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Canadians File Class Actions Over Incoming SMS Fees

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the unilaterally-changing-the-locked-in-contract dept.

Cellphones 292

dontmakemethink writes "CTV reports that over the last couple of weeks class-action lawsuits have been filed against two major Canadian cellular service providers, Bell and Telus, for imposing fees on incoming text messages. While there has been very vocal opposition to the introduction of the fees, those who cannot change providers due to binding contracts feel the situation is actionable in court. Some of those not bound by contract, such as myself, have given their service provider notice that they will charge the provider for having to contact them to have charges reversed for unsolicited texts. Because service providers are aware of the volume of unsolicited texts, we feel they are liable for the inconvenience to their clients for preventing spam charges, and more importantly under no circumstances should service providers profit from spam. We also feel that requiring us to buy text bundles to avoid the inconvenience of reversing spam charges constitutes extortion. They can charge me for texts when they stop the spam."

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292 comments

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eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463213)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463251)

Carefull. Those ca-nuts are quick to knife, and given that no one cares if they do, they'll not only knife you, they'll cut off your head and carry it to the front of the bus. No one will do anything. The canadian way, ay?

Children see man decapitate fellow passenger on Greyhound bus in Canada

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/01/canada [guardian.co.uk]

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (3, Insightful)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463443)

As a Canadian, I feel this is just us imitating the American way of doing things. However, it's unfortunate that we can't take full credit since he's a new immigrant and likely wasn't a citizen yet.

In other news, it strikes me as odd that you find the fact that children saw it the most disturbing bit about this. The children will be fine. The victim won't be.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

das3cr (780388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464407)

I highly doubt that the children will 'be fine.' I even doubt that the adults will 'be fine.' I do however see a hefty raise in the number of counseling patients in the future.

Besides that if it had been in the US, the cops would have shot him as would have only been proper.

Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Interesting)

William Ager (1157031) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463253)

I can understand how this might be a breach of contract issue for customers with binding contracts, and I would certainly expect many customers, even without binding contracts, to cancel their service over this. However, I really can't see how a customer can consider themselves justified in arbitrarily billing a company for their time just because the company makes changes that they dislike, no matter how horrible those changes may be.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463269)

If a company can arbitrarily bill their customers for incoming messages then what's wrong with the customers billing the company for having to deal with those unwanted messages? Show me in the contract where it says that customers will be required to pay for SMS spam...

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Interesting)

William Ager (1157031) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463319)

If the matter is breach of contract, then it should be dealt with accordingly. There are mechanisms in society to deal with these sorts of issues, and they don't involve billing people without legal justification.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (3, Insightful)

geniusj (140174) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463793)

Is slashdot turning into digg? Whether or not you agree with the parent, he/she isn't a troll..

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (0, Troll)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463979)

You must have missed where Idle stories can make it to the front page. Welcome to Diggdot.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (1)

Moderatbastard (808662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464331)

True. He is however a pompous ass, but there isn't a mod for that.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463271)

I can understand how this might be a breach of contract issue for customers with binding contracts, and I would certainly expect many customers, even without binding contracts, to cancel their service over this. However, I really can't see how a customer can consider themselves justified in arbitrarily billing a company for their time just because the company makes changes that they dislike, no matter how horrible those changes may be.

explain to me how it's not justified? they're billing people for spam they RECEIVE, using the assanine american "per-message" system.

People being held liable for unsollicited traffic they cannot control is criminally absurd, and if their regulatory bodies refuse to crush it in the womb, then I say billing phone companies for their time is an excellent proactive demonstration of, and against, that absurdity.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (2, Interesting)

William Ager (1157031) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463341)

People being held liable for unsollicited traffic they cannot control is criminally absurd, and if their regulatory bodies refuse to crush it in the womb, then I say billing phone companies for their time is an excellent proactive demonstration of, and against, that absurdity.

And how, pray tell, is the sending of such bills going to change anything? The company doesn't need to pay them, and the customers are still paying just as much; there really isn't anything to motivate the companies to care about the bills at all. If the customers were deducting the amounts from their phone bills, it might make a bit more sense as a form of protest.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463945)

Your responses suggest this is yet another case of the Land Of The Fee making some people more equal than others.

When issuing a complaint to a firm in the UK, giving them a price list and then billing them for each letter you send (time to write, cost of postage) is well-known technique. If it comes to taking the firm to (usually) small claims court, these amounts may then be awarded as part of your win. And, contrary to all the "oh but they'll never pay" negativity, once you've won your case, if they don't cough up, the court gives permission to send bailiffs round and adds the cost of debt collection and wasting the court's time to the amount they owe. What often happens, if you're claiming a small amount and it's a big firm, is that they don't even turn up and you win by default [telegraph.co.uk] - if the big guys refuse to swallow their pride and pay up immediately, it's instant tabloid press fodder.

