Ontario Court Certifies Class-Action Lawsuit Against Bell and Telus

Telus and Bell will face a class-action lawsuit for a practice that affected millions of Canadians: The carriers somehow “forgot” to bill their customers on a per-second basis (via The Star).

So, what happened exactly? Millions of Canadians were charged on a per-minute basis for years, which means a call of 1 minute and 1 second is rounded up to 2 minutes. The most interesting part of the story is that Bell and Telus used to bill customers on a per-second basis, but they changed their practices in mid-2002, without disclosing the changes, the lawsuit alleges.

Phone call

“Customers who purchased a fixed number of minutes for a set fee (e.g. 100 local minutes for $25) would deplete their talk time minutes much faster than represented, after which they would incur additional per-minute charges at a higher rate,” the press release notes.

The Ontario court has certified a class-action lawsuit against the two telcos on behalf of all Canadians who were affected by the practice between August 18, 2006 and October 1, 2009 for Bell customers, and between August 18, 2006 and July 1, 2010 for Telus customers.

“There is hope with this decision that mobile phone transactions will become more transparent,” Rochon said, adding that the fact that “punitive and aggregate damages have been certified sends a strong message to the major actors in the cellphone industry that this sort of conduct will not be tolerated.”

Lawyers of Rochon Genova LLP and the Merchant Law Group LLP said the certification of the suit is an important decision for everyday consumers. Were you affected by this practice?