ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 4 November 2015
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: 4 November 2015
© Copyright Reserved
Attendees and Location
140 Promenade du Portage
- Chairman: Jean-Pierre Blais
- Members: Linda Vennard, Peter Menzies, Stephen Simpson,
- Legal Counsel: Crystal Hulley, Eric Bowles
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Hearing Manager:
--- Upon resuming on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. /
1561 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
1562 Alors, Madame la secrétaire?
1563 THE SECRETARY: Good morning. We will now start with the presentation of Media Access Canada.
1564 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1565 MR. TIBBS: Thank you, Mrs. Secretary.
1566 For the record, my name is Anthony Tibbs. I am the Chair of the Board for Media Access Canada.
1567 To my immediate right is Gary Birch, CEO of the Neil Squire Society and content expert supporting MAC.
1568 And to Gary’s right is Kim Kilpatrick of the Canadian Council of the Blind.
1569 To my immediate left is Myrtle Barrett, President and CEO of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.
1570 In the back row, from your left to right, Laurie Alphonse of the Disabled Women’s Network; Gary Saxon, Canadian Council of the Blind, Ontario Division Coordination and MAC Board Member; and finally Beverley Milligan, MAC’s Volunteer CEO and Subject Matter Expert supporting MAC.
1571 Commissioners, Commission staff and members of the audience, good morning. The Access 2020 Coalition is honoured to appear before you today on behalf of the millions of people with disabilities who live in Canada to discuss the expansion of the CCTS mandate.
1572 In paragraph 15 of the Notice of Consultation it states -- and I quote:
1573 “Certain services associated with the telecommunications industry are excluded from the scope of the CCTS, such as alarm monitoring, telemarketing, and accessibility services.”
1574 The text goes on to ask:
1575 “Are there specific services provided by TVSPs that should be excluded from the CCTS mandate?”
1576 Accessibility therefore is not within the existing scope of the CCTS as it’s strictly handled by the CRTC.
1577 However, there are many grey areas such as the mention of accessibility in the Wireless Code. For example, the time a person with a disability has to cancel and return a phone if it is deemed not suitable, or offering competitive service plans where a deaf person, for example, is not forced to pay for voice functionality which they can't use. These gray areas no doubt exist in the Television Code as well.
1578 Today, therefore, we would like to dig a little deeper into these grey areas of the CCTS mandate, as well as expand on the notion of a Disability Rights Office, as there is still no clearly defined agency or well-articulated and recognized process to deal with accessibility issues.
1579 MS. BARRETT: Good morning. My name is Myrtle Barrett, as a hard of hearing individual and as the President of a national hard of hearing consumer organization, I want to share with you a first-person glimpse of the frustrations we face getting and paying for assets. It boils down to one sentence, “We don’t get what we pay for and we must pay for what we can't use.”
1580 I can personally assure you that as much as we believe the Commission is committed to 100 percent access, we are not there. Close captioning as a policy, for example, is a 100 percent requirement, but it’s still not 100 percent. Description is at four hours a week. Yet a Canadian with a disability pays the same amount for their phone bill or cable bill as everyone else. Accessible billing and content are intertwined.
1581 So, who should we go to? To CCTS or the Commission? How is a person with a disability supposed to again being charged for a voice plan that they can't use. Or if a blind person once again goes over their data plan because they had to use specialized GPS apps to get equivalent access.
1582 Nobody at the retail level told them that there was any plans available and designed for a person with a disability. And a plan without voice costs the same as a bundled plan.
1583 I apologize there, that’s -- it’s a bit -- wait, now, okay, sorry about that. I knew it was something wrong there.
1584 It is reasonable to require a person with a disability to navigate first through contacting their cable company, then having to go to some as yet defined level of engagement before they're referred to the CCTS, only to find out their complaint is not the scope and then not be referred to the CRTC.
1585 It is all very confusing and frustrating because some accessibility seems to be in scope of CCTS, but other accessibility is not in scope of CCTS. It depends on the issue, gray areas of responsibility exist and it is confusing to consumers. Thank you.
1586 MR. SAXTON: Imagine you're a Canadian with a disability watching television using the captioning function, and all of a sudden the captioning goes out. Just as that occurs, you reach to your mail and you see that you have been charged an overage once again because you have exceeded the data usage on your bundled package. You had no choice because you must use streaming so that you can talk with your friends, neighbours and colleagues.
1587 Then imagine you're a visually impaired person, as I am, and I require data to assist me as I walk from place to place using the various GPS apps to allow me to be an independent person walking through the city. Then, be surprised when I go to a store to find out what services are available to me and they are not able to assist me. They haven’t told me anything about the plan that is available, they haven’t told me about any of my redress, so what can I do?
1588 I’m paying the same as everyone else for a complete bundle which allows me, supposedly, to be on an equal basis with everyone else, yet at the same time I am unable to watch many of the programs or even access some of the programs because I can't find where they are.
1589 Now, who do I call? CCTS? CRTC? I’m just not sure. And if I do, will they refer me to a source that will be able to assist me? Don’t know. But normally what will have happened is I will end up going to the individuals who are sitting with me because they have had the same frustrating activity, if you will, trying to make things better for our members.
1590 It’s fractional, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know who to contact. And I've got to tell you, recently I went through an experience that if there is time at the end, I would love to discuss with you. Thank you very much.
1591 MS. ALPHONSE: A recent report by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, they used complaints of 15 deaf and hard of hearing persons over two years. They dealt with 15 people. On the 12th and 13th of October, MAC recorded dealing the complaints of more than 15 disabled Canadians in two days, rather than two years.
1592 When we look at the current CCTS website where the only reference to the disability community is the contact information for ARCH, which is the legal resource law centre for person with disabilities. ARCH works within the human rights framework and is certainly not in a position to deal with the practical aspects of complaint handling. Clearly there’s a need for a well-defined process. Even in the minds of CCTS, they are ill-equipped to deal with these complaints.
1593 We recognize and commend the Commission for their hard work and what they have done in putting in place policies to deal with the issues of people with disabilities.
1594 The CRTC currently is intended to be contact for people with disabilities on issues of accessibility, and we can build on this good work because we need to be well-publicized and a trusted entity. Like the CRTC, to support -- to support the definition and implementation of the CRTC policy to ensure compliance and conflict resolution.
1595 In short, we need the Commission to build on existing CRTC processes to consolidate accessibility and better engage to serve the disability community through branding of expertise and a disability rights office.
1596 Thank you very much.
1597 MS. KILPATRICK: Good morning.
1598 As someone fairly new in this process I had never before heard of the CCTS and I’ve been quite plugged into the disability community for many years.
1599 The CCTS and CRTC don’t have equivalent powers to ensure accountability. Currently the CCTS offers compensation up to $5,000 -- this is distinctly different from a monetary penalty -- and even a fine within the context of the CRTC regulations.
1600 Further enforcement of accessibility under the CRTC will continue to be a challenge given the only real broadcast compliance tool the Commission has is to remove a broadcast licence.
1601 We need to begin to record, tabulate and measure what is really going on in accessibility so that the Commission can be empowered to enforce and hold accountable those who choose to interpret policies differently from what was intended.
1602 A disability rights office, DRO, at the CRTC, one single source of complaints for Canadians with disabilities will better inform policy and enforcement. It will provide the necessary evidence to law makers that the CRTC needs special powers of enforcement where accessibility is concerned. A DRO will provide equal access to complaint processing, investigation and resolution for Canadians with disabilities.
1603 Thank you very much.
1604 MR. BIRCH: Good morning.
1605 When Media Access Canada talked to CCTS, at the Commission’s urging, during the Code of Conduct hearings, CCTS expressed a reluctance to help consumers escalate their complaints but they didn’t like the outcome of the CCTS process. CCTS felt it was not in their mandate to inform consumers of the fact they have additional redress.
1606 While this position may be consistent with how their performance is measured resolving complaints, we feel this does not serve all consumers and especially consumers with disabilities.
1607 We’d like to see it made a requirement that CCTS as part of its process inform consumers explicitly that they have additional redress for their complaints outside of the CCTS process. Public awareness of a complaints process for CCTS and CRTC is critical.
1608 In the original mandate of CCTS a service provider that couldn’t resolve a customer’s complaint was required to tell the customer about the right of recourse to the CCTS following the completion of its internal complaint handling process. But this notification requirement has been changed and the notice must now be given following the second level of escalation in the company’s process -- complaint process.
1609 But there is no clear definition on what defines a second level of escalation of the company’s complaint process. In fact, there is no clear industry-wide policy that defines this level of support. And it is important to note that the CCTS does have to go back to the CRTC to make this kind of clarifying policy change yet it hasn’t.
1610 Our concern is that additional barriers not be placed in front of consumers trying to get resolution to legitimate problems not addressed by the wireless service providers and eventually the television service providers.
1611 Adding to this, it seems people with disabilities are not fully addressed in either the CCTS or the CRTC processes as there’s still no -- not a clear defined agency or process to deal with accessibility issues. Fragmenting accessibility complaint process across multiple entities is not consistent with the principles of universal access.
1612 Within the context of our discussions today, however, the challenges while people with disabilities cannot easily be separated out from the broader mandate of those Codes -- these Codes, there are specific areas within them that exist for Canadians with disabilities.
1613 So does accessibility move to the CCTS or do we completely remove accessibility from the scope of CCTS and ensure that their mandate includes referring out of scope issues such as issues for persons with disabilities to the CRTC?
1614 MR. TIBBS: Universal design is a fundamental concept for inclusion of all Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities. We don’t want to be put in a silo where all things disability are dumped. We also don’t want to be fragmented such that we become a ball being volleyed from one place to another. We’ve experienced this before and know this will not increase the quality or quantity of accessible content in Canada.
1615 Policy, all policy and enforcement must be developed through an accessibility lens of inclusion, which we believe the CRTC strives to do. We also know that the CCTS, regardless of what is and what is not in scope, has a core mandate to mediate resolutions.
1616 We believe accessibility is not to be mediated. It is a basic human right and falls within the scope of the Telecommunications and Broadcast Acts as well as the Human Rights Act. Therefore, we cannot support any move of accessibility away from the direct responsibility of the CRTC, directly or indirectly, without proper legislation to do so, for example, a Disability Rights Act.
1617 There are existing grey areas of overlap between the CCTS mandate and the CRTC mandate that need to be explicitly addressed, as we do not want to see jurisdiction for these issues seated to CCTS inadvertently. This would further fragment, confuse and diminish access to Canadians with disabilities.
1618 As a result, we think it is necessary for the Commission to define criteria for when to refer issues that on the surface fall under the mandate of CCTS but on further review have a disability component. We would like to see a more formalized and well-articulated process for complaints processing, investigation and resolution for accessibility issues.
1619 The CRTC has an existing complaints process and by expanding its scope to include all accessibility, along with public awareness targeted to the disability community, we will have a disability rights office.
1620 We therefore respectfully request all enforcement, including any telecom or television code enforcement as it relates to accessibility, remain under the direct control and be strictly enforced by the CRTC. Within this context we need a clear definition of accessibility issues separate from the broader and general public issues which would fall under the CCTS mandate.
1621 A distinct point of contact to deal with disability issues at the CRTC that is clearly defined and inclusive of all accessible requirements is what we are asking for. That the single point of contact be called the disability rights office because it is easily understood by the user and that the disability rights office as marketed by the CRTC service providers and CCTS.
1622 We as a community would happily work with all of those organizations to promote awareness of a DRO.
1623 We also ask the CRTC to send a clear message to CCTS that should they get an accessibility complaint that it needs to be referred to the CRTC for resolution.
1624 We ask that the CRTC work with CCTS to clearly define what constitutes a disability related complaint and that the CRTC directs CCTS to put in place procedures to properly direct the consumer with the disability complaint to the CRTC.
1625 We commend the Commission for the energy and commitment it has shown with trying to address the inequalities related to accessibility issues over the last few years and believe a DRO would build on that good work.
1626 On behalf of the many organizations who worked together as one united voice, some of whom sit before you today, we thank you for the opportunity to further clarify our position on a CCTS expanded scope and we welcome a discussion with you.
1627 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you. Good morning, this is Jean-Pierre Blais, and I’m chairing this hearing.
1628 Welcome to you all to this hearing. Certainly you’ve clearly recognized that it is important to participate in our proceedings, so welcome.
1629 Perhaps it would be helpful at this point, because you might not have been here yesterday, for me to reintroduce the Panel Members that are in front of you today.
1630 So on my far left, there is Christopher MacDonald. To my near left is Stephen Simpson. To my immediate right is Vice-Chair of Telecommunications, Mr. Menzies. And to my far right, Commissioner Linda Vennard.
1631 So again welcome and I’m going to ask Vice-Chair Menzies to start off our questions.
1632 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you. I’m not really sure what to do now after this presentation. It sort of changed the order of my questions. So I’m going to start with your Oral Remarks here and trying to narrow this down to what can be done, because there’s a lot in your presentation about needs.
1633 So first of all, could you describe for me a typical experience in dealing with a service provider over an issue and whether they are sensitive to accessibility issues?
1634 MR. SAXTON: I use humour or at least I try to, but I will be somewhat tearful. A month ago, I lost my wife to cancer. It took less than a month, we never knew. And while she was in the hospital, her cell phone didn’t work. I immediately took it to Rogers in the city of Hamilton, so that I could have it fixed. The lady looked at it and said, “It cannot be fixed. You need to get a new phone.”
1635 So I immediately purchased another phone, so that I would be able to converse with my wife when I wasn’t at her side.
1636 My son took the wife’s phone home over the weekend, he was unable to do it earlier, and messed around with it, for lack of a better term. He managed to get it back working, functioning at no cost to me.
1637 So I go back to Rogers or at least telephone Rogers and I said, “I was informed that the phone I had was irreparable and that I needed to get another phone if I wished to continue.” I had to be able to talk with my wife.
1638 I asked when I purchased the phone, “What kind of warranty do I have with this?” I was informed 15 days or 30 minutes of talk time. The phone that my wife formerly had and didn’t work, now fixed, was less than five days after my purchase. I contacted Rogers and I was told, “Yes, you are within the 15-day time limit. However, you have exceeded the 30-minute talk time. Therefore, you cannot return your phone.”
1639 I contacted Rogers a week later and asked to talk to the manager of the store, and I was informed that he was on holidays. I asked if I could speak to the assistant manager, “I’m sorry, she’s not in right now but if you want to tell me what your problem is, I will gladly get her to contact you.” I did tell the staff person and she did tell the assistant manager.
1640 The assistant manager called me back and said, “I understand your concern and I’m waiting on a reply from my manager as to what we can do to assist you.” This is well within the 15-day time period, by the way. “I will get back to you before the end of business today.”
1641 That was somewhere in the middle of September. I have yet to hear back from that individual.
1642 So last Saturday, I went back to Rogers with my new phone. I love the iphone. It works very, very well. However, it does have some glitches, which I am incapable of solving. So I went for some assistance and the people at the office were having difficulty themselves. So they were solving my problems by using the screen, not Siri, and I must use Siri in order for me to understand the operation of the phone.
1643 Between two staff members they did resolve the issue and at that point in time I said, “What can you do for me? Look at what I have gone through?” And as it turns out, one of the staff persons had worked in a former position with my wife and was unaware of her passing.
1644 I said, “Can you do anything?” And she literally said, “I think maybe the best I can do is possibly offer you a credit.” And to her benefit, she did do so.
1645 My phone is working but I don’t know who to talk to. They didn’t know how to help me, and they did not inform me that under the disability process, I should have been given additional time. This is not the first time something like this has occurred, but I certainly hope it will be soon the last.
1646 Thank you.
1647 MS. KILPATRICK: I’d like to comment on a situation I had several years ago with a carrier, and there was a cell phone available at that time before kind of when smart phones were just coming in. There was only one that I, as a totally blind person, could use. It had a built-in screen reading software, which would read what the phone had on its screen, but it had to have this special program installed.
1648 Now, as Gary said, with iphones now, I can access them out of the box. But I called the carrier. They assured me that this was the case. Then sent me a phone assuring me that they would have already installed the talking software on the phone. When I got the phone, there was no talking software. I called the company, they said, “Go to the store, the store will install it.”
1649 I went to my nearest store, they had no idea what it was, what to install. They called the main office. The main office said I had to send the phone back and they would reinstall it. I made the store people aware and also the office aware that I needed the phone for work and for life and also I asked them to assure me that when I got the phone back, the talking software would be installed.
1650 They assured me it was. Sent the phone back; got the phone back, no talking software. Called the number, they said, “Take it to the store.” It was the one and only time I had been reduced to screaming on the phone at a carrier and that was the only way a manager ever did call me the next morning; is that I screamed eventually after going to the store two times, getting two different phones that didn’t have the software installed.
1651 And finally, the next day a manager called to try to resolve it.
1652 This is not an acceptable situation to be reduced to yelling and screaming and going up the chain of command and going back and forth to stores two or three times in order to get accessibility on a phone that you need to use. And not only do I use my cell phone, my smart phone now for calls and texts but I use special GPS apps. I use it as a colour identifier. I use it to scan and read materials. I have it paired with my Braille display so that I can read and write. I use it as a light detector to tell when the lights are on. I use it for many, many things and I need to use it for those things. It’s not a frill.
1653 It’s not a fringe benefit. It’s important to me so that I can live as independently as possible.
1654 Thank you.
1655 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Mr. Saxton, please accept my condolences for your loss, and I appreciate your courage in attending today.
1656 In this presentation, I got the sense the difference from the written presentation where there was a fairly well-formed call for a DRO.
1657 In your oral presentation -- and please dispossess me of this notion, but there’s a sense that what you want is something that can be labelled a DRO and a clearer process, because all these issues -- and I appreciate the frustration, and there can be a lot of frustration sometimes in dealing with things and, as was noted, screaming and shouting, and I guess everybody would like the screaming and shouting to be able to stop, or at least have somebody else scream and shout on your behalf.
1658 What, practically, can we focus this down to given the scope of this hearing, that it’s a CCTS mandate here, not CRTC mandate, and take this issue and boil it down -- all the issues that you have and boil it down to one or two practical things that we can do to improve, if nothing else, the sensitivity to these issues?
1659 MR. BIRCH: Thank you.
1660 I think the most practical thing, and I think what we were trying to say is the CRTC is where people with disabilities should go if they have a complaint, or a problem, or an issue. And there is some capacity within the CRTC now. We’d like to see that built upon and formalized and well publicized, particularly in the disability community, so we know where to go.
1661 And there’s some grey areas where this Code has got some of these -- some accessibility issues covered off in the Code, but it would just be a lot clearer and simpler to work with the CRTC who already is dealing with these issues and just define that as a DRO. We saw that as being quite practical and doable.
1662 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You’re asking -- sorry, go ahead.
1663 MS. MILLIGAN: Well, just building on what Gary said, you know, yes, we’re here today to talk about the CCTS, the scope of CCTS, and we felt that it was really important, if we’re talking about scope, to point to what isn’t in scope so that we’re clear on what is and isn’t in scope.
1664 And what we want to see is accessibility issues not in scope of the CCTS.
1665 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You don’t want them in scope? So accessibility issues will be out of scope for the CCTS, and that’s your ask.
1666 You’re also asking that CCTS then not just say those are out of scope but make a referral to the CRTC.
1667 What about issues ---
1668 MR. TIBBS: I was just going to say the thought process here is that accessibility issues shouldn’t have to be resolved through a complaints process where they’re trying to mediate a resolution. Accessibility issues, that’s part of the Broadcasting Act. That’s part of the Telecommunications Act. It should be there as a fundamental thing to begin with and not something that’s just a billing issue or some kind of dispute between a customer and a service provider. So that’s why we’re saying this should stay with the CRTC and CCTS shouldn’t just turn people away and say, “That’s not our issue; go somewhere else.” So that’s what we mean by that.
1669 MS. MILLIGAN: It’s also really important to note that the CRTC and the staff of the CRTC have tremendous expertise in this area.
1670 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sorry, I couldn’t quite hear you.
1671 MS. MILLIGAN: They have tremendous expertise in this area. It takes a long time, a steep learning curve, to be sensitized and understand accessibility from both the user perspective and the policy perspective, and they have it. Moving any of that away is of great concern to us. We think it would be just so much simpler to build on this expertise that already exists.
1672 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So disputes that people from your communities might have with service providers regarding billing or all the matters that are currently in scope for the CCTS would still stay there, correct?
1673 So if I was visually impaired and my issues wasn’t directly to deal with that as an accessibility issue; it was “You billed me too much”, that still goes to CCTS, right, or does anybody ---
1674 MR. TIBBS: Yes.
1675 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Is your ask that anybody who self-identifies as a member of one of those communities just goes -- takes the issue that the issue becomes an accessibility issue rather than just a billing issue?
1676 MR. TIBBS: No, no, this is just -- if the issue is getting the bill in braille, yes, that’s an accessibility issue.
1677 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
1678 MR. TIBBS: If it’s just an overbilling thing, no, that would be part of the regular process.
1679 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
1680 MR. BIRCH: But this is where it gets a bit complicated -- sorry, Gary -- I’ll let Gary follow up -- but in the Code, that’s where there’s this extended period of trial, that Gary Saxton should have had that, and that should have been very clear.
1681 It’s because people don’t seem to know this and it’s not well understood that they get flip-flopped back and forth. And, you know, if we went directly to the CRTC to a DRO, they would know this, and maybe in that case they would sort of help us work with the CCTS or something like that. But there just needs to be one point of contact for us; otherwise, it gets very confusing, and someone that really knows what they’re talking about when we do reach out to them.
1682 MR. SAXTON: I basically was going to say what Gary said, and since I’m Gary too, I will kind of repeat it, if I may.
1683 Several years ago I was in front of this Panel and I spoke to the fact that whenever individuals went in to purchase a cellular phone of one sort or another, specifically one that would be accessible through voice, many of the individuals at the stores didn’t have a clue of what to do.
1684 At that point in time, it was suggested that perhaps we needed to have the vendors, if you will -- I think that’s the right term -- come together with one number that people could call and that number would allow the disabled community to reach out to gain expertise from an individual who was in our shoes. That office would be manned by monies paid for from the various carriers.
1685 Here and now, when CCTS was brought forward in our presentation, I didn’t have a clue what it was, but there isn’t a person that I am aware of who doesn’t know of the CRTC. It’s Canadian Radio and Television. They may say “Commission”; they may say “Corporation”; they may say something, but they know what CRTC is and they know that it is someplace that they can possibly seek out for assistance.
1686 If the CRTC had a DRO with a direct number that we could express to all of our members, it would be one step closer to everybody having faith in the system.
1687 MS. MILLIGAN: Jus to add to Gary’s point, a couple of years ago we had put forth the idea, the notion, of the telecoms actually coming together and developing an expertise to deal with, at the customer service level, an expertise that could address issues like what Gary and Kim went through. That’s still needed. That’s absolutely still needed and we think if, you know, in that area they could all come together and work, that would be great.
1688 But we also -- in terms of a complaints process, we’ve always referred to the -- we’ve always gone to the CRTC and we’ve gone there because that’s where the expertise is to resolve it. When it gets to that level that someone needs to heighten their complaint, it’s a DRO that we want to go to which is simply a branding of what already exists at the CRTC, with the exception of a few grey areas that we’d like moved over to the CRTC.
1689 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
1690 And just maybe you can clarify one more point for me. In paragraph 31 of your oral presentation today, you stated:
1691 “We don’t want to be put in a silo where all things disability are dumped. We also don’t want to be fragmented such that we become a ball being volleyed from one place to another.”
1692 It sounds a little bit like you kind of do want to be put in a silo -- or putting in a silo is not the right word, but you want these issues siloed, in essence, right? Which is okay. It can be or it can be the other. I just need to be clear on which one it is.
1693 MR.TIBBS: I think the -- you had -- well the question had come up as to whether anybody with a disability would automatically go to CRTC, regardless of the context of their complaint, and the answer to that is no.
1694 This isn’t taking that -- everything away from CCTS but the reality is that accessibility issues, by and large, require more specialized knowledge.
1695 And we’ve not seen any particular level of success with telecom providers attempting to train all of their various employees and agents on accessibility issues.
1696 Generally if you call in and have some accessibility issue people aren’t going to have a clue how to help you.
1697 Not too long ago my wife’s phone died and she attempted to get a new one and after the third phone call trying to explain that she was blind and that we didn’t need a phone that had amplifiers to make the sound louder, which all of the customer service people thought was the best solution for our particular problem, we just sort of gave up on doing it that way.
1698 So I expect the same thing would happen elsewhere in that true accessibility issues probably need to be siloed to some extent in that the responses needed are more specialized.
1699 And I don’t think we have much confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately if they’re just lumped in with everything else, but not disability itself; it’s the accessibility issues.
1700 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. I understand your position. Thank you for your presentation. My colleagues might have some questions.
1701 Commissioner Simpson?
1702 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning.
1703 I just have two or three questions.
1704 With respect to service delivery, first of all, the front end of the company and how they engage their customers, I think it might be fair to say that levels of frustration in terms of how customers are managed has created the need for a CCTS.
1705 Because these customers in general are experiencing some levels at some times, through a variety of circumstances, a level of service or resolution that really isn’t satisfactory and I think to a certain extent all Canadians, including yourselves, get caught up in that.
1706 So the question that -- I’m sort of coming off of Commissioner Menzies line of questioning with using the word silos, I think it’s more appropriate to use the word streaming, that you know I’ve had -- I fly a lot and I see how individuals with challenges are handled by airlines.
1707 They don’t make a passenger go through a screaming tirade to all of a sudden have them be alerted to a special need requirement.
1708 There’s -- but what makes this happen is that there’s one on one engagement and a lot of the difficulty I think is that there’s remote engagement with the service providers.
1709 And as a result not even dealing with what happens when you finally get to the store, I think there -- that there should be a level of streaming so when you first make first point of contact there’s some kind of a switch that puts you into a different line.
1710 Not necessarily a preferred line that gets you your call answered in five minutes versus the other poor people that are waiting potentially for an hour, but at least to identify that this is going to be a special area of need. Where that lies who knows.
1711 But -- so here’s my question. You’ve been at this a long time, Ms. Mulligan, have you ever had the opportunity to look under the hood with the permission of the service providers to see what their real policy is in terms of engagement with the disability community?
1712 I’m saying beyond what they say on the website, beyond what they do on the website, beyond what they do in literature that is -- are visual demonstrations of their commitment.
1713 In terms of how they actually operationalize it, have they ever shared that with you in any of the working groups you’ve participated in?
1714 MS. MULLIGAN: No, they haven’t, but we would be very willing to work with them, were they open to that sort of -- were they to present that opportunity to us we would absolutely be interested in having that discussion with them. But no, in short no.
1715 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm. Second question, in aggregate, have you ever run the numbers in terms of the financial importance of the community as a whole?
1716 In terms -- because one might rightly or wrongly draw an assumption that you’re not of economic importance, but I think that you might feel otherwise.
1717 Have you ever had a chance to really put a number on what the buying power of the community is as a whole, as a percentage of the total population?
1718 MR. BIRCH: Those numbers are out there and I wish I had them this morning, Commissioner Simpson, I -- but they’re large.
1719 You look at the economic buying power of just simply two and a half million, I think approximately, depending upon which study you look at, of Canadians with disability.
1720 But you look at one degree of separation, their family, their friends, who would all like to patronize and deal with companies that also work well with people with disabilities, the economic power is quite substantial.
1721 And there are some well done surveys and reports out there that document it both in Canada and the States. I just don’t have the -- it’s a huge number I just don’t have it off the top -- top of my mind.
1722 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
1723 MR. BIRCH: Sorry.
1724 MS. KILPATRICK: Can I also say that as the population ages we know the big generation of baby boomers and the people growing older and do have spending power and more and more people are beginning to have disabilities, acquire disabilities.
1725 So it’s an ever increasing number and I guess if you can see that, for example, Apple products are accessible out of the box.
1726 The blind community, if I can use it as an example, has flocked on masse to Apple devices because they are easy to use out of the box and accessible and I don’t have to purchase those special screen readers, like I mentioned in my former example.
1727 I will say as well that when you call Apple, they have an accessibility team so if I call Apple and I say I use voice over, they’ll say we’ll put you to the accessibility team. That team is specifically trained to know all the accessibility features of those devices.
1728 You get on the phone, first of all, with a general salesperson so if I want to buy an Iphone on the phone I can do that, but if I’m having some issues with the accessibility of my phone, I tell them that. They don’t try to sell something that they don’t have the expertise to do. They send me directly to the accessibility team. They have an email address; I can email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them a question.
1729 So they have it funnelled into a good way, which I could see with the DRO as well. You could call a general number or maybe CCTS to talk about my billing complaint as Anthony said as long as it’s not that I need a brail bank -- billing statement.
1730 But if there is something to do with accessibility, then I know exactly where to call. I know I call -- email email@example.com in this case and I get special expertise.
1731 And they can be on the phone and I can ask them the questions about the accessibility. And sometimes I know more than they know and we have a conversation, but I think that’s a model that is working and has worked to make us not feel inferior, but when we do have specialized requests that they get funnelled into the appropriate places.
1732 MS. MILLIGAN: We do know that -- you know, we have heard in the past that, you know, there’s a certain cost associated with doing something like taking the Apple model and doing that independently, operator by operator.
1733 And so what we’ve always asked in that particular area is well then join forces in this area, make it one point of contact.
1734 Do we want to heighten it up to a DRO at the CRTC, no. Of Course not. We want it resolved like any other consumer. We want to be able to call our service provider and get it resolved.
1735 In some one center source from -- at the provider level would go far away in introducing, you know, addressing that and that is something that we have talked about in the past.
1736 Commissioner Simpson, if you would like we would undertake to provide those numbers to you.
1737 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, fine. That would be -- that would be very good.
1739 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My last question, getting right to the nub of things, I’m hearing something that I think needs some distinction, in that what you’re group is saying is that every day problems are not always best handled with individuals of the disability community with everyday solutions and that it’s not so much the failure of a service provider with respect to a phone failure or a warranty that you’re prepared to deal with like I’m prepared to deal with -- that issue happens with my cell phone -- but that it’s the way you go into the resolution that’s the problem. It’s not the question of whether CCTS is the right remedial device or not. You’re saying that if things were a little different you would probably not wind up there.
