Bell Canada’s admission that it did not intend to charge a touch-tone service fee to rotary phone customers is not enough to remedy the problem, says a public interest advocacy group. On Dec. 23, 2009, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), on behalf of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and Canada Without Poverty, filed an application with the CRTC alleging that Bell is charging a touch-tone service fee to longtime customers using rotary phones. In a response filed Feb. 3, Bell admitted it accidentally charged rotary phone customers a touch-tone service fee. The company said the errors in billing occurred after it began running a revenue assurance program for touch-tone service in 2009 to ensure all customers using the service were being billed appropriately. Bell said it was taking necessary steps to correct the situation and said PIAC’s application should be dropped. “PIAC’s application is entirely unnecessary and should be dismissed in its entirety,” said Bell’s response. In its reply filed Feb. 15, PIAC argued Bell is not taking appropriate steps to correct the situation since they continue to rely on feedback from customers to discover whether they are charging for a service without the client’s consent. “It is not appropriate to put the onus on the customer to act in order to avoid being charged for a service the customer never ordered, yet this is exactly the approach Bell is taking,” PIAC’s reply said. “It is also completely inappropriate for Bell to engage in a business practice which so readily lends itself to abuse by carelessly or intentionally provisioning services to customers who never ordered them … Even when a customer does contact Bell to complain, it is not always guaranteed that Bell will provide a full refund.” Bell spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis told The Wire Report by email that customers being charged the fee by mistake are an anomaly and the company is correcting the situation. “We are contacting impacted customers directly to advise them of the situation and correct it,” she said. PIAC has asked the CRTC to order Bell to reimburse or credit affected customers with interest. They have also asked that Bell pay the consumer groups’ cost in filing the application.