Binks Is Here

Commentary on the World

This Should Be Criminal...

Bell and Telus want to start charging for incoming texts.

Bell says:

“Starting August 8, 2008 all text messages received will be charged 15¢ per message, unless you subscribe to a text messaging rate plan or bundle. For prepaid, messages will be deducted from your bundle on a monthly basis. International text messages sent (excluding U.S.) will increase from 20¢ to 25¢ per message for all clients.”

Telus is less clear, though, all they say is this:

“Text messages received from another mobile phone are free to receive until August 24, 2008, at which time they will be 15¢ to receive.”

They don’t explicitly state that people on plans are exempted, though apparently there’s a press release floating around that says that they are intending this for plan-less people.

“All three telecom giants require customers to sign on to a standard agreement that allows the companies to change unilaterally its terms, including adding new fees. The contracts also include a clause that impose stiff penalties for customers who break their contracts early if they are unhappy about the changes.”

So, from the sounds of things, today if you’ve got a plan Bell and Telus won’t be charging you the 15 cents/message - but they reserve the right to change their plans at any time in the future, and they’ll make it tough to get out of them.

As an illustration of how screwed you’ll be in the future, I took a look at the standard Bell contract:

“You agree that this Agreement and any fees, charges or other obligations and any features, options, or other aspects of the Services, may be modified, discontinued or terminated by Bell except as otherwise specified in this Agreement. We will notify you by providing at least 30 days advance notice of any change that affects you. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as obligating you to accept receipt of the Services after any change is made to this Agreement, the Services or otherwise; however, your sole remedy in the event of such a change shall be termination of the Services including the payment of any SAPA or DSAPA that may apply, upon providing 30 days advance written notice. Should you continue to receive the Services after such change is effective, you expressly agree that no additional written agreement or express acknowledgement shall be required to accept such change and, unless otherwise prohibited by law, you specifically waive any and all statutory requirements for notice and express acceptance of such changes except for those provided in this paragraph. You agree that you cannot change this Agreement and that no oral or written statement or representation of any sales agent, representative or employee of Bell made to you can change this Agreement.”

“The SAPA is the greater of (a) $100 or (b) $20 per month remaining in the Committed Service Period on termination up to a maximum of $400, plus applicable taxes.”

So”¦ they can change anything you want, and you’re basically stuck paying up to $400 (unless you’re on an older contract - I thought it used to be max $200).

The only thing they say they AREN’T allowed to change in a contract is this:

“We will not increase your basic monthly voice plan charge or out-of-bundle airtime charge during any Committed Service Period, as long as you remain qualified to receive your chosen plan and Services throughout the Committed Service Period.”

So, only changes to voice cost seem to be not allowed.

How is this not criminal?