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高额手机短信用户终于讨回公道

被误导以为免费而订购高额手机短信服务的用户终于讨回公道。在联邦竞争局对加国三大电讯巨头进行调查后,研科公司同意就高额垃圾短信服务向其现有及前用户提供总额高达$734万元的退款赔偿。

Consumers charged for premium text messages that they were led to believe were free have finally had their grievances addressed. Telus agrees to offer $7.34 million in rebates to its current or former consumers for unwanted premium text messages, following a Competition Bureau’s probe that targeted three telecom giants.

 

这些手机短信服务通常会利用误导性广告引诱用户订购从手机响铃、星座运程到智力问答等五花八门的高额短信服务,用户便会在浑然不知的情况下为既无意购买也不同意付费的高额短信服务买单。调查发现,许多用户并未完成所需的双重确认订购程序的情况下,仍被收取服务费用。

These text message services used misleading advertisements to lure consumers into subscriptions for a variety of mobile premium text services, from ring-tones and fortune tellers to IQ trivia questions. As a result, consumers were charged for the premium text services that they neither intended to purchase nor agreed to pay. The investigation found that consumers were billed for the services despite the fact that they had not completed the double opt in process required.

这种做法令许多电讯用户深受其害,其中包括许多华裔用户。

The practice has affected thousands of telecom consumers, including many Chinese Canadians.

但是面对电讯巨头的不合理收费行为,许多用户似乎都显得无能为力,束手无策。他们往往发现自己投诉无门:提出的赔偿要求要么被断然拒绝,要么遭供应商推诿而推给第三方服务商。

But consumers seemed vulnerable and powerless in the face of unjustified billing practices by the telecom giants. Many of the complaints to service providers were often met with stone walls. Their requests for refund were either squarely turned down or redirected to the third party providers.

 

《大中报》的一名读者在2013年提及其针对罗渣士的徒劳投诉时称:“我已经尝试了所有办法,结果却是徒劳无益,虽然这极其不公,但除了忍耐我好像已经别无选择。”

“I’ve tried everything and nothing worked,” said a Chinese News reader in 2013, referring to her fruitless complaint against Rogers. “It seems that I’ve exhausted all my options and I had no choice but to suck it up, despite how unjustified it is.”

加国许多华裔新移民也冷嘲热讽,其言论对加国市场的公平形象造成威胁:

Many newcomers in Canada also expressed their cynicism and skepticism that threatened the fairness perception of the Canadian markets.

一名新移民称:“我原以为这种做法只会出现在消费者权益形同虚设,权力根本得不到保障的中国……加拿大不是号称全世界最公平的国家之一么?!”

“I could only believe that this type of practices happen in China, where consumers’ rights were unprotected and ignored…  Isn’t Canada one of the fairest countries in the world?!”

大量的高额手机短信投诉促使消费者倡权组织呼吁当局加强对电讯消费的监管与保护。随着消费者之不满日益高涨,联邦竞争局着手加强消费者权益保护,对加国电讯公司的业务行为进行了为期五个月的调查。联邦竞争局递交安省高等法院的诉状指控加国三大电讯巨头——罗渣士、贝尔和研科违反《竞争法》,利用误导性广告引诱用户订购高额手机短信服务,并将部分收益纳入囊中。竞争局向三大电讯公司寻求用户赔偿,并要求对他们各自处以$1000万元罚款。

The widespread complaints have prompted calls for regulatory protections from consumer advocacy groups. In response to the public outcry, the Competition Bureau has beefed up its consumer protection actions by conducting a five month investigation into the practices of the telecom companies.  In a lawsuit filed with the Ontario Superior Court, it alleged that the Big Three carriers -- Rogers, BCE and Telus-- violated the Competition Act through misleading advertisings, and has pocketed a share of the revenues collected. It sought consumer refunds and penalties of $10 million from each of the carriers.

 

这一法律诉讼令罗渣士在去年3月与联邦竞争局达成和解,同意向其用户提供总额高达$542万元的退款或扣帐赔偿。研科公司在最近也与竞争局达成和解,同意向其主品牌Telus Mobility及其折扣品牌Koodo的用户提供总额高达$743万元的退款赔偿。研科的赔偿是竞争局迄今达成的和解协议中最高的赔偿金额。

As a result of the lawsuit Rogers reached a settlement with the Competition Bureau in March after agreeing to pay up to $5.42-million in refunds and credits. Telus recently has reached a settlement with the bureau that it will offer $7.43 million to its customers – both of its main Telus Mobility brand and its discount brand Koodo. Telus’s offer is the most any company has agreed to pay.

该和解协议充分彰显联邦竞争局对消费者的友善姿态及其在消费者权益保护方面所做的努力。这对于许多受害人,尤其是那些对其来源国的市场诚信信心不足,并对当局缺乏信任的新移民受害者而言意义重大。

The settlement announcement has showcased the Crown agencies’ consumer friendly stance and its efforts in protecting consumers’ rights.  It means a lot to victims, particularly newcomer victims who had limited confidence in the marketplace integrity in their home country and lacked trust on its authority.

《大中报》一名读者称:“这不仅仅涉及金钱,而是涉及当局对消费者的关注。”

 “It is not about money,” says a Chinese News reader. “It’s about our voices being heard.”

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