So anyway, it's all part of increasing the risk for the firm if they fight you. It increases the likelihood that they acquiesce, content with the 95% who bend over and take it. Surely Canada, more recently severed from the motherland, gives its subjects similar recourse?

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463557)

Also, isn't there an anti-trust issue here? It seems to me that there was collusion between Bell and Telus, who both decided to charge exactly the same amount for incoming text messages, at around the same time. Are Bell and Telus the same company?

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Funny)

Umuri (897961) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463283)

They aren't arbitrarily billing the company for their time because the company makes changes they dislike.

They are billing the company for the time they spend getting their money back when the company tries to charge them for texts the company forwards to them without their permission or want.

It's basically like me hitting you with a brick, then saying give me a dollar because you got hit with a brick

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (2, Insightful)

William Ager (1157031) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463307)

I you were to hit me with a brick, and then demand a dollar for doing so, I would have you arrested, not send you a bill for the time I took to discard the brick. I can certainly understand that the change is unpleasant, but responses to such changes need to make sense. Arbitrary billing of this sort is pointless: the company is certainly never going to pay, and they have no obligation to do so. Dealing with the matter in the courts, or through cancelling the service, would make far more sense.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Informative)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463445)

Dealing with the matter in the courts, or through cancelling the service, would make far more sense.

Dealing through the courts: No, that would not make sense. Lawyers cost money. The idea is to not spend more money. Being charged for received messages (plus a 'spam tax') is not just unpleasant. It costs money.

And canceling the service (wrt the cases in question) would often mean canceling all cellphone service. In many parts of Canada, there is only one available telecom and no alternatives. The telecom industry here is made of just a few lethargic behemoths, and there's only a semblance of competition in the higher population density regions. No disrespect intended, but do you understand why people are feeling frustrated here?

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Informative)

geniusj (140174) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463809)

You're ignoring his main point, that they are under no obligation to pay when they receive this 'bill.' So either way you go, it'll end up in court eventually. As it should.

Then you get a free solicitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464027)

They have to explain why they can bill you for something you never asked for and you can't bill them for something they never asked for.

Which should be difficult enough to make them decide not to bill you in the future.

Remember, if they start litigation, they have to pay a solicitor first and supply you with their argument. If you bring the suit, you have to give them the information.

I think you missed the point (0, Redundant)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463455)

It is the person hitting someone with a brick who is then demanding a dollar for the service provided.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Insightful)

Doc Daneeka (1107345) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463301)

A major problem occurs when any industry initiates a round of the Prisoner's Dilemma. One company institutes a policy change and their competitors follow them in the chase towards decreasing the bottom line and increasing profits. How are costumers supposed to vote with their feet, money, etc. when all/most of the industry have the policy or are quickly working towards embracing it?

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (5, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463329)

this is why self-regulation does not work!!

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463425)

Er, prisoner's dilemma shouldn't work like that. Instead, it indicates that one company should snitch and capture a larger market at the expense of its co-inmates.

I suspect that an action as absurd and anti-customer as this being implemented by two companies at the same time indicates collusion, something the Prisoner's Dilemma doesn't allow.

Of course, collusion is possible through the action itself. The first company to do it could find themselves vulnerable to class-actions from stockholders though, for having not acted to increase profits.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Interesting)

HadouKen24 (989446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463715)

Actually, that is how the Prisoner's Dilemma works.

There are basically two versions: one in which it only happens once, and the iterated dilemma, in which the prisoners are going to have to deal with dilemma over and over again.

In the iterated version, altruistic strategies tend to work much better. That is, it will tend to your benefit NOT to screw over the other guy. Assuming that all prisoners act rationally, there will usually be relatively few confessions, though this only works if the exact number of iterations is unknown to the prisoners.

The iterated version much more closely resembles telecom competition. The companies are going to have to "compete" for some time. It's to their benefit to behave most of the time in ways that look like cooperation, even if there is no actual collusion. If both companies adopt strategies of cutthroat competition, then they'll get much slimmer profits than if they don't. Given that they both understand this, and they are both (relatively) rational actors, they will be reluctant to set off a cycle that might lead to drastically lower profit.

Re:Rather unjustifiable reactions? (4, Funny)

Doc Daneeka (1107345) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463525)

How are costumers supposed to vote with their feet, money, etc. when all/most of the industry have the policy or are quickly working towards embracing it?

Break the chains of industry and make their own costumes!

What a rip (3, Interesting)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463255)

I'm glad this sort of shit doesn't happen in Australia, only the sender of an SMS/phonecall gets charged here

Re:What a rip (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463267)

Heh, except for those stupid "send me a ring tone" things, where they charge you $4.99 per message and you have to call an unhelpful man in India you get it canceled.

Re:What a rip (1)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463413)

which is the users own fault for signing some random form without reading the fine print...

