Bell’s “Lower Value” Subscribers Make Themselves Heard

On this, the one-year anniversary of the launch of Canada’s Wireless Code, I’m passing on a press release from Celia Sankar, Executive Director of the DiversityCanada Foundation. They’ve an ongoing campaign against this country’s wireless carriers, targeting the expiry date on unused balances in prepaid accounts. Their latest initiative is a petition filed with the Governor General.

Over to you, Celia!

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Petition filed to Governor in Council to overturn prepaid balance expiry

June 02, 2014
By Celia Sankar

The DiversityCanada Foundation and the National Pensioners Federation are keeping up the fight on behalf of prepaid wireless consumers.

Today the two organizations jointly filed a Petition requesting that the Harper Government step in to protect prepaid wireless consumers who lose $138 million each year when wireless companies unjustly seize the cash in their prepaid wireless accounts.

The Petition asks the Governor in Council (that is, the Governor General, as advised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet) to quash the section of the Wireless Code which allows wireless providers to seize consumers’ prepaid wireless balances by claiming the cash in these accounts “expired”.

Some 3.7 million Canadians use prepaid wireless services offered by Bell, Rogers and Telus and other providers. They include some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers, such as pensioners, youth, minimum-wage workers, the unemployed and newcomers, who can least afford to have their funds unjustly taken from them.

One year ago, on June 03, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released its Wireless Code, which was designed to regulate the wireless sector for the first time, thereby protecting wireless consumers.

Since then, DiversityCanada has pointed out that the Wireless Code decision was flawed in that the CRTC ignored evidence that prepaid wireless accounts hold cash, and the CRTC did not provide any explanation of the basis on which it decided to permit wireless providers to place expiry dates on the cash in such accounts.

DiversityCanada the the National Pensioners Federation formally requested that the CRTC review its decision (see here and here).

However, earlier this year, on March 05, the CRTC denied this request.

In doing so, the CRTC bent over backwards to permit telecom companies to continue a practice which contravenes the Telecommunications Act, the legislation underwhich the CRTC and all telecom companies operate.

Today’s Petition, therefore, asks the Governor in Council to step in, to truly put consumers first, and to stop big telecom companies from grabbing cash from the accounts of pensioners and other vulnerable Canadians and claiming that the money “expired”.

Specifically, the Petition asks the Governor in Council to vary the relevant section of the Wireless Code so as overturn its endorsement of prepaid wireless balance expiry; and to order that the CRTC reconsider the entire issue.

By law, the Governor in Council must make a decision on the Petition by March 04, 2015.

The full text of the Petition may be viewed at the following links:

Cover Letter
Petition
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F