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Cellphones The Almighty Buck

TELUS Forcing Customers Off Unlimited Plans 268

An anonymous reader writes "Canadian telco TELUS sold a bunch of (expensive) Unlimited EV-DO aircard accounts last winter and are now summarily canceling them or forcing people to switch to much less valuable plans. TELUS is citing 'Violations,' but their Terms Of Service (see #5) are utterly vague and self-contradictory. The TELUS plans were marketed as being unlimited, without the soft/hard caps that the other providers had at the time. They were purchased by a lot of rural Canadians who had no other choice except dialup. Now TELUS is forcing everyone to switch from a $75 Unlimited plan to a $65 1GB plan, and canceling those who won't switch. Have a look at the thread at Howardforums, a discussion of the TELUS ToS (in red at the bottom), an EV-DO blogger who's been a victim, a post at Electronista, and of course Verizon getting fined for doing the same thing! Michael Geist has taken an interest as well."
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TELUS Forcing Customers Off Unlimited Plans

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  • by iamhigh ( 1252742 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:48PM (#24756935)

    You agree that, to maintain or improve the service, or for other business reasons, TELUS can in its sole discretion, suspend, restrict, modify or terminate all or any part of the service or make changes to the network and other facilities without notice to you.

    And that is why "agreements" like this are worthless. They should just say "Here's what you are required to do... we can do as we damn well please." But honestly, is there any point in signing a contract when one party retains all rights to completely change the contract without allowing you the ability to opt-out of the contract? Is this even legal? Probably... can we change it?

    I am not real big on "consumer protections" but this type of stuff just seems ridiculous. At some point we have to realize that cell phones and internet access are pretty much not a privilege any more. All of us should have access to these shared resources (the tubes).

  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:57PM (#24757029) Journal

    I was thinking more:
    Company changes the nature of its product?

    Unless they have a contract, this is a fairly pointless story. My experience has been if a company does this they just finish out the contracts for existing customers and then tell them its not longer available.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:03PM (#24757103)

    I'm not familiar with this particular case, but in the US it is common for such plans to be sold with a contract. This contract typically specifies rates and services which will apply over a two year period. Both of us are expected to adhere to that during the contract period, after which we are both free to continue or to stop as we prefer. But you don't get to just stop following the contract just because you changed your mind and don't like it anymore.

    So the answer to your question is, they are obligated to maintain the service for the period that their contracts specify.

  • by FeatureBug ( 158235 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:17PM (#24757215)
    And that is why in some other countries, legislation exists that proscribes specific examples of terms in contracts that are deemed to be unfair, i.e. may not be used in any contracts.
  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <`trash.eighty+slashdot' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:18PM (#24757233)


    You mean voicemail and CID isn't included by default? Fuck, you Canadians are getting shafted even more than I thought.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:29PM (#24757335)

    WTF? The plan jumps to 1 GB from 8 megabytes?! It's fucking absurd that telecoms are allowed to get away with completely fucking over everyone who wants reasonable service at a price point lower than the most expensive plan like this!

    (And no, the 1GB plan is not a reasonable change from unlimited... but the "connect 25" and "connect 40" plans are even worse!)

  • Re:What??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:35PM (#24757393)

    I'm an American, and I can say your telecommunications industry sucks. That's really saying something.

  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:37PM (#24757401) Journal

    This is slightly different. This is company has a contract with the customer, and is using it's "we reserve the right to change any term and any time and/or cancel the contract for any reason without penalty" option to extract themselves from a contract they no longer wish to honor.

    The customers now have the option to sign a new contract to pay more money for less service or switch to another provide [Rogers, yaay].

    I'm sure Roger's wants to this this for their 'special' data pricing plans 6 Gb per month/some amount of money, but they probably don't want a whole bunch of unlocked iPhones on shorter-term contracts ready to switch when the competition get their GSM network setup in the next 1 or 2.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:59PM (#24757589) Homepage Journal

    They should just say "Here's what you are required to do... we can do as we damn well please."

    They do say that. They just don't say it clearly. The whole point of most consumer agreements is to say exactly that, but at great length and using very technical language. If nobody understand what you're saying, nobody can give you a hard time for saying it.

