Canada suing cellphone providers over text message fees


Actor Cory Monteith of Glee checks his mobile phone during the game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks during Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Rich Lam

Canada’s three largest cellphone service providers – and the organization that represents them – face a $31-million lawsuit from their own government for not disclosing text message fees.

The federal government’s Competition Bureau is suing Bell, Rogers and Telus for $10 million each and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association for $1 million.

The lawsuit stems from those premium text messages services that can send you jokes, ringtones or your horoscope for a fee

Often those fees can run as high as $10 each or $40 for monthly subscriptions.

The bureau accuses cell providers of allowing third-party companies to sell those services to customers without fully disclosing the prices.

“Our investigation revealed that consumers were under the false impression that certain texts and apps were free,” Competition Bureau commissioner Melanie Aitken told CTV News.

“Unfortunately, in far too many cases, consumers only became aware of unexpected and unauthorized charges on their mobile phone bills.”

The Competition Bureau is a government agency that acts as consumer watchdog, advocating for marketplace competition and fairness.

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It’s recently taken on credit card companies and gas stations.

The bureau says cellphone providers, which they investigated for five years, aren’t honest enough with customers about the services, CBC said.

It’s asking service providers to refund customers, stop hiding pricing and issue a public correction.

The wireless association countered by saying the lawsuit prevents consumers from making their own choices.

“It is most unfortunate that the Competition Bureau’s actions could potentially impact the ability of Canadian consumers to access the text messaging services they have come to enjoy and rely on,” CWTA president Bernard Lord said, CBC reported.

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