ARCHIVED -  Telecom Order CRTC 95-316

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Telecom Order

Ottawa, 15 March 1995
Telecom Order CRTC 95-316
IN THE MATTER OF the proceeding initiated by Consumer Safeguards for Operator Services, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 94-35, 2 August 1994 (Public Notice 94-35).
WHEREAS, on 17 June 1994, Unitel Communications Inc. (Unitel) filed an application under Tariff Notice 919 requesting approval of tariff revisions providing for the introduction of operator-assisted calling for Unitel calling card holders and for consumer safeguards for Unitel-provided operator services;
WHEREAS, with regard to consumer safeguards, Unitel proposed that:
(1) Unitel operators identify themselves as representing Unitel to callers or to any party accepting charges for a collect or billed-to-third-party call, prior to charges being incurred;
(2) Unitel operators provide the customer with sufficient time to terminate the call at no charge prior to the call being connected;
(3) Unitel operators provide, upon customer request, (a) rates or charges for a call, (b) alternative call billing methods available to customers, and (c) complaint procedures available to dissatisfied customers;
(4) Unitel post information in close proximity to each publicly accessed telephone serviced, identifying itself and providing rate information; and
(5) in cases where Unitel provides operator services on behalf of another party, Unitel withhold payment of any compensation to that party if 10-XXX or 1-800 access is blocked to competitive carriers;
WHEREAS, in Public Notice 94-35, the Commission stated the preliminary view that uniform consumer safeguards governing the provision of operator services should apply to all carriers under its jurisdiction that offer competitive long distance services;
WHEREAS the Commission also stated the view that it may be appropriate to include consumer safeguards as conditions of service in the telephone companies' tariffs for services or facilities that might be used by competitors offering operator services;
WHEREAS, in Public Notice 94-35, the Commission requested comment on:
(1) the adequacy of the specific consumer safeguards proposed by Unitel and whether any alternate or additional safeguards would be appropriate;
(2) whether uniform safeguards should be required in all tariffs for operator services provided by facilities-based carriers of competitive long distance service; and
(3) whether the telephone companies' tariffs should provide for such safeguards through conditions of service for services or facilities that might be used by competitors offering operator services;
WHEREAS the Commission also requested comments on the specifics of Unitel's application, noting that Unitel proposed surcharges of $1.25 for operator-assisted Canada-Canada, Canada-U.S. and U.S.-Canada calling card calls, and a surcharge of $6.25 for Canada-Mexico calling card calls;
WHEREAS comments were received from the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CTA), Sprint Canada Inc. (Sprint), Stentor Resource Centre Inc. (Stentor) on behalf of AGT Limited, BC TEL, Bell Canada, The Island Telephone Company Limited, Manitoba Telephone System, Maritime Tel and Tel Limited and The New Brunswick Telephone Company, Limited (collectively, the telephone companies) and Unitel, and reply comments were received from Stentor and Unitel;
WHEREAS the parties agreed that uniform consumer safeguards should apply to all operator services providers;
WHEREAS CTA submitted that there were only two remaining issues to be resolved: (1) unreasonable rates charged by unregulated firms, and (2) protection of subscriber information;
WHEREAS CTA submitted that provisions similar to those approved in Telecom Order CRTC 94-629, 8 June 1994, with regard to access to billing and collection services and related databases by resellers with trunk-side access, were sufficient to deal with the above-noted concerns;
WHEREAS Sprint submitted that Unitel's proposed safeguards were adequate and should be adopted as a uniform set of standards;
WHEREAS Stentor stated that Unitel had not provided information as to how emergency calls would be processed;
WHEREAS Stentor submitted that Unitel should elaborate on any proposal it had for completing 9-1-1 calls;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that it did not anticipate any emergency calls reaching its operators, due to the long dialing sequence required;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that, upon introduction of its full complement of operator services, it would offer access to emergency service providers on a full-time basis, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and would work in conjunction with Stentor to negotiate any technical requirements associated with completing emergency calls to 9-1-1 service providers;
WHEREAS Unitel agreed with Stentor that operator services providers should adhere to a code of ethics when dealing with the content, as well as the details, of a customer's telephone call;
WHEREAS Unitel considered that confidentiality was provided for by Article 11 of its Terms of Service;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that its employees were required to sign a "Code of Business Conduct", which addresses the release of confidential information and prohibits employees from revealing such information without proper authorization;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that its operators are required to sign an additional code of ethics, which relates specifically to operator services;
WHEREAS Stentor stated that the Commission should be informed of the method by which complaints were to be resolved, and of the manner in which callers would be informed of the process;
