ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 5 November 2015
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: 5 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 5, 2015 at 9:03 a.m.
2914 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l'ordre, s'il vous plait.
2915 Madame la secrétaire.
2916 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We’ll now start with the presentation of Forum for Research and Policy in Communications. Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes.
2917 MR. FRENKEN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and staff. My name is Sjeff Frenken and I Chair the Board of Directors of the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications or FRPC, as well call it FRPC, it’s easier. With me today is Monica Auer our Executive Director.
2918 Our remarks today focus on the role of the CCTS, its effectiveness and its transparency. Before dealing with these three issues, we would like to address the underlying purpose or this proceeding.
2919 In its initial submission one participating service provider said that this review should show how service providers can be motivated to improve customer service so that the CCTS is no longer needed.
2920 Of course, what we usually hear is that the competitive market place motivates companies to serve their customers better, responsibility falls to the competitive market place.
2921 In reality, CCTS exists for a different reason, to provide PSP users with remedies that the market cannot, will not or does not provide. That is why FRPC believes that the question that this review should answer is this:
2922 “Is CCTS an effective and transparent consumer agency that has the governance, procedures and resources it needs to address subscribers’ concerns transparently, effectively and fairly?”
2923 We think the answer to this question is a qualified “yes”, if certain important changes are made.
2925 MS. AUER: The first of these changes has to do with the function of CCTS. It must be clarified to establish that its role is to ensure that consumers’ rights are respected. CCTS itself said that is an independent consumer agency with a mandate to resolve complaints. But then it also says that it’s
2926 “Primary goal is timely and satisfactory complaint resolution.”
2927 PSPs generally agree that CCTS role is to process complaints. Focusing on the process of handling complaints tends to imply that the processing function is more important than a consumer protection function. We think it is clear that Cabinet wanted CCTS to protect consumers because this is what Governor in Council Order 2007-533 said it wanted. In English a consumer agency, and in French “une Agence de protection des usagers”.
2928 CCTS was always expected to receive and resolve complaints, but we think it is wrong as a matter of historical fact to say that CCTS was only ever intended to perform this role by negotiating settlements between PSPs and subscribers without regard to consumers’ legal rights.
2929 If its main function were simply to process complaints as quickly as possible, why would any of the seats on the CCTS Board of Directors be designated for consumer representatives?
2930 Clearly, defining CCTS role is important because a consumer protection agency is different than a complaint resolution body. The one processes complaints to reach settlements as quickly as possible, the other processes complaints within a framework of consumer protection law to provide fair outcomes.
2931 It should be pointed out that consumer agencies are not partial to consumers simply because their name includes the word “consumer”. Their analyses must be objective and must be based on facts, and they do not simply try to negotiate settlements to process thousands of complaints as quickly as possible. They exist to ensure that basic rights are protected.
2932 CCTS’ bylaws, its procedural codes and its internal procedures should therefore simply state that CCTS considers subscribers’ consumer rights whether it investigates and makes recommendations about complaints.
2933 For this reason, CCTS should also consider hiring its own fulltime legal counsel, rather than retaining outside counsel at a cost of $190,000 in the last two years alone.
2934 We’ve also recommended that CCTS be required to conduct its work objectively, rather than impartially as is currently required. Objectivity and impartiality are actually two different concepts and lead to slightly different outcomes. Impartiality refers to the idea of taking sides. Objectivity refers to the fact that matters are decided on the basis of facts.
2935 CCTS bylaws, its procedural codes and its internal procedures should therefore simply require that CCTS undertake its work objectively.
2936 The second set of changes we have proposed has to do with fairness and effectiveness. CCTS should ensure that consumers are treated fairly by PSPs and that its administration of codes is effective. What this means is that CCTS should report on issues such as timeliness as well as actual outcomes and satisfaction with outcomes.
2937 Unfortunately, the reports now provided cannot answer these three questions. Are complainants being treated fairly? Do outcomes satisfy complainants? And is PSP compliance with codes increasing, decreasing or staying the same?
2938 CCTS should therefore provide public access to anonymized data about complaints and their -- and their outcomes. This would enable the CRTC and other interested parties to evaluate trends and outcomes.
2939 CCTS should also change its approach to evaluating its performance. In the last two years it spent $177,000 on consultants. We suggest that it use some of these resources to hire professional survey experts. And by that, we mean people with university level training in quantitative research methods to design a proper survey questionnaire.
2940 It may be interesting to measure complainants’ satisfaction with the CCTS process. But what CCTS ought to be measuring is satisfaction with the actual outcomes of its process.
2941 Finally, we think CCTS should change the way it reports complaints about PSPs from simply reporting the numbers or percentages of complaints received about individual PSPs, to reporting the numbers of complaints per PSP per 100,000 subscribers. That would be a rate rather than a percentage or a number.
2942 Reporting numbers of complaints about individual PSPs without knowing the rate of complaints is misleading. For example, suppose we had two companies, one received 100 -- they each receive 100 complaints, one had 10,000 subscribers and the other has 100 subscribers. Surely our perception of these companies would change if we know that every subscriber the second company had complained.
2943 Therefore, reporting on complaints per 100 subscrib -- 100,000 subscribers will permit CCTS, the CRTC and other interested parties to compare PSPs on an equal footing.
2944 The final point we would like to address is transparency. As we said in our submission, CCTS has been asked to perform an important task. As we have also said, the statistics reported by CCTS make it almost impossible to evaluate its performance.
2945 To paraphrase the old expression, “CCTS must not only perform its role well, it must be seen to be performing the role well.”
2946 A very basic problem is that its annual reports provide very little meaningful information, an enormous gap remains between the concepts about complaints and their actual measurement. That gap makes it impossible to evaluate the agency’s performance and any meaningful detail.
2947 Take the issue of compensation, the CCTS procedural code permits CCTS to compensate complainants for loss, damage or inconvenience. And CCTS has said that the remedies and compensation available to address well-founded complaints are sufficient.
2948 TELUS pointed out that 25 out of 7,795 complaints involving compensation received the maximum $5,000 amount. Knowing that 25 complainants out of almost 8,000 received $5,000 in compensation does not establish whether any of those 25 recipients were entitled to different levels of compensation or higher ones; whether they even asked for the maximum amount awarded; whether any of the other 7,770 complainants were not offered compensation when they merited it; or whether they asked for it but did not receive a different quantum of compensation. Our own review of the miniscule number of complaints published on CCTS website found that its approach to compensation varied quite significantly.
2949 CCTS should therefore publish these anonymized data, as we’ve previously mentioned, about different aspects of the complaint it resolves. Apart from anything else these data should at least set out the sections of the code or codes engaged by a complaint, the date it was received, accepted, investigated and concluded, the remedies that were offered and accepted, and the quantum of compensation offered and accepted.
2950 CCTS should also publish its criteria for awarding compensation to eliminate concerns that these are being administered ad-hoc. Without this, it will remain impossible to know whether CCTS process works effectively and whether outcomes being obtained really are fair.
2951 Moreover, CCTS should also publish its annual financial statements. We reviewed the statements that CCTS put on the public record. We were delighted to see them, and the only question we had is why they were ever kept confidential.
2952 Without things like the annual financial statements, parties in proceedings such as this cannot know whether the CCTS has the resources needed to undertake its work.
2953 The CRTC should therefore require CCTS to publish its financial statements each year on its website and in its annual reports. These statements should also be more detailed to provide staffing and financial information about other companies.
2954 And, if the CRTC does ask CCTS to publish its annual financial statements, please -- and I cannot stress this enough -- please ask the Agency to provide 10-year back casts in its PDF and online versions. Historical data matter when evaluating performance. It is an egregious waste of analysts’ time to force each of them to create spreadsheets and enerdata to analyze the performance of agencies like CCTS.
2955 If data are not presented consistently over time, CCTS should also explain changes in their presentation.
2956 Like everyone else or many others, we’ve noticed CCTS’ publication of information collected from its surveys of complainants. The questions it has used measure views about the quality of service complainants -- about the quality of the service complainants encountered from CCTS, but they do not measure complainant satisfaction with the outcome of the process. These are different concepts that must be measured with different variables or questions.
2957 CCTS should consult with experts, such as members of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, the Canadian Industry Organization of Survey Research Firms to develop professional research designs to measure a complainant’s satisfaction with the process and results of their experience with CCTS.
2958 CCTS could also ask complainants how they learned about its existence, because the answers will inform CCTS and PSPs about areas where they might strengthen their outreach initiatives.
2959 Finally, CCTS should have reasonable financial reserves to permit it to undertake and publish independent research on matters that are directly relevant to its mandate and its work.
2960 MR. FRENKEN: To conclude, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, CCTS has an important role to perform and has done some very good work.
2961 There is a fundamental problem with transparency, however, which the CRTC should address. CCTS’ current approach to reporting simply does not permit its work and the result of its work to be evaluated empirically, which is generally the best way to evaluate public policy.
2962 This is why FRAPC has argued that CCTS must become more transparent by releasing more information to the public that will establish that it performs that role credibly and is accountable to Canadians, to consumers, to the CRTC and to communications companies.
