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Canadian Regulators Examine Ethics of Long Distance Calling Cards


07/12/2007

Canada’s Competition Bureau scrutinizing businesses that sell prepaid long distance phone cards, saying that it wants to ensure that customers are clearly informed what they’re getting when purchasing the popular convenience items.

The Ottawa-based competition watchdog is asking calling card providers to plainly indicate the effective rate per minute and number of minutes available on each card in all advertising campaigns. Regulators are also warning card sellers to to discontinue the use of fine print with disclaimers that contradict the primary message on the card or advertising material.

The agency claims that it gets numerous complaints every year from customers saying that their calling cards came with fewer minutes than advertised, or entailed hidden charges.

“Consumers need to be provided with accurate information so that they can make informed decisions and businesses need to be aware of the standards they need to follow in order to conform to the provisions of the Competition Act,” the Competition Bureau’s acting deputy commissioner, Andrea Rosen.

The Bureau also imparted some good old fashioned buyer-beware advice for customers, however, noting that “when deciding which type of prepaid calling card to purchase, consumers should be wary of ‘too good to be true’ claims such as ‘the lowest rates’ or ‘one cent per minute’ as there may be hidden extra charges.”



 

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