Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Government The Courts News

Massive Canadian Class-Action Cellphone Suit Is Approved 242

BeanBunny writes "A Saskatchewan, Canada court has ruled that a $12 billion class-action suit can proceed. The suit alleges that 'system access fees' that the cellphone companies have charged ($7-9 per month) are unfair and constitute price gouging. 'It is described as the largest class-action in Canadian history, potentially affecting every cellphone user in the country. Currently, there are 7,500 complainants signed onto the suit.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Massive Canadian Class-Action Cellphone Suit Is Approved

Comments Filter:
  • by ivormi ( 1106139 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:06PM (#20672735)
    This is classic bait and switch tactics... Advertise one price, and then hit the customers with another. Their only real justification is that 'everyone else is doing it' and that not doing so would put them out of business. Its about time something like this came along.
    • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:29PM (#20673047) Homepage Journal

      This is classic bait and switch tactics...

      Advertise one price, and then hit the customers with another. Their only real justification is that 'everyone else is doing it' and that not doing so would put them out of business. Its about time something like this came along.
      There's one company that doesn't have additional fees, and it's part of their sales pitch.
      I don't like to do free publicity, so I'll just say that company hasn't been deflowered nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Jason1729 ( 561790 )
        Yeah, but Virgin's website makes stupid noises that I guess some people with no taste might call music. I'd pay the system access fee just to not have to listen to that garbage every time I want to check my account online.

        Seriously, what kind of demented company alienates 90% of their potential market within 10 seconds of them visiting the site?
        • Yeah, but Virgin's website makes stupid noises
          Really? I haven't noticed. Have you heard of http://noscript.net/ [noscript.net] ? It's a great way of not noticing these things that annoy you.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jason1729 ( 561790 )
            Why should I have to do that? I want to view the content as intended. And if the intended way annoys me, I'll take my business elsewhere.
            • I want to view the content as intended. And if the intended way annoys me, I'll take my business elsewhere.
              I'm at a loss for words.
      • by sapgau ( 413511 )
        Virgin makes a lot of sense to me. With 200 minutes, voice mail, caller id for only $20 on their pay as you go plan.
        Once I'm done with Rogers I will switch.

        I've been deflowered too many times that not even those "special" packages they offer when you call to cancel are worth it.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
        Last I checked Bell did as well.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GeckoX ( 259575 )
          Bell is the worst of the lot. And the system access fee is just ONE of the fees Bell throws at you.

          Try getting any bell services without paying for a landline. Go ahead...try...I'll wait. Want DSL from Bell without paying for a landline? Yeah, that'll be $20 per month, and THEN they'll let you pay for DSL on top of that.

          Not one other phone company that offers DSL does that. I cut my landline off a year ago, and they refused to truly drop it, wouldn't let me. So I cut them off completely. Called up Execulink
  • no-win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:07PM (#20672747) Homepage
    Assuming the lawsuit is successful, they'll just roll the $7 fee into the base price for ALL of their plans. So my $20/mo plan will become a $26.95/mo plan. Big whoop.

    Wake me up when they stop charging $0.10 per SMS, or $0.05 per KB. I mean why is it they can afford me calling my friends after 6pm which uses roughly 9.6kbit/sec for FREE (well unlimited), but I can't send a 200 byte SMS without incurring a 10 cent charge no matter the time of day.

    Cell phones are basically a license to print money. And since Rogers and Bell are basically monopolies they can charge [and do] whatever they want. If you look at Rogers previous earnings reports, the wireless division has been making tons of profit for a long time. So strictly speaking the high fees are NOT required to stay in business, they're just fucking greedy.
    • Re:no-win (Score:5, Funny)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:11PM (#20672829) Journal
      Doncha know, this is what they call the miracle of an unregulated market? Why, you should be thanking Gawd Almighty that you're allowed to pay money to cell phone companies. To complain is Communistic.
      • Exactly. These charges are there and people are still paying them, so obviously they are not excessive. If the charges were too high, why would people pay them? Obviously the charges are considered reasonable for the provided services (or, the people on these plans are mentally unstable and continue to pay prices they deem unreasonable for the services provided even though they have no obligation to do so?).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          That's a very pat answer - and a typical reply for those who worship at the altar of "free market". In your world, this is a simple supply/demand equation, and the answer is very black and white.

          The problem is, there's a huge difference between "reasonable pricing" and "too high, but I have to pay it if I want the service". One is fair, the other is borderline extortion. Ask my cable provider about that one. I can choose to not have any cable, or I can choose to pay too much. My choice. I grant you th
          • The problem is, there's a huge difference between "reasonable pricing" and "too high, but I have to pay it if I want the service". One is fair, the other is borderline extortion.