2963 Fortunately technology now makes transparency very inexpensive. To put this into perspective, when I began working for the CRTC in the early 1970s, the word “desktop” simply meant the top of a desk. Personal computers did not begin to arrive at the offices of the Commission staff until the mid-1980s.
2964 Today, software and hardware permit organizations like CCTS to collect a huge slice of data far more easily. The real challenge is deciding which data to collect and which to report.
2965 That said, FRAPC recognizes that implementing most of the recommendations being made will require more resources, in particular, the anonymized database and professional surveys we have proposed.
2966 CCTS’ financial statements show that its income decreased by 106,000 in the last two years and by 156,000 in the same period if one excludes the special levies. The CRTC must ensure that CCTS is properly funded to do its job, while ensuring that the fees charged do not become a competitive disadvantage for very small communications companies.
2967 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, this concludes our remarks. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. And if you have questions, we welcome them.
2968 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m sure we will have questions, and Commissioner MacDonald will start us off.
2969 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you very much for your participation here today and also for the efforts that you put into your intervention and the replies in September.
2970 I think I’d like to start off around the area of enforcement of CCTS obligations on participating service providers. And we note that there are a number of enforcement and compliance obligations on the service providers and the CCTS can force those obligations through several different mechanisms. They can force the service provider out of the CCTS. They can pursue civil remedies. They can name and shame.
2971 And I’d like to get your thoughts on whether those mechanisms are strong enough and, if they’re not, how they could be enhanced?
2972 MS. AUER: Thank you for the question, Commissioner.
2973 Yes, we were very interested as well to see the challenges that CCTS has had in enforcing compliance with essentially contracts that PSPs have signed with CCTS to participate.
2974 I’ve always supported the name-and-shame approach. I think embarrassment and public humiliation is a terrible thing. I’ve encountered that myself.
2975 However, I think at a certain point -- and I don’t presume to say what that point should be because I lack the data -- I think the Commission itself should exercise its own authority to order companies to comply. It has the authority, certainly under the Broadcasting Act under Section 12(2), but it also has the same type of authority under Section 51 of the Telecommunications Act, the authority to order people to do certain things to ensure compliance with elements of Canada’s communications policy.
2976 I think that an initial example would do a world of good in terms of encouraging compliance. I think it’s noteworthy that when the Commission issues decisions that affect companies very publicly, other companies start to respect their obligations, or at least take them a little bit more seriously.
2977 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: For the Commission to exert some of those pressures on service providers, would it be appropriate for the CCTS to terminate their participation to allow the Commission to step in and take some stronger measures?
2978 MS. AUER: We thought about this issue, and our first point is that the Commission has always been placed in an awkward position. It’s both the licensor and then the adjudicator. You know, you’re judge, jury and executioner. So from that perspective, it made a certain amount of logical sense to have a set of separate bodies that could enforce compliance about certain matters.
2979 If the Commission were suddenly to resume its role of dealing with complaints for BDUs, I certainly think the Commission’s budget would have to be increased and strengthened. I don’t know whether the Commission has ever had a thorough and clear mandate to address those kinds of complaints about PSPs under the Telecom Act. I think there’s always been a certain, you know, slight difference of opinion about that.
2980 The other side of the coin -- and I think I heard CCTS refer to this -- CCTS has put a great deal of effort into establishing itself as an authority in this area. I’m not too sure whether it would be an efficient use of public resources to suddenly turn around and say, “Well, after seven years, you failed; we’re going to start over again.”
2981 I think perhaps you would certainly prefer to see the Commission exercise its authority, when needed, under the two sections of the acts that I’ve mentioned, to order PSPs to comply. And if they choose not to, then perhaps to call them to account by holding a proceeding and preferably a public hearing. But I think that would help encourage compliance from participants.
2982 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: The next topic is telling us when some providers have felt that the CCTS has gone beyond the scope of the complaint that a customer has lodged with them and began to examine sort of broader compliance issues with the Wireless Code.
2983 And earlier this week the CCTS mentioned that when a customer calls in, they may not know whether the Code has been breached or which section of the Code has been breached.
2984 So in the context of that conversation, there may be times when they simply come across or see that another section has been breached.
2985 And I’m wondering if I can get your comments on the proposal put forward by Rogers, TELUS and Shaw who are of the viewpoint that it’s inappropriate for the CCTS to look at those broader issues. They feel that the CCTS’ effort should be limited to the actual complaint that the customer came to them with.
2986 MS. AUER: I think that FRPC addressed this lightly in either its reply or its actual intervention. And our view is that customers rely on the CRTC as well as CCTS to identify and to help -- to identify issues and to help them. Customers cannot be expected, I think, to know the intricacies of all of the different Codes that CCTS adjudicates. It makes perfect sense to me that if CCTS says “Ah, well, that complaint had no basis but in fact what was really happening that was incorrect was this” that makes more sense to me.
2987 I think that’s a different issue than actually dealing with matters that are outside CCTS’ scope. CCTS has a specified jurisdiction and it should operate within that jurisdiction until the jurisdiction is changed, but that jurisdiction involves adjudicating matters under the Codes and I think that empowers CCTS to address all aspects of complaints properly, and fairly and objectively.
2988 To the extent that there are complaints that CCTS is alleged to have undertaken that are completely outside its jurisdiction, I think the more appropriate response for CCTS might be to report those matters to the Commission and then the Commission can consider at some point whether it’s necessary to revise Codes, or implement new Codes, or do something more interesting.
2989 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Thank you.
2990 In your submissions and again today you mentioned the creation of a database where complaints would be stored and set up and situated that would allow for public research to be conducted on the information in that database.
2991 I’m just wondering if you could perhaps elaborate on what specific benefits that would bring to consumers and how they would relate and be offset by the initial costs associated with building a database along with the ongoing maintenance of that system.
2992 MS. AUER: I think, as our presentation mentioned, we’ve come a long way since the days when I actually had to punch computer cards at Carleton University as part of my social science research methods classes. A punched card, can you imagine.
2993 Databases today are phenomenally easy to create. They’re a little bit expensive to maintain in that they might require one or two person years. I don’t think that the costs are enormous but I do think the costs are very high for CCTS if it comes to gain a reputation of being untimely, ineffective, or unfair simply because we actually don’t know from its own data how effective it actually is.
2994 Take the issue of timing. I reviewed the very small number of complaints that were published on the CCTS website -- I think it was 46 in total -- and I noticed that after 2011 the dates of the complaints stopped being mentioned. It seemed to me that it was getting -- it was taking more and more time to resolve the complaints.
2995 And I don’t think it would be reasonable to simply assume that CCTS was taking too much time. I think the process was becoming more complicated. And a database would establish, for instance, what the source of delays is and how best to remedy that. A database would also allow, I think, a better analysis and understanding of which issues are taking the most time to resolve and whether or not somebody like the CRTC should step in to correct those problems or make it clear.
2996 I guess certainly stepping back from my role as Executive Director of FRPC and just putting on my empiricist hat, I don’t think the world today can do without data. Data are actually very inexpensive. Not having data is tremendously expensive. And I think the cancellation of certain major statistical collection gathering instruments at Statistics Canada had an immediate outfall.
2997 I think CCTS knows its job very well. I’m sure that it collects a great deal of this data already. I think what’s really important is that some of it be made available to the public and other interested parties.
2998 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Thank you for that.
2999 Moving on to the Board’s structure and the voting composition, which was a major focus of what you discussed, and it’s something that we probably want to spend some more time on sort of in the context of this hearing.
3000 Is there any evidence that you have been able to come up with, either hard evidence or anecdotal evidence, to suggest that the special voting structure or the use of member votes for certain matters has in any way impaired the independence of the CCTS?
3001 MS. AUER: I think it would be difficult for a group such as ours to have any hard evidence about how the voting within the Board affects CCTS’ performance because we don’t even see the minutes of the Board meetings.
3002 I’m not interested in seeing a transcript of such meetings, but I think it is useful to understand how matters are being addressed and how voting is happening. Without that information you would never be able to know whether the structure of the Board itself is hampering or enhancing CCTS performance.
3003 As per anecdotal evidence, I think anecdotal evidence is just an anecdote and it doesn’t really tell us very much about the actual overall seven year performance.
3004 I think our attention was drawn by the fact that, you know, CCTS does not have its own in-house legal counsel, which has certain implications. I mean, you always have to retain somebody on the outside.
3005 But in my experience as -- what’s it called -- what do they call us? Well, I’m called a young lawyer because I attended -- no, I’m either a mature student or a young lawyer. I’m just recently called to the Bar.
3006 In my experience, you talk to non-lawyers and they’re chatting casually with you about a matter and you realize oh, my gosh, this has tremendous legal implications. They wouldn’t know. The law is invisible to most people. And that’s why you actually need to have lawyers.
3007 And I noticed -- we noticed of course that virtually every one of the industry members of CCTS Board of Directors was a lawyer, whereas the non-industry members were not, and we think that has some implications.
3008 I think -- you know, I’ve already -- I don’t want to belabour the point, but releasing the minutes I don’t think could actually harm anything. If releasing the minutes harms the performance of the CCTS maybe that is demonstrative of a bigger problem.
