ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 30 November 2010
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Volume 2, 30 November 2010
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Telecom Notice of Consultation
140 Promenade du Portage
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages
Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be
bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members
and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded
verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in
either of the official languages, depending on the language
spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Canadian Radio-television and
Review of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Telecom Notice of Consultation
Len Katz Chairperson
Timothy Denton Commissioner
Elizabeth Duncan Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Michel Morin Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Stephen Simpson Commissioner
Lynda Roy Secretary
Anthony McIntyre Legal Counsel
Celia Millay Hearing coordinator
140 Promenade du Portage
November 30, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
MTS Allstream Inc. 232 / 1266
TELUS Communications Company 269 / 1513
- Rogers Communications Inc.
- Cogeco Cable Inc.
- Quebecor Media Inc.
- Shaw Communications Inc. 317 / 1777
--- Upon commencing on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 0903
1254 THE SECRETARY: Order, please. À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
1255 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
1256 Madam Secretary, are there any opening remarks?
1257 THE SECRETARY: Good morning. Yes.
1258 Before we start, Mr. Chairman, I believe Ms Morin from Bell Canada has something to address to the panel.
1259 MS MORIN: Mr. Vice-Chairman and Commissioners, on behalf of Bel I just wanted to make a clarification -- actually a correction to a comment I made when we appeared yesterday.
1260 I had in my possession a part of a bill, page 3 of 3, and at the top was the CCTS message that I referred to. In fact it was on page 3 and not on page 1.
1261 So as it relates to our paper bills, the biannual message appears on the top of -- on this bill anyways, on the top of page 3, which is right above the detailed monthly charges. And that is consistent regardless of what types of services you have, it's always above the monthly charges.
1262 As far as our electronic version goes, it always appears at the very top of the electronic bill. I'm trying to get a copy so that I can make copies available if necessary, but my apologies for the error yesterday.
1263 THE SECRETARY: Thank you very much, Ms Morin.
1264 We will now proceed, Mr. Chairman, with MTS Allstream Inc. Appearing for MTS Ms Donna Malliff.
1265 Please introduce your colleagues, after which you will have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1266 MS MALLIFF: Thank you.
1267 Good morning, Mr. Chair, Commissioners, Commission Staff.
1268 My name is Donna Malliff and I am the Director of Regulatory Affairs at MTS Allstream.
1269 Seated with me today, to my right, is John Maksimow, MTS Allstream's Tariffs Manager, who is also responsible for the customer complaints addressed to MTS Allstream by CCTS and the CRTC; and, to my left, Geoffrey White, who is our Senior Regulatory Analyst.
1270 We welcome the opportunity to participate in this public consultation to review the CCTS. I will speak to membership and funding; Geoff will address the CCTS' mandate, governance and voting structure; and John will address the Agency's remedies and other matters.
1271 Overall, we believe that the Agency's design, governance and operation have generally been effective relative to its mandate, a mandate which continues to be appropriate. In our view two changes -- specifically, establishing defined timelines for the CCTS' complaint resolution process, and increasing the portion of funding based on complaints -- will make the CCTS even more effective.
1272 Regarding membership and mandate, the Commission established these in Decision 2007-130 and Decision 2008-46. The Agency's principal mandate is to ensure that as many consumers of forborne services as possible have access to the Agency's complaint resolution services.
1273 Under the current threshold for membership telecommunications service providers with annual telecommunications revenues exceeding $10 million per year, as reported under the contribution regime, are required to be members. As a result, over 95 percent of all Canadian retail telecommunications customers can avail themselves of the complaint resolution services of the CCTS.
1274 We therefore believe that this revenue threshold for mandatory membership should be retained because it has worked well in ensuring as many Canadians as possible have access to the CCTS.
1275 Regarding the actual term of membership, currently those are fixed and expire on December 31st of this year. To reflect the permanent nature of the CCTS, MTS Allstream submits that post-December 31 membership should be permanent, so long as the TSP in question exceeds the $10 million threshold.
1276 In terms of the fee structure and Agency funding, MTS Allstream supports the current two-part funding formula. It is our view that the complaint-based portion of the fee should be increased from it's current one-third to two-thirds. The two-part formula is reasonable and increasing the portion of funding attributable to complaints will further incent TSPs to avoid complaint-producing behaviour in the first place.
1277 Geoff will now provide our perspective on the CCTS' mandate, governance and voting structure.
1278 MR. WHITE: Thank you, Donna.
1279 Good morning. The CCTS was formally incorporated in 2007 with a structure and mandate that the Commission approved in Decision 2007-130. The Agency's mandate is to resolve complaints from individual and small business retail customers of telecommunications services providers regarding forborne retail telecommunications services.
1280 The Agency's Procedural Code does not list the specific services that fall within the scope of the Agency's mandate; however, this code does list the specific services that are excluded from the scope of the Agency's mandate. A list of the products and services that are both within and outside the scope of the Agency's mandate is provided on its website.
1281 The Agency's primary mandate and focus have been dealing with customer complaints, and MTS Allstream has only received a relatively small number of complaints via the CCTS since its inception. Of those, a large majority were resolved between MTS Allstream and the customer via mediation, without going to investigation.
1282 The Agency's mandate also includes publishing an annual report following the Agency's AGM; identifying issues or trends that may warrant further attention by the Commission or government; and developing or approving related industry codes of conduct and standards. Each of these ancillary functions can play a constructive, informational and facilitating role.
1283 In terms of governance and voting structure, we see no current basis for changes. The current institutional framework ensures a proper balance between independence and accountability and is therefore satisfactory.
1284 If I may go off script for one moment, I would just like to remind everyone that the definition for an extraordinary resolution in the bylaws requires two-thirds of industry members to approve and two-thirds of independent members as well.
1285 Returning to our script, John will now provide our perspective on the CCTS' remedies, public awareness initiatives, accessibility and what an appropriate review period would be.
1286 MR. MAKSIMOW: Thank you, Geoffrey.
1287 Our view is that the Agency's remedies -- specifically requiring the TSP in question to provide an explanation or apology to the customer; undertake to do or cease doing specified activities; or pay monetary compensation up to $5,000 -- are effective and sufficient.
1288 With regard to the Agency's complaint handling process, our view is that the existing mediation process used by the Agency is generally working effectively, and we therefore support the continued use of it.
1289 The customer experience could be improved, however, by fixing an absolute time limit for complaint resolution. This is because, in our experience, the process for investigation and for making and communicating of recommendations or decisions has, in some cases, taken too long.
1290 I would like to just add here that other presenters have provided customer complaint statistics and I would like to do so in the case of MTS Allstream.
1291 We have had 28 customer complaints in 2010 that were addressed by CCTS to MTS Allstream and with over 350,000 residential customers this represents in percentage terms well under 1 percent. I think it's about 1/100th of 1 percent.
1292 In regard to the customer complaints, there are specific timeframes in place wherein TSPs must either object to a complaint within 15 days of receipt from the CCTS, resolve it within 30 days or advise the CCTS that it is unresolved within 30 days.
1293 An unresolved customer complaint that advances to the investigation stage and results in a recommendation or decision by the CCTS is, however, not subject to fixed timeframes. It is our view that changing this is one way the CCTS can be made more effective.
1294 In terms of public awareness, the CCTS has taken significant steps, as identified in its annual report, to make the public aware of its services. MTS Allstream has also supported the CCTS' public awareness initiatives. Specifically, we have:
1295 - added information about the Agency's complaint-handling process on our website and we have provided a direct link on our website to the CCTS;
1296 - we have included an informational notice in customer bills in June of this year and will continue to do so semi-annually; and
1297 - we have added a notice about the Agency's services in the Introductory Section of our White Pages Directories.
1298 We believe that these steps have added to our customers' awareness of the CCTS and we do not see any need for initiatives beyond those that have already been completed.
1299 As well, MTS Allstream has not received any customer feedback that would indicate a need for the CCTS to be more accessible to any specific customer segment. It is our view, therefore, that no action should be taken by the Commission or the CCTS without first obtaining evidence of such a need.
1300 In terms of whether or not the Commission should stipulate a review period, a review in five years would be appropriate to ensure that the CCTS continues to be effective.
1302 MS MALLIFF: Thanks, John.
1303 In summary, in MTS Allstream's experience the Agency is, generally-speaking, governed appropriately and effectively operated. Accordingly, MTS Allstream supports the continued operation of the CCTS in its current form, with its current mandate.
1304 The two changes we have suggested -- adopting fixed timelines for the entire complaint resolution process and increasing the complaint-based portion of the funding formula -- are intended to improve on the CCTS' efficiency and effectiveness.
1305 Subject to any questions you may have, these are our comments. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
1306 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I will ask Commissioner Duncan to lead the questioning.
1307 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry. I guess I will ask of Commissioner Simpson to lead the questioning.
1308 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Commissioner Duncan, you can have my notes if you wish.
1309 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning. Thank you very much for your presentation and also congratulations on the low percentage of complaints. It's very impressive.
1310 I would like to start off the questioning with respect to membership.
1311 I know the three of you each have an area that you would like to respond to my questions so I will just direct any questions to your panel and then you decide who should answer.
1312 The position of MTS Allstream has been that the status quo with respect to membership and procedures with the CCTS is sufficient to the needs of the Commission right now, but I'm curious as to why -- or am curious as to whether you would be favourable to an increase in membership should it be on a voluntary basis.
1313 MS MALLIFF: Well, currently right now CCTS accepts any member voluntarily. So anyone can join voluntarily. I suspect most companies don't take that opportunity to become members.
1314 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I understand.
1315 From your testimony you are saying that the present membership, the status quo, is sufficient to servicing the needs of approximately 95 percent of customers. Is that 95 percent in pure numbers or 95 percent -- I'm needing you too, if you can, break down that number for me.
1316 Does the 95 percent represent 95 percent of Canadians or 95 percent of the business that subscribers do with the member companies?
1317 MS MALLIFF: Ninety-five percent represents in Decision 2007-130 the Commission looked at a membership for every TSP or certain mandated ones. By looking at companies who earn $10 million or more per year in telecommunications revenues it was found that it would cover approximately 95 percent of consumers in Canada and as that it was sufficient and relative for the CCTS. They would capture most of the companies in Canada.
1318 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. It captures obviously wireless and wireline services, but what about other services?
1319 MS MALLIFF: Well, it's based on telecommunications revenues --
1320 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
1321 MS MALLIFF: -- so it's all telecommunications revenues whether it's local service, long-distance, reselling or Internet services or cellular services.
1322 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But an individual that's dealing with a third-party reseller wouldn't have recourse through the Agency?
1323 MS MALLIFF: Yes, they do.
1324 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: They do.
1325 MS MALLIFF: They do, yes.
1326 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
1327 In your testimony you had indicated that CCTS is doing a pretty good job, it's procedurally handling complaints on an effective basis, but you had observed that the timeliness is an issue with respect to the duration of time that it's taking to get satisfactory recourse to the customer.
1328 Is that purely based on your experience or are you noticing that on a wider level from being a member of the Association?
1329 MS MALLIFF: I think I will let John answer that question.
1330 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thanks.
1331 MR. MAKSIMOW: We have only had one or two situations where the investigation has gone beyond the mediation stage, so our direct experience is quite limited.
1332 MR. MAKSIMOW: I think I'm answering your question.
1333 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. No, I'm just waiting to see if there's a follow-up.
1334 From your limited experience, what was the attribution to the delay? Was it resources that the CCTS had at its disposal, was it issues that perhaps created complications governance or representation by the Board? I'm curious.
1335 MR. MAKSIMOW: We really don't know the exact or -- we have no ability to be able to determine exactly what was the cause of it.
1336 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
1337 I would like to seek your guidance with respect to code, best practices, terms of engagement with the customer on a general level.
1338 It seems appropriate with respect to industry associations like this that code is developed by the industry and enforced or referred to by organizations such as the CCTS.
1339 Is, in your opinion, that the most preferable means by which codes are developed and enforced?
1340 MR. WHITE: I don't know if I could categorically say that it's the most preferable way to go. MTS Allstream sees the CCTS as being able to play a constructive, facilitating role in bringing industry together.
1341 And there has been some talk about the one experience with disconnection and deposits and it may be premature to use that one lack of success as a basis for concluding that the CCTS can't play a role or there is something broken with the institutional mechanism.
1342 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Going back to membership for a second, your position was that the present structure is sufficient to the needs of consumer complaints and to the operation of CCTS.
1343 Yesterday we heard from PIAC and from the Bell companies that they were in favour of mandatory participation. Why are you not in favour of mandatory participation?
1344 MS MALLIFF: It's not that we are not in favour. We would have no objection to mandatory membership, but I would just note to the Commission that some of the companies, specifically the SILECs, are not necessarily forborne from services, so mandating them to be members of the CCTS yet they don't have forborne services kind of puts them in a precarious position because they are going to have to contribute to the funding, yet CCTS cannot necessarily deal with their customers.
1345 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
1346 You are, from your testimony, in favour of a funding formula that weighs in favour of a complaint-based fee schedule or system.
1347 Yesterday I had floated the idea for companies that were non-members that there be the possibility of this Commission enacting some type of regime were non-members companies, if there is a pattern of bad behaviour with the customer, that they might be forced at some point to have to mediate this consumer problem through the CCTS on a three strikes you're in basis -- which is just a term of reference, not a recommendation for the number of complaints that have to occur -- but did this impact your thinking yesterday at all?
1348 MR. WHITE: I don't think we have any objection to that, it's just a question of who -- to use the baseball analogy, who is the umpire in this case and what are the mechanics of calling the strikes in the first place and would the CCTS then have to report to the CRTC and the CRTC would then have to mandate the membership in the organization.
1349 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: This may be a rhetorical question, but please weigh in if you feel that you have something to contribute.
1350 But if the industry is in favour of industry-created codes of practice and best practices and good behaviour, would it not behoove the industry to also be concerned about the practices of others who are not treating the customer with a similar sense of fairness, and to the extent that they would want to see some kind of mechanism in place to help control that, for the betterment of the industry, the best practices of certain providers?
1351 MR. WHITE: We would just respond by reiterating that we are not opposed to the mandatory membership, that proposal.
1352 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. For the record, being that you are a participant in the CCTS, going back to the issue of delays, because of the lack of timeframe constraints, do you have any input as to what constructively the CCTS could do, or needs, to be able to operate within a more timely manner?
1353 MR. MAKSIMOW: In answer to your question, the timelines that exist today, the established timelines, are timelines to be used by the TSPs in responding to a customer complaint. There are no similar timelines for the activities that the CCTS itself is undertaking, and establishing some timelines, in our view, would make the operation of the CCTS more effective.
