Hey Rogers, That Time I Didn't Pay My Bill? Freedom of Expression!

08/08/2012 05:22 EDT | Updated 10/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Those of us who are Rogers Communications' oh-so-valued customers can only hope that it wins its bizarre legal argument over misleading advertising.

Rogers is claiming that its right to free expression trumps truth-in-advertising regulations in a case where the company was cited for an alleged misleading campaign. It is asking that the Ontario Superior Court strike down a requirement that companies do "adequate and proper" tests of products before touting claims in advertisements.

Apparently Rogers claimed that customers using Rogers discount cellphone carrier had no worries about dropped calls, which were supposedly fewer than its competitors. The Competition Bureau investigated and found that wasn't the case and sought a $10-million penalty against the company.

Now, Rogers claims that requiring actual tests be done on products before their benefits are advertised violated the company's freedom of expression.

As Postmedia News quoted Rogers' legal position, the law "prohibits and penalizes entirely truthful claims, including claims made on a reasonably held belief that such claims are entirely accurate and claims that are proven to be entirely accurate through post-claim testing."

In other words (those not created at several hundred dollars an hour in legal fees): Companies should be able to say whatever they want on the chance that their claims might be true. And if they aren't, well so what?


We, as customers, look forward to the day when Rogers extends that same principle to those of us tethered to any number of its properties by weighty, impossible-to-read contracts that seem to extend well beyond the Mayan apocalypse.

When you inadvertently miss a monthly payment and get that ominous call from the Rogers "Tony Soprano call centre," you should be able to exercise your right to freedom of expression by telling them you have a reasonable belief that the bill was paid or that the cheque's in the mail.

That should be enough for Rogers because it could turn out that such a claim may be entirely accurate and may be proven to be entirely accurate through post-claim testing. And if it isn't, well, so what?

In the Rogers world there shouldn't be any consequences to making a claim that isn't true, because you should be able to freely express whatever cow pie you want. Whatever is claimed is, automatically, true or could be, or might be.

Just as Rogers argues, it shouldn't have to pay a penalty for making possibly unsubstantiated claims, it should not cut off your service for doing the same thing. Yes, we have a reasonable belief that Rogers would extend that convention to its customers.

Really. Believe it.

CORRECTION: This blog was originally published under the wrong author name, Shirley Muir