CRTC Blocks Telus 1.5% Credit Card Processing Fee

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced it has rejected Telus’s request to charge customers a 1.5% processing fee on payments made by credit card.

“We heard Canadians loud and clear: close to 4,000 of you told us that you should not be subjected to an additional fee based on the method you choose to pay your bill,” said outgoing CRTC chair and CEO Ian Scott. “We expect the telecommunications industry to treat Canadians with respect and do better.”

Back in August, Telus filed an application with the CRTC to implement a 1.5% processing fee, plus applicable taxes, in Alberta and British Columbia (the practice is prohibited in Quebec) to “recover” processing costs on credit card transactions. The CRTC was originally expected to rule on the matter in October, but a decision was delayed to December.

Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator noted that Telus’s now-denied request was limited to services regulated by the CRTC, which usually only include home telephone services in rural and remote regions and terrestrial internet services in the Far North. The telecom giant doesn’t need CRTC approval to start charging most of its customers extra for credit card payments.

For most of its services, Telus already introduced the 1.5% credit card surcharge back in October. The CRTC’s decision does nothing to roll back or otherwise modify that fee.

However, the CRTC said today that it is “very concerned about this practice as it goes against affordability and consumer interest.” Telus, meanwhile, has previously argued that the processing fee is “just and reasonable.”

The CRTC isn’t convinced, though. “In addition, this practice impacts the most vulnerable consumers who rely on credit cards to pay their everyday bills, especially when prices for essential goods and services are rising due to inflation,” the regulator continued.

Furthermore, the CRTC warned Telus and the telecom industry at large that it could pursue regulatory action against the practice in the future.

“The CRTC is sending a clear message to Telus and other telecommunications service providers that are thinking of imposing such a fee on their customers,” the watchdog said. “Should the practice continue, the CRTC will explore all available regulatory options.”