3009 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: If the Board structure were to change such that we decided to institute director votes rather than member votes for certain decisions that the CCTS is making, do you think that would improve the overall performance of the CCTS and if so in what areas would you expect to see that impact?
3010 MS. AUER: I think that if the votes on the Board were free, so to speak, in other words, based on just the number of directors, I think you would see a change and for two reasons.
3011 The first has to do with the control of the budget to ensure that CCTS actually does have the appropriate resources it needs when it needs the resources. I’m concerned when I see that it may be operating at a deficit because it has to go and ask for money.
3012 Having worked at the Commission, I can recall vividly the numbers of complaints that the Commission used to receive about BDU’s and I think I’m a bit concerned when I hear that oh, well handling all those BDU complaints won’t be a problem at all. I don’t know; I think a lot of people get upset about BDU services.
3013 So I think that’s going to be a problem if out of the blue CCTS is swamped with complaints and has to immediately take on staff.
3014 The other matter has to do with chill. Chill is a concept that you often hear in journalism, journalistic chill. You know, when you have a highly concentrated newspaper industry, for example, journalists may be reluctant to investigate matters that they know the newspapers owners have strong views about.
3015 However, I think in an agency like CCTS it would be difficult to easily measure, quantify, or find evidence of chill. I just think that if CCTS is to be independent that independence has to be given teeth. Simply saying its independent does not mean that it’s independent and it doesn’t make it independent. The Board structure matters.
3016 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And you just mentioned independence, and I think it was in your submission Recommendation Number 3 that related to replacing some or all of the independent directors with a corresponding number of consumer directors. Do you feel that that would increase the independence ---
3017 MS. AUER: Yes.
3018 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- of the CCTS?
3019 MS. AUER: Yes.
3020 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: In any specific decision making process? Would it improve budget decisions?
3021 MS. AUER: Not having access to the minutes, it would be difficult to know how the current structure affects individual types of decisions within the Board.
3022 But from my perspective, I don’t -- and as our submission explained, I believe, I’m not too sure why one would divide the non-Industry Board Directors into two groups.
3023 As we explained, if they’re supposed to vote against each other, then you’ve already removed the notion of a consumer agency.
3024 So you either have a consumer agency or you have an ADR dispute resolution mechanism funded by the industry. I’m not too clear on the rationale for splitting the Board up that way.
3025 And I think as our submission also mentioned, if refreshment is needed on the Board from time to time, then refreshment should come from all directors, not just the Consumer/Independent Directors.
3026 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And refreshment is actually a great segue into my next question, because you mentioned term limits as well. And you know, some may argue that with time and tenure comes expertise and institutional knowledge.
3027 So I was wondering if you could expand on your organization’s view concerning the impact of different term limits on Directors and Independent Directors on the CCTS.
3028 MS. AUER: I think it’s absolutely fair to say that with time comes experience. You might grow jaded but at least you would know why you were jaded.
3029 And speaking as a parent, I think you know -- having the first one was kind of fun and then the second one, you’re jaded and you’ve got that experience and you know it’s not going to be good, whatever happens.
3030 I think when the Commission makes decisions as is its role, those decisions should be based on evidence or reasons, preferably both. I just have never seen reasons that persuaded me that there was a necessity to limit the terms of the Independent and Consumer Directors when the terms of the industry members were not limited.
3031 Say you’re in a meeting; suppose hypothetically I were at the CCTS and I would not want to be there because it has a very difficult job. But suppose I were and I’ve just been appointed, and my first thought is oh, wow, this is really difficult. And the friendly guy across the way says, “Well, you know, we dealt with this issue 15 years ago in this way and it worked out really well.”
3032 Am I about to say to that person, my neighbour perhaps at the table, “Gosh, I think you’re full of it and I’d really like to do something different”?
3033 We all defer to experience and that is why if there are to be term limits, everybody should have them. And perhaps term limits are a good idea. I certainly don’t think that it helps to immediately wipe away the benefits of experience. So maybe an alternating structure so that every few years a certain number of directors would have to be replaced from all of the different groups.
3034 In terms of background and experience, and I don’t know if I’m already touching on something else you might want to deal with, I’m also a bit struck at the different limits that are placed on the consumer and independent groups in terms of who may or may not be appointed, and the fact that there don’t seem to be any limits as to whom industry may choose to appoint.
3035 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you and I’d actually like to shift gears a little bit to a topic that’s been batted around a lot over the last couple of days and that’s the area of promotion of the CCTS. And there seems to be a bit of disagreement whether general awareness amongst the broader public is the most important aspect to try and build awareness in or whether it’s timely awareness. So an individual, when they do have a complaint, knows that they can go to the CCTS and seek a remedy.
3036 And I was just wondering, from your perspective, if you could perhaps elaborate on whether general awareness or timely awareness, I guess, should be the focus?
3037 MS. AUER: I think that’s an excellent question, and I’m aware of course that our colleagues on the public interest side, PIAC, have come down in favour of general awareness. And I certainly respect their views and their expertise, their many years of experience in the industry.
3038 As for myself, and I’m thinking of my kids in their twenties, they barely know that I deal with the CRTC, so and they hear about this almost every day. And I think however they have -- they say, “Mom, look at my bill. I can’t afford this, would you pay it?” And I turn around and say, “Why don’t you contact so and so?” They say, “Oh! I didn’t know I could do that.”
3039 So for me, it’s I’m a little less interested in the general background awareness because life is very busy and we don’t all need to know everything about the world. But when you have a problem, I think it should be easier to find the solution.
3040 I certainly don’t see why every bill that’s sent out can’t have a reference to CCTS. I must say that I have tried, I believe, Googling, you know, “Complaint telephone”, and CCTS comes up pretty quickly on the website. So for me, it’s timely awareness.
3041 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Everyone -- well, most people use the internet for absolutely everything today and you just touched on it, and much of the focus that the CCTS has put on promotion has been sort of internet-based promotion but not everyone is an avid internet user.
3042 Are there any methods that you would recommend for increasing awareness for I guess non-avid internet users?
3043 MS. AUER: I agree. I think FRPC is well aware that there is a number -- there is a reasonably sized number of people in the Canadian population who don’t want, can’t afford, can’t get access to the internet. It’s absolutely true and the Commission and CCTS should make efforts to ensure that those members of the population have access to CCTS’s remedies.
3044 Again, I still think that the problems that a subscriber may have will often arise when they open their bill and their hair turns white if it’s not white already. I think the problem then is what do I do now?
3045 I think it should be very clear on the bill that the sequence of steps for addressing these concerns are laid out very clearly, larger print not smaller print, on the first page preferably, so that people can immediately see without having to read the fine print where should they go now? Who should they call at their service provider, number one; and then if they’re dissatisfied with the service provider, where do they go?
3046 I think that you learn about the complaint or you learn about the necessity of the complaint when you actually have the complaint arise. And perhaps for the majority of cases, it will be billing issues.
3047 I guess for other issues like service, you didn’t get your directory, whatever that might be, again it’s possible that somebody might actually call the CRTC. I just don’t know whether the monies that would be required to maintain periodic or ongoing PR campaigns might not be better spent doing some other things.
3048 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mentioned, you know, consumers call in when they open their bill and they see an issue, and there may be situations that a significant amount of time has passed before the customer actually takes their complaint to the CCTS. If it’s a billing issue, they may have already gone back and forth with their service provider a few times or failed attempts to contact them. So that relationship may have already eroded or been damaged to a certain extent.
3049 And I would like to get sort of your thoughts on, if a customer does actually go to the CCTS and perhaps they haven’t been paying their bill because they’ve been in this battle with a service provider, once a file is open with the CCTS, do you think it would be appropriate if the service provider was not allowed to refer that customer to a credit agency, as long as that complaint was left open?
3050 MS. AUER: Yes.
3051 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
3052 MS. AUER: They should not be allowed to do that.
3053 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If they did, do you think they should also be responsible for going back and repairing any credit damage that may have been done if the service provider was found to be at fault?
3054 MS. AUER: Yes.
3055 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
3056 So I want to sort of pivot back to the surveys because that was a major focus of your submission as well.
3057 Your organization is of the view that the Annual Consumer Survey measures quality of service as opposed to customer satisfaction. And there’s probably a high degree of correlation between a customer being satisfied relating back to what the remedy was that the CCTS was actually able to provide them.
3058 So I’m wondering if you could elaborate on the value of measuring satisfaction of customers who have used the CCTS and once you have that information, how it could be practically used?
3059 MS. AUER: Well, I think you make a very good point that it’s likely that complainants who are happy with the process may also be happy with the outcome. But the fact of the matter is we don’t know because there’s no data to support that.
3060 Second point of course is that a survey has to be very well designed in order to tease out those threads of information, those interesting tidbits.
3061 So I don’t know whether I would necessarily agree that the fact that you’re happy with how the CCTS treated you means you’re also happy with how -- with how you receive the outcome.
3062 And the metaphor that I would use is, you know, I had a wonderful flight to Mexico, great drinks, the people were nice to me. I was going to Geneva but it was great to get -- you know, that process was wonderful going to Mexico; two different things that you’re actually measuring there.