1740 So to that end, is this why you’re saying that you need to -- you’re saying that perhaps the solution is to get this streaming that I spoke of earlier happening outside of CCTS so that it doesn’t get there in the first place? Does somebody want to weigh in on that?
1741 MR. BIRCH: Yeah, I think that’s exactly what we’re saying, and it comes back to that -- I think your comment of streaming, it’s so we know where to go.
1742 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
1743 MR. BIRCH: And it’s consistent. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the subtleties, “Oh, that’s a CCTS or that’s a CRTC.” I mean, we simply don’t know. So I think that if we know exactly where to be streamed, that’s what we’re saying.
1744 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. That’s basically the nub of it.
1745 MS. MILLIGAN: I mean, there’s two sides to this, right? And TELUS said it very clearly yesterday, “We want our customers coming to us first. That’s what we want.” And that’s -- you know, that’s how we’re going to deal with the promotion. We want you to deal with the promotion of CCTS and everything else.
1746 Well, you know, people with disabilities want to go to their service provider as well. It’s just that when you do that, they know even less about disability than -- you know, I mean, it’s double the frustration.
1747 So on the one side, yeah, I mean, if they could figure it out such that they had a consolidated or an accessibility, you know, if they self-identified and went to this, you know, area like that Apple model, that’s great. But no matter what there’s going to be times when it’s escalated which is why the CCTS exists in the first place. We all recognize that.
1748 So when it is escalated what we’re asking for is to be able to go to the expertise that currently exists and not to the CRTC.
1749 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
1750 MS. MILLIGAN: So all we would need then is just a re-branding saying DRO and a single point and that’s where it would go, but like everybody else, of course they would want to go to the user provider -- user first, service provider first.
1751 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Yeah, thank you.
1752 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just a reminder that the undertaking is due for the 12th of November.
1753 So I just have one question and maybe I’ll preface it with what is probably a bit of an oversimplification, but the providers are saying, “Let us deal with our customers first; it’s our primary responsibility.” And I was wondering if your position doesn’t put at risk deresponsabilizing the providers vis-à-vis your needs? And, you know, you’re paying customers; you’re not second-class customers. You have unique needs, but all customers have unique needs in a sense. Yours are particularly special. But dealing with customers is what companies should do and if we follow your recommendation, in a sense, they may not be responsible for the quality of the experience you’re getting.
1754 So is that a risk that worries you and how do we go forward with that?
1755 MR. TIBBS: Maybe there’s some confusion. I’m not sure how we get to that. I think everything we have said is prefaced on the assumption that this is dealing with those issues that have been escalated beyond the original service provider.
1756 At the moment, most people don’t even know that there’s a way to escalate it, whether that be to the CRTC or the CCTS or whoever. There’s very -- most people that I’ve talked to about this hearing had no idea what the CCTS was, much less that it existed.
1757 But I don’t see that this would take any responsibility off of the company, the service providers, to address the issue in the first place. As we understand it, all of this is only for those complaints that haven’t been resolved there and need to go somewhere else. I don’t think anybody is suggesting that the moment there is an accessibility issue, the first place to go is the CRTC or the CCTS. This is the next step when things have not been resolved otherwise.
1758 THE CHAIRPERSON: That seems very clear. Thank you. I just wanted to make sure that I understood properly what your perspective was. Okay. Thank you very much. Those are our questions, unless you have something to add. Is there -- would you like to add?
1759 MR. SAXTON: I would, if I may. Going back to the comment I made in respect to the phone and Rogers and so on and so forth, had the individuals at the office had more expertise, I should have been aware that there were certain steps that I could have pursued because of my dissatisfaction with the service that I received.
1760 When I returned, as I mentioned, Saturday last, it was two months after I purchased my phone. I purchased it on August the 27th. So by that point in time it was already too late for me to access the additional time allotted to the disabled organization. But in no conversation with the seller was it ever mentioned that I had another avenue to pursue. Remember initially I called back within less than a week and was somewhat disgruntled and extremely frustrated and very wrought because of the condition of my wife. So I probably wasn’t thinking clearly, and I’m sure I’m not the only person in a position such as that.
1761 Going back to an earlier comment -- and I’m not sure who made it now -- but the disabled community involves a lot of individuals who are not necessarily able to make rational decision by themselves. They cannot necessarily reach out to the CRTC or the CCTS or anything else. They have enough trouble feeding themselves. So anything that we can do, and if we can narrow it down to one avenue for them to go forth and find some kind of resolution, that would be amazing.
1762 Several months ago I partook in a conference call by an organization called Balance in Toronto, and they alluded to a phone service called 211. I had never heard of it. But when I sat in on that conference and found out that 211 was a number that anybody in Ontario, Toronto in particular -- that’s where it was done and how it was paid for, by the provincial government, by the city of Toronto and by United Way -- and found that anybody having difficulty could call that one number, there might be in excess of 100 different languages that could be used, but they would put the person in touch with someone who could assist them, and it dealt from abuse right through needs for assistance.
1763 Sorry, but it was one source you could go to and it certainly seemed to be a nice way to go.
1764 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that.
1765 Commissioner Vennard?
1766 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you for your presentation and giving us insight into some of the challenges that your community faces.
1767 I have a question and it might just be to do with language, but it might also have a deeper meaning and I’d like you to comment on it please.
1768 You’re asking -- Mr. Menzies asked what could the CRTC do for you and you suggested and your submission outlines a Disability Resource Office, and I’m wondering if you actually mean accessibility? Because if you’re asking for us for something it has to be something that is within our scope and possibilities to do to, and so perhaps what you’re really asking us for is accessibility to the Canadian communications system, which is probably something a little bit different in terms of -- compared to disability resource. They're obviously closely related, but I’m -- I’m wondering, in your minds, could -- could one of you or some of you maybe comment on that? Maybe what you really would want to ask for would be an accessibility office or officer or something of that nature.
1769 MR. TIBBS: I think the simple answer to that is yes, you're right that perhaps accessibility office is a better -- a better word that doesn’t suggest that it goes far beyond that, but perhaps somebody else will have something to add.
1770 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
1771 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, those are our questions. Thank you for participating in the hearing.
1772 We’ll take a short break just to switch out the panels, maybe five minutes, thank you. So we’re adjourned for five minutes.
--- Upon recessing at 10:03 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:08 a.m.
1773 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire.
1774 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
1775 We’ll now hear the presentation of Rogers Communications, please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1776 MR. WATT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am David Watt, Senior Vice President of Regulatory for Rogers Communications. With me today to my left, is Deepak Khandelwal, our Chief Customer Officer. To Deepak’s left is Deborah Evans, Director Consumer Policy; and to her left is Monifa Morgan, Manager Process Improvement. To my right is Kim Walker, Rogers’ Ombudsperson; and to Kim’s right is Peter Kovacs, Director of Regulatory.
1777 Resolving customer complaints fairly and quickly is a key priority for Rogers. We provide our customers with a formalized process to resolve disputes with us. This includes the option to have complaints reviewed by an ombudsperson if they remain unsatisfied. Built on a commitment to customer service made by our new CEO in 2014, our complaints resolution process makes it easier for customers to reach a satisfactory settlement with Rogers on a timely basis.
1778 But sometimes resolution cannot be achieved and the CCTS is needed. In these cases the CCTS effectively plays an important role for customers, as the arbiter that provides a protection for both customers and service providers.
1779 In our written comments, Rogers provided responses to the specific questions set-out in the Commission’s consultation paper. This morning in these remarks we wish to emphasize the following points.
1780 First, overall, we do not believe there is a need to make substantive changes to the scope and mandate of the CCTS regarding telecommunications services, or the governance structure of the CCTS. The CCTS functions well.
1781 Second, the inclusion of television service providers and administration of the TVSP Consumer Code within the CCTS will see a significant expansion of the CCTS mandate and workload. This will be an exciting challenge for the CCTS as it participates in a new sector.
1782 Third, Rogers is serious about getting our customer service right. We are continuously working on improvements. It is very important to Rogers that we have the opportunity to resolve customer complaints first, before the CCTS intervenes.
1783 Fourth, we believe there are opportunities to improve a number of processes and procedures that will mutually benefit customers, service providers and the CCTS with regard to the acceptance of complaints by the CCTS and administration of codes by the CCTS. We will review these in greater detail later in these remarks.
1784 Fifth and finally, the current requirements promoting awareness of the CCTS are appropriate and effectively satisfy the objective.
1785 Now, I will turn it over to Deepak to talk about Rogers’ renewed focus on the customer experience.
1786 MR. KHANDELWAL: Good morning Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Deepak Khandelwal, Chief Customer Officer at Rogers. I come to Rogers with over 20 years of customer service experience. Previously, I was Vice President, Global Customer Experience with Google. I led the customer care teams supporting customers in over 100 countries worldwide. During my time at Google, customer satisfaction numbers doubled. Prior to Google, I founded the global customer care practice at McKinsey and Company, working with more than 200 in-house customer care centres to address service strategy and process improvements.
1787 At Rogers, I lead a dedicated group of 10,000 employees focused on serving our customers. This includes frontline agents that deal with our customers directly such as call centre representatives, field technicians, and the teams that support process improvement initiatives.
1788 Everything we do is intended to strengthen the relationship between our customers and us. This takes a serious commitment of resources, both manpower and financial.
1789 In fact, our CEO Guy Laurence, has earmarked a $100 million in additional funding for customer experience initiatives and process improvements. We have created hundreds of new customer service jobs and significantly upgraded our IT systems. We are also making huge strides in building an internal culture that is entirely focused on the customer. We are committed to making permanent improvements.
1790 In an intensely competitive market such as ours, companies not only have to lead in offering product and price differentiation, but also in developing best practices to enhance the customer experience with those products.
1791 At Rogers, we are determined to save our customers time and make it easier for them to do business with us. Rogers has 10 million customers and hundreds of millions customer interactions per year. We know people have other things to do than call for help with their accounts.
1792 That’s why we’re so focused on giving our customers solutions designed to improve self-service, reduce unexpected costs, and easily understand their charges. This includes the following new initiatives. A centre of excellence that connects frontline employees with process experts to work together to study the root cause of customer irritants and identify changes that may be required; a refreshed MyRogers app, which includes a feature we call DeviceAid to allow customers to troubleshoot device issues themselves; new Ignite Internet packages designed to reduce monthly overage charges; and Roam Like Home offerings that will eliminate high roaming costs.
1793 It is a journey and we’re committed. We’ve -- we’re already seeing a marked improvement in how customers are rating us, and we continue to see a decline in complaints that are escalated to the CCTS. We are listening to our customers and using feedback to drive significant process improvements. Our goal is to -- our goal is for the customer experience to be so good that our customers do not feel the need to pick up the phone to call us.
1794 Sometimes we do not get it perfect and our customers do call us, so our frontline teams are empowered to help resolve issues the first time. But some issues are more complex and remain unresolved. In these situations, customers have our ombudsperson whom you’ll hear from next.
1795 Mme WALKER: Monsieur le Président et les Commissaires, mon nom est Kim Walker et je suis l’Ombudsman de Rogers.
1796 J’occupe cette position depuis quatre ans. Avant d’avoir assumé cette position, j’ai passé une quinzaines d’années au sein de l’organisation de Rogers dans un nombre de rôles de soins opérationnels et de service à la clientèle.
1797 Comme ombudsman, je suis arbitre impartial. Ma position est séparée des équipes de l’expérience de client et de le service à la clientèle, ce qui garantit l’indépendance de mon bureau ainsi que mes recommandations. Ceci est également comparable avec les normes établies par l’Association Internationale d’Ombudsman pour que tel bureau soit neutre, impartial et indépendante.
1798 J’examine les cas qui sont déjà passé par les processus de traitement des plaintes chez Rogers lorsque le client sent insatisfait avec la résolution offerte. Mon équipe fait enquête au nom de le client à propos de l’expérience ainsi que les décisions prises par les agents du service à la clientèle, et présente des recommandations qui servent à la fois Rogers et le client.
1799 I also identify trends in customer complaints. I need to know if there are elements of our processes that are not working and why issues remain unresolved. Through regular reports to senior management and my annual reports, I provide valuable insight to Deepak and his team.
1800 For example, based on my review of customer feedback and recommendations from my office, in early 2014, Rogers simplified how complaints are handled. Previously, a customer was required to escalate an issue themselves through a four-step process. At each escalation point the customer would need to resubmit their complaint and supporting documents.
1801 It would often take some time for the customer’s complaint to move through all these escalation steps.
1802 This has now been streamlined into a seamless referral process driven by Rogers and not the customer. It offers people dedicated and timely support until we reach a satisfactory outcome. This has significantly decreased response times at each level and minimized the consumer burden.
1803 I have found that the experience of adjudicating complaints on a full-time basis soon sensitizes a person to the frustrations customers struggle with and the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of a service provider’s case-handling processes. This has also led me to conclude that where a structured and robust complaint-handling system exists, like the one at Rogers, a body such as the CCTS will become a destination of last resort.
1804 That is not unlike the situation that exists within the financial services sector and the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. OBSI’s mandate is to act as a final recourse for customers once all avenues with a financial institution have been exhausted.
1805 OBSI has established verifiable criteria that must be met by the client prior to accepting a complaint. The customer is required to present a “deadlock” letter from the financial institution demonstrating that the complaint has been reviewed, but resolution was not reached. This ensures transparency and accountability on the part of the financial institutions and OBSI.
1806 What this could do for our industry is provide clients with a sense of trust and good faith in the ability of the service provider to resolve issues while still remaining an avenue of recourse, if necessary.
1807 Based on our internal information, we have determined that there is a significant number of clients who go directly to the CCTS without first raising their complaint with Rogers. While the majority of these customers are redirected back to us, it is only after the work has been done by both Rogers and the CCTS.
1808 We are losing a valuable opportunity to earn back the trust of consumers in large quantities every year. We would like to improve the process so that we have an internal opportunity to resolve the issue first in all cases. This could be accomplished through the OBSI model, and could improve customer satisfaction and lessen the workload on the CCTS.
1809 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I appreciate the opportunity to share with you my experiences as Rogers’ Ombudsperson. David Watt will now speak to you about specific issues related to the CCTS processes and procedures.
1810 MR. WATT: Our experience with the CCTS over the last eight years is that it meets consumer needs as an impartial redress mechanism. In our view, there is no need to make substantive changes to the current governance structure, Board of Directors, existing remedies, review cycle, or the participation requirements with the inclusion of TVSPs.
1811 There is also no need to expand the scope of the CCTS’ existing mandate to include complaints regulated elsewhere or equipment and programming matters. The scope of the CCTS mandate should not be modified when it is facing an increase in workload with the inclusion of TVSPs and TVSP Code-related complaints.
1812 There are, however, a few opportunities for improvement within the existing CCTS processes that we would like to address.
1813 First, we cannot over-emphasize how important it is for us to have an opportunity to take a first crack at problem solving. Rogers wants to gain a reputation for addressing complaints quickly and fairly. We are working hard to reduce the number of complaints that reach the CCTS.
1814 We have seen a steady decline year-over-year in CCTS customer complaints. Based on Rogers’ internal tracking, for the 2014-2015 fiscal year there were approximately 2,500 complaints addressed by the CCTS. This is a reduction of 26 percent from the previous year, which itself was a 32 percent drop from the prior year. Again, with 10 million customers and several hundreds of millions of transactions each year, 2,500 is a relatively small number. But, we still consider these numbers too high and want to reduce them even further.
1815 However, as Kim earlier indicated, our internal numbers indicate that a proportion of our customers go to the CCTS first, without raising their issue with Rogers. Some of these complaints are even reflected in the CCTS complaint statistics.
1816 Service providers should always have an opportunity to review a customer complaint first. This review is a significant opportunity to fine-tune the processes for accepting complaints by the CCTS to ensure this happens. A deadlock letter similar to the one employed by OBSI could be used to eliminate this problem.
1817 As well, Rogers is aware of a number of occasions where the CCTS had reviewed breaches of industry codes without us having had the opportunity to address the issue first. This unusual situation arises when the CCTS reviews a specific customer complaint and observes a matter that it considers a breach unrelated to the original complaint.
1818 The CCTS explained the situation well yesterday and why they believe their approach is appropriate. Our position is that while we may have had an opportunity to respond to the initial customer complaint, we were completely unaware that the CCTS has itself uncovered a different issue. We are simply seeking an opportunity to learn of the matter and provide a defence, if we have one. We think this is reasonable.
1819 Secondly, I would like to speak about the CCTS’ role as administrator of industry codes.
1820 The CCTS currently reviews customer complaints to determine if a service provider has met the obligations of the two existing industry codes, and will administer the new TVSP Code in the near future.
1821 The communications industry is a highly dynamic industry, and a number of elements of these codes were written to allow the greatest flexibility and innovation by service providers. This will often lead to a need for the CCTS to make interpretations when it is adjudicating a customer complaint.
1822 Sometimes service providers and the CCTS disagree about the intent of a particular provision. If such a conflict arises, Rogers advocates a model where service providers, the CCTS, and the Commission work together to find solutions. The Commission itself, as the creator of industry codes, must play a role in negotiating such interpretations.
1823 Yesterday, the CCTS panel raised the prospect of up to 200 approaches a year to the Commission for interpretations. The CCTS position was that it should make the determination unilaterally and if the TSP does not agree, it should bring a Part 1 application to the CRTC. While we may be overly optimistic, Rogers does not believe that large numbers of interpretations will be needed. Our experience is that there have been in the order of 10 interpretation issues over the past two years. Further, the Part 1 process is very formal and very lengthy. We think that CRTC coordinated working sessions, somewhat similar to the CISC process, involving the interested parties would lead to better and more workable interpretations and solutions.
1824 In our view, while the parties are working towards an interpretation we believe that it is important the CCTS not adjudicate similar cases or find service providers in breach. Let us try collectively to find a solution before breaches are found.
1825 As well, when the CCTS makes an interpretation it is important that this be done in a transparent manner. A mechanism should be established to ensure all service providers are made aware of the interpretation. Otherwise, those not subject to the complaint are left in the dark. Such transparent disclosure is also in the best interest of consumers.
1826 At the time of the last Commission review, the CCTS was not administering industry codes. A lot of learning has taken place. This current review of the CCTS is the ideal opportunity to hone the processes and procedures for administering industry codes.
1827 Finally, I would like to address public awareness and promotion of the CCTS.
1828 We believe there is significant awareness of the CCTS with the current approach to promotion. The CCTS has a clear, functional website that is easily found. The CRTC website provides information about the CCTS in a prominent location. Service providers promote the CCTS on their websites and in wireless service agreements. Customers are also reminded of the CCTS multiple times a year through bill notifications.
1829 Finally, customers are directly told of recourse to the CCTS at the second escalation stage of Rogers’ complaints process. Yesterday, the CCTS told us that this notification is the most important promotion of the CCTS because it is made when the customer needs to know about the CCTS. Rogers agrees.
1830 Once TVSPs are integrated into the CCTS, this promotion and awareness will only increase. TVSPs will have the same requirements to promote the CCTS as existing participants and more consumers will become aware of the CCTS. There is no need to expend additional funds on promotion or to reinvent the wheel.
1831 With these existing mechanisms and new opportunities to promote the CCTS in the future, the additional measures proposed by some parties are unnecessary. They will simply serve to oversaturate the message, which could wrongly drive customers to contact the CCTS as a first resort and undermine positive relationship-building between customers and their service providers.
1832 Rogers thanks the Commission for the opportunity to participate in the CCTS Review. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our opening remarks or our previously filed written comments. THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner Vennard will start us off.
1833 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning, and thank you for your presentation.
1834 I would like to start off our discussion by hearing a little bit more about the role of the ombudsperson -- ombuds -- I’m used to saying ombudsman, but I’ll try and use your language.
1835 Can you maybe tell us a little bit more about -- you handle that role for all the way across the country. Is there just one of you and how can you be really sort of separate if you’re actually an employee of Rogers? These are sort of these questions I would like you to just comment on.
1836 MS. WALKER: Absolutely. Thank you.
1837 I’ve been the Rogers ombudsperson for the last four years and although it’s not common in the telecommunications industry for this type of role to exist, Rogers felt strongly that there was an opportunity to garner more learnings from the types of complaints that go unresolved and sometimes may land in the hands of the CCTS or otherwise.
1838 I accepted this role having a deep background in customer facing roles at Rogers and systems and policies and understanding very deeply where things may go sideways or where there’s opportunities to make improvements. My role is broadly across all customers of Rogers and all products and all lines of business across the country. I have a small team of about six people, including myself, and our mandate is twofold: primarily to help find resolution to clients who feel unsatisfied with the outcome of their dispute or concerns with Rogers and; secondly, to mind sort of the insights that we learn from these cases and produce recommendations back to Rogers on how we could make improvements to avoid such circumstances again.
1839 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So would you -- would it be fair to say that your role sort of crosses over into where CCTS might end up being as well?
1840 MS. WALKER: Yes, there’s absolutely some parallels.
1841 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
1842 MS. WALKER: I think the benefit of being internal to a company, as some other companies do in the financial services sector -- there’s some ombudspeople in a lot of other private sector jobs as well as public sector; there’s internal ombudspeople as well. The benefit of me being internal to Rogers is I can dig deep on sort of what was causing the problem and garner more learnings from it and make recommendations that satisfy both parties in an expedited fashion.
1843 So while we have similar scope and mandate, sometimes there’s more flexibility to review policies and try to make some recommendations back to Rogers, knowing some of the history or some of the reasons why we are where we are today that help me get to a better outcome with the client.
1844 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So in the performance of that role you’re -- you would be doing some interpretation of the codes as well. Would that be fair to say?
1845 MS. WALKER: You know, there’s very few code related cases that reach me.
1846 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
1847 MS. WALKER: Most of them are resolved at far earlier stages within Rogers. However, if there is ever a dispute with either a client’s interpretation or a Rogers’ interpretation of the Code, I would aim to find our satisfactory resolution with that client and make recommendations on how we could avoid any similar misinterpretations from another customer again.
1848 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Could you maybe give us some insight into the relationship that you have with CCTS? Are you like the point person for Rogers then, or how would you describe that?
1849 MS. WALKER: When I started this role a few years ago, I sought to better understand, you know, the function of the CCTS and how it relates to my mandate and how Rogers could better learn from the insights or the complaints coming to the CCTS or internally. So I’m not a dedicated point person. I’ve met with them frequently and I meet with them frequently to discuss learnings and find out more information about what their sort of interpretations of how Rogers’ complaints are being treated and if there’s anything we can improve on. So we work together on learnings from the processes of complaints handling but not an official point person.
1850 MR. WATT: If I could explain the relationship between Rogers and the CCTS, Deepak Khandelwal is the executive link to the CCTS.
1851 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
1852 MR. WATT: At the working level there’s well-established processes to exchange the information between the CCTS and what we call the Office of the President, and this was established in the early days, 2008.
1853 And with the introduction of an ombudsperson at Rogers, I would say that person works very closely with our Office of the President and then has worked together with the Office of the President in interfacing on questions and exchanges with the CCTS.
1854 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So that would be at the -- basically at a strategic level in terms of identifying -- do you -- I guess what I’m trying to understand here is how much of overlap is there between your role and the role of the CCTS? It’s just because as you mention in your submission that you’re the only ombudsperson of a telecommunications company in North America, so I’m just trying to understand the overlap.
1855 MS. WALKER: I think to a consumer there’s absolutely overlap. The type of work that an ombudsperson does, whether it’s the CCTS or an internal function like myself, would look very similar to a consumer, somebody who’s neutral and impartial trying to make an investigation into the findings or an experience and trying to provide a resolution or recommendation or proposal for resolution that meets everybody’s needs. So the role looks, I think, similar to a consumer.
1856 As to the organization, I think there’s key benefits to having the insights from the learnings that we don’t have today from the CCTS. We don’t learn as much detail as we’d like to learn about what drove the complaint and where we failed to resolve it, where in my role it’s part of my main objective is to dissect as much as possible about what exactly failed and to deliver those learnings back to Rogers so that we can improve on our processes.
1857 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So when matters get referred over to the CCTS, are you kind of the person of last resort within Rogers?
1858 MS. WALKER: I am. I am and I make it a point to communicate my interest in helping them resolve their case but also pointing them to their alternate recourse if they prefer to do it external to Rogers.
1859 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So out of the about 2,500 cases from last year, how many of those would you say -- because you mentioned that people will sometimes go to the CCTS instead of you and resolving with you, I’m just wondering if you could just maybe tell us a little bit about how that happens or how you think that could be prevented?
1860 MS. WALKER: Well, what we know today when we analyze and audit the data that we do collect about customer complaints that reach the CCTS is we do our own investigation on what -- you know, where that process fell apart. Where did we fail to deliver a satisfactory outcome to that customer? And that’s where we find where they may or may not have given us that opportunity or where they left off with Rogers and proceeded with the CCTS. So we study those numbers and that data very carefully every year.
1861 We also look to the processes reaching one level and the next between Rogers and what we could do to make that more seamless or proactive for a client that would encourage them to give us a chance to continue to try and resolve it, if needed.
1862 And where complaints reach my office there are times where they contact me directly and they’ve also not necessarily gone through all the steps at Rogers, which I will help them find their way back into that process. And if they have -- and the outcome wasn’t satisfactory, then I launch an investigation, give them the opportunity to choose to have an investigation done by me or by the CCTS.
1863 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So this is where the idea of the deadlock letter comes into it then ---
1864 MS. WALKER: Yes.
1865 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- where by the time then a customer gets to CCTS there’s some sort of evidence or proof that they’ve exhausted all the potential avenues of recourse within Rogers itself?
1866 MS. WALKER: And we are using a process like that and have been for some time.
1867 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
1868 MS. WALKER: So when a client’s complaint reaches the Office of the President level -- and it’s not a huge volume that get to that point and don’t have their issues resolved -- but once they do, I think there’s a responsibility from the service provider to give the client something in writing that articulates where we left off and why we’re not on -- you know, that we haven’t reached agreement and what are our final offer of resolution was and giving that customer the next course of action or next recourse in writing.
1869 So that’s when their case is referred to my office and I will immediately reach out and let them know that I’m interested in helping them resolve or there’s another recourse if they prefer not to go through my office.
1870 And I would think that provides a good deal of clarity about whose now involved in trying to resolve that matter.
1871 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
1872 MS. WALKER: And I know that the handoff has been made official between the call centers or the customer service experience in Deepak’s organization and I can then get involved and the customer knows exactly what their choices are and what the final decisions are.
1873 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How do you see things changing for you and your role as the ombudsperson with the introduction of the TV?
1874 MS. WALKER: Not changing a whole lot for me since I handle TV complaints today.
1875 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
1876 MS. WALKER: But, you know, leveraging the experience I have from the Wireless Code it obviously provides a bit of clarity for consumers on what they can expect from the service providers and clarity for me as far as, you know, fair treatment and resolution of complaints.
1877 So I don’t see it changing a lot except for just giving a little bit more clarity.
1878 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. That kind of brings me around to the point about do you think that there are things that should be included or excluded from the mandate of the CCTS? Are there things that are out of scope, in scope?
1879 MS. WALKER: I believe a mandate works well for its purposes today, and I believe through -- in the customer’s view, when they have an escalation that they have several places they can go for resolution.
1880 And I do also believe that the industry as a whole has made great strides in trying to be more responsive to complaints in the last few years.
1881 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
1882 MS. WALKER: I’ve seen that improvement firsthand. And we’re continuing to make improvements.
1883 So I do feel like there are -- there is a great deal still to come and improvements to be made, but I do feel that the mandate is working for the industry now.
1884 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: There have been -- there has been some discussion about broadening the scope and the mandate of the CCTS too. One of them being to, you know, generally resolve all complaints.
1885 Does anybody want to comment on that, where Rogers might stand on that?
1886 MR. WATT: Again, as we indicated in our written comments and these opening remarks, we think the mandate is appropriate today.
1887 We recognize that some parties have asked for that mandate to be extended, for example, to equipment. We don’t think that’s appropriate. Like to go further into that we would be happy to do that.
1888 We also think there are a number of other areas where there are other bodies that are in place with specific expertise to deal with different types of problems and we don’t see a need for those to be duplicated with the CCTS.
1889 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So in your view then, CCTS should retain the position of being the last resort and dealing with those and not expand their scope but rather keep it confined to that. Would that be a fair ---
1890 MR. WATT: We certainly think the CCTS should be the last resort. It’s a needed last resort because sometimes we cannot reach resolution with a customer, honest differences of opinions, and sometimes we make mistakes and we don’t see the mistakes and they make us see the mistakes. So certainly.
1891 But we don’t think the mandate needs to be changed from what it is today and we don’t think it needs to be extended to include other service. Certainly we’re bringing the television service providers in under the ambit of the CCTS.
1892 But these other matters we -- as I said, other bodies, and, you know, just dealing with equipment, we -- really the -- we’re responsible -- should be responsible for items which we have under our control. We -- if a piece of hardware fails, we did not make that hardware, we can’t fix that hardware. Having said that, though, we go a long way to try to meet our customers’ needs in that area.
1893 I could ask Deepak to speak to what we actually do do with equipment to give you some comfort that very good attempts are being made to satisfy the customer’s demands and as far -- and to satisfy them as far as we can go ourselves.
1894 MR. KHANDELWAL: Would you like additional information on that?
1895 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
1896 MR. KHANDELWAL: You know, I want to make sure that any customer that has an issue that we can help resolve it as best as we are capable to do.
1897 So what David was referring to is, you know, we do have customers that come to us sometimes where they do have a hardware issue. What we’ve tried to do is put in steps and technologies to help us resolve those issues the best we can.
1898 So let me give you two examples. One is in the retail stores. If a customer comes in and says they’re having issues with their hardware device and it’s not working properly, we’ve actually installed technology into all of our branded retail stores where we can do what we call a device tune-up check. So we can plug the machine in, we can do some diagnostics on it and we can actually figure out is there something that’s wrong that we can ourselves fix, and hopefully we can, and that way the customer doesn’t, you know, walk away with a device that is not working.