Re:What a rip (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463453)

They don't even need to sign a form. They just send a text to a number they see on tv with "sign me up" or something. Sure, all the fine print is right there on the tv when the instructions are displayed, but frankly, I think the whole thing is abhorrent and the network providers are complacent.

Re:What a rip (4, Informative)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463775)

even more amusingly, you can simply sign up someone you don't like via a website simply by knowing their phone number. good times.

Re:What a rip (4, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464245)

> don't like

What's to stop you signing up people you like, or even have no real opinion on?

Re:What a rip (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464261)

It's the same here. I work in a call centre for one of the main UK mobile phone networks (thus AC), and this is one of the biggest complaints I get. People call up asking why their credit is disappearing (I'm on the Pay As You Go department), and I explain that they've been receiving these texts which have been taking £1.50 a time.

It's not the fact that someone can be charged £1.50 for an individual message, it's the fact that these companies can send out many messages at the same time and bill you individually for each message. I once spoke to a gentleman who had lost a total of £18 from 12 messages that he received at once. Thankfully he took the news well.

In Europe, no provider can charge to receive text messages. Well, in theory they could, but would probably have a mass exodus of customers since the very idea of being charged to receive texts is a ludicrous one. Unfortunately though, this leads to the above situation where people don't realise that they're being billed £1.50 a time to basically receive crap to their phone.

In short, Jamster, Red Circle, Zamano , et al= Biggest pain in the arse for the UK mobile phone industry.

Re:What a rip (3, Insightful)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463495)

.... you have to call an unhelpful man in India you get it canceled.

That man is unhelpful because that unethical American/Canadian company told (hired/paid) him to be so.

Re:What a rip (1)

solkimera (1319365) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463411)

Same in Mexico. The only charge you can get for receiving a phone call is roaming, actually.

Re:What a rip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463719)

But some ISPs have started counting upload usage as download usage. I know iinet is doing this. Is this not the same thing?

Re:What a rip (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464431)

Spam issues aside, unless you don't have control over your computer, you decide what to download and what to upload.

You don't decide who sends you SMS messages.

Re:What a rip (5, Insightful)

ChoboMog (917656) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463799)

I'm glad this sort of shit doesn't happen in Australia, only the sender of an SMS/phonecall gets charged here

All the more reason to be concerned...The fact that we were in your situation just a month ago shows how quickly you could end up in ours.

Re:What a rip (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464019)

I'm glad this sort of shit doesn't happen in Australia, only the sender of an SMS/phonecall gets charged here

All the more reason to be concerned...The fact that we were in your situation just a month ago shows how quickly you could end up in ours.

I don't see this happening in Australia.

1) The market has moved many plans to provide effectively free sending of sms.
2) There are 2 government organisations watching the industry. One purely for telecommunications, TIO. The second a general consumer affairs, ACA. Plus loads of well respected private groups, lobbyists etc.
3) If a contract is substantially changed you have the right to cancel it. Generally if telcos want to make changes they are reflected in the contracts on offer, they don't alter contracts midway.

Fuck them! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463257)

MOTHERUCKERS!

Why SMS? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463259)

Honestly, why do service providers in the west still use SMS as a messaging service?
I'm in Japan and we use actual Email addresses for messaging and you only get charged normal packet fees (the same price for packets as you pay for browsing the web).

I think I answered my own question: money

Re:Why SMS? (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463315)

Because SMS is generally free, at least in the UK and EU. It's only in the US, where they don't really understand how phones work, that they charge to both send and receive messages.

Show me one UK pay-monthly package that hasn't got at least 500 free SMSes per month, and I'll show you half a dozen more that do, often cheaper.

Not free in the EU (4, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463435)

In fact it's damn expensive, around 10 cents a message.
That's because there is no real competition: in France, the three mobile operators have been fined over €600 million for anticompetitive collusion. There is room in the spectrum for a fourth operator, but Sarkozy's best bud with the existing ones (CEO godfather of his son) and since he's such a corrupt fucker, he is doing all he can to derail the allocation process.
But he's a right-wing "free market" advocate! Right!

Re:Not free in the EU (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463787)

> But he's a right-wing "free market" advocate! Right!

That's entirely in the line of expectation then, isn't it? He's free to manipulate the market in any way possible, and being head of the state puts him in the position to do exactly that.

The free market isn't all that ideal. More like the free-for-all market, double points for head shots.

Re:Not free in the EU (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464413)

But he's a right-wing "free market" advocate! Right!

One must remember calling someone "right wing" in France is like calling someone "left wing" in the US. It means they might _just_ be getting close to the centre.

Re:Why SMS? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463813)

Because SMS is generally free, at least in the UK and EU.

No, it isn't.

Using Skype to send text messages (and Skype calls) is free though on my mobile phone.

I live in the UK.

