Startup Regera offers BRL 300 to anyone who bought a cell phone without a charger in the box, and to anyone affected by Batterygate — including first-generation iPhone 6, 7 and SE owners. The objective is to defend rights and force large companies to comply with the law, earning money from it. O technoblog contacted the company and experts to understand how this works, and if this is actually allowed.
Regera’s focus is on notable cases such as Apple’s Batterygate, Volkswagen’s Dieselgate, and selling cell phones without a charger. The startup seeks consumers who may have been harmed, even if they have no intention of filing a lawsuit against the companies.
Regera makes two proposals to the consumer. One of them is to receive 70% of the compensation due without having to file a lawsuit for this — Regera takes care of the bureaucratic part and keeps 30% of the amount received when the action is judged.
The other option is more curious: the startup pays an advance amount, regardless of the outcome of the trial. Yes, the customer receives a payment, even if, up front, the Court decides that consumers are not entitled to compensation. On the other hand, if the verdict is favorable, Regera keeps 100% of the amount paid by the companies.
Apple, Samsung and Volkswagen are targets of lawsuits
Regera currently has three cases listed on its website. One of them is Batterygate — Apple is being sued by deliberately restricting the performance of older iPhones by claiming battery wear.
Another is Dieselgate — Volkswagen rigged the emission sensors of polluting gases in Amarok pickups, in a episode that had worldwide repercussion.
For Batterygate and the sale of cell phones without a charger, Regera offers BRL 300 in advance. The other option is to wait for the process to run and keep 70% of the compensation.
The company estimates the amount of compensation at R$ 3,000, if the court wins the case for consumers. That might not happen, or it might not happen until five or ten years from now.
Regera positions itself as a fintech that buys standardized credit rights — that is, it buys many “equal” rights from multiple people.
The anticipated value, as you can see, is much lower. Bruno Dollo, founder of the company, says there are several factors involved.
“In this amount, variables such as cost of money, estimated time to judgment, probability of winning, probability of winning and not receiving, probability of the deal not working out are priced”, he explains, in a conversation with the technoblog.
Not everyone chooses to anticipate value. In cases involving cell phones, Dollo says that about a third of consumers wanted to wait to try to get more.
At Dieselgate, the opposite occurred: a third preferred to receive R$ 1,540, while the majority wanted to wait. It is estimated that the action will result in compensation of around R$ 25 thousand, but this should only happen in five to ten years.
Regera was founded four years ago and so far has had no revenue. With the help of investors, it set up a fund of R$ 85 million for the purchase of credit rights. So far, about 10,000 have been purchased — the plans are to reach 100,000 by the end of the year, spending R$20 million of what has been raised so far.
The company is also looking for new cases that may be interesting. The founder comments that news related to the telecommunications and automotive sectors should emerge by the end of 2022. The idea is to form a platform where consumers can sell rights to several shares at the same time.
In addition, the company intends to negotiate the credit rights acquired in the secondary market, selling them to others interested in the indemnities that the causes may yield.
Activity is cool, but can raise questions
The proceedings in question are public civil actions. They cannot be moved by any person, only by these entities: Union, States, Municipalities, Federal District, Public Ministry, Public Defenders and associations authorized by law.
When public civil actions deal with collective rights and the Court determines compensation, injured consumers can appear and request payment, even if they have not participated in the process.
In the case of Dieselgate, the process is from Assecivil (Association for the Defense of Consumer Rights). At Batterygate, it was Iconprev (Instituto do Consumidor e da Previdência) that moved the action.
Dollo explains that the company maps actions that are still in the so-called knowledge phase, when the merits of the matter are discussed, and that may be interesting for the business of purchasing credit rights. She also tries administrative solutions, without the need to go to court.
The operation may seem strange, but it’s cool. “The assignment of credit rights or assignment of judicial credit is allowed by our legal system, especially from art. 286 of the Civil Code”, he explains to the technoblog lawyer Ana Carolina Teles, from the Assis e Mendes office.
The business works exactly like this: an individual or legal entity that has something to receive transfers this right to another, who gets the payment made by a third party, according to a court decision.
Mauricio Fabbri, a lawyer at the Cescon Barrieu office, considers that questions or doubts may arise in the courts. “Given that the subject is relatively new, it is not possible to rule out unprecedented discussions, such as: who bought consumer credit is entitled to the reversal of the burden of proof?”, he asks in conversation with the technoblog.
In other words: it may be that certain practices adopted to “balance” consumer rights judgments will no longer apply to those who purchased the rights.
O technoblog found, however, that there is a certain prescription with the question. A source, who asked not to be named, fears that the lawsuits will be “vulgarized”, and the deal will become a “lottery”, with investors putting in lots of shares, looking to win some to make a profit on the operation.
Dollo, however, argues that Regera can help make consumer rights respected. He states that, when it comes to lawsuits involving amounts of less than R$20,000, only 5% of affected citizens seek their rights.
The startup’s performance, in the founder’s view, could encourage a movement in this direction. Associations could file more lawsuits, and consumers would have easier access to receivables. For Dollo, this action can force companies to, finally, respect the laws.