05/14/2012 05:28 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Social justice activist files $100-million suit against Bell over expiry dates

TORONTO - Bell Mobility and its parent company, BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) have been served with notice of a $100-million class-action lawsuit alleging that expiry dates on its pre-paid wireless services are illegal.

The suit alleges the practice is contrary to Ontario's Consumer Protection Act and the pre-paid wireless services should be treated as gift cards without an expiry date under the act.

The suit is being handed by the Toronto law firm of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP on behalf of Celia Sankar of Elliot Lake, Ont.

Sankar, founder of the DiversityCanada Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes social justice, is a Bell Mobility pre-paid wireless customer who has had her credit balance seized on two occasions.

"Because the prepaid wireless service is the least expensive way to have a phone, and does not require a credit card or a bank account, it is often the only option for youth, new immigrants, workers on minimum wage, the unemployed, people on disability and seniors on fixed incomes," Sankar said in a statement.

"These are the people who can least afford to have their funds forfeited or to have their mobile services cut off," she said.

If the case is certified as a class action, Sankar will represent all persons in Ontario who purchased or acquired pre-paid wireless services under the brands Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile Canada and Solo Mobile since May 4, 2010.

Bell Mobility spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis said there's no merit to the suit.

"We'll certainly defend against it," Michelis said.