The unpopular “system access” fees charged by phone companies were in the spotlight yesterday after regulators ordered Telus Corp. to pay refunds to some phone customers who were charged a long-distance-related fee even if they never made a long-distance call.
The decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission potentially applies to some 500,000 Telus customers in Alberta and B.C. who, beginning in November, were charged a $2.95 monthly “system access” fee if they hadn’t signed up for long-distance plans, either with Telus or another company.
In its decision, the CRTC said the $2.95 fee amounted to an “unauthorized” increase in regulated local phone rates for customers who didn’t make long-distance calls.
However, customers who make just one long-distance call a month will still be charged the fee, according to the CRTC’s decision.