1899 If we cannot fix the device because it really is a hardware issue there are many options available to the customer. If it’s under warranty they can obviously send it back for warranty repair. If it’s out of warranty we actually do offer repair services for them where we can ship it away. And there’s a whole series of other avenues in the retail store.
1900 The other place that we run into customers reaching out to us regarding hardware issues is they’ll call us and they’ll just say “Hey, my particular device does not work” or “I cannot get, you know, my emails to show up, my text messages to show up”, whatever it happens to be. The same thing, we’ve invested in training and technology for our technical support reps to have what we call simulators of the devices so they can help problem solve and troubleshoot those issues to the best that we can with what’s within our expertise.
1901 And, like I said, ultimately if it is a hardware problem the hardware manufacturers are the best ones to be able to resolve those issues because we don’t have the expertise to fix a faulty device.
1902 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you.
1903 So clearly the equipment, in your view, shouldn’t be within the mandate of -- within the scope of CCTS.
1904 Now, I’m wondering if you could maybe make a few comments on what happens and who interprets what if you have customers that have a bundle of services of some kind and they have an issue with one part of that and you can’t resolve that.
1905 How do you see that working between Rogers and CCTS if you hit deadlock on part of something but not everything?
1906 MR. WATT: What we have been doing to date for a customer -- many of our customers have multiple services, including television, which were not previously under the CCTS purview -- we have dealt with the telecommunications side of the bill. This will not be an issue going forward, that bundled bill. With its cable component will now entirely fall under the CCTS’s purview.
1907 You know, that being said, our bills -- our services are generally priced discreetly in most cases, so that in terms of a complaint inaccurate billing you’re able to isolate down to that component that’s in question.
1908 So I don’t think it has been a major problem, this type of convergence issue, and will become less so in the future.
1909 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So you don’t see that as being something that would be causing a problem or anything like that?
1910 MR. WATT: No, I don’t.
1911 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: No. Okay.
1912 I’d like to just touch on some matters of the interpretation. You make it quite clear that you don’t think the CCTS should be interpreting the Codes and that in fact they may have overstepped their bounds in some cases from your point of view.
1913 Would you like to just tell us a little bit about that, what’s behind that viewpoint?
1914 MR. WATT: Well, our view is that the CRTC is the body that sets the policy and that the CCTS is the administer -- administrator of that policy.
1915 We recognize there’s a grey area here where there are minor interpretations required and they haven’t been an issue. However, on major issues, and there have been -- the two most significant ones have been the issue of a termination notice letter and suspension.
1916 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
1917 MR. WATT: And we disagreed with the interpretation of the CCTS. We did bring a Part I application before the Commission. They said this is a lengthy process, somewhat adversarial process, that we’re not sure is the best way to get the best solution for both the industry and for customers.
1918 The other example had to do with the issue of businesses; either reimbursing employees for wireless phones, so employee-reimbursed phones underneath a corporate plan, or corporate-reimbursed or employee pay phones. They’re two versions; the employee either pays or the corporation pays but underneath the umbrella of the corporate plan.
1919 And that also is an interpretation which was brought in Part 1 before the Commission.
1920 And what is at the root of our concern on these what we view is quite significant policy issues actually, because these really affect the industry. These are very, very complicated issues, both from the perspective of the customer but also from the perspective of the supplier in the terms of the information systems and billing. It is a very complex area that we really think -- actually, as suggested in this proposal today, would best be served by a working group where there can be a good exchange of views and full understanding of the challenges that both sides face.
1921 It really doesn’t necessarily come clear from a written exchange in a formal Part 1 process. And in our view, certainly doesn’t come through when the CCTS makes an interpretation unilaterally.
1922 Now having said that, they make it unilaterally and then we do bring it in a Part 1. But even there, for these types of issues, which are deeply related to the operations of the company, we think there must be a better way.
1923 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: With those two examples, I’m just wondering, those are actually contractual issues between you and your customers.
1924 And so maybe you can just give me an understanding of what, just using an example, the termination part. Like isn’t that something that should be quite clear in the contract?
1925 MR. WATT: I’ll pass it to Deborah here. We thought it was clear in our contract. I think what has happened is we’re being told that our way of doing this is unacceptable under the Code. We didn’t think it was unacceptable under the Code.
1926 And we have to change of processes. We would have to presumably change our contracts.
1927 Deborah, can you elaborate more deeply?
1928 MS. EVANS: Sure, no problem.
1929 So we thought when we were implementing the Wireless Code, we spent a lot of time looking at it. We looked at the section on disconnections for non-payment. We looked at the definitions in the Wireless Code, which clearly defined what a suspension was and what a disconnection was.
1930 So we determined that, since it was headed “Disconnection”, then the notification that would have to be sent to a customer prior to disconnection; we thought we understood what “disconnection” meant in the Code, based on the definitions.
1931 And then there was a dispute with the CCTS as to when notification was required; whether we’re at pre-suspension or pre-disconnection. We were disputing with them and went to the Part 1. So now, we have to change our processes and when our customers are in the collection stages, when we have to provide them advance notice, and it’s very cumbersome, very onerous, and it’s a lot of system changes that we’re going to have to make.
1932 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Is that an interpretation that affected other TSPs as well?
1933 MR. WATT: The interpretation applies to all, and our understanding is that it also affects providers who are having to change their processes. I don’t want to speak for them but that is our understanding.
1934 You can confirm that with TELUS and Bell later on in the proceedings when they appear.
1935 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
1936 MR. WATT: Actually, I guess TELUS was up yesterday, so you can’t do that.
1937 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I’m just wondering because when something new comes along, then there are going to be these little corrections to the course that have to be made, clarifications, and so on and so forth.
1938 And that makes me wonder about how your communication and your information sharing with the CCTS on points like this, does it get to the point where it’s, you know, kind of acrimonious or is there sharing of information and so on?
1939 MR. WATT: There was some sharing of information. I wouldn’t say it was acrimonious but both parties had firmly held views.
1940 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm. And so that didn’t ---
1941 MR. WATT: Well, ultimately we ended up ---
1942 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
1943 MR. WATT: --- in a Part 1, and that was decided by the Commission.
1944 We’re just positing here a different approach should something arise in the future. Now, it may be that the horse has left the barn here; the Wireless Code has been out for a couple of years. There may not be major interpretative decisions still remaining.
1945 Maybe these comments are more appropriate on a going-forward basis with respect to the implementation of the television service provider Code of Conduct.
1946 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
1947 You mentioned that some of these interpretations have policy implications that you felt that they -- CCTS was perhaps overstepping their boundaries.
1948 Could you maybe enlighten us as to what policy really would you be talking about or thinking of?
1949 MR. WATT: The one at hand, we thought that the Code was clear with respect to the differentiation between disconnection of service and suspension.
1950 And we thought that policy was clear and then when the CCTS made a different interpretation, we thought they were not administering the Code. We thought they were setting new policies ---
1951 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Setting new policies.
1952 MR. WATT: I think it’s probably the best way to put it.
1953 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I’m wondering, you also mentioned that you’d like some transparency in the interpretations when CCTS do interpretations. And in administering and applying the Code, they’re going to have to interpret the -- do some level of interpretation.
1954 What would that transparency look like? That’s a bit of an oxymoron, I guess, right?
1955 MR. WATT: What we’re getting at there is we know from discussions with other providers that a certain interpretation has been made with respect to a complaint for another, say -- let’s say, TELUS, that we were not aware of. We’ve been dealing with the same issue for Rogers. We think it would be helpful if those decisions were possibly posted on the CCTS website in some area for -- I don’t know quite what you would label it.
1956 But that would, I think, benefit all the parties. Then they’d transparently know what the CCTS’ view on that issue was. So rather than having us go and start from scratch and discuss and work with them on it, we would know where they were coming from right up front.
1957 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now, do you see something like that possibly being captured in the Annual Report, an expansion of a part of that or on the website? What sort of mechanism, I guess ---
1958 MR. WATT: I would think the website. I’m not -- I don’t believe that these types of things necessarily warrant inclusion in the Annual Report.
1959 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
1960 MR. WATT: These are certainly issues we wanted to bring forth in this proceeding because it’s an opportunity to improve the processes.
1961 What we don’t want to do is make people think that we believe that the CCTS is not doing a good job. These are, in the big scheme of things, minor issues, but this is our opportunity to bring those forward.
1962 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That’s right.
1963 MR. WATT: And see if we can get them improved.
1964 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
1965 So would you like to see their decisions, all decisions published on their website so that customers also would know?
1966 MR. WATT: I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “decisions”. The actual decisions ---
1967 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Maybe “decisions” is an incorrect word. I’ll retract that and I’ll say their interpretations, when they’ve interpreted something or when they’ve made a ruling of some kind.
1968 MR. WATT: Again, this is a bit of a grey area in the sense that the decisions, and that’s the ultimate decisions written by the Ombudsman when, having gone through the complaint process, resolutions not achieved between the parties and the CCTS makes a recommendation, et cetera.
1969 And ultimately, you can end up with an Ombudsman decision. People can correct me if I’m wrong. I think those actually probably are confidential between the actual complainant. Are they not?
1970 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: They may be. I mean I don’t know. I’m thinking of something like decisions made by something like a law society or whatever where they redact the names and so on, but still you can see what decisions are.
1971 MR. WATT: Well having just turned and seen Josée shake her head. It appears that they are public.
1972 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes. Is that the type of thing that you would like to see? Like I -- because you call for transparency.
1973 MR. WATT: We’re thinking more the -- sorry. Sorry to interrupt there. The generalized interpretation on a particular point, not the specifics of the ---
1974 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
1975 MR. WATT: --- of the individual, but for example the treatment of – does suspension have to be treated the same manner as the disconnection and ---
1976 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So how would you -- so that -- take us back to my original question, how do you see that? You want transparency and I’m trying to figure out what that might look like for you.
1977 What -- if you were to say well the interpretations or the decision making process of CCTS is transparent to us, what does that -- what would that mean to you?
1978 MR. WATT: Well maybe the best way to go about it would be the CCTS knows when they have come across a point deliberating a complaint where they feel they’ve had to make quote, unquote, “an interpretation” --
1979 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
1980 MR. WATT: -- of the code. And then I think at that point it should be put on the website.
1981 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So for example, the interpretation and the application of that -- the understanding of the termination of the contract that you were -- of the service that you were talking about?
1982 MR. WATT: Yes.
1983 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes. I’m really getting at the idea of the information sharing between yourselves and CCTS as well, you know, what that is like too.
1984 And that maybe is a -- this might be a good time to bring in the center of excellence that you’re talking -- that you referred to earlier.
1985 Would you like to tell us a little bit about that and what your plan is for that?
1986 MR. KHANDELWAL: So what we’ve established is a dedicated organisation within my team, which looks at issues anywhere during the lifecycle of a customer that something may go wrong.
1987 We look at those issues and there’s multiple ways and I’ll give you a couple examples of how we do it.
1988 One is the center of excellence works with our frontline representatives, listening to the calls, listening to where issues and breakdowns happen.
1989 Based on those we have a team that identifies the root cause of what drove that issue and there are actually staff to try and resolve that issue ideally within the week, is what they’re trying to do now.
1990 Some of those issues take longer because there might be system changes and so forth and then, you know, there’s another part of my team that actually will take those issues out there, to go and resolve.
1991 So one aspect of it, as I mentioned, is just working very closely with the frontline, understanding the issues from our call center representatives or our fuel technicians, whoever is interacting with the customer, getting a list of those issues, figuring out which ones we can resolve very quickly.
1992 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
1993 MR. KHANDELWAL: And with ones will maybe take a little bit more effort that’s there.
1994 Sometimes the types of things that they fix are -- to give you -- just to make it a little bit more real, it might just be our knowledge management systems don’t have the correct information that we’re providing to the customer and therefore some confusion arises of, you know, what we should do for a customer.
1995 Other times, it may actually be one of our technical systems is not applying a feature onto someone’s services appropriately and so we need to go make a system change.
1996 So that’s the type of things that these systems will find out. The key thing for me on this one is to identify the issues quickly and early.
1997 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
1998 MR. KHANDELWAL: Before they become large scale issues. So that’s one aspect of what this team does.
1999 Other parts of this team will look at our volumes of customer’s that are calling in and looking at what are the issues that they’re calling in for.
2000 And to identify is there some large volume issues that are causing customers to be unsatisfied, or at least not to the level I would like them to be satisfied and then the same process goes again. We go into a root cause analysis and then try to figure out how do we fix it.
2001 So that’s one of the major new initiatives in the last 12 months, of truly trying to get to the root cause of process breakdowns or just issues that customers are having so that we can solve them internally --
2002 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2003 MR. KHANDELWAL: -- and fix them.
2004 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Would you be sharing that information with CCTS or is that something that’s internal to your -- to your company?
2005 MR. KHANDELWAL: That is internal to our organisation.
2006 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes, okay.
2007 That brings me around to a question about things like data retention. How -- there’s a -- that could be -- that could be an issue.
2008 You can see how something like that could happen if, you know, promotions with special offers and that sort of thing.
2009 Like what’s your company policies with respect to data retention? Because that’s pretty valuable research information in that too.
2010 MR. KHANDELWAL: Just to make -- just to make sure I understand, you’re saying how long would we keep this data --
2011 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
2012 MR. KHANDELWAL: -- available for?
2013 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes, yes.
2014 MR. KHANDELWAL: You know, I actually don’t know from a process improvement point of view what the timing is.
2015 I do know we have policies internally, for things like emails and so forth are after, you know, X number of months they automatically get removed from our systems.
2016 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2017 MR. KHANDELWAL: But for process improvement activities I’m not 100 percent sure of if there is an actual -- in the time I’ve been at Rogers I’m not sure there actually is a specific date that we have that we would lose files that related to process improvement.
2018 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes. Because we’ve heard some comments and some of the intervenors have mentioned that, you know, when it comes time for a complaint, that sometimes there’s a, you know, a problem getting -- maybe not from Rogers but from some TSP’s, the contract isn’t kept around forever.
2019 Certainly with ones that just go on and on, so I’m just wondering if you had addressed that issue at all in your center of excellence idea?
2020 MR. WATT: Certainly for the complaint handling process, for the period of time that the customer is with Rogers we retain the notes --
2021 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2022 MR. WATT: -- for their entire history.
2023 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
2024 MR. WATT: And then I believe we retain the notes for I believe it is one year.
2025 It’s two years.
2026 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, okay.
2027 Okay, so how about -- how about if we have a little few comments on the governance structure and the funding model of CCTS?
2028 And you’ve mentioned that, you know, you think it’s appropriate but yet you think the funding model maybe should be 50-50 instead of 60-40.
2029 So can you talk to us about that?
2030 MR. MATT: Well certainly on the governance model, I think our position has been that if it’s working well -- I think the CCTS is working well.
2031 We think we heard the CCTS say yesterday that they did not have issues with their -- with their governance structure, that they did not feel that they were being hampered, either in terms of budget or other initiatives by the -- by the current structure.
2032 With respect to the funding mechanism, yes we propose that it should continue its direction to increasing more of the revenue being recovered from the variable component, the complaint based component.
2033 The reason being the same as TELUS, that being we do believe that those people who are collecting the costs should pay for those costs; therefore those who generate complaints should bear an increased burden of payment.
2034 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I’d like to talk just a bit about the promotion and the public awareness of CCTS. Can you give us your thoughts on that; on what you do to do that? What you think you could do better?
2035 MR. WATT: We actually believe that the promotion of the CCTS is quite extensive and we’ve itemized all the -- all the requirements in our opening remarks.
2036 I think the most important thing to say again is we, like CCTS, like many others, feel the most important time for the -- to make sure that the customer knows of the existence of the CCTS. It’s when they have a complaint and they haven’t been able to resolve that complaint with the service provider.
2037 And we think there are clear rules around how that works and the unsatisfied customer is made fully aware of their -- of their options.
2038 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay and do you have them on your website or ---
2039 MR. WATT: We do have the CCTS notice on our website and it is -- if we go through here it is searchable by key words and the bill notifications.
2040 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2041 MR. WATT: We sent SMS messages to the prepaid customer base.
2042 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Can you tell me how you handle your ombudsperson presence on your website or where that fits into the conversation with a -- with your customers?
2043 MR. WATT: It is obviously on the website as well ---
2044 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2045 MR. WATT: --- and it fits in -- it’s in the same section where reference is made to the CCTS.
2046 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2047 MR. WATT: And it -- it’s under how to -- how to make a complaint about Rogers, contact us.
2048 Kim, you can describe more fully.
2049 MS. WALKER: Yeah, as we stated earlier, since we do have a desire to get involved as much as possible and learn from anything we can to do with a failure on behalf of Rogers, we think it’s really important to have the information prominently displayed, but not in conflict with the CCTS.
2050 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay.
2051 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is this a good point maybe to take a mid-morning break?
2052 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure, I’m -- I think I’m pretty much finished my questions actually.
2053 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, okay, well then if that’s the case, it’s fine.
2054 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, that’s fine.
2055 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, okay.
2056 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2057 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure, Vice-Chair Menzies.
2058 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Just a quick one. In your oral presentation you mentioned there's a significant number of clients go directly to the CCTS without raising their complaint with Rogers first. Why do you think that is?
2059 MS. WALKER: Okay. I think we’ve lost some good faith in the past that we’re working to rebuild, and sometimes people if they’ve had a past prior bad experience and don’t want to -- don’t want to try again, or perhaps they’ve been to the CCTS and they’ve had a successful outcome they're happy with, then see no reason to try to resolve that matter with Rogers again. That’s really what I see as probably the most prominent reason.
2060 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thanks for a disarmingly honest answer.
2061 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that’s based on your speculation, you don’t have any hard evidence-based analysis of those people; have you?
2062 MS. WALKER: No, we do look at, you know, where they abandoned the complaints process, sort of where they left. Where their first contact with us, if there was a first contact, after the problem happened and where they left. We listen to calls and audits, what took place during that call, was there something that we could have done to avoid that outcome, and sometimes there's not, sometimes we don’t know why the client left at that point and sought out another avenue. So there's speculation, but we do our studying to learn as much as possible.
2063 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
2064 I just want to put some -- some meat around the bone on this notion of interpretation versus administration and the CISC-like process. And perhaps it’s probably more efficient if you do the full answer in terms of a -- of an undertaking, unless you want to start answering it now.
2065 But I’m trying to get a sense of what the difference is between interpreting -- administering the code on one hand and -- for instance, and interpreting it. And then your idea of that there’d be this CISC-like process raises a number of issues, questions for me. How would the matter actually be referred to this body?
2066 What visibility would the process get to make sure that there's broad public participation perhaps, because there are other parties who might be interested, you wouldn’t want to do this behind closed doors, a backroom deal sort of thing?
2067 Would the CRTC have to approve or perhaps disapprove of the outcome of this CISC-like process? Who advocates for the consumers in that CISC process? Because we know in CISC traditional processes, it tends to be carriers that are there and consumer groups haven’t or haven’t perhaps been equipped to be able to participate in that?
2068 And my final question would be that while this process goes on, obviously that -- that one event that may have -- one complaint that may have triggered that -- that referral, and perhaps a whole slew of other files of a similar nature, they sort of go in on a whole, right, in abeyance somehow while the issue is being noodled in the CISC-like process, so how is that consistent with CCTS’s mandate to simply and expeditiously deal with complaints?
2069 MR. WATT: I’ll take a crack at this verbally. We foresee the noodling happening -- happening very quickly actually. We do see - foresee consumer groups participating in the -- in the CISC activity. I think the key point is what would trigger that type of industry working group and that’s a tough question.
2070 I think it is where you -- when the CCTS -- when an issue arises and the CCTS makes a particular determination, I think then the service provider becomes aware of that determination. Then I think it’s actually triggered at that point when -- if the service provider believes we’re the second, this is stepping over the line of administration and mime our interpretation of the code into what we view as a -- actually probably in opposition to our reading of the code. And then I think at that point, we would tell the CCTS that and we would then say, “We wish to trigger a CISC activity.”
2071 I know that it has to be public and it has to involve all the interested stakeholders, it’s actually a fairly well structured process that I would think then a notice would go out to the participant. This is -- it prints away the code, go out to that distribution list and say, “This is being initiated, this is the task -- sort of the task identification, and this meeting you're all welcome to attend. This meeting will take place in a couple of weeks.” And then grant you, there’d be a preliminary meeting, then you’d have to have a contribution, these are fairly narrow -- to have that in a couple of weeks, comments.
2072 I think you could wrap it up and you may think this is way too slow, given what you said, but I think you could do this in a three-month period. And yes, we do see it coming in a report to the CRTC and have you -- have you approve that.
2073 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well you’ve avoided having to do an undertaking I guess by providing all those answers.
2074 And how about the -- what you would consider the distinction between administration of a code and interpretation of a code?
2075 MR. WATT: And that’s the difficult question I tried to run from with ---
2076 THE CHAIRPERSON: And once you’ve answered that you can tell me how long a string is.
2077 MR. WATT: Yes.
2078 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, perhaps it’s a difficult issue, in fact I would think that even in your own approach with your relationship with your customers -- in fact the way you set up your -- your informatics system was in a sense your -- maybe your -- I’m not saying it’s in bad faith, but your good faith interpretation of how -- how you saw the world as well and how the code is. I mean I’m having difficulty distinguishing those two. Can you help at all?
2079 MR. WATT: Maybe I won't take an undertaking but I will -- we will try to draw that fine line in our final comments.
2080 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand, okay, appreciate it, thank you very much.
2081 I believe those are -- oh, Commissioner Simpson.
2082 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Ms. Walker, the ombudsman role -- pardon me if I should know this or should have read this but it’s missed me -- do you have a declared mandate?
2083 MS. WALKER: The mandate is very similar, I think if you look at all the components of the procedural code that the CCTS operates under and a mandate or a scope if you will of what I handle, although there’s more products and services involved being under the Rogers umbrella, there are similar expectations that I’ll sit with a client prior to taking on investigation and that, you know, I’m limited to influencing a change in policy as a result of one complaint for example.
2084 But I do make it my objective, my mission, to try and find a resolution no matter what the issue is, because you're still a client of Rogers and we hope to find a satisfactory resolution and to avoid any need for anyone else to be involved. Does that answer the question?
2085 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well you know, I'm looking for boilerplate. Usually if an organization as progressive as yours is going to undertake a consumer advocacy stance as part of its engagement, that’s pretty big undertaking and I think it’s probably good for business and a mandate that goes along with it, I would have expected -- so what you're saying is it’s still fluid, but the general intent is understood ---
2086 MS. WALKER: Yes.
2087 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- within the company, but is it -- is it understood within the consumers?
2088 MS. WALKER: I think so. When I engage with a client for the first time who has an unresolved dispute, the very first thing I’ll do is I’ll provide them with a documentation that talks about what my office does and what it doesn’t do and what I hope to achieve and in what timeframe. So I do manage those expectations with each independent client.
2089 And there’s a good deal of information also on our website about the services that my office undertakes and what we hope to accomplish.
2090 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Two more questions if you’ll indulge me. I said yesterday that I had found it interesting how the term ombudsman had been used sometimes interchangeably in referring to the CCTS and, you know, we’re not unfamiliar with that role. The CBC’s got one for example.
2091 MS. WALKER: M’hm.
2092 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And what I was interested in is that the ombudsman’s role in terms of the practice of being one at the association level sort of describes itself as having a necessary requirement to inform policy usually through identification of systemic problems in practices and behaviours on behalf of the organization that it represents.
2093 And I guess where I’m going with this is two parts. Do you have that ability to inform policy or is it strictly customer problem resolution?
2094 And the other question is, in terms of structure, in terms of how you plug into your organization, who do you report to?
2095 Ombudsman persons usually are detached and report to board and/or ---
2096 MS. WALKER: I report to chief legal counsel at Rogers. So although I have a background in customer experience and customer service, both parts of the organization, I’m separate from Deepak and his team who are managing the customer issues on the front line and resolving some of these process improvements.
2097 So to answer your question about my mandate, I see it as equal parts resolving the issue and doing something with the information I’ve collected.
2098 So there’s a good deal of effort on behalf of myself and my team to understand the issues to the point where we’re not simply just pointing fault but that we’re making suggestions and recommendations not just for policy and process. Sometimes it’s the cultural behavioural influences that sort of detract from the right outcomes. Sometimes its questions a little bit about fairness.
2099 And Deepak -- I meet with Deepak probably a few times a month at this point to discuss some of those findings and how that intersects with the feedback we’ve collected from CCTS complaints.
2100 And I also do regular appearances at some of the process teams regular meetings to talk about what findings we have, and there’s an internal report that I issue that shares some of the case studies every month.
2101 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That was going to be my next question.
2102 MS. WALKER: Okay.
2103 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But that’s not published or sanitized and published for the sake of transparency, it’s strictly an operating document within the company?
2104 MS. WALKER: It is.
2105 There is a public annual report that I issue that also contains case studies though.
2106 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Oh. Okay. Great. Thank you.
2107 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just one final point. Yesterday we had a discussion about -- with both the CCTS and with Telus about the role the Commission might have in enforcing non-compliance with participants’ obligations.
2108 Based on those discussions, do you have anything to add?
2109 MR. WATT: I think it’s a difficult issue. My sense of the -- let me back up. The Commission may know this. I don’t believe we do. But the CCTS has collected a great deal of information with respect to who is complying and who isn’t complying. The numbers on the public record show, you know, 50 percent comply, 75 percent comply, 14 percent comply.
2110 I could be wrong. My sense is from the description that the issue principally revolves around small players, and I sometimes wonder whether there is any good solution, because in many cases, as we’ve heard yesterday, these are very small organizations with a person -- four or five employees doing all sorts of functions to levy any type of financial penalty on them.
2111 I mean, I’m not -- they may pay but they’re very likely not to pay and they’re very likely to be out of business before you could levy any additional recourse on them.
2112 I think the important thing is the people you really want to have strict compliance with are the big players such as -- well, obviously you know who they are.
2113 Those I think really are my thoughts. They’re not very helpful on that score but I think that’s where the focus should be. And there may be some that -- I’m just not sure the objective is worth the effort to some extent.
2114 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
2115 MR. WATT: Having said that, I know that these companies have a customer and they have a customer who’s unhappy, but I don’t think you can solve all their problems and sometimes a customer I think has to recognize when they go with a very small player they’re taking some risk.
2116 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So a bit of a cost/benefit analysis globally. Okay. Well perhaps in the next phases in the process you’ll be able to elaborate on that, because those are real world issues for us and we’re trying to be as helpful as we can in resolving some of the issues in a practical way that are before us.
2117 Okay. Thank you very much.
2118 Those are our questions.
2119 I do think we’re going to take a very late mid-morning break for about 10 minutes. So why don’t we come back at 11:35? Merci, 11h35.
--- Upon recessing at 11:23 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 11:36 a.m.
2120 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Merci.
2121 Madame la secrétaire, s’il vous plaît.
2122 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci. Nous entendrons maintenant la présentation de l’Union des consommateurs.
2123 S’il vous plaît vous présenter et vous avez 20 minutes.
2124 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Alors bonjour à tous.
2125 Je suis Sophy Lambert-Racine, analyste en matière de télécommunications pour Union des consommateurs.
2126 La plupart des intervenants qui prennent part à ces consultations sont d’accord sur un constat central. Le Commissaire aux plaintes relatives aux services de télécommunication fait un travail remarquable en vue de régler les litiges que rencontrent les consommateurs avec leur fournisseur de service. Aucun intervenant ne remet en question le fait que le travail réalisé par le CPRST depuis sa création ait été bénéfique pour les consommateurs. Cependant, tous ne s’entendent pas sur les manières de peaufiner une recette qui pour l’instant s’avère gagnante, même si elle n’est pas parfaite.
2127 Certains voudraient édulcorer les pouvoirs du Commissaire, qu’on peut aisément qualifier aujourd’hui de super ombudsman. Plutôt que de s’inquiéter des multiples mandats et responsabilités confiés au CPRST, nous sommes d’avis que le Conseil et le Commissaire devraient être fiers du travail accompli jusqu’à présent et s’assurer que le CPRST continue de profiter de suffisamment de ressources pour exécuter son mandat convenablement. UC ne plaide évidemment pas pour un amoindrissement des responsabilités et des ressources confiées au Commissaire. La formule actuelle doit être maintenue, et peut même être bonifiée sur certains points, afin de protéger encore plus assidûment les intérêts des consommateurs. Je suis ici pour vous présenter nos principales recommandations, et pour réagir au passage à certains sujets que nous avons trouvés préoccupants.
2128 Malgré nos appréhensions initiales sur l’efficacité du Code sur les services sans fil, nous avons constaté avec soulagement que le CPRST prenait très au sérieux un des principes directeurs du Code, qui prévoit qu’en cas d’ambiguïté, le Code et le contrat doivent être interprétés et appliqués en faveur du consommateur. On peut même espérer que la publication de l’ensemble des interprétations qu’il livre au sujet du Code ait des impacts sur les pratiques de commerce en matière de services sans fil.
2129 Dans le même ordre d’idées, il est à notre avis absurde de penser que les tous les consommateurs ont les capacités de prendre connaissance et de veiller par eux-mêmes à l’application de tous les droits qui sont prévus au Code sur les services sans fil. Le fait que le CPRST puisse soulever de plein droit les dispositions du Code et vérifier comment sont appliquées des parties du Code qui ne relèvent pas directement de la plainte du consommateur est souhaitable pour les usagers. Cette pratique doit se poursuivre. Imaginez simplement ce que représenterait pour les consommateurs le fait d’avoir à soulever eux-mêmes tous leurs droits en vertu du Code sur les services sans fil et d’identifier eux-mêmes les violations potentielles. Ils devraient en premier lieu y avoir accès, ce qui implique un accès à Internet et la capacité de l’utiliser adéquatement, ce qui nécessite des compétences numériques et une alphabétisation suffisante. Outre l’accès, encore faut-il le lire, et être en mesure de saisir le sens des formulations et des termes juridiques souvent rébarbatifs, voire incompréhensibles pour les non-initiés. Des termes tels que « frais de résiliation anticipée », « appareil subventionné », « contrat à durée déterminée ou indéterminée » ne font pas partie du langage courant. Ils ne seront pas nécessairement compris par tous les usagers. L’usage d’un glossaire n’est pas très répandu. Le glossaire du Code ne sera certes pas suffisant pour écarter tous les doutes ou les incompréhensions que pourront soulever chez les consommateurs les termes ou les formulations qui sont, par moment, techniques ou juridiques, et dont le sens peut être flou pour les usagers. Il ne serait donc pas raisonnable de s’attendre à ce que le consommateur ait à identifier le ou les articles qui, selon sa compréhension, ne sont pas respectés par le fournisseur, et amener de l’avant lui-même ces renseignements au Commissaire qui aurait alors la tâche de les valider. Il s’agirait d’un fardeau bien trop grand pour l’ensemble des consommateurs.