            So you're saying the government should intervene and make everyone price their products "fairly"?

            Fair by whose standards? Paris Hilton's? Or that homeless guy on the street corner with the bottle of Listerine and the "fuck you" hat?

            While we're at it, what gives you the right to sell your personal property at any price you

    • SMS is a different protocol which requires a different infrastructure. The prices are high, but it's not just as easy as normal data transfer.
      • Re:no-win (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kidcharles ( 908072 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:30PM (#20673067)

        SMS is a different protocol which requires a different infrastructure. The prices are high, but it's not just as easy as normal data transfer.
        I've heard about this, but in my opinion, bandwidth is bandwidth. If a wireless provider is sending two signals, one of which has a throughput that is thousands of times the data rate of the other signal, yet the signal with the smaller amount of data costs them thousands of times more than the larger signal to send, they are doing something really wrong. Of course the thing that is really wrong about text messaging is not the technical implementation but the pricing, for which there is simply no excuse. It's price gouging, pure and simple, and the US providers are collectively guilty of it.
      • Re:no-win (Score:5, Interesting)

        by athakur999 ( 44340 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:38PM (#20673175) Journal
        That is BS. In GSM/UMTS networks at least, SMS messages are sent through the network via the MAP protocol and between the switch and mobile via DTAP. DTAP is required for any kind of mobile interaction and a provider must already have a MAP infrastructure in place to be able to handle practically any type of call.

        The only additional piece of equipment required to handle SMS in a network is a SMS service center. All this is a database to receive SMS messages from an originating mobile and then send them back out to terminating mobile.

        Using up bearer channels in their network for voice or data calls costs providers (both in dollars and in availability) far more than the simple signalling that SMS uses. There is no financial reason why a provider can provide unlimited voice calls but must charge $0.15 for an SMS message.

        • There is no financial reason why a provider can provide unlimited voice calls but must charge $0.15 for an SMS message.
          Yes, there is --- Profit!
    • Re:no-win (Score:5, Insightful)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:15PM (#20672873) Journal

      Assuming the lawsuit is successful, they'll just roll the $7 fee into the base price for ALL of their plans. So my $20/mo plan will become a $26.95/mo plan. Big whoop.
      Maybe they will roll it in, maybe not. Thee is clearly an advantage in deceiving their customers, or they would not do it. If the current monthly cost is (for example) $30 (plus a fee of $7), how many fewer will sign up if the service is priced at $37/month? Clearly some will not sign up. Perhaps the companies will find it advantageous to charge something between $30 and $37/month.

      In any case, I wonder how those 2 year contract (if that is typical in Canada like it is in the US) might come back to bite the providers if they have to keep providing service for the remainder of the contract, but MINUS the "access fees"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pthor1231 ( 885423 )
        They would probably just change the contract, which they are allowed to do, and then the consumers, if they are savvy. Problem is, most consumers don't: 1) thoroughly read everything that comes in their monthly bill 2) realize that the phone companies can change the contract at will 3) realize that the consumer can void the contract if the change has an adverse effect on them
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )
      My personal favorite absurd line-item in your phone bill has always been the small fee they charge you for the privelege of touch-tone dialing.

      You couldn't opt out of it if you wanted, and the phone hardware is designed to work with those tones. It's not like they've got those big mechanical things that used to physically move in response to the numbers you dialed.

      Really, what justification to charge for the ability to dial the phone with touchtones can there possibly still be? These little items are abso
      • I don't know where you live, but I think they took that off the phone bills quite a few years ago. Actually, what they will charge extra for is if you want pulse dialing. I think they still offer it in some places.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nahpets77 ( 866127 )
      What about long distance? Why do they still charge long distance rates in this day and age where you can access sites anywhere in the world via internet? They also these weird rules like if you're roaming in another city, and someone local calls you, you pay long distance. But, if you call them, you don't because you'd be calling the same area code. How can long distance be charged depending on who intiates the call, even though you're physically in the same location in both scenarios. In any event, ce
      • Not only do you have to pay for "call display", you also have to pay extra for to see the "name" showing up on call display. Talk about insane.
    • So you would rather have the illusion that you're paying $20/mo but actually pay $27/mo? The whole point of the lawsuit is that there's this hidden fee that all mobile providers charge, which the consumer doesn't know about until they get their bill. I remember one time when I inquired about $25/mo plan, and I asked the representative what my monthly bill would be, and I was told $25/mo. Sure enough, it was $32/mo. That's total bullshit. And this "system access fee" keeps increasing when profits start saggi
    • Not for customers who already have $XX price for a plan. The price of the plan is fixed (unless you switch to a new plan), and would be grandfathered in with the contract, etc.

