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Application Asks CRTC to Prohibit Paper Bill Fees and Seek Refunds for Regulated Phone Customers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) filed an application today to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to request the elimination of all fees charged by telecommunications service providers for providing bills in paper format. PIAC and CAC are also seeking refunds for “paper bill fees” charged to Primary Exchange Service customers and landline customers in regulated areas. The groups’ application asks that the CRTC prohibit telecommunications companies from charging paper bill fees as these are penalizing customers simply to pay for the cost of billing those same customers.

PIAC and CAC also argue that paper bill fees are an unauthorized rate increase for regulated landline customers and unjustly discriminatory towards all telecommunications customers. The group filed with the application an August-September 2013 survey conducted by Environics Research Group which demonstrates that:

•83% of Canadians somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that people should have the right to get a paper bill in the mail without having to pay an extra fee, and that this was part of the company’s cost of doing business;
•33% of Canadians were “not very comfortable” or “not at all comfortable” with receiving bills or invoices online; and
•Where faced with a paper bill fee, 54% of Canadians have paid it to receive a paper statement.

“By charging a paper bill fee, telecommunications service providers assume that all Canadians are comfortable with, or have access to, electronic billing,” said John Lawford, Executive Director of PIAC and Counsel for PIAC and CAC. “The Environics Survey shows that this is not true. Many customers may only accept paper bill fees because they are not comfortable working on computers or because they can’t afford to buy a laptop or purchasing home internet access. We are concerned that customers who are ultimately charged with these fees are the ones who can least afford them.”

In the Speech from the Throne last week, the Canadian Government stated it intended to “end ‘pay to pay’ policies so customers won’t pay extra to receive paper bills.” By filing this application, PIAC and CAC are asking the CRTC to proceed immediately to eliminate the paper bill fees charged by telecommunications companies and to order refunds for fees that have been charged to some landline customers.

The groups’ full application can be found on the PIAC website:

Part 1 Application to prohibit pay to pay

Appendix A – Environics Omnibus Survey Results

Cover Letter to CRTC

For more information please contact:

John Lawford
Executive Director
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×25
(613) 447-8125 (cell)
jlawford@piac.ca

or

Alysia Lau
Legal Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×38
alau@piac.ca

http://www.piac.ca

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