2130 Le consommateur, lorsque survient un litige, ne dispose pas d’un département complet pour veiller à ses intérêts. Il n’a généralement que des capacités et des ressources très limitées à consacrer à la gestion de ses services de communications. En ce sens, toutes les demandes à l’effet que le CPRST devrait s’équiper d’œillères pour traiter les plaintes des consommateurs doivent être rejetées.
2131 Au sujet des clauses interprétatives, les utilisateurs de services sans fil mobiles disposent maintenant, au fédéral, de protections qui sont supérieures à celles à tout autre service de communication. Rappelons que les services d’accès à Internet et les services de téléphonie locale font eux aussi l’objet d’un volume important de plaintes. Les trois derniers rapports annuels du Commissaire relèvent entre 4 000 et 6 000 problèmes par année au total. Les services de télévision, qui sont aussi exclus du mandat du CPRST, a également attiré plus de 3 400 plaintes en 2013-2014, des plaintes qui pourraient pourtant aisément être réglées par le Commissaire. Ces doubles et, même, triples standards dans le traitement des plaintes doivent cesser. Le mandat de traiter les plaintes en matière de télédistribution doit être confié au Commissaire dans les meilleurs délais.
2132 Nous sommes d’avis que le Conseil devrait aussi envisager la mise en place de codes de conduite pour les services d’accès à Internet et services de téléphonie filaire dans un souci d’équité. D’ici là, le Conseil devrait à tout le moins prévoir une clause interprétative d’application générale prévoyant que les ambiguïtés au contrat seront dans tous les cas tranchées en faveur du consommateur, et ce, pour tous les services de communication.
2133 Soulignons qu’en aucun cas une telle clause ne signifierait, en soi, que le CPRST abandonne son impartialité. Elle servirait plutôt à amener un équilibre entre les parties en cause, lorsque les ressources de l’une sont supérieures à celles de l’autre. C’est l’approche qui est retenue par les autorités de protection du consommateur pour tous les sujets qu’elles couvrent. Une telle mesure, appliquée à l’ensemble des services de communications, aurait aussi pour effet de tendre à assainir les pratiques du marché de communication, et à amener les fournisseurs à clarifier davantage les contrats de service, qui continuent d’être difficiles à comprendre dans leur entièreté par les consommateurs.
2134 Sur la visibilité, il nous semble évident que si le CPRST a effectivement gagné quelque peu en reconnaissance depuis sa création, il reste encore beaucoup de chemin à faire en vue de le faire connaître par l’ensemble ou par une majorité des usagers.
2135 Une recherche que nous avons menée sur les services de télédistribution nous a apporté des indices à l’effet qu’une minorité seulement d’usagers, soit 28 pourcent des personnes sondées, connaissent le Commissaire. Les renseignements rapportés par nos Acefs membres indiquent aussi que le CPRST n’est pas une ressource connue spontanément des consommateurs du Québec. Plusieurs ne se doutent pas qu’ils disposent d’un recours gratuit et efficient pour les aider à régler leurs litiges avec les fournisseurs. Bien que le dernier sondage mené pour le compte du CRTC par Harris Decima semble indiquer que plus de la moitié des répondants étaient conscients du fait qu’ils peuvent se plaindre auprès du Commissaire, on retiendra que ces recherches ciblaient plus particulièrement les utilisateurs de services sans fil.
2136 Plusieurs renseignements au dossier public confirment que la conformité des fournisseurs à plusieurs obligations d’information sur l’existence du Commissaire est faible. Cela dit, même si elles étaient respectées à la lettre, ces obligations d’information sont de toute façon nettement insuffisantes pour faire connaître adéquatement le CPRST par tous les consommateurs qui pourraient profiter de ses services. Les prétentions à l’effet que l’information disponible en ligne serait suffisante sont pour le moins optimistes. Pour qu’un consommateur cherche en ligne les manières de régler son problème avec son fournisseur de services, encore faudrait-il que l’idée qu’un tel recours existe lui effleure l’esprit, puis qu’il ait le réflexe de rechercher cette question en ligne. Il faut cesser d’assumer que l’ensemble des consommateurs a un accès universel et efficient à Internet. Les renseignements offerts aux consommateurs se doivent de l’être sur plusieurs plateformes pour répondre aux besoins de tous les consommateurs incluant ceux à faible revenu, et ceux issus de segments démographiques moins enclins ou moins aptes à utiliser les services d’accès à Internet.
2137 Nous sommes évidemment en faveur d’une information plus accessible en ligne, notamment sur les sites Internet des fournisseurs de service. Mais les fournisseurs devraient également informer les clients plus systématiquement de l’existence et du mandat du CPRST, par téléphone, dès la première tentative de règlement de différend, et à l’écrit notamment dans les boutiques des fournisseurs.
2138 La suggestion du Conseil de mener une campagne publicitaire à la télévision est très pertinente, puisqu’il s’agit d’un média utilisé par une proportion majeure de la population, et utilisé notamment par des générations qui utilisent moins instinctivement et systématiquement Internet. Les craintes à l’effet qu’une telle campagne publicitaire aurait nécessairement pour effet de faire grimper le nombre d’appels reçus par le CPRST par des consommateurs qui n’ont pas préalablement contacté leur fournisseur ne nous semblent pas fondées. Il suffit que le message publicitaire soit clair et qu’il incite à appeler son fournisseur avant de se prévaloir des recours auprès du CPRST. Mais ultimement, peu importe qui serait le premier destinataire de l’appel du consommateur, un tel effort aurait pour effet d’encourager les consommateurs à dénoncer et à régler leurs différends avec leur fournisseur, une fin en soi qui serait, à notre avis, des plus souhaitables. Le fait que cela pourrait entraîner un plus grand volume d’appels au Commissaire ne nous semble pas problématique. Au contraire, ce dernier pourra alors informer un plus grand nombre de consommateurs sur la procédure complète de règlement de différend.
2139 Nous sommes d’avis que le CPRST peut certainement participer aux activités visant sa propre promotion et s’assurer de l’exhaustivité des messages qui sont véhiculés à son sujet, mais les ressources des fournisseurs doivent naturellement être mises à contribution.
2140 Les rapports annuels et semestriels du CPRST pourraient encore être bonifiés. Cela sera vraisemblablement le cas lorsque le mandat d’administrer le Code relatif aux services de télévision lui sera confié. Plusieurs intervenants ont formulé des recommandations pertinentes. Certaines nous semblent particulièrement importantes: dans la mesure du possible, il faudrait éviter de modifier les catégories de plaintes, d’une année à l’autre, afin de faciliter l’analyse comparative; davantage de données sur le sujet des plaintes, par types de service, permettrait de raffiner les recherches de solutions; les données quantitatives sur les délais moyens de traitement de plaintes gagneraient à être raffinées; davantage de renseignements sur l’exécution des règlements conclus grâce au Commissaire serait également bénéfique.
2141 Le Commissaire a mentionné dans la présente instance que les demandes qui lui ont été formulées nécessiteraient sans doute davantage de ressources. Nous sommes entièrement d’accord. De telles tâches de compilation des données et le rapport de tendance systémique pourraient sans doute nécessiter et justifier une hausse des frais qui sont basés sur les revenus.
2142 Les plafonds des indemnités devraient être revus à la hausse, de sorte que le plus grand nombre de plaintes possible puisse faire l’objet de compensation satisfaisante pour les consommateurs. Une proportion infime de plaintes aurait pu faire l’objet d’indemnités supérieures à 5000 $, soit quelques dizaines par années. Ainsi, le fait de hausser le plafond des indemnités n’aurait vraisemblablement que des impacts mineurs sur les fournisseurs, et il permettrait de réduire à néant le nombre d’usagers laissés pour compte du simple fait que leur réclamation légitime dépasse le plafond actuel. La barre pourrait être fixée en fonction des montants les plus élevés ayant fait l’objet de réclamations par les consommateurs, ou s’inspirer des plafonds adoptés par les cours provinciales des petites créances : nombre de provinces fixent maintenant des plafonds qui atteignent 25 000 $.
2143 Sur les procédures du CPRST, bien que la formule actuelle fonctionne relativement bien, certains changements mineurs pourraient être apportés afin d’assurer un dénouement satisfaisant pour les consommateurs. Si le consommateur dispose de motifs légitimes pour déposer une plainte, pourquoi s’en verrait-il refuser le traitement après 12 mois seulement? Le délai de prescription des plaintes mériterait d’être haussé à celui qui a cours en matière de contrats et de droit civil au Québec, soit: 3 ans.
2144 De plus, le Commissaire ne devrait pas nécessairement assumer qu’une plainte est réglée sur simple déclaration d’un fournisseur, si cet état de fait n’a pas été confirmé par le consommateur. À tout le moins, le CPRST ne devrait pas refuser de rouvrir un dossier qui a été fermé, si une telle mésentente relativement au règlement de la plainte est portée à son attention par le consommateur.
2145 Sur les procédures de recouvrement, les quelques renseignements versés au dossier public à ce sujet sont flous et préoccupants. Il va sans dire qu’aucune mention négative ne devrait être inscrite au dossier de crédit du client si une somme réclamée par un fournisseur est contestée devant le CPRST. À notre avis, les règlements de différends auprès du CPRST doivent mener, systématiquement, à l’interruption de toute forme de procédure liée au recouvrement initiée par le fournisseur. La plupart des fournisseurs déclarent cesser ce type d’activité une fois le dossier ouvert au CPRST, mais le Commissaire indique que ce ne serait pas nécessairement toujours le cas. Il vaut la peine qu’une telle obligation soit imposée par le Conseil pour lever toute ambiguïté.
2146 Sur le financement, à notre avis, le modèle de financement du CPRST est actuellement approprié. Il pourrait être risqué d’accéder à la demande de plusieurs fournisseurs d’augmenter la proportion du financement variable du CPRST, soit celui fixé en fonction du nombre de plaintes. Nous ne sommes pas en principe opposés au fait que les fournisseurs qui suscitent le plus grand nombre de plaintes en subissent les conséquences, mais la complexification du mandat du CPRST nécessite qu’il dispose de suffisamment de ressources pour mener à bien son mandat.
2147 L’année dernière, le CPRST a enregistré pour la première fois une diminution du nombre de plaintes. Advenant le cas où le CPRST devait avoir moins de plaintes à traiter pour plusieurs années consécutives, mais que celles-ci sont plus longues ou plus complexes à examiner à cause, par exemple, de la multiplication de codes de conduite qu’il a à administrer, le CPRST ne devrait pas s’en voir pénalisé par une diminution des ressources variables. Il serait sans doute sage que les sources de revenus stables continuent à constituer une portion majoritaire de son financement.
2148 Sur la participation des membres, à notre avis, tous les fournisseurs de services de télécommunications, et bientôt les fournisseurs de services de télévision, devraient obligatoirement et systématiquement être membres du CPRST. Bien que nous nous opposions pas en principe au membership déclaré à la première plainte, il reste néanmoins que les agissements de certaines entreprises récalcitrantes face à ce processus nous encouragent à appuyer la suggestion du CPRST de rendre obligatoire l’adhésion des membres de l’industrie comme condition de service. Aucun consommateur ne devrait, parce que son fournisseur n’est pas enregistré au CPRST, être condamné à attendre des mois, et parfois plus d’un an, pour obtenir un règlement qui devrait être relativement simple.
2149 Au sujet de la gouvernance, nous sommes d’avis que la représentation des membres indépendants au Conseil d’administration, incluant les représentants des groupes de consommateurs, pourrait être accrue, afin d’établir une réelle indépendance avec l’industrie. Évidemment, certains vous diront que la composition actuelle du Conseil d’administration, avec quatre membres indépendants et seulement trois membres de l’industrie, assure déjà une forme d’impartialité. Cela serait sans doute le cas si tous les sujets couverts ne nécessitaient qu’une majorité simple pour être adoptés. La réalité est que plusieurs sujets nécessitent une majorité plus élevée, ce qui donne aux représentants de l’industrie un veto de facto, qui pourrait nuire aux intérêts des consommateurs.
2150 Tout compte fait, le Commissaire aux plaintes relatives aux services de télécommunication offre aux consommateurs un mode alternatif, facile et gratuit, de règlement de leurs différends avec leurs fournisseurs de service, une méthode qui comporte avantages et inconvénients. Il est beaucoup plus facile et rapide pour le consommateur de s’adresser au Commissaire qu’à la Cour des petites créances, qui exige des frais d’inscription, la préparation d’un dossier étoffé, la présence à la cour, et dont les délais de traitement peuvent dépasser les 12 mois. Le CPRST n’est pas un organisme chargé de l’application des lois. Il ne pourra, par exemple, se prononcer sur la légalité de toutes les clauses contractuelles qu’il aura à examiner. Le fait de lui confier l’administration de codes de conduite qui reprennent certains passages des lois provinciales de protection du consommateur aide à contrer cette faiblesse.
2151 Notamment pour cette raison, et parce que jusqu’à présent, le Commissaire arrive à la fois à maintenir son impartialité et à protéger les intérêts des consommateurs, il faut lui donner toute la latitude pour qu’il puisse continuer à remplir son mandat de super ombudsman. Nous insistons sur cet état de fait. Le Conseil ne devrait pas, loin de là, hésiter à maintenir le rôle élargi du CPRST, qui contribue à assurer des pratiques de commerce saines dans le secteur des communications. Ses nouveaux mandats lui permettent maintenant de tenir compte du déséquilibre des ressources entre les consommateurs et les fournisseurs de service. Il s’agit d’une évolution saine qui mérite d’être poursuivie.
2152 Je suis disponible maintenant pour répondre à vos questions.
2153 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup, Madame Lambert-Racine. Comme d’habitude, vos présentations sont claires, donc en fait ça élimine certaines de mes questions que je voulais traiter avec vous, mais j’en ai quand même quelques-unes.
2154 C’est clair que vous envisagez la participation sur une base obligatoire plutôt que sur une base volontaire, mais certains intervenants dans l’instance ont préconisé une base de participation volontaire.
2155 À votre avis, quelles seraient les conséquences d’aller dans cette direction?
2156 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Ça serait sans doute détruire un peu ce qui a pris tant d’années à construire. Le fait que la participation soit obligatoire en ce moment pour les fournisseurs de services de télécommunications au CPRST facilite beaucoup le règlement des plaintes par les consommateurs. Si on compare, par exemple, dans le secteur bancaire où il y a différents organismes, c’est beaucoup moins convivial et plus difficile de faire un suivi, plus difficile évidemment d’avoir des données, de pouvoir comparer ce qui se passe sur le marché. Et puis évidemment, il y a le fait aussi que, comme il a déjà été mentionné par, je crois, le CPRST, à partir du moment où certains fournisseurs ne seraient plus contraints à être membres du CPRST, c’est un recours de moins pour les consommateurs, ce qui serait vraiment dommageable vu le fait que c’est une manière facile de régler les différends qui sont simples, qui ne nécessiteraient pas nécessairement le recours à la Cour des petites créances, par exemple. Donc ça serait vraiment nuisible pour la protection des intérêts des consommateurs.
2157 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord.
2158 Dans votre présentation vous soulignez l’importance que les consommateurs aient connaissance d’un recours possible au CPRST même plus tôt dans le processus.
2159 Dans la structure actuelle, les membres qui ne sont pas participants, les fournisseurs de service qui ne sont pas participants, ne sont pas tenus des obligations de fournir l’information sur l’existence et des recours possibles ou CPRST.
2160 Que penseriez-vous d’un mécanisme où, même s’ils ne sont pas membres participants au CPRST parce que -- pour X raison; il n’y a pas eu une plainte ou ils ne font pas partie des fournisseurs visés, qu’ils seraient néanmoins obligés d’informer leur clientèle de l’existence du CPRST et vous voyez donc que si l’élément déclencheur est le dépôt d’une plainte, la connaissance de l’existence du CPRST créerait donc un recours éventuel devant le CPRST en informant les consommateurs qui font affaire avec un membre non-participant?
2161 C’est une longue question. J’espère que vous m’avez suivi.
2162 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Bien, c’est certain que l’idéal évidemment c’est que l’ensemble des fournisseurs soit contraint d’être membres du CPRST. Actuellement, évidemment, le mécanisme s’enclenche à partir du moment où une plainte est déposée, mais il reste que c’est tout de même une obligation à partir du moment où la plainte est déposée.
2163 Oui, effectivement, c’est certain que ça peut être pertinent. Le plus de visibilité que le CPRST va avoir, le mieux c’est, incluant aussi auprès de ces fournisseurs qui ne sont pas encore membres du CPRST, quoique j’ose espérer que c’est une très faible proportion des fournisseurs. Donc oui, j’imagine qu’à terme, une telle obligation pourrait faire justement que leurs clients seraient sensibilisés à l’existence du CPRST et pourraient potentiellement déposer une plainte plus rapidement. Parce qu’effectivement, ce n’est pas nécessairement un réflexe naturel des consommateurs de penser qu’il va y avoir un recours gratuit et efficace qui peut m’aider à régler facilement mon problème. Donc oui, ça peut être pertinent, mais c’est certain que d’autres activités de communication en parallèle doivent être réalisées.
2164 Parce qu’en ce moment, nous on trouvait que les statistiques qui ont été publiées par le Conseil à ce sujet-là sont assez surprenantes parce que ce qu’on voit sur le terrain, c’est sûr que c’est strictement anecdotique, mais ce qui en ressort c’est qu’il y a encore beaucoup, beaucoup de gens à qui on s’adresse qui ne connaissent pas le CPRST. Donc il y a encore beaucoup de travail à faire pour assurer sa promotion.
2165 LE PRÉSIDENT: Ma question portait peut-être plus vis-à-vis les fournisseurs de service de télédiffusion parce que du côté des télécommunications, ça existe depuis quelques années et on est rendu à quelques fournisseurs qui ne sont plus membres pour toutes sortes de raisons, ou des récalcitrants. Mais on pourrait se retrouver dans une situation où des petits joueurs du domaine de la télédistribution ne sont pas obligatoires membres.
2166 Je comprends votre position que vous dites que tout le monde devrait l’être là, mais advenant qu’on ne va pas dans cette direction-là et puis on exclut certains membres, du moins au début, pourrait-on envisager une situation où on les oblige néanmoins de participer à la promotion de l’existence du CPRST?
2167 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: C’est certain que, effectivement, la manière que le -- quand le réglementaire est fait pour les fournisseurs de services de télévision, effectivement dans certains cas je comprends que certaines obligations réglementaires sont inférieures à celles des principaux fournisseurs.
2168 Il reste néanmoins que ce serait sans doute moins préférable si tous les fournisseurs, incluant ceux-ci, soient contraints d’être membres du CPRST.
2169 Mais effectivement, comme je disais tantôt, toutes les activités de communications qui seraient faites par les fournisseurs de services de télévision, qu’ils soient grands ou petits, il serait souhaitable évidemment.
2170 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc pour vous, même l’idée à l’heure actuelle qui semble être un genre d’avis préliminaire -- ce ne l’est pas formellement -- du Conseil que les petits fournisseurs de services de télévision ne seraient pas -- ceux qui sont exemptés ne seraient pas assujettis.
2171 Vous pensez qu’il y aurait des impacts négatifs associés à cette exclusion?
2172 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: C’est certain que les clients de ces fournisseurs-là auraient un recours de moins par rapport aux clients des autres fournisseurs, qui sont contraints d’être membres du CPRST.
2173 C’est certain qu’advenant le cas -- évidemment c’est pas ce qu’on souhaite, on voudrait que tous les fournisseurs des services de télévision soient membres du CPRST. Mais le cas advenant où effectivement la décision irait dans un cas contraire, il faudrait au moins, comme le CPRST le fait déjà bien, récolter des données pour voir à quel point il y a un impact sur une quantité importante de consommateurs.
2174 LE PRÉSIDENT: Certains préconisent que, pour les très petits joueurs, souvent c’est des compagnies de cablodistribution parfois sous un modèle coopératif et puis c’est dans des petites communautés. Puis tout le monde sait où habite et le prénom du propriétaire.
2175 C’est pas, en fait, une -- si jamais on décidait en bout de ligne d’exclure l’obligation pour ces petits joueurs-là d’être membres, vous ne pensez pas que les forces du marché ou la réalité que c’est notre voisin font en sorte qu’ils sont peut-être un peu plus à l’écoute et à l’affût de leurs consommateurs?
2176 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Ce serait sans doute une hypothèse optimiste. Dans les faits c’est qu’on ne le sait pas. C’est certain que j’imagine dans la mesure où ces fournisseurs ont une base de clientèle plus petite, potentiellement que -- et là, je ne fais que spéculer, peut-être leur service à la clientèle est moins problématique, peut-être qu’il y a des besoins inférieurs.
2177 Mais dans tous les cas, c’est certain qu’il faudrait au moins avoir les données pour être en mesure de vérifier si c’est réellement le cas, qu’il n’y a pas de besoins pour ces consommateurs-là. Et si jamais on voit qu’il y a un problème également pour ces petits fournisseurs-là, que la situation soit rectifiée le plus rapidement possible.
2178 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc, vous êtes plus méfiante qu’optimiste?
2179 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui. On peut résumer ça comme ça.
2180 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord.
2181 Hier, on a discuté du fait que parfois les fournisseurs fournissent à la fois des services de télécommunications et parfois des services de télédistribution.
2182 Si on gardait un système où l’élément déclencheur ce serait une plainte, à votre avis, une fois que l’élément déclencheur ait lieu, est-ce que ça devrait être uniquement par rapport -- admettons que c’est une plainte en télédistribution, que la plainte qui déclenche, est-ce qu’elle devrait déclencher la participation du fournisseur à la fois en télécommunications et à la fois en télécommunication (sic)? Ou est-ce qu’on devrait voir ça comme deux vases clos?
2183 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Non, effectivement, je ne pense pas qu’en vases clos ce soit une bonne idée.
2184 Si on regarde la manière que ça été appliqué dans le secteur des télécommunications, à partir du moment où il y avait une plainte, par exemple, en lien avec les services d’accès internet, ça ne veut pas dire que pour le même fournisseur, pour les services de téléphonie filaire ou téléphonie sans fil, il fallait également qu’il reçoive une plainte pour chacun des types de service.
2185 Donc, a priori, je ne vois pas pourquoi il devrait y avoir un double standard pour les services de télédistribution. D’autant plus que c’est certain qu’il y a une grosse proportion des ménages qui ont des services groupés avec le même fournisseur pour leur ensemble de services de communication.
2186 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc selon votre expérience, vos interactions avec les consommateurs, est-ce qu’ils voient la différence? Nous, on -- évidemment, vous parce que vous participez à nos audiences. Vous savez qu’on opère en vertu de deux lois.
2187 Est-ce que vous pensez que les consommateurs, de nos jours, voient une très grande différence entre leur fournisseur qui leur fournit parfois de la téléphonie, parfois de la télédistribution et parfois des services sans fil?
2188 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Je pense que la réponse est assez claire là.
2189 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui.
2190 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Non. Non, c’est -- dans la mesure où tous les services sont offerts par un même fournisseur, il n’y a pas de différenciation quelconque entre les services de télévision ou les services de télécommunications.
2191 LE PRÉSIDENT: On a discuté hier aussi de l’enjeu particulier de que faire en cas de non-conformité. Donc, on se retrouverait dans un cas où une société fournisseur de services est participante dans le CPRST mais pour une raison quelconque sont en non-conformité d’une des obligations.
2192 À votre avis, quel rôle est-ce que le CRTC devrait jouer dans cette situation? Hier, on a discuté que l’ironie -- et s’ils étaient exclus du contrat de participation, en fait, ils sont libres de leurs obligations. Que c’est un peu contre-intuitif d’avoir cette solution.
2193 Donc, quel est le rôle du CRTC dans la non-conformité des membres -- des fournisseurs au CPRST à votre avis?
2194 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Just pour clarifier, c’est non-conformité quant au membership ou quant à l’administration ---
2195 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui, bien notamment, on a vu que dans leur contrat de participation, ils ont certaines obligations qui vont de fournir de l’information, mettre en œuvre les décisions du CPRST, des obligations de payer leur cotisation annuelle.
2196 Donc s’il y avait un manquement à ce niveau-là, il y a certains recours qui sont possibles.
2197 On en a discuté hier. On peut mettre fin à la participation; donc, ils sont exclus de l’organisme. L’autre alternative c’est un recours civil. Bon, ça fonctionne quand c’est une somme d’argent qui est due, comme les fonds annuels. Et il y a toute cette notion de -- comme on dit en anglais, de « name in shame », un genre de dénonciation publique des fournisseurs en non-conformité.
2198 Donc ça, ça a l’air à être les modes pour traiter de la non-conformité.
2199 Et la suggestion a été que le conseil devrait -- le CRTC devrait jouer un rôle plus accru dans ce -- pour assurer la conformité. Et je vais m’enquérir de votre point de vue sur ça.
2200 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Pour ce qui est de la participation, j’en comprends que c’est déjà le cas quand un fournisseur refuse de participer -- d’être participant au CPRST, que le dossier peut être amené devant le CRTC et souvent le cas va être réglé avant même que le CRTC rende une décision.
2201 C’est certain que quand on parle aussi du « public shaming » j’en comprends que c’est déjà une procédure qui est utilisée -- qui a commencé à être utilisée par le CPRST dans certains cas. Par exemple, quand certains fournisseurs ont refusé de se conformer à des recommandations du CPRST.
2202 Puis c’est certain que pour toute question de conformité, incluant les questions relatives au Code, donc le Code sur les services sans fil ou Code de débranchement, des -- Code pour les fournisseurs de services de télévision, le CRTC est très bien placé pour évidemment permettre au CPRST de s’assurer que les fournisseurs se conforment à l’ensemble de leurs obligations dans la mesure où le CPRST, au départ, est un aboutissement et n’a pas nécessairement le pouvoir d’appliquer lui-même, par exemple, des sanctions pécuniaires, administratives pour assurer la conformité des fournisseurs au cadre réglementaire.
2203 LE PRÉSIDENT: Suite aux modifications à la Loi sur les télécommunications, le Conseil a maintenant le pouvoir d’imposer des pénalités suite à une procédure. Mais ça ne marche que du côté des télécommunications.
2204 Tandis qu’en radiodiffusion, on n’a pas le même pouvoir s’il y a des licences mais même l’opportunité pour venir intervenir dans la relation avec les titulaires est limitée pendant les cinq premières années de la licence.
2205 Vous ne voyez pas un problème pratique pour nous d’intervenir dans des enjeux de non-conformité; une fois que le fournisseur de service est déjà participant mais en non-conformité?
2206 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Dans le cas des télécommunications, il est certain que j’en comprends que les modifications à la Loi sur les télécommunications qui permet ces sanctions pécuniaires sont relativement récentes.
2207 Pour les questions de télécommunications, le Conseil a déjà convoqué dans le passé des fournisseurs récalcitrants en matière de télécommunications et ce, même avant que cette question-là relative aux sanctions pécuniaires soit en vigueur.
2208 Donc, j’imagine qu’un mécanisme semblable pour les fournisseurs de services de télévision peut être prévu pour l’instant mais dans la mesure où -- si pour ces fournisseurs le Conseil manque de temps pour intervenir, bien c’est certain qu’il pourrait à la limite faire la recommandation que des changements législatifs soient faits en conséquence.
2209 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui. Si je comprends bien, vous voulez que le CPRST demeure neutre et vous voyez plus le rôle du Conseil d’intervenir lors des situations de non-conformité, sauf qu’on n’est peut-être pas tout à fait outillé pour le faire pour le moment.
2210 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Peut-être un peu plus que le CPRST d’un point de vue règlementaire.
2211 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord. En ce qui a trait au mandat du CPRST, certains intervenants on préconiser d’élargir son mandat à d’autre sujet qui vont -- qui incluent des enjeux sur leurs pratiques opérationnelles.
2212 C’est d’ailleurs le point de vue de -- notamment de CEPIC, que ça allait -- ça irait au-delà des codes puis des -- existent; qu’en pensez-vous?
2213 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Nous notre position en fait, sur la question, c’est que actuellement CPRST est une ombudsman pour les services de télécommunications, risque de le devenir en général pour les services de communication.
2214 La formule actuelle fonctionne. C’est certain que pour certains sujets particuliers, notamment pour les plaintes relatives à l’équipement, les -- évidemment on pourrait envisager élargissement au cas par cas, mais de rendre -- et je pense que dans le cas de CEPIC y’avait aussi -- puis là vous pouvez me corriger mais par exemple y’avait des -- vous pouvez recevoir des plaintes que le CPRST puisse recevoir des plaintes plus générales relatives par exemple au service à la clientèle.
2215 Je sais que certains ombudsmans notamment en Belgique sont en mesure de recevoir ce type de plainte.
2216 Ça pourrait être un type de sujet qui serait intéressant par le -- d’être traité par le CPRST, mais en Belgique, évidemment, y’a aussi des codes de conduites qui ont été adopté par les fournisseurs en lien avec le service à la clientèle à des obligations législatives aussi qu’il n’y’a pas ici.
2217 Donc il faudrait voir de quelle manière c’est élargissement peut être implanté. Ce serait par exemple par le biais de l’adoption d’un nouveau code de conduite par le CRTC sur des sujets particuliers ou par un élargissement général du mandat du CPRST.
2218 Il serait sans doute préférable de cibler ces modifications-là dès le départ et de voir à la pièce et de voir par la suite et ensuite pourvoir les confier au CPRST.
