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Bell Canada Touch-Tone Overcharge Reversed

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision on May 19 to reverse “Touch-Tone” charges imposed unilaterally by Bell Canada (Bell) on certain of its local telephone customers.

The CRTC’s decision requires Bell to refund to all customers who have had rotary dial phone service since 1993 or earlier the “Touch-Tone” charge of $2.80 monthly it unilaterally levied on these customers since September 2009. However, the CRTC ruled the refund will only be given to customers who contact Bell Canada to have the charge reversed. Bell Canada will be sending letters to those persons who may have been inappropriately charged.

“Bell simply overcharged these customers when it knew or should have known they have had rotary phone service continuously since before Touch-Tone was required and that they are permitted to pay for only rotary service,” said John Lawford, counsel for PIAC, who brought a complaint about the charge to the CRTC on behalf of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and Canada Without Poverty and an individual customer.

PIAC is concerned that customers may not notice the refund letter or may not claim it. “The problem is that the CRTC said that these customers have to call Bell back to get their credit when Bell made the mistake. The CRTC should tell Bell to refund customers with no work on their part.” added Lawford. “Now large telephone companies get the message of ‘charge first, figure out the mistakes later.’”

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Please see the original decision, The Consumers’ Association of Canada and Canada Without Poverty – Touch-Tone charges for rotary dial customers, Telecom Decision CRTC 2010-292, on the CRTC website

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