Underhanded business practices, negligent customer, or ...?
August 4, 2010 11:11 AM   Subscribe

When I moved to Montreal about 5 years ago I signed up with Videotron as my internet provider. They had an "Extreme" plan that was fast and had unlimited data for a flat rate. I haven't really made much use of this package since I got it, but last month I ended up downloading a fair amount of data. Soon after I ended up getting a bill for over $800!

Going online I found out that Videotron had changed my service plan. Apparently a letter went out to Extreme internet subscribers that they were changing the service by removing the fee cap that used to be in place (the maximum charge used to be ~$90), and changed my account to a 100gig limit with $1.50 charge per gig over. If you didn't cancel your account, they assumed you agreed to these new terms.

This seemed really unreasonable to me, so I called support with my issue and they talked to their supervisor. Of course they told me they don't do refunds. Hoping to deal with someone more reasonable I started the discussion again via email, but after saying they would get a supervisor to talk with me I've received no more replies.

So yes, I should have been more cautious and checked the latest details before going on a download spree, and yes I should have opened that letter when it arrived, but I genuinely believed such a massive change would at least require a phone or written reply from me. I specifically got unlimited so I didn't have to worry about these things.

So is there anything I can do?

Some extra info:

Someones post around when it happened (included link to letter)
A class action suit was filed related to the change.

p.s. Sorry for the massive post and thanks for listening. :)
p.p.s. Apologies for putting this in the wrong area originally :(
posted by Smuth to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry, I don't know Canadian Law that well. All i do know is that there are taxes tied to that charge to be paid to the artists, or content creators...
posted by fozzie33 at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2010

Videotron may from time to time amend each of the clauses of the Contract, including the Prices and the nature of the Services. Videotron will send to the Customer, at his email address indicated in the Contract or at the Customer Address, at least 30 days before the amendment comes into force, a clearly and legibly written notice, setting out the new clause only, or the amended clause and the clause as it read formerly, the date of the coming into force of the amendment, and the rights of the Customer, as described below. The Customer may refuse this amendment and cancel the Contract thus amended without being bound to pay a cancellation indemnity, but after payment of the amounts owed for use of the Service up to the cancellation date, if the amendment entails an increase in the Customer's obligations or a reduction in Videotron's obligations, by sending Videotron a notice to that effect, via its customer service, no later than 30 days after the amendment comes into force. For greater certainty, in default of notifying Videotron within the said deadline, the Customer will be deemed to have accepted the said amendment, and any subsequent cancellation will result in the obligation to pay the cancellation indemnity, if applicable.
posted by fozzie33 at 11:34 AM on August 4, 2010

posted by fozzie33 at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2010

I think I would try to play up the "i've been a good customer for 60 months and have made one mistake, not reading the fine print. I don't think the mistake I made is worth 800 dollars." Make sure you write down who you talk to (and when) as well as what they would said they would do for you (ie call you back). Be sure to ask for time frames.
posted by maxpower at 11:39 AM on August 4, 2010

"I ended up downloading a fair amount of data"
"Soon after I ended up getting a bill for over $800!"
"100gig limit with $1.50 charge per gig over."

Then that would be 100gig plus $ (800-90)/$1.5/gig =573 gig

I don't know what you did but this seems to be quite a lot of data. (Something like one thousand divx compressed movies)
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:02 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's no point in quoting contracts - I hate it when people do that. Quebec has pretty strict standards about what's enforceable in a contract of adhesion, of a huge company against a consumer, and there's a great chance this fine print wouldn't pass muster.

If you don't have any luck through regular channels, get some help from the people at the McGill legal information clinic so you know which CCQ articles to mention and how to write a preliminary letterand get something going in small claims court. If nothing else works its definitely worth a shot.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:25 PM on August 4, 2010

This happened to me too, the last time they pulled that classic Videotron move a few years ago. I cried and whined to all kinds of supervisors on the phone and in person but still had to pay up.

There's always sweet revenge. Dump Videotron and switch to Teksavvy! They have cheap, truly uncapped plans, and they're always sending emails agitating against the kind of unsavory bandwidth mongering practices you were a victim of.
posted by Freyja at 9:01 AM on August 5, 2010

I just saw this question, so apologies for being late.

IANAL etc, but your contract with Videotron is what's called an adhesion contract in the CCQ (Civil Code of Quebec, which sets out the basic private law for all Quebec). The relevant articles for adhesion contracts are:

1435. An external clause referred to in a contract is binding on the parties.
In a consumer contract or a contract of adhesion, however, an external clause is null if, at the time of formation of the contract, it was not expressly brought to the attention of the consumer or adhering party, unless the other party proves that the consumer or adhering party otherwise knew of it.

1436. In a consumer contract or a contract of adhesion, a clause which is illegible or incomprehensible to a reasonable person is null if the consumer or the adhering party suffers injury therefrom, unless the other party proves that an adequate explanation of the nature and scope of the clause was given to the consumer or adhering party.

1437. An abusive clause in a consumer contract or contract of adhesion is null, or the obligation arising from it may be reduced.
An abusive clause is a clause which is excessively and unreasonably detrimental to the consumer or the adhering party and is therefore not in good faith; in particular, a clause which so departs from the fundamental obligations arising from the rules normally governing the contract that it changes the nature of the contract is an abusive clause.

Obviously these articles are pretty general; the definitions of 'abusive clause' and 'excessively and unreasonably detrimental' can vary case by case and judge by judge.
posted by Anali at 3:18 PM on September 5, 2010

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