2219 LE PRÉSIDENT: Mais -- oui.
2220 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui, mais en général c’est que -- en résumé certains changements peuvent être envisagés, mais on ne plaide pas pour un élargissement outre mesure de la vision du CPRST, qui en ce moment son mandat est spécifique et il fonctionne bien donc il faudrait éviter peut-être de chambouler la formule.
2221 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord donc dans tous les sujets c’est pas un sujet qui à votre avis est prioritaire pour le moment d’étendre le mandat outre que la question-là des fournisseurs de télédistribution?
2222 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Exacte.
2223 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qu’en est-il des questions reliées à l’accessibilité? On en a discuté ce matin.
2224 Est-ce que vous avez un point de vue sur les enjeux d’accessibilités et le rôle qu’aurait le CPRST par rapport aux gens avec des besoins physique visuel, auditoire -- auditif, pardon, pour -- et le rôle du CPRST dans ce contexte?
2225 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: En fait l’union des consommateurs par définition adopte des recommandations générales pour l’ensemble des consommateurs. On n’a pas d’expertise précise pour les questions d’accessibilités.
2226 Mais j’en comprends que pour ces questions-là la CPRST peut déjà intervenir. Notamment, je pense au code sur les services sans fil, quand y’a des dispositions particulières qui sont adoptées sur les questions d’accessibilités.
2227 Je pense par exemple à la période d’essai, donc la CPRST peut recevoir des plaintes à ce sujet-là pour les périodes d’essais qui sont plus longues pour les personnes qui ont des certains handicaps.
2228 Maintenant de voir plus précisément est-ce qu’on doit l’élargir ou lui permettre d’avoir des pouvoirs spécifiques en lien avec des plaintes dans le secteur dans l’accessibilité on n’a pas de position développée là-dessus.
2229 On pourrait le faire à la limite dans nos observations finales mais ce n’est pas dans notre -- dans notre expertise de développer des positions sur les questions d’accessibilité.
2230 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je comprends.
2231 C’est très bien, je voulais juste voir si vous aviez un point de vue particulier sur ça, étant donné votre action dans le marché francophone.
2232 En ce qui a trait à la gouvernance maintenant, vous semblez faire quelques points. Vous voulez que ça soit un groupe indépendant. Avez-vous des préoccupations sur le -- les supers majorités nécessaires pour un vote spécial ou le fait que -- qu’il pourrait être -- par l’existence de ces votes-là ça mine l’indépendance du conseil d’administration?
2233 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Évidemment c’est difficile de savoir quel est l’impact concret, parce que évidemment le contenu des réunions du -- des conseils d’administration sont confidentielles.
2234 Mais il demeure que pour certains sujets précis, puis là je parle d’avantage d’un point de vue pour la recherche, par exemple, je mentionnais que plutôt pour les rapports annuels, il serait intéressant d’avoir les mêmes données d’une année à l’autre, que des fois y’a des catégories qui disparaissent ou qui réapparaissent, qui sont modifiées d’une année à l’autre.
2235 On voit que -- puis là je vais revenir sur la question principale, on voit que les rapports annuels d’une année à l’autre sont toujours de la même longueur à peu près. Comme si on -- en tout cas on se pose la question si y’aurait pas des contraintes budgétaires en lien avec ces choix-là.
2236 Nous évidemment ce qu’on voudrait c’est que si y’a besoin d’un plus grand traitement ou de documents plus longs, plus étendus, pour apporter l’ensemble des faits saillants, que ce soit le cas.
2237 Les enjeux budgétaires c’est des enjeux qui -- c’est une des catégories qui fait l’objet d’un seuil qui est supérieur à celui de la majorité simple. Donc on se pose la question est-ce que y’aurait pu avoir un véto, on le sait pas.
2238 Mais évidemment pour des questions comme ça qui peuvent avoir un impact sur l’intérêt public, sur la transparence de l’information qui est transmis par le CPRST, l’exhaustivité des renseignements au sujet des plaintes, il serait intéressant potentiellement que les seuils de votes pour ce type de sujet soient baissés pour évidemment que l’adoption d’un changement par exemple au budget soit plus facile.
2239 LE PRÉSIDENT: Est-ce que vous avez des échanges informels avec le CPRST de temps en temps, parce que vous parlez de transparence, mais une façon d’obtenir de l’information -- est-ce que vous avez des rencontres informelles de temps en temps? Même des appels téléphoniques avec Monsieur Maker ou son équipe?
2240 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Il peut arriver quand on a des problèmes particuliers, des commentaires à faire, qu’on communique avec le CPRST, mais ce n’est pas une pratique courante de le faire.
2241 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord. Je me tournais vers l’enjeu de la promotion -- d’assurer la promotion, c’est clair dans votre présentation que vous voulez que le CPRST soit l’objet d’une promotion plus tôt dans les étapes.
2242 Mais nous avons jusqu’à date eu un débat, est-ce que c’est la promotion en générale qu’on doit favoriser, de l’existence et du mandat du CPRST ou est-ce qu’on devrait plutôt viser la promotion de son existence à point dans le contexte d’une plainte donnée?
2243 Est-ce que vous avez un point de vue sur ça, parce que il semble avoir une vision différente des diverses parties.
2244 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Bien les deux en fait sont avantageux donc ---
2245 LE PRÉSIDENT: Vous voyez pas une exclusion? On pourrait faire les deux?
2246 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Non, en fait, parce que évidemment au départ pour qu’un cas -- pour qu’un -- dès le départ si le consommateur sait qu’il peut porter plainte au CPRST, il a un avantage par rapport à celui qui ne le sait pas.
2247 Dans la mesure ou -- sachant qu’il a un recourt supplémentaire, ça peut peut-être le motiver dans ses négociations avec son fournisseur et l’encourager à ne pas accepter une proposition qui ne -- qui ne répondrait pas à ces exigences.
2248 Donc dans -- notamment pour cette raison c’est certain que c’est avantageux d’avoir des campagnes de sensibilisation au grand public et c’est certain aussi que pour la personne qui est rendu à l’étape de porter plainte, bien là évidemment c’est la moindre des choses qu’elle devrait être au courant le plutôt possible du fait qu’elle dispose d’un recourt pour l’aider si jamais la proposition du fournisseur n’est pas -- n’est pas ce que -- ce qu’elle voudrait.
2249 Il faudrait éviter que les consommateurs, parce qu’ils ne connaissent pas le CPRST, acceptent une proposition qui ne permettrait que de trancher la poire en deux, alors que peut-être auprès du commissaire il pourrait se faire donner raison sur une question et avoir des indemnités supérieures.
2250 LE PRÉSIDENT: Dans votre présentation vous avez mentionné que c’est pas tout le monde qui a un accès facile à des plateformes de communication tel l’internet pour obtenir de l’information sur le CPRST.
2251 Et c’est vrai, soit que les gens n’ont pas l’équipement, n’ont pas les connaissances, n’ont pas la connectivité nécessaire, toutes sortes de raisons et même le -- c’est pas leur façon d’obtenir de l’information pour toutes sortes de raisons, âge, éducation et d’autres.
2252 Quel devrait être la stratégie pour atteindre ce segment-là de la population, à votre avis?
2253 Qu’est-ce que vous, comme l’union des consommateurs, parce que vous aussi vous avez le même problème. Vous avez à interagir avec des gens qui parfois sont défavorisés dans la société, qui n’ont pas accès à l’internet d’une façon quelconque. Comment allez-vous rejoindre ces gens-là?
2254 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Par définition, les -- membres d’union des consommateurs, communique beaucoup avec ce type de consommateur là. Évidemment c'est dans notre mission de prendre en considération les intérêts des consommateurs à faible revenu, et souvent c'est les ménages qui -- pas systématiquement, mais quand on regarde les ménages qui ne sont toujours pas abonnés au service d’accès internet, y a une plus grande proportion pour les ménages à faible revenu.
2255 Par contre, ces ménages peuvent être abonnés à d’autres services en plus grande proportion, notamment les services de télédistribution. Donc y peut être avantageux pour joindre ce type de ménage d’utiliser de multiples plateformes.
2256 Donc évidemment les campagnes de sensibilisation à la télévision, ça pourrait à la limite aussi être des campagnes de sensibilisation à la radio, parce qu’évidemment l’utilisation des médias varie aussi selon les générations, c'est pas seulement une question de revenu.
2257 Puis comme on mentionnait tantôt, ça passe par les campagnes générales, multiplateformes, et ça passe aussi par des renseignements spécifiques, soit par téléphone, ça peut être une information écrite aussi qui serait disponible chez les fournisseurs de services. Donc que l’information soit accessible, donc format téléphonique, écrit, internet, faut -- dans le fond ce qui faut c'est rejoindre l’ensemble de la population.
2258 Parce que souvent ce qu’on regarde à la fois pour les -- ce qu’on constate à la fois pour les services dans le secteur privé et pour certains services publics, y a une transition très rapide vers des -- des services qui sont davantage offerts sur internet, mais c'est pas tous les consommateurs malheureusement qui suivent. Y a encore -- selon les statistiques autour -- au-dessus de 20 pourcent des ménages qui n’utilisent -- qui ne sont pas abonnés à des services d’accès internet, donc ---
2259 LE PRÉSIDENT: M'hm.
2260 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE : --- faut éviter qu’ils soient laissés pour compte là.
2261 LE PRÉSIDENT: Que fait l’Union des Consommateurs pour promouvoir le CPRST? Est-ce que vous -- vous faites des activités de promotion spécifiques ou en général?
2262 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Activités de promotion, ben, je peux dire que dans nos ---
2263 LE PRÉSIDENT: Ben je sais pas là, dans vos lettres, je sais pas, vous avez des communications avec les gens qui vous suivent, vos membres, des réunions avec des groupes de consommateurs. Est-ce que c'est une activité que vous vous voyez comme partenaire à ---
2264 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui.
2265 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- à nous promouvoir?
2266 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Mais c'est quelque chose qu’on a fait au fil des ans. C'est déjà arrivé qu’on donne -- que je donne une formation sur -- pour les conseillers budgétaires qui parlaient en détail du CPRST, qui n'était pas connu ou à demi connu de plusieurs conseillers budgétaires.
2267 Quand on reçoit des appels directement des consommateurs on les réfère fréquemment au CPRST ou à l’OPC selon la type -- selon le type de plainte. C'est le cas aussi des associations coopératives d’économie familiale, dont certaines assistent aussi les consommateurs dans leur -- dans le dépôt de la plainte auprès du CPRST.
2268 Il peut arriver aussi qu’on publie par exemple des papiers, comme par exemple y a eu un récemment dans -- dans les affaires sur les recours en télécommunication qui parlait du CPRST. Donc on fait pas de campagne majeure de promotion, mais dès qu’on peut on en parle, parce qu’évidemment c'est -- c'est un recours qu’on a l’impression qu’y est encore très peu connu des consommateurs au Québec.
2269 LE PRÉSIDENT: Mais vous tentez d’alimenter votre réseau qui -- le large réseau parce que -- je vous pose une question comme si vous aviez une armée de personnes derrière vous puis vous êtes pas mal seule, mais vous avez des réseaux d’action en économie familiale, y a des gens ---
2270 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui.
2271 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- un peu sur le terrain partout, donc c'est par l’entremise de ces gens-là que vous -- vous tentez d’expliquer l’existence du ---
2272 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui, ben ---
2273 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- CPRST?
2274 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: --- effectivement pour les activités directement auprès des consommateurs, ça passe majoritairement par les associations coopératives d’économie familiale, parce que c'est elles qui offrent un service de première ligne aux consommateurs, tandis que nous c'est davantage une mission de recherche et de représentation pour la défense collective des droits.
2275 LE PRÉSIDENT: Le dernier sujet je voulais traiter avec vous c'était le -- toute l’incidence sur les cotes de crédit. Est-ce que vous êtes au fait de cas précis de gens qui sont venus vous voir parce que le fait qu’y ont déposé une plainte a mené à une décote ou un dommage à leur -- leur cote de crédit, ou est-ce que c'est une préoccupation plus générale?
2276 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: On n’a pas eu de cas spécifique de -- qu’un dépôt de -- d’une plainte au CPRST ait occasionné ou que pendant le dépôt d’une plainte au CPRST qu’y ait eu mention sur -- dans le dossier de crédit du client.
2277 Cela dit, c'est davantage en regardant les réponses aux interrogatoires du CRTC et de certains fournisseurs, certaines réponses nous semblaient plus claires que d’autres. Donc c'était une mention davantage -- d’autant plus que le CPRST mentionnait dans ses -- dans ses réponses également que les processus de recouvrement ne semblaient pas nécessairement être stoppés dans tous les cas. Donc c'était une préoccupation générale en lien avec ces -- ces informations là qui sont au dossier public.
2278 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc -- et c'est pour ça que vous nous dites qu’on devrait, nous le CRTC, créer une norme, un standard par rapport à cet enjeu-là; est-ce exact? Qu’on devrait nous clarifier ou forcer la clarification de ---
2279 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Ben clarifier cette procédure dans la mesure où -- c’est sûr que ça peut être fait de multiples façons, mais compte-tenu qu’on a déjà adopté un code pour les pratiques de débranchement et dépôt, ça pourrait potentiellement être un ajout à ce code-là ou ça peut être adopté d’une autre manière.
2280 Donc de s’assurer que ce type de procédure-là des fournisseurs soit stoppé pendant le traitement de la plainte au CPRST, peu importe à quel stade est rendu le consommateur dans -- sur la question de recouvrement avec son fournisseur.
2281 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et si la plainte s’avérait non-valable? J’imagine que vous préconisez que si la plainte est valable que le fournisseur de service a quand même une obligation de peut-être corriger les faits pour s’assurer qu’y ait pas une décote. Mais qu’en est-il d’une situation où la plainte est valable?
2282 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Mais c'est certain que pendant les investigations du CPRST peu importe l’issue finale de la plainte, le fournisseur devrait simplement arrêter ses procédures de recouvrement. C'est certain que si effectivement le fournisseur -- ben en fait le consommateur dans le fond avait tort pour sa plainte, là ça devient un petit peu plus problématique.
2283 Mais il faudrait voir selon le type de service également, parce que pour certains services essentiels -- je pense par exemple au service d’électricité au Québec, peu importe l’état de la créance du consommateur, par exemple Hydro-Québec n’a pas de -- le droit de donner ces renseignements à les agences de crédit -- on pourrait envisager des mesures de protection semblables pour les services de base dans le -- dans le secteur des télécommunications.
2284 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc vous envisagez une période de sursis pendant le -- l’analyse de la plainte?
2285 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui.
2286 LE PRÉSIDENT: D'accord. Ce sont mes questions.
2287 Madame la conseillère Vennard, s’il vous plait.
2288 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Hello, I’ve been listening to a translation, so it’s possible that I’ve missed something somewhere along the line.
2289 I’m just referring to point number 8 in your submission, and I believe that you mentioned a code of conduct for internet and landline. Was that correct -- am I correct in saying that? Yeah. Would you give us your thoughts on that?
2290 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui, c’est certain que ce n’est pas nécessairement l’objectif de la consultation actuelle, mais en fait c’est que on fait cette recommandation-là dans la mesure où quand on regarde par exemple les codes ou les -- les dispositions par exemple soit dans les provinces ou à l’étranger en Australie, quand on regarde leur code de service, c’est pour l’ensemble des services de télécommunications et non seulement pour les services sans fil.
2291 En fait c'est qu’on regarde en ce moment de la manière qu’y est administré le code sur les services sans fil par le CPRST, on voit que cette administration-là dans certains cas a été à l’avantage des consommateurs, donc le CPRST se conforme bien à la clause interprétative -- à la clause -- est-ce que vous m’entendez?
2292 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui.
2293 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
2294 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: --- à la clause interprétative à l’effet que toute ambiguïté au contrat ou au code de conduite doit être interprété à l’avantage du consommateur. Ce qu’on voudrait c'est que ça soit le cas pour l’ensemble des services de communication.
2295 C'est davantage ce qu’on voulait amener dans le cadre de la présente consultation, parce que là en ce moment on a un ensemble de mesures de protection pour les services sans fil qui faisait l’objet d’un plus grand nombre de plaintes. Mais quand on regarde dans d’autres juridictions, même d’autres secteurs comme les services filaires, les services d’accès internet sont tout de même règlementés même si le volume de plainte est moins grand.
2296 Il peut avoir des plaintes en lien par exemple avec plusieurs sujets contractuels même si le volume est moins grand. Ça veut pas dire que on a pas besoin de mesures de protection pour ce type de service-là. Donc à terme ça pourrait effectivement être une évolution intéressante du code sur les services sans fil que des mesures de protection et des recours soient prévus pour l’ensemble des services de communication.
2297 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And that would include the landline as well because you men -- I believe ---
2298 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: Oui.
2299 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- you mentioned that too?
2300 Mme LAMBERT-RACINE: De la même manière que ça été fait dans la Loi sur la protection du consommateur du Québec, donc service de téléphonie, service de télédistribution, service d’accès à internet. Donc c'est sûr que le mandat au Québec est un peu plus grand, c'est -- là je rentre dans les complexités, des contrats à exécution successive des services fournis à distance, ça peut inclure d’autres services également, mais pour les biens du CPRST ça devrait être l’ensemble des services de communication.
2301 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
2302 LE PRÉSIDENT: Alors merci beaucoup. Ce sont nos questions.
2303 Ça va être le moment pour notre ajournement pour la pause du déjeuner et on revient à 1h30 -- 13h30. So we’re on a break -- lunch break until 1:30. Thank you very much.
--- Upon recessing at 12:30 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 1:31 p.m.
2304 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
2305 Alors, Madame la secrétaire.
2306 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
2307 We will now hear the presentation of CNIB and the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. Mr. Bissonnette is appearing by videoconference from the Montreal CRTC office.
2308 Mr. Greco, you may start the presentation.
2309 MR. GRECO: Good afternoon and thank you very much for the opportunity to present to you this afternoon.
2310 I’d like to start, first of all, by recognizing two gentlemen that are here with us today, Mr. Wayne Antle and Mr. Lorne Newfeldt, who have -- are un support of what we’re doing and are actually representative of the folks that we’re speaking with, for and on behalf of.
2311 We’ve prepared some information on both Mr. Bissonnette and myself, some very brief bios, not to take time away from the presentation, as well as some background information on our respective organizations.
2312 Leo, I’ll pass it over to you about ABC.
2313 MR. BISSONNETTE: Thank you, Mr. Greco.
2314 I’m very pleased to be here, Dr. Leo Bissonnette, as a member of the Board of the Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians. I am a director without portfolio and I have been asked to take on this pleasurable task of bringing to the CRTC over the last few months several presentations that, in effect, speak to two issues that are of particular interest to us, a consumer group and advocacy group interested in promoting the needs of our membership who are visually impaired, blind and deaf-blind.
2315 Our particular interests lie, as I say, in several areas, but as a theme for our presentations today we can highlight two of them. We are very much interested in education awareness.
2316 In our presentation, of course, we bring forth information that profiles what the needs of the visually impaired population in Canada are, and by doing so we hope that we advance that understanding and awareness.
2317 The other activity, of course, of great interest to us is the advocacy to bring to the discussions here points that may lead ultimately to policy long term and certainly ways that all of us can benefit, even on an interim basis, the solutions. So it’s advocacy that, in part, drives us with the hope that we can be proactive in bringing forth good policy.
2318 Back to my colleague Lui for the CNIB profile.
2319 MR. GRECO: Okay. I guess to answer the question in front of us today about expanding the role of the CCTS, or even should the role of the CCTS be expanded, we believe absolutely that it should.
2320 Fundamental to that is we, Canada, you, the Commission, need to do a much better job on delivering or obtaining some of the founding principles around accessibility policy. There’s been tremendous work and we commend your listening skills and your ability to capture some of the thoughts and perceptions and experiences of our populations both within the vision loss community as well as the broader community of persons with disabilities in clearly articulating what will definitely be maybe not the completed race but definitely a good start on the race to achieving true equality and full participation by all Canadians regardless of their disability.
2321 Another point or sort of another yardstick, if you will, is we believe that the process needs to be streamlined. One-stop shopping is synonymous with the delivery of many services in our multi-tiered and very diverse society. We don’t believe that disability or accessibility -- disability issues should be different.
2322 The current regime -- and I’m going to take extreme licence here in summarizing it in about five words -- is multi-tiered and cross-jurisdictional. Now, it’s much broader and it’s much more sophisticated than that, but when you sum it all up, as a person with a disability, if there’s a complaint or a dispute or a barrier that we’re trying to mitigate, the barriers and the processes that we have to go through are indeed multi-tiered and cross-jurisdictional.
2323 So in this case specifically, if a telephone bill is excessive, if I’ve been assessed, data charges that are outside of the parameters of my plan, it’s not clear cut. It’s not simply a matter of saying they should have Plan X instead of Plan Y. As you heard earlier today about people using various global positioning systems or GPS apps, those things tend to draw on a lot of data. That’s probably not something that the average consumer, whoever that average consumer or whatever that person looks like, would incur.
2324 If the Commission agrees with our position that CCTS needs to expand its mandate to include disability services, we see several advantages. First of all, the complaints will be -- sorry, I’m doing disadvantages. I apologize.
2325 So the disadvantages, and again the disadvantages of bringing accessibility services into the realm of the CCTS is that they would be complaints-based resolution resolved on a case-by-case basis rather than being resolved within a policy background or binding set of circumstances.
2326 What does that mean in English? Well, if you look at Canadian Human Rights legislation, if I am denied access with my guide dog from a facility, Mr. Bissonnette may visit that same facility the day after the decision is handed down from the Human Rights Tribunal granting me or acknowledging my right to do so and he would encounter the same barriers. That’s not effective.
2327 Challenges around training of CCTS staff, I think the Commission has heard ample examples about the experiences of people with disabilities, particularly those with vision loss in their engagement with frontline and over-the-counter service personnel.
2328 The current complaints mechanism, the online form, presents significant challenges for people using assistive technology. We did a very quick and high level assessment of the complaints form specifically and found that there was 31 -- I don’t want to use the word violations because in your vocabulary that means something significantly different -- but 31 non-compliance issues. What that means is that for someone using assistive technology, regardless of what that technology is, be it large print or text-to-speech or perhaps even augmented input devices, that tool, that website may be difficult, if not impossible, for the person to use.
2329 Another disadvantage is that this would be unique within the Canadian context.
2330 To the best of our knowledge -- and neither Mr. Bissonnette or I are -- you know, we’re not policy experts by any means, but to the best of our knowledge, if the Commission were to agree with this, in moving the accessibility over to the CCTS, no precedent exists within Canadian policy.
2331 The CTA -- the Canadian Transportation Agency -- does have a process that does look at barriers to transportation issues. However, it’s a complicated process. It’s adjudicated, it’s procedural, and quite honestly it’s intimidating.
2333 MR. BISSONNETTE: Now, to turn it to the advantages of what we would like to see, we certainly feel that a centralized complaints mechanism benefits all consumers. And indeed I would suggest that in recent years the climate is certainly open to that.
2334 I note that in 2012 the CRTC itself appointed a consumer officer and that’s an important development.
2335 So it’s within that context that we would suggest that a centralized complaints procedure or model would benefit our population and it would indeed benefit all Canadian consumers. So it’s a win.
2336 And, in fact, I note that the COGECO people in one of their submissions at paragraph 8 support that general centralized approach. While they don’t necessarily agree with us that accessibility should be put there, it still points to that need for that kind of centralized model where the complaints go.
2337 And, as I say, at a time when we are very actively getting involved as consumers and we want our members to be involved, this is a win/win, we sincerely believe, for those in the Commission, those in the CCTS, so that we can move forward.
2338 And indeed I think out of this comes some good things for all sides. Enhanced reporting and tracking of accessibility issues is vital. I don’t know that we as a whole know the complete profile of those with disabilities in Canada and certainly within our own population at best sometimes we guesstimate the self-identified individuals who come forth to indicate to agencies or organizations that they have a visual loss of some sort.
2339 And I think in turn what this will do is it will encourage more inclusion of persons with disabilities in the whole process. There will be some sense that it’s open to them to participate in. And in a minute we’ll come back to talk about a way that we can have some of this done through several approaches to make it happen.
2340 I’ll just go through my notes right here for a minute.
2341 And I think there’s a whole series of things around expectations. I think frankly at times there’s some cynicism on the part of our members what really will happen to benefit them.
2342 And I sincerely believe that what we are suggesting and what we hear others suggesting is that we’ve moved more to a consumer based approach rather than God forbid that I use the word an adversarial approach.
2343 What ultimately I think we all want is a procedure, a complaints mechanism that gives us resolution to the immediate need. And at a time when we are seeing new emerging technologies come into play, those interim solutions are important and certainly we need to identify the long-term but if we’re working collectively in a perspective of not being adversarial but of being supportive and helpful then we all gain and certainly the providers of the devices that we want to get in the hands of our consumer we all gain.
2345 MR. GRECO: Okay. One of the questions you asked in the consultation was around increasing awareness of the CCTS, and we believe that there is definite need for that.
2346 In our formal submission we recommended a two-pronged approach; first of all, increased access to the online complaints mechanism. And we talked a little bit about that with regards to having someone using assistive technology independently complete an online complaint and using that means of accelerating or moving their complaint forward within the process.
2347 Perhaps as important, and some might argue that it’s even more important, is to include persons with disabilities or include persons with vision loss or other disabilities in any public outreach initiatives.
2348 We’re not really -- it’s beyond the scope of our presentation to talk about what medium or media would be appropriate. Perhaps PSA’s, perhaps online vignettes, perhaps, you know, broader mass media, provided that it was done in an accessible format. But all of those things would be effective in increasing awareness.
2349 Positive portrayal of people with disabilities in mass market communications not only will better increase awareness of the CCTS and its role and its mandate and how it can help, but the bigger picture, which we’re primarily concerned about, is engagement of people with disabilities and vision loss in the broader society.
2350 If you see someone who’s blind using an iPhone or using a computer or walking down the street the more you see that -- and I’m talking you as the universal you -- the more you see that the better your understanding of, you know, that person could be my next door neighbour rather than they’re someone off in the distance that I’ve never met and, you know, probably will never experience any of those types of barriers in my life.
2351 Certainly we encourage and strongly support full accessibility and compliance to the many established standards that do exist on the usability and functionality of web resources, such online forums. Unfortunately, and this may come as a shock to society as a whole, but people with disabilities, including vision loss, don’t fit into neat little boxes.
2352 My ability as someone with an extensive background in a variety of things may be completely different from the two gentlemen in the audience with us today and Mr. Bissonnette’s. A one size fits all approach is something that we discourage because one size doesn’t fit anyone. We all have different needs and regardless of your ability or lack thereof.
2353 So one of the ways we see to get around that, in addition to full accessibility and user testing of an online complaints mechanism, would be to provide -- and I believe the CCTS does this currently, I could be wrong, but to provide a call center support in completing a complaint. So the individual who is blind would call up, articulate their need, and the agent would capture, you know, the necessary information that they need to determine the scope, whether the complaint is in scope or out of scope and, you know, the various administrative things that they have to go through.
2354 Establish a dedicated que who would receive ongoing training on disability and assistive technologies and disabilities in general. Not that they have to become experts. That’s not what we’re proposing. But simply understanding that yes an iPhone is accessible out of the box and that an android requires a little bit more investment in time and brain power is probably all they would need to know.
2355 Again, our presentation is strictly limited to folks around vision loss, but I believe, and I’m about 90 percent confident that within the realm of other disabilities that similar type of parallels would exist.
2356 Service provider messaging around how to facilitate the process if someone does choose to escalate their complaints. Email templates that would facilitate capturing the necessary information for the complaint.
2357 So a possible outline for such a template might include issues around -- or suggestions to remind the individual to be specific, no ambiguous sort of generalized statements. Self-identify as a person with vision loss or perhaps other disability complaint or other disability, a specific complaint regarding their interaction with the company; the device wasn’t accessible, no speech output, unable to enlarge or adjust fonts so that they were readable or accessible by the individual, numeric and function keys are not easy to identify by touch and a variety of other fields, if you will, or informational points that could be captured.
2358 Leo, I’ll pass it back to you, my friend.
2359 MR. BISSONNETTE: To discuss more about how the individual could be assisted, as part of this working with staff certainly you see in our notes, as Mr. Greco has nicely described, the kind of checklist that people working on the phones could use.
2360 What we also want to see happen is for those who can at least handle an email submission, how can they be supported with information that helps them put into a complaint what they need? So having them, for example, clearly identify that they have a particular disability, in our case of vision loss, with a description of what is exactly the problem that they’re facing. Again, to take several examples from what Mr. Greco has said, was there an issue with the ability to handle the particular model of phone that they ultimately picked up? Did the iPhone really do it, as an example? Should they really have been shown a phone with buttons? If that’s the case, is there a mechanism? Maybe they’ve gone past the guarantee period? Can that device be exchanged in some equitable way? This might be the kind of issue that would come up in a complaint.
2361 What we may see quite often would be problems around the documentation provided, either in the form of the contract or the actual documentation around the device. To maximize the use of the particular device, providing that documentation in some form of an alternative format would be appropriate. Maybe in some cases, again depending upon the sophistication of the user, providing the documentation in a Word file that would be readable in the technologies that many of our clients and members have would do the job. Maybe for others who are more senior who are still struggling with sight loss later in life having a recording, a simple recording of a -- of the instructions would be sufficient. That’s the kind of things that you may see in these complaints. So providing information to individuals as they go through this independent effort to submit would be helpful and developing the kind of script in the instructions would be part of that that would be undertaken if this moves forward.
2362 With that said, let us talk about the -- how do we measure the awareness? How effective is it? Certainly, as Mr. Greco has said, including public service announcements is certainly going to be part of it. The portrayals will be very key. But what will be important as a result of these efforts is to see what kind of results you get back. It’s the tracking mechanisms that will ultimately yield us all data. We don’t work in a vacuum, and ultimately to move things forward for policy or service, I would submit to you as a former retired researcher, that having clear data is what we all need to move this process forward.
