Seven years later, the 9-1-1 class-action lawsuit between Bell and 30,000 wireless customers in Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon Territories is ongoing.
Bell charges customers a $0.75/month fee for 9-1-1 service, which represents $9 a year, but residents in the North are actually required to dial a 7-digit local number to receive emergency assistance because 9-1-1 service isn’t available in the area. James and Samuel Anderson, the Yellowknife residents who filed the original claim, suggested they shouldn’t pay the monthly fee because they don’t receive the service.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Justice Jean Côté, the judge leading the appeals hearing, has decided the terminology in Bell’s service agreements were not sufficient and sided with the plaintiffs. Côté stated, “In my respectful view, connecting someone to nothing is still nothing… To seek to charge for that by calling it 911 service seems to me very unreasonable. It is like delivering to a starving person a photograph of a turkey dinner, and then charging him or her for a turkey dinner (or delivery of one).”
Samuel Marr, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said, “We are pleased the court affirmed the position which we have been taking throughout the litigation, which is that the people of the North should not have to pay for service that was not provided.”
There will be a separate hearing to understand the total amount of damages Bell will need to pay out, but it’s estimated the cost will come in between $3 million to $5 million. Mark Langton, Bell’s spokesman, said they are “very disappointed with the decision” and “we’re considering our options.”