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September 30, 2013
By Celia Sankar
We are keeping up the fight for fair treatment for prepaid wireless customers at the telecom watchdog.
The DiversityCanada Foundation is asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to rescind the section of the recently released Wireless Code which deals with the expiration of prepaid wireless account balances.
When we launched the petition calling for the authorities to look into Bell's handling of the expiry of its prepaid wireless cards, you responded loud and clear that the problem was broader and deeper: you wanted the application of expiry dates on prepaid cards by all wireless providers to be banned entirely.
This is the message DiversityCanada relayed to the CRTC during its consultation to develop the wireless code. Alas, the regulation fell far short of the demands of prepaid customers.
The Wireless Code endorsed the application of expiry dates to prepaid wireless services and introduced a seven-day grace period before account balances could be seized.
This could not go unchallenged.
So, in response, earlier this month, DiversityCanada filed an application, through its legal counsel, asking the federal telecommunications watchdog to reconsider its decision not to ban expiry dates on prepaid wireless services.
This application was submitted on behalf of DiversityCanada and also on behalf of the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation (NPSCF). Established in 1945 and incorporated in 1954, the NPSCF is a democratic, non-partisan, non-sectarian organization composed of 350 seniors chapters and clubs across Canada with a collective membership of 1,000,000 Canadian seniors and retired workers.
DiversityCanada argued that the CRTC did not provide sufficient support for its decision not to ban expiry dates; did not fully consider the nature of the cash balances as presented during the consultation; and failed to consider the argument that the seizure of these funds represented unjust enrichment of the wireless providers.
DiversityCanada has asked the CRTC to hold a new proceeding specifically dealing with the expiry of prepaid wireless services.
Applications calling on the CRTC to review a decision can take as much as 12 to 15 months; therefore, we can anticipate that it will likely be late summer or early fall of 2014 before a determination on the matter is issued.