While the rest of the US will likely wallow in the shared misery of Canadian subscribers being charged for incoming text messages, our friends to the North are none-too-happy about the situation.
Following in the footsteps of US wireless carriers looking to squeeze every penny out of their American subscriber-base, Bell and Telus have announced that they’ll be billing customers $0.15 (15 cents) for every incoming SMS text message. Those with text messaging bundles will not be affected, but everyone else on a pay-per-text plan will be subject to the new fees. Regardless of the sender – be they spammer, family member, or evil twin – the person receiving the SMS text message will be charged a heft 15 cent fee per message.
The new policy is a severe departure from the carriers’ previous policy of only billing customers for text message that they send, allowing users to receive messages for free.
Bell will kick off their new text messaging policy on August 8th, and Telus will follow suit on August 24th.
The move could spur users in to jumping ship and signing up with other carriers – like Virgin Mobile, or even Rogers (can you taste the irony?). And, angry Canadians are on the verge of revolt. So much so that the Canadian government has demanded explanations from the carriers for their decision to start billing for incoming texts. “I believe this was an ill-thought-out decision,” said Industry Minister Jim Prentice. “While I have no desire to interfere with the day-to-day business decisions of two private companies, I do have a duty as Minister of Industry, when necessary, to protect the interests of the consuming public.”
Telus defended the decision to charge for incoming text messages in saying that the volume of SMS messages has “skyrocketed” and that US carriers have been carrying out this practice for years. And, therein lies the problem.
It’s one thing to emulate the service and features of rival mega-carriers like AT&T and Verizon in the US. But, it’s just not good PR to start adopting the greedy billing practices that those same idolized carriers recently got sued for.