Telus Trying to Bankrupt Kamloops ISP

by Jordan Richardson on March 24, 2010

The ferocious mêlée between Telus and On Call Internet Services has been rolling along since 2007.

On the surface, it’s easy to consider the tussle between Telus Corp. and On Call Internet Services, a small Kamloops-based internet service provider, to be a bit of a David and Goliath death match. But things are certainly more intricate beneath the surface.

Telus is categorically taking steps to push On Call towards bankruptcy and it appears to be winning, even after a British Columbia Supreme Court justice gave On Call time to operate without oversight while waiting for the latest round of court dates towards the end of April.

The two companies have been embroiled in billing disputes since 2007 and each company claims the other owes it $1 million. The critical nucleus of the argument is on tariffs charged under the federal Telecommunications Act.

Telus has won a series of court judgments against On Call Internet Services and even has an arbitration award in its back pocket, but On Call is banking on an expert witness in the April court dates that will help it establish that Telus violated the Telecommunications Act by overcharging the company.

Telus has volleyed back. Along with asking for a court order to appoint a trustee to watch over the operations and financial books of On Call Internet Services, Telus wants the courts to consider the Kamloops ISP bankrupt and wants to assign a receiver to snag On Call’s customer base.

On Call president Cindy Quigley, who was not represented by legal counsel, told the Supreme Court that On Call has indeed been paying its bills to Telus. “It’s not a case of On Call not paying its bills,” said Quigley. “We’ve always overpaid.”

For the time being, Quigley has managed to keep afloat from the Telus blitz. She can keep the company open without Telus’ proposed trustee oversight, as mentioned, but On Call must abide by a series of conditions that include the filing of a notice of dispute under the Telecommunications Act and the payment of charges owed to Telus.

At the end of the day, the courts will decide which company owes a million dollars and which company stands to collect. If history is any indication, it undoubtedly doesn’t look good for the little guy. On the other hand, any company with Spider-Man working tech support may have a fighting chance after all.

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Cindy Quigley March 25, 2010 at 1:39 am

Dear Mr. Richardson,

This evening I came across the article you wrote regarding the monumental battle between TELUS and On Call, and was appreciative of the article. It was pleasing to know that this is a matter of interest right across Canada.

I was also pleased to see the reference made to the Federal Telecommunications Act. It is the rules and regulations of this Act, and On Call’s insistence that the rules apply, that is at the heart of On Call’s dispute. This is certainly a matter of Public Interest and On Call is looking forward to having these matters heard in Supreme Court in April 2010.

I also enjoyed the comical ending to the article. After enduring all the tense moments of the past three years, it felt good to laugh out loud, knowing the story behind Spider Man working our technical bench.

At times it seems we all need Super Hero Strength to forge ahead!

Kind Regards,
Cindy Quigley
President
On Call Internet Services Ltd
1158-8th Street
Kamloops, BC, V2B 2Y2

Jordan Richardson March 25, 2010 at 8:09 am

Cindy,

Thanks very much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. Here’s to a positive resolution and greater public interest in your plight.

Cheers,

Jordan Richardson

Justin G. April 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I am confused by your obvious bias towards the small Kamloops-based ISP in this article. To claim that Telus is “categorically taking steps to push On Call towards bankruptcy” is a reach at best. Telus is (as described by one of their lawyers) not receiving payment of $34,000-$44,000 a month and has multiple court decisions and arbitrations backing their claims thus far.

From the information we have today from the news articles, public accessible CRTC documents, a logical person must conclude that Telus has, at the very least, legitimate claims and is not trying to bankrupt a company strictly out of malevolence.

Honestly, this level of bias makes me question your integrity as a journalist and wonder your motivations for writing it. Do you have some insider information that nobody else has, are you being compensated to write it, or are you just out of touch with reality?

Anyways, I just wanted to pitch in my two cents. Have a great day.

Jordan Richardson April 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Justin,

Thanks very much for your comment.

First of all, you should note the context of where you are. This is a blog and we are very opinionated here. “Thoughts, analysis and provocative opinion” is part of our tagline and part of what we try to represent. We never make any claims to be unbiased journalists. We are not the Vancouver Sun or a newspaper and make no claims to be, so “bias,” with respect that bias is meant to be a tendency towards a particular perspective, is present when opinions are concerned. While I appreciate the fact that somebody might consider me to be a “journalist,” that’s simply not the case and I do not claim to be a journalist. I offer my perspective and do not hide that fact.

Second, my claim that Telus is taking steps to push On Call towards bankruptcy is supported by evidence. I note the Telus side of the story in the article and have included links to provide additional facts, as I always do. Quoting from my article, “The two companies have been embroiled in billing disputes since 2007 and each company claims the other owes it $1 million.”