3063 I think the fact of the matter is that if we want to be assured that CCTS is in fact performing its role effectively, knowing that those who complain believe that they receive the appropriate outcome matters to the measurement of that objective, to the success of that objective.
3064 Is that a terrifically expensive thing to evaluate? I don’t think so. As the Commission is well aware, many survey research companies use robo-dialers and a well-designed survey will provide you with information at a reasonably inexpensive cost.
3065 And I certainly think the very -- very small amount that it might cost once or twice a year to put a survey out in the field could be absorbed by -- not so much by CCTS but by the PSPs who fund the CCTS.
3066 I don’t think it would be an excessive amount and I don’t think it would be inappropriate.
3067 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So you’d be of the viewpoint that it should be a separate survey, not just adding additional questions or augmenting the annual consumer survey?
3068 MS. AUER: I think it could be done in a single survey, but the point is I understand what I’ve seen about the survey so far is the survey questions right now simply don’t provide that information.
3069 Add to the survey and there are ways to ensure that you remove any kind of possible, I suppose you would call it inter-question bias.
3070 Survey design is actually a complex art, but it’s also a science, because there are a number of studies that have been done about establishing the reliability and the validity of results that are achieved.
3071 So it’s not -- it’s not all that arcane and that’s why we recommended that professional survey -- I don’t want to call them scientists, but professional survey experts be retained to advise on this.
3072 It doesn’t have to be separate surveys if you don’t want to do that. You could do it in one. Maybe that’s the easier answer to your question.
3073 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Does your group have specific thoughts on questions that should be added or should the focus be on, as you mentioned in your oral presentation today, you know, the focus put on retaining outside experts to develop those questions?
3074 MS. AUER: Well it’s always tempting to say well we know the answers to everything, but of course we don’t.
3075 And although I have a number of years at university in quantitative research methods, and although I worked at the CRTC evaluating survey research design, I don’t think I would presume to say that I have knowledge at this time that is superior to that of somebody who actually does this on a daily basis, surveying Canadians across Canada.
3076 And I think there are some excellent, excellent people. I know some of them who work in this business who have exceptional credentials who should be invited to comment on this or retained at least.
3077 Or perhaps CCTS could hold a day long colloquium; to discuss how do we improve what we’re doing at a reasonable cost.
3078 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay and just my last question was with respect to future reviews of the CCTS.
3079 In your reply you provided your thoughts on that, I’d also like to ask are there any specific matrix’ that the commission should look at moving forward or specific aspects in a future review that we should include that perhaps we didn’t capture this time around?
3080 MS. AUER: As you’ve probably noticed in our submissions, our big bugaboo is always data and evidence.
3081 Whatever can be done in the next review to ensure that data are available to the public, on a timely basis, so that they can make an informed submission to the Commission and properly consider the important role the CCTS, would only benefit the Commission’s process.
3082 Right now too much time is spent slogging through abstruse reports that may or may not have data or when they do have data it’s not the same data as the year before; why did they change it, nobody knows.
3083 So yes in future reviews I think the biggest thing -- the best thing could be to ensure that, in perhaps the determinations of this proceeding, the Commission state very clearly, in the next review we will be considering the following points, therefore -- and then respectfully put CCTS on notice that there are certain issues that it should be preparing itself for and gathering data for.
3084 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. Thank you again for addressing those questions. That concludes my questions, Mr. Chair.
3085 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Simpson?
3086 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning. I’m going to ask for your collective wisdom on codes and a little bit on policy.
3087 But before I do I’d like, in order to better understand how you form your opinions, I’d like to know a little bit more about your organisation.
3088 You’ve been around since 2013, are you structured as a membership or -- you know, how is the organisation structured and funded?
3089 MS. AUER: I think Sjef will address that.
3090 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
3091 MR. FRENKEN: We’re a fairly small group, Commissioner. I –- there are large public interest groups that have a vast number of members. I like to think of us as a commando group.
3092 Very different expertise, people we can call upon. We have a -- and I don’t have a complete list here, but people who are knowledgeable in the field, who have worked in the industry, that we can call up at any time.
3093 And we are served by a board of directors, again with people who have some experience in a number of -- a number of fields.
3094 If -- when a -- we are aware of a commission or not necessarily only the commission, although thus far it has been the commission, makes a proposal or launches and inquiry, a policy proposal, whatever, we get together, analyse it.
3095 The board is considered, viewpoints accumulated and then it’s up to our executive director to spell it out with her legal background as well as her experience as far as data gathering goes, methodologies.
3096 It’s in good hands. Then the -- what is the proposal, the final proposal, or comments that are submitted, are vetted by the members of the board and then expressed at forums such as this.
3097 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So what did then the board itself, a lot of the resources you draw upon are ad-hock; is that what I hear you saying?
3098 MR. JENKEN: I did not quite hear, Mister ---
3099 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So other than the structure of the board, when it comes to mounting an intervention or a conference or some form of activity, you’re relying on a lot of ad-hock resources?
3100 MR. JENKEN: Yes.
3101 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, why I ask is that one of my favorite occupations at these hearings is to look at websites and try and understand the structure and nature of organisations that are in front of us and I couldn’t find board structure or funding structure on your website.
3102 And not to call you out on a transparency issue, but I really -- I found deficient.
3103 MR. JENKEN: I should -- I should respond, the matter of -- we’ve been so busy in general that often the website leaves a little bit desired, because work has to be done of more immediate importance.
3104 But we are working on it and we have in fact an expert working on it.
3105 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Great.
3106 MR. JENKEN: Somebody who is an authority on the structure of the internet and knows all about those matters.
3107 MS. AUER: And the board has taken its executive director to task and told the executive director to fire that person who’s doing the website and unfortunately it is the executive director, so that would be a problem.
3108 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It doesn’t work out. Well I have to say though, that from the activities that you do have on the site, you seem to punch well above your weight and I like that.
3109 Now with respect to the capture of your interest as both broadcasting and telecom, so the first question I’d like to ask you about, and this is again on the basis of your observations and opinions because you are a policy study group, although you like to be fact based, I find that I’m always interested in trends and you’ve spoken to the issue of the CCTS and having a need to examine trends as well as outcomes of, you know, hard decisions.
3110 And with the subject of trends in mind I’m always interested in doing this type of hearing about CCTS to look at other organisations. And I go back to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which is an organization that has been structured and has evolved over the years to uphold a Broadcast Code, actually an amalgam of codes now, because as television has morphed, it seems that CBSC has kept up with the changes in the industry.
3111 But the culture of broadcasting was always one where because of its free nature originally and its programming, it was an industry that needed to be liked by its customers because if it did something offensive to a customer, that customer left and it had a financial impact.
3112 And so I’m presupposing here that the CBSC, being a code-upholding organization, was a direct extension of that broadcasting culture of the need to be liked and to always please the customer.
3113 MS. AUER: Thank you for the question.
3114 In fact, as it happens both, Sjef and I were at the Commission when the CBSC was being proposed by the CAB and I was actually the staff analyst who analyzed the CBSC for the Commission and we, together, made the presentation to the Commission about the CBSC.
3115 And I think at the time the CBSC certainly offered the prospect of reducing the Commission’s resource problems and, in fact, it was an intriguing problem because it also raised for our division, our group, the interesting point that the Commission had not hitherto established any kind of framework for approving these self-regulatory or industry regulatory bodies.
3116 And so I think we actually triggered the issuance of a notice. I think it was 1988-13. It might have been January in 1988, if I recall correctly. I’m not sure.
3117 MR. FRENKEN: I don’t.
3118 MS. AUER: But in terms of the culture, I think you’ll have to recall that the CBSC really emerged out of the sex role portrayal hearings that had happened in 1986-87. And at the time, I think a number of broadcaster were concerned that the Commission might decide to micromanage a little bit more than it had in the past, and so a former CRTC staffer who then went to the CAB actually came up with the idea of the Code and it seemed like a reasonable approach.
3119 I’m not sure, though, whether the CBSC is actually any easier to evaluate than CCTS. In fact, I think CCTS is actually easier at this point to evaluate. I have tried, for instance, I have called the CBSC to say, “Do you have any kind of a database about your complaints?” And the answer was no. And the only way to actually analyze what’s happening at CBSC seems you would have to print out thousands of complaints, figure out a measurement system, code them, enter the data, evaluate. I mean, CCTS is in a better place right now, at its age, to do something that would serve the public interest for codes.
3120 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Why I started with this example is that, you know, as television has gone from being a free over-the-air service to a transactional service with on-demand and subscription, it’s become incredibly more competitive. And where the strains seem to show is the -- is at the Association of Broadcasters level. There seems to be less collegiality there than in the past.
3121 So moving over to the broadcasting side, the telecom structure, when I joined the Commission eight years ago, was still very much a transactional product and service-based culture that was about quality of service, cost of service, tariffs and assurance of dial tone and that sort of thing. But there’s been an evolution that I feel anecdotally that I’m witnessing where as they get into vertical integration and into other forms of business activity, their desire to be liked and to take more of an active interest in consumer relations with a long-term view seems not just to be lip service but becoming evidentiary in their activities.