1354 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But, as you are indicating, it would require the direct participation, or the willing participation of the TSPs, in order for this to happen.
1355 Is that correct?
1356 MR. MAKSIMOW: It would be part of it.
1357 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It is not up to the CCTS to invoke this on their members, their members would create these criteria for the CCTS.
1358 MR. MAKSIMOW: The procedural code, in our view, would be the document that could be used to add established timeframes for CCTS activities.
1359 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Going back to the number of complaints that you had to deal with in both 2009 and 2010, a whopping 19 complaints in 2009 -- which, again, you should be commended for -- and it rose significantly, to 28, which is still less than 1 percent, as you indicated. How many of these complaints, or how many complaints are you aware of that were outside the mandate of the CCTS that may have been issued against your company?
1360 MR. MAKSIMOW: Of the 19, and of the 28, all of them were within scope.
1361 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: All were within scope.
1362 MR. MAKSIMOW: Yes.
1363 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Moving on to public awareness, I have noted that on your website you feature prominently consumer information for the CCTS, in terms of its existence and how to engage it. You have also done a significant amount of other work with respect to consumer awareness.
1364 My question has to do with wireless customers, in particular. I noticed that my own behaviour, being a wireless customer and not having a landline at this point, my tendency had been to engage my provider almost exclusively through online communication, where I would pick up my phone and call and inquire about the status of my bill, and pay my bill, either through the phone or online, which causes me to think that, with a certain percentage of the population, they are probably not being engaged through printed material, or even having the need to visit your website, but simply engaging your customer service people.
1365 Are there any mechanisms by which you can reach this wireless customer, that you haven't thought of, given that they are fairly mobile and don't always get printed messages by which you can communicate the CCST information?
1366 I am thinking e-mail pushes, SMS pushes, and so on. Is this something that you have thought of?
1367 MR. MAKSIMOW: At this point we feel that what we are doing today, so far, is working effectively, and we really haven't addressed anything beyond that.
1368 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
1369 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1370 I would ask Commissioner Menzies if he has any questions.
1371 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. I wanted to clarify your comment about the $10 million. You said a couple of things. You said that you weren't opposed to mandatory membership, and you also said in your oral comments, under "The Current Threshold for Membership", that TSPs with telecom revenues exceeding $10 million per year, as reported...
1372 Were you talking about -- when you said mandatory membership, was it for people above the $10 million, or for everybody, including below the $10 million?
1373 MS MALLIFF: Currently the mandatory membership is for companies with $10 million or more per year in revenue.
1374 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. So you are only in favour of mandatory membership for over $10 million?
1375 MS MALLIFF: Our position right now is that the status quo is fine; however, we would not oppose mandatory membership on all companies, even those below $10 million.
1376 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What is important about the $10 million line?
1377 MS MALLIFF: In Decision 2007-130, when the Commission was looking for an appropriate balance of which TSP should be included in the CCTS agency, they felt that companies -- they looked at the companies and they looked at the revenues of these companies, and all of those companies that made $10 million or more constituted those companies that reached 95 percent of consumers in Canada, and they felt that was a good cut-off rate.
1378 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I know that if the CRTC says it's a good idea, it is generally accepted as a good idea --
1379 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- but I wanted to know if, apart from the fact that the CRTC said so, there was anything that the industry saw as vital about the sustainability of that line.
1380 MS MALLIFF: Practically speaking, it works.
1381 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: If I were a consumer and I had a complaint with a company -- I mean, I don't care whether it's $10 million or over, right?
1382 How does that work for the consumer?
1383 Are you comfortable with settling for the 95 percent and excluding those who have a small provider?
1384 MS MALLIFF: As discussed yesterday, I think, at the time that the $10 million threshold was set, it was felt that it would be onerous for TSPs, and perhaps for the CCTS itself, to seek and find and incorporate those other 5 percent of the companies into the CCTS agency, and felt that 95 percent was a good threshold.
1385 Yesterday we found that most people think that it's not onerous and that all TSPs could be members, and that onerous activity is no longer there. So, yes, there is no problem.
1386 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
1387 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1388 Commissioner Duncan...
1389 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning. I just have a couple of questions.
1390 You mentioned that one of your concerns, or a concern -- and I recognize the discussion that you are not opposed to mandatory membership, but you did suggest that there might be a problem, that some SILECs would be encompassed that don't have forborne services.
1391 Did I misunderstand that?
1392 MS MALLIFF: No, that's true.
1393 The CCTS mandate is to provide services for customers of forborne services, so companies that are not forborne -- there may be a problem.
1394 If they are required to be members because they are TSPs, period, and then the CCTS can't really help them, that would be a problem, I would think. If I were one of those companies, then I would have to be a member, pay certain fees or dues, and then, in the end, they couldn't help my customers anyway.
1395 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Do you think that could probably, simply, be handled by saying that you have to have forborne services to be forced to be a member?
1396 MS MALLIFF: That's correct.
1397 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Something as simple as that?
1398 MS MALLIFF: That's correct.
1399 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
1400 I am curious; in your remarks about the customer awareness program of the CCTS, you say that you don't see any need for initiatives beyond those that have already been completed.
1401 But the CCTS, I think, has stated that customer awareness is an ongoing project. I am assuming they don't mean just for licensees, but for themselves, as well.
1402 Are you saying that they shouldn't, that there is no need to continue with the customer awareness program?
1403 MR. MAKSIMOW: No, that is not what we meant.
1404 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Did I misunderstand it?
1405 MR. MAKSIMOW: The activities that were under way and are being completed, or have been completed, are effective.
1406 And, with respect to those, there is nothing in those that have been undertaken that we need to go beyond, but there may be new ones that could be pursued, and the ones that are in place now should continue going forward.
1407 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So the twice a year bill messages and --
1408 MR. MALLIFF: Yes.
1409 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just on the bill message thing, is it practical for MTS to increase the frequency of those?
1410 MR. MALLIFF: The answer to that would be that the information that is put on the bill message is space limited and contingent on what other messages need to be put on in a particular month, some of which are messages that we are voluntarily putting on, some of which are messages that are directed to be put on through Commission decisions.
1411 It may become a priority issue as to how many messages can be fit into that space. So there may be some months where adding information on the CCTS, on each month's bill, may result in having to go, for example, to another page, and that would add significant cost.
1412 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But would you be open to including that message in months where it didn't present a problem, beyond two?
1413 I am assuming that two would be the minimum.
1414 It seems to have a positive impact in creating awareness. According to the evidence that Mr. Maker gave yesterday, it seemed to be worthwhile.
1415 MR. MALLIFF: That is difficult to answer. We would have to assess that in the context of any other implications that it may have on our billing system and our printing ability.
1416 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sure. But you would be willing to keep it in mind if it was doable?
1417 MR. MALLIFF: Definitely.
1418 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. That's fine.
1419 It was interesting; the discussion about the 95 percent of all Canadian retail telecommunications customers being represented, that, you think, represents numbers of customers, not just revenues?
1420 Or, do you think it is close enough to call it one and the same?
1421 MS MALLIFF: It is basically based on revenues, there is no question, but revenues, generally speaking -- it's the same, it's the number of customers as well.
1422 It's a proxy for the number of customers.
1423 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much. Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
1424 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1425 Commissioner Morin...
1426 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
1427 Yesterday we talked about the public awareness of the CCTS. It was demonstrated that many people, if not most, aren't aware of this new body. The complaint numbers speak for themselves, if you compare them with the TIO in Australia.
1428 It has been suggested that a standard notation be put on the first page of paper bills and electronic bills.
1429 Why would you have an objection, as far as you are concerned, that this standard notation would be put on the first page, not only on the electronic bill, as Bell did last May, but on the first page, in an appropriate space -- a standard notation for every telephone company?
1430 I went this morning on the websites of many companies, and you can see on some that the CCTS is on the first page, on others it is on the second, and some have it at the end of many paragraphs, some at the first paragraph.
1431 The standard notation would be neutral. Every customer would have the same access to being informed as to how to complain, and if the complaint is not resolved, they can appeal to the CCTS.
1432 With the system we have now, the company which is transparent and open and accessible to the consumer can be penalized. With the regime that we are looking at here, it doesn't make sense that the company which is open and accessible would be penalized, would pay more in fees for the financing of the CCTS.
1433 I repeat my question, why can we not put this standard notation on the first page, in a standardized format, for every company?
1434 MR. MAKSIMOW: In the case of MTS Allstream and our customer bill, on the first page, right below the summary of charges, we have a standard sentence that says that any questions about the customer bill are to be addressed by calling our call centre.
1435 Our call centre uses a sequence of steps in addressing those questions. If the customer service representative is unable to address the customer's questions, then the customer can contact the manager, and can talk to the manager.
1436 If the customer isn't satisfied, the customer can then talk to our customer relations manager, which is our advocates' office.
1437 If the customer is still not satisfied, we identify to the customer that, if the service is a forborne service, the CCTS can be contacted, and we give the information on how to contact the CCTS.
1438 If it is a regulated service, the contact is the CRTC, and we give the information on how to contact the CRTC.
1439 This sequence of information is provided in a number of ways to customers. In the introductory section of our directory White Pages, we have a full-page notice that identifies the sequence.
1440 And when the Commission approves forborne exchanges, we are required to provide a customer notification letter to customers, in wording that has been prescribed and approved by the Commission, and we also identify the sequence of steps.
1441 In addition to that, twice a year we provide a specific bill message, identifying the CCTS and the services it provides, and how to contact the CCTS.
1442 COMMISSIONER MORIN: This is the one I am talking about. Ms Suzanne Morin from Bell Canada, yesterday, read this message, which was, she suggested, approved by the CCTS.
1443 I am talking about this message, because what you are saying is that there are multiple steps for the consumer. It is not user friendly. But the message that has been suggested by the CCTS is a standardized message, with a standardized practice, and it is at the same place on every bill.
1444 That is my question.
1445 MR. MAKSIMOW: We believe that it is best for the company to try to address the situation with the customer as the first step, as opposed to the first step being for the customer to contact the CCTS or the CRTC.
1446 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I agree, but --
1447 Unfortunately, I don't have the message that Ms Morin read yesterday, but essentially there were two steps, one with the company and the other with the CCTS. So everybody knows that if they can't get the problem solved with the company, they can address it to the CCTS.
1448 MR. MAKSIMOW: We would have no objection to a universal and uniform message that would be put on a customer's bill.
1449 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
1450 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1451 I have a couple of questions.
1452 We heard from PIAC yesterday, saying that some TSPs take action against a customer during the complaint investigation stage. Do you?
1453 MR. MAKSIMOW: If you are referring to the example of a customer's account going into collection during the period of a dispute --
1454 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1455 MR. MAKSIMOW: -- the answer is no, we do not do that.
1456 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you do anything with regard to contacting a customer while the dispute has been referred to the CCTS?
1457 Or, once it goes to the CCTS, are all of your contacts between MTS Allstream and the CCTS?
1458 MR. MAKSIMOW: We do talk with the customer during the -- as part of the activities in addressing the customer complaint.
1459 THE CHAIRPERSON: Does the CCTS know of those activities?
1460 MR. MAKSIMOW: When we resolve the customer complaint, the information that is provided to both the customer and the CCTS is a brief summary as to what the resolution is, and that it is mutually acceptable to both parties.
1461 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you identify to the CCTS what the final resolve is, in terms of whether it is quantifiable financially or whether it is an apology, or whatever?
1462 MR. MAKSIMOW: Yes, we do.
1463 THE CHAIRPERSON: So they, in all cases, know, once a case has been brought to them, what the final resolve of that case is?
1464 MR. MAKSIMOW: Yes. We indicate both what the resolution is and that it is mutually acceptable to both parties.
1465 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1466 Is there any difference -- I know that you have had only a handful of complaints go through the process, but is there a difference between consumer complaints and small business complaints, or are they basically the same, and the issues are the same as well?
1467 MR. MAKSIMOW: We handle them the same way.
1468 THE CHAIRPERSON: You don't see any distinction between them, there is no difference at all?
1469 MR. MAKSIMOW: No.
1470 THE CHAIRPERSON: I want to come back to the issue of code development and your reaction to the SaskTel proposal that we use a CISC-like model.
1471 Do you have any views on that?
1472 MR. WHITE: Yes, we do, and I would like to put SaskTel's proposal into context. I believe this is from their July 12th comments, at paragraphs 7 and 8.
1473 I think that their proposal is sort of premised on their objection to the CCTS engaging in what SaskTel characterizes as creeping regulation, and then they go on to say: Should it be decided that the CCTS have this mandate, then it should adopt a CISC or a CISC-like process.
1474 We just want to keep that mind, that, I think, SaskTel is objecting to this in the first place. This is an alternative position that they are adopting.
1475 In terms of a CISC-like process, we don't see that as being an effective solution. We think that the CCTS has the potential. It has the institutional structure, it has the checks and balances in place to serve a useful, facilitative role.
1476 And the fact that, on the one occasion when the CCTS tried to develop a code and it wasn't successful, I don't think that should be used to conclude that it is not able to do so effectively in the future.
1477 THE CHAIRPERSON: What I thought I heard was the members of the CCTS saying that they wanted to be directly involved in the development of the code, rather than it being contracted out to a third party to develop and then presented to them.
1478 I guess my question is, why would you believe that there isn't value in you, as a member of the industry, being part of that consultation and development process yourselves, rather than leaving it to a third party to craft something and there it is.
1479 MR. WHITE: The third party being the CCTS in this?
1480 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but whether the CCTS relies on industry members or hires a consulting company to develop it, is presumably within their domain.
1481 MR. WHITE: That may be fine. It is just ultimately the governance of the CCTS in terms of what is required to adopt a code, which is the extraordinary resolution which takes two-thirds of independent directors and two-thirds of industry directors.
1482 That is designed to ensure that that a proper consensus is reached, and that's what we are saying, is that the institution is sound. The design is sound and it can serve the CCTS. It can serve a useful function.
1483 THE CHAIRPERSON: But in this one particular case it didn't, so the question is how do we actually move forward in this particular case. And what was put before us by SaskTel is, "Why don't you a CISC-like model" and if it does work then the question is, "Why wouldn't it be applicable to other code developments as well?"
1484 MR. WHITE: Well, I think in terms of this one example we need to look at what that example was, rather than necessarily criticize or critique the design of the CCTS. What happened there was -- it's Telecom regulatory policy 2009-424.
