Canadians get a break on cell phone contracts

Canadian consumers and small businesses will no longer be locked into three-year contracts under the CRTC’s new wireless code, which was released today. “Every day, Canadians rely on wireless devices while in their homes, at their jobs, at school or travelling abroad,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, in a press release. “The wireless code will contribute to a more dynamic marketplace by making it possible for Canadians to discuss their needs with service providers at least every two years.” Other highlights of the code include: –    Ability to cancel three-year contracts after two years without cancellation fees –  

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Electrician hit with $245,000 wireless bill

Just when you think you are paying too much for your telecommunication services, along comes the story of U.K. electrician Alan Mazkouri, who ripped open his cellphone bill to find a terrifying total: Over $245,000 USD for one month’s service. For 15 years, Mazkouri has a business account with Orange, and usually his bill for 10 mobile devices was about $450 per month. All was good until one handset started malfunctioning and he brought it in to be exchanged for a new phone. It turns out that during the few weeks it was on the fritz the broken phone sucked

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Big bad billing errors

Billing errors are everywhere, from our phone bills to credit card statements. So what can we do to resolve these issues? ABC News has a few tips for consumers on how to fight back against errors on medical insurance, credit cards and insurance claims, to name just a few. The first step is to scrutinize your bills like a detective. Are you up to the challenge?

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The long distance fraud epidemic

Imagine opening up your monthly telephone bill to find tens of thousands of dollars in mystery charges. And then opening more bills from other companies – ones that you don’t even do business with – to find over $500,000 owing from long distance calls. The kicker? The calls originated from your office, but you didn’t make them. Long distance fraud is something that happens more often than we realize and businesses around the world are falling victim to the scam. Usually hackers gain access to the telephone system through something we take for granted in the business world: Remote voice

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Wireless cramming draws ire of Vermont AG

When it comes to phone cramming, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell is not amused. In fact, he’s encouraging any resident who notices the fraudulent charges on their bills to report the act to his office. Phone cramming is an all-too-common practice where companies slip charges onto consumer’s bills for services they never ordered. It is done through the phone provider, which will most often plead its ignorance about the charges. The scammers hope that the consumers don’t spot the extra fees – usually are $10 or less – and continue paying them month after month. Recently, 12,000 Vermont residents were

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Telstra admits to overbilling customers $30 million

Telstra is preparing to refund customers about $30 million after overcharging for international roaming services for six years. An internal audit brought the issue to light early last year, but the Australian telco only began contacting customers a few months ago. The number of subscribers affected by the overbilling has not been made public. The industry-funded Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman discovered several startling discrepancies in customers’ bills, including one woman who bought a $129 plan to make calls during a holiday in Europe, only to be charged $75,000. The bill eventually grew to $147,908. Telstra has maintained its innocence, blaming the

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CenturyLink admits to ‘huge’ billing error

Global telecommunications and broadband giant CenturyLink has admitted to a “huge” billing error in Oregon. The Mail Tribune reported 10,000 CenturyLink customers were charged a late fee for a 56-cent tax that wasn’t listed on their bills. In total, $50,000 was overbilled after customers were assessed a $5 penalty for not paying the federal universal service fee. The company has not said why the fee was left off the bills. At least one customer is angry, having been told he would have to pay the late fee or face another on his next bill. CenturyLink asked him to pay and

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Canadian astronaut fighting skyrocketing telecom costs

Astronaut-turned-politician Marc Garneau is taking on the issue of skyrocketing telecommunications costs in Canada. In a recent opinion piece published in the Montreal Gazette, Garneau made a public call for increased competition in the Canadian marketplace, which he said would decrease costs and improve service. “At $55 per month per mobile subscriber, Canadians pay 20 per cent more than users in the US, 70 per cent more than users in France, and double that of users in the UK and Germany,” he wrote, in the column. “On mobile data, roaming rates and Internet combined, Canadians pay more per month for

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Big billing error at SaskTel

SaskTel has experienced an oops moment – a big one, at that. It recently came to light that incorrect charges for data were billed for a one-week period in November. In total, 9,000 Canadian customers were erroneously assessed at American rates, racking up extra charges ranging from a few cents to $100,000. Company officials say the mistake was caused by a coding error as it was transitioning to a new switch. SaskTel admits similar glitches have occurred in the past, but maintains they haven’t been as extensive. Read more about the billing mistakes in the Regina Leader-Post.

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Utility refunds $1M for hydro overbilling

Overbilling isn’t an issue restricted to one area of our lives. Take the recently reported case of Cheynne Light. It seems the lights were on at the Wyoming utility, but no one was home. Cheyenne Light is set to cut a big refund cheque after it was discovered the company overbilled its customers by more than $1 million. The errors – which saw the company incorrectly charge fees to over 4,600 customers – dated back to January 2005. The problems weren’t identified until October of this year, when an astute consumer saw something unusual on their bill and pursued it

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