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A year ago I briefly had a phone plan in Alberta, Canada where I used absolutely zero data and no calling minutes.

I called the phone company in order to cancel the plan on a Saturday, when they responded by saying that I should call them back on a weekday; however, by that point I had left the country to reside in the UK.

I asked for two close family members to handle cancelling the plan, which they agreed to. Needless to say, they did nothing about it, and now a year later I receive an email notice that a collections agency wants over $300.

So here are my questions:

1) Do I have any recourse, prior to the point where I might be sued, that can get me out of paying this amount, or reducing the amount owed?

2) If I were sued, what would being a Canadian citizen living in the United Kingdom change about the suit?

3) As a follow on to number 2, am I less likely to be sued for $300 than if I were still living in Canada?

Thank you very much for you help.

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1) Do I have any recourse, prior to the point where I might be sued, that can get me out of paying this amount, or reducing the amount owed?

Probably not, on the theory that having the ability to make a call or use data if you want to, even if you never do it, is something that has value. Indeed, there are cell phone plans that contemplate that they will be used only on an emergency basis. Generally, contracts are upheld as they are written.

This said, the facts might lead the collections agency or a judge to be merciful even if this isn't legally called for, because you got no actual benefit and tried in good faith to cancel.

2) If I were sued, what would being a Canadian citizen living in the United Kingdom change about the suit?

It might make it harder to serve you with process in the Canadian lawsuit as a practical matter, but you still could be sued. It would also make it expensive for you to appear in court to fight a lawsuit, which the collection agency might use to its advantage. In the U.S., consumer services collection lawsuits have to be brought in the county where you reside at the time of the suit, but I don't think that this law extends to international cases under U.S. law, and as far as I know, Canada has no comparable statute with international application.

3) As a follow on to number 2, am I less likely to be sued for $300 than if I were still living in Canada?

Probably. Even if they won, it would be expensive for them to collect their judgment from you in the U.K., so unless they thought you had Canadian assets available for them to seize or would in the next few years, they might decide that it wasn't worth the trouble to pursue this case.

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If you are a permanent resident of the UK, you can only be sued in the UK (whether English or Scottish law applies only you know; the difference is probably immaterial). The niceties of a Canadian company trying to enforce a Canadian contract in an English court would make for an interesting case (as Terry Pratchett says somewhere, interesting to a lawyer means "a hundred dollars a day and it will take months"), but realistically, and especially since they will have to pay your legal costs if they lose, no company is going to sue you over $300. Your best bet is to write and offer them what you think is fair, perhaps enclosing a cheque in full and final settlement. If they accept it, the problem is over; if not, the next step is up to them (and, since you have made a good-faith attempt to settle, it will be even harder for them to sue).

  • Can you really just send a check with a note stating that by depositing the check the account will be considered settled in full? Is that legally binding? As a side note, this is a collection agency. I wouldn't send them any money until they have provided evidence that they really are the owners of the debt. Once that is established, I would definitely make them an offer (maybe $30) and ask for a letter from them that they would accept that amount as settlement in full. Then (and only then) would I send them money. – mikeazo Oct 11 '17 at 13:21
  • "If you are a permanent resident of the UK, you can only be sued in the UK" - that's not true. Details vary, but if there is a "connection to Canada", a defendant can in principle be sued in a Canadian court even if they are not resident in or a citizen of Canada. – sleske Oct 12 '17 at 8:46

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