Lawsuit of the week: Class action lawsuit claims Shaw engaged in an ‘unlawful pricing scheme’ that favoured Cantonese and Mandarin speakers

Shaw Communications Inc. and Shaw Cablesystems GP face a class action over an alleged “unlawful pricing scheme” under which the cable giant offered lower rates to Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking customers.

Shaw Communications Inc. and Shaw Cablesystems GP face a class action over an alleged “unlawful pricing scheme” under which the cable giant offered lower rates to Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking customers.

Martin Halliday filed a notice of civil claim under the Class Proceedings Act in BC Supreme Court on October 1 on behalf of Shaw customers “who were not the beneficiaries of the unlawful pricing scheme.”

Halliday claims Shaw operated the scheme through its “Multicultural Customer Care team” in the two years leading up to the lawsuit.

“The defendants routinely discriminates [sic] against existing and potential customers by offering a discounted rate exclusively to individuals who communicate with Shaw in either Mandarin and/or Cantonese,” the claim states. “Shaw has been providing its Chinese Medium Customers with significantly lower prices for its internet and/or cable services as compared to its customers who communicate in languages other than Mandarin or Cantonese in order to negotiate their prices.”

Halliday claims he called Shaw customer service this summer and a customer service employee allegedly described him the companies’ “best package,” which was  “demonstrably worse than the pricing available to Chinese Medium Customers under the unlawful pricing scheme.”

“Shaw acquired additional monies from the class members as a result of unfairly and inequitably charging higher prices for same, or similar, services solely based on their choice not to speak Mandarin or Cantonese in negotiating price for services,” the claim states.

The class action comes a month and a half after a former employee sued Shaw for wrongful dismissal, detailing the alleged unlawful pricing scheme in her claim. Kwok Bo Daisy Halliday’s claim in BC Supreme Court was filed on August 15, and both claimants are represented by Martin Sheard with Tevlin Gleadle Curtis Employment Law Strategies. (Sheard told Business in Vancouver on October 5 that he couldn’t comment on either case absent instructions from his clients.)

Martin Halliday seeks class certification and damages for violations of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and Shaw had not filed a response to the claim by press time.