Bell Pays $1.3 Million To Settle Do-Not-Call Violations

The CRTC announced yesterday that Bell has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a case involving multiple violations of the do-not-call list rules. Bell places the blame at third-party telemarketers who placed calls to people on the list.  The fine is the largest to-date by the CRTC for a do-not-call violation and unquestionably sends a strong signal that the Commission is prepared to enforce the law with strict penalties.  I had previously been critical of the enforcement efforts and this marks an important step forward in demonstrating that the law can be used effectively.

The fact that Bell was the target is significant for at least two reasons.  First, Bell administers the do-not-call list under contract.  By targeting the company, it sends the message that no one is above the law.  Second, as I wrote last year, Bell was seemingly the top source of complaints among reputable companies:

Working together with University of Ottawa students Sean Murtha and Frances Munn, I recently reviewed more than 60,000 complaints released by the CRTC.  The complaints were lodged in late 2008 and early 2009 using the do-not-call list’s Internet-based complaints mechanism.  In each case, the complaint included all relevant information with the exception of the complainant’s name and telephone number, which were excluded for privacy reasons. There were hundreds of complaints about automated calls promising cruise vacations or lawncare services.  But the undisputed leader among reputable companies was Bell Canada, which alone was the subject of nearly one thousand complaints.  In fact, the wireless sector had the distinction of taking the top three spots with Rogers and Telus ranking second and third respectively. There were also hundreds of complaints against Canada’s top financial institutions and retailers including RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, and Sears.

In an ideal world, the revenues generated by the Bell settlement would be reinvested in further do-not-call investigations so that other major sources of complaints would face possible administrative action.


  1. Great News
    This is great news; the fine is small but the principle is right on. It’s good to see some enforcement action indeed. I myself registered four complaints in relation to DNCL violations by a Bell subsidiary (Solo Mobile) over the past year or so; I hope that did some small amount of good in establishing this fine. They have been an UNBELIEVABLE pain in the butt to me.

    One big change I am seeing, in the pattern of illegal telemarketing calls, is that the cheats, crooks and criminals are getting marginally smarter. It used to be that you could get all the info you need for a DNCL report out of them quite easily. Everyone is cagey now – giving fake names, fake numbers, and the like.

  2. Merry Christmas!
    What a wonderful Christmas present to see Bell finally getting whacked for their out-of-control subsidiary Solo Mobile.

    And I have to admit that despite having previously signed an affidavit for the CRTC in regard to DNCL violation complaints I have made, I have been skeptical and critical of this DNCL as Prof. Geist has.

    I am happy — nay — delighted to have been proven wrong.

    And I agree that it would be super-sweet to see the revenues go towards more investigations and fines.

  3. Tip of the iceberg
    If you want a clue as to why things are suddenly picking up, look at the (relatively) new chief enforcement officer. If I were running a telemarketing operation, I’d be VERY afraid right now. She doesn’t mess around. At all. What we’re seeing are the settlements… the shots across the bow… I’d bet you anything the dramatic numbers haven’t even surfaced yet. The DNCL will go from toothless to terrifying in less than a year, and we’ll finally see some progress.

  4. Future Friendly Darren says:

    I wish TELUS would stop calling me!
    I’ve registered on both the do not call and iOptout lists and still have been getting calls from TELUS.

  5. I get phone calls from a company contracted by Bell regularly trying to offer me a free phone to use with Bell. The response I’ve gotten from some of these people when I tell them that I’ve already got a cell phone provider has been quite varied… and one time when I even called Bell to complain about it (the guy was very rude to me after I mentioned that I was already in a contract with another provider), the guy at Bell basically washed Bell’s hands of it telling me that it wasn’t them who called because my call display showed “Unknown number”.

    How does one register on a do-not-call list?

  6. Devil's Advocate says:

    Nothing to see here, folks… just a little timely PR.
    At a time when everyone’s calling for both the CRTC’s dissolution, and an end to Bell’s bullshit, we get this story.

    The CRTC gets to say it’s doing its job, and Bell gets to blame the whole thing on a 3rd party and swear they’ll change their ways (again) – remember people, this is the 3rd time around for that convenient explanation!

    Does anyone honestly believe Bell will ever have to pay anyone anything in the end? Don’t fool yourselves!

    In the meantime, Bell’s current “telemarketing contractor” is still ringing my phone no less than 3 times a day, and still using automated equipment!

    Bell has been thumbing its nose at all of us, as well as iOptOut since the start of this whole farce. Nothing short of a massive public boycott of all things Bell will change this.

  7. Foreign Ownership Is Needed
    Michael, one of the things you advocate for is the lifting of foreign ownership. Take a moment and throughly think about that. If Verizon bought Telus, what do you think would happen to all the Canadian workers at Telus? They would probably be laid off so Verizon could milk as much profits as it could. For the record, I am a Telus worker and I support the current foreign ownership restrictions. Canada needs foreign ownership restrictions to protect Canadian workers.

  8. Devil's Advocate says:

    Restrictions don’t protect jobs
    “Canada needs foreign ownership restrictions to protect Canadian workers.”


    You mean, the way it stopped Bell Canada from jobbing out their entire CS workload to India?

    Restrictions or not, all these companies (including yours, look it up!) have already proven they’ll sack you and everyone else in a heartbeat, whenever it suits the Bottom Line, and never give a rat’s ass if the jobs are ever replaced.

  9. @Devil:

    Next time select “le service en francais” and you’ll get a bilingual Canadian picking up the call 🙂


  10. Roogles Ossnoski says:

    Now it’s Rogers Communications
    I finally got rid of Bell Canada’s Solo calls by calling Bell and saying I would move my home phone service to Cogeco or Yak if they didn’t stop calling here. That was a couple of days before the CRTC fine levied against them. Now Rogers has started calling me. I spent half an hour to get on their internal do-not-call list after talking to staff who insisted that they do not make calls!