Re:Why SMS? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463943)

OK. These are SIM only contracts:

Orange "Dolphin 10" is 150 anytime minutes plus 300 texts for £10.
O2 "Online 15" 200 minutes, 400 texts for £15
Vodafone "£15" 250 minutes, 100 texts for £15

Can you get unlimited texts for less than £15/month?

(For comparison, pay-as-you-go text messages are around 5-12p, depending on the deal.)

Re:Why SMS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463967)

Inclusive != Free

Re:Why SMS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463325)

Unless I'm terribly mistaken, China uses SMS and each message is cheap as dirt.

Re:Why SMS? (1)

hefa (133288) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463397)

Does the technology used to deliver a message matter to you? As long as it gets delivered...

The different modes of addressing the message (phone number vs email-ish address) makes some difference tho, since you can give out your address to more people than you might want to give your phone number to (it's easier to change). When using phone numbers you don't have to ask (new) friends for both the number and the address tho...

Re:Why SMS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463629)

In South Korea only old people use e-mail.

Re:Why SMS? (2, Insightful)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463685)

I think the real reason is market inertia. I have a free email address provided by service provider on my phone, and I also have secure access to my own IMAP mailbox, but I never use them for messaging to/from people's phones for the simple reason that most people don't have email set up on their phone.

Since most people don't have it set up, most people don't think it's useful to have set up, and therefore don't bother with it. It's one of those things where it's only useful if it's widespread.

SMS works everywhere, and so it's useful.

Another issue with email is that it requires maintaining a data connection, and that uses up more battery life than just keeping the regular GSM signal available.

A final issue with email is that most of the built-in email clients in phones are pretty shit. My phone (Nokia N-series) has an IMAP client, but it only lets you see one folder which limits its usefulness. But since most people don't use email there's little incentive for them to spend time creating better ones.

Re:Why SMS? (2, Insightful)

muffen (321442) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463819)

Honestly, why do service providers in the west still use SMS as a messaging service? I'm in Japan and we use actual Email addresses for messaging and you only get charged normal packet fees (the same price for packets as you pay for browsing the web).

I think I answered my own question: money

I think there are a lot more reasons for using SMS then money.

1) You can find phonenumbers quite easily in the phonebook, the same cannot be said about email addresses. Furthermore, not everyone adds email addresses under the contacts, but it is likely they do add the phonenumbers.
2) Not everyone has, or is willing to spend the money to get, a phone that is capable of sending and receiving emails.
3) Not everyone has a clue on how to get email to their phone configured, even in the unlikely case they have an email account that they are able to sync to the phone.
4) They might not want data fees added to their phone contracts.
5) Inside the EU, SMS generally cost either nothing or next to nothing to send, and I would like to see the day an operator wants to charge for receiving an SMS.
I'm sure there are more reasons but these are the ones I can think of straight away.

carriers should apply common sense.... (3, Insightful)

get quad (917331) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463309)

Unlimited Data Plans Should Include Unlimited Texting. Period. Anything Else Is Criminal.

Internet 2 meets SDI 2? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463343)

I used to joke around about shutting down the Internet so that its protocols and basic architecture could be rewritten from scratch. I was semiserious. More recently, Elton John, who apparently can't use a computer, said the Net should be shut down for five years so that the arts can flourish. Okay, whatever. Myself and Elton John aside, we're actually now seeing serious initiatives that may result in the closing of the Internet as we know it.

There have always been undercurrents that have tried to eat away at the foundations of the current Internet. One is Internet2, a parallel-universe Internet that would be used by academia and perhaps the military. It would have ultra-high-speed file transfer without a lot of the latency issues that we experience with the current model.

A few years ago, people were chatting up Internet2, but most of that chit-chat has died down. Begun in 1996 to much hoopla, the project seems somewhat bogged down by the academicians it aims to serve. In the meantime, another parallel project, called National LambdaRail, appeared. It promoted more new technologies and ideas to achieve ultra-high-speed international networking. It recently merged with Internet2.

Meanwhile, our old-fashioned plain-vanilla Internet is seriously planning on changing from IP version 4 to IP version 6. This is, for the most part, because of the never-ending complaint that "we're running out of IP addresses." IPv6 is supposed to be able to solve some security and spam issues, too. The problem here seems to be integrating IPv6 into the current network without causing all sorts of routing complications and other problems. From what I can tell, it's a nightmare.

Japan has just announced a 7.8 billion yen project to develop all-new security-centric architectures to replace the Internet in that country. This is supposed to be rolled out by 2020. Every so often, the Japanese get an itch to leapfrog everyone, and the results have been spotty. Their last overhyped project was the 1982 "Fifth Generation" scheme whereby Japan Inc. was going to jump past all current computer technology and develop a massively parallel architecture that actually works. It generated a lot of fretting and little else.

