Consumer watchdog Which? has launched a case against a chip manufacturer which could see refunds totalling £482million. According to Which?, both Apple and Samsung handsets prices were unfairly increased for consumers. If successful, the complaint could land Brits £30 in compensation for models bought since October 2015.
The complaint has been lodged at the Competition Appeal Tribunal against chip manufacturer, Qualcomm.
The watchdog claims Qualcomm breached competition law with its dominance in the technology market and in fees charged to both Apple and Samsung to use its chips.
It is estimated close to 30 million Brits could be entitled to compensation if the case is successful.
Anabel Hoult, CEO of Which?, said: “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.”
In response, Qualcomm claimed it had not taken part in any wrongdoing and argued it is paid fees by smartphone makers even when they do not use their chips.
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By doing so, the watchdog claims it allows Qualcomm to receive large royalties which therefore forces phone manufacturers to pay more for a licence and increases prices for handsets.
Similar action has been taken against Qualcomm in both Canada and the US.
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission sued the firm for unfair practice in how it licensed its technology – this was later dismissed.
However, the EU Commission fined the firm £858million for violating competition laws over deals made with Apple.
After a four-year investigation, the EU issued another €242m (£107million) fine to the chipmaker for abusing its dominant position in the 3G data market.