      My captcha is parasite... how nice and fitting for a comment on a cellphone-related article
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      strictly speaking the high fees are NOT required to stay in business, they're just fucking greedy

      No shit.

      Everyone is greedy -- you, me, the companes -- that's how markets work. You're "greedy" in that you don't want to spend much money. Businesses are "greedy" in that they want to keep their prices as high as possible. A group of you get together and the optimum price point is reached, balancing resources, competition, supply and demand.

      Only when governments get involved do things get royally fucked up.

      "But
    • Why don't you just pay for the stuff you use? Looking at your latest tax report, there's plenty of income left at the end of each year. Oh well, you're probably just fucking greedy.

      Seriously though, the reason they can offer free (or cheaper) calls after 6 pm is that the there's a huge drop in business use of voice service, so there's a lot of extra capacity which they use to either recover some revenue by increasing volume of non-business users, or use unlimited calls to attract customers.

      I don't have any
    • GOOD (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hurfy ( 735314 )
      "Assuming the lawsuit is successful, they'll just roll the $7 fee into the base price for ALL of their plans. So my $20/mo plan will become a $26.95/mo plan. Big whoop."

      That is the idea yes.

      Did you get the plan on price? You would not know your $20 plan costs more than my $25 plan until you sign on for a year or two!

      I am trying to compare phone companies for work. It is impossible to know how much it will cost without signing up. Land or cell :(

      Is $25.00 per month and $.07 per minute better or worse than $1
    • I mean why is it they can afford me calling my friends after 6pm which uses roughly 9.6kbit/sec for FREE

      I could be wrong, being that I am not a telecommunications engineer, but I seem to remember that SMS and text messaging was treated differently from voice by the GSM and CDMA technologies. It has to do with bandwidth allocated for different types of uses by the network whereby voice receives the largest portion of the bandwidth while SMS and text operates on the "command" channel which is more limited
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      Rogers and Bell aren't monopolies. They're not even the big player. Telus (formerly Alberta Government Telephones) competes with both as well as constantly acquiring phone networks in far flung parts of the world because there isn't enough for them to eat here in Canada.

      Not that Telus is better. Worse actually. Still, the problem isn't monopoly, it's collusion.
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )
      Assuming the lawsuit is successful, they'll just roll the $7 fee into the base price for ALL of their plans.

      Which is as it should be.

      They shouldn't be allowed to advertise free phones on a 19.95/per month plan where they charge you $20.00 to activate the phone and and that 19.95 plan after all the fees they tack on ends up over 30.00/month.

      If they simply honestly advertised it as a $20 phone with $30/mo fees, I'd have no issue with it.

  • So many charges... (Score:2, Informative)

    by danomac ( 1032160 )
    I've always wondered about that fee. I remember when I first got a cell phone eons ago, when I signed up for a plan and the first bill did not jive with the plan. I didn't remember paying a large fee for my landline so I phoned them and got quite upset at first. After that I noticed that the sales reps tell you there is an "access charge" which by now shouldn't need to exist.

    It is also interesting that Bell raised their fees. Good thing I don't use them as my cell phone carrier.

  • That'd be nifty. I'm sure you could accuse them of price fixing, collusion and deceptive business practices at the very least. I bet there's a case to be made there, for 12 BILLION DOLLARS!
    • by Curtman ( 556920 )

      I bet there's a case to be made there, for 12 BILLION DOLLARS!

      Is that U.S. or Canadian dollars? Or right, it doesn't matter anymore. :)
      • I think when you reach the point of exceeding ten billion dollars, you are now in the "shitload" category ... and it really doesn't matter.
  • Sask. Only? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wolvie MkM ( 661535 )
    Don't suppose this is a Canada wide lawsuit? And if so how do I get in on it?

    I've been with Clearnet/Telus for nearly 10 years and apparently been handing free money to them... Good Times...

  • .....where do I sign up? I'm all for free money back.
  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:36PM (#20673147)
    Since it screws over the customers worse than the companies just to make the lawyers rich.

    But in this case, these ripoff fees have been bugging me for 10 years, so I'm all for this on. If they roll in the fees with the normal rates, good, that's how they should do it.
    • Since it screws over the customers worse than the companies just to make the lawyers rich.

