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CRTC Orders Telus to Refund Long Distance Access Fee


21/04/2008

Western Canada’s leading telecom operator, Telus Corp., must refund all proceeds from a $2.95/month long distance “network-access fee” charged to its residential telephone customers over the last few months, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled late last week.

“When applied to customers who did not make any long-distance calls, the monthly fee was equivalent to an unauthorized increase to the residential local service rate,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Chairman of the CRTC. “We will use our powers whenever necessary to uphold the interests of consumers of telecommunications services, particularly in instances when companies impose unauthorized charges.”

The long distance access fee has been charged to more than 500,000 B.C. and Alberta telephone since November 2007, prompting about 1,100 customer complaints over the past few months, as well as protests from long distance dial-around provider, Yak Communications (Canada) Corp., which called the Telus fee an “unauthorized residential local rate increase.”

The CRTC ruled that Telus must stop charging the long distance fee, and refund the $2.95/month charge to all customers that did not use Telus’ long distance services during the relevant month. Given the current regulatory laws on Canadian telecom services, this is a reasonable and logical decision. Telus is reportedly considering an appeal, but such an action would be unlikely to succeed.

Although TeleClick.ca is highly skeptical of any attempts to regulate local and long distance telephone prices, it is obvious that this fee was initiated in a dishonest and unethical way. Naturally, the greatest condemnation of such actions is not delivered by the CRTC, but by consumers themselves, which have fled to Shaw Communications and other alternative carriers in recent months, causing analysts to downgrade Telus’ stock.



 

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