1485 It was decided that the industry or that the Commission asked the CCTS to develop streamlined procedures but instead, what happened was -- my understanding is that there was sort of an overreaching code that was even more onerous for disconnections and the posits that was in place already for regulated services and at the expense for industry and implementing this in terms of changing their billing systems would have been very onerous.
1486 And I think that goes to SaskTel's concern with creeping regulation -- the fact is or understanding is that industry wasn't involved. There wasn't enough consultation with industry on this code and the result was a code that the industry couldn't get behind.
1487 That's not to say however, that the CCTS can't, going forward and having this lesson learned, serve a good facilitative role, regardless of who they hire out to do this. As long as there is industry consultation we think the governance mechanisms in place are sufficient to ensure a proper product.
1488 THE CHAIRPERSON: You currently are not directly on the board of CCTS?
1489 MR. WHITE: Correct -- correct. We are represented by a large ILEC member.
1490 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So as I understand it, you would prefer for CCTS to go out and hire I don't know who -- Nordicity -- to develop a policy and then have it effective for you as well rather than you being at the table to develop an industry code with your direct input as it is being developed. Is that what I hear you saying?
1491 MR. WHITE: The key concern is that industry is involved in the development -- the consultation of a code.
1492 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you would rather it be done after the fact, after Nordicity or somebody else comes along and says "Here it is" and then you get an opportunity to criticize it rather than you being involved in the actual development of it as it develops itself.
1493 I'm just trying to understand why you would prefer one over the other.
1494 MR. WHITE: We would prefer industry involvement throughout the process so that the resulting code is not something that the industry views as over reaching and more onerous than standards in place or guidelines in place for regulated services.
1495 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. My last question, we heard yesterday that CCTS has done an awful lot and is developing an awful lot more capability to identify more detail in granularity with regard to the complaints that come in through what they are calling a case management system.
1496 Are you supportive of that initiative?
1497 MR. WHITE: We are supportive of that initiative. We are just -- there is a concern about -- not directed at CCTS, just generally speaking; that there is a good data integrity and that complaints aren't over-represented or misrepresented in any way such that contacts, the number of contacts that somehow interpret it as poor behaviour on the part of a TSP.
1498 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, that's part of the training, I would imagine.
1499 Okay. Those are my questions.
1500 I believe Commissioner Duncan has a follow-up question.
1501 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I have just one other question.
1502 Mr. White, you had mentioned about the only example that we had so far to deal with the extraordinary resolution was the disconnection to posit policy and that inability to develop a standard there.
1503 But I also understand that in 2008-27 the CRTC asked CCTS:
"...to track and monitor complaints with a view to whether further action was needed such as a development of an industry code with respect to credit management issues to improve the access to local services."
1504 And I just wonder if you would have a comment on that. I understood that that was another issue where the requirement for an extraordinary resolution might have interfered with the result of there being no result -- might have been the cause of that.
1505 MR. WHITE: I am not aware of that particular consultation and I'm not aware if the CCTS actually tabled any results in terms of identified a problem in the first place.
1506 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Perhaps we can follow up that then with CCTS.
1507 Thank you.
1508 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I appreciate you being here.
1509 Madam Secretary, let's move on to the next with us.
1510 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. I will now invite TELUS to take place.
1511 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear TELUS Communications Company. Appearing for TELUS is Ted Woodhead.
1512 Please introduce your colleagues, after which you will have 20 minutes.
1513 MR. WOODHEAD: Good morning Mr. Chairman and fellow Commissioners.
1514 My name is Ted Woodhead, Vice-President of Telecom Policy and Regulatory Affairs at TELUS. I would like to introduce two of my colleagues who will be assisting me today. On my right, Eric Edora is Director, Regulatory Affairs and on my left, Marten Burns, is Senior Regulatory Legal Counsel at TELUS.
1515 TELUS is pleased to participate in this proceeding. Three years ago, we supported the formation of the CCTS. TELUS provided legal and policy assistance during the development of CCTS' corporate governance documents and two of our team members were provisional directors of the organization. TELUS also provided operational support in the early days of CCTS, before fulltime staff was hired and we have continued to work collegially with CCTS staff.
1516 On that note, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work that has been accomplished to date by Ms. Gusella, the CCTS board, and by Commissioner Maker and the entire CCTS team.
1517 In our presentation this morning, we will address the questions posed by the Commission in this proceeding, and also offer some additional observations and insight about the operation of the CCTS, based on our past three years experience working with the organization.
1518 I would like to start by discussing TELUS' commitment to customer service. TELUS strives to provide optimum service to our customers so that customers are satisfied, and that complaints are kept to a minimum. We continue to listen to and respond to our customers' concerns and I would like to take a few moments to share with you some of these initiatives.
1519 A year ago this month, TELUS introduced "Clear and Simple Pricing" for wireless services and a new suite of Clear Choice plans with no system access or carrier 911 fees. These plans have improved pricing transparency. The price you see is what you pay.
1520 Most recently we have -- well, actually not most recently, but recently we have also introduced data notification alerts for wireless customers as they approach the limit of their data plans and, just today, we announced a program to revise early cancellation fees to make it easier for customers to upgrade their devices and change their contract terms.
1521 These new plans tie in with TELUS' "Customers First" objective which is all about delivering on our future friendly brand promise. Our goal is to do what we say we will do. We will do when we say we will do it and for the price we said we would do it for.
1522 TELUS' senior leaders and team members are aligned around customer experience as never before. Our CEO sends out a weekly report to the management team summarizing the complaints that have been escalated to his office. As you would expect, these issues must be resolved right away. And this is the standard right across the company. TELUS has empowered every team member to report and help resolve customer complaints.
1523 In this regard, we have also enhanced our customer contact experience. Our goal is to resolve problems and get it right the first time. Our internal performance measurements indicate that our customer's needs are being addressed more often on a single call.
1524 With initiatives like these that I have described, TELUS is focused on driving change in our industry. With increased transparency our customers know that we are listening to them, and dedicated to giving them a better, if not great experience.
1525 However, complaints do occur, and we try to resolve them with our three stage internal complaints handling procedures. Of course, there will be situations where such resolution does not occur, for many reasons. This is where the CCTS is important, because it provides customers with an independent agency that can handle claims in an objective and free manner.
1526 As a result, when a TELUS customer raises an issue with the CCTS, we get important feedback of what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.
1527 CCTS imposes a new internal discipline on front-line client care agents and helps empower TELUS team members to resolve matters at an early stage. The CCTS has played an important role to encourage TELUS to do a better job in resolving customer complaints.
1528 I will now provide specific comments on each of the issues that the customers raise or sorry, the Commission has raised in this proceeding starting with membership.
1529 The important role that the CCTS plays in overall customer service factors into the question of membership. If the goal is to enhance customer service throughout the industry, then all TSPs should be members of the CCTS. As a result, TELUS supports a mandatory membership model.
1530 TELUS supports the new funding mechanism, where TSPs pay according to both their share of telecom revenues, and their number of complaints. This new hybrid model is clearly more fair and appropriate than the original model.
1531 Every quarter, when we receive our CCTS bill, the portion of the invoice that states our share and number of complaints is a very real reminder to TELUS of how well we are doing. We know that our costs for CCTS are tied directly to the number of complaints that our customers raise.
1532 TELUS is satisfied that the CCTS Board will monitor the current funding mechanism and make any future recommendations that are appropriate.
1533 Governance and voting structure: The seven member board is made up of four independent directors, including two directors representing consumer groups, plus three directors representing the various industry members.
1534 On the issue of governance, we have considered the comments made by PIAC yesterday, and don't see any problems with the CCTS' governance structure. The industry holds no control over the Board, and in fact, provides critical knowledge about the workings of the industry for Board consideration.
1535 Independence is the guiding principle for the CCTS' design, and the current governance structure, as amended effective June 1, 2010, we believe strikes an appropriate balance.
1536 It is also important to recognize that the day-to-day operation of the CCTS, including the handling of all TSP complaints, is completely independent of the industry. The current structure ensures CCTS' independence in all aspects of its activities from the Board of Directors to the day-to-day complaints handling operations.
1537 And while provisions in CCTS Bylaw No. 1 elevate certain matters from a majority vote at the board level to special or extraordinary resolution votes at the voting member level, these are a narrow range of corporate governance and financial matters of fundamental importance, particularly to those who fund the work of the organization. These are also matters where a high level of concurrence is desirable.
1538 Mandate: The CCTS continues to evolve and TELUS is also in agreement with the recent changes, effective June 1, 2010, made to the CCTS' various governance agreements, including amendments to the CCTS Procedural Code. These changes included amendments to the scope of complaints, making it easier for all parties to know what is in scope and what is not, and changes to make the standard of review more transparent.
1539 We listened to the discussion yesterday wherein some suggested that the CCTS should be responsible for handling complaints relating to a wider range of services, such as those noted at the top of page 15 of CCTS' 2009-2010 Annual Report. It remains TELUS' position that it would not be appropriate for the CCTS to handle such complaints, as the CCTS is designed for non-regulated telecommunications services only.
1540 PIAC also suggested that the CCTS should also take on complaints about cable television and satellite services, noting the converged and bundled services that many TSPs now provide. Although there are legislative and procedural issues why television services are not within the CCTS' purview, TELUS would understand if the Commission wants to review this matter further.
1541 Claims Process: TELUS agrees that the new informal claims resolution process is working very well. The CCTS team is always very responsive to our inquiries and requests for clarification. The recent process changes (summarized in the memo to TSPs dated November 17, 2010) should help to improve the efficiency and timeliness of the complaints-handling process.
1542 TELUS appreciates the ability to work collegially with CCTS staff to suggest and make improvements to the claims administration process. We find that the lines of communication are always open and this is important as we all have the same goal to resolve customer complaints promptly.
1543 We also note the obligation to provide the CCTS with all the necessary documentation within 30 days, when we wish to demonstrate that a complaint is without merit or has been resolved. Sometimes, these information requests can become overly burdensome on TELUS' team members and can actually slow the process down. However, we understand that it is in TELUS' best interest to ensure that this documentation is provided at the pre-investigation level.
1544 Codes of Conduct: It is clear that any code of conduct or standard requires TSP support and input to succeed. The recent attempt to develop a code for deposits and disconnections provided some valuable lessons for all. This was a much more complicated matter than all anticipated, and the process did not have all of the necessary procedural safeguards embodied in a public proceeding.
1545 TELUS agrees that an industry code or standard, when needed, could evolve from a variety of processes such as through an industry body like the CWTA or through a CISC-led process.
1546 The CCTS' primary focus should continue to be handling customer complaints and its expertise, design and infrastructure are aimed at fulfilling this important purpose. The CCTS is not a policy-making body, nor does it have the institutional make-up to conduct proceedings that require input from multiple public stakeholders.
1547 It is our opinion that mandatory codes of conduct should be the matter of public consultations with the CRTC.
1548 Voluntary codes of conduct should be left for development by the industry itself. As an example, the CWTA introduced a wireless code of conduct last year. There are also examples of voluntary codes of conduct in broadcasting.
1549 The CCTS will continue to play an important role in the policy-making process, by providing statistical and root data, and identifying trends that may assist in developing policy. We agree that the new data management system, when implemented, will be very helpful in this regard.
1550 Remedies: When looking at the issue of remedies, the current $5,000 limit remains more than adequate to deal with customer complaints. In fact, of the twelve reported decisions on the CCTS website since 2008, only six cases involved an award of monetary compensation and all of these decisions involved an amount less than $1,100.
1551 Any higher limit on monetary compensation would require more procedural safeguards, similar to those found in the courts. Such safeguards would add procedural complexity to the CCTS and would undermine the goal of effective and expeditious complaints resolution.
1552 CCTS' public awareness and outreach campaigns: Recent improvements to the CCTS' website and implementation of the CCTS Public Awareness campaign have created easier accessibility to and awareness of the CCTS. And the reporting of complaints data has significantly improved as noted in the recent CCTS Annual Report.
1553 Contrary to comments made by PIAC yesterday, it is TELUS' experience that the public awareness campaign has been working well. Public awareness is an ongoing process and TELUS will continue to work with the CCTS in this regard.
1554 We are pleased that CCTS is undertaking changes to upgrade its internal tracking system. The availability of additional data will help the public and the TSPs to be able to further break down and analyze the data that is captured.
1555 TELUS is not aware of any accessibility issues involving our customers and their ability to contact the CCTS. We will continue to monitor these issues and will work with the CCTS in this regard.
1556 Finally, with respect to the question of future reviews, TELUS suggests that this occur in five years time.
1557 TELUS requests that the CCTS and its Board continue to examine ways to ensure that the CCTS is run both efficiently and also cost effectively. At the same time, it is TELUS' observation that the CCTS is in fact working well. There has been no evidence filed in writing or presented during this hearing that would indicate that the Commission needs to make any substantive changes to the CCTS.
1558 With that we would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
1559 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I will now ask Commissioner Duncan to lead the questions.
1560 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning.
1561 I have a few questions that I actually had prepared but also tie in with your remarks. I just wanted first of all to clarify the new policy that you mentioned that you were -- a consumer service policy that you were introducing today.
1562 Did I understand that you waived cancellation fees if people are upgrading. Is that what you said, sir?
1563 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes. The program operates such that, as you might anticipate with things like the iPhone, people in mid-contract often want to upgrade to a newer device. This has been a problem in the past and there were, you know, early cancellation fees that were associated with that. So a number of months' times contract term is your early cancellation fee.
1564 What this does is, it says if you -- it reduces those fees and allows you to get a new device and reset your contract going forward. So it strips out, in essence, elements other than -- of the cost other than the subsidy on the handset you received when you first signed up.
1565 So typically in wireless you get a zero dollar device if you sign up for a three-year contract.
1566 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: M'hmm.
1567 MR. WOODHEAD: What it does is, it simply says whatever the remaining part of the device subsidy that you have, that's what you will owe over the length of the new contract. It's spread out.
1568 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right. Thank you for that.
1569 Just with respect to the governance structure, I will just pickup on the question that I was asking MTS that they weren't aware of. I am just interested to know if you are familiar, that was -- with that -- it was Telecom Decision 2008-27 in which the Commission found that it would be appropriate for the CRTC to examine credit management issues related to improving access to local services.
1570 And the CRTC asked the CCTS to track and monitor complaints with a view to determining whether further action, such as the development of a code, was required. We have been unable to find any indication that that was addressed or how it was addressed. Are you aware of it?
1571 MR. WOODHEAD: No, we are not aware of it. And frankly, I thought that was the deposits issue, but...
1572 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: No, this is a different --
1573 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes, I am not aware of it then.
1574 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Not again, okay. All right, thank you.
