The Competition Bureau has confirmed publicly it is investigating sales practices of Bell Canada, reports The Globe and Mail, citing an application filed in Federal Court last week.
“The bureau is examining potentially false and misleading representations made in connection with the promotion of Bell’s residential services, including home phone, internet and television sold separately or in bundles,” Jayme Albert, a spokesman for the bureau, said Wednesday. “The bureau’s investigation is ongoing and there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time.”
An investigation by the Competition Bureau was launched last year, but the court filing revealed it was underway for the first time.
CBC News investigations in 2018 uncovered alleged dodgy and aggressive sales practices by Bell Canada employees, when it came to selling TV, internet and home phone to customers door-to-door, which resulted in a CRTC proceeding into the matter.
The Competition Bureau went filed for a court order to have Bell disclose sales practices records from the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), which handles consumer telecom complaints. The court order is required as the CCTS cannot reveal information due to confidentiality reasons.
A Bell spokesperson told the Globe, “We’re aware of the bureau’s process and will work with them as we would any of the regulatory authorities.”
The Bureau says its investigation has “revealed that there are a number of ways in which consumers are allegedly misled by Bell and its third-party representatives,” specifically being targeted with offers deemed as “cheap”, “inexpensive” or a “good deal”.
The sales practices in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, allege the Bureau, go against Bell’s terms of service. The watchdog believes these misleading sales practices have been occurring “since at least January 1, 2017,” with so far roughly 65 complaints received since that date.
Back in 2015, the Competition Bureau fined Bell $1.25 million for posting fake reviews in Apple’s App Store, for the company’s MyBell Mobile and Virgin My Account apps.
In 2011, Bell paid a $10 million fine after the Competition Bureau concluded prices paid by consumers were higher than what the company had advertised.