Telecom Commission Letter addressed to John Lawford (Public Interest Advocacy Centre)
Ottawa, 12 February 2018
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7B7
Re: Commission Inquiry into Sales Practices of Major Communications Providers
Dear Mr. Lawford,
I am responding to your letter, dated 8 January 2018, in which you seek to bring to the Commission’s attention recent media reports regarding certain sales practices by Canadian communication service providers. In particular, you request that the Commission launch an inquiry into those practices described as “aggressive, inappropriate and potentially misleading”.
I note that Canadians already have a variety of options available to them to seek redress depending on the nature of the issue.
If Canadians consider that their wireless, Internet, home phone or TV service provider has not provided clear and accurate information to them about their contract(s), or is not acting in a manner consistent with the CRTC’s Wireless Code or Television Service Provider Code, they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider. If the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, they are encouraged to escalate the complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).
As you mention in your letter, the CCTS is the independent communications ombudsman who is mandated to respond to complaints from Canadians about various issues, including overbilling and misleading information about contract terms. For example, the CCTS can resolve disputes about what is included in the contract, how the contract should be interpreted, and whether the service provider’s conduct meets its obligations.
Consumer satisfaction with the CCTS’s processes is consistently high with 91% of complaints resolved to the satisfaction of both the consumer and service provider last year. In that period, the CCTS reviewed over 8,600 complaints, and consumers received compensation in 74% of the complaints, for a total of $2.3 million.
The CCTS, through its mid-year report and Annual Report, informs the Commission, as well as other stakeholders, about complaint resolution activities and trends in complaints, among other things. Commission staff monitors the CCTS reports as one source for identifying emerging issues, which may require further regulatory intervention.
I would also note that the Competition Act (the Act) contains provisions that specifically address false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices. The Competition Bureau enforces the Act and where appropriate investigates deceptive marketing and misleading advertising practices complaints. Canadians may contact the Competition Bureau with their concerns.
Canadians in receipt of fraudulent calls should contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.
If Canadians are receiving non-fraudulent nuisance or unwanted calls, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List and if they are receiving spam, they are encouraged to report it to the Spam Reporting Centre.
Canadians can make use of well-established and effective mechanisms to resolve issues with their communications services providers. I acknowledge your organization’s ongoing efforts to help Canadians become more aware of the options available to them.
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