  • by hellwig ( 1325869 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:59PM (#24757603)
    In America, the only thing we know about Canada and Europe is that you have free health-care and subsidized prescription coverage, and that gas is twice as expensive. What most don't know is that with things like salary caps, enforced work schedules and holidays, 40-60% income tax, etc... there are lots of things that are sacrificed for that free healthcare. There are good and bad things about socialist societies. I suppose unregulated telecoms is just another bad.
  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pentalive ( 449155 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:06PM (#24757681) Journal
    Isn't it wonderful - If we want to break the contract it's a hundred to two hundred dollars, but If the phone company breaks the contract it's no big deal...
  • by Runefox ( 905204 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:15PM (#24757775) Homepage

    Our income tax in Canada is actually less than 30% for the highest tier, and typically 15-22% [wikipedia.org], which isn't hugely different from that in the United States [wikipedia.org] (actually, we're taxed less if you consider the dollars are more or less on par at the moment).

  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:26PM (#24757883)

    Reasonable people can disagree over whether or not basic needs like health care are rights, but Internet access?!! That's nuts.

    Not really. If the society moves to the stage where all essential services, government included, are on the Internet and inaccessible in a timely manner otherwise, Internet, like roads, become a necessity for living, only slightly less important then shelter or medical care. Telephones, for example, have long since crossed that line. In North America some means of long-range transportation (read: a car or some alternative) are pretty much a must in many cities if one wishes to obtain any employment at all, and thus sustenance and shelter.

    Should these things be free/subsidized? That is an argument between Communism, Socialism, Capitalism and other socio-economic systems and far outside the scope of this disucssion. But irrespective of your take, it is pretty obvious that telecommunications/transportation are not in the same category as tourism or bar-hopping and are far closer to shelter/medical care, and getting closer every day.

  • Re:Marketing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houbou ( 1097327 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:40PM (#24758027) Journal
    Sounds to me like Telus will be opening themselves to a lawsuit. When you have a contract... you need to abide by it. Eventually, it's only a matter of time for a petition-like process to be initiated by ticked-off customers to start and once this happens, a nice little lawsuit will more than likely result. Of course, if these customers have an ounce of common sense, they will involve the CRTC, who, once they get into this, will have a few pointed questions at Telus. As for "is it legal?" for Telus to do so, I'm not so sure, because you see, in Canada, just like in the US, one cannot make clauses on a contract, if the clauses are not legal to begin with. For example: say you write a legitimate contract and in this contract, there is a clause on "must kill person X". Well, that clause is not valid, because killing is a crime, more to the point, it's NOT legal. So, it's one thing for Telus to put "clauses" in their contracts, but if they are NOT valid by Canadian Laws, then, these clauses are invalid. So, there ya go! :) If someone can find a few "holes" in Telus' contracts, life should get interesting indeed! :)
  • by Rudisaurus ( 675580 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:09PM (#24758347)
    I did. I was a long-time Telus Mobility customer. The recent change to charge for incoming texts was the final straw for me. I both called and wrote to Telus and got absolutely nowhere, so I'm now a VERY happy FIDO customer -- and so are most of my immediate family. When the haemorrhaging gets bad enough, Telus may straighten up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:39PM (#24758695)

    Sorry, but when it is at the point where people say "What do you mean you don't have internet access" it has become a need.

  • Re:Marketing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @10:04PM (#24759511) Homepage

    Telus has a long history of changing / breaching contracts and having lawsuits filed against it.

    Their CSRs will tell you that they can change bandwidth limits at any time and if you go over the new lower limit during your contract period, they will charge you overage. If you quit, they will bill you the ETF (which is abusive) and send you to collections if you don't pay.

    They dropped the residential plan data transfer limit down to 20gb a month 2 years ago. Now it's back up to 60.

    Oh, and the CRTC is a bunch of spineless, corrupt bitches who "OK" virtually every move a telecom company makes.

    Which is why telecom sucks ass in Canada. Not that it's great in the states, but it is better.

  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @10:19PM (#24759617) Homepage Journal

    This is slightly different. This is company has a contract with the customer, and is using it's "we reserve the right to change any term and any time and/or cancel the contract for any reason without penalty" option to extract themselves from a contract they no longer wish to honor.

    This is not valid. You cannot arbitrarily change a contract and force the other party to honor it, it just doesn't happen. Our legal system would not allow it, because it would open up options for me to agree to provide computer support to that cute girl in the next apartment and then suddenly turn her into my sex slave for all eternity.

  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @03:22AM (#24761831)

    we reserve the right to change any term and any time and/or cancel the contract for any reason without penalty

    Funny how they can reserve a right that they never had in the first place.

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