Quoting from the article linked in my article from the Kamloops Daily News: “Telus Corp. is taking legal action to push a pioneering Kamloops internet provider into bankruptcy.” The Kamloops Daily News article also explains the $34,000-$44,000 payments Telus is claiming they’ve not received.

Your suggestion that a “logical person” must conclude at the very least that Telus has “legitimate claims” is puzzling. Why is it logical to draw an assumption? Why is that the “very least” conclusion a “logical person” can reach?

So while I make no claims not already suggested and asserted by the Kamloops Daily News or by Telus itself, you suggest that any so-called “logical person” must conclude that Telus has legitimate claims. Then, audaciously, you proceed to question whether I’ve received compensation to write this article or if I’m “out of touch with reality.” And this is entirely based on my confirmation of the fact that Telus is, indeed and admittedly, pushing On Call towards bankruptcy. They are taking legal steps to do so, as my article confirms. Nowhere do I suggest how this court case should be decided or if one side is “right” or justified. I suggest it is a mystery that the courts will have to decide and I stand by that. Telus does want the courts to consider the ISP bankrupt. How else do you suggest I report that fact?

Moreover, my article also notes the following: “…On Call must abide by a series of conditions that include the filing of a notice of dispute under the Telecommunications Act and the payment of charges owed to Telus.” As you and any other reader can see, I note the charges “owed to Telus” in my analysis.

(Portion of post removed by author…)

Justin G. April 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Hi Jordan,

Thank you for your reply! I enjoyed reading your reply, and have a few comments to make:

1) My categorizing Telus’ claims as “legitimate” and “valid” are based on the “series of court judgments and an arbitration award”. I would very much like to be able to link you the official court documents detailing Telus’ claims and victories but the BC Court Services Online instead wishes to charge for the information. However, you can view them yourself by going to https://eservice.ag.gov.bc.ca and doing a civil search for “On Call Internet Services”.

2) I understand that Telus has now, as of March 22, 2010, seeking an order to declare On Call Internet Services Ltd. bankrupt and turn the company over to a “receiver” to manage it’s services, clients, and eventually sell the business off to repay the debt. I take issue mostly with the fact that you do not give the necessary thought in your article to the fact that this dispute has been on going since 1998. Telus seems to be pushing for this because On Call does not appear to have sufficient assets or cash on hand to repay the owed dollar amount. It is unfortunate that this dispute may end with a long time local ISP being driven in to bankruptcy but, in the end, if Telus is owed the amount they claim (and the courts agree), On Call will have to make good on that however they can.

3) I can, in all honestly, admit that I have no other information on this case, other than what I have read on the CSO and on CRTC pages, as well as news articles and blogs such as this one. I work in a different subset of the industry and have no personal investment in either Telus or On Call.

I also don’t agree with your “outing me” in your comment. Since you’ve clearly been to our company’s web site, I wonder if you were able to (correctly) conclude that my company is in no way in competition with On Call Internet Services, and could not benefit in any way from my stance on this issue?

I suppose I should make clear that I speak on behalf of myself, not on behalf of the company or any persons involved in the company. I did not intentionally attribute my comment to my employer.

Again, I enjoyed reading your comment and hope you have a fantastic day today 🙂

Justin G.

Jordan Richardson April 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Justin, great to hear from you again and thanks very much for your comment.

I’ll just hit on a few points.

“I take issue mostly with the fact that you do not give the necessary thought in your article to the fact that this dispute has been on going since 1998”

The information I had to put together the article stated that the billing disputes had been going on since 2007, so it wasn’t a matter of not giving the “necessary thought” to the matter or to the dispute. You have to understand, Justin, that I am a blogger covering a story with the sources I have. You appear to have the benefit of having more sources than I do, but that has nothing to do with the amount of “thought” one puts into a story.

Quoting from the Kamloops Daily News story: “The two companies have been involved in billing disputes since 2007. Each side said the other owes it in the order of $1 million”

The Court Services Online page does indeed produce some results with respect to On Call Internet Services. The first point at which Telus Communications Company enters the fray in any of the listings with On Call Internet Services is in file number 083799 which was opened on May 28, 2008. Readers can examine the index page here, but will have to pay $6.00 to see the entire filing and additional details.

Justin, your suggestion that this has been an ongoing process since 1998 seems to rely on additional information, but you have not provided it as of yet. This is interesting on a number of levels and makes my question as to whether or not you have any additional information more relevant than ever. How do know that this dispute has been going on since 1998? What proof do you have? Can you provide us a link or source that indicates how long this dispute has been going on and, furthermore, would you be good enough to supply that source to the Kamloops Daily News considering that their own sources on their own story indicate that they are only aware of disputes ongoing since 2007?

