Bell has agreed to reimburse its customers who paid for “premium text messaging” up to $11.82 million. This is the latest and largest settlement reached by the Competition Bureau in its investigation into third party charges for premium text messaging that were passed on to consumers by Canadian mobile telephone companies. The Bell settlement follows similar settlements with Telus and Rogers.
The Bureau took the position that Bell permitted a third party content provider, and an aggregator of premium text messaging and rich content services, to bill its customers for premium text messages and rich content services that the customers did not intend to purchase or for which they did not agree to pay. According to the Bureau, Bell thereby made, or permitted to be made, materially false or misleading representations to the public, both online and through wireless communications devices.
Under the terms of the agreement, Bell will:
- Issue up to $11.82 million in rebates to current and former customers;
- Donate an estimated $800,000 to support digital media research and awareness;
- Publish a notice to affected customers;
- Enhance their corporate compliance program; and
- Develop a consumer awareness campaign to educate consumers about how charges can be incurred on wireless devices and how to avoid unwanted charges.
The Bell settlement brings the total amount of rebates to be paid out to wireless customers up to $24 million.