2363 So for example, the actual tracking of how many complaints did you get and even, I would suggest, complaints that don’t simply fall into neat little categories initially need to be somehow at least identified under another category. And certainly we need to better understand the demographics of our disabled population, and we know certainly within Canadian trends we have a baby boomer society that is aging and it’s bringing to the profile more and more health issues, disability-related issues, multiple disability related issues, and as we move forward, while we may think of this strictly as healthcare issue, it has profound implications for other areas of services in our lives and certainly I would argue that telephone communications, access to TV, et cetera, is part of it as we proceed in our normal everyday lives.
2364 So I would leave that for consideration as good practice for us all to get into and I think we would all benefit long term from those kinds of tracking mechanisms. And certainly if they move that way over a period of perhaps 18 months to two years, we’re going to get that kind of hard data that will benefit the industry, the Commission, the government and other sources, and certainly us as consumers as we move forward.
2365 Mr. Greco.
2366 MR. GRECO: One of the other questions that was asked in the consultation document was about the exclusion of certain services when and/or if television services enter the scope of the CCTS. I re-read my submission and I don’t think it was very clear, but I think our response is a definitive no. Nothing should be excluded.
2367 I guess the question is, as a consumer and as a person with a disability, why? If I choose to do business with a huge corporate entity or the fellow next door who set up a satellite service and is selling me -- on a legal basis of course -- selling me services, you know, cable services, I should have the same recourse as long as it’s a -- you know, if it’s a legal contract, it should fall within the context of the regulatory framework and there should be no exclusions.
2368 Again, it’s outside of our domain, but I don’t think that that makes for an effective and fair and efficient marketplace. Although we’re not proponents and advocates for big business, we believe in a free and equitable economy where the same expectations are held of all players, including meeting accessibility needs. The products and services offered by telecom services and cable providers, it’s a shrinking domain. We used to have three separate bills. We’ve heard the term bundles, packages, call it what you will. So the lines are blurring.
2369 How are you -- how is the Commission going to differentiate between specific television services or carriers or program offerings that are out of scope? We’re very concerned as we move closer to the Let’s Talk TV 2019 implementation of increased access to descriptive video. Again, if I choose to subscribe to a particular channel, let’s just for the sake of argument let’s say Discovery Channel, and it’s offered to me through my provider, if that broadcaster doesn’t include an adequate amount or doesn’t adhere to the -- the 28-hour minimum described video per week, I have a legitimate complaint. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t have the time and the energy to always embark on adversarial undertakings with the CRTC. They are extremely talented and extremely well equipped to manage those complaints, but I, as a consumer, have a life and shouldn’t necessarily have to embark on that significant an undertaking to resolve my issue.
2370 The process that’s in place currently through the CCTS is reasonable. It’s fair. It requires due diligence on my part. You know, I’m expected to engage with my service provider, as I should be. And if that proves unsuccessful and canceling my service or going to another provider or dropping my subscription to that package is an option that I choose not to pursue, then I should be entitled to the same type of recourse irrespective of the fact that it falls within this big box called accessibility issues.
2371 Referring to the governance model of the current CCTS, we’re very concerned that it’s not reflective of Canadian society as a whole.
2372 Again, it’s outside of our scope, talking about industry’s representation versus consumer representation.
2373 However, there’s no voice there for people with disabilities. If you, the Commission, choose not to include accessibility within the CCTS mandate and choose to leave it where it is with the CCTS, excellent. Terrific. We are extremely encouraged to continue to work with the Commission in moving that forward.
2374 However, you can’t ignore 14 percent of the Canadian society and say that you are truly inclusive. I’m not sure how many people are left in this room. I’m sure there’s probably about 30, the math, whatever 14 percent of 30 is. I’m too nervous to do that.
2375 But that basically tells us that that number of people within this room, at some point between now and the time that they pass, are going to encounter, live with or be living with someone that has a disability.
2376 That’s a significant number.
2377 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Greco, you have to conclude please.
2378 MR. GRECO: Okay. Go ahead, Léo.
2379 MR. BISSONNETTE: (Off mic) would be that certainly we are all an accident or a notice away from a disability and certainly including the disabled population in general will be to the benefit of all Canadians.
2380 Thank you.
2381 MR. GRECO: Miss Roy, thank you for not waving or ---
2382 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well no doubt -- this is Jean-Pierre Blais, Chair of the Panel. No doubt you will have an opportunity to elaborate on your point of view as Commissioner Vennard ask you further questions.
2383 Thank you.
2384 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Hello, Mr. Greco and Mr. Bissonnette.
2385 As you were speaking, something caught my eye and I’m just wondering if one of you would maybe expand a bit on it and really contextualize something for us.
2386 You mentioned about -- when you were talking about documentation and usable forms, it struck me that what does a blind person get in the way of documentation when you go and do something like purchase a cell phone or a cell phone plan. What do you -- I know what I walk out of the store with but what could a blind person walk out of the store with?
2387 MR. BISSONNETTE: I would be very pleased to answer that question.
2388 The reality is most people don’t even offer that in the stores and some consumers are shy to ask for it. It’s the more advanced consumers, in terms of their advocacy skills that will ask for that and probably additionally be told, “We don’t have it.”
2389 The reality is that we need to look at mechanisms that it can happen. And it’s to understand that indeed, if the provider has the same documentation in their system as a PDF file, which they use to produce mass copies of print, that PDF file, for some users, can be adapted and read, using the accessibility technology that they have.
2390 In other cases, more may have to be done, and there are procedures that, you know, again, if the Commissioner wants, we can certainly provide to the CNIB and AEBC.
2391 There are ways to even take that file and bring it into other formats. For example, many not all, and again one size doesn’t fit all, but many of our members are able to use on their computers and cell phones now Word. So a document in Word becomes, if made available, a possible way to give that access, that independent access, so that the consumer can get down to the nitty-gritty of using their particular device walking away understanding the full potential.
2392 The extent of that too goes to contracts. Again, if a consumer is handed a document and told to sign it, well, they’re doing it on a certain degree of faith. If there is a mechanism by which that contract can be made available in alternative formats, good.
2393 It carries over to bills. One of the things that we hear often is that many of our students are told by the providers, all of them so nobody is off the hook on this one, “Go to the website, it’s there. You can get it.”
2394 Well, the reality is -- and again it comes back to the understanding of well maybe -- we think our website is W3C compliant. Well, as Mr. Greco pointed out, when you run an accessible web checker, it’s not.
2395 So what do we do? How can you make that bill readily available on a monthly basis, so that the consumer can read that bill and pay the bill?
2396 That’s the challenge and there are ways to do it and again CNIB, and AEBC, and others in Canada are willing to sit down with the providers and talk about how to make that happen.
2397 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How do you see that happening? What would you suggest could move that forward?
2398 MR. BISSONNETTE: Well, I would -- and then Lui can take it.
2399 I think one of the things that has to happen, and I’m going to give you an example that’s happened a month ago.
2400 We had an initial discussion. Bell Canada came to AEBC, and I believe they did with Mr. Greco from CNIB, talking about what they wanted to do in the next year -- the next few months.
2401 That’s the kind of positive dialogue that is going to put on the table for the providers knowledge of what we need and for us to indicate how best that can be brought forward. Sit down and test.
2402 So maybe you’ve now got that document to an alternative format. Let’s bring in some of the community to test it.
2403 It’s a dialogue that will benefit both sides. It doesn’t happen overnight but it is an evolutionary process that can be engaged in over the next few years.
2404 MR. GRECO: I think just to add to what Mr. Bissonnette is saying is that how do we get there? I wish there was an answer that I could -- that we could provide you that would be easy to implement.
2405 Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of awareness. We have been asking for this in fairness outside of -- outside and inside of this context for access to appropriate format information or alternate format information for generations. This has been an ongoing issue.
2406 You have clear mandates that recognize this. So I am assuming that all of the service providers in this country are well aware of those mandates. As was said yesterday, I apologize I can’t remember who said it, but the intent at the top of these organizations is true. They firmly believe in better serving all their customers including those with disabilities. But unfortunately there’s a disconnect as it works its way through the machine of business.
2407 So as a consumer with a disability, I walk into the store, yes, I’m expected to sign a contract on faith. If I’m lucky and if I’m capable and confident enough to pick up the phone and ask the provider, “I would like that contract that I just signed in an alternative format please, so I could cure my insomnia one night and read it”, good for me. I’ll be informed about my obligations and what I can fairly expect of my service provider.
2408 How we get there? Again, it’s not an easy answer. The Commission’s mandate, the Commission’s big stick when needed is extremely useful. I know it’s been used by many people to resolve that issue. But I really believe, as Léo said, it’s all about dialogue.
2409 Don’t look for the one-size-fits-all because it won’t work, and you will have more people frustrated and under-served by trying to put them into a box that, you know, they don’t fit in.
2410 Accessible phones for instance is a prime example. I believe that many of the carriers are touting the iphone as a fully accessible solution, and it’s wonderful. It is, if you have the dexterity, if you’re not afflicted with diabetes and have neuropathy in your fingers, if you happen not to be an elderly person who may have early onset of Parkinson’s or other disabilities that would cause your hand to tremor.
2411 Those aren’t far fetch, my friends. Those aren’t hypothetical what-if, never-happened-to-me type of scenarios. They’re real.
2412 So you know coming up with solutions that, just as with all customers, are designed and targeted to meet their individual needs, shouldn’t be an exceptional conversation within the realm of accessibility and meeting the needs of people who are blind.
2413 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that. I want to just ask a few more questions.
2414 You mentioned about expanding the mandate of CCTS and one of the disadvantages of that suggestion is that it’s a complaints-based resolution and it’s not -- so your issues wouldn’t be read against a policy background. That seems like that would be a fairly big disadvantage.
2415 Do you think the advantage would outweigh that disadvantage?
2416 MR. GRECO: Yes. Why? Because Consumer X is not concerned with policy and is not concerned with -- and believe it or not, they’re not interested in a $200 credit, which is great but really doesn’t solve the issue.
2417 I believe, and I’m taking a liberty here in speaking on behalf of 150,000 blind people across this country, which I’m probably not -- is outside of my pay band, but I believe what people expect who are blind is service paid, service delivered.
2418 It’s a big disadvantage, you’re right, because that big stick then becomes smaller and less effective in mandating those who don’t comply, but I think if the outcome of taking on that risk, if you will, is that accessibility issues are resolved and customers who are blind or visually impaired are better able to avail themselves of the services offered by their various telco and television providers. I don’t really think it matters that it’s not a policy issue and that it’s outside of the scope. People are getting what they’re paying for. People are able to, independently and with dignity and confidence, access what they are buying, and really that’s our goal. That’s what we’re working towards. If we happen to do it -- if we need to do it within a policy framework, we will. If that’s the way the Commission chooses to move forward, then let’s move in that direction.
2419 However, if you agree with us -- and I hope you do -- and you do decide to bring accessibility issues into the domain of the CCTS, whatever that looks like, I believe that people with disabilities, especially those with vision loss, will be better served if the same mechanisms that are in place right now to deal with the administrative issues around bills, if those same mechanisms are transposed and perhaps moulded a little bit -- maybe a lot -- to fit the challenges and opportunities around accessibility.
2420 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How do you see that? It seems like the idea of expanding that mandate and including the TVSP Code as well might substantially increase. And I guess this leads to the whole idea or very large question of enforcement. Do you see the enforcement as being retained within CRTC or do you -- in your view, would that be better put somewhere else? What are your thoughts on that?
2421 MR. GRECO: Leo, I think I’ll take this on, if that’s okay? All right.
2422 Enforcement never really leaves the conversation. There is significant policy that will guide the development of process and reasonable outcomes to complaints. That conversation isn’t finished. I don’t think it ever will be, but I think as the Commission continues to move that discussion forward and as those policies evolve to meet the changing reality of the sector, that will always be there. It’s the mechanism to achieve -- or the mechanisms required to achieve the desired outcome on the part of the consumer is really what we need to concern ourselves with.
2423 If those mechanisms fail, whatever they look like at some point in the future, then there is policy and then there was mandate and, you know, maybe the stick comes out.
2424 But I put this question to you with all due respect. Would the Commission suspend or withdraw a licence from an operator if they failed to meet their accessibility requirements?
2425 So do we have enforcement? We have mandated desired outcomes that we believe as a community are definitely going in the right direction and have come a long way, but I think the ultimate outcome is non-compliance with respect to accessibility, is that really a tangible and real yardstick that we have to hold service providers and, quite honestly, the Commission accountable to?
2426 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Mr. Bissonnette, do you have anything to add to those comments?
2427 MR. BISSONNETTE: No. At this time, I believe that Mr. Greco has nicely put the case.
2428 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So, Mr. Greco, you went over in quite some detail a complaints mechanism and the components -- the various components that could be included in such a system. Can you give me a sense of what an online system like that would look like?
2429 MR. GRECO: I’m just trying to think of an example that I can point to that would be universal -- universally understood, and I can’t.
2430 So in theory, it would be fully accessible. So it would be compliant with existing standards. It would be user-tested by people of varying abilities and using assistive technology. It would provide options as to how the individual would submit the complaint. So there would be an online form, accessible form. There would be a pre-populated email template that the user would simply fill in as best they could using whatever assistive technology they had and, as archaic as it may seem, a phone number. So if for some reason you’re unable to complete the form, if the email template isn’t working for you, between 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday, pick up the phone and speak to a live person who will help you complete the complaint -- will help you initiate the complaint mechanism.
2431 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So would this system be with CCTS or would that be with individual TSPs, or would that be something different?
2432 MR. GRECO: Two separate ---
2433 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Somewhere different altogether?
2434 MR. GRECO: Two separate questions.
2435 Because the process, which we support, of expecting the customer to engage with their provider is, at least at a minimum, two levels of -- sorry, one level of escalation at a minimum, that’s completely separate.
2436 The process that we’re looking at here or the process that we would like to see would rest with the CCTS. So if discussions with the service provider have not yielded a satisfactory result, then the consumer, if they chose to do so, would avail themselves of the CCTS services and be able to do so in a manner that suits their ability and needs in doing that.
2437 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So do you visualize something like an online complaints system that would allow you to communicate, first of all, with the service provider and then CCTS being able to access that at some point, or duplication in another system? I’m not sure I understand what you’re conceptualizing here.
2438 MR. GRECO: Okay. Each service provider has their own protocols for managing complaints. We encourage and support the idea of maintaining that. It’s when those mechanisms fail -- and obviously the expectation would be that those processes, through the providers, would also be accessible -- but when those processes fail, that’s when the online sort of centralized complaints mechanism with the CCTS would be accessed by the individual.
2439 So it’s a two-pronged approach. It’s a parallel approach. The service providers have their own accessible mechanisms whereby consumers with vision loss can raise their concerns, and when that fails, if it fails, then they would initiate a separate process through the CCTS much as what happens now.
2440 Does that ---
2441 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, I have a better sense of what it was that you were thinking about there.
2442 I’d just like you to comment on the participation. And in your submission you take the position that participation should be mandatory and not a trigger mechanism.
2443 MR. GRECO: As a consumer the recourses available to me should be independent of who I choose to do business with. It doesn’t exist within the banking system. It doesn’t exist within healthcare. Why should it exist within telecom?
2444 It’s not fair that certain entrants or participants in the marketplace are held accountable to one set of standards while the competitor across the street may not be.
2445 And let me -- again let me step out on a limb and put the example of Uber on the table, a prime example of where two sets of rules for essentially the same services is causing significant, you know, incongruity within the system. And I won’t get into the -- sort of the pros and cons of that.
2446 But that’s the type of scenario that we envision if you provide or if you have a non-mandatory -- or an expectation that not all providers subscribe to or participate in the CCTS.
2447 What that membership or participation level looks like, again outside of the scope of our expertise. Obviously you can’t have a fee based regiment in place that parallels -- you know, that’s equal.
2448 In the human rights realm they talk about equal not necessarily being the same. So, you know, that’s going to take some head scratching and some discussions to try and come up with a model that’s fair and equitable to the providers but yet accessible to the consumer.
2449 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Would you see a complaint about a lack of accessibility or some of the other issues that you’ve identified do you see that as being a potential trigger to spurn this forward?
2450 MR. GRECO: If the Commission chooses not to make membership mandatory in CCTS of course. If -- again, if you choose not to make membership mandatory and if you choose to include accessibility as a CCTS -- within the CCTS mandate then yes, I do.
2451 However, if you feel that it -- accessibility issues would be better addressed through the Commission then the answer to that question is no.
2452 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And of course you address that by referring to the different categories of complaints and possibly expanding the category of complaints that CCTS would deal with.
2453 So in your written submission you say that all services should be included. Do you mean that across the board or do you mean that for blind Canadians?
2454 MR. GRECO: Leo?
2455 MR. BISSONNETTE: I’m sorry; I lost the last words.
2456 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I said ---
2457 MR. BISSONNETTE: Can you repeat the question?
2458 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: In point number 29 of your submission you say that all services should be included. And I’m wondering if you mean all services for everybody across the board or are you referring here to blind Canadians?
2459 MR. BISSONNETTE: In the specifics of our submission it’s for Blind Canadians. But I would suggest that at a time when we are very much talking about the diversity within our Canadian society I think there’s some general principles that would broaden this, and of course we would be just one of the many groups included in this kind of a discussion.
2460 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2461 MR. BISSONNETTE: An inclusion.
2462 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
2463 And I see also that you want to include equipment, set-top boxes and so on. That would be another inclusion that you think would be in there?
2464 MR. BISSONNETTE: Down the line as set-boxes emerge and there’s a need for them we would certainly want that to be included. And as we head towards 2019 more and more -- it’s that kind of discussion as the technology evolves.
2465 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I have one final comment that I’d like you to make. This one has to do with governance. And to what extent does the governance and voting structure of the CCTS specifically impede the capacity of CCTS to serve consumers with disabilities?
2466 To what extent does the governance and voting structure of the CCTS specifically impede the capacity of the CCTS to serve consumers with disabilities?
2467 MR. GRECO: I think that ---
2468 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: In other words, barriers that you’ve identified.
2469 MR. GRECO: Look at the composition of the CCTS. There is no representation of persons with disabilities. The broadcasting accessibility fund has a -- although their mandate is specifically related to disabilities they have a model that we believe is -- would be a good foundation for a truly inclusive and reflective board of directors.
2470 As we said earlier, 14 percent of Canadian society is living with disabilities. How can we expect the Board of CCTS to be accountable to that segment of the population, irrespective of where accessibility issues finally reside, if they have no disability lens with which to, you know, assess their policies and their initiatives.
2471 How you achieve that -- how that would be achieved is definitely a protracted conversation. But I think the current model the current structure that’s in place for the CCTS Board should have mandated inclusion of persons with disabilities irrespective of where accessibility issues lie.
2472 That person could come from organizations like ours, like CNIB, ABC, perhaps the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, perhaps a rotating process where the four disability groups, vision, hearing, cognitive and intellectual where that -- you know, were at the table in cycles. I’m not sure. Imagination is a wonderful thing and it can come up with all kinds of, you know, models that would at least bring the voice of persons with disabilities into the conversation. They probably wouldn’t be able to influence any decisions but you can’t -- you can’t be aware of challenges if you don’t have anyone around the table who’s bringing that voice to bear.
2473 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank very much. I have no further questions.
2474 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2475 Your appearance is almost done. Our lawyer Crystal Hulley will have a question for you however.
2476 MS. HULLEY: Good afternoon.
2477 In your oral presentation you referenced that you had reviewed the CCTS website and found instances of non-compliance with the web guidelines. I understand you have a printout of that review. Is that correct?
2478 MR. GRECO: I emailed it to Ms. Roy last night.
2479 MS. HULLEY: Would you be willing to add that to the public record of the proceeding?
2480 MR. GRECO: If that’s allowable. Again, we’re not really experts in this field and I’m not sure if that’s permissible. If it’s permissible I would like to request to do so.
2481 MS. HULLEY: Yes, I believe it is.
2482 MR. GRECO: Okay. Then yes, we would like to.
2483 THE CHAIRPERSON: We’ll take it under advisement, it might be of interest to the CCTS. Thank you.
2484 Thank you very much. So thank you for having -- for both of you having participated in this stage.
2485 Our next intervenor is also by videoconference, so to facilitate the transfer over we’ll take a break now for 10 minutes and come back at 2:40.
2486 Donc nous sommes en pause jusqu’à 14h40. Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 2:30 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 2:42 p.m.
2487 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plait.
2488 Madame la secrétaire.
2489 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Saskatchewan Telecommunications who is appearing by videoconference from the Regina CRTC office. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
2490 MR. BECKMAN: Good afternoon. My name is Bill Beckman, I’m Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs at SaskTel. I am accompanied by my colleagues Jamie Patterson and Kevin Spelay. I will speak to our proposal for a five-day preliminary review period, and Mr. Patterson will speak to our other matters. We’d like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to appear today.
2491 We wish to cover four particular issues in today’s remarks. First, that more focus should be placed on consumer/service provider dispute resolution before opening a file at the CCTS. Second, that there is no need for further raising awareness of the CCTS. Third, that the determination that the CCTS is the appropriate ombudsman to administer the Television Service Provider Code of Conduct merely reinforces the need for more focus on consumer/service provider dispute resolution. And fourth, we believe that the fee structure should reward early consumer/service provider dispute resolution.
2492 I’ll turn to the discussion of consumer/service provider dispute resolution. SaskTel takes consumer service very seriously. Our commitment to this is reflected in several operating outcomes. We have won four consecutive JD Power awards for excellence in customer service. In addition, we had only 90 complaints to the CCTS in 2014, and less than 30 complaints so far this year. To further enhance the consumer/service provider relationship, SaskTel believes that there should be a five-day consumer/service provider dispute resolution period before the formal opening of a CCTS file.
2493 SaskTel’s proposal does not require the CCTS to make dramatic changes to their current process. The CCTS could use its current portal for intake of consumer inquiries. Upon receipt, service providers would be provided with notification that a new issue had been reported to the CCTS. We envisage that the five-day period would run during the assessment stage of the current CCTS complaint process. If the consumer and the service provider resolve the issue during the five-day period, the matter would be resolved before a complaint is accepted and before a file is even opened. There would be no need to hire extra staff or to make major system changes.
2494 A consumer’s best interests are served when their issue is resolved quickly and fairly. The CCTS itself, in its August 25th Initial Remarks, noted that:
2495 “The CCTS process is designed to achieve complaint resolution at the earliest possible point in the process. CCTS focuses on timely, informal resolution wherever possible, rather than ‘lengthy’ legalistic processes.”
2496 SaskTel observes that a service provider’s best interests are also served when the issue is resolved quickly and fairly. Consumer minded businesses like SaskTel recognize the benefits of resolving consumer complaints without the intervention of a third party.
2497 SaskTel suggests that the new five-day dispute resolution period would provide an opportunity for the consumer and the service provider to address those complaints which had not been properly referred to the service provider by the customer.
2498 Creating a five business day window in which the service provider is able to work with a consumer to resolve a complaint, would be a considerable incentive for rapid resolution of those service providers that have a true consumer focus. Not opening a file during the period and exempting matters resolved during this period from a fee levy, would add additional incentive for resolution during this early stage. Fast, fair resolution can most easily be achieved through the consumer/service provider conversations that will occur during this period.
2499 The CCTS can and does provide both consumer and service provider value when it becomes involved after negotiations have broken down. The CCTS provides little value when acting as a referral service of consumer issues that have not been escalated through appropriate service provider channels. By implementing this five-day business referral window, the CCTS could focus on providing third party review of disputes in order to resolve complaints.
2500 Every day consumers and service providers deal with questions that could escalate into issues were they not handled appropriately. The vast majority of these questions are dealt with in the first instance. SaskTel addresses hundreds of escalations every year. Only a fraction of these escalations make their way to the CCTS, and a review of the numbers suggest that the five-day business window would be efficient for all parties.
2501 Twenty-one (21) of 25 SaskTel related complaints received at the CCTS so far in 2015 were resolved during the CCTS’s pre-investigation time frame. Our Regulatory Analysts found that for 84 percent of the complaints they handled this year, SaskTel did not have an opportunity to speak to the customer twice as is contemplated in the Procedural Code. It is these complaints that can be effectively and efficiently handled during the five-day business service provider review during the CCTS’s assessment period.
2502 We have considered an alternative of rejecting all CCTS complaints that are referred to us that have not been dealt with as contemplated in the Procedural Code, and requesting the CCTS to advise the customer that they need to contact us again. It is our view that this would add inefficiency and expense and be a customer dissatisfier, whereas our proposal avoids those negative consequences.
2503 To assist in our discussion, we think it’s important to highlight the differences between what we are referring to as unresolved issues and complaints. An unresolved issue shouldn’t become a complaint until the parties have had a reasonable opportunity, in speaking with each other through an appropriate escalation process, to resolve their differences.
2504 Consider the differences between cases where a consumer and a service provider have tried to reach a resolution around billing charges and failed, and a consumer contacting the CCTS, before ever contacting SaskTel, because they don’t know how to dial long distance.
2505 Both are real life examples that have occurred in the past six months. Only the unresolved billing matter belongs with the CCTS. Customers who don’t know how to use their services they have bought should not be contacting the CCTS first. And for those that do, the CCTS should be giving the service providers an opportunity to assist their customers without opening a file and recording a complaint and charging a fee.
2506 Most matters arriving at the CCTS from SaskTel are resolved between SaskTel and the consumer at the pre-investigation stage. The resolution of 21 out of 25 complaints at the first stage points to a process problem. Consumers are arriving at the CCTS before ever speaking with SaskTel before a question becomes an issue; or before escalating their issue to a SaskTel manager; or before working with SaskTel to resolve issues. SaskTel cannot be the only service provider experiencing this phenomenon.
2507 When consumers have issues, they may not know where to turn first. SaskTel is working to improve its consumer facing materials, website, and processes to ensure that consumers know how to escalate their issues. However, some consumers will always proceed direct to the CCTS. These consumers get no value from skipping a conversation with SaskTel. The CCTS acknowledges that referring consumers back to providers like SaskTel is the fastest path to resolution, as they mentioned in their initial submission.
2508 None of the consumer, the service provider, or the CCTS gets value where the CCTS is required to open a file and charge a fee just to provide a referral; or where the service provider is required to pay a fee, respond to both the CCTS and the consumer, and hear about an issue through the CCTS; or where the consumer is forced to take additional steps, by contacting the CCTS where the CCTS merely operates as a referral service before the customer speaks with the service provider.
2509 An argument may be made that the current CCTS assessment process provides consumers with resolution, but these resolutions are readily available from the service providers if the consumer contacts them and they engage in meaningful discussions before they approach the CCTS.
2510 The addition of a five-business-day consumer service provider resolution period before a CCTS file is opened and a fee charged would benefit all. The service provider will be incented to reach a resolution in order to avoid a fee, and also to further avoid dual reporting to the consumer and the CCTS. The five-day period will reduce the CCTS’ workload for the initiation of a potential claim and consumers will benefit from faster resolution of their issues.
2511 SaskTel’s position, echoed by the industry and the CCTS, is that more complaints resolved at the consumer service provider level equals success.
2512 As noted by the CCTS in paragraph 5 of their August 25th initial comments, a “virtuous circle” is created through early resolution. The CCTS noted that “resolving complaints quickly eliminates frustration for consumers and saves time and money for providers.” No submission in the proceedings argues otherwise, and SaskTel submits that the five-business-day window would incent the service provider behavior that the CCTS values.
2513 I will now turn to Mr. Patterson.
2514 MR. PATTERSON: On the subject of awareness raising, consumer advocacy groups have suggested that the CCTS should be receiving more complaints, not less. SaskTel disagrees. Fewer complaints arriving at the CCTS is actually an indicator of improved service provider practices. As we wrote in paragraph 19 of our September 11th Reply to this proceeding, a high number of complaints would not suggest a more effective CCTS. Rather, it would reflect more problems within the industry. Increasing CCTS awareness-raising activities will take the focus off of consumer- service provider resolution efforts and drive more consumers to the CCTS. This is not an efficient approach.
2515 As noted in Mr. Beckman’s statements on the five-business-day referral period, we have evidence that consumers are already finding the CCTS, almost too easily, when they have an issue with their service provider, not a problem. SaskTel submits that it is not in the industry’s best interest to train our consumers to go to the CCTS before they’ve even had an opportunity to resolve their issue with their service provider.
2516 It is, however, appropriate to raise awareness at the right time, when complaints arise. Consumers do not need the CCTS when they have simple issues. Consumers only need to find the CCTS if and when they have a complaint. To foster appropriate awareness, service providers are already obligated to inform consumers of their recourse to the CCTS when attempts to resolve issues have broken down. Given the declining number of complaints being handled by the CCTS each year, this model appears to be working. The CCTS notes, in paragraph 18 of its August 25th Initial Submissions, that:
2517 “the CCTS public awareness plan is built on the strategy of ensuring that information about the CCTS is readily available to consumers at the time they experience a problem.”
2518 SaskTel believes in this approach.
2519 At Paragraph 26 of the CCTS’ August 25th submission, the “optimum” level of consumer awareness for the CCTS is considered. SaskTel submits that the optimum consumer awareness for the CCTS is 100 percent of the people who have unresolved issues with their service provider that have escalated to the level of a complaint. Before that time, consumers have issues that they should be discussing with their providers and they don’t need awareness of the CCTS in that period.
2520 We conclude this section by observing that in all CCTS awareness-raising initiatives, for whatever purpose, consumers should be encouraged to contact their service provider first. This will drive the most efficient resolution process.
2521 On the inclusion of TV in the CCTS’s mandate, SaskTel supports the CCTS’ involvement with the TV Service Provider Code of Conduct on a clearly and narrowly-defined basis. SaskTel would ask that the same five-business-day referral period be applied for TV service provider issues and complaints. TV should be included in the CCTS’ mandate, but great care must be taken to determine the narrow jurisdiction that applies. In order to avoid confusion for all parties, the CRTC must draw a clear line between what television-related issues the CCTS does and does not have a mandate to intervene in. Programming content complaints, complaints about television commercials, consumer-supplied equipment issues like remote controls and blinking lights on VCRs should not be within the CCTS’s jurisdiction. This information should be part of all notices to consumers and should be clearly outlined on the CCTS’ website and intake materials.
