If you’ve ever been to The Bay, Canadian Tire, Future Shop, Tim Hortons, Zellers or just about anywhere else that screams hoser, you’ve probably seen the work done by Brofort. Back in early 2007 just after wireless number portability (WNP) came to Canada, Brofort was being courted by TELUS which was very keen on having Brofort and its $10,000 – $20,000 CAD per month account leave CDMA arch rival, Bell. Brofort was eventually offered a deal to its liking which included an overage charge of $0.10 CAD per minute, so it signed on the dotted line.
Now if anyone remembers what a nightmare WNP was when it first came out in Canada, it sometimes took a few weeks to get everything worked out. Brofort did get some bills from Bell after it left for TELUS, but it figured this was “par for the course” and just got them credited each month until Bell finally left the company alone and realized it had moved on. But seventeen months later, Brofort began to pay close attention to its bills from TELUS and noticed that they had started creeping up into the $20,000 CAD range, roughly double what the company was spending when it first signed up with TELUS. Why? TELUS began charging them $0.30 CAD per minute outside of its pool of minutes, or 300% of the rate quoted. Now this sort of thing would cost the average consumer quite a bit of money but considering Brofort routinely goes over its pool by 40,000 to 60,000 minutes each month, this is a huge amount of money that TELUS is overcharging the small company. But there was just one problem – the contract that Brofort and TELUS had signed omitted the overage rate of $0.10 per minute, allowing TELUS to disregard the quoted rate completely. To date, the omission has lead to approximately $75,000 CAD in unanticipated costs for Brofort.
Some may be quick to lay blame upon the Brofort as company officers had signed the contract without having noticed the omitted overage rate, but the fact of the matter is this contract was signed under false pretenses. Even a senior accounts manager from TELUS Business Solutions who was involved in the proposal is backing up Brofort but still, TELUS is refusing to budge on the overage charge and and is instead giving Brofort a bureaucratic run-around.
So what is Brofort to do? Well, for the time being the company is stuck with TELUS unless it wants to pay termination fees of $20 CAD per month for each month remaining on its contract, per line. Considering it has approximately 60 lines with TELUS and about 18 months left on its contract, Brofort would have to pay the carrier over $21,000 CAD to cancel and port over to another provider. Quite a price to pay for having been deceived. The alternative, a court battle, would certainly be far more expensive and time consuming. Let this be a warning however, to small businesses currently in talks with TELUS – cross your T’s, dot your I’s and use a fine-tooth comb before signing anything the cunning carrier sends your way.
NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the signed agreement between Brofort and TELUS does not specify on overage charge of $0.30 CAD per minute. Instead, the quoted rate of $0.10 CAD has been omitted and no rate is provided in its place.