Bell Mobility in Hot Water Over Expiry of Prepaid Plans

By Joel Cuttiford

A class-action lawsuit filed against Bell Mobility in 2012 regarding prepaid cell phone minutes has been given the green light to proceed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for more than a million people in Ontario and is being led by Celia Sankar of Elliot Lake.  It alleges that Bell breached its contracts with customers by expiring remaining credit balances prematurely or imposing the expiry dates at all.

Sankar filed suit after the balance on her prepaid plan was “seized” by Bell twice within three years.  She is the founder of the DiversityCanada Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting social justice.

At the time of the filing, Sankar said in a statement, “Because the prepaid wireless service is the least expensive way to have a phone, and does not require a credit card or a bank account, it is often the only option for youth, new immigrants, workers on minimum wage, the unemployed, people on disability and seniors on fixed incomes.  These are the people who can least afford to have their funds forfeited or to have their mobile services cut off.”

The plaintiffs argue that prepaid plans are like gift cards and are subject to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Acts, which states that gift cards cannot expire.

Those affected by Bell’s policy were customers with Bell, Virgin Mobile Canada or Solo Mobile who had balances remaining in their accounts expire between May 4, 2010 and December 16, 2013.

The plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages.

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