System access fee

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The system access fee is a non-governmental surcharge imposed by most Canadian telephone companies on their customers' monthly bills.[1] Although it is normally charged for wireless services, Rogers Communications and the now-defunct Sprint Canada also charged its home phone customers a system access fee.

Price for the system access fee varies by carrier and date it was applied with Bell charging between $8.95 and $6.95. Rogers normally amounts to $6.95/month (the System Access Fee on Rogers Home Phone Services was $5.95/month,[2] but has since been merged to the base price). For example, if a wireless plan has been advertised at $20/month, the customer subscribing to it would actually be paying an unadvertised rate of at least $26.95/month, excluding other fees and government taxes.

Government Regulatory Recovery Fee[edit]

Since October 5, 2009, Rogers Wireless has increased the base cost of all of its monthly plans by $5, and they also replaced their former System Access Fee with a Government Regulatory Recovery Fee (GRRF). This fee currently ranges from $1.93 to $3.35, depending on the wireless service selected. In theory, Rogers is simply renaming its System Access Fee. Rogers notes in its fine print that the GRRF "is not a tax or charge the government requires Rogers to collect."[3]

Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group, criticized Rogers' Government Regulatory Recovery Fee.[4]

On July 4, 2012, Rogers Wireless "tucked in" the GRRF into the price for their monthly plans. The charge is no longer listed separately.[5] Bell Mobility's monthly plans are similar to Rogers', so a $2 increase can be found on those plans if client does not subscribe to online billing.

Criticism[edit]

The Canadian Government has required Canadian cellular carriers to make it clear that the SAF is not required for any regulatory or government purpose. As a result the carriers claim that the system access fee covers network operation and maintenance costs. Some critics[who?] have argued that the SAF results in much price gouging and should simply be added to the advertised monthly fee instead of being a separate entity and that network upgrades and infrastructure maintenance are simply the costs of doing business. Thus, the monthly plan price point should already reflect that.

Class action lawsuit[edit]

In 2006 a class action lawsuit was brought against the major carriers with respect to the System Access Fee. After an initial rejection, it was certified as class action on 7 September 2007 by the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan. Lawsuits in other provinces, such as British Columbia are also pending.[6]

The Supreme Court of Canada released a ruling on 28 June 2012 that it would not hear an appeal of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan decision by the telecommunications companies.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CBC Marketplace: Cellphone Secrets". [dead link]
  2. ^ "TheStar.com – Business – Rogers bumps up phone fees". The Star (Toronto). 
  3. ^ THE GOVERNMENT REGULATORY RECOVERY FEE
  4. ^ Faltous, Erica (2009-11-04). "RICHARD BRANSON CHALLENGES CANADIAN MOBILE COMPANIES TO STOP MAKING UP FEES!". Archived from the original on 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  5. ^ Hardy, Ian (2012-07-04). "Rogers says new custoemrs will not pay the GRRF, but charges will be rolled into the monthly service fee". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  6. ^ Cellular Class Action
  7. ^ "Supreme Court lets $19B cellphone lawsuit proceed". CBC News. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-28.