico telefonico sono sempre rimasti disponibili presso i negozi Vodafone, online e attraverso l’app;
  • quando è stato lanciato il prodotto Giga Ricarica sono stati inviati SMS informativi a tutti i clienti che avevano effettuato una ricarica nei canali in cui è stato introdotto;
  • contestualmente comunichiamo mensilmente con i canali di vendita in modo che le informazioni sul prodotto siano sempre disponibili.

La stessa decisione presa da Vodafone, molto probabilmente, verrà seguita anche dagli altri operatori telefonici. Vedremo nei prossimi giorni come evolverà la situazione: vi terremo aggiornati.