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Bell Overturned For A Second Time In 911 Challenge

July 20, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

One has to wonder how much longer Bell is going to drag out their fine for the 911 lawsuit.  Bell lost the original case, appealed the decision and lost again, and when pursuing it a third time, the Supreme Court of Canada simply refused to hear the case – in other words, do not waste our time with something that is so blatantly wrong.  No word yet from Bell on how much compensation will go to the clients although previous amounts reported run from $3 million to $5 million.

This all started in 2007 when Yellowknife residents James and Samuel Anderson filed a $6 million class action lawsuit against Bell for charging customers $.75 per month fee, or $9 per year, for 911 services – which did not exist in their Northern area.  In fact, if you call 911 even today you will get a recording and must dial a 7-digit local number for emergency services.  The entire lawsuit was built on the logical premise that if you do not receive the service, then you should not be charged a fee – sounds logical – but Bell argued that the agreement was worded such that they were entitled to charge the fee…service or not.

Justice Ron Veal of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories did not agree with Bell’s wording and ruled against them in 2013.  Justice Jean C´t©, the judge heading the appeals hearing sided with the plaintiffs and said that Bell’s wording  was not a sufficient cause to overturn the findings and stated using an excellent analogy, “In my respectful view, connecting someone to nothing is still nothing…To seek to charge for that by calling it 911 service seems to me very unreasonable. It is like delivering to a starving person a photograph of a turkey dinner, and then charging him or her for a turkey dinner (or delivery of one).”

Eventually, the class action lawsuit grew to over 30,000 customers signing the complaint and these customers are looking for some real turkey…or dough as in this case.  In most Northern Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut have no 911 service, so charging them $9 a year for the service is outlandish, and even after being caught and taken to court, Bell continued to charge those customers.  Hopefully, with the new Supreme Court ruling, Bell will do what is right and settle this eight-year lawsuit.