1575 You are on the board or TELUS has --
1576 MR. WOODHEAD: No, we are not, we are represented by another ILEC.
1577 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you.
1578 I am also wondering, the scope of complaints and the discussion about whether the number of items that fall into scope should be broader. I understand your point that it is not appropriate to handle complaints that deal with a regulated environment.
1579 Are there complaints that could be included in the scope of complaints, but aren't, because we don't have the proper or adequate reporting? So we have, what was the number, 3,900 that fell in scope out of 14,000. So are there items in there that could conceivably fall into scope on the customer service are? It would seem likely there are.
1580 MR. WOODHEAD: Given what I heard yesterday from Mr. Maker, some of these items, because of issues around data management, they may well have been in scope. But our information is that a large number of these were either out of scope because they weren't services that fell even into telecom services categories or they were regulated services and the people were calling about regulated services.
1581 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So you don't have anymore information from the information you get that allows you to make any changes in your internal procedures or..?
1582 MR. WOODHEAD: No, Madam.
1583 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: No, okay.
1584 I went in on your website under Nova Scotia and I didn't see CCTS, and in a word search I put in "CCTS" and I also put in "complaints," and I didn't get CCTS. Am I doing that incorrectly or is there..?
1585 MR. WOODHEAD: Well, it is there. It is under about TELUS Public Policy, CCTS Consumer Info. But, I mean, I --
1586 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But in a word search, would I have to put all that in to get it?
1587 MR. BURNS: Like I say, Commissioner, is that there are some of our websites and platforms that we are upgrading. And I know if the searchability isn't there, we are certainly fixing that because we have a number of platforms across when you go and search. But you should be able to do it.
1588 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So it is something. Okay, thank you. You might have a chance, if you can do that on the Nova Scotia one, you just let me know.
1589 MR. WOODHEAD: Will do.
1590 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thanks.
1591 With respect to the limit for the complaints. And I take your point that there is no evidence that justifies increasing the level at this point. But when I read your written submission as well and you repeat the sentence here today, "Any higher limit would require more procedural safeguards similar to those found in Small Claims Court procedures." Is that a legal statement or is that just your opinion? Like, it could have been 7,500. Is there some --
1592 MR. WOODHEAD: I don't know what exactly the amount would be where this gets triggered. But as you increase the amount of monetary award, you should have more procedural safeguards in place in order to ensure that people's rights are maintained, everybody's rights are maintained.
1593 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But is it a legal requirement to do that are you suggesting or it is just a business practice?
1594 MR. WOODHEAD: I would suggest to you that if it reached a certain level there would be a legal requirement to do that.
1595 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But you are not saying 5,000 is that number for sure?
1596 MR. WOODHEAD: No.
1597 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you. With respect to future reviews, I notice that in the information that we have on the Australian circumstance, the TIO, that with all of their experience they have indicated that it is necessary for the continuation and effectiveness of the agency that membership be permanent, you know, determined mandatory and on a determinant basis. And I am just wondering, you are suggesting five years?
1598 MR. WOODHEAD: Five years to review the CCTS.
1599 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But not to review the membership? So you agree with mandatory membership on permanent --
1600 MR. WOODHEAD: Our position on this, and I listened carefully to Ms Malliff from MTS, our position on this is that this organization is for consumers, so we believe that it should have mandatory membership.
1601 And to address Ms Malliff's concern about SILECs, it would be mandatory membership for TSPs who have eligible revenues in these categories. And then in terms of the funding, which I think sort of goes hand in hand with that question, the $10 million in revenue for funding the organization. So for very small ones they should have to be members, you know, for administrative simplicity, so Mr. Maker's team doesn't have to chase every little tiny company.
1602 You know, the $10 million threshold is one that is known to the Commission and to the industry for funding, but everybody should have to be members.
1603 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay perfect, thank you. Perfect, that is, it is clear what you are saying.
1604 And I think you have probably covered in your remarks, Mr. Lawford said yesterday that he would be prepared to continue with the Board structure as it is if the extraordinary voting threshold requirement was changed. But I gather from your remarks, you think that it should be the way it is, remain the way it is?
1605 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes. I mean, a fundamental aspect of these -- I mean, there is a very narrow number of issues that require extraordinary resolution. That is the first point.
1606 My second point I guess would be that -- and most of the discussions seem to focus around codes here -- is that an important element of these codes, however you develop them, is that there be industry buy-in to this. And so it's unclear to me exactly. I mean, Mr. Lawford tried to -- in fairness, he tried to address some of that and it was not entirely clear to me what he was in fact suggesting there.
1607 But it is important, and that is the reason why these extraordinary resolutions are included in there. Because if the industry is going to have to have a code, the industry is going to have to develop and agree to it otherwise, to me, it is a bit of a fruitless exercise.
1608 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you. I don't think I have any more questions on that specifically.
1609 Did I understand you to say that you didn't agree necessarily that the SaskTel proposal was the answer for developing codes?
1610 MR. WOODHEAD: Using a CISC process?
1611 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
1612 MR. WOODHEAD: Actually, no, I think I said that that would be an option.
1613 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: An option.
1614 MR. WOODHEAD: And it addresses I think something I heard Vice-Chairman Katz say. I mean, in that it is not, I mean for all of the purists in the room, it is not supposed to deal with policy issues, it is meant for more technical interconnection type of things. But I mean, you know, I think that it could actually serve that function.
1615 Which goes also to the point, just in terms of you know the process flow there. So if you were to try and develop such a code, if one it was decided that one was necessary, you would do that through a CISC group. The industry and consumer groups and everybody, all stakeholders can participate. And then as you develop that, it would either come up to the Commission as a consensus item amongst all of the industry, which I would anticipate the Commission would say terrific, that is good, we approve of that, or it would go as a non-consensus item and then you would have to make a decision.
1616 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So would that have been a way to approach this disconnection and deposit one that didn't work --
1617 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes.
1618 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: -- that would have worked in that instance?
1619 MR. WOODHEAD: I think so, because -- and this is the important aspect. And I mean, because then everybody gets a chance to have their say and you have a record on which you can make the decisions that you make everyday, but in respect of those kinds of issues.
1620 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So that would have been perfectly adequate in that instance you are thinking?
1621 MR. WOODHEAD: I think so.
1622 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just with respect to the public awareness, you are obviously very pleased with what CCTS has accomplished to date. I am just wondering, the budget requires an extraordinary resolution, is it possible? I guess it would be possible, since the provision is there for it, that they wouldn't be able to undertake a consumer awareness plan that they might consider adequate, because it would be opposed because of costs?
1623 MR. WOODHEAD: I don't think we have faced that situation yet. I mean, the board -- you know, the Commissioner and his team would develop a budget and take it to the board and I am sorry, but I am not aware that that has ever been an issue at this point.
1624 I would note that in terms of public awareness, obviously we have had a lot of discussions around short information messages on bills and so on and so forth. We have also had references to PSAs which incidentally the CWTA has used in the past to -- I think it is more arguable, that it is more efficacious to use maybe some of those in terms of alerting people.
1625 Certainly TELUS's position is that this organization needs a reasonable amount of budget for public awareness. We think that the board has been amenable to considering that and we certainly wouldn't resist it.
1626 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: What are you intending to do on an ongoing basis as far as promoting the existence of CCTS? Are you able to promote it more than twice a year, for example, or..?
1627 MR. WOODHEAD: We currently do promote it twice a year. The two months that we chose to promote it are the ones that we believed mostly like were to get the least amount of clutter in terms of in front of the customer because of other messages and things that go on.
1628 So we chose I believe April and November as those months. I believe Ms Morin spoke to their e-bill, it's front page on the e-bill. Just to go back to our paper bill, where it appears is I believe where my friend Mr. Lawford suggested, which is total bill, bingo, right there, if you have a problem with this, contact us, if you don't get resolution, talk to the CCTS.
1629 We also of course -- it is included in the important pages, what I call the important pages of the white pages and where there are no white pages in the yellow-page directory.
1630 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you very much. Those are my questions.
1631 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1632 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1633 Commissioner Patrone.
1634 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
1635 I have a couple of questions. The first one on the issue of scope and mandate. On page 6 of your oral presentation you talk about the fact that PIAC suggested that the CCTS should also take on complaints about cable and television, satellite services. Then you went on to say that TELUS would understand if the Commission wants to review this matter further.
1636 I am trying to interpret your level of support around that. Obviously, there is a level of ambivalence.
1637 MR. WOODHEAD: I don't have really any support for it. I was trying to anticipate that perhaps people were interested in looking at that in the sense that, you know, I think maybe what Mr. Lawford was referring to in those complaints that were out of scope, there is probably lots of them that are about cable services, satellite services. Do you need to do it? I don't think you need to do it, but if you wanted to do it, you could explore ways of doing it. But our position isn't to, you know...
1638 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Advocate it?
1639 MR. WOODHEAD: No.
1640 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Or offer much in the way of opposition? I mean --
1641 R. WOODHEAD: Yes, I am frankly neither here nor there on it.
1642 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay, because that speaks to what would have been my next question which is, assuming that the Commission went in that direction, would there be any level of support towards increasing the level of financial support that would logically flow from an increased or larger mandate?
1643 MR. WOODHEAD: I mean, I think the more important question -- I mean, you know, we will support what we have to support. But I mean, I think actually the more important question and one that would probably be best addressed to Mr. Maker is the reason not to do this for a variety of reasons at this point is organization is still in its early stages, it is trying to find its sea legs in a range of issues that it has in front of it right now.
1644 So is that the right time to engage in something like this? Probably not. I think it is more of an operational question than a funding question.
1645 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So work on what you are doing before you move onto something else and..?
1646 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes, absolutely. And Mr. Lawford raised, and I believe there were questions from various Commissioners yesterday about TIO in Australia. And I got the sense that people threw out this number that there is a quarter of million complaints that TIO deals with and, you know, somehow something, given the disparity and number of complaints, that something must be wrong.
1647 Let's remember that TIO is 18 years old. TIO's complaints were a fifth of what they are today like eight years ago. TIO deals with, in addition to the things that this organization deals with, it deals with terminal equipment, phone sets, that doesn't happen here. Telemarketing, that is a different kettle of fish. Security services doesn't deal with that, we don't deal with that. Internet applications, internet content, privacy, false and misleading advertising.
1648 If you take that list, in addition to the fact that that organization has been around for 18 years, it is not surprising that they have 250,000 complaints. But those complaints in Canada go elsewhere, to you or to the Competition Bureau or to other people.
1649 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And Mr. Lawford also raised the issues of complaints issues versus complaints, and the capacity of the Australian body to consider issues that might not qualify as official complaints, and yet would be logged, tabulated for the purpose of gauging overall levels of customer satisfaction relative to the services they were receiving. So complaints would come in and this matter would qualify as a complaint. This other matter might qualify as an issue. But all of that gets tabulated.
1650 MR. WOODHEAD: Right.
1651 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You spoke a little bit about the gathering of data. I was under the impression that you didn't oppose the idea of an increased level of collating and gathering data. Was I right to interpret your comments that way?
1652 MR. WOODHEAD: As far as I knew, I didn't speak to it directly. But I guess, given your question, again my concern about -- first off, I did actually go and look at what TIO was doing last evening. And to be frank with you, this complaint issue thing is a bit confusing to me. But I think I understand -- I think you articulated it as I understand it, that the core issue that would be subject matter of a complaint is certainly there. And then there's other issues that are not judiciable or whatever.
1653 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: As I understood PIAC's comments.
1654 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes, and as I did as well. My concern there I think, if I had any, would be around again operational. Having in the past done some of this kind of stuff myself, when you are sitting, listening to customer complaints, just the actual filling out of the field or form or whatever can become a bit onerous. So that would be my one question. I mean I am not, in principle, opposed to it.
1655 You know, at the end of the day if it was operationally feasible to do it I guess what you would end up with is a report that says these are the things that were within our scope that we can resolve. And then there's a bunch of other stuff that shows dissatisfaction or disgruntlement that aren't within our scope, to what end.
1656 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes. Are you saying, were that to happen, that this could essentially become a sounding board for, lack of a better word, whining?
1657 MR. WOODHEAD: Well, I don't know that it is whining. I mean, people may have legitimate other disputes with the various companies that don't fall within the scope. So having tabulated all of that, is it interesting information? Probably.
1658 Is it worthwhile information for actually doing something? No, because it is out of scope. And frankly, I can assure you that customers -- you were mentioning market forces yesterday -- customers will punish us for those ones whether they are in scope or not, they will discipline us.
1659 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Presumably, it would cost more to do all that because --
1660 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes, it is more time consuming.
1661 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And hence, that burden would fall onto the industry once again as far as taking on the added responsibility of listening to, collating and presumably processing this data into some kind of document or record.
1662 MR. WOODHEAD: I agree. But particularly for my friends back here --
1663 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You have a lot of friends back there.
1664 MR. WOODHEAD: -- the CCTS folks, I mean, again I would just reiterate like they are up and running, they have had a rather limited experience, they are doing a fantastic job, they are focusing on the things that they are supposed to focus on by the procedural code.
1665 And again, I mean, in principal I don't have a problem with that, of this other type of complaints. But if it resulted in them having to take their eye off the ball on the things that I think they are delivering services to consumers for today, I am not sure that it is worth it.
1666 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Second question or group of questions is on the matter of codes, which you just raised, and the suggestion that there be an industry buy-in to any changes or alterations that are made vis à vis a code. Did I hear you correctly?
1667 MR. WOODHEAD: That is right.
1668 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: What is the likelihood that industry would agree to any code that demanded a level of customer service or customer service standards that they currently do not meet and would demand a level of investment that they are currently not making?
1669 So in other words, if an industry buy-in is required to any code changes, I mean couldn't they simply veto anything that came along that they felt would mean that they would have to change their processes and hence spend money in so doing?
1670 MR. WOODHEAD: Well, under the current regime, you know, one of the industry directors cannot like it and that's not a veto. You know, I guess the point is beyond that though, sir, the point is that we can look at examples of codes that deal with things like customer service, we can look at things that perhaps aren't considered technically codes but that were developed in CISC that deal with customer service and quality of service type things and we can see that the industry, sometimes with prodding sometimes without, has developed those. They have done it in wireless, we have done it in a whole host of things through CISC dealing with wireless and wireline and a variety of other things and it's happened completely organically in certain broadcasting scenarios.
1671 So to directly answer your question, is the industry going to like spending money on customer service enhancements that somebody else thinks is important but our market doesn't tell us is important, probably not, but the market is a pretty powerful tool and, you know, we have to invest -- these kinds of programs that I was talking about today where we rejig all of our billing systems, where we rejig all of our pricing plans, where we do this and that and the other thing, these are all costly initiatives to us.