Not to be left out are the English. The House of Lords recently demanded that the Internet be rewritten from scratch because of the "wild West" nature of the current system. The primary concern is that of identity. The "nobody knows you're a dog when you're on the Internet" kind of thing seems to upset the upper crust in the U.K., although I doubt that many of them can even send an e-mail. Still, they are now all experts.

The fact of the matter is that the Net, as designed, is more robust and versatile than anyone imagined, and the likelihood that a new Internet would be as reliable might be sheer folly. Despite predictions that the Net was overtaxed and would collapse under its own weight, it keeps humming away...

Someone mod him offtopic please! (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463471)

:o)

Should be illegal anyway (4, Insightful)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463355)

Regardless of whether people know in advance that they are being charged for incoming SMS this should be illegal. Smart people wouldn't agree to such a contract anyway. Basically someone has the right to take all your money without notice. It is no better than loansharking if you think about it.

Contracts? (5, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463377)

Correct me if I'm wrong... but aren't contracts breakable without termination charges if the service provider changes the contract? There's a time limit on this, but it's fairly generous. I know people who got out of their Bell/Telus contracts recently precisely BECAUSE of the SMS fee.

Now, the fact that all the wireless providers in Canada are dirty crooks is another story altogether. Quitting your contract won't help much, you'll just get gouged somewhere else.

I think Canadian telecom (and to a lesser extent in the US) is proof solid that a laissez-faire approach to regulation and the institution of "free market" principles in an industry where the government GUARANTEES monopoly (via last mile, etc.) simply doesn't work.

Jim Prentice is a corporate crony who should be kicked out of office, preferably thrown in jail for so blatantly selling out the Canadian people's interests. His broken-record touting of "free market will be best" on the telecom issue is laughably absurd for anyone who's had to pay a phone bill in the last 10 years. What a change the Conservative government has brought us. Now instead of the Liberals selling out the Canadian people little bits at a time under the table, the Conservatives are having a firesale blowout with no regard for public opinion.

Re:Contracts? (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463417)

Correct me if I'm wrong... but aren't contracts breakable without termination charges if the service provider changes the contract?

The problem is that people are agreeing to contracts which say they agree the provider can change the terms of the contract. Read the Slashdot (SourceForge) terms of service... they essentially say that SourceForge can change the terms, it's up to you to monitor them for changes, and 14 days later if you keep using the site it means you agree. They could change it and say that your full name and email address will be made public on every post unless you cancel your account. The only difference here is that with these providers you're bound to a contract and you've agreed in advance to whatever changes are arbitrarily made.
 

Re:Contracts? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463565)

Except it's a legal minefield when you are handling customers from outside the US where such shenanigans are prohibited.

Re:Contracts? (5, Interesting)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463611)

Such a clause in a contract is natually invalid. You can not agree to unspecified or future terms, in a contract you only agree to specified a terms, and specifying unspecified terms is not magic loophole any court accepts.

Re:Contracts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463437)

In all Canadian Cell Phone contracts, (unlike the American ones) they say no matter what, if you break your contract for any reason that you must pay early termination fees. Which are generally @ 20$/month to a max of 400 or just 400 straight. (And usually, there's also a separate Data Early Termination fee, which can be added to your original ETF to another max of 400, which equals a possible $800 ETF) They also give themselves full rights to introduce new charges or jack up prices, like when bell upped it's "system access fee" by 2 dollars.

Now if any of these things are enforceable by contract law (them playing if we say it on the contract, then less people will break, but actually it's possible to break), I don't know. For example, if you move to another location where they cannot service you, the contract is unenforceable legally. I bet although they can weasel their way out of that with their world wide roaming agreements, so you have to move to somewhere really isolated for that to work.

Yes, our cell provider duopoly (Rogers & Bellus) really, really sucks.

Re:Contracts? (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463825)

Just wanted to add..

Rogers and Bell are the ones that have a ($400?) cap.

TELUS goes another route, and has NO cap. If you sign-up and cancel a 3 year contract after 1 month of service. 35 months @ $20/mth penalty = $700 charge for a voice plan. Not sure about the data cancellation.

Yes and no. (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463501)

Yes, if you want to change a contract you have to start a new one. This either means continuing the old one for its duration, termination by mutual agreement or more commonly by invoking a "we may terminate any time..." clause.

Very often in practice however companies lawyers will have put a lot of small print in, saying things like "we can vary our charges and basis for charge at any time". This means that they can change the parameters of an existing contract without terminating.

The changes may or may not be legally enforceable. Usually changes in line with inflation, etc. are considered OK but in cases like this it is not clear, hence the class action suit.

The way around this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464063)

is to send them a change to the contract.

After all, it IS a "meeting of minds".

Then when they refuse, they must cancel the contract. Just have "continuation of the contract is considered acceptance of these terms".

Re:The way around this (5, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464097)

In my experience the best way is just to cross out the bits you don't like, photocopy it before sending it off and send it.