      It's called getting paid on contingency [wikipedia.org] and the percentage the lawyers get is subject to court review & approval and can be anywhere from 25% to 50% in the USA

      Class Action law suits normally take years to complete... during this time, the lawyers aren't getting paid by their clients. So instead of every member of the suit paying the billable hours in monthly installments, the lawyers get a cut of the winnings. This tends to give them great incentive to negotiate/win a high dollar value.

      • Every member of the class gets a few dollars maybe a few tens of dollars if it's a major tort. In return they lose the right to sue in the future. In the Sony rootkit case they got a $5 coupon iirc.

        The lawyers walk away with millions of dollars.

        So yeah, the class members get screwed as badly as the companies their suing to give the lawyers millions of dollars they don't deserve.
  • I assume by 'access' they mean what occurs directly after you bend over and grab your ankles?

    Anyway... We're at a time in this technology that is going to be a short-lived transition in the larger picture. Eventually prices for all cell phone service will drop dramatically, including all data services. Right now we're just getting out of the early adopter phase and are moving into widespread use. (I'm looking at timelines of how long it took the human race to develop sufficient technology for this to wor
  • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@NOSpaM.snkmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673277) Journal
    I'm on prepaid, only paying $10/mth+tax and nothing else. That's one of the reasons I picked prepaid to begin with; No system access fee, at least in Canada on Telus.
    • I have been doing the same thing ever since I got a cell phone nearly 10 years ago... pretty much all services included (a ~$20/month freebie), no unnecessary network fees, no nonsense. In the early years, $10 used to be good for two months at a time.

      Since I use it mostly to be reachable for job interviews and to locate my friends when we go out and lose sight of each other or got confused about the actual meeting place, I rarely use it more than 10-15 minutes per month.
    • by saskboy ( 600063 )
      Oh, but do they roll that fee into the ~$10/month or so that we're paying?
  • To sign up... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ameline ( 771895 ) <ian.ameline@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:46PM (#20673297) Homepage Journal
    If you are Canadian, and have a canadian cell phone, Go to http://www.merchantlaw.com/cellular.html [merchantlaw.com] to sign up...
  • What is happening? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WwWonka ( 545303 )
    Seriously? This country and corporations(as well as you Canadians up 'der") have found fit to nickel and dime the lazy into millions and billions of extra dollars in hidden fees, surcharges, and taxes.

    It's interesting to see this in almost EVERY major bill of everyday American usage. Phone, cable, electric, gas. It truly is out of control and it's a pleasant surprise to see the Canadians take charge. Now if us Americans would understand that the phone companies here are doing the same PLUS charging us for f
    • Here's hoping us Canadians can continue this 'take charge' thing
      I got my land-line phone bill today.
      This is the cheapest plan advertised: Starting at under $20 [www.bell.ca]
      Here is the bill for one of these plans:

      Residence line 18.48
      Network Charge 5.95
      CITY CALLING AREA EXPANSION 0.50
      911 emergency service access 0.19
      Touch-Tone service 2.80
      Long Distance Credit* -2.95
      First Rate TM Worldwide 0.00
      Total 24.97

      I don't see any fees there that you can opt out of, but they still advertise a sub-$20 plan. The Network C

  • Deceptive. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ACMENEWSLLC ( 940904 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:20PM (#20673753) Homepage
    It's deceptive. If I sign up for a $49/mo plan and incur no extra expenses (MMS, minutes, downloads) then why is my bill $63/mo give or take a few bucks? Why does it vary when I never have extra charges?

    If the plan costs $63/mo then advertise it as that. Not $49/mo.

    And then all these "free phone" deals. I keep asking them for that free phone, but they won't give it to me without money. The sign says "free phone." and it doesn't have an *. If it says free, then why can't I have it free?

    I have a free phone you can have, just sign here. What did you sign? A contract for a variable monthly fee service which I can change the fee structure at any time and an agreement to pay $300 if you cancel. I reserve the right to increase your fee's at any time. And I can add $20 worth of monthly fee's if I feel like it with no recourse on your side.

    Sucks. But they all do it.
    • I have a $25 per month plan and even when I don't go over my alloted minutes with all the extra fees I pay $45 a month through Telus.
  • $48/Year fee, mandated by the CRTC (Kinda like the FCC). Not sure when it transitioned to 6.95/month.
  • Does anyone here have the contact information for the lawyer etc conducting this suit for all those Canadians getting bilked?
  • For any Canadians who want to sign onto this lawsuit:

    http://www.merchantlaw.com/cellular.html [merchantlaw.com]

    Recommend this to anyone you know who uses a cellphone from a Canadian provider!

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington

Working...