Enraged Canadian subscribers sue wireless providers over SMS fees

Unhappy wireless subscribers in Canada have socked Telus and Bell Mobility with class action lawsuits over their intentions to begin charging users for incoming SMS/MMS text messages, a practice already common in the US.

Up to this point, incoming text messages have been free to wireless customers in Canada. But Telus and Mobility have come under fire for saying they will begin to levy a 15 cent fee for each incoming message on customer accounts that don't have text messaging plans.

Since so many incoming text messages are spam, many Canadian users are enraged over the proposed fee.

The main organizers of the two class action suits, Telus subscriber Natalie Martin and Bell Mobility customer Eric Cormier, are arguing their case on the grounds that the providers are trying to "unilaterally change" the terms of contracts with cellular customers which are already in place.

Both lawsuits were filed in July. Bell plans to introduce the new fees on August 8, and Telus on August 24, according to an account in Canada Free Press.

Rogers Wireless, the other major mobile services provider in Canada, has not announced any plans to tack on extra fees for incoming texts.

By and large, major US wireless carriers do charge customers for inbound text messages. But reportedly, all of them with the exception of T-Mobile USA -- the American arm of German-based Deutsche Telekom -- also provide a workaround solution of sorts in offering the option of turning off all SMS messaging -- both incoming and outgoing -- on the accounts of individual customers.

Accordingly, a group of US subscribers filed a class action suit against T-Mobile last winter.

"T-Mobile refused to disable the texting feature on its customers' accounts, even when the customer has no interest in sending, or more importantly, receiving, text messages," according to the suit filed in the US.

Also in the US, wireless subscribers have waged class action suits against wireless providers such as Sprint and Verizon Wireless over early termination fees (ETF).

As previously reported in BetaNews, in losing a lawsuit in California last week over ETFs, Sprint was ordered by a judge to pay $18.3 million to subscribers.

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