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System Access Fee Class Action Seeks Billions in Compensation

The Toronto Star reports that a Saskatchewan court has certified a class action against the major telecommunications companies over the widespread use of "system access fees", a deceptive monthly charge added to cell phone bills that appears to be government mandated, but isn't (I touched on it in a column earlier this year).  The class action is seeking over $12 billion in damages, noting that more than $1 billion is collected annually.   

40 Comments

  1. Excellent! I have long been annoyed by both cell phone and long-distance plans that have an asterisk to tiny print. So that the $30/month is really $40, because of various fixed ‘fees’.

    I am fine with specific taxes being excluded, as they are beyond the control of the company, but when I can boldly advertise $0/month*
    * system access fee of $55.99 per month applies, that is just false advertising.

  2. How can I sign up….after years of paying a fee for unknown services…I would love to recoup some of it.

  3. Bell Mobility
    I wonder if this type of lawsuit is what prompted Bell Mobilty to introduce “All-in-one” packages. You pay a specified amount per month, all fees included. The only thing they add on to the bill is usage, if any, and Taxes. Its made my $25/mth plan much easier to swallow since there will be no further fee added on top.

    Now if I could get them to drop the silly “Network Charge” on my local phone bill… which they *claim* is for access to long distance… over and above any actual usage…

  4. Fed Up Subscriber
    Awesome news, so where can I add my name to the lawsuit?

    Rob

  5. Some surfing points to this location to sign up …

    [ link ]

    I gather that the lawyer representing this case has a long and \”interesting\” history is public policy cases.

  6. Worst thing about system access fees is paying for ‘access’ to their system when you can NOT get it. After a DECADE, there are still MANY deadzones in southern Ontario!! After being promised that a new tower was going up soon about 13kms from where I live, I waited, and waited, and waited…. Finally I inquired “How much longer?” I was told it was already online!!! They tell me the tranmitters only cover 270 degrees from the tower they are placed on!!! Unlucky me is in the other 90 degrees… still no signal most times, yet I can pick up a roaming signal from Cleveland 50 kms across lake Erie. All bulL$&%^!! iF i HAVE TO PAY THE SYSTEM ACCESS FEE, I AT LEAST EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS THE SYSTEM!!! I am further told by Telus that they have no intentions of providing further or better coverage in this area for the forseeable future. Not close enough to Toronto I guess??!!

  7. And why can\’t they just put another transmitter up on the same tower to point in the other 90 degree direction?? Its not like they have to build a whole new tower!!!!

  8. Sign up at Merchant Law
    [ link ]

    I’m in. Hopefully most people will sign up too, even if nothing happens at least this puts pressure on the cellular carriers to stop this gouging.

  9. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    I’m in as well. I don’t expect to see a cent from this, but like May C above, I’m hoping that the verdict comes down which puts an end both to the fees, and the advertising of them as “government mandated”.

  10. Wow
    I was appauled when I found out what the fee’s were being spent on, NOTHING. As soon as i heard about them I signed up for the class action suit. I can’t wait till Roger, bell, telus and sll the rest get their @$$e$ kicked upside down and sideways in the court. It’s nice that someone is finally fighting for the little guys for a change. It’s Unfair that just because we have little option to go to other companies that the can get away with financial murder.

  11. Rtrd
    That Network access charge is absolute bull. I would like to join the class action. We can not be punished simply for not using a service we don’t want. Please advise.

  12. Hey Rtrd,

    You can join the class action here.

    [ link ]

  13. The system or network access fee ticked me off as well, particularly since it\’s a large proportionate increase to a light user plan (e.g. $20 per month for 200 minutes). As soon as number portability arrived, I switched to Virgin Mobile. No system access fee and voice mail/call display included as well. Over the past seven months I\’ve easily paid for the cost of the phone.

    Xetheriel: My landline long distance provider also charged a network access fee. I switched my home service to Win-Tel (obtained through COSTCO) where there isn\’t such a fee. The irony is that Win-Tel\’s long distance service is provided by Primus – the same company I previously used and who charged the network access fee.

