by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
bait and switch, canada, limited, unlimited


Telus Kicks Customers Off Of Unlimited Plan It Sold Them Not Too Long Ago

from the how-dare-you-use-what-we-sold-you! dept

For the last few years, various connectivity providers sold "unlimited" data plans when the reality was the plans weren't unlimited at all. Many providers are now changing the plans and instituting more clear caps, but it still seems a bit ridiculous to have marketed unlimited data plans and then pulled the rug out from under those who bought exactly what you sold them. Up in Canada, it seems that TELUS is taking it a step further. Not only did it sell people "unlimited" plans that it now regrets, it's exercising some vague language in its contract that allows them to simply cancel the plans of those who had bought into the "unlimited" plan even just a short while ago. The company is forcing users to switch from a $75 unlimited plan to a $65 plan that is limited to just one GB per month, and dumping anyone who won't switch. That would seem to be a pretty strong bait-and-switch claim. Sure, perhaps the telcos oversold these unlimited plans, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be required to live up to what they sold.

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  1. identicon
    Michael Vilain, 27 Aug 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Aren't there consumer protection laws up in Canada?

    This could be grounds for litigation here in the US. Clearly a bait-and-switch advertising tactic that TELUS is trying to correctly in a very bad way. Why isn't some attorney going after the dumped customers and trying to create a class-action?

    And why isn't some agency of the Canadian government doing something about this? It's clearly a very anti-consumer action. I'd love to see the entire Board of Directors and their lawyers spend time in jail over this, but I doubt that would happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:05pm

    Did anyone get a refund ?
    I didn't think so.

    Was there an early termination fee that they are no longer held to ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:19pm

    Read the Contract. aka RTFM.
    I know it is not right for a company to do this to its customers, especially given its corporate, small business and personal clients.

    There is probably a clause in the contract (like most other large CDN telcos) that gives them all the rights in matters like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:21pm

    Read the Contract. aka RTFM.
    I know it is not right for a company to do this to its customers, especially given its corporate, small business and personal clients.

    There is probably a clause in the contract (like most other large CDN telcos) that gives them all the rights in matters like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Cynic, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:37pm

    Right, I don't see it as a legal issue so much as an indication that the company has its head so far up its you know what that it couldn't see daylight if the sun went nova.

    Don't companies have any shame any more? Don't their employees want to be able to tell their relatives and friends where they work without instantly apologizing? Don't they want to have credibility enough to sell other plans in the future? Even amoral people may not want to burn all their bridges just for pragmatic reasons, and I would think companies should also worry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Matt, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:40pm


    I seem to recall on the sites covering the telus issue mentioning that verizon got sued for the exact sae thing, supposedly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    BobinCloverdale, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:45pm


    I would expect nothing less from Telus. This is totally consistent with their corporate ethics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 27 Aug 2008 @ 5:49pm

    What I want is a law holding the advertising at the time of entry into a contract to be a valid and over riding part of any contract. IE-No fine print can ever over ride any advertised claim. If they state it in simple English they are stuck with it no matter how cagey their lawyers are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    theskyrider (profile), 27 Aug 2008 @ 6:00pm

    dial-up is better.

    When I was on dial-up, I could get 4~5 megabytes an hour, which translates into ~3.5 gigabytes a month (24/7 service was something that my dial-up provider could do well.) A one gigabyte/month plan? you do the math.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    TW Burger, 27 Aug 2008 @ 6:49pm

    What does Greed, stupidity, ignorance, dishonestly and a license to do it result in?

    Telus is the telecommunications infrastructure monopoly for much of Canada. This gives them license to do almost anything they want as long as they still provide a required minimum level of service.

    This is a typical behavior for Telus. They had, until they were recently ordered not to by the CRTC, been charging a $2.95 per month “long distance access charge” if a customer had long distance service through another carrier. They are now being warned about a change in customer's cell phone plans that charges cell phone subscribers for incoming text messages starting August 2008.

    The basic problem is that the people running Telus seem to be as incredibly ignorant as they seem to be dishonest. I've spoken to some of the technical employees at Telus and they all have the same general opinion: Telus management is all about making money and do not have any consideration for employees, clients, or improving services other than what will create profit in the short run.