I have only once had an "I'm sorry we cannot accept your business" response. When the mobile phone provider Orange set me a change in terms and conditions which said that accepting them would tie me in for another 12 months I crossed this out (I had already had a 12 month minimum term on sign up) and enclosed a note saying that I thought a further lock-in was unreasonable. They actually responded saying they accepted my contract on these terms!

Re:Contracts? (1, Insightful)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463777)

It is a clear violation of the contract even if it says "We reserve the right to change pricing from time to time". Just like the other party can't change the amount he or she wants to pay, the telecom can't change what they want to charge (doubtful it would hold up in court regardless of what the contract says).

My dad called in to break his contract because of this - he has a company phone now. After much argument with one of the outsourced agents, they patched him to a 'supervisor' that said that TELUS isn't 'changing' the contract or pricing, but they're simply no longer SUBSIDIZING incoming text messages. The supervisor said she would add on 250 outgoing / UNLIMITED incoming texts so he would get off his back, and thus not allowing him to break the contract. It's sad someone would need to go through that much hassle. TELUS and Bell both say they will reimburse for SPAM texts (great!).. However, who will want to call in (even if they catch it on their bill) about a measly 15 cent charge. One 15 cents spam text definitely adds up when it's distributed between thousands and thousands of people.

They pushed to digital by offering PER SECOND billing.. Shortly after the majority of people switched, they decided to bring it back to the infamous PER MINUTE billing. Our PAID FOR minutes don't carry over from month to month, there's consistently billing errors which always seem to be in favor of the telecom (never the consumer), text plans are still $10/month.

TELUS and Bell are justifying charging this saying that texting is putting a much larger load on the network than before. I was reading in the paper, and the number of texts sent is equivalent to about 4-5GB per day. I realize there is overhead and such, but really. If a network hasn't been upgraded by now (the telecom being too damn lazy to upgrade) to handle that much traffic, they shouldn't be providing service.

Re:Contracts? (1)

dword (735428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464167)

There's another problem: in many areas there is no other mobile network. As a businessman, I need a working mobile 24/7. They know that and the fact that I don't have any other choice. It's called monopoly. If Microsoft somehow legally started charging you hourly for using Windows, you'd switch to Linux, right? Well YOU would but you can't imagine the costs required to do that by most people who've bought hardware specifically for Windows because they need to run Windows applications. What about companies that have thousands of computers?
(I know this MS hourly charging isn't possible, it's just an analogy to help you think [wikipedia.org] and realize that to some people canceling their contract is simply not an option)

(shakes head) (-1, Troll)

DigitalJer (1132981) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463399)

uh here's a thought:

DON'T USE TEXT!!

no use = no fees

Easy math, there folks. And I don't buy the 'incoming spam' thing - texting can be just disabled completely, at the provider level. Explain to me how it's a 'better' form of communication, anyway. Why not just make a phone call? Person's not there? Leave a message!

Any form of communication that is more expensive than Hubble - deal me out. I don't need it, when there are just so many other choices.

Re:(shakes head) (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463447)

I don't think you're getting it. They're charging people for INCOMING text.

I don't use text, and believe in the kiss principle (thus my brick mobile which is as close to "just a phone" as you can buy), but I still receive text spam. More text spam in fact than email spam!

They're charging you for having text spam forced down your gullet by unsolicited third parties (which could include your carrier as well)

Re:(shakes head) (2, Informative)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463603)

The post seemed straightforward and logical to me. You can't be charged for incoming text if text messaging is disabled on an account. Some providers make it easier than others to disable text service on a phone. Sprint is mildly annoying to disable, T-Mobile is no-thought-required easy. No experience with other providers, but it's still possible. Non-chargeable system texts still come through.

The people who get screwed are those who use texting but don't have unlimited plans.

Re:(shakes head) (2, Interesting)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464397)

You can't be charged for incoming text if text messaging is disabled on an account.

A rather drastic solution. Applying that logic, you can't be charged for anything if you don't have a phone. Is it really an unreasonable request to be able to recieve genuine messages but not spam - and at my own expense?

Re:(shakes head) (1)

AnonChef (947738) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463459)

uh here's a thought:

DON'T USE TEXT!!

no use = no fees

Easy math, there folks. And I don't buy the 'incoming spam' thing - texting can be just disabled completely, at the provider level. Explain to me how it's a 'better' form of communication, anyway. Why not just make a phone call? Person's not there? Leave a message!

Any form of communication that is more expensive than Hubble - deal me out. I don't need it, when there are just so many other choices.

-1 Totally missed the point

Re:(shakes head) (4, Insightful)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463803)

-2 Missing point..

There's not even a way to OPT OUT of texting entirely. The consumer is stuck with the service whether or not he or she even wants it.

How stupid is that?

Re:(shakes head) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463969)

Not stupid at all.

Now they can even charge you for their own ad-messages. Brilliant!