  14. I switched to Virgin too… Smartest thing I’ve done in a long time: $30/month is really $30 per month with them! Voicemail, call waiting, call display — all included! My Fido plan was $30, but add in $6.95 “system access fee”, $8.00 call display/voicemail, GST and PST and I was up to $52 a month! I hardly ever use the damn phone so what the hell was I paying for?

  15. access fee
    S do I understand this correctly do I have to pay the sysytem access fee or can I refuses has this actually been brought in as law. I just finished talking to rogers and they told me it is legal to charge this fee
    confused in hamilton

  16. annoyed_in_ont says:

    I applaud your efforts; both my wife and I will sign up immediately.

  17. Michael
    Thanks for the link. Keep up the good work. I will sign up right away. I hope these crooks (aka mobile phone company) get slap in the face for gouging us.

  18. Just signed up as well.

  19. John
    What a great idea! I’m on Fido’s Couples plan, and even though the cost is $45 for both me and my girlfriend, we are each charged a $6.95 system access fee (yes, that’s $13.90 extra for no reason except to increase Fido’s profits) each month, bringing our monthly bill up above $60. I would sell my soul to teach these cell phone companies a lesson for ripping off Canadians for so many years. I just wonder why I haven’t heard anything about this lawsuit on the news. I think we have to do a better job at getting this message out!

  20. I just signed up as well. Maybe if enough people join it might help.

    I’ll be spreading the word so others can join in as well.

  21. I signed up as well. I am sick and tired of all kind of stupid charges!

  22. User fees for cellular
    I\\\’m in too. Really pissed about Telco rip-offs in general, and failure to upgrade inadequate rural data service, despite CRTC-mandated system expansion extra charges. None too happy about cancellation fees, warranty breaches, costly cellular plans, and their business attitude. Arrogant selfish, greedy and right in your face. I don\\\’t care if I ever see a dime, but I am luvvin the hotfoot that Merchant is giving the Telco\\\’s. They have really got it coming. Go get \\\’em Tony.

  23. System Access Fee Even When Not On Syste
    I’m going to be out of the country for a year and I asked Rogers to suspend my account. They refused to do it but said they could change my plan to an “emergency” plan for $8/mth PLUS the $6.95 system access fee!

    When I challenged the SAF, she blithely claimed that it was a government fee. I told her it wasn’t and it was something she probably had discretion to waive. That went nowhere 🙂

  24. 2 System Access Fee Charges
    I just received my newly “consolidated bill” from Rogers and have been dinged the System Access Fee twice! Once for wireless, and once for my Home Phone service. And the amounts are different. Have requested an explanation….

  25. shame on them
    Just signed on to the class action cause! I’m so sick of the abusive and non-competitive attitude these carriers have. And a big thumbs down to the Canadian government for keeping out the competition which in turn emboldened the existing players to rip-off the Canadian consumer more than usual. I look forward to hearing that the class action lawsuit succeeded and that the carriers will have to shell out a chunk of change, even though I don’t expect I’ll ever see a dime out if it. There are other ways to stick it to the phone companies such as letter writing campaigns, but from personal experience in a call center, a widespread and co-ordinated phone calling campaign to inundate their call centre’s with huge volumes of calls. Take it from me, when they get flooded with calls, everyone there is unhappy and it ends up costing the companies money to deal with all the calls.

    I really do hope that Canadian marketplace becomes more competitive and that we as consumers can benefit from an open and fair base of options!

    just my 2 cents.

  26. Bell Mobility worst of all
    After calling Bell Mobility today because their invoicing was once again too confusing we learned that on my husband’plan the system access fee is 8.95 plus 911 fee 0.75 though 911 should be free. Then we wanted to cancel the contract with Bell because we finally had it and the next surprise was that they would charge a whopping $400 cancellation fee. Is there any consumer protection here in Canada or is the Canadian government only turning a blind eye?

