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Telus scraps 1.5% credit card surcharge on customer bills

Telus has reversed its decision to charge an extra fee to customers who use a credit card to pay their bills.

Telecom company floated new fee last fall

A woman uses her phone inside a Telus store

Telus has reversed its decision to charge an extra fee to customers who use a credit card to pay their bills.

Last fall, the telecom company announced it would start charging some of those customers a fee of up to 1.5 per cent.

That change came about as a result of a settlement between credit card companies and merchants that would allow merchants to start passing on the cost of fees known as interchange fees directly to customers.

Telus was among the first companies to attempt to do so, notifying customers last summer of its plans. When asked for comment at the time, Telus rivals Rogers and BCE both confirmed to CBC News they had no plans to implement a credit card surcharge to any customer bills.

But on Tuesday, Telus confirmed to CBC News that it has now scrapped the fee altogether.

"After thoughtful review, we have removed the credit card processing fee on bill payments," the company told CBC News in a statement. "We want our customers to know that we heard their concerns, and we thank them for sharing their feedback."

Last year, the company started implementing the fee for customers of certain services in some parts of the country, and requested permission from Canada's telecom regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), to roll it out more broadly.

More than 4,000 Canadians wrote to the regulator with comments on the proposal during a public consultation period.

The CRTC rejected that request in December, noting that it was "very concerned about this practice as it goes against affordability and consumer interest," but noted that it didn't have the power to stop the company from implementing the fee in parts of its business that are outside of CRTC regulation.

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Nino Paolucci runs a business in Calgary with two land lines and seven cellphones, all on one Telus bill, and he said he was outraged when the fee was implemented in the first place.

"When I'm giving you anywhere from $500 to $800 a month for a phone bill, you want to charge me what because I paid by Visa? Are you kidding me?" he told CBC News in an interview Tuesday.

Paolucci says he stayed with the company because he doesn't think other alternatives would be any better, but he says he'd rather the company simply increase his overall rate than trying pass off a price increase under the guise of something else.

"What you should do if that's the case, don't tell the customer you're doing that and just up the charge by a dollar. That's what they'll do and I'm OK with that because I don't see it," he said. "But I get my back up against the wall because they want to nickel and dime me."

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