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Telus, Bell Must Explain Text Charges

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From The Globe & Mail ():

Bell, Telus must explain charges

OTTAWA — Industry Minister Jim Prentice is taking Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility to task for their plans to charge their wireless customers for each incoming text message to the cellphones unless they subscribe to a product bundle.

Incoming text messages have been free.

Prentice says he believes the decision to begin charging for in-coming text messages is ill-thought out and will harm consumers.

The industry minister has sent letters to the chief executive officers of both companies asking them to meet him in Ottawa before Aug. 8 to explain their decision.

"While I have no desire to interfere with the day-to-day business decisions of two private companies, I do have a duty as Minister of Industry to protect the interests of the consuming public when necessary," the letter states. "I believe this was a poorly thought-out decision."

BCE Inc.'s Bell Mobility has announced its customers will start paying the new charge on Aug. 8, while customers of Telus will not see the new charge until Aug. 24.

Prentice issued a statement saying the decision to begin charging for incoming text messages has raised serious concerns with consumers, particularly with regard to unwanted messages received by their cellphones.

Update –

From cbcnews.ca (Monday, July 28, 2008):

Class action suit filed against Bell, Telus for new texting fees

A Quebec man has launched a class action lawsuit against Bell Mobility and Telus, following a move by the cellphone providers to charge customers for incoming text messages.

Eric Cormier, who has subscribed with Bell Mobility for the past decade, says by introducing the new fees, the companies have changed the terms of their cellular contracts.

A separate class action lawsuit was filed against Telus on July 14.

Under the new plans, customers will be charged 15 cents to receive incoming text messages, including uninvited spam messages. Previously, customers without text plans were only charged for outgoing messages. Customers with a text messaging rate plan or bundle will not be affected by the new charges.

Bell's new pricing plan takes effect on Aug. 8, while Telus will begin charging customers for messages on Aug. 24.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice has called on the chief executive officers of Bell and Telus to meet with him, calling the introduction of the new fees a "poorly thought out decision."

Also in The Globe & Mail

Update –

Here's an article published in the Toronto Star today.

Ottawa issues texting warning

'Consumers do need to be protected': Prentice

The federal industry minister has stopped just short of threatening cellular companies over plans to charge for every incoming text message, pointedly noting other countries regulate such fees. […]

It's worth reading…

Update –

As per cbcnews.ca, Bell went ahead and introduced charges for incoming text messages today…