1672 Do we like spending money on things that we don't have to; no. But when the market tells us that, you know, people don't want to be locked into these contracts with a the three-year-old device, and if we don't fix it they are going to go somewhere else, we fix it.
1673 So I guess at the end of the day I think all of this is possible given the right procedure for doing it, and if it's going to be imposed on us it has to be imposed on us with process.
1674 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes. Market dictates are one thing and I appreciate that, the dictates of a body like the CCTS may reflect the market or may not depending on what the members -- industry representatives on this body feel, if you know what I'm saying. In other words, are they necessarily one and the same.
1675 MR. EDORA: Commissioner Patrone, I think it's important to distinguish between voluntary codes that industry might come together and put forward into the marketplace because we see customer need and mandatory codes that are imposed upon industry.
1676 I think what we have said is for voluntary codes there are many examples of those types of things, for example the CWTA code of conduct that Ted has just mentioned, but as well we are told to do lots of things by our regulator and by law and by rule and so what we are saying is if we are going to be mandated to follow a code, we just want input into that public process so that our industry views are known, as well as the public customer needs are known, and then if a code still needs to be imposed upon us then that should come from the CRTC.
1677 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: When you say you want input, would you extend that further and say you would want some kind of industry -- and I will use the term veto and it may not be right within the context of the voting organization at play here, but essentially that's what it is. When I'm saying "industry" I don't mean just TELUS --
1678 MR. EDORA: Right.
1679 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- I'm talking about the group of companies that would have presumably a level of agreement around the imposition of certain codes.
1680 MR. EDORA: Right. And the question is an excellent one.
1681 That way the CCTS is designed at present, it's an extraordinary resolution that's required for a code. And we have heard from different parties about whether the CCTS is designed for and whether the CCTS is the right place for that.
1682 What our position is, the proper place is for the CRTC, in which case the industry has no veto over the CRTC. The CRTC, if they tell us to impose something, we will do it.
1683 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: That's good to know.
1684 Thank you very much.
1685 MR. WOODHEAD: We would like a veto.
1686 MR. BURNS: We are not always sure, but....
1687 MR. EDORA: My only other last point was on codes, and I don't want to be to sort of doctrinaire about this, but each and every one of these companies sitting behind you has a code of course, it's their terms of service and it lays out all of these various things, and even our non-regulated terms of service were approved by the CRTC.
1688 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you very much.
1689 Mr. Chairman...?
1690 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1691 Commissioner Morin...?
1692 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair, and good morning.
1693 This morning I came back with the public awareness and this small box that has been suggested by Mr. Lawford yesterday, a standardized notice on every consumer bill and at the same place approximately for the first page -- in the first page.
1694 This morning MTS Allstream said they will agree; yesterday Bell said that they are already doing it twice a year on the first page of their electronic bill; you said the same thing, if I understand right, this morning.
1695 So my question is about this message. May I repeat what was said yesterday:
"Do you have a complaint regarding your telecommunications services? If so, call us..."
1696 And you have the phone number.
"If we can't resolve your complaint, the independent Commission for Complaints for Telecommunications Services, CCTS, may be able to assist you."
1697 So in this box, little box on the front page, the Website address of the CCTS is there, as is the phone number.
1698 My question of course is that this small box, the practice will be standarized on each consumer bill, paper or electronic, 12 months a year, it will be transparent, user-friendly, neutral -- because in my mind it's very important for all the stakeholders, because now we know that the costs for CCTS are tied directly with the number of complaints, so it's important that every consumer can get the message, but the company won't be penalized because it put the message -- for instance I looked at the website this morning, some it is on the front page, the other ones later in the text, and so on.
1699 So the ultimate test for the public awareness is that the consumer will be very informed and if he has some complaints or some information to ask for he will have it right on the front page. So my question is: Will you agree to such a notice, a standard notice on the front page of your paper or electronic bill?
1700 MR. WOODHEAD: Okay.
1701 First off, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think MTS actually agreed. They agreed with standard wording, I don't think they agreed to put it on their bill every for every month.
1702 But putting that aside, I'm here to represent TELUS.
1703 No, we don't agree with that and there are two reasons, sir, why we don't. One is an assumption that this short information message on the bill is the best and only method for informing the public. I think there are other ways of doing that. I think there are PSAs and there are other methods that the CCTS can engage in to do that. That's my first point.
1704 My second point, Commissioner, is that not all carriers have the same capabilities to generate SIMs on bills. They have different abilities in terms of the limited amount of characters that can go in that field. Some of them don't have the ability to generate short information messages at all because their billing and invoicing system does not provide that functionality.
1705 The last point that I guess I would make -- and I think I said two, but I actually have three -- my last one is cost.
1706 This is not a costless exercise. There are things that go into those fields. We, like the others, put them in twice a year. And I understand your passion on this issue, but those things are used for other regulatory messages as well occasionally during the year and they are used for various promotional things of the company.
1707 I know it may seem very peculiar, but as I have gotten more experienced into the arcane world of billing systems, to actually create a new set of fields, which we would have to do if this was dedicated to the CCTS on every bill, as you suggest, would probably cost us in the millions of dollars to come up with a new set of fields for other types of messages that we, in our business interests, want to also provide customers with.
1708 Those are my three issues with it, sir.
1709 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But you will have the capability to do it?
1710 MR. WOODHEAD: We have the capability currently to do that message on each bill, to the exclusion of every other message that we might want to provide.
1711 I guess my point would be -- and I understand exactly what you are saying, Commissioner, but rather than sort of take that kind of action, wouldn't we be better off to examine other alternative ways that the awareness campaign can be achieved, that may be at least as effective?
1712 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But we understood yesterday by the testimony of the CCTS that when the stakeholders put some inserts in their bills it was the most effective tool to get complaints and already -- it's not a target, but already the number of complaints is quite low in comparison with the Australian TIO.
1713 I'm not sure that the Canadian consumers can't complain, because as far as the telemarketing is concerned, we, the CRTC, the numbers haven't been published yet, but it's a very, very huge number, very -- no comparison with the numbers we are talking here. So the Canadians, when they are aware -- and we had a lot of publicity about the telemarketing and the Canadian consumers are very fond to complain about the service.
1714 So the first test in my mind is to have a user-friendly tool to get the message where to complain. If it's twice a year, when I have to complain it won't be the months that you said a few minutes ago, perhaps it will be in January, perhaps it will be in October, so I have to "Oh, is there someplace?"
1715 So that's what I'm raising, this issue.
1716 MR. WOODHEAD: No, and I understand completely.
1717 I guess again I come back to what I believe is an assumption, that the best place to access that information is in a SIM on a bill. I'm not sure that's correct and, frankly, the public service announcement method is one that should be explored. It's cost effective, it doesn't disrupt the other activities of the providers, even when those providers can include SIMs on their bills.
1718 As I said, some providers probably can't do SIMs on their bills.
1719 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Woodhead, for my ignorance, would you tell me what a SIM is?
1720 MR. WOODHEAD: Short information message, sorry.
1721 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you.
1722 MR. WOODHEAD: But I take your point, sir.
1723 And we do agree that the CCTS should have a properly funded public outreach campaign, we do believe that the industry has a role to play in doing that, I guess where I'm disagreeing is that I don't know that these short messages on each bill, to the exclusion of other messages --
1724 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I won't say that, it's just the first step, the short message.
1725 MR. WOODHEAD: Right. But other messages that go in those fields cannot physically go in those fields when the message you are speaking about is in there. No other message can go on that bill unless we build another field for it to go.
1726 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes, of course.
1727 MR. WOODHEAD: Which is quite costly to do.
1728 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes. But my point is about the standardized practice and the standard message, standard notification on the first page as the only consumer Association has suggested.
1729 Thank you very much.
1730 MR. WOODHEAD: Fair enough.
1731 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Those are my questions.
1732 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Menzies...?
1733 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. I will try to make it quick.
1734 When you do your service, because it was raised with PIAC in terms of language issues, how many languages do you offer a customer if they call?
1735 MR. WOODHEAD: Well, we obviously offer services in English and French, but we also have Web pages and capabilities in a variety of Asian languages as well.
1736 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thanks.
1737 This is probably not something we are going to solve this week, but I just want your view on this. The CCTS just works for forborne markets right now, but it seems to me -- I tried to take a consumer approach and I kind of Googled "consumer complaints telephone Canada" and the first thing I get is the CRTC website which tells me I have two options, I can find my name on their list or your list or that sort of stuff and it seems not the most consumer-friendly experience to have two options of where to go when you're -- I don't think the average person on the street knows whether they are forborne or not forborne.
1738 So some of these things make sense to everybody in this room, but to the consumer it may make absolutely no sense whatsoever.
1739 MR. WOODHEAD: Fair enough.
1740 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So wouldn't it make sense down the road to have a single agency dealing with all telephone consumer complaints?
1741 MR. WOODHEAD: I can't disagree with that.
1742 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
1743 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I have actually two questions.
1744 On page 6 of your remarks under "Claims Process" you referred to "the new informal claims resolution process that's working well."
1745 Is that the pre-investigation phase that we talked about yesterday with CCTS?
1746 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes. We can provide this for you if you don't already have it, but it's the memo that came from the CCTS on the 17th of November and it engages two separate things.
1747 I can ask Marten to speak to this, but they are attempting a pilot project on informal, so just trying to do things more using the telephone as opposed to filling out forms and that kind of thing, much like the Part VI process at the CRTC, if a customer calls in. It doesn't necessarily have to be a written filing, it can be done orally. That was number one.
1748 And number two, on this new process they have asked the carriers to provide more information upfront on each complaint. So if you were going to rely on your terms of service give them to us, that kind of thing. Give us all of the information envelope that you can so that we can do things quicker. That's what this is about.
1749 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I guess we can take it up with the CCTS tomorrow in their final response, but personally something that's more informal that doesn't have a record and the ability to measure to me is counterproductive to the reason the consumer agency is there in the first place.
1750 I mean if the carriers, the TSPs can't handle the issue themselves and it gets moved over, then I think there needs to be some accountability. And if it's simply a matter of trying to shave dollars here so that there doesn't need to be as formal and rigorous a process, it also means you lose on the back end the ability to report and measure as well.
1751 So we can get into that tomorrow, I would imagine, with the folks from the CCTS.
1752 My second question is a clarification I guess I need from you.
1753 On page 7 you take a formal position on the mandatory codes of conduct and you say:
"It should be a matter of public consultation with the CRTC..." (As read)
1754 Yet when I read the Order in Council it clearly says -- and I will read:
"Whereas the Governor in Council considers the mandate of an effective consumer agency should include the development or approval of related industry codes of conduct and standards..." (As read)
1755 If we were to take your approach, how would we rationalize and position that in light of the order that came out from the government?
1756 MR. WOODHEAD: The operative word is "or".
1757 Perhaps the CCTS develops a code or perhaps, you know, it doesn't, but I don't see that in any way ousts your jurisdiction to set in place processes or to approve a code of conduct.
1758 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you are saying we can just ignore the fact that the Governor in Council has asked that the consumer agency develop or approve and simply have a separate process by the CRTC to run in parallel that would he different than what has been required here?
1759 MR. WOODHEAD: Yes.
1760 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you think that would not be in contravention of the order?
1761 MR. WOODHEAD: No.
1762 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1763 Commissioner Duncan, do you have a follow-up question? I think we are going to call you Colombo pretty soon
1764 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. Sorry about that.
1765 I just wanted to acknowledge that Ms Millay did find the mention on the Nova Scotia site and the only thing I would point out is that when I went in under "TELUS.com" and just Googled the word it didn't come up.
1766 But at any rate, it is there, as you said.
1767 MR. WOODHEAD: We will look into it.
1768 As Marten indicated, we are rolling out the searchability function and unfortunately it appears --
1769 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But it is there on the Nova Scotia site, as you say.
1770 Thank you.
1771 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
1772 That concludes this phase.
1773 We will take a 15-minute break and come back with the cable group and conclude them before lunch, whenever that may be.
1774 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1058
--- Upon resuming at 1117
1775 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Chairman, we will now hear the presentation of Cogeco Cable Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., Quebecor Media Inc. on behalf of Vidéotron Limited, and Shaw Communications Inc. -- jointly, the Cable Carriers.
1776 Please introduce yourselves, after which you will have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1777 MR. ENGELHART: Thank you.
1778 Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Commission Staff, my name is Ken Engelhart and I am the Senior Vice-President of Regulatory for Rogers Communications.
1779 With me is Alexander Adeyinka, Senior Regulatory Counsel. Also, behind me is David Watt from Rogers.
1780 Representing the other Cable Carriers on the panel today are: Patrick Désy, Senior Analyst, Regulatory Affairs, Telecommunications, for Quebecor Media; Michel Messier, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Telecommunications, for Cogeco Cable; Jean Brazeau, Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs for Shaw Communications, and Esther Snow from Shaw is behind Jean.
1781 The Cable Carriers provide telecommunications services to more than 5 million customers. Many of the Cable Carriers were founding members of the CCTS and have participated fully in its activities since inception.
1782 The Commission asked questions on four specific subjects, all of which we will address in our remarks.
1783 Our submission can be summed up as follows:
1784 One, there is no need for mandatory membership in the CCTS, but we are prepared to commit to another three-year term.
1785 Two, there is no evidence to support allegations that the agency's autonomy or effectiveness is impaired by the current governance and voting structure.
1786 Three, the CCTS should initiate and approve industry codes only where there is a broad consensus among the members of the Board of Directors.
1787 And, four, no changes to the CCTS current remedial powers and measures are necessary. Consumers are using the services of the CCTS in significant numbers.
1788 It is important at the outset to consider why the CCTS was created in a deregulated telecommunications market. The Order in Council that established the CCTS stated that the agency would resolve complaints between customers and their telecom service providers, and that it would operate as an integral component of a deregulated telecommunications market.
1789 The CCTS was established neither as a new regulatory agency, nor as a replacement for existing judicial processes and institutions.
1790 The CCTS' purpose is to operate, in effect, as an ombudsman, to assist consumers in obtaining the timely resolution of disputes arising in the competitive market with their service providers. It was not intended that the agency would create new regulations to replace contractual arrangements between service providers and consumers.
1791 The Cable Carriers submit that the CCTS has been effective in achieving its purpose. The 2010 Annual Report states that over 90 TSPs are now part of the organization. These members provide telecom services to the vast majority of Canadians.
