Via the Toronto Star:
The companies, which include Bell Mobility Inc., Rogers Wireless Inc. and Telus Corp., their various affiliates, and some smaller, regional players, have lost eight appeals in their long bid to squash the action, which argues the carriers falsely led subscribers to believe their system access fees were required by federal regulators.
The suit’s allegations, which are unproved in court, include false advertising, collusion, and “unjust enrichment” — meaning the firms received money to which they had no legal entitlement.
The carriers have said the money collected by the system access fee went toward paying for their licenses and purchasing wireless spectrum, as well as maintaining and upgrading their expensive wireless networks.
The death of the system access fee doesn’t mean cheaper rates for consumers in Canada. When I called my carrier, Rogers, about getting rid of my $6.95 system access fee and $0.75 911 access fee, I was offered new no-fee plans. But the plans were all worse than the one I had. The new plans offered unlimited calling after 8pm, instead of the 6pm free evenings I had. Adding the “Early Evening” 6pm option? An additional $7. Almost a complete wash.
So don’t expect cheaper cell phone plans as a result of the class action suit. Carriers are not just going to eat a $6.95 reduction on every wireless bill. Just expect your bill to make it clearer that the money you pay is going to the carrier, not the government.
Those looking to save on their cellphone bills need to first remove the shackles of the three-year contract most Canadians sign to get a phone. It’s perhaps the only way to gain leverage when negotiating a plan with your carrier.