3122 So with that said, I feel that this is an industry on the move perhaps, and as we sit here today trying to determine whether or not the CCTS should be an ombudsman or ombuds organization or a complaints service or something in between, the rub seems to be still at policy interpretation, code interpretation.
3123 So could you comment on my statement that this might be an industry on the move and that we might possibly expect that traditional telecom cultures are changing and customer relations are becoming more important to the extent that their willingness to resolve their issues before CCTS is becoming more of a reality? That’s a policy question for you.
3124 MR. FRENKEN: That’s quite a question. Hang on a second.
--- (SHORT PAUSE)
3125 MS. AUER: Well, that’s a fascinating question and it’s worthy of a doctoral dissertation, which I actually am not qualified to do right now.
3126 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you’re willing to do an undertaking?
3127 MS. AUER: I’m not going to do that today and I won’t send you any footnotes about this at all.
3128 What I will say is that, of course, the ability of an agency or groups like CBSC and CCTS to perform effectively hinges directly on the quality of the codes that they’re supposed to administer.
3129 I was involved obviously with the Gender Portrayal Code and the Kids Advertising Code and a number of the other codes on the broadcasting side and I’ve also been involved with the Wireless Code and the TVSP Code more recently on the broadcasting/telecom side, and I think CCTS has made a very good point of raising some concerns about the interpretation of codes. I’m going to sound remarkably smug here when I say that if I put on my lawyer hat, I used to really enjoy statutory interpretation. I love the idea that a single comma would change the meaning. I love this. My parents failed to teach me German particularly well, but I also took Spanish and French. So moving between languages, you do gain an appreciation of the value of meaning versus wording, and so for that reason I would say the codes are doing as well as they can be expected at the time, at this moment. I don’t think they’re perfect. I think they’re making a good effort, which is why CCTS, when it is able to, I think, ought to and in fact I would say must really report more clearly on the specific problems it’s having with interpretation issues.
3130 As for whether or not the existence of groups like -- not so much CBSC, but CCTS and the fact that the business of communications today is morphing from silos of TELCOs and broadcasters into TELCOs/broadcasters and whether these companies are now becoming more attuned to their customers, well, let’s hope so. I think that that would be terrific.
3131 The fact of the matter is that I think that companies that are operating in a very competitive marketplace tend to be a little bit nicer to their customers. Companies that are operating in an oligopolistic type structure where the top five take in, what, 75 percent, 80 percent, 95 percent of subscribers’
3132 revenues may not necessarily feel impelled by even a 1,000 complaints to change their behaviour. That’s just not how the business works and I don’t think their business is being run by the ombudsfolk who have to deal with these questions. I think it’s being run by highly qualified MBAs.
3133 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M’hm.
3134 So my final question is this. With previous discussion in mind, how soon do you think we should be reviewing the CCTS post this hearing?
3135 MS. AUER: Well, of course, I think that’s a function of the Commission’s own agenda, but stepping back a little bit, I’ve been somewhat perplexed at the way the acts are currently -- well, the CRTC’s Act is currently structured so that Commissioners have a five-year term, whereas broadcasters can receive a seven-year licence. I sort of think, well, you know, make sure that they’re there at the beginning and at the end because then they have the corporate memory necessary to enable them through their experience and background to evaluate properly.
3136 I think it might be something to consider that the next -- I don’t want to be too personal, but at the beginning of the next term of the next Chair might be an opportune time to commence the reviews and make it stable, have a review at the beginning of the Chair’s term and at the end of the Chair’s term so that at least there can be some consistency of evaluation. I think that matters.
3137 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you know something I don’t?
3138 MS. AUER: I think discretion is always the better part of valour.
3139 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Vennard?
3140 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning.
3141 I also share your interest in empirical research and data, and you’ve raised a lot of really interesting points. I have a question for you that’s really quite concise, which is let’s say you were sitting at your desk in your office and you had your database that you were talking of, that you were speaking of, and as we know, the quality of the conclusions that we reach on anything is a direct result of the process and the rigorousness of that process and the quality of the data that we rely on. So let’s you were sitting there in your office and you were thinking about the CCTS and you had -- this information somehow was all there, what would be the top three questions that you would want answered by your hypothetical database?
3142 MS. AUER: You’ll have to give me just a minute here.
3143 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
3144 MS. AUER: I hadn’t thought of that question in particular.
--- (SHORT PAUSE)
3145 MS. AUER: I think the very first question that I would be interested in knowing about is the nature of the outcome -- and nature will sounds qualitative, but I mean it in an empirical or quantitative type of way -- in other words, the outcome, was it timely? How long did it take to achieve compared to the actual complaint that was filed. In other words, “You know what? They overcharged me $100.” Did they get the $100 back and when did they get it back.
3146 Related to that then is the process. Was the process sufficiently cooperative that the complainant had no concerns at all about the time it took to resolve, the treatment received from the PSP? In other words, that brings in the notion of compensatory damages or the requirement for compensatory damages. So outcome, broadly speaking, measured through a number of different variables.
3147 A second thing that I would be very interested in knowing is the same information by TELCO. The whole point here is to ensure that companies’ performance improves with respect to subscribers. If we find that 99 percent of them are improving, that’s surely a successful outcome, but our attention has to be drawn by the 1 percent of TELCOs whose performance is either not improving or is decreasing. So again, I would want to know that by TELCO.
3148 And the third thing, I guess, would be to ensure that the process itself measured quantitatively is fair, and by that I mean equitable, so that, for instance, whether you live in Iqaluit, whether you live in Victoria or Halifax -- and I’m very bad at geography, so I’ll stop there -- wherever you live, whoever you are, whoever you’re dealing with, you have received the same reasonable and equitable level of treatment. So that would involve demographic variables, I suspect; in other words, where is the complainant from, perhaps the age of the complainant? I don’t know whether that’s necessarily relevant, and I guess that’s always the joy of database research. You can say, “Hey, now I can look at this really cool bit of information.”
3149 As you know, I’m sure, sometimes you’ll be analyzing data and something completely unexpected will pop out and you’ll think, “Oh, that’s kind of odd; I’d really like to explore that.”
3150 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you. That was my question.
3151 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for participating in this process. We very much appreciate your input, both in writing and this morning. Thank you very much.
3152 Madame la secrétaire?
3153 MR. FRENKEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3154 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask Quebecor Media Inc. to come to the presentation table.
--- (SHORT PAUSE)
3155 LE PRÉSIDENT: Lorsque vous serez prêts, vous pourrez commencer en identifiant votre panel, évidemment. Merci.
3156 Mme TABET: Bonjour, Monsieur le président, Monsieur le vice-président, Madame la conseillère, Messieurs les conseillers.
3157 Je m’appelle Peggy Tabet et je suis Directrice principale, Affaires réglementaires radiodiffusion de Quebecor Media.
3158 Permettez-moi de vous présenter mes collègues qui m’accompagnent aujourd’hui. Immédiatement à ma gauche, il s’agit de Yanick Boily, Directeur, Affaires réglementaires télécommunications de Quebecor Media et Anthony Hémond, Conseiller juridique de Quebecor Media. À ma droite, Pascal Desroches, Gestionnaire principal, Services des relations avec la clientèle de Vidéotron.
3159 Nous remercions le Conseil de nous donner l’opportunité de partager notre point de vue sur le Commissaire aux plaintes relatives aux services de télécommunications, une agence dont Vidéotron est membre depuis sa création en 2007.
3160 Le CPRST s’est vu récemment confier des responsabilités additionnelles qui vont s’étendre aux plaintes concernant les fournisseurs des services de télévision, en plus des plaintes relatives aux fournisseurs des services de télécommunications.
3161 De plus, le CPRST administrera le Code des FSTV. Ceci sera au grand bénéfice des consommateurs qui pourront soumettre leurs plaintes concernant tous leurs services de communication à un seul endroit.
3162 Comme vous le savez déjà, les consommateurs ont toujours été au cœur de la mission de Vidéotron et nous avons toujours œuvré à leur offrir la meilleure expérience possible, autant au niveau de la qualité des produits qu’au niveau de la qualité hors pair du service à la clientèle. En effet, Vidéotron brille à ce chapitre et tous les sondages le prouvent. La satisfaction des abonnés est de l’ordre de 97 pourcent à l’égard de l’ensemble des produits et services et pour une dixième année consécutive, Vidéotron est proclamé et demeure l’entreprise de télécommunications la plus admirée des Québécois.
3163 C’est exactement pour toutes ces raisons que nous avons une excellente feuille de route au CPRST. Effectivement, sur une base annuelle, moins de 1 pourcent des insatisfactions des clients de Vidéotron sont escaladés au CPRST.
3164 Depuis la création du CPRST, une seule plainte s’est rendue en instance de recommandation et aucune plainte ne s’est rendue en instance de décision.
3165 Vidéotron entreprend plusieurs initiatives en vue de promouvoir le CPRST, que ce soit par le biais de son site internet ou via les factures des clients. Les initiatives liées aux fonctions de recherche sur les sites internet des fournisseurs et aux mots-clés utilisés afin d’avoir l’information sur le CPRST sont particulièrement pertinentes.