“I work in a different subset of the industry and have no personal investment in either Telus or On Call.”

Fair enough, Justin. All I did was ask a fair question on the matter. I thank you very much for being upfront.

With respect to “outing” you, Justin, you outed yourself by using your work email to post your comment. And with respect to the fact that you implied that I somehow was either out of touch with reality or receiving “compensation” to post a presumably “biased” account of this issue, my question to you was only fair given the fact that you do work in a similar industry and in the same area. Any responsible individual would pursue that information and I think you know that, Justin. You were curious about my motivations, so it stands to reason that I would be curious about yours.

There is absolutely no reason to assume that the company you work for has anything to do with this case on any level at all and there is absolutely no reason to assume that you receive any form of compensation at all in any respect to commenting here or anywhere else.

(Portion of post removed by author…)

Conversely, I will not apologize for pursuing a reasonable question given the information present. I see no reason for any of this to reflect poorly on your company or yourself as an individual, as you have represented yourself honestly, accurately and fairly in your comments here.

Again, thanks very much for your comment, Justin. I’ve appreciated this discussion and the politeness and professionalism with which you conduct yourself.

Jordan Richardson April 9, 2010 at 1:58 am

In order to maintain posterity and respectful discourse, I’ve elected to remove any references to the company Justin works for. I realize now that I could have continued my line of questioning without “outing” him, so to speak, and I am truly sorry for my actions here. It was not my intention to create any negative sentiments towards any company, nor was it my intention to draw any inferences, purposeful or implied, towards any company or individual working for said company.

While I do not regret the nature of the questions and while I still maintain their relevance, I again apologize for perhaps being too specific.

Thank you for reading,

Jordan Richardson

hitmewithyourbest shot April 11, 2010 at 1:39 am

I agree with Justin,
This is truly one bias news report, and Telus of course being the bigger of the two is taking the brunt. Why is On Call the only ISP provider in the province fighting this, I’m sure others in the same boat as them would want to band together and fight the giant. Are they the only company to overpay for many years? The Kamloops Daily News commented that On Call did not have a lawyer. I find this hard to believe as this has been going on for so long.

Jordan Richardson April 11, 2010 at 3:28 am

hitmewithyourbest shot, thank you for your comment.

In that you are agreeing you Justin on this article’s bias, I guess I have to again point to my comment in response to his comment: This is a blog and we offer our opinions here. It’s part of the tagline. I really can’t state this strongly enough. We are not a news organization, we are not journalists, and we don’t claim to be. This isn’t a news report.

Considering that my article delivers the facts as reported in the Kamloops Daily News, I’m curious if you or Justin considers the KDN article to be a biased report as well.

Even so, Telus is NOT taking the brunt of anything. Indeed, I’ve gone after Telus, Rogers and Bell pretty consistently on this website and this article is not an example of my vitriol. It’s interesting (and funny) that the two of you have picked perhaps the least controversial entry of mine to crow about.

Everything stated in this report is factual. Telus IS taking steps to bankrupt this company, Telus DOES want this company to be declared bankrupt because, according to Telus, On Call cannot repay its debts. Those are the facts of the case as reported in my source, the Kamloops Daily News. I have asked Justin for other sources, but he has been silent on the issue. It appears to be that this case has aroused some interest, so I’d invite anyone with any additional information that we seem to lack to produce it with available sources. Any unsourced allegations or assumptions will be treated as hearsay.

To some of your points,

You say: “Why is On Call the only ISP provider in the province fighting this, I’m sure others in the same boat as them would want to band together and fight the giant.”

Who says they’re the only ISP provider fight “this?” And what do you mean by “this” anyway? On Call is fighting Telus in their own suit, as outlined in the article and in the subsequent comments exchange. It’s not as if Telus is trying to simply force On Call into bankruptcy for no reason and my article certainly doesn’t state that. Each side of this case has its own rationale and, again, my article demonstrates that.

As to whether On Call is the only company to “overpay for many years,” I believe that On Call is planning on addressing the issue in the trial with one of its witnesses. They claim that Telus is violating the Telecommunications Act in overcharging them. If there are other ISPs involved, that’s not for me or my article to say. My article covers this case and isn’t meant to be an expose or a hit job on Telus.

“The Kamloops Daily News commented that On Call did not have a lawyer. I find this hard to believe as this has been going on for so long.”

