$100M Lawsuit vs Bell Over Expiry of Prepaid Minutes Allowed to Proceed

The Ontario Superior Court Justice ruled today a class-action lawsuit against Bell over the issue of expiring prepaid minutes can proceed (it was certified last fall), reports the CBC:

The suit, led by Celia Sankar of Elliot Lake, Ont., is seeking compensation for more than a million people in Ontario. It alleges Bell breached its contracts with those customers by expiring remaining credit balances too early or for imposing expiry dates at all.

Sankar launched the suit in 2012 after the balance on her prepaid plan was “seized” by Bell twice in three years.

The suit was launched by Sankar in 2012 after she says her prepaid balance was “seized” twice in three years by Bell. The lawsuit argues prepaid plans are akin to gift cards and should be governed under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, thus not include an expiry date.

At the time, Sankar said:

“Because the prepaid wireless service is the least expensive way to have a phone, and does not require a credit card or a bank account, it is often the only option for youth, new immigrants, workers on minimum wage, the unemployed, people on disability and seniors on fixed incomes,”

The plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages from Bell. The carrier responded to the initial lawsuit in 2012 by saying “We’ll certainly defend against it.”

The lawsuit looks to compensate over 1 million customers from Bell, Virgin Mobile and Solo Mobile that had expiring balances in their accounts between May 4, 2010 to December 16, 2013.

What do you think? Should prepaid balances be treated like gift cards and have no expiration dates?

 

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  • Rickyscv

    I suffer from this with my T-Mobile account in the States. I once lost around $35 after I missed the ‘refill’ date on my plan by a couple of days. There is no clear way of finding when they expire on my web account; spending lots of time phoning them is the only way to find out. I’ve started to mark my calendar 90 days from when I refill the minimum for the account. But T-Mobile had no sympathy for me; I’d imagine they make quite a bit of money with their method-it’s not fair and I’m glad Bell is being challenged.

  • James23

    I agree with no expiry date. Money that people put into there phone plan should stay with their accounts. However, understanding how a company must make money and ‘encourage’ use, maybe telecos can implement a system similar to a checking account in the bank. Have a small fee/service charge like $1-5/month if the person does not use a certain amount of talk time.
    But to have your whole account seized is quite ridiculous, and unethical.

    My 2cents.