2522 As the CCTS assumes jurisdiction over the TVSP Code of Conduct, consumers can be informed using already existing websites and billing practices. Public service advertising and general notice advertising are unlikely to be noticed by those consumers who do not have a complaint. Again, service providers should not have an obligation to inform consumers about the CCTS until the point when issue resolution efforts between the consumer and their service provider have broken down.
2523 Briefly on the subject of complaint versus revenue-based fees, SaskTel submits that, in further working to incent early resolution of complaints, the funding model should be transitioned over a three year period to a 70 percent case-based, 30 percent revenue-based funding model. This model would ensure three things: those service providers whose consumers are using the system the most would be highly incented to improve customer service practices; funding for the CCTS would come from those who utilize the system the most; and it would drive a more efficient complaints resolution process for all.
2524 MR. BECKMAN: In conclusion, to summarize our comments, one, we believe that there should be greater weight on usage-based fees.
2525 Two, we support the inclusion of TV contract/billing issues within a clearly described CCTS television mandate.
2526 Three, we strongly believe that no additional awareness raising activities are necessary at this time. Focus should remain on notifying consumers about the CCTS role when discussions between a consumer and service provider have not resolved the dispute.
2527 And four, most importantly, we believe that the CCTS has a valuable role to play in consumer complaint resolution when the service provider’s efforts have not resolved issues. To enable the CCTS to focus on actual dispute resolutions, we propose the addition of a five-business-day, no-fee, no-file, dispute resolution period. This will give the service provider and the consumer an opportunity to resolve a consumer’s issue before it proceeds to the complaints process.
2528 Thank you for your consideration. We welcome your comments.
2529 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
2530 Commissioner MacDonald will start us off. Thanks.
2531 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentation and for being part of this process.
2532 I’d like to start off today by asking some questions around participation. In your submission you state that it would be appropriate to require immediate participation of all TSPs. Yesterday, when the hearing started, the CCTS, as part of their presentation, indicated that that could be a significant burden both operationally and financially on them for processing a large number of new participants in a short order.
2533 So I was wondering could you perhaps comment on the cost versus reward of immediately imposing participation on the service providers?
2534 MR. BECKMAN: Well, I would think the rewards for having such a requirement of all service providers are that those service providers who are having issues with their customers are at the table and do have -- and their customers have got a venue for them to achieve the dispute resolution. The extra cost for bringing them on board I think would be borne by the CCTS and would be a proper cost of them doing business to be borne by the entire industry.
2535 Anybody have anything else to add to that?
2536 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we just sort of extend that line of questioning to resellers, you’ve indicated that resellers should be participants in the CCTS. Resellers often times, by their very nature, are smaller operations than some other companies that we may talk about a lot in the proceeding.
2537 And they may be unaware that this proceeding is actually happening.
2538 So if we remove the complaint-based trigger, there would be activity that would be required for us to identify who these resellers are and physically go out and track them down.
2539 So again, when you say -- would your answer stay the same as with the last question if we were talking about resellers?
2540 MR. SPELAY: I believe it would stay the same. We believe in regulatory symmetry across all organizations regardless of their status.
2541 The consumers should be able to know that when they do have a complaint, not an issue of complaint, that they can go to the CCTS, regardless of the provider.
2542 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Obviously, no decisions have been made coming out of this proceeding.
2543 So if the Commission did decide to keep the current complaint-based trigger, however we decided to impose on non-participating service providers a new requirement that would force them to, through their escalation process, make individual customers aware of the CCTS, the same obligation that would be imposed on SaskTel, do you think that would be appropriate middle ground to forge?
2544 MR. PATTERSON: Right, so if we understand the question correctly, you’re asking if they should be involved in the process only when it’s triggered by a complaint. Have I got that correct?
2545 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yes, but we, the Commission, would actually impose a new requirement on them whereby if a customer was calling their service provider with a complaint, there’s a provision now that -- and SaskTel would be included in this, whereby you need to notify your customer during the complaint process that they can take recourse and contact the CCTS.
2546 So if we were to maintain the existing trigger, would it be appropriate to impose that new requirement on non-participating providers, companies that currently don’t participate to the CCTS?
2547 MR. SPELAY: We currently have that requirement today under the notification procedures set forth by the CCTS.
2548 So at our second attempt by a manager to resolve a complaint, we do notify our customers of the CCTS and their existence and that they can seek recourse through the CCTS, if they so choose.
2549 MR. BECKMAN: And we would expect that anybody who -- any business that is brought into the membership of this group would also be required to advise their customers during any complaint that they’ve got --that they do have recourse to the CCTS, yes.
2550 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
2551 My next question comes from sort of a link between this proceeding and the TVSP Code proceeding.
2552 Can you comment on either the appropriateness or the inappropriateness of the Commission requiring independent exempt TV service providers to participate in the CCTS, if the Commission were to determine, as a result of the new TVSP Code, that those TV service providers are not required to adhere to the Code?
2553 So if they were exempt from the Code, which is going to be coming out, would it be appropriate for the Commission to require those companies to participate in the CCTS?
2554 MR. SPELAY: For clarification purposes, I guess we are looking at what would those companies be. We’re not really aware of any of those entities.
2555 MR. BECKMAN: We need to have our broadcaster people here.
2556 MR. SPELAY: Yes.
2557 MR. PATTERSON: Right. And I think this partially goes back to what’s within the mandate of the CCTS when it comes to the TV service provider Code of Conduct.
2558 If this is specifically about something related to billing issues, well, billing issues aren’t going to be a big issue for content providers specifically as vis-à-vis customers, right?
2559 I mean our position on this would be that if you’re having the kinds of interactions with customers covered off by the Code of Conduct, that’s who should be included.
2560 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
2561 I would now like to, just for a few minutes, discuss enforcement.
2562 In your company’s opinion, do you feel that the Commission has a role to play in enforcing CCTS obligations directly onto the service providers?
2563 MR. SPELAY: We haven’t necessarily given a lot of thought to that. We ourselves are fairly compliant with any of the CCTS Policies and Procedures.
2564 Should we or another party not be compliant, we believe it should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, either through the CCTS or if they are not receiving any justification from the customer, then through the CRTC would be appropriate.
2565 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Are there any specific issues or obligations that are imposed by the CCTS that you feel would be best addressed within that organization versus best addressed through the actions of the Commission itself?
2566 MR. BECKMAN: I think you might be referring to the CCTS ability to issue monetary penalties or fines. And I’m reading into this that you’re questioning whether we agree that they should have that ability on their own or whether they should need to enforce those kinds of remedies through the CCTS -- or through the CRTC.
2567 And I’m thinking that I would go to a legalistic argument in saying unfortunately I don’t know how they can be authorized to do it.
2568 And it would have to be in force to the CRTC, but I would think that the CRTC may end up looking or it would urge them to look at something that would be an expedited manner for them to be able to do that.
2569 If I understood your train of questioning there, that would be our answer.
2570 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And if there was a service provider that was found to not be meeting their obligations as set out by the CCTS, what would your thoughts be on the CCTS revoking their -- the fact that they’re participating, removing them from the participants list, which would then allow the CRTC to come in and, through the various tools that we have, subject some enforcement activities on them, be it a “name in shame”, be it an administrative monetary penalty, or what have you?
2571 MR. BECKMAN: Again, we haven’t really addressed our minds to this but off the top of my head, I think that if after due process was observed and the non-performing member had an opportunity to address whatever issues may have been alleged against them or they might not be -- or any behaviours they might not be coming up to, I think then they should be able to find themselves subject to censure and enforcement.
2572 I think that their customers are every bit customers as the other customers of the other participants in the industry. Those who are complying.
2573 MR. PATTERSON: And I think that it would be important in those circumstances to have a proportional response to the kind of behaviour that was being investigated.
2574 I mean, I wouldn’t want to see the same penalty applied to somebody who was not specifically following a particular paragraph of a directive or somebody who was completely flaunting all over the rules. Right?
2575 I think that some proportionality would be appropriate.
2576 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Moving on to the mandate of the CCTS and sort of its area of responsibility versus the responsibility of the Commission, could you perhaps comment on the fact that the CCTS is of the view that it has a mandate to both administer industry codes and apply codes in resolving complaints, and along with those two mandates necessarily bring along with an obligation to interpret the code itself. Does SaskTel have any position on that viewpoint?
2577 MR. PATTERSON: So I think it’s the CC -- it’s the CRTC’s responsibility to interpret and -- and assign those codes and areas of the business that it wishes the CCTS to provide oversight for. I don’t think it’s the CCTS’s to interpret those. I mean, the CCTS exists to carry out a function that has been given to the CRTC.
2578 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: To the CCTS.
2579 MR. PATTERSON: Right, to the CCTS.
2580 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yeah.
2581 MR. BECKMAN: But I think great danger can result in -- or can come from the CCTS going beyond its role as an ombudsman and an arbiter or a group that it counts to negotiate or mediate a settlement between two parties. If it comes down to interpretation of a contractual term, they might be able to provide some insight, but I'm not sure that they would be -- they should be taking the place of a Court of law and things of that nature. If that’s again the kind of questions you're asking.
2582 MR. PATTERSON: Right, and again, I think it becomes a danger to allow somebody to set their own mandate from time to time. I mean that can expand in scope relatively quickly and that’s where I think the CRTC has the opportunity to -- to set the tone and direction for the CCTS.
2583 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And still sort of on the topic of the CCTS’s mandate, several TV service providers offer consumers digital media broadcasting services or other applications, be they on a tablet or be they on their set box, that are part of a larger bundle of multiple services that the customer may end up buying from the service provider, and they may actually all be bundled into a single bill as well.
2584 So I'm just wondering, from your standpoint, how consumers are supposed to figure out, you know, what to do in that type of scenario? How are they to figure out which services are in scope or out of scope of the CCTS’s mandate?
2585 MR. SPELAY: We believe that that is an important role that the CCTS can play, we don’t believe that a consumer should know whatever you wanted the CCTS rules and CCTS code of conducts they administer. That is what is the assessment phase or pre-assessments phase of the CCTS intake process should determine, is the scope of their -- of their request within the scope of one of our -- our codes of conduct.
2586 So your Facebook app on your cellphone is not within their mandate, nor should the Facebook app on your set-top box be within your mandate -- within their mandate. So the CCTS that is a role that they provide, is screening those complaints out. We wouldn’t necessarily believe that the customer would be able to do that.
2587 MR. PATTERSON: And again, to follow on the comments that we’ve made in our submissions, I think it’s important for the CRTC to set the lines wherein -- or set the boundaries wherein the CCTS is allowed to play very clearly, so they can be very clearly laid out on the CCTS’s website, so that a consumer can sort of self-select some -- to some extent as to whether or not they should be taking their issue there.
2588 MR. BECKMAN: And to some extent the inclusion of the television within the mandate of the CCTS will reduce the numbers of questions about what is in and what is out of the -- the mandate of the CCTS, provided it’s being done -- described in a way so that watching the -- getting the 12 o’clock showing up on your VCR is not within the mandate, and customers understand that.
2589 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So I think it’s probably fair that we can't expect consumers to have memorized the -- the codes of conduct and know which direction to go into. I also think it’s very fair for the CCTS to have to parcel that out and identify and weed out what's in scope versus out of scope.
2590 If, you know, knowing that the CCTS is supposed to be the organization of last resort as opposed to first resort, and consumers should be going directly to the service providers at the outset, my question would be would your internal staff help them in that process if they had reached their, you know, their second call or their second level of escalation? Would your team be able to identify, “Well this service is in scope, so the CCTS is an option for you” versus weeding out what's out of scope for your customers?
2591 MR. PATTERSON: Right, and I think that -- and I think that that’s something that we would address once we know what the final scope is following these proceedings. And what we’ll be able to do is take this to our managers who are responsible for the escalations that come forward and provide them with direction as to what belongs where. And that’s where that really a clear direction from the CRTC as the scope that applies for the CCTS will help us set good boundaries for our own people, so that people get -- so that our clients get referred on appropriately.
2592 MR. BECKMAN: And I think that that’s a very interesting question, but you’ve got to take it in the context of what we observed at the beginning of our comments, that we are a customer-focused organization and that we want to have our customer/SaskTel interactions end in a way that’s good for the customer and for us.
2593 So recognizing what my learned friend Mr. Patterson has said about the necessity of a mandate, we might be looking at erring on -- on favour of, you know, “You might have a remedy by going to the CCTS, we, you know, it’s up -- up to you to decide.” So that might the kind of thing that we would look at, and that’s I think the approach that a customer-focused organization would want to do.
2594 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you. Obviously the CCTS issues an annual report each year and in your submissions you advocated bringing resellers into the scope of the CCTS. So I’m just wondering with that in mind, do you think one of the new areas that the CCTS should track and include in their annual report would be complaints that have been lodged against resellers?
2595 And the second part to that is the complaint may actually not be at the fault of the reseller, it may be at the fault of their end wholesaler that they're buying those services from. So do you think it would be appropriate for the CCTS to report on those trends as well?
2596 MR. BECKMAN: Certainly I think that reporting on the issues between the customer and the reseller. I don’t know that -- how they would be able to get in the information and determine as between the reseller and the wholesale provider to the reseller ---
2597 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yes.
2598 MR. BECKMAN: --- who was at fault, so that might be an issue.
2599 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: M'hm.
2600 MR. BECKMAN: But if it -- if it could be determined, yes, there's -- but certainly it’ be an issue between the wholesaler and the reseller that might -- they might be able to make a determination on, yes.
2601 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, so as long as they could accurately identify the party that was at fault, there would be no harm in reporting on -- on that information?
2602 MR. PATTERSON: Yeah.
2603 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
2604 MR. PATTERSON: I think when in doubt, don’t report, but if you’ve got clear, clear indication, sure.
2605 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you. I’d like to ask a question around funding for the CCTS or perhaps a better word would be costs associated with their operation. You’ve strongly advocated in your submissions the introduction of a five-day -- five business day window whereby the CCTS would refer a customer back to -- back to their service provider to attempt a resolution.
2606 I'm just wondering what process do you think that alerting back from the CCTS to the service provider should -- should take, is it the flipping of an email, is it a warm handoff by a live agent, one of your live-agents? Could you describe how that process would work?
2607 MR. SPELAY: Today we -- today we received a complaint from the CCTS via both their customer portal as well as an email into a centralized mailbox in our company. That complaint has -- has essentially come to us after they’ve assessed whether or not it’s within their mandate and checked off a few boxes on their forms.
2608 We see during our five day business day window, that they would direct that complaint to us without doing any analysis on it. Just send it right to us either through the portal or to our centralized mailbox and let us deal with the customer.
2609 And if we are unable to resolve that complaint within those five days, we will refer it back to the CCTS.
2610 As my co-workers have said here, we see out of our 25 complaints this year, 21 of them had not gone through our proper escalation channels internally before going to the CCTS.
2611 We haven’t had our full ability to deal with those complaints to the level that we should have; this will allow us to do that.
2612 MR. PATTERSON: So for example, one of the complaints that we actually referenced in our submissions was the woman who phoned the CCTS directly when she couldn’t figure out how to dial long distance.
2613 So instead of contacting us, our provider who could have provided her with those simple instructions, we paid a fee for the CCTS staff to go through the effort of opening a file to explain to her how to contact SaskTel.
2614 And in fact when she contacted SaskTel we identified her problem right away and explained to her how to dial long distance.
2615 I mean, that’s the kind of -- that’s the kind of matter proceeding directly to the CCTS that provides no value to our consumer at the end of the day; right?
2616 By -- and here’s the thing, without forcing the CCTS to do a mandate review on each individual item that comes in before providing us with this five day opportunity to resolve an issue, it’s our client.
2617 We’re already going to work with them to resolve the issue. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in -- within the CCTS’s mandate or not. We want to solve that for them. It’s an opportunity for us to get at it and, you know, earn a happy client that way; right?
2618 So this would -- while costing the CCTS nothing except for the support of their portal, if it kicks the email out it gives us the opportunity to address the client’s concern.
2619 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Well that’s sort of my question. I can definitely appreciate the situation of the individual needing assistance on long distance, should perhaps not have gone to the CCTS.
2620 My question is specifically how that gets flipped back to you. You said that there’s a portal, you receive an email.
2621 I don’t know whether that is fully automated or whether there’s a live person that is on the phone at the -- or online at the CCTS office filling something out and then sending it via email or some other notification directly to you contact center.
2622 MR. BECKMAN: We would see that as -- when the customer files a complaint it goes into the CCTS and automatically comes to us and it -- so it stays in the CCTS’s mailbox and it comes to us at our two reception points.
2623 The CCTS would be relieved of the need to do a mandate review at that time or an assessment at that time, because we would be handling it. No matter what kind of a complaint it was, whether it was in their mandate or not.
2624 MR. PATTERSON: And you may have information included in most of the complaints we get is next to nil. Like I mean we’re not talking about a significant amount of work to do the intake on something like this.
2625 So in if in the circumstances where somebody has a short phone call and must enter the system or enter the information into the CCTS’s system on behalf of a client, that’s not a significant amount of work for the CCTS.
2626 That’s a quick form and that form could sit idle at the CCTS for the entire time that SaskTel or any other provider was handling it, until such time as the provider or that five day period expired or the provider was able to inform you that it had been resolved.
2627 I mean in those circumstances we’re literally taking work off of CCTS’s plate.
2628 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay well that actually does help to answer my question because you mentioned an intake person and sending off that information.
2629 So what I was sort of circling around is it’s not a zero cost activity. It may be a reduced cost activity to just send it back to you, but it’s not an automated process.
2630 There is a cost associated with that and you’re advocating that there -- you know, for that five day period that there would be no fee charged to the service provider for that.
2631 So I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on how the CCTS will fund that operation, even if it is just one person sitting at -- one salaried person sitting there taking these complaints and sending them off to the service provider.
2632 MR. PATTERSON: Right so ---
2633 MR. BECKMAN: The fees that we pay or are -- that are charged to the members of the industry are -- consist of two elements. One is a revenue based portion, which could be used to fund these kinds of intake activities.
2634 And the second of course is based upon the level and the depth of the work and service that’s provided to the members.
2635 I would think that cost of the intake person, if intake is required, would be included in their base cost, based upon revenues.
2636 And ---
2637 MR. BECKMAN: And -- sorry.
2638 MR. PATTERSON: And further some of the -- it’s not all of the complaints come in via phone. Like there’s a significant self-serve aspect to this and I actually don’t know the statistics on this and perhaps Kevin does but, you know, you can go right on the CCTS’s website and submit your complaint online for yourself.
2639 And as we all know self-serve continues to increase and in those instances, I mean, yes there is some infrastructure that supports that, but that goes back to my colleagues comments about this being supported by the revenue based portion of our fee.
2640 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you. Just to move on for a second and to discuss accessibility.
2641 We had a presentation earlier today from media-access Canada which is an accessibility stakeholder group, for Canadians with disabilities and I looked at your website and see that you do have accessibility passes that are easily searchable and available on your website.
2642 I noticed one thing it doesn’t have on there, at least that I was able to find, was any reference in those accessibility pages back to the CCTS and just wanted to get your thoughts on if it’s not there whether that would be something that would be appropriate to include on a go forward basis?
2643 MR. SPELAY: It is definitely something that we could look into. Our accessibility pages are really highlighting our products and services that we offer to our disabled customers, rather than providing them a link to our complaint handling processes.
2644 Our entire site is accessible. It is compliant with WC3 and WCAG website development applications. Should a customer search for the CCTS they would find it and it would be accessible in an accessible format for them.
2645 Unfortunately yes you’re correct we don’t have a link but we could look into that.
2646 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, switching gears again, sort of talking about promotions and I know you’re generally of the view that increased promotions of the CCTS are not sort of warranted to increase the general awareness among the population of the CCTS’s existence.
2647 And in your submission you note that there’s a -- I’m reading from your submission here there’s a delicate balance between promoting the existence of the CCTS and creating a meaningful customer -- sorry, a misguided customer perception that the first course of recourse for an issue should be the CCTS.
2648 I do still want to have a conversation with you around if the current level of awareness is adequate, promotional activities on an ongoing basis may still be required just to maintain that baseline level of awareness that’s currently enjoyed in sort of this moment in time.
2649 And a lot of that promotion is driven online and wanted to get your thoughts to see whether the internet is still the best vehicle, the best channel, for the CCTS to be able to promote itself to Canadians.
2650 MR. PATTERSON: Yes, we firmly believe that the internet is the right vehicle for that. I mean I think it was either Rogers or Bell’s submissions wherein they included results from Google searches that indicate that the CCTS is four of the top five results in the event that a consumer’s got a complaint about their service provider at all.
2651 And further, you know, this goes back to that other submission that we included in our documents about the optimal level of consumer awareness for the -- about the CCTS.
2652 Here’s the thing, I am a consumer. I didn’t know about the CCTS before I started working in the telecommunications industry two months ago, and I didn’t need to know about the CCTS at that time. I only need to know about them if I’ve got a problem and if that problem is a real complaint, if I haven’t taken the opportunity to talk to my provider about the issue that I have with the services that I’ve got.
2653 And we talk a little bit about the differences between issues and problems or real complaints, and I think it’s really important to note here. I get that awareness is always important for any business or any ombuds service, but the problem that is going to arise for the CCTS, especially when it expands into the Television Service Provider Code of Conduct, is that if people believe that every single one of their issues, simple issues, should be escalated to the CCTS as soon as they have one, we never have anybody phone us when their channel went out, like they were missing a channel one night. Their supposition might be, as a consumer sitting at home, that they should be phoning the CCTS directly, and that’s not what the CCTS was designed for.
2654 The CCTS is supposed to be a third party, impartial reviewer of a dispute, an honest dispute between a service provider and an individual who haven’t been able to work out their issue between themselves.
2655 Again, it’s not the woman who couldn’t dial long distance because she just didn’t know how. That’s not what you guys want to hear. That is not a great use of the CCTS’ resource. It’s the person who’s tried to work on a billing dispute with SaskTel for a couple weeks and it’s not gone anywhere or they’ve been inappropriately escalated within the company and they’ve gone through a couple of managers and they haven’t gotten their outcome. Those are the people that need to know about them, and we are obligated as a service provider, and we work hard to ensure that those people are informed about the CCTS when that point in the conversation arrives.
2656 MR. BECKMAN: If I might just add to that, you’re questioning what would be the activities required to maintain the status quo of awareness, and I would say that it’s the status quo of activities. I’m not fully -- I don’t know all of them, but I think it does require bill messaging on a quarterly basis to each of our customers, as well as some prescribed form of information on our websites. To maintain the status quo of awareness in the community, you would need to have them maintain the status quo of awareness providing vehicles.
2657 MR. SPELAY: It is in our phonebooks as well, at the front of our phone books. Like my colleagues said, if it’s properly escalated, our internal complaint database that does have escalation tracking within it, once it has reached a second attempt by management, there is actually a statement that pops up providing the information on how to contact the CCTS that is read out to the customer.
2658 So we would argue that the current status quo should be sufficient.
2659 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mentioned the paper bills and there being notice that came out on the bills to your customer base.
2660 MR. SPELAY: Yes.
2661 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I unfortunately don’t live in SaskTel territory, so I’ve never seen one of your bills, and I confess I don’t tend to open my telecom bills anyway.
2662 Could you maybe describe how the notification appears on your invoice sort of in relation to other important information that you may put on there? I’m sure you’ve got, you know, your help line on there, you know, sort of other information like that for how customers are to reach out to you, and I’m sure wondering how that is positioned in relation to information about the CCTS?
2663 MR. SPELAY: It may be best in this case to take this as an undertaking and provide you concrete examples of both our paper bill and our e-bill, which really does mirror our paper bill. We would undertake to provide that information.
2665 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you. That would be perfect. And the due date for undertakings is the 12th of November. Okay.
2666 Just sort of -- and we’re nearing the end here -- but wanted to discuss the remedies provided by the CCTS. In your presentation and your interventions, you did advocate for the five-day period for the customer complaint to be referred back to you.
2667 I’m just wondering, during that five-day period would there be any penalty steps that you think a service provider should not take against a customer? If I’m your customer and I call the CCTS and I’m referred back to you as the service provider for a five-day period, do you feel that it would be inappropriate, for example, for you to suspend my service or refer me to a credit agency during that period of time?
2668 MR. PATTERSON: Well, I think it’s interesting that you pose the question that way. I mean, in the first five days that we would be dealing with any issue, our thoughts wouldn’t be about a penalty process for the client. It would be identifying what the client’s issue is and how it is that we could resolve that for them and with them.
2669 So the concept of contemplating a penalty for the client during that period doesn’t seem to sort of ring a bell for us as a company.
2670 MR. SPELAY: No, we would definitely -- as we pull up their account, we would definitely look at their bill and see where it is within our current treatment processes. And if they are disputing a specific portion of that bill that would be in one of our treatment processes, we would definitely pull it out of our treatment processes. If it had been at a credit agency, we would definitely pull it back from there as well. For it to reach -- or for their bill to reach a treatment cycle that would result in both a treatment cycle and a referral to a credit agency, it would be more than likely over 60 days overdue already. Generally, our complaints come in directly after the customer receives their bill. That’s when we receive our complaints is after a billing cycle because they generally see something on the bill that just isn’t right. So I think it would be a very small percentage that would be in a treatment cycle during our five-day period, and we do have internal processes in place to pull them out and ensure they’re not penalized.
2671 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And to sort of go a little bit further, and just for the purposes of this conversation, let’s sort of set the five-day dispute resolution period aside.
2672 If there was sort of an ongoing issue with a customer that did have an open file with the CCTS that for whatever reason was dragging on past the standard 30 days, maybe into 60 or something longer than that while there is an open complaint in front of the CCTS, do you think it would be inappropriate to refer that customer to a credit agency and/or if it was referred and the service provider was found to be at fault, do you think it would be appropriate for the service provider to have to contact the credit agency and repair any credit damage that had been done to the customer?
2673 MR. SPELAY: That is our common practice internally. We generally, if there is a complaint about billing issues and disputed amounts, we will talk to our Credit Services Department and ensure that account does not go into the collection period.
2674 As well, we do contact credit agencies to have the files removed from credit agencies when it’s found to be our error.
2675 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen.
2676 Mr. Chair, that concludes my questions.
2677 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2678 Vice-Chair Menzies will have some questions.
2679 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you, gentlemen. I just have just one question.
2680 I understand how the five-day period creates opportunity for you to retain the customer and resolve the dispute and come to a quicker end like that. So I kind of understand how it works from your end.
2681 What I’m not quite clear on is how this benefits the consumer in terms of does this five-day period offer them a swifter resolution, a less complicated resolution, or a combination of both? Because obviously it’s a ---
2682 MR. PATTERSON: I think it offers them ---
2683 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Go ahead.
2684 MR. PATTERSON: My apologies for cutting you off.
2685 I think it offers them a combination of both. I mean, in the comments from the CCTS yesterday, we note that they think this will make it take longer, but we contemplate this being five of the first 30 days that we’ve already got during the intake period with the CCTS, and if we as a service provider are incented with a no- fee, no-file period like this to work with a consumer to get this issue -- an issue that they’ve got resolved before it becomes a full-blown CCTS file where we have to engage with the CCTS throughout all of the resolution of this, it’s faster for the customer. It’s more efficient. And as we mentioned in our submissions, 21 of 25 of our submission -- or of our complaints this year would probably have been resolved in that period because they were resolved by us in the pre-investigation stage with the consumer. That’s faster for the consumer. That’s a happier consumer. We’re paying less to the CCTS to have that file open.
2686 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I understand that.
2687 I’m just -- would there be an option for the customer to say no to that? Because I’m just envisioning -- I’m trying to envision that, and without dragging too many personal anecdotal things in to this or whatever, but people have experiences and people are at the point where they’re going to the CCTS or something, they’ve probably already had a couple conversations. They’re probably already thinking of going to another service provider and they’re probably not necessarily thinking happy thoughts about their service provider at that point. So maybe they’re kind of like “I’m at the end of the rope. I want to go to the CCTS. You guys said I can. I don’t want your phone calls. Sorry, guys, we’re done; pack your bags, I’m leaving.”
2688 So would it be possible ---
2689 MR. PATTERSON: Right.
2690 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- for them to say “The relationship’s broken down; I just want this resolved and I want to move on to my next service provider”?
2691 MR. PATTERSON: Right. So in the CCTS’ submission yesterday, they have -- they made this comment:
2692 “The CCTS’s Procedural Code precludes us from accepting a complaint if the customer has not first afforded the provider a reasonable opportunity to resolve it.”
2693 Right? That’s at, I think, paragraph 75 of their comments.
2694 Here’s the thing; we’re not advocating that five-day period be applied with a broad brush across all complaints. If somebody in an intake process explains that they’ve talked to two different managers and they’ve worked at it seven ways from Sunday to achieve a resolution with their provider, I think it might be appropriate to bypass that five-day period. And that might be an appropriate place to exercise some discretion and take it through to a bigger file with the CCTS and the investigation stage. But it’s those people who haven’t had that opportunity to speak to or haven’t appropriately availed themselves of the opportunity to speak to the provider that they’ve got who could probably help them resolve their issue, much like 21 of the 25 people who went to the CCTS before they came to us this past year.
2695 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I understand that.
2696 MR. PATTERSON: Those are the people ---
2697 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That makes sense. Sorry, there’s a little latency. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I was just going to say thank you for that answer. It made sense to me because then it presents itself more as an offer, that they get an offer, “Well, we can contact your service provider and give them five. Is that acceptable to you?” It’s something that would -- a quick resolution option that could be offered to the consumer is more what you’re talking about and they could also say, “No, it’s okay, I don’t want to take option; I want to go straight to complaint.”
2698 Did I understand it correctly?
2699 MR. PATTERSON: No, I wouldn’t envision it as positioning it that way. I think in those circumstances they might think they’ve already made that effort. It would be within the judgment of the individual at the CCTS during the intake to decide whether or not they’ve really made that “reasonable effort”. And to us that reasonable effort looks like you’ve talked to our call centre, you’ve talked to a manager at least once, hopefully twice, so that there’s really been an opportunity on the provider’s end to actually provide them with a reasonable outcome.
2700 If they’ve just talked to our call centre and want to escalate right past our escalation process, they haven’t reached into our actual resolution abilities.
