New entrant Mobilicity is now operational is 4 out of 5 of their launch cities. Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa are now live and Calgary will open shop sometime in Q1 2011 (they were supposed to be this year but it’s been delayed).
When Rogers launched their discount brand Chatr, Mobilcity Chairman John Bitove said they are “trying to destroy our success” and his company filed complaints against them “with various government agencies, including the Competition Bureau, on the grounds that Chatr is in direct breach of Section 78 of the Competition Act prohibiting market leaders from using “fighting brands to discipline or eliminate a competitor.”
Yesterday at their Ottawa launch Mobilicity CEO Dave Dobbin continued the charge against the incumbents and stated that Rogers, Bell and TELUS all use “anti-consumer tactics” that hurt competition and force consumers into signing long-term contracts. So Mobilicity sent a letter to Industry Minister Tony Clement to support legislation that protects consumers rights and reduce cancellation fees. This letter was also sent to the Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta governments.
Dobbin stated that “We just want to let the governments know that there’s a wireless company out there that agrees with them that the Canadian consumer needs to be protected… Mobilicity does not believe incumbents should be allowed to continue to use the anti-consumer tactics…These tactics have already attracted a lot of consumers’ complaints… The broadening of these tactics will only attract more consumers’ complaints”. This is what Quebec currently has in place and also what Ontario Liberal MPP David Orazietti has proposed.
Unfortunately the complaint already seems to go nowhere as Clement’s press secretary Lynn Meahan said in an email that they should not bother contacting the Industry Minister but reach out to the Competition Bureau. “We acknowledge the concerns Mobilicity has about their competitors…There are various methods to address concerns like these, such as the federal Competition Bureau.”
I’m sure we’ll eventually hear from all the carriers, but TELUS spokesman Shawn Hall said the complaint is “self-serving mythology. When a contract expires, you automatically go month-to-month… That’s a pretty serious accusation. What’s his example? What’s his proof? Our customers have always had the option of signing on to a contract in exchange for a deep discount on a device, or going month-to-month”.
UPDATE: We were just sent a note from Mobilicity President and CEO, Dave Dobbin that stated the following remarks on TELUS’ comment: “My proof? My proof are the 19 million frustrated Big 3 wireless subscribers in this country. I bet few if any of them were aware of the punitive nature of these contracts and their inherent cancellation fees when they were lured in by cheap handset prices. The Big 3 should focus on solving their 20% customer satisfaction rates rather than arguing their customers ‘knew what they were getting into.’”