1792 Furthermore, the industry and the CCTS have employed a variety of tools to stimulate consumer awareness and utilization. Evidence suggests that these tools have been successful.
1793 For example, the TSPs' billing inserts coincided with large spikes in consumer contacts with the CCTS call centre, and are largely responsible for the 150 percent increase in public contacts for the most recent fiscal year. The number of complaints accepted also increased by 16 percent, while the number of complaints handled increased by 17 percent.
1794 The vast majority of these complaints were resolved without ever reaching the formal recommendation or decision stages.
1795 The CCTS is working well.
1796 When the Commission set the current mandatory term in 2008, it expected that after a few years consumer awareness and utilization of the CCTS would increase to a level where market forces could be relied upon to ensure and maintain adequate membership. As just discussed, solid progress has been made in this regard. Indeed, it is our view that awareness is now at such a level that mandatory membership may no longer be required.
1797 That being said, the Cable Carriers remain committed to the CCTS, and will continue membership for another three years. We believe, however, that by the end of those three years, any doubt about the sufficiency of market forces to maintain adequate membership levels will have dissipated, and TSPs should be free to join or remain members of the CCTS.
1798 We also urge the Commission to consider implementing our proposal for a CCTS Seal of Membership. Use of the seal by members would provide a greater value to membership in the CCTS.
1800 MR. DÉSY: Thank you, Ken.
1801 Madame la Commissaire, Messieurs les Commissaires.
1802 Les câblodistributeurs sont en désaccord avec la proposition de PIAC d'accroître le nombre de représentants des groupes de consommateurs siégeant au Conseil d'administration. Nous faisons, toutefois, remarquer que PIAC semble avoir renoncé à cette demande hier.
1803 Nous sommes, par contre, en désaccord avec la proposition de supprimer toute exigence particulière relative à l'adoption de résolutions spéciales.
1804 Du point de vue des câblodistributeurs, la structure actuellement en place quant à la gouvernance et aux droits de vote est parfaitement appropriée pour une agence de type ombudsman dont la mission est de résoudre de manière tant indépendante qu'impartiale les disputes entre fournisseurs de services et consommateurs. Il n'existe aucune preuve selon laquelle l'actuelle structure de gouvernance et des droits de vote permet aux fournisseurs de services d'avoir un quelconque contrôle sur le CPRST.
1805 La vaste majorité des fonctions du Conseil d'administration sont sujettes à un vote à majorité simple. Seul un nombre très limité de questions de gouvernance ou de nature financière nécessitent l'emploi de résolutions de nature spéciale ou extraordinaire.
1806 Les câblodistributeurs sont d'avis que les questions exigeant l'adoption par le Conseil d'administration du CPRST de résolutions spéciales ou extraordinaires sont similaires en poids et en importance aux questions nécessitant l'adoption de résolutions spéciales au sein de la plupart des autres structures de gouvernance.
1807 D'un point de vue opérationnel, le CPRST est dirigé par un commissaire indépendant ayant été nommé par un comité constitué exclusivement d'administrateurs indépendants.
1808 Qui plus est, les règlements généraux interdisent au Conseil d'administration ou à tout membre de participer ou d'interférer quant aux dispositions prises par le commissaire à l'égard des plaintes. Une telle interdiction garantit l'autonomie complète du commissaire lorsqu'il mène ses enquêtes ou rend une décision dans le cadre de disputes entre fournisseurs de services et consommateurs.
1809 Les câblodistributeurs considèrent que le CPRST s'acquitte effectivement de son mandat actuel. Nous croyons cependant que le rôle du CPRST concernant l'élaboration de codes et de normes applicables à l'industrie devrait être clarifié.
1810 Tel que nous l'avons souligné plus tôt, le Décret en Conseil a ordonné la création d'une agence dont le rôle serait complémentaire aux forces du marché, et non pas son substitut.
1811 Compte tenu de l'expérience du CPRST concernant la résolution de litige de consommation, les câblodistributeurs sont d'avis que celui-ci peut avoir un rôle utile dans le développement de codes de conduite. Le CPRST ne devrait cependant initier et approuver ces codes que dans la mesure où de tels codes font l'objet d'un large consensus parmi les membres du Conseil d'administration.
1812 Vouloir imposer des codes de conduite ou des normes de l'industrie sans l'acquiescement ferme tant des fournisseurs de services que des consommateurs revient à donner au CPRST un rôle de régulateur. Ce n'est pas le rôle du CPRST.
1813 Une fois le code développé de manière consensuelle, il sera utilisé dans la résolution de litiges de consommation. Nous soulignons d'ailleurs que c'est cette approche qui a été prise lorsque l'ACTS a développé son code de protection des consommateurs.
1815 MR. ENGELHART: There is ample evidence that the remedies currently available to the CCTS are adequate and effective. While year-over-year complaint volumes have grown substantially, the number of complaints that reach CCTS' formal recommendation or decision stage has remained small.
1816 For example, of the 3,522 complaints processed in 2009-10, 65 percent were resolved between the parties prior to even reaching the investigation stage, and over 66 percent of those complaints that reached the investigation stage were informally resolved to the satisfaction of the customer. Of the very few complaints that made it to the recommendation stage, 82 percent were accepted by both parties, while only 18 percent required a formal decision.
1817 The CCTS remarked in its Annual Report that:
"This rate of acceptance of our recommendations shows that consumers and providers respect the fairness and independence of the process and the outcomes."
1818 The Cable Carriers oppose PIAC's suggestion that the CCTS be empowered to award damages for what it describes as "poor treatment", which PIAC describes as long hold periods, being passed to other customer service representatives, hang-ups and rudeness.
1819 Section 12.2(a) of the CCTS Procedural Code empowers the CCTS to award damages for inconvenience incurred by the customer arising directly from the circumstances of the complaint.
1820 Thus, for example, where a customer is left without service for two weeks, the CCTS may award monetary recompense for the inconvenience, pursuant to section 12.2(a).
1821 In contrast, the claims listed by PIAC under the heading of "poor treatment" are not direct damages. As the Commission correctly ruled in Decision 2008-46, to engage in the adjudication of such claims would run counter to the central purpose of the CCTS, namely, to provide consumers with an expeditious and economic alternative for resolution of their complaints.
1822 We also disagree with PIAC's request that where the CCTS has taken numerous complaints about a particular issue that are all identical in material details, the CCTS should be able to order the TSP to offer the same remedy to all affected customers, not only to those that complain.
1823 The CCTS is neither a court nor a regulator. Its role is to resolve eligible complaints between service providers and specific customers who applied before it.
1824 The Cable Carriers note further that PIAC has requested an increase in the limit of monetary awards. PIAC claims that an increase is justified because of the increasingly large bills for roaming fees, data use charges and mobile premium services. We view PIAC's concern as relating primarily to billing errors and point out that the limit on monetary awards does not apply to billing errors.
1825 In conclusion, the Cable Carriers submit that mandatory membership is no longer necessary. We, nevertheless, are prepared to commit to membership for the next three years, following which we believe that market forces will ensure that the CCTS will be used, so long as it provides a valuable service.
1826 No changes are required to the CCTS governance, voting structure, powers or remedies. All evidence suggests that the CCTS is working as intended. It is resolving disputes in an independent and professional manner, to the satisfaction of both consumers and their service providers.
1827 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1828 I would ask Commissioner Denton to lead the questioning.
1829 COMMISSIONER DENTON: Good morning, gentlemen. This is very unfair of me, but I would like to refer to the Order in Council establishing the organization.
1830 As I read the "whereases" in the Order in Council of May 26, 2007, the one thing I don't see provided for is a termination date of participation. It seems, on what I would hope is a fair reading of its wording, that it was contemplated that this agency, the CCTS, might have a perpetual future. The point that you raise, of course, by necessary implication, is that it might not, and it might not by the fact that membership is voluntary, or should be voluntary, and that at some point you might depart, whether in three or five years.
1831 So, please discuss. How are we to reconcile these two ideas?
1832 MR. ENGELHART: I am not sure that I am going to say anything much more interesting than your question, which really lays it out.
1833 I think the Cabinet did intend that it would be permanent. I don't think that the Telecommunications Act gives either the Cabinet or the Commission the power to make membership in the CCTS mandatory. The government has not used the intervening years to make it mandatory. The Commission has indicated that at some point it thought market forces could take over.
1834 So we have one of those sorts of curious things where the legislation really doesn't seem to allow for the creation of a mandatory CCTS, and yet, being good Canadians, we are all here cheerfully participating in it, and all feeling pretty good about it.
1835 I think you are probably right that in the Order in Council they had contemplated that it would keep going, but I think the legislative scheme speaks more loudly, and it does not call for a mandatory -- I don't think that it gives you the jurisdiction to make membership mandatory, so making it voluntary would seem, to me, consistent with your jurisdiction, if not with the Order in Council that you read from.
1836 COMMISSIONER DENTON: So, then, down to the more specific question of three years or five, you will have noted that other participants seem to be ready to give this five more years, or a review in five years' time, which implies continuance of their membership for that period.
1837 Why three, not five?
1838 MR. ENGELHART: We all got instructions to commit to three more years. I suppose that we could seek instructions to keep going for five more years.
1839 I can't speak for the other companies here, but if the CCTS kept doing what it is doing now, I can't anticipate Rogers leaving in four or five years. If it became radicalized and started doing strange things, then that answer might be different.
1840 COMMISSIONER DENTON: Yes, I understand that one.
1841 Does anyone wish to comment on that?
1842 MR. BRAZEAU: Just to add that, although we are suggesting three more years, this is also based on the three previous years of experience that we have had with the agency. So that will have given us a total of six years, and I think by then we should have enough information and the market should have been, in our minds, sufficiently competitive to make a decision as to whether membership in the agency needs to be mandatory.
1843 COMMISSIONER DENTON: This may be an issue that the CCTS will want to take up in their reply period, but they are in the process of developing a management information system that may, in the course of time, be able to resolve some of these matters more factually than we can today.
1844 They indicated that the management information system is not going to be ready for another two years, which would suggest that, in three years' time, we will only have had one year of comprehensive information.
1845 Does that suffice as a reason to commit to maintaining your membership in the CCTS for a longer period?
1846 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think that's the key issue. I think the key issue is to what extent do customers see this as a useful service.
1847 I think that customers today, you know, they want it all, because it's a competitive marketplace and that has put the customers in charge, and part of wanting it all is that, at the end of a dispute process with the company, they would like an independent person to rule on the issue.
1848 So I think that service providers that are concerned with having a high level of customer service are going to want to have an independent agency like the CCTS.
1849 I think, to date, the CCTS is providing that function, and providing it at a reasonable value. As long as that value proposition continues, I think that most carriers will stay as members.
1850 COMMISSIONER DENTON: Mr. Chairman, I don't have other points of inquiry into their proposals. I thought that, like most of them so far today, they were extremely clear and I don't have further questions. Thank you.
1851 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1852 Commissioner Menzies...
1853 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I just want to follow up on Commissioner Denton's question about voluntary membership.
1854 You can dispossess me of this notion, but my read on it is that you are not concerned with what the CCTS is. You are concerned with what it might become and that the option of membership being voluntary allows you to maintain a point of leverage against possible radicalization.
1855 Is that correct or incorrect?
1856 MR. ENGELHART: I think that is fair.
1857 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
1858 MR. BRAZEAU: I would just add that I think that is a fair statement but also that you know we are in a very competitive marketplace and just like the automobile industry is a competitive marketplace and other sectors are competitive marketplaces, they don't have ombudsmen to resolve customer complaints.
1859 I understand there is the Order in Council and that's why we are here. However, at one point in time we just have to recognize that the market is there, the market is resolving many of these complaints and, really, the role of the agency is really to -- whatever complaints that fall between the cracks -- and some do -- we deal with, I don't know, a million calls a year from our customers. Most of the complaints we -- the vast majority of them we resolve internally. And it's really those people who fall between the cracks that the agency can really be useful. I think if that's the purpose of it, I think it serves a very good purpose.
1860 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Actually, I did have one more question on that.
1861 I'm not completely sort of agreeing with or disagreeing with the Order in Council. Really, it's not an issue. I mean, it's an Order in Council, right? We don't write them. We just receive them.
1862 In my reading of it, similar to Commissioner Denton, it says all parties shall or should -- this should include all parties. And I am still trying to understand the legal argument of why that -- I don't understand fully the basis of your legal argument that that doesn't mean you should all participate. It seems very clear in terms of that. It says "all should participate".
1863 MR. ENGELHART: The Order in Council is very clear but Cabinet has no powers beyond those of the CRTC in the Telecommunications Act. They in effect stand in the shoes of the CRTC.
1864 So you have to look to the Telecommunications Act to find the power to make membership mandatory and that's where it doesn't seem very clear to us that there is that power in the Telecommunications Act.
1865 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So it's not the wording, it's the power that's your source of your issue.
1866 MR. ENGELHART: So if this was the United States someone would have taken that Order in Council to court but because we all good Canadians --
1867 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It certainly never happens in this country.
1868 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
1869 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am going to follow up on that. We heard yesterday from -- I think it was PIAC that said that section 24 of the Telecom Act that actually gives the CRTC the authority to make rulings for TSPs that come under its jurisdiction.
1870 Can you comment as to why you think that does not give the CRTC the authority to require TSPs under its jurisdiction to become members of the CCTS?
1871 MR. ENGELHART: I mean, I think it was all kind of laid out in the Shaw evidence for this proceeding. There was a lot of legal analysis there, that 24 doesn't extend that far.
1872 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that is your view?
1873 MR. ENGELHART: It is. And we have been consistent about that from the beginning, that we didn't think the Commission had the jurisdiction but, you know, we are not here today to say that any of us are quitting.
1874 THE CHAIRPERSON: I asked TELUS as to whether their view that the CRTC should be setting and developing codes with the industry, rather than the CCTS pre-empts the Order in Council that actually mandated the effective consumer agency CCTS to handle development and approval of related industry codes.
1875 Are you of the same view that if in fact it falls upon the CRTC to do a CISC-like initiative, that it doesn't go at odds with the Order in Council?
1876 MR. ENGELHART: I think so. In other words, a code of conduct administered by the CCTS to us is an industry-driven thing. In other words, it is something the industry says we can live with.
1877 If the CRTC wants to say, "Industry, we don't care what you think. We want you to do A, B, C" that's a regulation. You are allowed to regulate and you have.
1878 If you are not going to regulate then we think that what the CCTS should be doing should be industry-driven, industry-sponsored. So the way we see the codes working would be like the CWTA code of conduct, which there were some references yesterday to it, dealing with short codes.
