David Ramsay, a Toronto man is elated after a deputy judge ruled that a verbal contract he made with a Bell customer service agent trumps the contract the telecom later emailed him, noting prices could increase.
In a judgment issued last month in a Toronto small claims court, Deputy Judge William C. De Lucia said that Bell’s attempt to impose new terms after a verbal contract guaranteeing a monthly price for 24 months had been struck was “high-handed, arbitrary and unacceptable.”
It all started in November 2016, when David Ramsay called a Bell customer service representative to inquire about TV and internet services.
The sales agent told Ramsay he could get Bell’s Fibe TV and internet services “for $112.90 a month for 24 months” and then said he’d get an “email confirmation of everything that was just discussed.”
But when the email arrived, it said prices were actually “subject to change” and that Bell was planning to increase its price for internet service by $5, two months later.
Ramsay called Bell to say the emailed contract was different from the verbal contract he’d made on the phone.
In a move that was pivotal to his legal case, he requested a transcript of the call in which the customer service rep promised him a fixed price for two years.
“They kept saying, ‘Everyone has to pay those price increases,'” says Ramsay. “‘Everyone has to pay.'”
Undeterred, Ramsay filed a complaint with the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (the CCTS), a moderator between customers and telecom providers.
Ramsay had consulted a couple of lawyer friends, who told him they thought he was on the right track, that a verbal agreement was binding.
Ramsay said, “Even though the dollar amount was small.I got on my white horse and thought, There’s a principle at stake here. Let’s take them to small claims court and see what happens.'”
Representing himself, Ramsay appeared in a Toronto small claims court on March 19, armed with what he calls his “smoking gun” — the transcript of his conversation with the Bell sales rep.
De Lucia was not swayed by Bell’s arguments, saying in his reasons for judgment, “I find that Bell can not unilaterally insert or impose new terms. Any imposition of new terms … is unenforceable.