TORONTO – Rogers Communications Inc. has reached an agreement with the Competition Bureau that will have the company issue $5.42 million in refunds and credits to mobile phone customers who paid for premium text services they didn’t want to buy.
The bureau said its investigation found that Rogers either made, or allowed, “false or misleading representations to customers in advertisements” that appeared in pop-up ads, apps and on social media.
The refunds covers services provided by two companies — MMS, between Jan. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012 and Jesta Digital between Jan. 1, 2011 and Aug. 31, 2013. Rogers acted as billing agent for both operators, which charged fees for various gaming services such as Mind Quiz, Joke a Day and ringtones.
The Competition Bureau said Rogers charged fees to its customers from third parties for services that “they did not intend to purchase and for which they had not agreed to pay.”
Refunds will be automatically issued to current Rogers wireless subscribers, while former customers will be contacted by Rogers with details about the refund process..
The agreement is part of a broader investigation launched by the Competition Bureau in 2012 that involves BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), Telus (TSX:T) and industry group the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
A representative for the Competition Bureau said Monday that only Rogers has reached an agreement and that all other cases are still before the courts.
Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) said it began making changes in 2011 in response to customer concerns and has since ended all premium text services, starting with MMS in 2012 and Jesta in 2014.
It has also worked with the Competition Bureau in determining how to compensate customers who paid for services from MMS and Jesta.
“We heard from customers in the past that they had concerns with these third-party premium text services and between 2011 and 2013 we took action to protect our customers,” said Raj Doshi, Rogers executive vice-president of wireless services.
“Last summer we stopped the program all together and today we’re going even further. Though we’ve issued many refunds already to our customers, now all affected customers will get their money back.”