  27. re: bells service
    I think that Bell Services suck. I called about my account today and the represenative told me that they arent cancelling out the fee that it is for the towers . Like if other companies arent charging it bell shouldnt charge it

  28. Dec 22,2008

    I purchased a Blackberry from Bell Mobility less than 48 hrs ago and decided to return it because I didn’t like all the negative comments about Bell Mobility that I read about on the internet. I was told that I would have to pay a fee of $400. even though I am not yet connect to their services (my blackberry is on order. I will not be receiving it for another day or two) Bell said that I am being charged from the day that I signed the three year contract even if I can’t use their services. I just want to caution people about buying Bell phones. I will never buy another Bell or sign another Bell contract.

  29. Lost phone and system access fee
    I misplaced my phone. I wanted to be sure that if someone found it they couldn’t use it so I called Bell and they promptly deactivated it. Knowing I was in a 3 yr contract, I knew I would be paying my $20/month regardless, but I made a point of asking that since the phone was no longer “accessing the system” that I would not be charged a system access fee. They said I would, that it was part of the monthly fees and in my contract. I say BS. If they are remving my system access, I do not need to pay it. I asked for a name and phone number of someone to raise the issue with higher and was told they only deal in snail mail for complaints. Can you IMAGINE!

    Is the class action still on?

  30. I hate Bell
    Does anyone know if it’s legal for Bell to cancel your cell contract and charge you a cancelation fee of $295..when you are making regular monthly payments on your account? Then send this bill to a collection agency when you are still disputing half of the bogus charges?

  31. I hate Rogers
    After a year of fixing errors and mistakes appeared on Rogers bills I’ve been offered 1 month movie network free. I DO NOT NEED your F-ng junk, I need my money back! ACCESS FEE – for what to access?! Your terrible service! I sick of your service Rogers.

  32. Peter Rcihardson ve7pmr@rac.ca says:

    MD
    1) – Where is the class action suit at present?
    2) – I wish to sign up.
    3) – My frustration at the “Cash Grab” equal that of previouw writers.

  33. I am in a contract with Bell for their internet stick and when I got my bill yesterday I am being charged for the system access fee?!?!?!? Now I am being charged twice because I also have a cell plan with Bell.Rip Off

  34. I got my cell phone in July, On Friday November 20th. 2009 Bell apparently axed its system access fees, and yes you gussed it I still have to pay the fees, as it only applies to new plans, for which they have also increased the price of the new plans by $5.00 per month.

  35. System access fees
    I too find it very interesting how big corporations get away with things like the system access fee. Take Rogers for example..they have a monopoly on cable services in some areas and as such they can only raise their rates according to what the crtc says. But they seem to have found a way around this, they just create a new charge like the system access fee. I personally have just noticed on my Rogers Home Phone, a System Access Fee. Why dont we just eliminate all this monopoly crap and allow other cable companies operate in the same areas. I think it would lower our cable bills and give us better customer service. Have you ever tried to call Rogers…

  36. any word on how this is going ?
    how’s the lawsuit going ! Stick it to Robbers I mean Rogers !!!

  37. Leonard S says:

    Bell Sticking it to me
    I just signed up with Merchant Law. I’m with Bell paying $ 8.95 system access fee $ 7.00 call display per month. This has been going on since July 2005 I’m looking forward for Bell to credit me for all those years. Leonard (Montreal)

  38. why am I still paying system access fees? The law was introduced 2009, now it is the end of 2011 and I am still paying those fees to Telus on a contract.Is it legal to keep charging those fees?

  39. overlord
    Funny how this storey is noehere to be found on the rogers news page. You can run but you can’t hide. My refund for this bogas charge could buy me a house with the money that yas been stolen from me over e last twenty years.b

  40. Robert M. Beck says:

    System Access Fee
    I just received a notice on my last Rogers Bill that they hve not been charging me the monthly access fee for a second cellular phone we have and it will applied to my account each month, they also say that they will not be charging my account for past ” unbilled fees” they are already charging the 6.95 per month for 1 cellular phone plus 5.95 for my house phone. So please let me know how i am able to get in on this. Hoping to hear back from you sonn.

    Thank-You Robert M. Beck