Telus cannot impose a surcharge on credit card payments: CRTC

The Canadian telecoms regulator has ruled that Telus will not be able to charge certain home telephony customers extra fees when they pay their bills with a credit card.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Thursday it rejected an application from the Vancouver-based company to add a 1.5 percent fee for processing credit card payments by regulated home phone customers in Alberta and British Columbia. (The CRTC only regulates services in certain markets where there is not enough competition, such as rural and remote regions.)

The decision comes amid a shift in Canada’s payment processing landscape. Since early October, merchants (except in Quebec) have been able to pass on the costs of processing credit card payments to customers.

Most major retailers have opted not to, but Telus began charging customers who pay by credit card on Oct. 17. It also requested permission from the CRTC to add the charges to the bills of customers with regulated home telephones.

The CRTC does not directly regulate prices for most telecom services in Canada, so Telus’ application only applied to a small subset of customers.

But the regulator warned the telecom industry that it would take action if the practice of imposing a credit card surcharge on customers’ bills continues.

“(The CRTC) believes that charging credit card processing fees is unacceptable and would adversely affect the affordability of telecommunications services,” the decision said.

“Should this practice continue, or become a practice within the telecommunications industry, the committee is prepared to explore all available regulatory options in the near future.”

The CRTC said in a press release that it heard from nearly 4,000 Canadians who complained to the commission about being charged extra for paying with a credit card. It said the surcharge practice “is against affordability and consumer interest” and harms vulnerable consumers at a time when prices are rising due to inflation.

John Lawford, executive director and general counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Center, called the decision a “huge consumer win”.

“The CRTC decision is also a warning to all other cell phone, internet and home phone companies not to effectively double charge their customers for simply paying their bills with a credit card, which is normal practice,” Lawford said in a statement. press release issued in conjunction with the CRTC. National Federation of Pensioners.

The two advocacy groups had warned that the surcharge would negatively impact seniors and low-income Canadians.

“The problem of inflation on basic necessities such as food, heating and communications is so eating away at our seniors’ pension funds that it is affecting their quality of life,” said NPF President Trish McAuliffe. “Telus failed to consider the larger implications of his behavior.”

Telus was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.

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