3166 Ces initiatives nous semblent suffisantes puisqu’elles informent adéquatement le public de l’existence du CPRST, de son rôle, de ses services et des moyens de communiquer avec lui.
3167 Par ailleurs, le CPRST dispose d’un site internet qui comporte, entre autres, des renseignements à son sujet, des informations liées au processus de traitement des plaintes, des informations concernant le Code sans-fil et plusieurs documents pertinents. Son intégration sur des plateformes populaires comme Twitter et Facebook lui permet de joindre instantanément un grand nombre d’individus. Ainsi, il s’agit d’excellentes vitrines pour se faire connaître davantage auprès de la population canadienne pour se promouvoir et pour échanger avec le public.
3168 Compte tenu de la place prépondérante des médias sociaux, nous suggérons que le CPRST -- nous suggérons au CPRST de développer davantage sa présence sur ces réseaux et d’exploiter tous les avantages que peut offrir Internet.
3169 Nous estimons que l’adoption de codes de conduite obligatoires pour les FSTV et les FST administrés par le CPRST, soit le Code des FSTV et le Code sans-fil rend nécessaire la participation de tous les FSTV et les FST aux activités du CPRST.
3170 Par ailleurs, puisque les fournisseurs des services de télévision sont, de façon générale, également des fournisseurs de services de télécommunications, une masse critique de FSTV participe déjà aux activités du CPRST.
3171 C’est d’ailleurs pour cette raison que nous sommes d’avis que, mis à part l’ajout des plaintes relatives à la télédistribution, aucun exceptions qui y sont énoncées demeurent appropriées et comprennent, entre autres, les services réglementés, la publicité fausse ou mensongère, les questions de politique, les prix, la vie privée, la confidentialité, les pratiques générales d’exploitation et le traitement plus adapté des plaintes par un autre tribunal.
3172 Ainsi, les plaintes relatives au domaine de la distribution de radiodiffusion feront maintenant partie du mandat du CPRST, sauf celles qui traitent d’accessibilité et du contenu de la programmation télévisuelle.
3173 Ce faisant, le CPRST aura à répondre essentiellement aux mêmes types d’enjeux pour les consommateurs de services fournis par les FSTV que pour les consommateurs de services de télécommunication. Dans les deux cas, ce sont des services de réseau, fournis à distance et facturés de façon récurrente. D’ailleurs, ces deux services sont souvent offerts en mode groupé par un seul fournisseur, utilisant un seul contrat de service et une facture unique.
3174 Évidemment, les plaintes ayant trait aux services de télécommu -- de télévision soulèveront des enjeux spécifiques à ces services. Le mandat actuel du CPRST comprend une série de services de télécommunication distincts qui ont chacun leur lot d’enjeux -- d’enjeux, cela va de soi aussi pour les services de télévision. Nous croyons donc que le CPRST sera en mesure de développer rapidement une expertise dans ce domaine.
3175 Par ailleurs, le CPRST a une fiche enviable en matière de performance selon son rapport annuel. De plus, il ressort des résultats du sondage du CPRST auprès des clients que ces derniers ont une expérience positive avec ses services. Cette performance louable a été réalisée malgré l’évolution constante des services fournis aux consommateurs et en pleine période de transition réglementaire, c’est-à-dire en même temps que le CPRST a dû se familiariser avec son nouveau rôle d’administrateur du Code sur les services sans fil.
3176 Que le CPRST ait pu atteindre un tel niveau de performance face à de tels défis témoigne de l’efficacité de son cadre de gouvernance et de la structure actuelle de son conseil d’administration, ainsi que de sa structure de vote.
3177 Nous sommes d’avis que la limite de 5 000$ pour la compensation monétaire demeure suffisante pour permettre au CPRST d’accorder des compensations justes aux consommateurs, surtout que cette limite ne s’applique pas aux montants à rembourser par un FST afin de corriger une erreur de facturation.
3178 Depuis l’adoption de cette limite, nous ne croyons pas que qu’il y ait eu des changements significatifs qui justifieraient une compensation différente. D'ailleurs, le CPRST publiait dans son rapport annuel de 2012-2013 que 95,8 pourcent des compensations étaient de moins de 1 000$.
3179 Québecor Média demeure favorable à un modèle de financement basé sur les revenus des FST et le nombre de plaintes reçues. Puisque le budget du CPRST est majoritairement alloué au traitement des plaintes, il est tout à fait logique que les entreprises participantes financent le CPRST en partie en fonction du nombre de plaintes qu’elles génèrent.
3180 Compte-tenu de sa maturité, nous croyons que le moment est bien choisi pour que le financement du CPRST soit maintenant partagé de façon égale entre les frais fondés sur les plaintes et les frais fondés sur les revenus.
3181 Nous proposons donc que le financement du CPRST provienne à 50 pourcent des frais fondés sur les plaintes, et 50 pourcent des frais fondés sur les revenus, au lieu que ça soit respectivement 40 et 60 pourcent.
3182 Finalement, nous sommes d’avis que le CPRST offre un service compétent qui répond aux besoins des consommateurs, comme les résultats du sondage présenté dans le dernier rapport annuel du CPRST le démontrent.
3183 Ainsi, mise à part les quelques suggestions que nous avons émises dans notre discours et dans notre mémoire, nous ne croyons pas qu’il y a lieu de changer fondamentalement une formule gagnante dans laquelle les consommateurs canadiens trouvent efficacement leur compte.
3184 Nous vous remercions de votre attention, nous sommes maintenant prêts à répondre à vos questions.
3185 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci, merci beaucoup, je vais avoir quelques questions pour vous.
3186 Premièrement je vais commencer avec votre présentation ce matin, qui est par ailleurs très claire, mais vers la fin vous parlez là du modèle de financement pour proposer un changement là du 40/60 vers un 50/50. Vous ne craignez pas que un tel changement pourrait mettre une pression à la baisse sur le budget global disponible pour les activités -- pour accomplir le mandat?
3187 Je comprends qu’on parle ici du -- comment on va diviser le budget total et la formule qui va être utilisée, mais néanmoins, étant donné que ça risque de déplacer les obligations financières sur peut-être des plus petits joueurs ou des joueurs qui disons qui patinent un petit peu plus proche de la ligne, que y va avoir une pression à la baisse sur le budget global?
3188 Mme TABET: Merci pour votre question, Monsieur le président.
3189 En fait, nous croyons qu’après 10 ans d’existence il y a maintenant une assez bonne prévisibilité dans les revenus pour assurer que ceci n’arrive pas. Donc le moment est bien choisi maintenant après 10 ans presque d’existence, pour partager les frais entre les plaintes et les revenus, puisque c'est les plaintes qui prennent le plus -- en fait la partie du budget est basée sur les plaintes. Donc nous croyons que le temps est bien venu et la prévisibilité des -- des revenus autant des plaintes que les revenus des TSP, puissent permettre ça sans que le budget ne soit affecté.
3190 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc vous n’envisagez pas une réduction du nombre de plaintes?
3191 Mme TABET: En fait, nous on -- c’est pas nous les plus grands générateurs de plaintes, donc je ---
3192 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je comprends bien, mais implicitement en disant qu’on va avoir de la stabilité pour l’autre 50 pourcent qu’y est basé sur des plaintes, ça veut dire que -- que vous prévoyez que globalement on -- l’industrie va continuer à avoir à traiter des plaintes, même si tous les fournisseurs nous disent que leur préférence c'est de traiter des plaintes de leurs consommateurs en première ligne?
3193 Mme TABET: En fait, avec l’ajout des services de télévision, je ne crois pas que les plaintes vont baisser. Donc ça sera difficile ---
3194 LE PRÉSIDENT: D'accord.
3195 Mme TABET: --- souhaitable, mais difficile.
3196 LE PRÉSIDENT: Heureusement que les consommateurs vont trouver de nouvelles façons d’être mécontents; c'est ça votre position?
3197 Mme TABET: Non, mais c'est parce que d’ajouter les -- les services de télévision va -- va nécessairement augmenter les plaintes. Je ne crois pas que ça va les baisser puisque c'est -- c’est un champ d’expertise de plus. Donc notre position est que après 10 ans, y a une certaine prévisibilité pour assurer que le budget ne soit pas affecté.
3198 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord. Si je comprends bien, vous favorisez que au lieu d’avoir des -- des évènements déclencheurs, que ça soit du côté de la télécommunication ou de la télédistribution, que la participation soit obligatoire pour tous. Est-ce que j’ai bien compris votre position?
3199 Mme TABET: Oui, nous croyons que dans un monde où nous sommes soumis à des codes et que tout le monde dit -- tout le monde devrait participer afin d’avoir tout le monde sur le même pied d’égalité.
3200 Maintenant, nous avons entendu le CPRST qui dit qu’y a des -- peut-être des problèmes à aller chercher les plus petits, et je crois qu’il a demandé l’aide du CRTC afin de lui fournir des listes et tout. On croit que c'est peut-être une bonne idée que le CRTC pourrait peut-être aider le CPRST à faire ceci. Mais oui, nous croyons que il faudrait avoir autant -- tout le monde soumis à la participation obligatoire.
