TELUS to Repay $7.34 Million to Customers Over Premium Text Messages

TELUS has agreed to issue rebates worth $7.34 million to customers, as part of a settlement with the Competition Bureau, regarding premium text messages.

The rebates will apply to TELUS and Koodo customers “who incurred a charge for certain premium text messaging services between January 1, 2011 and August 16, 2013.” Eligible current customers will automatically receive the rebate, while former customers will be contacted by the company with instructions on how to get their money back, with 120 days to file a claim.

The settlement is part of an investigation started by the Bureau dating back to 2012, involving TELUS, Rogers, Bell and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), “for facilitating charges by third parties on their customers wireless phone bills for premium text messaging services, such as trivia questions and ringtones, that they did not intend to purchase and for which they had not agreed to pay.”

The Bureau’s original claim seeks refunds of $10 million each from the Big 3 and $1 million from the CWTA.

Part of the agreement means TELUS will also publish a notice to all affected customers and also establish an education campaign to inform customers on how to prevent unwanted wireless charges.

TELUS will also donate $250,000 to the Ryerson University Privacy and Big Data Institute; Éducaloi; and Centre de recherche en droit public de l’Université de Montréal. The money will be used to research issues such as how consumers can be educated on how wireless carriers use personal info and data collected from customers.

Matthew Boswell, Senior Deputy Commissioner of Competition, said in a statement:

“Consumers expect and deserve truth in advertising. Allowing a third party to take advantage of consumers through misleading advertising is a violation of the Competition Act. We are pleased that Telus has taken steps to prevent this from happening again, as we continue our work to ensure that consumers benefit from accurate information in the digital economy.”

Rogers settled with the Bureau this March for $5.42 million, while litigation is still ongoing with Bell.