March 16, 2015 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers) has agreed to pay up to an estimated $5.42 million in refunds to consumers regarding "premium text messaging" charges on customers’ wireless phone bills.
The agreement is the result of a Competition Bureau investigation of Rogers, Bell, Telus and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). As a result of the investigation, the Bureau concluded that Rogers made, or permitted to be made, false or misleading representations to customers in advertisements for premium text messages appearing in pop-up ads, apps and social media. The Bureau also determined that wireless customers were charged by third parties on their wireless phone bills for premium text messaging services, such as trivia questions and ringtones that they did not intend to purchase and for which they had not agreed to pay. As part of the settlement, the Bureau will discontinue the legal proceedings against Rogers that were initiated before the Ontario Superior Court in 2012. However, the legal proceedings against Bell, Telus and the CWTA remain ongoing.
The amount of money available for consumer refunds is the most obtained to date under a Bureau settlement. Rogers will also cease billing for premium text messaging services unless the customer has approved the charges.
The refunds will apply to Rogers and Fido customers who incurred a charge for certain premium text messaging services between January 1, 2011 and August 31, 2013. Current eligible Rogers customers will automatically receive a refund, while former eligible customers can expect to be contacted by Rogers with details on how to obtain their refunds and will then have 120 days to make a claim. Customers who believe they have incurred unauthorized premium text messaging service charges beyond the potential refund available can also contact Rogers to request additional refunds.
In addition, Rogers has agreed to:
- Create a Consumer Awareness Campaign designed to educate its customers about how charges can be incurred on their wireless devices and the steps they can take to avoid unwanted charges, including safety tips for online purchases; and
- Enhance its corporate compliance program, as necessary, with respect to billing customers on behalf of third parties.
"We are pleased that Rogers has chosen to work with the Bureau to ensure that Rogers’ consumers receive money back for the inappropriate charges and obtain clear information when purchasing online. It is important that fees and subscriptions are not hidden in fine print or anywhere else, and that consumers’ right to truth in advertising is not compromised in the digital economy."
- The Consent Agreement is available via the Competition Tribunal’s website.
- September 2012: Competition Bureau Sues Bell, Rogers and Telus for Misleading Consumers
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