Bell Mobility Loses Bid to Overturn Northwest Territories Ruling Over 911 Fee

by Istvan Fekete on July 20, 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear Bell Mobility’ challenge of a Northwest Territories Court of Appeal ruling that held the company liable for charging customers a 911 fee but not actually offering the emergency-call service.

You may recall that in most of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut, Bell offers no emergency-call service – 911 calls are answered by a recorded message. Bell, on the other hand, billed its customers 75 cents per month for that non-existent service, which prompted subscribers to initiate a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit was first filed by a James Anderson, a Yellowknife man, back in 2007. After many years of wrangling and delays, the lawsuit against Bell was finally heard by a judge in 2013. Back then, Anderson said that by default, about 20,000 people are included in the suit, including customers in Nunavut and Yukon.

He argued: It is widely understood that if someone calls 911, a live operator should be there to assist, which isn’t the case in most parts of the territories. Instead, residents must dial a ten-digit local phone number for immediate fire, medical, or RCMP assistance in their communities.

After hearing the case, Justice Ron Veale ruled Bell liable to nearly 30,000 cellphone users in the Northwest Territories who paid $9 per year for a 911 service they didn’t receive. Fact is, Bell doesn’t have a responsibility to offer 911 services, but it shouldn’t charge customers for one if that service is not available.

Since then, Bell has tried to appeal against the ruling, but the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear its case without giving any particular reason.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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