CRTC Rejects Telus Request to Charge a Fee for Paying Bills With a Credit Card

After delaying the decision, the CRTC has now formally rejected the Telus application to apply fees for credit card use.

Back in August, word came out that Telus had applied to the CRTC to get permission to charge customers a fee for using a credit card to pay their bills. If it was approved, it would mean customers would be charged a 1.5% fee for the “privilege” as well as taxes for that fee.

For the passive observer, the decision should be an obvious “no”. The problem, however, is that it is up to the CRTC to decide this. At the time, the request came off of the heels of a string of controversial decisions. This includes the CBC N-Word decision, reversing a decision to keep internet and cell phone rates lower, and rubberstamping the Rogers/Shaw merger. What’s more is the fact that the CRTC has already been pushing hard to pass Bill C-11 so it can get to the business of regulating user generated content (a very real threat that, until recently, seemed to be inevitable).

Fast forward to October and word came down that the CRTC delayed the decision to the end of the year. This was ultimately a rather confusing decision. From the consumers perspective, it should have been an obvious rejection. One possibility we wound up floating was that the CRTC has been taking quite a beating with its recent decisions and a delay would give the regulator time to witness the heat on them die down. This is something that didn’t happen thanks, in part, to the Bill C-11 hearings where, towards the end, the CRTC Chair made an unimpressive appearance.

Still, the decision to delay suggested that the regulator has until the very end of the year, so there might have technically been time to wait for the heat to die down then assuming that was really the idea. If it really was the reason for the delay, it seems as though the CRTC has relented and wound up rejecting the proposal. From the CBC:

Canada’s telecom regulator has rejected an application by Telus to charge some customers who pay their bill for a home phone line with a credit card.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said Thursday it has rejected a recent application from the Vancouver-based telecommunications provider to charge customers in remote areas of Alberta and B.C. a fee if they pay their bill for a landline with a credit card.

Telus first floated the idea in August, warning customers it would start charging a fee of up to 1.5 per cent to customers who paid their bills with a credit card. That was related to a recent settlement that allows merchants to pass on so-called interchange fees directly to customers.

Telus’s current fee applies on almost any service in any part of the country, but the company had to formally apply for the CRTC’s permission to do so for landline services in rural areas, since the regulator has jurisdiction over that.

So, some customers might still see the new fee on their bill. This is as long as the CRTC has no jurisdiction on the service in question.

While it was odd to see the delay in the first place, the CRTC did ultimately make the right decision in the end. The idea of a major player in the telecom industry in this country to simply pass along credit card fees to the customer is absurd. While it probably would have been better to just flat out reject the idea, it’s a bit difficult to be picky over a decision that actually stands to benefit consumers.

Still, customers should be wary of such fees in the future simply because this decision only affects a portion of customers, not all of them. Telus can very well still add these fees onto customers bills as long as the CRTC does not have jurisdiction. Earlier on, Telus did say that it would warn customers ahead of time that there will be advance notice of these fees. So, it’ll be interesting to find out who gets those notices and who is in the clear.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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