This post was submitted by Lawson Lundell guest author Laura Bevan.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced on December 20, 2010 that Bell Canada has paid a hefty administrative penalty of $1.3 million and will make an additional voluntary payment of $266,000 as a result of unauthorized telemarketing practices.
Bell Canada agreed to pay the administrative penalty after independent telemarketing firms, hired to promote Bell Canada services, made calls to Canadians registered on the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or to Canadians that should have been on Bell Canada’s “internal” do not call list. The calls violated the CRTC’s National DNCL Rules, a section of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules which have been evolving since 2007 through a series of CRTC decisions and policy statements. The Rules apply to both telemarketers and clients of telemarketing firms.
The Bell Canada penalty comes on the heels of the announcement on December 17, 2010 of a $500,000 administrative penalty levied against Xentel DM Inc. over unauthorized calls placed on behalf of non-charitable organizations to Canadians registered on the DNCL (the Rules provide an exemption for registered charities). These recent administrative penalties far outstrip the fines levied by the CRTC to date this year –the highest administrative penalty made public in 2010 was a $20,000 fine levied against a repeat violator of the National DNCL Rules.
Bell Canada has also agreed to make a voluntary payment of $266,000 to Concordia University’s Institute for Information and Systems Engineering in connection with a CRTC investigation into Bell Canada’s use of automated calling devices to communicate with prepaid mobile customers without the customers’ express consent. Earlier this year, the CRTC reached a similar agreement with TELUS Communications Inc. when the CRTC raised concerns about the use of automated calling devices to contact prepaid TELUS customers about impending service interruptions. TELUS agreed to cease all calls made by automated calling devices and pay $200,000 to establish a scholarship fund at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. The CRTC has not issued formal findings of liability against either Bell Canada or TELUS in these investigations.
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