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Competition Bureau sues Bell, Rogers, Telus over misleading ads

The Ottawa-based Competition Bureau has begun legal proceedings against Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Telus and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association for misleading advertising. After a five-month investigation, the bureau concluded that these companies, in conjunction with the association, have used misleading ads to promote premium digital content such as ring tones and trivia games without adequately disclosing the cost. According to the bureau, customers were misled into believing this content was free. In addition, customers were led to believe that measures were in place to prevent such unauthorized charges. "Our investigation revealed that consumers were under the false impression that certain texts and apps were free," said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. "Unfortunately, in far too many cases, consumers only became aware of unexpected and unauthorized charges on their mobile phone bills." The bureau is seeking full customer refunds as well as administrative monetary penalties of $10 million each from Bell, Rogers and Telus, and $1 million from the CWTA. The bureau is also seeking a stop to any representations that do not disclose the price of premium digital content, and a corrective notice from each of the defendants to inform the public about the terms and conditions of any order issued against them. The legal proceedings are before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act.

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