1879 That's not correct. There is a CWTA short code guideline but there is a CWTA code of conduct which governs many, many more aspects. The genesis of that was in the last election when the government -- when the Conservative platform said, "We will have a wireless code of conduct".
1880 So we needed a little encouragement but once the -- once the government was elected we thought, "Let's get out in front of this issue" and we worked together as a board of directors of the Wireless Association. And I was happy to be part of that process.
1881 We developed a code of conduct with a lot of angry conference calls back and forth and eventually we got something we could live with. The CCPS said that it worked for them and they would be happy to enforce it, and customers and the blogosphere have generally looked at it approvingly.
1882 That's how we think it should work.
1883 THE CHAIRPERSON: But how is this any different? The government got ahead of you and suggested in an Order in Council that there should be an effective independent agency to deal with consumer complaints as well as approval and related industry codes of conduct and standards. And, yet, you have not chosen through the CCTS to get ahead of that one and come up with something through the CCTS, no different than coming up with a code of conduct on behalf of or through the CWTA.
1884 MR. ENGELHART: Sorry, where have we not come up with codes of conduct through the CCTS?
1885 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I believe that there was an issue with regard to disconnect policy of some sort that for whatever reason the CCTS could not come to some conclusion and get approval through its board.
1886 MR. ENGELHART: And I would agree with the analysis that MTS expressed earlier. The problem there and I think we have all learned from it, is we went too quickly to a third party consultant and sort of the third party consultant came out with something that the industry found unacceptable as MTS described.
1887 If we have to do this process over again, the better way is to have those angry phone conference calls between the carriers for them to hammer out something and then maybe have a consultant refine it or enhance it. Then, of course, it needs the approval of all aspects of the CCTS to make sure that they can -- it's something that they want to stand behind.
1888 So that's mechanically the way it should work. Otherwise, you end up with something that we can't live with.
1889 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You mentioned to Commissioner Denton that consumers/customers would have to decide whether CCTS is a useful service or not and if it's not, then maybe there is a need to revisit or not even have a CCTS.
1890 Is it your position that between now and whenever the next review of the CCTS takes place, that the industry will solicit comments from the general public and see whether they do or do not believe that the CCTS is an effective tool in addressing consumer complaints and come back with something concrete?
1891 MR. ENGELHART: That is a possibility. Our idea -- perhaps I should more accurately say my idea which my colleagues are accepting with relative levels of enthusiasm --
1892 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am sure they will jump in if they don't.
1893 MR. ENGELHART: -- is that we should have a seal of membership so that member carriers could put on their advertisements, "We are members of the CCTS".
1894 The CCTS could even advertise in magazines, "Is your carrier a member of the CCTS? It provides impartial third party resolution of complaints. If your carrier is not a member of CCTS maybe you should ask why".
1895 So something like that we think could accelerate the market forces that would let customers know this is a way that you have more protection if you are dealing with this carrier. And that, we think, will translate into value.
1896 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Anybody else have any comments that are any different than that?
1897 MR. BRAZEAU: No. As we mentioned earlier, I think you know the CCTS does play a role in dealing with certain complaints that we handle badly. I think it has a role and I think it's an important role. For that reason, I think I agree with Ken. Even if membership wasn't mandatory, I think there would be incentive for all of us to be still a part of the agency.
1898 THE CHAIRPERSON: The issue of three years versus five years has come up. Now, you have taken a position that you are prepared to commit to three. Five sounds iffy. Other parties have said five is reasonable.
1899 Can I hear from each one of you representing your companies, if in fact the argument amongst all the arguments, that this new case management system is still two years away from fruition and for all other reasons this Commission decided to do another review in five years as we normally do all our policy reviews in the five years, or try to anyways, how that would stack up against your company's views?
1900 MR. ENGELHART: So we are not actually advocating any more reviews. We are saying after three years you don't need to review it any more. Market forces will go ahead.
1901 Look, you can obviously order whatever you want. If there was a written reply round I could get instructions on the five years and put it in there. There is no written reply round as far as I know. The instructions that I have are for three years.
1902 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will be talking about it again tomorrow so you hopefully have got the afternoon to get whatever instruction or dialogue that you might need.
1903 Anybody else want to comment to this point?
1904 Oh, Mr. Patrone first.
1905 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
1906 My lone question has to do with paragraph 8 of your oral presentation and specifically the idea that consumer awareness itself can provide the required impetus to membership.
1907 Can you help me understand how that link -- are you saying essentially that the better known disorganization gets and the more exposure it gets, that that in and of itself will be all the impetus that corporations like yours need to continue taking part?
1908 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. I mean, if you go to the blogosphere today you will see quite a lot of references to the CCTS, you know, "I'm mad at those blankety blanks at Rogers because blah, blah, blah" and someone else replies, "You should go to the CCTS. They can help you". So there is already quite a high level of consumer awareness today.
1909 Canadians like dealing with reputable companies. As consumers go they are a bit risk adverse so I think it will provide a level of comfort to Canadians that their carrier is a member.
1910 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I think that was very charitable of you to refer to the blankety blank at Rogers rather than one of your colleagues.
1911 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But that being the case, does it not make sense that you would have voluntary or have mandatory membership by that extension, because if you are compelled to be a part of this anyway by that rationale then why not simply say, "Let's make it mandatory. Include everybody, including those that perhaps don't feel the same way you do regarding public awareness as an impetus towards membership" and perhaps we could be talking about smaller TSPs, those that don't care about the blogosphere one iota.
1912 MR. ENGELHART: I mean, I think inherent in your question is the idea that sort of being a member of CCTS is a punishment and that if we are being punished others should be punished too.
1913 We are looking at it as a value-added resource and if others are not availing themselves of it that's their loss. I think if we keep that model of a value-added resource at the heart of what we do it will keep the CCTS working to be a valuable resource for its members which is what we want.
1914 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: It strikes me that you are trying to have it both ways, and by the way I don't blame you for that, that you want to be able to argue that; yes, we want to continue being part of this organization. Now, you have put a time limit on that. You know you said three years.
1915 And you have also somewhat tied that in with the behaviour of the CCTS, if I heard you correctly, that your ongoing membership beyond that which you have already committed, is somehow predicated on the ongoing reasonableness and appropriate behaviour by the members of the CCTS because, if I heard you correctly, Mr. Engelhart, earlier you said, "If they start behaving in a crazy manner you know we may not want to stick around for much longer".
1916 And presumably that is in light of -- you know within the context of everything you have already discussed, being consumer awareness and despite all that, you still want to have the freedom to leave if you felt that the organization was not behaving in a way -- and I'm using the word "behaviour" loosely but in a way that you felt or that your members -- that your group felt was inappropriate.
1917 MR. ENGELHART: We think they should be an independent complaints resolution agency. So if they are perceived as being kowtowing to the carriers it won't work.
1918 They have to be perceived as being independent. They have to be perceived as being able to effectively resolve complaints. Today, I believe they are. If they go beyond that mandate to try and do other things, yes, there could be an issue.
1919 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: It is just interesting that their behaviour as an independent body can continue. If, for instance, membership continues to be voluntary, that behaviour as an independent body is somehow potentially at risk because there is that ever present sense that if we don't do what they want us to enough times that you know they have got one foot out the door.
1920 So I know it's a balancing act and perhaps I'm not making myself 100 percent clear in terms of where I am headed, but as I hear you speak about the importance of having an independent body, I also have to weigh that against the options that you would like to continue being open, relative to membership, if you know what I mean?
1921 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. I think you are saying like could we be making an implicit threat like "Rule in our favour on these billing disputes or else we will quit".
1922 And you have to realize that, first of all, this is a very tiny proportion of all the complaints that come to us. It really is, as Jean said, for those calls that have slipped through the cracks.
1923 Secondly, you know, we do want to do the right thing for our customers. We want them to be treated fairly and we do need an independent adjudicator at the end of the day for those resolutions.
1924 Third, there are many scary things out there for carriers. There are class actions. There are new sweeping forms of consumer legislation.
1925 You can't look at the CCTS in isolation. It is one of a series of policy instruments that we are going to have to come to grips with. If carriers quit the CCTS en masse there will be class action lawsuits, there will be more provincial consumer legislation.
1926 The CCTS is a good way of resolving disputes because it is far less costly and far less damaging than those other things. So as long as they continue to perform their mandate, I think people will continue to be members.
1928 M. MESSIER : Je pense que pour une entreprise comme Cogeco, le défi par rapport à CCTS, lorsque CCTS a été implanté, nous l'avons vu comme une contrainte dans un contexte de déréglementation, alors que nous étions un nouvel entrant avec pratiquement pas de clients à ce moment-là.
1929 Alors, le but de CCTS à ce moment-là était très difficile à comprendre pour une entreprise qui est un nouvel entrant, qui dessert ses consommateurs depuis longtemps, qui fait face à la concurrence et qui doit offrir un service de qualité.
1930 On était quand même un membre fondateur. Après trois ans, lorsque nous évaluons et regardons le CPRST, je pense que le défi est maintenant d'en faire -- et pour nous, c'est l'objectif que nous retenons, et c'est pourquoi nous sommes prêts à faire un engagement d'être là encore pour trois ans et de continuer aussi longtemps que cette agence maintiendra cette qualité de service là -- c'est d'en faire un objectif qui donne une certaine pression pour nos services à la clientèle, d'offrir un service de qualité à rencontrer, d'offrir une solution qui va au-delà si nos clients ne sont pas satisfaits.
1931 Et je pense que cet objectif-là, c'est aussi dans le sens de la proposition qu'on fait d'avoir un seau qui puisse créer une sorte d'adhésion de toutes les entreprises à cet objectif, de dire qu'être membre du CPRST fait en sorte que le service que vous allez obtenir ici sera satisfaisant, et s'il n'est pas satisfaisant, vous aurez même un recours supplémentaire.
1932 Alors, c'est de dépasser la contrainte pour aller vers une forme d'adhésion et de support, et ça, ça doit être fondamental dans toute l'organisation de l'agence. Je pense qu'on est rendu là, et c'est vers ça qu'on doit évoluer et travailler durant les prochaines années.
1933 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Messier. Just one final follow up.
1934 Mr. Engelhart, did I hear you say that leaving the CCTS would leave you open and vulnerable to class action lawsuits or more -- presumably from disgruntled or lawsuits or some kind of legal action from disgruntled consumers, or did I not hear you correctly?
1935 MR. ENGELHART: I didn't mean to say that. What I meant was if there was no CCTS, I would think that consumers and governments would find other ways to complain to carriers and class action lawsuits and provincial consumer legislation are two of those ways. So the CCTS stands, in a way, as a bulwark that it's a policy instrument that's less threatening than some of those others. Therefore, I would think, most carriers would support it.
1936 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you very much.
1937 Mr. Chairman...?
1938 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Morin...?
1939 I see some bills on his desk so I can guess on the questions.
1940 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair. I will address all my questions to everyone.
1941 D'abord, je dois dire que les forces du marché, j'y crois personnellement, et ce n'est pas un vou pieux. J'ai écrit plus de 230 pages depuis que je suis au CRTC sous forme d'opinions minoritaires, et la plupart de ses opinions, c'était de mettre en valeur les forces du marché.
1942 Mais comme régulateur dans une agence qui doit prendre en compte les intérêts et les questions des consommateurs, il me semble que je dois minimalement m'assurer que le consommateur, s'il veut se plaindre, va trouver rapidement un endroit où se plaindre. C'est aussi simple que ça, et c'est pour ça que, depuis hier, je parle toujours de ce message standardisé en première page.
1943 Je veux revenir ce matin sur le chiffre des plaintes pour le télémarketing. Ils ne sont pas publics, mais je vais vous les dire : 300 000 l'an dernier, 300 000 plaintes pour le télémarketing. C'est donc dire que les consommateurs peuvent se plaindre, que les Canadiens ne font pas bande à part, qu'ils peuvent se plaindre s'ils ont des interrogations ou des motifs de se plaindre.
1944 On a 40 000 plaintes... pas 40 000 plaintes, je corrige. On a 40 000 contacts actuellement avec le CCTS.
1945 Quand je regarde... Je suis allé sur les sites Internet de vous quatre ce matin pour voir comment ça fonctionnait.
1946 Je dois dire que, pour Shaw, un clic de Google et puis un clic de souris et on a très vite une information, un lien avec le CCTS.
1947 Cogeco, c'est aussi assez rapide.
1948 Vidéotron, la même chose.
1949 Rogers, on vous trouve, mais ça prend trois clics de souris. On vous trouve. Ça prend trois clics pour vous trouver.
1950 Donc, vous comprendrez que, comme régulateur, j'aimerais qu'on trouve quelque chose qui soit plus facile pour le consommateur, mais je suis conscient aussi que ça peut vous coûter quelque chose.
1951 TELUS nous a dit ce matin que c'était de l'ordre de millions. Alors, l'information, des millions, c'est des choses qu'on doit prendre en considération.
1952 Quand j'ai dit ce matin ou hier qu'il y avait de la place, j'ai pris mes factures de Rogers. Rogers, il y a toujours de la place au début.
1953 Je regarde un autre compte. J'en ai pris cinq pour bien m'assurer. Il y a toujours de la place en première page pour donner une information minimale, une première étape.
1954 Donc, ma question est très simple. Elle s'adresse... pourquoi on ne ferait pas ça en première page dans un message standardisé, court comme celui qu'on a lu hier et ce matin, pourquoi vous ne le feriez pas mois après mois, toujours d'une façon récurrente?
1955 Et personne d'entre vous pourrait dire, ah, j'ai plus de plaintes parce que moi, je suis transparent, parce que moi, je donne le message en première page. Vous seriez tous sur un pied d'égalité.
1956 Alors, c'est la question, et je ne vous en poserai pas d'autre.
1957 M. MESSIER : Je vais être le premier. Deux raisons.
1958 La première -- je pense que d'autres entreprises l'ont fait, mais elle s'applique très fortement aussi à Cogeco -- avoir un message standardisé, normalisé. Ça été quelque chose qui a été discuté, puis on n'a aucun problème avec l'agence, de l'avoir, et ça, deux fois par année sur notre facture.
1959 La problématique est celle d'avoir ça sur la première page de façon standardisée qui s'appliquerait à toutes les entreprises et qui risquerait de créer des coûts de développement pour nous au niveau de la facturation.
1960 A chaque fois qu'on a à faire face à une telle demande, d'abord, présentement on peut le mettre, mais l'espace est limité, est utilisé à plusieurs différents objectifs, comme ils ont été nommés. Lorsqu'il y a des frais municipaux 9-1-1 ou différents autres sujets ou promotions de Cogeco, on utilise le même espace. C'est cet espace-là qu'on a utilisé.