Perhaps you should contact the Kamloops Daily News and ask them why they’d lie about whether or not On Call had a lawyer. I’m curious, too, as to why you don’t think any ongoing cases or lawsuits involve clients who represent themselves. It happens all the time.

hitmewithyourbest shot April 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

yes I realize this is only a blog for opinions. Yes I do believe the Kamloops Daily
News article was biased as well. If On Call (the little comany) is fighting the big monster, why would’nt she confer with other smaller companys. They may have the same thing happenning to them, why is she the only isp fighting them ?(strength in numbers)
Just asking?

Jordan Richardson April 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

You would have to ask her, hitmewithyourbest shot, and you would have to prove that On Call is the only ISP fighting Telus. Again, this is an individual case with individual aspects specific to it. I highly doubt that this is the only time Telus and a small company have wrangled in a court of law over something. In fact, a quick search of the CSO page reveals well over 300 results when it comes to lawsuits involving Telus. While we can’t be certain of the nature of these individual cases, we can be certain that Telus (and indeed any large company like Telus) is no stranger to various legal entanglements with small companies, individuals and other larger companies.

In terms of why On Call wouldn’t “confer” with other companies, how do you know they haven’t? And why do you think they should? I would suggest that the case with On Call and Telus is between On Call and Telus, not On Call, Telus and several other random small ISPs. Why drag other companies in to this particular court case when they aren’t involved? This isn’t simply a battle of small ISPs and Telus; this is one ISP and Telus. Period. Nowhere does my article suggest otherwise, either, and, in fact, I actually go to great lengths to explain that this isn’t some sort of David and Goliath tale. This isn’t about “banding together to fight the giant,” either. It appears that you’re reading too much into this article if that’s the version you’re coming up with.

Incidentally, the Kamloops Daily News is not a biased article. I think you could use a refresher on what “bias” actually is before you go around labeling every article you see, but I’m frankly getting tired of dealing with this issue.

It seems to be that you’re rather anxious to defend the honour of Telus and, while I’m sure they appreciate it, I’m not too sure that they require your vigorous defence. They seem to be doing just fine.

G.K. Willington May 5, 2010 at 1:51 am

Mrs Quigley seems to have a history of not paying her debts. Perhaps she would like to comment on a Networks BC grant that was supposed to be set up in the Nicola Valley? There was grant money provided to OCIS to setup wireless internet access for the residents of the Nicola Valley. Instead this money was never used for its intended purpose. Mrs Quigley has failed to repay this grant money back.

May 12th is just around the corner. She has appealed the arbitrators ruling favoring the big T. Rest assure I am not into big corporations crushing the “little guy” but one has to pay there bills.

This has been going on for years and the light is at the end of the tunnel.

G.K. Willington

Greg Graham November 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Hello Mr. Richardson;

Google pointed me to your blog when I was looking for some information on Telus.

I found your blog to be over-the-top with its anti-Telus bias. Just because you replicated (stole?) a headline from a local Kamloops newspaper doesn’t make it right. Since you yourself admited that you aren’t a journalist, and your posts have bias, so why should people read your blog?

You certainly have the right to voice your opinion, but your readers have the right to decide for themselves if it has any worth and if they should spend their time reading it. I sure won’t read any more of your drivel.

Jordan Richardson November 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Greg, you have every right to read or not read whatever you want on the internet or anywhere else. Why anyone should read anything else is a personal decision, obviously. Why should anyone read your comment on an article that is months old, for instance?

I’ve already challenged readers on this story and have yet to receive any answers. The headline was not “stolen” in any regard (the headline from the KDN is “Telus, local provider claim each owes $1 million”), either, and the story reports the facts of the case. I do wonder, not that you’ll return to the scene of “the crime,” what you’d make of my work on Telus and New Denver. Here I suppose you’d say I took a “pro-Telus bias.”

All blogs and all articles have some bias, Mr. Graham. We all have bias to some degree and all arrange the facts to bolster our hopeful version of events. Believing otherwise, believing senselessly in the mythical “integrity” of the mainstream media, is just as foolish as expecting a blog that advertises itself as carrying thoughts, analysis and provocative opinion to not carry any…provocative opinion.

As an aside, I’m sure Telus, the multi-million dollar corporation responsible for screwing over millions of Canadians, appreciates your spirited defence.

Jordan Richardson November 3, 2010 at 4:15 am

Just an update on this story:

The assets of the bankrupt On Call Internet Services were obtained by Navigata.

Shawn Hall, Telus’ corporate spokesperson, told media toward the end of October that the B.C. Supreme Court awarded the On Call assets to Navigata for $60,000. Telus is owned $1,000,000 in overdue services and court judgements, but that will go unpaid because On Call went into bankruptcy.

Said Hall, “We always said our intention was to have the bills paid or have On Call made bankrupt and sold to another service provider.”

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