3201 LE PRÉSIDENT: Y compris par rapport au code de la télédistribution? Puis je veux vous mettre l’hypothèse parce que jusqu’à maintenant bien qu’on a pas décidé d’une façon finale, on pourrait arriver à une conclusion que le code ne s’applique pas aux entreprises exemptées de détenir une licence, et qui ne sont pas liées à des autres grandes entreprises qui détiennent des licences. Et donc suivant cette hypothèse là, ils ne sont pas assujettis au code. Est-ce qu’ils sont néanmoins à vos yeux des sociétés qui devraient être assujetties à la participation au CPRST?
3202 Mme TABET: On croit que oui, pour ---
3203 LE PRÉSIDENT: Même si le code s’applique pas à eux?
3204 Mme TABET: Si le code s’applique pas à eux, on croit que ils devraient quand même participer pour que le client ne -- n’ait pas de confusion d’un fournisseur à l’autre et qu’il ait les mêmes droits de recours. Donc oui, on croit que oui.
3205 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et c'est par souci de s’assurer d’absence de confusion dans le ---
3206 Mme TABET: Tout à fait, pour -- l’équité pour tous les clients.
3207 LE PRÉSIDENT: On a déjà eu de la difficulté du côté des télécommunications -- de moins en moins -- mais des télécommunications d’aller chercher des petits joueurs. Au moins là on les connait. Du côté des entreprises exemptées y en a des très petites, y en a qui se trouvent dans les collectivités, donc on connait qui est le patron. Puis souvent dans les petites communautés on peut au dépanneur du coin faire valoir son point de vue au propriétaire des petites entreprises câblo -- de câblodistribution. Vous pensez quand même que c'est nécessaire d’assujettir ces -- ces petites entreprises-là à de la réglementation de ce genre?
3208 Mme TABET: Je comprends que on peut faire une exception pour les 2,000 et moins, déjà ils ne sont pas soumis à des exigences de rapport. Donc je comprends que pour ces entreprises-là qu’on fasse une exception. Mais je crois que tous les 2,000 -- les systèmes de 2,000 abonnés et plus devraient être assujettis. Mais pour ces petits systèmes-là, justement on connait le propriétaire, c'est sûrement l’oncle ou le grand-père, donc je ne crois pas qui vont avoir recours au CPRST, y vont se diriger directement à la personne ressource.
3209 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc le commentaire que vous faisiez tout à l’heure de risque de confusion dans l’esprit des consommateurs n’existe pas quand que c’est des petites sociétés ou c’est -- vous tenté de trancher la ligne d’une façon pratico-pratique?
3210 Mme TABET: Exacte. Tout à fait.
3211 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.k. Donc vous reconnaissez que des fois il faut faire des compromis dans tout ça.
3212 Mme TABET: Oui, tout à fait.
3213 LE PRÉSIDENT: On cherche pas nécessairement une situation idéale.
3214 Bon vous avez mentionné que la grande majorité des télé-distributeurs sont déjà des membres participant, en tant que FST.
3215 Et je comprends bien que vous voulez que tout le monde deviennent membre automatiquement, mais mettons -- vous voyez pas un désavantage de demander à des gens qui n’ont pas de plaintes contre eux de devenir membre du -- participant dans le CPRST?
3216 Mme TABET: Mais je crois que puisque ces entreprises-là sont déjà -- vont être soumis -- en fait on croit qu’elles seront soumises au code, je crois que de-facto il faudrait qu’ils soient soumis à la participation au CPRST.
3217 LE PRÉSIDENT: Dès les premiers moments parce que ils sont des deux côtés?
3218 Mme TABET: Tout à fait.
3219 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et ils deviennent assujettis à toutes les obligations, même si -- mettons prenez l’hypothèse que l’évènement, on ne poursuit pas votre recommandation, mais que c’est basé sur un évènement déclencheur.
3220 Mettons que l’évènement est par rapport au code des FSTV, les télé-distributeurs plutôt que de l’autre côté des télécommunications, est-ce qu’ils deviennent membre pour l’ensemble de l’œuvre du CPRST?
3221 Mme TABET: Bien dans le cas de ceux qui sont déjà membre ils vont le devenir ---
3222 LE PRÉSIDENT: Ils vont l’être mais maintenant l’autre façon de voir les choses qui ne sont pas ---
3223 Mme TABET: Donc vous parlez de tous ceux qui œuvrent juste --
3224 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qui ne l’était pas.
3225 Mme TABET: -- dans le domaine de la distribution?
3226 LE PRÉSIDENT: Bien -- on -- l’hypothèse serait soit qu’ils œuvrent seulement en télédistribution ou ils sont dans les deux domaines mais y’a pas d’évènement déclencheur dans le domaine des télé-communications.
3227 Mme TABET: Écoutez, on n’a pas vraiment d’opinion là-dessus.
3228 Nous -- le principe de base c’est que tout le monde devrait participer. La mécanisme on peut la laisser ou CPRST ou -- d’en décider ou à son conseil d’administration.
3229 On n’a pas de commentaire spécifique là-dessus à part que tout le monde devrait participer. La mécanisme de -- le mécanisme de participation le CPRST et son conseil pourront en déterminer ---
3230 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et donc, par conséquence, ils devraient être assujettis -- peu importe comment ils deviennent participants, ils devraient être assujettis à toutes les obligations?
3231 Mme TABET: C’est ce qu’on croit.
3232 LE PRÉSIDENT: À votre avis. Pour aider, si je comprends bien, la confusion -- pour éviter la confusion parmi les consommateurs?
3233 Mme TABET: Exactement.
3234 LE PRÉSIDENT: Nous avons eu des discussions depuis quelques jours sur le rôle que le CRTC pourrait jouer pour assurer que les membres participants ou non-participants deviennent -- agissent d’une façon conforme aux -- à la règlementation. Je me demandais si vous avez un point de vue sur cet enjeu-là?
3235 Y’a certains recours disponibles dans la -- l’entente de participation, mais il semblerait qu’ils ne sont pas nécessairement efficaces, si j’ai bien entendu la preuve du CPRST.
3236 Parce que le name and shame, l’humiliation publique ou la dénonciation publique ne fonctionne que si y’a une couverture médiatique.
3237 De mettre fait à l’entente de participation est peut-être contre-indiqué, parce que en fait ceux qui devraient être assujettis aux obligations se trouvent à être libéré de l’obligation.
3238 Alors quel serait le rôle du CRTC pour assurer la conformité?
3239 Mme TABET: Bon, on croit que ça devrait être une approche graduelle. Je vais laisser Yannick élaborer là-dessus.
3240 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je vous en pris.
3241 M. BOILY: Merci, Peggy.
3242 Monsieur le président, comme Peggy vient de le dire notre -- l’approche qu’on préconiserait justement est une approche graduelle, pragmatique, dosée.
3243 C’est-à-dire que le CPRST confronté à un fournisseur de service, disons, récalcitrant, pourrait dans un premier temps appeler le fournisseur de service en question, lui dire bon, écoutes, nécessaire en tant que tel pour toi de respecter tes engagements dans le cadre de participation au CPRST.
3244 Ensuite, deuxième étape, toujours au niveau du CPRST, l’envoie d’une lettre rappelant, justement, la nécessité des -- de respecter les engagements, identifiant les engagements auxquels le fournisseur contrevient.
3245 Par la suite, le CPRST pourra utiliser le -- comme il l’a fait, à quelques occasions, comme on a entendu cette semaine, pourra utiliser l’outil du name and shame, en tant que tel.
3246 Et si à cette étape-là, l’outil du name and shame ne donne pas de résultat et qu’on est toujours confronté à un fournisseur de service qui ne veut rien comprendre, bien je crois qu’à ce moment-là le CPRST pourrait communiquer avec le personnel du conseil pour justement aviser le personnel du conseil de cette situation et faire en sorte que le personnel du conseil prenne le relais à ce stade-là.
3247 Et que ensuite, justement, le conseil puisse piger dans sa boite à outil, sa grande boite d’outils, pour justement faire en sorte qu’ultimement le fournisseur de service récalcitrant entende la raison; si je peux dire.
3248 Et au niveau du -- au niveau de l’intervention du CRTC, encore une fois, peut-être que la première étape sera un appel et plus souvent qu’autrement un appel du CRTC va peut-être faire entendre la raison au fournisseur en question.
3249 Donc nous fondamentalement, notre approche ça serait une approche, comme je disais, pragmatique.
3250 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et cette approche pragmatique ne résulte-t-elle pas en le consommateur qui se sent lésé d’être en attente pendant un bout de temps?
3251 M. BOILY: Écoutez, malheureusement c’est la conséquence malheureuse d’être confronté à un fournisseur de service qui n’est -- qui ne réalise pas l’importance et la valeur, en tant que tel, de participer à plein dans une organisation comme le CPRST.
3252 Mais je pense que si on prend une approche -- c’est une approche graduelle, pragmatique et préconisée, à ce moment-là on réduit les délais et ultimement les chances sont que le fournisseur de service récalcitrant va finir par entendre la raison comme je disais tout à l’heure.
3253 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et votre position est la même peu importe la nature de l’obligation?
