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Telus sees B.C. property assessment appeals thwarted by typo in email address

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An unfortunate spelling error has halted Telus' appeals of the assessed values of 18 properties before they could even begin.

The telecommunications giant was denied leave to appeal the valuations in a decision issued by B.C.'s Property Assessment Appeal Board last week. 

The company argued it should be allowed to appeal the assessments despite failing to file a timely notice of appeal to the Property Assessment Review Panel as required by the provincial Assessment Act.

Telus told the appeal board the delay was the result of circumstances outside of its control, but the board disagreed with that characterization.

According to the decision, a "new employee" began working on the appeal process in January of this year.

"The appellant followed its ordinary procedure in the preparation of the 2023 complaints," the decision reads. "The new employee prepared the draft notices of complaint for review by a senior member of the team. The notices contained the correct email address for delivery."

Unfortunately for Telus, when the notices were eventually sent, they were not sent to the correct email address.

While the email address for complaints in Areas 8, 9 and 10 of the province is greater.vancouver@bcassessment.ca, the notices were erroneously sent to greater.vancouver@bcassessement.ca.

According to the decision, the error occurred when the new employee copied the email address from "a prior spreadsheet" before sending.

"The new employee did not receive any return email that would have indicated it had not been delivered," the decision reads, noting that the company discovered the error in May, after the deadline for submitting appeal notices for 2023.

In support of its argument that the situation was outside its control, Telus cited a case it said was similar, in which leave to appeal was granted.

"In that appeal, the appellant attempted to file their complaint online," the decision explains. "They followed online prompts, filled out the form, were prompted to print the form, and then assumed the online form was complete."

The appeal board found Telus' case to be materially different, however.

"In that case, the appellant was navigating an online form that the appellant did not control and could have not determined the error on their review of the completed notice of complaint," the decision reads.

"In these appeals, the error was, with some scrutiny, identifiable by the appellant on documents controlled by the appellant. Had the appellant’s employees reviewed the delivery address, the error in the email address would have been identified in a timely manner and could have been corrected. In other words, these were circumstances that, with reasonable effort, could have been avoided and therefore were not circumstances beyond the owner’s control." 

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