The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has refused Telus‘ request to charge processing fees to its customers from Alberta and British Columbia for payments made by credit card. The request only applied to CRTC-regulated services, which are typically home telephone services in smaller communities.
Telus has been charging a 1.5 per cent fee to customers paying by credit card since October 17 in areas where services are not regulated by the CRTC, which includes its wireless and internet customers outside of Quebec. CRTC approval is not required for these services.
However, the CRTC says it is very concerned about this practice, as it goes against affordability and the interests of consumers. Furthermore, this practice impacts the most vulnerable consumers who depend on credit cards to pay their daily bills, especially when the prices of essential goods and services are rising due to inflation.
The CRTC sends a “clear message to Telus and other telecommunications service providers who are considering imposing this kind of fee on their customers”, it said in a press release. Should the practice continue, the CRTC will consider all available regulatory options.
“We heard Canadians loud and clear: close to 4,000 of you told us that you should not be subjected to an additional fee based on the method you choose to pay your bill. We expect the telecommunications industry to treat Canadians with respect and do better”, said Ian Scott, CRTC chairman and chief executive officer.
Since October 6, 2022, most Canadian businesses (except in Quebec) can charge their customers a fee for credit card transactions. The decision stems from the settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by retailers against Visa, MasterCard, and card-issuing banks. Before this settlement, companies had to absorb the costs associated with credit card payments.
In Quebec, the province’s Consumer Protection Act prohibits the application of this type of surcharge. Therefore, businesses in Quebec cannot charge credit card processing fees to their customers.
Only some telecommunications services are regulated by the CRTC; most, including wireless and Internet services, are not, which means that service providers do not need CRTC approval to change their rates, terms and conditions.