Cell Phones

Costly incoming text messages - violation of the wireless code?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 16th, 2019 11:37 am
[OP]
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Nov 4, 2013
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Costly incoming text messages - violation of the wireless code?

I'll admit that I haven't read the terms of the full wireless code, however E. 4. of the simplified version of the wireless code states "A service provider must not charge for any device or service that the account holder or authorized user has not expressly purchased".

I bought a Bell sim card and ported a number to it. I needed the sim/number to be able to receive an important phone call. I didn't know when or how long it was going to take to get that call, but I knew that I didn't need the number for anything else so I was looking for the most basic/affordable plan. The cheapest plan was their $5 plan with 10 minutes of airtime and then it becomes pay per use at 50 cents per text, picture, or video messages, and 50 cents per each additional minute of airtime. You are not able to load $5 into the account, the minimum reload amount is $15, so I deposited $15 and signed up for the $5 plan. I inserted the sim card into an old iPhone 6 and left it connected to a charger on a desk in my home with the wifi connection enabled. Over the course of the next 3-4 days I periodically woke the phones display to check for missed calls. I also called the phone while I was in proximity of it just to make sure it was still registered on the Bell network/ready to receive an incoming call. When I heard the phone ring I would hang up. The iPhone call history shows 3 missed calls originating from the number that I called from. I also received an incoming call on Whatsapp that lasted 4 minutes. On the 5th day I called the number to ensure it was registered to the Bell network and ready to receive an incoming call but I was met with a prerecorded message from Bell saying the line was not equipped to receive calls. I logged into the Bell portal and it indicated that the 10 minutes of call time had been used and the remaining $10 balance in the prepaid account had been used on pay as you go services. The portal does not provide a history or call log of any activity, presumably because it's a "no frills" kind of Bell account. I called in to Customer Service to inquire about the usage and they advised that the minutes had been used and the $10 was also used on text messaging. I checked the messages app on the iPhone and I counted a total of 6 messages, 2 incoming messages from Bell that were sent on the day the number was ported, and 4 incoming messages from unknown senders.

I had no idea Bell or any carrier for that matter still charged for incoming text messages and this was not explicitly noted anywhere on their forms or during the signup process. Is this a violation of the wireless code? What prevents Bell or anyone else from using up a someones balance on incoming text messages? I asked Bell for a detailed report showing all of the usage that led to the charges on the account and they told me that they weren't able to provide me with anything, however I was welcome to visit a Bell store and request a printout of the history.

Is this a violation of the wireless code? If not, does anyone have a list of currently active prepaid users on the Bell network?
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6 replies
Banned
Aug 23, 2019
897 posts
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sorry I don't have time to read the entire post...

but in response to your subject:
I believe the carriers cannot charge you for incoming text.

I had a similar issue with Telus, where incoming text hit my phone number while I was in Europe and they charged me $12 for roaming and claimed I MADE the text.... so it's likely the local carrier miss-reporting your usage to Bell.
Deal Guru
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May 8, 2009
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Doebird wrote: sorry I don't have time to read the entire post...

but in response to your subject:
I believe the carriers cannot charge you for incoming text.

I had a similar issue with Telus, where incoming text hit my phone number while I was in Europe and they charged me $12 for roaming and claimed I MADE the text.... so it's likely the local carrier miss-reporting your usage to Bell.
Can't charge for inbound calls IF the rate plan includes unlimited talk (or in the case of some grandfathered plans, unlimited incoming calls).

I too couldn't read the entire OP, but my limited understanding is that the rate plan does not include unlimited calls (some minutes, then 50¢/min). Same deal applies to SMS.
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Deal Expert
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Feb 24, 2003
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Toronto
I have the $5/month Virgin plan and it costs money to send and receive each text. Here's what's included in my $5 plan:

10 Province-wide Min
Pay Per Use Data
Voicemail & Call Display
Call Waiting
Call Forwarding
3 Way Calling
30¢Canada & US text
35¢International text
50¢picture & video message

These items were clearly explained when I chose the plan.
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Jul 26, 2007
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Not too late to switch to speakout $25 per year plan plus sim card. They don't charge incoming txt nor for incoming calls when you hangup. Best of all, you get a voicemail which the call you are waiting for can leave a msg that they called you.

Curious, why can't you call them?
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Jun 2, 2002
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I pay for all incoming SMS (including spam and political advertisements from Andrew Scheer) on both of my Bell plans (one prepaid, one post-paid). That is normal Bell policy.
Also, you pay for incoming calls going to voicemail from the time your phone rings. This is also normal for non-unlimited or PAYG plans.
This is not a violation of any wireless codes, this is business. Welcome to being a Bell customer.

As an aside, you know that signal indicator on your cell phone can be used to save $10 on repeatedly calling yourself to check if you have signal, right? :)
Newbie
Jun 13, 2019
82 posts
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then it becomes pay per use at 50 cents per text, picture, or video messages, and 50 cents per each additional minute of airtime.
So even you knew about it

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