    The unlimited plan idea was not a bad one. Unlimited Internet access volume is something many users would like to have. However, it would seem, given the low $75 per month charge, that this was a bait and switch tactic. If it wasn't then it was a marketing plan created by ignorance of and apathy for knowing the technology involved, combined with blind avarice. It does not matter if it was dishonest or just looks dishonest, it's the same effect.

    If just one manager had asked a technical team if Telus's infrastructure could handle the potential volume they would have been told that a cap would have to be placed on the plan, service volume would need to be increased, or more charged to lower demand. Probably all three should have been done in the first place.

    The problem seems to be that a culture of general distrust has been created in the Telus corporate hierarchy between senior management and workers. This is combined with decisions that a designed to benefit stock pricing with senior management making a large amount of compensation through stock options.

    Much of the blame for Telus's series of apparent consumer back stabbings has been placed upon the Telus CEO Darren Entwistle. A Web site describing some complaints about his actions are available here:


    Given the consumer outrage, Entwistle's enormous salary ($14M in 2005), the drop in Telus stock prices ($C 40.93 with a prediction of $43 - down from last year's high of $65.05), new competition, and an apparent complete lack of vision past a current quarter profits, the future may be friendly, but it would seem not for Telus employees, customers, or stock holders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Original Amazed, 27 Aug 2008 @ 7:50pm

    Telus "So-Called" "Unlimited Plans"

    Why not simply release the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the Telus Brass.

    And just let market "forces" take their course?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2008 @ 8:28pm

    1 GB per month!?!?!?!?!?

    I'd use that in 2-3 days, if that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    ToySouljah, 28 Aug 2008 @ 3:03am


    2-3 days? lol...I'd be over the cap in about 25 minutes. Is that for real or was it a typo? 1 GB/month is barely enough for just reading websites and so you could forget about watching any videos (for too long anyways). 1GB/day would be slightly better, but not at that price. I pay $45 right now for unlimited through Time Warner, but I subscribe just to Road Runner since I heard that if I switch to one of their bundle packages that I'd be capped at 200GB/month. On average I go through about 300 to 400GB/month (at least what is shown from my usenet account). To date I have not had a problem with Road Runner and hopefully they continue to offer their plan the way it is now. I've used RR for about 8 years now and would hate to have to switch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    mad dog, 28 Aug 2008 @ 3:40am

    canada-unlimited plans

    Do any of us read the fine print on what we are agreeing to anymore? They have all and any rights and we have absolutely none. They can do and change anything they want and we have to agree not to file for damage or to file at all.Now that's in this country with our excess of lawyers with no other income except to go after companies with more money than they do. WE HAVE NO RIGHTS. We signed them away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 28 Aug 2008 @ 5:42am

    Could be a bright side

    You know how the cell phone peoples love to issue phones for extremely cheap for signing up for their service? Wouldn't this really have been an awesome way to get one of those subsidized phones for free / uber cheap, and then because they canceled it, they cannot charge you for early termination. End result, practically free phone!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2008 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re:

    Its not for home internet servis if i read the article properly, but for unlimited data service on a cell phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Rick Sarvas, 28 Aug 2008 @ 7:00am

    Re: canada-unlimited plans

    Even if the terms of some service agreement are favorable towards the consumer, the phrase "...reserve the right to change these terms at any time..." inserted into just about every ELUA allows a company to alter your existing agreement at any time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Vincent Clement, 28 Aug 2008 @ 8:46am


    Supposedly the unlimited accounts did not include streaming, and that is the clause that Telus is using to bump people. Telus used to be a decent company. Now, there are no different from Bell Canada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2008 @ 11:05am

    Re: dial-up is better.

    Indeed it is, and I'll do the math for you:

    (Note b = bit, B = byte [8 bits])

    56 kilobits/sec = 56,000/8 = 7,000 Bytes/sec
    420 KB/min
    25.2 MB/hour
    604.8 MB/day

    That means, if you are always downloading at 56kb speed (it *is* an always-on connection, right??) you've exhausted your quota in... 1.6 days?

