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oh LOOK

@videotron.ca

New Ontario class action against Bell Canada Pre-Paid cards gets approval

Breakage And Prepaid Phone Plans Challenged In Court
»www.mondaq.com/canada/x/272332/F···In+Court

quote:
The Ontario Superior Court recently certified a class-action lawsuit against Bell Mobility in which the plaintiff challenges the company's practice of putting expiry dates on its prepaid cell phone cards and its practice of treating any unused, outstanding balance as forfeited.1 Among other things, the plaintiff claims that the company's practices contravene Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (the "CPA") and, in particular, its Gift Card Regulation.

It is important to note that this ruling does not decide the merits of the case, but allows the plaintiff's claim to proceed to trial as a class action to determine several issues involving the company's practices handling expiry dates and regarding Ontario's Gift Card Regulation. Bell Mobility estimated to the Court that there are approximately 1,040,400 people in the class – being persons who purchased prepaid cards branded Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile and Solo Mobile, paid on a pay-per-use basis, with balances in their accounts at the end of an active period between May 4, 2010 and October 4, 2013 (the date the action was certified).

...

Bell Mobility estimated to the Court that there are approximately 1,040,400 people in the class – being persons who purchased prepaid cards branded Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile and Solo Mobile, paid on a pay-per-use basis, with balances in their accounts at the end of an active period between May 4, 2010 and October 4, 2013 (the date the action was certified).
Ontario pre-paid people may want to take note of this.

On another note, a win would invalidate the CRTC's useless industry written wireless code on pre-paid services, as it is written. Bell is arguing only the CRTC has "exclusive jurisdiction over wireless services". The Ontario province is acting outside of its constitutional jurisdiction.


ChuckcZar

@teksavvy.com
Everyone likes to see Bell get sued.


elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
Premium
join:2006-08-30
Somewhere in
kudos:2
reply to oh LOOK
Of course only the CRTC has jurisdiction, they have people there to take care of this.

Besides thus has zero to do with the service,but rather its a retail financial transaction, which the province has jurisdiction.
Expand your moderator at work


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to elwoodblues

Re: New Ontario class action against Bell Canada Pre-Paid cards gets approval

said by elwoodblues:

Besides thus has zero to do with the service,but rather its a retail financial transaction, which the province has jurisdiction.

I'm not so sure. The province has no jurisdiction over prepaid credit card gift cards, as credit cards are federally regulated. Bell might have an easy out on this one.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
said by Gone:

said by elwoodblues:

Besides thus has zero to do with the service,but rather its a retail financial transaction, which the province has jurisdiction.

I'm not so sure. The province has no jurisdiction over prepaid credit card gift cards, as credit cards are federally regulated. Bell might have an easy out on this one.

Credit cards yes, but credit is not "pre-paid". For it to be a credit card Bhell would have to issue credit. Besides, if they wanted to go down that route you could then argue that Bhell is acting as a bank by "holding" your money for you. The terms of the contract are pretty clear, it's a purchase and as such the company cannot devalue that purchase arbitrarily.

If this succeeds I wouldn't be surprised to see one against pre-paid visas for the same practice. I'm actually surprised there hasn't been already for the fact that the numbers rub off the front of the card very easily (which isn't great if you're wanting to use it for internet purchases).


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
Well, considering that Ontario themselves specifically state that prepaid phone cards and prepaid credit cards are exempt from their legislation, I don't think it will go very far.

All the power to them though, I guess. At least the lawyers will get rich.


jtl999
CEO of Actiontec Dev Team

join:2012-11-24
In the GVRD
kudos:4
reply to oh LOOK
Darn. Thought it was going to be a lawsuit related to DPI. Ah well.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to Gone
There's nothing in the language of the act which states that, however, there is this exemption that could be argued to apply:

"a gift card that covers only one specific good or service"

However, they've probably argued that because they bill multiple services (local calls, long distance, texting, data, etc) at different rates and list them individually on a bill then they cannot be considered a single service.

Also, just because something is federally regulated does not mean it can't also have provincial regulations. PART VII of the consumer protection act deals, in part, with credit cards.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
said by JMJimmy:

Also, just because something is federally regulated does not mean it can't also have provincial regulations. PART VII of the consumer protection act deals, in part, with credit cards.

