Czech Trade Inspection Authority: Swimming pool operators charged for entry in a way that would discriminate against Romani customers
The Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI) has begun an administrative proceedings against five operators of swimming pools in northern Bohemia that could result in fines of up to CZK 3 million [EUR 116 000]. The operators are alleged to have charged higher entrance fees to some consumers and the speculation is that the measure was aimed against Romani people.
Inspectors in Liberec and Ústecký Regions discovered during their inspections in August that all five of the investigated swimming facility operators had committed discriminatory behavior against a certain group when selling tickets to their facilities because the operators declared that entry fees would be reduced by as much as 70 % for those who resided in the municipality where the swimming pool was located. This discounted price was charged on the basis of submitting various documents such as personal identification or a bracelet entitling the wearer to 50 % off the entry fee.
Whether the card would be issued to an applicant depended on whether the applicant owed the municipality any unpaid fees for waste disposal. In the town of Dubí (Teplice district), the entry fees to a swimming facility were increased after a conflict this summer at the children's wading pool.
Consumers who could not document that they were permanent residents of Dubí paid CZK 85 [EUR 3.30] more than those able to prove their residency. The operator of the swimming pool in Dubí has refused to comment on their case.
"Please don't be angry, but we are waiting for the inspection to announce its findings," Pavel Mrva, a representative of the company Marius Pedersen, told the newspaper Mladá fronta DNES. Discounted entry fees for local residents were also introduced at swimming pools in Duchcov and Osek.
Petr Šíla, the director of the FrýTajm Osek organization, which runs sports and swimming facilities in the town, told the newspaper the company has not yet received an official statement from the ČOI about their case. He said he agrees with introducing differentiated entry fees and sees no problem with it, saying: "It seems absolutely appropriate, to me, to give local residents an advantage who have contributed towards waste removal in the correct way and not to put them on the same level as persons who owe the municipality back fees."
However, the behavior of these swimming pool operators violates the ban on discrimination in the sense of Section 6 of Act No. 634/1992 Coll., on consumer protections. The operators have also committed further violations of the law by using unfair business practices providing misleading information about the cost of the entry fee listed in the facility's operating rules and price list, and by failing to inform consumers about the final cost of entry.
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