    18.144 GB/month if always on, operating at 56kb speed.

    Unless something is terribly wrong with my math, which is possible, this smells like ultra-rip off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    GPS Tracking, 28 Aug 2008 @ 11:08am

    Contractual problem

    This sounds like a contractual violation. Even if it's covered in the contract, the courts could rule a certain element of the contract unlawful or unreasonable, voiding the contract.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2008 @ 11:53am

    The reality is that TELUS (to spell it the way they like to), Bell, Rogers and the rest will continue this until the regulator (in Canada the CRTC) comes down on them which will never happen because they don't want to regulate cell service.

    Rather like the FCC doesn't really want to in the States.

    Somewhere along the way the regulators got into bed with the regulated and forgot that they're supposed to be there to protect the consumer from things like this and enforce things like quality of service.

    The CRTC, of course, will tell you that cell service isn't a monopoly so it doesn't need the sort of regulation that the monopoly land line service does which tends to overlook a number of realities that consumers deal with.

    TELUS was crazy to offer an unlimited data plan for cell service that their plant simply could not sustain or, truth be known, even begin to offer.

    It's what happens all too often in TELUS when sales and marketing decide to offer something that isn't possible or sustainable from a technical point of view without a huge investment Telus isn't prepared to make.

    And yeah, the contract you sign when you get your cell phone has a clause in it that says something to the effect of "our rights -- unlimited; your rights -- pay the bill and shut up".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    skyrider (profile), 28 Aug 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: dial-up is better.

    Except for the fact that I couldn't connect above 33.6kbps, it looks like your math is pretty good. (I won't mention the 1,024 multiplier because it doesn't make that much of a difference, except for when you buy a 500GB HDD and it only reads as 465GB.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    RoMu, 28 Aug 2008 @ 5:01pm

    Matt - Verizon?

    It's true. After a nine month investigation the Office of the Attorney General of New York issued a press release regarding the deceptive marketing practices employed by Verizon

    see the full press release here


    “Unlimited” plans had hidden restrictions. Verizon marketed its NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess service plans to consumers nationwide as “Unlimited” despite the plans’ limitations. In fact, the plans only permitted limited activities such as web browsing, email and intranet access. Customers who used their plans for common activities such as downloading movies and video or even playing video games online, were unwittingly in violation of the terms and conditions of their service agreements.

    “Excessive use” of Unlimited Plans resulted in abrupt terminations. Verizon Wireless terminated heavy internet users claiming that the high levels of usage could only have been attained by activities, such as “streaming or downloading movies and video” prohibited by the terms and conditions. These usage restrictions were not clearly and conspicuously disclosed to consumers and directly contradicted the promise of “unlimited” service. Customers found their accounts abruptly terminated for excessive use, leaving them without internet services and unable to obtain refunds for their wireless access cards and cell phones.

    Telus is doing the same thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Dan, 28 Aug 2008 @ 7:05pm

    Repeat after me: Breach of contract. Find the most greedy ambulance chaser you can find and sue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    anymouse, 29 Aug 2008 @ 9:07am


    Unlimited Broadband....

    fine print. "Unlimited refers to the amount of time users may be connected to the internet, not the amount of data they can upload/download. Downloads are capped at 1GB per month, any data over the cap will be charged at appropriate fees and put directly into our management retirement fund.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    RoMu, 29 Aug 2008 @ 11:33am

    The Big Gotcha!

    Telus accusing the unlimited contract holders of violating the terms of service.

    Specifically, Telus reps cite section 5 of the terms where it states that the service is not to be used for streaming multi-media.

    Section 5 of the Telus Service Terms states:

    “You will use the service for customary voice, messaging and wireless data purposes only. You will not use the service for multi-media streaming, voice over internet protocol; or any other application which uses excessive network capacity or may otherwise adversely impact other users, that is not made available to you by Telus Mobility.”

    Yet, on the Telus website that promotes the EVDO High Speed network it states:


    “The TELUS Wireless High Speed network allows for fast and reliable Internet connections.

    This opens the door for a variety of services such as streaming video and other multimedia applications.

    Mobile professionals will be able to get broadband-like connections to corporate Intranets, e-mail servers, the Internet, and other online services.”

    So how do you violate the terms of service if you are told that’s what the service allows you to do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    MEEEE, 5 Nov 2008 @ 9:57am

    I HATE TELUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Femacamper, 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:19am

    Down with Telus

    We need some real competition!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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