The province has specifically stated that these items are exempt from the regulation. If you don't believe me, you can see it right from the horses mouth:

said by »www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/G···rds.aspx :
The new law does not apply to loyalty cards used to collect rewards or points, and does not apply to cards that are subject to federal jurisdiction, such as prepaid phone cards. Cards or certificates that are redeemable for specific services, such as a massage at a spa, are also not covered.
(emphasis mine)

And if that wasn't enough...
said by »www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/Documents/···s_en.pdf :
Exceptions
These rules do not apply to:
• Gift certificates for one specific good or
service such as a card redeemable for a
spa package.
• Loyalty cards that provide you with points or
rewards.
• Free or discount cards where a gift card is
given away or sold at a discount.
• Prepaid phone cards - But companies must
disclose the phone card’s terms and conditions
clearly and in a way that consumers can
understand.
• Prepaid credit cards - The name may say
“VISA” or “MasterCard,” but these are actually
gift cards, not credit cards. You pay a fee to buy
one, but there is no fee when you use it. Fees
apply if you:
Hold a card longer than six months, or
Replace a lost or stolen card.
• Gift cards you buy or receive to
support fund-raising - This includes cards
from a charity or non-profit organization.
• Mall cards – Cards that may be redeemed
at more than one store. The mall may
charge a one-time activation fee of up to
$1.50. After 15 months (or 18 months, if you
request an extension) the mall may charge
you up to $2.50 per month on any unused
balance. These terms must be clearly stated
on the card.



elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
Premium
join:2006-08-30
Somewhere in
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Reviews:
·VMedia
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

Well, considering that Ontario themselves specifically state that prepaid phone cards and prepaid credit cards are exempt from their legislation, I don't think it will go very far.

All the power to them though, I guess. At least the lawyers will get rich.

Not on class action, they'll take 30% off the top upon winning, and they wouldn't take a case like this unless they knew they had a decent chance of winning or getting a settlement.
--
No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake.......


elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
Premium
join:2006-08-30
Somewhere in
kudos:2
reply to Gone
It's not a "prepaid phone card" it's a prepaid service.


hmm

@videotron.ca
reply to elwoodblues
They are going for 100-million dollars and something like all Ontario is in the class (all pre-paid Ontario users from 2010). Something like over 1-million Ontario people.

Yeah, they'll get rich if they win. It's a lot of zero's.


hmm

@videotron.ca
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

Well, considering that Ontario themselves specifically state that prepaid phone cards and prepaid credit cards are exempt from their legislation, I don't think it will go very far.

From what I understood, the judge allowed this to go through (ie certify/approve) the class-action because there was some merit to it.

In addition, the CRTC code doesn't come into effect till something like the first or second week of Dec. So really, the fed's know there must be a protection for the people from being ripped off (thus the code).

So with everything combined, the judge ruled that there are some good arguments to be made. But it doesn't necessarily mean they are valid arguments that will lead to a win.

In addition, this law firm stated the other telco's are in their cross-hairs and will be next. They are holding back and not starting anything yet because they want to see how this one will turn out and will change game plan accordingly.

Rogers will likely be next.

The Quebec code (yeah I know this is Ontario only) is like what Gone stated. But I have read some varying twists that I can't really confirm to date. I would have to call the OPC here to find out for sure. But some of the sites stated what gone stated, and some state that if the balance is 5$ or less you lose it. Above 5$ and it's transferred to the next month (if one opens their mouth).

So I read conflicting things here for this prov. Not sure what is what.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
reply to Gone
Those links are "government information" pages, they are not legal documents. The act itself is the legal document and doesn't support those information pages. The action wouldn't have been able to proceed if those pages were accurate to the law.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to elwoodblues
said by elwoodblues:

It's not a "prepaid phone card" it's a prepaid service.

No, they're pre-paid cards. As stated above, they're used for multiple services (local vs long distance calling, texting, data, etc)


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to JMJimmy
said by JMJimmy:

Those links are "government information" pages, they are not legal documents. The act itself is the legal document and doesn't support those information pages. The action wouldn't have been able to proceed if those pages were accurate to the law.

So the government is lying about their own consumer protection laws? Where did you get your LLB and do your articles?

BrianON

join:2011-09-30
Ottawa, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy Cable
reply to JMJimmy
said by JMJimmy:

No, they're pre-paid cards. As stated above, they're used for multiple services (local vs long distance calling, texting, data, etc)

The cards have none of that. They are used to add to the balance of a pre-paid cell phone plan. You can wait months after purchasing the card before applying it to your or another person's prepaid cell phone account without it losing any value.

That it's common practice to expire pre-paid cell phone balances after a number of days is really a separate issue and happens if you use top-up cards, a credit card or a debit card to add to the account balance.


