Agreement also requires Telus to donate $250,000 for research on consumer issues
December 30, 2015 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
As part of a consent agreement with the Competition Bureau, Telus will issue rebates of up to $7.34 million to certain current and former wireless customers after the Bureau concluded that Telus made, or permitted to be made, false or misleading representations in advertisements for premium text messages in pop‑up ads, apps and on social media. The amount of money available for consumer rebates is the most obtained to date under a Bureau agreement.
The rebates will apply to Telus, Telus Mobility 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 a rebate, while eligible former customers can expect to be notified by Telus with details on how to obtain their rebates and will have 120 days to make a claim.
In 2012, the Bureau initiated an inquiry in relation to Rogers, Bell, Telus 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. As part of the agreement, the Bureau will discontinue the legal proceedings against Telus. The Bureau previously reached a settlement with and discontinued the legal proceedings against Rogers. However, the legal proceedings against Bell and the CWTA remain ongoing.
In addition to the rebates, the agreement stipulates that Telus will:
- Publish a notice to all affected customers; and
- Establish a consumer awareness campaign to educate consumers on how to avoid unwanted wireless charges
Telus will also donate a total of $250,000 to the Ryerson University Privacy and Big Data Institute; Éducaloi, a non‑profit organization dedicated to helping the public understand their rights and responsibilities under the law; and the Centre de recherche en droit public de l'Université de Montréal. The money is earmarked for research on issues such as:
- Citizen’s rights and consumer education regarding how wireless service providers use personal information and data collected from customers;
- How wireless carriers could make all such collection and use more transparent to Canadian consumers, and;
- The role that the law currently plays and could play and ensuring that consumers receive accurate information.
"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."
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.