December 6, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Mysterious Charges Added to Cell Phone Bills

Personal Finance |  Quebeckers stand out especially for their low financial anxiety

Surprise! Your cell phone bill may have something else against your will. Koodo customers have discovered what’s going on in recent months without realizing it. And, above all, without knowing how to get a refund.

Posted yesterday at 8:15 pm.

Direct mobile billing is still little known in Quebec. But it has already claimed victims.

This payment method allows you to subscribe to payment applications and be billed by your mobile service provider. The transaction is much quicker as there is no need to provide your credit card number and billing address to another company.

In theory, therefore, the formula is effective. Clever, too.

However, in practice, direct mobile billing does not make people happy.

On the forum of Koodoo, a low-cost subsidiary of Telus, one can read many testimonials from frustrated customers complaining of being scammed. All the stories are the same: one day, they see suspicious charges on their bill.

“Three months, I have [des] A 3rd party app gets charged on my bill and I don’t know where it came from. What should I do? asks one of them.

Another customer wrote, “I was charged $13.99 for PBM.CX usage fees [Pay by mobile] Something I would never order. How can I be credited and ensure that these charges are canceled on future invoices? I don’t understand the scheme. »

Also wondering about responsibility. “My 79-year-old mother has a secret [note] $14.99 off his July phone bill. The explanation reads: “In-app purchase”, which, according to the invoice history, occurred on July 3rd at 3:51 am, which is complete nonsense. She never uses her phone at this time of night […] To me, these third-party apps seem to be scamming Koodo users and Koodo should never allow that to happen. »

Before Alexander even received his monthly bill, he realized something was wrong.

“While browsing the Internet with my iPhone, I a Pop up I was wondering if I should subscribe to a streaming app Live Soccer Club (from PM Connect LTD) $13.99 per month. I quickly weighed “X” but I immediately got a text message saying that I am now subscribed and the amount will appear in my next invoice”, he told me.

The screenshot is also provided by a customer

A text message received by Alexandre

Searching the web, he discovered that PM Connect had already made headlines in Belgium for its “compelling subscriptions”. Again, Internet users who pressed “X” had to pay for the service.

In other words, if you get ads, there is no way out!

Consumer protection agency TestAchats last year condemned the company’s practices, which led to more than 300 complaints. In a report by Belgian public channel RTBF, Test Achats also condemned the attitude of cellular supplier Proximus, the operator most often involved in complaints, responsible for costs billed without warning.

In Quebec, the Office of Consumer Protection (OPC) has never heard of direct mobile billing. Ditto for the Complaints Commission for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS). The principle is unknown “despite close scrutiny of misleading and aggressive sales practices,” spokesman Mathieu Pierre Dagonas reported. The CRTC did not respond to my messages.

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At Telus, I was told, “We allow certain app aggregators like Boku, Infomedia UK and PM Connect to offer their customers a simplified online payment experience.”

Affected applications are accessed through ads displayed online and cannot be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. “They are responsible for requesting payment consent from their customers, stating that the fee will be charged by their telecommunications provider,” said Telus spokeswoman Stephanie Dussault.

But apparently, compliance is not the point.

The issue of reimbursement is equally unclear. Telus promises to simplify the process with the aggregator by transmitting the latter’s coordinates. But you can imagine that contacting these companies established abroad is not easy. What a waste of time!

Despite the amount of testimonials from unsatisfied customers on the Koodo site, Telus says it is ensuring the quality of its interactions with merchants. “If there is a problem, we suspend their accounts until the problem is resolved,” said Stephanie Dassault.

Bell and Videotron customers benefit from not being caught because these two providers don’t allow direct mobile billing, they told me. Like Telus, Rogers allows it.

It’s true that Direct Mobile Billing makes payments easier… but little else.

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