Bell Faces $100 Million Class-Action Lawsuit Over Prepaid Wireless Expiry Dates

Bell has been faced with a $100 million dollar class-action lawsuit over allegations the expiry dates for prepaid wireless are illegal and in contradiction of Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, reports the CBC. The suit argues prepaid wireless services should be treated as gift cards, where there are no expiry dates:

The suit is being handed by the Toronto law firm of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP on behalf of Celia Sankar of Elliott Lake, Ont.

Sankar, founder of the DiversityCanada Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes social justice, is a Bell Mobility pre-paid wireless customer who has had her credit balance seized on two occasions.

“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,” Sankar said in a statement.

Sankar will act on the behalf of people in Ontario that purchased prepaid wireless services under Bell Mobility and its brands Virgin Mobile Canada and Solo Mobile, from May 4, 2010 onwards, should the suit be certified as class action.

Bell Mobility’s Jacqueline Michelis responded to the suit and noted there’s no merit to the case:

“We’ll certainly defend against it,” Michelis said.

The expiration of prepaid wireless services is frustrating. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard from friends and family on prepaid about ‘losing’ their balances because of an expiry date. If that prepaid money isn’t being used in your account–should carriers be able to take it away at a certain date? What are your thoughts?

[via CBC News]

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