2701 So to the point you make about the person being able to elect out of being referred back to the provider, I think, yes, there would be circumstances where it would be appropriate, but if everybody had that opportunity, I would worry about it being exercised on an all-the-time basis.
2702 MR. BECKMAN: The way the process works now is on the intake they’re all sent to us, even if they’ve gone up to two levels of managers. So we do get involved. I would see this as working the same way. The consumer would get notified that it’s coming to us and they might expect a call from us as part of the dispute resolution process.
2703 MR. SPELAY: I would think that we would use some of our own judgment. As that complaint comes through, that the minute we get one we start kind of a triage session in our group. Then we look at has the customer already contacted us? What’s been said? What’s been offered? If we, through our triage, would find that, you know, this customer has talked to three people in the organisation, a rep and two managers and maybe our chat group and we can see they may have an email in to the President and a complaint to an MLA, we’ve probably done as much as we can with them, but if we open their account notes and note that they’ve only talked to someone on our internet chat channel or talked to a rep, they haven’t really received our final offer yet. We’d like another chance at that customer in order to resolve the complaint. So it would probably be a little bit more judgment on our end as well, if that helps.
2704 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It does help. Thank you. That was my question.
2705 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you. And, gentlemen, I believe those are all our questions. Thank you for participating.
2706 And we’ll now move to our next -- we’ll take a little short break, maybe five minutes just to break this video link and then bring our next and final presenter for today. Thank you. Donc cinq minutes. On revient dans cinq minutes.
--- Upon recessing at 3:48 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 3:54 p.m.
2707 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
2708 Madame la secrétaire?
2709 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of the Canadian Network Operators Consortium.
2710 Please introduce yourself and your colleague, and you have 20 minutes. Thank you.
2711 MR. TACIT: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
2712 Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and Commissioners. My name is Chris Tacit. I’m counsel to CNOC.
2713 Seated to my left is Christopher Hickey, CNOC’s Director of Industry Relations. Mr. Hickey will be making our opening statement.
2714 MR. HICKEY: Thank you, Chris.
2715 To start, we note that the environment today is very similar to that which existed at the time of the last CCTS review. CCTS is effective in resolving complaints from those consumers who have access to its services. Forborne telecommunications services continue to grow in importance and now broadcasting services also need to be addressed. As a result, access by consumers to CCTS services is still necessary and beneficial. CCTS continues to be important for the proper functioning of competition and protection of consumer interests.
2716 CCTS is generally well functioning. However, as with any institution, there is always some room for improvements.
2717 Before discussing the specific points we wish to address, I would like to take a moment to provide some context for our remarks. Our organization is composed of more than 30 TSPs of various sizes. Some are significant in size, while others are very small. In fact, most TSPs in Canada are relatively small.
2718 As you conclude this important review of CCTS, we urge you to be mindful that a delicate balance needs to be struck between ensuring that CCTS is able to pursue its mandate effectively while not imposing excessive costs or complexity on the bulk of the industry.
2719 In Regulatory Policy 2011-46, the Commission concluded that membership in CCTS should be comprehensive to allow all consumers to access CCTS services regardless of the revenues of the consumer’s TSP. This conclusion remains valid today.
2720 We also believe that the Commission should continue to rely on the Framework established in Policy 2011-46.
2721 That framework requires a service provider to become a participating service provider at the time when a complaint about it is received by CCTS. This approach is administratively efficient, particularly given how few TSP’s have had complaints filed against them requiring them to join CCTS and how few existing CCTS participants actually generate complaints today.
2722 For example, in the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year a total of 137 of 257 participating service providers did not have an accepted complaint filed against them. As of the first half of the current fiscal year only 85 participating providers have been subject to accepted complaints.
2723 Requiring somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 TSP’s and TVSP’s to register in the absence of complaints would cause a very large administrative burden for CCTS and the newly participating service providers with no corresponding discernable benefits.
2724 We also agree that all TSP’s should have the obligation to participate imposed on them directly. Involving third parties in the application of the participation requirements is inefficient and unnecessary.
2725 CNOC is of the view that the current governing structure of the CCTS works well. If any changes are made we would ask that the Commission ensure that industry, consumer and public interest continue to be balanced in a manner that guarantees the effective and efficient operation of CCTS.
2726 CNOC is of the view that a change that CCTS has made in processing complaints has reduced its operating efficiency. More specifically, CCTS appears to be deviating from its own procedural code in one area. Section 6.6A of that Code provides participating service providers with an important opportunity to address the validity of complaints before they are ultimately escalated to the investigation stage which imposes higher costs and efforts on the service providers.
2727 Pursuant to Section 6.7 of the Code, CCTS is then required to make a determination concerning whether a complaint is within the scope of the CCTS mandates upon receipt of an objection filed by a participating service provider. If the complaints or any part of it is within scope the CCTS must determine whether to take action with respect to the complaints.
2728 CNOC members have advised that CCTS has modified its processes to no longer consider an objection permitted under Section 6.6A in many cases prior to the escalation of the compliant to the investigation stage. Thus, complaints subject to valid objections permitted under the Code still proceed to the investigation stage.
2729 We are therefore asking the Commission to require CCTS to comply fully with the procedural Code and not to apply any procedures or processes that conflicts with the Code.
2730 Another area of concern for CNOC is the presence of perverse economic incentives under the current funding model. The inclusion of a complaint based fee component and CCTS funding mechanism creates an incentive for participating service providers to settle unfounded complaints or agree to unreasonable resolutions to avoid escalating complaint based fees. It also creates a certain level of uncertainty concerning the revenues that CCTS obtains in a given year.
2731 CNOC believes that complaint based fees as they exist today should be eliminated entirely. However, CNOC also acknowledges that the cost of participation in CCTS should not be based solely on participating service provider revenues. Fairness requires that those responsible for the highest volumes of accepted complaints should make the greatest contribution to CCTS revenues since they impose the greatest costs on CCTS.
2732 This could be accomplished by having some percentage of the CCTS budget in a given year funded by those participating service providers that cause complaints in the previous year with the cost borne by each participants being pro rata to the number of accepted complaints it generated relative to the total number of complaints accepted by CCTS.
2733 This additional requirement is a modification to our previous written position.
2734 This approach will enable CCTS to meet its budgetary requirements fully each year without any uncertainty associated with complaint based fees which are linked to volume. It also tangibly rewards those CCTS participating service providers who have lower accepted complaint levels while avoiding perverse economic incentives to make payments for complaints that are not well-founded.
2735 CNOC is of the view that existing public awareness measures regarding CCTS are sufficient. For example, CCTS has taken on greater responsibility for promoting itself through hiring a communications officer and improving its visibility online. Awareness is also created via participating service provider website notices, billing notices and the requirement for service providers to inform their customers about CCTS during their internal complaint handling process.
2736 The current system works well precisely because it creates the maximum level awareness in the appropriate context. That is at the time when a customer is unable to resolve a specific complaint with its service provider.
2737 While further obligations may seem small when examined in isolation, smaller providers are already subject to many other regulatory requirements. Smaller TSP’s have very limited resources to comply with additional public awareness obligations.
2738 In addition, measures such as public service announcements in newspapers, radio, or television are very expensive and unlikely to yield any additional significant benefits. In fact, such measures occurring outside the complaint specific context could actually cause customer confusion. For example, CCTS could receive high volume of calls regarding matters that are outside the scope of its authority to address.
2739 With regard to remedies, we are of the view that the remedies currently provided by CCTS are sufficient, and CCTS seems to agree based on its actual experience to date. In addition, the $5,000 cap on monetary awards quite appropriately does not apply to refunds, for example, in the case of billing errors.
2740 CNOC is of the view that those TVSP’s, which the TVSP Code applies, should be required to participate in the CCTS. The participation rules should be the same as those currently in place for participating TSP’s.
2741 CCTS is generally working well. The changes we are proposing are very targeted. Our recommendations are designed to be both effective and efficient. They focus regulatory attention in those areas where it is required while reducing unnecessary costs.
2742 In other words, they adhere to subparagraph 1A2 of the policy direction. That provision requires regulatory measures to be efficient and proportionate to their purpose. It also requires those measures to interfere with the operation of competitive market forces to the minimum extent necessary to meet the Canadian telecommunication policy objectives.
2743 Thank you for your attention. We would now be pleased to answer your questions.
2744 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2745 Vice-Chair Menzies will start us off.
2746 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
2747 Let’s start first with your modification just so I’m clear because I did have a question on that area and I guess we might have a couple now.
2748 So it was paragraph 57 of your original written submission that said CNOC is of the view that the funding of the CCTS should be recovered solely via revenue based fees calculated based on the applicable percentages of revenues of participating service providers. And now you’re amending that to say that there should be -- tell you what, why don’t you say it.
2749 MR. HICKEY: I will give it a shot, and if not I will pass it to Chris to my right for a second swing.
2750 But just to give you a little background of where our change came from, when we started this our first concern was related to how the existing complaint based mechanism impacts the actual fair and reasonable resolution of complaints that reach the CCTS and so we sought out to resolve that. And our first swing at it was to say let’s remove that portion in its entirety and then revenue based fees would be an acceptable alternative.
2751 We then reviewed the positions of certain parties, and replies and comments, went to the CCTS annual reports and recognized that it wasn’t quite as fair and equitable as we had first assumed. For example, to give credit where credit is due, Telus has less complaints than Virgin -- Virgin Mobile. And so we decided that just making it because of the large size is no longer appropriate.
2752 So what we’re proposing to do is effectively maintain a complaint based component but that does not apply to actual escalation levels as you proceed through the CCTS complaint process. It removes it from the actual complaint handling process and then places it at the end of the process to ensure stability going forward.
2753 I’m going to pass it over to Chris to make it a little more clear.
2754 MR. TACIT: Sure. So really, a lot is about economic incentives because when you have an escalating fee structure at the front end, what ends up happening is that the TSP will have to settle a number of complaints just out of pure economics, regardless of the legitimacy of some of those complaints.
2755 And a number of consumers will find out that this system is available and it can be misused.
2756 So the idea here is to ensure that there is some credit given to those who have lower volumes of complaints such that they don’t have to bear as high a proportion of the overall cost of participation in CCTS but to take out that distorting front-end effect.
2757 That’s really the objective here.
2758 And so we think that by giving due consideration at the back end, providing stable funding for CCTS by allocating a certain percentage and just distributing that funding according to how many accepted complaints were handled by CCTS in a prior year, which is tangible, measurable, easily discernable, it makes it a pretty unambiguous thing. And it still creates an incentive for the average service provider to excel and do as best as it can, because it knows that it will be rewarded at the end through lower fees in the next year.
2759 So there’s still an incentive for the service provider to behave well but not to be penalized or held hostage by certain situations that would be otherwise unfair.
2760 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I guess we could probably debate economic incentives and that sort of stuff, but that would amuse no one and get us nowhere.
2761 So I kind of feel an Undertaking coming on. If you could actually write that down and show us what percentages and how things would be weighted, so we could deal with it?
2762 MR. TACIT: Sure. We can give some examples.
2763 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
2764 MR. TACIT: The reason we didn’t want to get into the hard and fast numbers is because we think that that may require some further examination and input to actually make it happen in a way that’s fair to everybody. And we don’t have -- we’re not privy to all of the specific data that CCTS ---
2765 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. If you could give us some sort of hypothetical wording ---
2766 MR. TACIT: Sure.
2767 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- that would be ---
2768 MR. TACIT: Absolutely.
2769 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- a little less ethereal for us to ---
2770 MR. TACIT: Absolutely, we can do that.
2771 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thanks.
2773 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So let’s go back to some other things for a moment.
2774 As you’re sort of referring to, I think it’s paragraph 16 of your Written Submission, where you say, “The current measures sufficiently promote awareness.”
2775 And this is one of the discussions that’s a theme through the week; what is sufficient and what is insufficient.
2776 Your position is that the current measures are sufficient, but is there any empirical data you can point us to that supports that view or is that just the general consensus of your members?
2777 Because in your reply, in paragraph 17 of your reply, and maybe I’ve read more into that than I should have, but it appears to concede that there might be some inefficiency.
2778 MR. HICKEY: So I think to answer your first question, the first part of your question, I think we view, like many other parties to this proceeding, that the critical components is less about broad general awareness than ensuring that the customer is aware at the time they have an issue that they’re unable to resolve with their provider, that they have recourse to the CCTS.
2779 So our view here is that the obligations placed on providers are sufficient to ensure that. During the escalation stage, billing notices, online, et cetera.
2780 What we do note in paragraph 17 of the reply is I’m certainly not going to sit here and say that every provider has clean hands and is 100 percent fulfilling its obligations based on certain concerns that were raised by the CCTS regarding responses to its compliance and obligation survey that it did and other issues raised there.
2781 So there may be an issue that needs to be addressed, but that’s distinct from the actual existing obligations that are sufficient if they are being followed.
2782 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So I’ll just -- I will repeat back to you what I understood from that. It’s that it’s more like we heard earlier today that what matters is that 100 percent of the people who need to know about CCTS know.
2783 And it doesn’t -- that’s what we should be measuring, not the broader marketplace because you don’t need to know until you need to know. Is that correct?
2784 MR. HICKEY: Correct, yes.
2785 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
2786 MR. HICKEY: It’s a proportionality issue. Where are you going to spend the resources? What are the outcomes?
2787 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
2788 MR. HICKEY: We want to focus on the outcomes in the right place and not spend more than we have to doing it.
2789 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
2790 Now, you’ve expressed concern in writing and again today regarding process modifications made by CCTS and I can’t remember -- Section 6.
2791 Anyway, can you take us through that and describe the impact because today, in your Oral Remarks, Section 6.6(a), your position is that CCTS is not following its own process in terms of they’ve amended the process in some way, which is allowing disputes to go more quickly to the investigation stage than service providers had an expectation that they would. Is that correct?
2792 MR. HICKEY: Yes, but I would qualify that it’s with respect to complaints that service providers believe are out of scope.
2793 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Explain it to us.
2794 MR. HICKEY: Okay.
2795 So effectively, what our members have advised is that complaints that are out of scope or already resolved, during the internal complaint process the customer accepted a resolution and has turned around and then gone to the CCTS after that, or a complaint that’s posed to the wrong service provider. You receive that complaint and you have the right to -- in the pre-investigation stage, you have the right to resolve that in 30 days. You have the right to file an objection explaining why that complaint shouldn’t be investigated, subject to the procedural code; or if you do not come to a resolution within 30 days, it’s escalated to the investigation process.
2796 What our members are advising is when complaints that are out of scope or to the wrong provider or those types of cases, they’re filing objections during the pre-investigation process, which should result in a “oops, sorry, let’s close”. But now, they’re being told, no, we can only make those determinations in the investigation stage.
2797 And as a result of that, the service provider is hit with an investigation level fee and is required to spend more resources to ultimately have that complaint closed upon the determination that, yes, it is out of scope or to the wrong provider.
2798 MR. TACIT: And just to add to that, let me give you a couple of very tangible examples.
2799 So the way I understand that the complaint system works, when you go on, there’s a menu and you basically scroll down through the various carriers to pick who the service provider is that you’re complaining against.
2800 So imagine if you happen to be next to Bell, Rogers, TELUS, how many people are going to click accidentally on you.
2801 So as soon as that becomes evident, surely CCTS should not go further and make you go to the investigation stage.
2802 Or similarly, if you can demonstrate that you’ve actually resolved the complaint with the end-user, there shouldn’t be a need.
2803 Those are just a couple of examples that some of our members have brought to our attention.
2804 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And when did this begin occurring?
2805 MR. HICKEY: So we don’t have the exact date. We do know that there was documents and guidance that were distributed in 2010 that set out how the actual objection process is supposed to be done in the pre-investigation stages. They were actually part of the record.
2806 We’ve been advised that when we started this proceeding that those are no longer being followed based on those documents, but I can’t tell you exactly when that change was made.
2807 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thanks.
2808 Has there been any explanation, any discussions, any effort to resolve this dispute with CCTS and the service providers?
2809 MR. HICKEY: We did canvas -- in our canvassing of our members, they provided certain correspondence where it was effectively, “No, that’s no longer what we do.”
2810 And one of the difficulties which is separate, but there’s no easy way to then continue escalating to get to. So they provided us with items and emails saying that we no longer follow those procedures, but that’s about the extent of the response that our members received.
2811 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Are you clear on what the procedures are now? Are your members clear?
2812 MR. HICKEY: So the -- and I did note in the -- my spoken presentation that in many case and so at times there seems to be, for some reason an objection will be accepted, in other times it’s not being followed.
2813 And so it’s not extremely clear to even our providers that brought up this issue exactly what the uniform rule in relation to this is.
2814 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I see, thank you.
2815 Does this mean -- I’m trying to recall here. You -- your amendment -- now you had -- before you had a credit proposal; right?
2816 Does that still stand or does that go out with the amendment?
2817 MR. HICKEY: No, that goes out with the ---
2818 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
2819 MR. HICKEY: That goes out with the amendment.
2820 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, so did that question. Good. So what does a change to a more revenue based model -- is that -- does that substantially benefit your members from a financial point of view?
2821 MR. HICKEY: No, I don’t believe so. Effectively, I know you had asked for percentages before, but even if you took todays 60-40 split that exists today and all you did was put it at the end of the year instead of applying it as the complaint -- as the complaint proceeds through the resolution process, that would still remove the odd incentive to just simply settle a complaint provided it’s lower than the cost you’ll get hit with if it goes to the investigation stage.
2822 So even if all providers were paying the same amounts today, it would still effectively address our concern with the existing complaint based mechanism.
2823 MR. TACIT: Perhaps I can nuance that a bit too and just say that not every TSP is the same in terms of its effectiveness or the speed or efficacy with which it resolves complaints and that’s true within CNOC as much as it is outside in the general ISP population.
2824 So I don’t think there’s a universal answer for CNOC. I think those who behave well will do better under that model and those who don’t behave well will bear higher costs and that is the intent of the proposal, regardless of whether they’re CNOC members or not CNOC members.
2825 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I’d like to clarify if I can here.
2826 Your position on participation, it’s basically what I kind of want to know is -- what we need to know is, should participation in CCTS be mandatory for small TSPs that currently aren’t participating?
2827 Today you seem to indicate in your oral remarks that you like the trigger based formula, but then in paragraph 10 I wasn’t quite sure what you were saying there.
2828 “We also agree that all TSPs should have the obligation to participate imposed on them directly.”
2829 MR. HICKEY: That’s fair and I think we should have worded that last paragraph a little better.
2830 So I guess we look at it, there’s two distinct items. There’s one, the obligation to be a CCTS member upon receipt of a complaint that should be imposed directly on resellers or service providers instead of through their wholesale arrangements with underlying carriers or those types of arrangements.
2831 But the complaint based mechanism that actually triggers your requirement to become a participating provider should be maintained.
2832 Those are -- we see those as two distinct components of the onboarding mechanism.
2833 MR. TACIT: I think the awkwardness in paragraph 10 resulted from the fact that we were trying to avoid the word reseller, which we don’t always agree with in terms of what our members are.
2834 And the question had actually asked, you know, whether resellers should have the obligation imposed on them directly and we’re responding to that rather than to the question of universality.
2835 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So any allegation that gets triggered should be imposed directly on the reseller, as opposed to the wholesaler?
2836 MR. TACIT: Right, yes. And I think we know why we don’t like the term reseller.
2837 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Good we got answers to two questions in one there. That was fun.
2838 So next question is to what extent do you believe we should have a role in enforcing participation and aspects of participation in the CCTS such as -- and people who fail to promote in accordance with participation, et cetera.
2839 MR. TACIT: Well I think it’s important. I don’t think that -- or we don’t think that if people should be able to flaunt either not choosing to ignore participating in CCTS or not participating in accordance with their participation agreement.
2840 And to the extent that they do that, I think it’s very awkward for CCTS to try and be given enforcement tool when it has to continue being the mediator/arbitrator of disputes on an ongoing basis between those entities and consumers.
2841 But I do think the problem needs to be addressed and I think that everyone needs to know that there is a mechanism to do that and the Commission certainly has the authority to create as conditions of, for example, being a registered TSP or as a condition of broadcasting licence or exemption, should it choose to add a broadcasting entities, you know, to the CCTS fold to create those obligations and then use whatever tools are available under the telecommunications and broadcasting act to deal with those entities who choose not to comply.
2842 It’s fair to those who do comply too. I don’t think those who comply are happy sitting by knowing that there are -- there is a segment that can do this with impunity.
2843 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Are there any areas that -- any obligations that you don’t think we should be involved in?
2844 MR. TACIT: A very broad question. I’m not sure I ---
2845 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well -- I was just -- if there was something, if there was some area that you thought we should stay away from.
2846 MR. TACIT: Well I think --
2847 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Any participatory obligation.
2848 MR. TACIT: -- well in terms of a review function? Is that what you’re asking?
2849 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sorry?
2850 MR. TACIT: In terms of the review function of compliance with CCTS?
2851 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
2852 MR. TACIT: Okay, if we’re -- look I think if there’s an obligation on a service provider to participate in CCTS and it’s not meeting it, if it’s a valid obligation that’s clearly within the scope of what the commission has approved in the format of the participation agreement, I think it’s fair for the Commission to intervene.
2853 Now I do think, however, though we have to be careful and use a graduated approach because there are many TSPs and TVSPSs out there, who simply aren’t aware of the CRTC’s existence still and that’s a reality and so I think the first step has to be education.
2854 You know, so I think, you know, you bring them into the fold; tell them what they need to do. If they -- if they clearly are not acting in bad faith, they’re not repeat offenders, they’re not refusing, and then you escalate if people are acting in bad faith and refusing to comply.
2855 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I understand. I was ---
2856 THE CHAIRPERSON: You meant the existence of the CCTS not the CRTC?
2857 MR. TACIT: Yes, sorry.
2858 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, just to be sure.
2859 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It’s impossible to imagine anyone would not be aware of the CRTC.
2860 So you can -- the -- what did you think of PIAC’s position that CCTS’s mandate should include not just the TVSP code of conduct, but it should be able to deal with all services provided by TVSPs?
2861 MR. TACIT: Our starting position is it’s cleaner and more efficient and much less confusing if the TVSPs that are subject to the TVSP code are required to be member of the CCTS.
2862 And to avoid a situation where you have to somehow educate that if you’re a customer of TVSP A, you can make certain complaints, but you’re a customer of TVSP B that no longer applies.
2863 So I think our first starting point, well it would be cleaner to ensure that those that are subject to the TVSP code are those that are required to be members of the CCTS.
2864 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thanks. And what did you think of CNIBs suggestion that all providers have information about the CCTS on their accessibility pages?
2865 MR. TACIT: Sorry can you repeat that?
2866 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The suggestion from the CNIB that all providers have information about CCTS on their accessibility pages.
2867 MR. TACIT: I guess that’s fine to the extent that, you know, there are accessibility obligations and those pages have to exist, there’s nothing wrong with having information about CCTS on them; that’s for sure. That’s useful.
2868 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, in terms of CCTS awareness, I had talked about having a bigger online presence and we talked a little bit before about where awareness needed to be.
2869 There could be a gap where people are -- where it’s been suggested, let me put it this way, that there could be a gap where -- for people who are not active online.
2870 Probably most people search for information online but not everybody does.
2871 Does it concern -- do you -- a) do you agree with that point of view that there might be a gap in terms of availability of information for people, and if so, do you have a suggestion about how that could be addressed, or is it really a problem?
2872 MR. TACIT: Well, as I said, I think if the focus is -- regardless of whether people go online or not, when they complain to their provider if their provider is telling them that CCTS exists when they can’t resolve the complaint with the provider then they’ll be aware of it. So I don’t think that it is as broad based a problem.
2873 But if there is any doubt of that what I would suggest is some sort of a survey, and it could be in part on line, it could be in part phone, it could be in part mail to take into account different forms of communication that people have that would focus on a correlation between how people have -- have you experienced a complaint, for example, and in doing so was your service provider able to resolve it, and if not did they tell you about CCTS or were you aware that it existed.
2874 I’m just concerned that we not direct a whole bunch of funding and effort to something until we have evidence base that there is a need.
2875 So that would be what we would want to see.
2876 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
2877 What did you think of PX suggestion too that the compensation cap should be elevated from $5,000 to $25,000?
2878 MR. HICKEY: So I’m going to just say a couple of comments and I’ll pass it to Chris for a couple more.
2879 But our largest concern there is when you move that compensation threshold to a threshold that’s now more small claims type arrangements it’s going to significantly increase the type of process, evidence and such required to resolve a complaint. And I’ll let Chris talk about that next.
2880 But I just want to clarify that this isn’t kind of hypothetical. Unfortunately there are certain customers that aren’t exactly acting in the best intentions. We have one provider who gave us a situation where a customer was claiming $3,000 for lost wages due to some intermittent issues on their internet service. Throughout the process it turned out that the issues were related to their inside wire but more importantly it was an unemployed student that came out during that process. And had that not come out and they had such powers all you’re going to do is significantly make the process more complex and go against the general un-legalistic simple and customer friendly type process to resolve complaints.
2881 MR. TACIT: And just to pick up on that, two quick points.
2882 First of all, I think CCTS itself said that it’s satisfied that the current cap is adequate to deal with the needs of consumers is what I heard, but -- and since they’re the experts I kind of take them at their word on that.
2883 But the other thing is that even -- it may be tempting to liken this to a small claims court process but there are still some very important differences between the CCTS process. The CCTS process is very deliberately supposed to be much less formal, much less legalistic. It’s written right in the Code.
2884 Now, I know small claims courts are supposed to be user friendly but they’re still administered by judges and quasi-judicial officers. You still have processes where there are pre-trials at which both parties are present with a judicial officer. There are some very important differences in the processes to make sure that the evidence gets tested properly.
2885 So I’d be very concerned about introducing higher potential risk and penalties in an environment that’s not designed that way. And I don’t think it should be redesigned to do that. I think that would take away from its effectiveness for the benefit of consumers.
2886 MR. HICKEY: And the only additional thing I would add there is consumers currently have a right if it goes to decision to turn around and say “No, thank you, I’m going to go to small claims.” They have this outage -- or they have an out at the moment that exists with no change required today.
2887 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Understood. Thank you.
2888 Although you’re probably not thinking about it -- but we will do this again, or some of us, or many of us will do this again in a few years -- are there any specific metrics that you would encourage us to put in place to measure the organization against or that it should -- do you think it should aspire to over the next few years so when that review comes up they can be measured fairly against their ability to meet those standards?
2889 MR. TACIT: Well, I have a high-level and slightly low-level answer. The high-level answer -- because I did reflect on this. In our practice we actually help clients with sort of governance and strategic planning types of issues and performance measurement is a very integral part of the strategic planning process.
2890 And so what I would say at a high level is this, to the extent that CCTS’s strategic objectives are very well-defined, what’s important to do is to make sure that the performance measurements align with that.
2891 Now, I haven’t studied them all in great detail to get to that level, but what I would suggest is if there’s any doubt of that there are many, many well placed strategic consultants third party who could do that sort of exercise and go in and make suggestions for any fine tuning that might be necessary to better align performance measurements with strategic objectives. That’s just basic strategic planning process.
2892 On a specific thing, the one thing that struck me sort of immediately that I think could be better brought out -- I think it’s there in sort of bits and pieces, and if you want to do enough math and dig hard enough you might be able to get the answers, you might not. But I think it would be interesting to have more of a direct reporting of exactly how many complaints they got, how many were actually rejected and how many were actually resolved -- you know, they were rejected because they were resolved with the service provider.
2893 I think a little more, you know, granularity there would help, and I think it might also get at some of the concerns that you have about awareness and other issues. It might give you some more data for that.
2894 But we know how many they’ve accepted but the other stuff is kind of scattered and it’s not quite as granular as might be helpful.
2895 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
2896 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just one question from my part. And do you know if any of your members, members of CNOC are not in good standing with the CCTS?
2897 And by that I mean someone who would have had a complaint but therefore the trigger would have applied but did not participate, or alternatively that did participate when they required to but are somehow not meeting some of their basic obligations.
2898 MR. TACIT: I’m not aware of any -- whether they exist or not. I can’t ---
2899 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you don’t monitor that.
2900 MR. TACIT: But I -- well I have no way of monitoring as external counsel what individual members do. I’m counsel primarily to the association. Occasionally I get ---
2901 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know you’re counsel, but I’m talking to the association.
2902 MR. TACIT: Right. No, fair enough.
2903 So the answer is I don’t think that we monitor ---
2904 MR. HICKEY: From the association side we don’t specifically track the actual compliance. I will note that some of our larger members were subject to the Commission’s June interrogatories with respect to show us your compliance and they indicated that they were compliant. We do make our members aware of the obligations but we don’t do a checklist type obligation to ensure their compliance as part of our member services.
2905 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And as an association would you want amongst your midst somebody who is not in good standing?
2906 MR. HICKEY: I do not believe so. I think that would likely provide a point of contention between certain members who are participating very well and those that are trying to skirt or fly under the radar, if that was the case, which I’m not suggesting it is ---
2907 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I’m not either, I’m just -- so if some member of CNOC were to become non-compliant what would CNOC do?
2908 MR. TACIT: The CNOC bylaws provide for clear remedies that the Board can exercise to so-call discipline members right up to expulsion for not pursuing the objectives of CNOC and part of those objectives are ethical conduct so -- and to me that includes compliance with the law.
2909 So an individual case, you know, would have to go to the Board for resolution. I can’t tell you what the Board might decide in any given case or not. But what I can tell you is that the association regards its reputation and that of its members in high regard and wouldn’t want to do anything to compromise that.
2910 THE CHAIRPERSON: I appreciate that. I just wanted to know how embracing of CCTS CNOC was as an important institution in the communications sector.
2911 MR. TACIT: Well, we’re here because we take it very seriously and, as we said, we think it’s a positive thing and we’re not out to overhaul it or knock it down in any way. We just want to tweak certain things to make it run even better than it is running.
2912 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood. Thank you very much. Those are our questions.
2913 And I think we’ll call it a day and adjourn and meet again tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock. Thank you very much.
--- Upon adjourning at 4:37 p.m.
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