Telus to refund $7.34M in fees for premium text messages in Competition Bureau probe

Telus will refund $7.34 million to its current and former customers for fees it allowed third-parties to charge its customers for premium text messaging services, following a probe by the Competition Bureau.

Customers charged for trivia questions and ringtones that they did not intend to purchase

Telus will refund $7.34 million to its current and former customers for fees it allowed third-parties to charge its customers for premium text messaging services.

The Competition Bureau said Wednesday the Vancouver-based telecom giant has agreed to pay out $7.34 million in rebates to some customers, an amount which the bureau says is the most obtained to date under any of its investigations.

It beats the $5.4 million that Rogers agreed to rebate customers for the same fees as part of the same investigation earlier this year. The bureau's proceedings against Bell are ongoing.

As part of the probe, the bureau was originally seeking up to $10 million from each company.

According to the competition watchdog, between Jan. 1, 2011, and Aug. 16, 2013, some customers of Telus, Telus Mobility and Koodo were charged 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.

While Telus didn't pocket the fees for the services themselves, the bureau says Telus made, or permitted to be made, false or misleading representations in advertisements for premium text messages in pop‑up ads, apps and on social media. 

Consumers expect and deserve truth in advertising- Matthew Boswell, Competition Bureau

"Consumers expect and deserve truth in advertising. Allowing a third party to take advantage of consumers through misleading advertising is a violation of the Competition Act," senior deputy commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell said in a statement.

"We are pleased that Telus has taken steps to prevent this from happening again, as we continue our work to ensure that consumers benefit from accurate information in the digital economy."

Eligible current customers will automatically receive a rebate, while eligible former customers can expect to be notified by Telus with details on how to obtain their rebates and will have 120 days to make a claim, the bureau said.

As part of the deal, Telus will also donate $250,000 to three groups that promote consumer education about their wireless rights.

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