Rogers “voluntarily” pays out $275,000 for calling Prepaid customers without consent

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been dropping the hammer recently on the carriers. A few months back they ordered Bell to dish out over $1.3 million for “unauthorized telemarketing practices”.

Today the CRTC issued a press release that stated they have reached a settlement with Rogers that will see them pay $275,000 for calling their prepaid mobile clients without their consent. Rogers used “automated calling devices” (basically a recorded message) that informed customers of various ways they could top up their account without service interruption. Apparently this was against the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and Rogers was not fined but voluntarily handed the money over. Press release is below:

CRTC announces that Rogers Communications has made a $275,000 payment for its use of automated calling devices without consent

OTTAWA-GATINEAU, March 24 /CNW/ – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it has reached a settlement with Rogers Communications over its use of automated calling devices. Rogers was using these devices to notify its prepaid mobile customers of how they could purchase more minutes to avoid a service interruption.

“This latest investigation reinforces our commitment to protecting the privacy of consumers and educating businesses about their responsibilities,” said Masood Qureshi, the CRTC’s Senior Manager of Telemarketing Regulation. “We are pleased that Rogers is working to address our concerns and changing its telemarketing practices.”

Rogers has not admitted fault with regard to its use of automated calling devices. However, upon being made aware of the CRTC’s concerns, the company voluntarily undertook to:

* immediately cease making these types of calls to its prepaid mobile customers without obtaining their prior express consent
* make a monetary payment of $175,000 to the École polytechnique de Montréal and $100,000 to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and
* review its compliance policies to ensure ongoing adherence with the CRTC’s rules relating to automated calling devices.

The CRTC applies the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules in order to reduce unwanted calls to Canadians. According to the established enforcement process, the CRTC can discuss corrective actions with telemarketers, which may lead to a settlement that includes a monetary penalty or monetary payment. The amount of Rogers’s payment is proportionate to its overall share of the prepaid mobile market.

To date, the CRTC has collected over $1.8 million in penalties on behalf of the Receiver General for Canada in addition to over $740,000 in payments to post-secondary institutions.

Consumers may register on the National Do Not Call List or file a complaint about a telemarketer by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visiting www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca.

Update: Rogers sent us a note stating the following:
“The calls in question were to tell pre-paid customers that their service would be interrupted if they didn’t purchase more minutes. We believe we followed the rules but have voluntarily stopped these calls since there seems to be some uncertainty in the interpretation. Also, to avoid the time and expense of going to Court, we have come to a settlement that the CRTC has agreed upon. $175, 000 was donated to the Ecole polytechnique de Montreal and $100,000 to the British Columbia Institute of Technology.”

Source: CNW