HiVolt
Premium
join:2000-12-28
Toronto, ON
kudos:21
reply to oh LOOK
There's no reason to have an expiry, other than to force adding extra credit.
--


yyzlhr

join:2012-09-03
Scarborough, ON
kudos:4
said by HiVolt:

There's no reason to have an expiry, other than to force adding extra credit.

Not necessarily. Buying new blocks of phone numbers cost a lot of money. Allowing prepaid customers to keep their numbers active indefinitely if they have any sort of balance will reduce the amount of phone numbers available to new subscribers who will actually use the service on a regular basis, thus forcing carriers to buy new blocks of numbers.


hmm

@videotron.ca
Carriers buy (or are allowed to buy) new blocks of numbers when their inventory dwindles to around 6 months worth. So they recycle numbers as much as possible so they don't have to buy more.

However, both Telus and Bell only recycle numbers after 90-day (rogers i think doesn't play ball like the others and may recycle numbers faster). In other words, those numbers are held back in the system for 90-days minimum. They also do this in case the end-user wishes to buy back their same number. They can do so within that 90-days.

Also, people pay for numbers. It's not like people aren't charged at all. Go change you number, it will be 25 to 50$.

So back to hivolts question, indeed it need not expire for a good 3 months after the fact. Likely even more.

I believe Ontario has a 1-year limit on cards like a pre-paid visa. There is no reason at all that it can't be the same. It will just shift the carriers number inventory a little bit, not a heck of a lot.

AsherN
Premium
join:2010-08-23
Thornhill, ON
So if a tourist comes in, buys a pre-paid, uses it for a week and goes home, the carrier should have to hold that number for a year. If enough people do that, forcing the carrier to buy a new block of numbers?

It's bad enough that we are running out of numbers, but if we have to hold numbers for a year, how many more overlays in places like Toronto do you want? There's already 6 area codes in my local calling area.


hmm

@videotron.ca
Does pre-paid have to follow the number though?

AsherN
Premium
join:2010-08-23
Thornhill, ON
How else are you going to track the balance? The number is the unique identifier.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

said by JMJimmy:

Those links are "government information" pages, they are not legal documents. The act itself is the legal document and doesn't support those information pages. The action wouldn't have been able to proceed if those pages were accurate to the law.

So the government is lying about their own consumer protection laws? Where did you get your LLB and do your articles?

Always love these kind of comments: »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
They were entirely valid questions for me or anyone else here to ask. You also didn't bother to post any relevant sections of the acts you claimed contradicted the government's own website. The onus is on you. The ball is in your court. Best of luck to you.

MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4
reply to AsherN
said by AsherN:

How else are you going to track the balance? The number is the unique identifier.

Not always.

Customer ID & Phone Number & Assignment/Stop Date are actually what's required to uniquely identify, as multiple customers could own any given number through time. It's not hard to do, but I'm sure Bell's systems don't do this.

JMJimmy

join:2008-07-23
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

They were entirely valid questions for me or anyone else here to ask.

They're pointless things to ask. Whether or not I have an LLB/articles has zero bearing on the substance of what I'm saying. I am not offering legal advice, merely a point of view.

said by Gone:

You also didn't bother to post any relevant sections of the acts you claimed contradicted the government's own website. The onus is on you. The ball is in your court. Best of luck to you.

I did here: »Re: New Ontario class action against Bell Canada Pre-Paid cards gets approval notice the section in quotation marks? Ether way here you go:

»bit.ly/HICYYZ - link at the bottom to the actual regulation

25.1 Sections 25.2 to 25.5 apply to every gift card agreement entered into on or after the day this section comes into force and to every gift card issued under that agreement, but do not apply to,

(a) a gift card that a supplier issues for a charitable purpose; or

(b) a gift card that covers only one specific good or service; or

(c) the gift card agreement under which a gift card described in clause (a) or (b) is issued. O. Reg. 187/07, s. 3.

Bhell might be able to argue B, but I doubt it would hold up since at the very least they bill local and long distance separately and the cards allow for both types of services.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
The cards themselves don't expire. The service does. There is a huge difference between those two.

If we were to use your argument, Loblaw would be in violation of the law if you used a gift card to purchase a carton of milk that expired before you used it all. Is this your contention?

This, of course, completely ignores the whole federal regulation side of things.


Treegravy
Premium
join:2011-04-21
canada
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·Rogers Hi-Speed
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Capture from: homeplan2
said by Gone:

The cards themselves don't expire. The service does.

I like how $100 dollars of 'service' takes 365 day to expire and lesser amounts expire faster. This is the inherent unfairness of the current system. I don't mind the "service" expiring at some point but I want the same expiry time per dollar. I would rather pay 15$ per year for a phone I never use than $100.