Sunday 15 December 2013

Bell Data Hub Overages and the Wireless Code

I have been exchanging e-mail with a user in East Algoma about the high cost of Bell data hub service.  He was getting monthly bills in the $200.00 - $350.00 range for a 4 user household with a mix of computers and smartphones.   All the hardware used the data hub’s WiFi capability when they were within range.

Of late, he was getting cutting off at $100.00 overage and had to contact Bell to get reconnected.

Needless to say, he was not happy with both the price and the procedures.

I received the following info from him recently:

“I just received my Dec Bell bill and low and behold the max charge for data over 10 GB is $50.00.
We used $197 worth and they only charged $50 for that and waived $147.50.
Our bill for the month is $96.05; Relief finally.
I was suspicious and call them. It’s due to the CRTC Wireless Code.”  

This is the section of the Wireless Code that would seem to apply in this case:

          Sec 3 - Cap on data overage charges

        A service provider must suspend data overage charges once they
      reach $50 within a single monthly billing cycle, unless the customer 
      expressly consents to pay additional charges.

      A service provider must provide this cap at no charge.

My interpretation of this section was that once the cap was within reach during a billing cycle, the vendor would contact the user, normally by e-mail or SMS, notify them of the cap limit coming into force and warning this would result in a cancellation of service until the end of the billing cycle unless the user gave explicit permission to charge additional overage fees.

Indeed, this is what was happening prior to 02 Dec 2013 when the CRTC Wireless Code came into effect.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the January billing cycle.

If this is in fact the long term Bell policy for handling data hub overages, it will certainly be of tremendous benefit to rural broadband (high speed) Internet users.  

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