Nova Scotia

'Bell is not above the law,' says man awarded $21K for privacy breach

A Nova Scotia man says he had to chase Bell TV for the $21,000 owed to him after the communications giant accessed his credit report without permission.

Rabi Chitrakar of Nova Scotia says he had to chase down communications giant for the money

Rabi Chitrakar took Bell to court after he discovered the company did a credit check without his consent. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia man says he had to hound Bell TV for the $21,000 owed to him after the communications giant accessed his credit report without permission.

Rabi Chitrakar, who lives in Beechville, said the cheque was finally couriered to him before Christmas.

"It's sort of a vindication, a validation that I was always on the right path from the very beginning," he said.

Chitrakar ordered satellite television in December 2010, but later found out Bell performed a credit check without his consent, potentially damaging his credit rating.

Chitrakar said he wanted an apology and the credit inquiry wiped from his record. Instead, he said, he got the runaround. So he took his case, without a lawyer, to court.

Last fall, a Federal Court judge called Bell's conduct "reprehensible" and ordered the company to pay thousands of dollars in damages. Justice Michael Phelan said the company broke the law and breached Chitrakar's privacy.

The company told CBC that credit checks on customers are "standard procedure."

Getting award took 'a lot of work'

After the settlement, Chitrakar said he had to chase Bell to get the money.

He said there were faxes and phone calls, even an email to the president of Bell.

The court used harsh language to describe Bell’s conduct, saying the matter was “reprehensible” and chided the company for not even showing up to the court hearing.

Chitrakar said he advised the company he was looking into enforcing the court order, including the possibility of
contempt of court and a seizure of assets.

"A lot of work … hundreds of minutes on the phone again," he said. "I can't believe the arrogance of the company."

He said the day after he sent the president the email, a senior lawyer at Bell advised him a cheque was on the way.

"It feels nice. It's not just about the money. It's finally something that a big corporation like Bell is not above the law."

Chitrakar said his next step is trying to undo the damage.

He said he'll be sending the credit bureau a photocopy of the cheque, in the hopes it will remove the credit inquiry from his record.

As for the money, he’s thinking about putting that towards law school.


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