1961 S'il faut développer pour mettre une case qui serait standardisée à tous, ça va demander du développement informatique, ça va demander une priorisation au sein de nos groupes qui sont déjà... au niveau des ressources qu'on a en informatique, ça va demander des coûts importants.
1962 Je ne sais pas de quel ordre, mais à chaque fois qu'on a à faire face à des développements comme ceux-là, on atteint facilement des centaines de milliers de dollars ou des millions. Mais je n'avancerai pas de chiffre ici ce matin parce qu'il faudrait que je demande.
1963 Mais s'il faut engager des coûts, vous comprendrez que pour une entreprise comme Cogeco qui regarde... chez nous, on va me demander oui, mais CCTS, ça veut dire quoi, ça?
1964 Trente-neuf plaintes en trois ans, deux seules qui ont passé le stade de l'investigation en trois ans, et il faudrait engager des ressources financières importantes pour mettre sur la facturation, écoutez, ça sera une objection très forte.
1965 Le deuxième effet de ça, cependant, ce sera aussi ce que j'ai dit tantôt. Je pense que l'intérêt qu'on a, nous, c'est de faire en sorte de créer une adhésion au sein de cette agence-là.
1966 Alors, si on arrive avec... On a regardé différents... Lorsqu'on a discuté de la campagne d'information qui s'est discutée les dernières années, on a envisagé plusieurs moyens possibles. La facturation, le message sur la facturation a été un moyen. On peut répéter ce qui a été fait durant les autres années, d'autres, mais sur notre propre site Web.
1967 Ce qu'on avance ce matin ici, d'avoir un seau, un seau qui pourrait être publicisé, donc, qui va continuer à augmenter ça, laissons aller ces moyens-là, ces moyens-là qui font en sorte aussi que notre entreprise, notre direction d'entreprise adhère à cette perspective-là, plutôt que de créer un moyen qui va plutôt créer l'effet contraire.
1968 Alors, c'est pour ça que je pense que ce n'est pas le moyen approprié.
1969 MR. BRAZEAU: I think I will repeat some of what Michel's points were on the cost side.
1970 Redesigning the bill is expensive. It doesn't matter how, what is being suggested here is designing a new field for this and that is always problematic. Once you get IT folks in the room, it is always two years and $20 million, so on that note.
1971 Also, we can't lose sight of what we are trying or what the purpose of the CCTS is here. We are talking about exceptions. We are talking about people who are not able to resolve their issues.
1972 So what happens then? Probably the first thing they will say is I want to talk to the manager, and as soon as you say I want to talk to the manager, that is a second level involvement and that manager will tell the customer, if you are not satisfied we can get there, there is the agency, there are other recourses.
1973 That person could also -- I'm sure understands that the industry is regulated by the CRTC. So there are other ways for the person to understand that there are alternatives to resolve these issues.
1974 So by making it a monthly occurrence on the bill, I don't think it really speaks to what the resolution process is really designed to do. So I think it is really overkill and a very expensive overkill for I think all of the carriers.
1975 M. DÉSY : Si je peux renchérir sur mes collègues, c'est, effectivement, des coûts de développement qui sont énormes, d'une part, et d'une autre, faire remarquer que déjà, chez Vidéotron, on le fait. Sur le devant de la facture, en haut à gauche, le message est déjà présent deux fois par année, donc, le message qui provient, en fait, du CPRST. Donc, déjà, c'est fait.
1976 Et, comme le soulignaient Jean et Michel, il existe déjà d'autres moyens de communication qui fonctionnent et qui font en sorte que le CPRST est connu.
1977 Vous le mentionniez tout à l'heure, Conseiller Morin, concernant la facilité de trouver l'information sur le site Internet. On est à un clic, en utilisant des moteurs de recherche, de pouvoir facilement trouver l'information nécessaire, et, ensuite, quand on y arrive, c'est encore plus détaillé. On explique en long et en large quelles sont les étapes à suivre pour en arriver à faire avec le CPRST.
1978 Je pense aux autres moyens de communication qui sont utilisés par le CPRST, les pages blanches. Je fais écho aussi au seau qu'on mentionne. Je pense que c'est une idée qui peut aller loin.
1979 Je prends juste, par exemple, la mention du café équitable, par exemple, qui a eu un impact majeur dans le même genre de développement. Donc, je pense que ce sont des idées...
1980 Le CPRST faisait, d'ailleurs, remarquer aussi au début, par sa présentation, d'utiliser le rapport annuel de manière proactive avec un écho médiatique.
1981 Donc, il y a plusieurs moyens qui existent déjà pour faire connaître le CPRST puis pour que ça soit facile pour le consommateur de pouvoir s'y adresser.
1982 MR. ENGELHART: I would agree with what my colleagues have said about the IT costs and the tradeoff with the benefits.
1983 I guess the only thing I would add, Commissioner, is you have raised a really interesting question, why are there so many calls to the do-not-call people and relatively less calls to the CCTS, and you are positing that one answer might be lack of awareness of the CCTS.
1984 I am sure that is part of it but it is also quite possible that in the competitive marketplace that we live in most people's complaints are resolved by the time they finish at their carrier.
1985 Jean mentioned a two-stage process and I believe his company has more than that.
1986 We actually have a four-stage process at Rogers.
1987 So you are not happy with what the CSR tells you, you can ask for a manager.
1988 You are not happy with the manager, you can go to a group called the Office of the President.
1989 If you are not happy with the Office of the President, there is an internal Rogers ombudsman that is a fourth level of escalation and that person is a senior executive but not with one of the operating companies. He is actually -- his other job is as the Vice-President of Procurement. So he will resolve these complaints.
1990 And at the third and fourth stages if people are unhappy, they are told, you can go to the CCTS if you are not happy with our determination and they can make that resolution.
1991 So I think one reason for the disparity in those numbers may be that market forces are working and we are doing our job and we are resolving these complaints sometime during those four stages.
1992 And the reason for that is because we are in a very competitive market. I mean, again, you go to the blogosphere and you look and people -- as well as telling people to go to the CCTS, the other thing they say is, you know, threaten them that you are going to leave and go to Bell, they will come around quickly enough, and customers know that. And we are all doing a better job of resolving those complaints because it is a very competitive market.
1993 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci beaucoup pour ces réponses.
1994 Ce sont toutes les questions que j'ai, Monsieur le Président.
1995 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1996 Commissioner Simpson.
1997 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Just one question, gentlemen on the subject of vertical integration.
1998 I too am a big believer in market forces. Competition brings about innovation, it brings about better value to customers. While it has not been presented within the scope of this hearing today, what I did note that leads to this question was yesterday, and I don't expect you to comment on this unless you have the chance to verify it, but yesterday Mr. Hennessy from TELUS was at the nextMEDIA conference in Toronto extolling concern about vertical integration as being something that could have a significant impact on competition.
1999 My question to you, either for response now or tomorrow, is your perspective on what the impact of vertical integration will have on CCTS in its ability to perform in its mandate and whether or not there will be positive or negative impacts on the consumer in the future.
2000 MR. ENGELHART: Commissioner, are you referring to the fact that more and more telecom carriers have a cable play, is that the integration you are talking about?
2001 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I don't have a particular issue. To frame it better perhaps, going back to Commissioner Menzies' question about the consumers -- you know, this whole CCTS Commission was setup for the purpose of giving consumers a mechanism by which they could air a complaint. And the likelihood of a consumer understanding whether the nature of their complaint concerns a forborne or a non-forborne service is probably of little knowledge to them, let alone the issue of whether they are dealing with a regulated or a non-regulated provider.
2002 I am very open in this question because, again, maybe it is somewhat rhetorical but, you know, the issue of integration in the future obviously bears a lot of value to the consumer with respect to the fact that you can offer up your product in a much more appealing form because you have more resources at your control.
2003 But I wonder aloud whether or not vertical integration had some unforeseen potential impact to the consumer because they it lessens choice or somehow lessens their ability to be able to stay at the table in a way that the consumer has a voice?
2004 MR. ENGELHART: I had the privilege of being before the Heritage Committee last week that is looking at vertical integration. I got almost the exact same question there. And my answer was that vertical integration and bundling actually makes carriers more responsive. Because if you annoy someone with their telephone service, you can lose them for telephone, internet, cable, wireless and they will stop going to the Blue Jay games and cancel their MacLean's subscription.
2005 MR. ENGELHART: So it makes companies more concerned because the financial impact of losing a single customer is more dramatic.
2006 MR. BRAZEAU: I would just concur with that, with Ken's point. I think for bundle customers, when they call and threaten to leave we send over a flat screen TV and a long weekend in Vegas.
2007 MR. BRAZEAU: So really, they gain a significant amount of power when they are bundling two, three or four services with a carrier. So in that sense, I don't think there is a real concern for the CCTS.
2008 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
2009 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Duncan.
2010 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I am interested in your statement in your opening remarks, that consumers are using the services of CCTS in significant numbers. And I am curious to know how you arrived at that conclusion, significant numbers, given that yesterday Bell alone said they have 22 million customer connections. So I am just wondering, significant?
2011 MR. ENGELHART: Well, before there was a CCTS, and I think probably still today, people phoned the CRTC. And just as the CCTS sends their complaints onto us, the CRTC sent them onto us, except the CRTC didn't have a follow-up procedure, that is all they did was send them onto us.
2012 In a typical year we would get 100 letters from the CRTC on the cable side and 100 on the telecom side. So very very small numbers of people phoned the CRTC and then were referred back to Rogers. So these numbers that we are talking about here are in comparison to those levels.
2013 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I guess I am thinking that given the success of the promotion plan the CCTS had, that that number is going to grow considerably over the next few years from -- not relative to those numbers you have just quoted, but relative to the numbers, 42,000 that CCTS received.
2014 MR. ENGELHART: I don't know. Like, part of the problem with putting it on the bills, and I am not complaining about putting it on the bills, is that people go, humph, there is something wrong with my bill, and they see a phone number. And they don't realize that is the CCTS phone number and they phone the CCTS. So part of the spike the CCTS got was people who just didn't realize it wasn't their carrier. And that is why the number of calls rose more dramatically than the number of official complaints.
2015 So I think the numbers will increase as people get more and more familiar, but I think if there is a dramatic increase in the number that get to, you know, the official dispute resolution stage, there is something wrong, because those really should be exceptions rather than the rule.
2016 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Where I am headed with this is that you have indicated clearly that Rogers feels that there is value to having an independent body and that you would continue on as a member afterwards, assuming that the CCTS proceeded to play by what you consider to be the rules, didn't do anything off the wall or whatever your phrase was there earlier.
2017 MR. ENGELHART: If they remain as an independent dispute resolution body, yes, we would stay as members.
2018 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. And if they didn't, I would assume that you would be complaining to the CRTC or to the government if there was any problem with that?
2019 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. But I mean, I guess the concern we have is membership becomes mandatory and they start doing things above and beyond being an independent dispute resolution agency, and that is the concern I was expressing before.
2020 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Of course, we haven't seen that yet.
2021 MR. ENGELHART: No, we have not. No, listen, they have done a good job, absolutely.
2022 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I was taken by Bell's remark that, if the agency continues to be considered a social policy goal benefitting consumers, then the policy should be applicable to all TSPs and benefit all consumers. There is no principle basis for denying some consumers the benefits that the agency may provide simply because of the annual level of their revenues of their TSP.
2023 So if Rogers is willing to continue to belong, others may not, and so their consumers would be disadvantaged. Now, you are going to say, well they could jump ship and come and signup with Rogers. But I don't see, since you are willing to stay a customer, what you see the problem is with mandatory membership.
2024 MR. ENGELHART: I can certainly see the logic in what Bell said and what you said. But, as I said before that has, as its implicit assumption, the idea that membership is a punishment. And that if we are going to be punished, others should be punished too.
2025 It would be better to look at membership as a benefit and that others are not availing themselves of it. And I come back to this idea of the seal of membership, which I think might bridge the gap. If, you know, the seal of membership got implemented maybe people would feel worse about their carrier if that seal wasn't there.
2026 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I guess I am having trouble with -- I don't see it as a punishment, I see it as a benefit for the consumer. And it is a comfort to you, because those consumers can go to that body, maybe 50 per cent of the time the body will agree with you as opposed to the consumer, but it gives the consumer the option to go and say, look, I am not happy, I want it repeated, I want to hear what you say, and then they could side with the carrier and it is to your benefit.
2027 So I am not looking at it as a punishment.
2028 MR. ENGELHART: There is a couple of the new wireless carriers who have not become members yet, presumably because they are less than $10 million a year. From what I gather from the trade press, their sales are not meeting their expectations, and one reason for that may be that Canadian consumers don't trust them and so they may be being punished by the marketplace for not being members.
2029 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: You may also --
2030 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's not go there, please.
2031 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Let me just ask you then about the seal of membership. And you are saying "urge the Commission to consider implementing." And it may be something that I have missed in the documentation, but isn't that a step that CCTS itself could take? And you are represented on the board, I mean, I think it is certainly a great idea, it is a great idea for them to promote themselves.
2032 MR. ENGELHART: I think so, yes.
2033 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So you don't have to rely on the CRTC to do that, you could encourage that yourself at the CCTS board level?
2034 MR. ENGELHART: That is correct, yes.
2035 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thanks very much.
2036 Those are my questions, thanks.
2037 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I just have two quick follow-ups, one is actually clarification.
2038 In paragraph 21, you respond to PIAC's concern with regard to billing errors. And you indicate at the latter part of that paragraph that there is no limit on monetary awards as they are applied to billing errors. That means there is no cap of the $5,000?
2039 MR. ENGELHART: Correct.
2040 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, just wanted to confirm that.
2041 The last thing is, and I was remiss in not asking CCTS, I will ask them tomorrow I guess, but I will ask you. Do any of you see a distinction between the complaints that come in from small business, vis-à-vis consumers, or are they of a similar ilk?
2042 MR. BRAZEAU: No.
2043 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you, those are my questions. I guess that is it for this panel. Madam Secretary.
2044 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
2045 For the record, I would like to indicate that PIAC, on behalf of Consumers' Association of Canada and Canada Without Poverty, as filed the answers to undertakings given during its oral presentation yesterday. The document has been placed on the public record and copies are available in the examination room.
2046 So this concludes Phase I of the hearing, Mr. Chairman. We will resume tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. for Phase II.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1225, to resume on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 0900
Johanne Morin Jean Desaulniers
Monique Mahoney Sue Villeneuve
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