WHEREAS Unitel submitted that it had detailed procedures to handle all complaints, including operator services complaints, and that the "welcome package" it sends to all new customers includes information on these procedures;
WHEREAS Unitel submitted that problems with call splashing would not be encountered, as it did not currently plan to provide domestic operator-to-operator services;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that, in the case of international calls, it would have the correct originating and terminating telephone numbers and would therefore be in a position to correctly bill the call;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that, in cases where operator services providers transferred calls to Unitel operators without supplying the originating telephone number, Unitel would inform the customer that the call would be rated from the originating location of the operator to the requested terminating number;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that it would complete the call if the customer consented to this rating method;
WHEREAS Stentor stated that, in order to prevent customer confusion and unwarranted activity by telephone company operators, Unitel's tariff should provide sufficient information as to how Unitel's card users could access operator assistance;
WHEREAS Unitel submitted that instructions with respect to accessing operator assistance are provided on the back of each Unitel calling card, and would be provided by voice commands when a call was placed;
WHEREAS Unitel indicated that the proposed requirement that each publicly accessed telephone serviced by Unitel be clearly identified is designed to ensure that members of the public will understand that all "1+" long distance calls placed from that telephone will be carried on the Unitel network;
WHEREAS Stentor expressed concerns as to the inclusion in the telephone companies' terms of service of consumer safeguards with regard to the provision of operator services by competitors;
WHEREAS Stentor submitted that a requirement for the telephone companies to enforce consumer safeguards through their terms of service would be inappropriate and ineffective, except in the event of a Commission directive to discontinue service;
WHEREAS Stentor stated that the telephone companies would be willing to discontinue the provision of access and related services to alternate operator services providers as a result of abuse, on the advice of the Commission;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that regulated carriers should include safeguards in their tariffs, and that, for unregulated operator services providers, the safeguards should be included in the conditions of service of the regulated companies whose facilities would be used;
WHEREAS Unitel stated that Stentor members did not have safeguards in place to protect customers from potential abuse;
WHEREAS Stentor submitted that the telephone companies' Terms of Service and tariffs reflect numerous consumer safeguards;
WHEREAS no party other than Unitel commented on the rates proposed under Tariff Notice 919;
WHEREAS the Commission has considered the comments and reply comments filed in this proceeding;
WHEREAS the Commission considers that safeguards providing consumer protection are required in a competitive marketplace;
WHEREAS the Commission is of the view that Unitel's proposed safeguards, in conjunction with Article 11 of its Terms of Service, adequately protect consumers in respect of rates, access and
WHEREAS the Commission considers that Unitel has not made adequate provision for handling emergency calls; and
WHEREAS the Commission is of the view that complaint and access procedures should be incorporated into operator services tariffs -
1. Unitel is directed to file for final approval revised proposed tariff provisions incorporating those proposed in Tariff Notice 919, modified as set out below.
2. In its revised proposed operator services tariffs, Unitel is to implement standards to ensure that (a) emergency calls are connected to the appropriate emergency service in the reported location, if known, and, if not known, in the originating location of the calls, and (b) where there is no 9-1-1 service available, Unitel operators handle emergency calls in a manner similar to that expected of telephone company operators.
3. As an alternative to paragraph 2, above, Unitel may wish to make arrangements with the telephone companies for the handing-off of emergency calls, with the originating telephone number.
4. Unitel is directed to incorporate its complaints and access procedures into its operator services tariffs.
5. The telephone companies are directed to file, within 90 days, comprehensive operator services tariffs that (a) incorporate the consumer safeguards currently set out in various locations in their tariffs and white page directories, and (b) state that contracts are required pursuant to the telephone companies' operator services tariffs.
6. The telephone companies are directed to negotiate contracts with operator services providers for services or facilities used in the provision of operator services.
7. The contracts referred to in paragraph 6 are to (a) include provisions similar to Article 11, (b) specify that, when cases of abuse arise, the Commission may direct regulated carriers to discontinue the provision of access and related services to operator services providers, and (c) reference the fact that negotiated operator services contracts are required pursuant to the telephone companies' operator services tariffs.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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