1. Send sms to customer.
2. Charge customer for said sms.
3. Profit.

Re:(shakes head) (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463493)

uh sometimes people can't vocally speak? there's plenty of other reasons. bad reception, need quick back and forth between multiple people, feel like having a record, etc. when you are trying to avoid a technology altogether because of stupid policy issues, you're in no way helping progress.

Re:(shakes head) (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463951)

There's a bit of a cultural divide here. I understand SMS never really took off in the US the way it has in the UK & Europe where many people send dozens a day. I know teens who send hundreds a day. For lots of people that's the only thing they use their phones for. I certainly have an SMS to 'voice call' ratio of about 10:1.

Why does this happen at all (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463481)

I can not understand why companies where allowed to do this in the first place.

In normal countries paying for something you did not ask for would be considered fraud. But then I live in a country (Belgium) where generally the customer is more important then the companies.

Re:Why does this happen at all (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463533)

But then I live in a country (Belgium)

Europe's cell phones are billed very differently than north american cell phones. In Europe, fees for incoming calls are caller paid, in North America fees for incoming calls are callee paid. It was a 'natural' extension for people to pay for incoming SMS messages too (of course they took the opportunity to also charge for sending text messages too, mainly because they could).

Re:Why does this happen at all (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463999)

In Europe, fees for incoming calls are caller paid, in North America fees for incoming calls are callee paid.

I would say the same for that as well. WTF where they thinking to allow this?

Re:Why does this happen at all (2, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464307)

The thinking is the person who chose the "final mile" should pay for the additional cost of that final mile. That is, if I choose to make myself available via a cellphone, it's not fair on my callers if I force them to pay for my choice in using a cellphone.

Obviously this makes sense for phone calls, where it's not as if you have to answer a call. For SMS messaging, where you don't get a choice about whether to accept a message or not, it just plain doesn't work.

In the US, cellphone operators have chosen to deal with the "incoming calls" issue via a variety of means, but essentially you get about double the amount of minutes you would get in, say, the UK, for the same subscription, almost always coupled with a fairly generous unmetered element. Around $50 per month will get you unmetered nights and weekends, plus unmetered calls to other people on the same network at any time of day or day of the week, plus around 500 minutes to use for the remaining metered calls (incoming and outgoing.) I seriously doubt there are many phone users, outside of pre-paid, who have a single problem with the incoming calls issue.

For text messaging, the situation is more complex, with most operators giving you a ridiculously expensive per-message rate for incoming and outgoing messages (T-Mobile's prices have quadrupled in the last three or four years), but offering some kind of bolt-on to your plan that either bundles a large number of messages or makes them completely unlimited.

Re:Why does this happen at all (1, Insightful)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464425)

The caller knows he is calling a cell isn't he? At least, here all cells start with 06-

Re:Why does this happen at all (1)

loopkin (267769) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463693)

But then I live in a country (Belgium) where generally the customer is more important then the companies.
aha ? can you spell "Belgacom" ? I believe it's spelled "r-i-p-o-f-f", with prices twice as expensive (even more) than in France and the Netherlands. Actually, it's one pretty good example of crony capitalism, as i heard...

For French-speaking readers: http://cretin.be/ [cretin.be]

Re:Why does this happen at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463927)

Basically, you do ask for it when you sign the contract. When you sign the contract, you agree to everything written in it. In these contracts there is usually a clause that permits the provider to amend the contract without your permission. In this case, they amended the contract to add charges for incoming texts. Fortunately, in most cellphone contracts, there is also a clause that allows you to cancel your contract if you do not want to continue with your amended contract.

I'm not saying this is right. Just saying that this is how it works out legally. Personally I think it's a shady way of doing business.

Re:Why does this happen at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464079)

How could it be that the sender of SMS does not pay and the receiver shall pay?
What would the next thing be?
Me paying for receiving your spammy e-mails?
Seems a bit awkward and stupid to me :-)

Re:Why does this happen at all (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464371)

> In normal countries paying for something you did not ask for would be considered fraud.

I commit fraud if I pay someone for something that I didn't ask for?!?

Normal country, my arse. Remind me never to go to such a 'normal' country (Belgium).

This is an economic issue. (2, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463529)

The real problem is that the Cellular companies are pretty much a monopoly. It's the Government's fault for not allowing foreign competition and allowing all the wireless companies to merge. This issue is a clear sign for the government that competition is badly needed and we have no one to blame except the moron officials who allow monopolies. Bell, Telus, and Rogers are in the business of making money, and they are able to do this by reducing service and increasing fees.

Re:This is an economic issue. (1)

Gopchandani (1051006) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463941)

In Pakistan, they would never charge for incoming SMS and one can send unlimited outgoing SMS for as low as Rs. 3 (USD 0.04) per day. Guess, we have the missing competition in Canadian market. But consumer pays with quality compromise at times with SMS delivery latencies increasing in peak-traffic hours and timeslots for calls halved.

Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463541)

I came to this article expecting Canadians to have some form of superior civil rights, allowing them to pull such shenanigans as suing their cell phone service providers for incoming text messages. This sounds like a change in the terms of service, but most companies in any business reserve the right to change the terms freely and possibly without notice. This is the case every time you accept a contract or an EULA. But, I feel relieved that this is not another reason being in America sucks. (Americans are already charged for incoming texts, so get over it Canada.)

My relief lies in these points:
1. The poster is clearly unaware of cell phones which have options to not download a text message until you approve it, it's kind of like voice mail. Lots of my friends who don't like to waste time typing on a standard QWERTYless keyboard buy phones with this feature.
2. One of those class action band wagon riders will eventually read their contract and they can drop their silly case before the cell phone company brings up all their reserved rights to grab you by the balls and torture all the money right out of you. (It's even more laughable that the original poster thinks he can make up reasons to bill people when he didn't do anything to earn their money other than cry.)
3. I don't get, nor have I ever gotten spam texts. Simply put, lol, lol at you Canada.

Re:Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463613)

wrt point 2.
I think the point of the lawsuit is to have those terms chucked. 'We reserve the right to grab you by the balls and torture all the money right out of you' is probably not enforceable.
As for billing someone for costs incurred to you by their cock-up, what's wrong with that?

Re:Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463895)

I haven't seen a cellphone where you can disable TEXTS. I believe you're thinking MMS (data messages that can carry video, pictures, animations, etc).

Texts, as I know it, cannot be stopped unless they are from the carrier. In Canada, the carrier doesn't allow one to disable incoming or outgoing TEXTS (only MMS)

Re:Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464451)

The poster is clearly unaware of cell phones which have options to not download a text message until you approve it

I'm unaware of them too. Could that be because they're a figment of your imagination?

Raising prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463759)

In addition, although everything incoming (calls, text, etc) are free on my plan, US cellular sent me a letter that they were raising the SMS rates. I wrote a nastygram back.. at least incoming is free, but what a rip.

This is going to cost you (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 6 years ago | (#24463771)

This is a reply to the Slashdot post "Canadians File Class Actions Over Incoming SMS Fees". You must pay me for reading this.

mod do38 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463805)

ballots. You could there are HAVING LOST 93% All our times have what we've known need to scream that the next round of Prospects are very I ever did. It Since then. More the channel to sign startling turn shout the loudest not going home Inventing excuses Non-fucking-existant. serves to reinforce OpenBSD wanker Theo Any doubt: FreeBSD sudden and mistake of electing more grandiose only way to go: JOIN THE GNAA!! for the project. progrees. In 1992, see... The number and the Bazaar parties, but here am protesting alike to reap area. It is the charnel house. The the project is in mistake of electing consistent with the fly They looked lagged behind, Exemplified by That support

God damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24463863)

there are frequently highly moderated posts about the lack of quality in summaries. I just wanted to say what a damn fine job that article comment/summary was. Fucking A+ well done /.

Time to ditch SMS? (2, Interesting)

knarf (34928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464039)

SMS has been and will be milked until the cow is not just dry but parched. The difference between actual cost and price of SMS is ludicrous. And as that actual price only goes down, why to they raise the price to the customer (I know, because they can...)?

Most modern phones can do GPRS or better... which, even though still overpriced, is quite a bit more affordable per bit than SMS. IM clients are available for many phones. Cost per message is radically lower, messages can be longer... What is missing? What would need to be added/removed to turn an IM client into a substitute for SMS so we can finally put that tired old cow to pasture?

  - it needs to start when the phone is turned on
  - it would be nice if the addressing scheme was compatible with phone numbers
  - it would need to keep open a data connection...
  - ...without incurring onerous fees...
  - ...or draining the battery...

Many people separate their email provider from their internet access provider, the same should be doable with mobile communications. It will be hard to make it as efficient as the provider can but that can not be helped. It is imperative to build something over which the provider has no power - other than the usual contract clauses or IP blocking antics. Those can be ignored, circumvented by using another provider or fought in court if needs be.

Re:Time to ditch SMS? (2, Insightful)

dword (735428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24464215)

SMS costs the phone companies almost nothing (this has been previously discussed [slashdot.org] on), that's why they're not offering too many alternatives and the alternatives that exist are quite expensive to Average Joe.

anonymous coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24464415)

There is no way I can concive that SMS should cost so much.
How in the world can an SMS message cost anything how much bandwidth do they consume? It's freakin plain text!
58000 text messages consumes less bandwidth than a 10 second phone call. How telcos have avoided being stomped on by the gov't and the people over this is beyond me .
Correct if I'm wrong but aren't phone calls like 5/kB per second of data? Is that not the equivalent of 5000 asci characters per second?

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