3254 Parce qu’on a des obligations de payer des frais annuels de fournir de l’information sur les revenus annuels, d’une part.
3255 Et puis après y’a certains -- certaines obligations qui portent plus sur le processus des plaintes d’avoir -- d’être avenant sur l’information, de faire de la promotion et tout.
3256 M. BOILY: Écoutez, puisqu’on préconise une approche pragmatique, je crois qu’on devrait pas faire de distinction au niveau des manquements en tant que tels.
3257 C’est sûr que si -- par exemple on a parlé tout à l’heure de la possibilité du -- pour le CPRST de retirer le membership, si vous me permettez l’expression.
3258 LE PRÉSIDENT: M'hm.
3259 M. BOILY: Ça ça serait peut-être justement -- si le CPRST déciderait d’utiliser se recourt-là, bien alors à ce moment-là il faudrait prendre en considération la nature du manquement.
3260 Mais puisque nous on ne -- on ne croit pas en tant que tel que le CPRST devrait avoir recourt à ce type de mesure, dans le cadre de l’approche qu’on a décrite, je pense que c’est pas nécessaire en tant que tel de faire une distinction entre les manquements.
3261 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qu’en est-il des forces du marché? Qu’arriverait-il par exemple si sur le territoire de Vidéotron y’a justement un fournisseur, soit de télécommunications ou de télédistributions, qui opère mais en manquement à ces obligations de participation.
3262 Est-ce que c’est quelque chose que votre secteur de marketing va exploiter?
3263 N’aller pas -- n’aller pas chez compagnie X parce que nous on est membre en règle et puis on respecte nos obligations?
3264 M. BOILY: Je pense que je -- si vous me permettez, Monsieur le président, je demanderais l’opinion de mon collègue Pascal, relativement à cette bonne question. Merci.
3265 M. DESROCHES: Monsieur le président, est-ce que c’est un outil qu’on utiliserait au niveau marketing? Possible, c’est possible.
3266 Mais ce qui est important de savoir c’est que le CPRST pour nous, a un effet d’amélioration de nos standards de qualité, donc on a une obligation entre guillemets « morale » d’améliorer nos services en fonction des services du CPRST.
3267 Donc je crois que yé possible qu’on puisse -- qu’on puisse envisager cette situation.
3268 LE PRÉSIDENT: Il parait que si vous pensiez que la -- le bon service à la clientèle est un atout pour vous sur le plan de la concurrence, vous avez tout intérêt à souligner les manquements de vos compétiteurs?
3269 M. DESROCHES: Absolument.
3270 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui.
3271 En passant je -- vous êtes peut-être plus jeune avec Vidéotron, j’ai un sourcil quand j’ai lu dans votre présentation que vous aviez toujours œuvrez à offrir la meilleur expérience possible.
3272 C’est certainement vrais récemment, mais je dirais qu’y’a des gens qui diraient que c’était pas toujours le cas dans votre cas, mais c’est bien avant votre présence chez Vidéotron.
3273 Mais je comprends qu’avec la concurrence, vous avez dû remplir cette fonction.
3274 Mme TABET: Comme on l’a souligné, Monsieur le président, ça fait quand même 10 ans. Donc, 10 ans c’est quand même -- c’est quand même une dizaine d’années.
3275 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui, oui, oui. Mais toujours c’est plus que 10 ans. C’est pour ça que ---
3276 Mme TABET: Non mais je pense qu’on a parlé des dernières 10 années mais ---
3277 LE PRÉSIDENT: J’ai peut-être manqué ça.
3278 Mme TABET: Mais on est très fier de ce qu’on a accompli, par exemple, et je pense que tous les sondages en témoignent et nos clients sont très satisfaits.
3279 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui, certainement depuis l’arrivée du CPRST, c’est des bons résultats.
3280 Vous avez vu la discussion que nous avons eue par rapport à la notion d’administrer un code par opposition à interpréter un code. Est-ce que vous avez peut-être une opinion sur ce sujet-là pour nous aider dans nos délibérations?
3281 M. BOILY: Oui, Monsieur le président, nous avons réfléchi à cette question assez épineuse. Écoutez, notre position est la suivante.
3282 Le CPRST en tant que tel, à l’heure actuelle, a le mandat d’interpréter, d’administrer plutôt deux codes. Comme on le sait, le code sur les services sans fil et le code sur les débranchements. Bon.
3283 Il y a une réalité; aucun texte, aucun code n’est parfait. Il y a toujours des zones grises. Il y a toujours des ambiguïtés en tant que telles que l’on retrouve dans un code, auxquelles est confronté l’administrateur dudit code.
3284 Donc sur cette base-là, nous estimons qu’il est normal que l’administrateur du code doive, par nécessité, procéder à une certaine interprétation que j’appellerais de nature limitée ou peut-être de nature factuelle, c’est-à-dire prendre une disposition qui n’est peut-être pas absolument limpide et, dans le cadre de l’analyse, faire en sorte d’appliquer justement cette section-là du code aux faits spécifiques d’une plainte.
3285 Donc, comme je vous dis, j’estime qu’il est normal que l’administrateur doive procéder à un certain niveau d’interprétation.
3286 Cependant, il faut établir une ligne de démarcation entre l’administrateur qui, de par son mandat, procède à une certaine interprétation des dispositions d’un code et traverser la ligne justement entre ce que je viens de décrire et carrément procéder à un exercice d’élaboration de politiques réglementaires.
3287 À partir du moment où l’administrateur du code reste dans les limites d’une interprétation limitée et qu’il ne franchit pas la ligne justement pour tomber dans l’élaboration de politiques réglementaires, pour nous, nous ne voyons pas de problème en tant que tel.
3288 Je pense que c’est raisonnable. C’est illusoire de croire que l’administrateur du code ne pourrait que gérer la plainte et appliquer le code de façon, si vous permettez que j’utilise l’expression, « robotique ». Je pense que c’est illusoire. Il faut être réaliste.
3289 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci, Maître, mais si nous avions à tracer une ligne, parce qu’on peut -- vous dites à un moment donné, on est clairement de l’autre côté de la ligne. Mais comment peut-on identifier le moment où on cesse d’interpréter d’une façon accessoire à l’administration et on tombe dans le monde de créer de la nouvelle politique publique?
3290 M. BOILY: Je crois que si l’administrateur du code en vient à interpréter une disposition qui est totalement différente d’une disposition qui, à sa face même est claire, dit ce qu’elle dit et elle ne porte pas à interprétation, n’est pas ambiguë ou n’est pas dans une zone grise, je crois qu’à ce moment-là, c’est là où est-ce qu’on franchit la limite en tant que telle.
3291 Et je pense que dans une telle situation, la chose à faire, que ce soit pour le SPRST ou que ce soit pour toute partie intéressée, c’est d’aller auprès de vous et de vous demander justement votre opinion et demander des clarifications.
3292 Ce qui avait été mentionné, si je me souviens bien, dans la décision sur le Code sur les services sans fil, le Conseil a reconnu cette réalité en tant que telle que parfois des demandes de clarification vont devoir être déposées.
3293 Alors, la possibilité est là.
3294 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et vous préconisez que ça se ferait par une demande en vertu de la Partie 1?
3295 M. BOILY: Oui.
3296 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui?
3297 M. BOILY: Oui, oui, oui, Monsieur le président, effectivement. C’est arrivé à quelques occasions depuis l’entrée en vigueur du code et je pense que c’est une approche qui fonctionne.
3298 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qu’en est-il de l’idée d’une société collègue dans le secteur qui préconisait un genre de -- là, je ne me rappelle plus des acronymes en français mais « CISC-like process », un comité plus informel de discussions, un groupe de travail?
3299 M. BOILY: Oui, tout à fait.
3300 Si je me souviens bien, l’idée présentée par nos collègues de chez Rogers.
3301 LE PRÉSIDENT: C’est ça. Oui.
3302 M. BOILY: Écoutez, Monsieur le président, le CISC en tant que tel, bon, c’est un groupe de travail. Il y a des groupes de travail qui ont été mis en place sous l’égide du CISC. Mais fondamentalement c’est un travail en plénière où est-ce que, bon, toutes les parties prenantes participent à une discussion. Ultimement, on en vient à un rapport de consensus ou un rapport de non-consensus qui ensuite est déposé auprès du Conseil pour approbation.
3303 C’est une très bonne mécanique en tant que telle pour justement discuter de façon exhaustive d’enjeux mais des enjeux d’ordre technique. Et c’est une formule qui a fait ses preuves.
3304 Cependant, je questionne -- je me questionne sur le bien-fondé, puis je dis ça avec tout respect pour mes collègues de chez Rogers, mais je me questionne sur le bien-fondé de leurs suggestions parce que, ici, on parle des clarifications en tant que telles. On parle de questions d’élaboration de politiques.
3305 Alors, je me vois mal un des groupes de travail sous l’égide du CISC traiter d’une question qui, fondamentalement, est une question d’élaboration de politiques. Ce n’est pas dans le mandat.
3306 Ça fait longtemps, j’ai une confidence, Monsieur le président, ça fait très longtemps que je n’ai pas lu les lignes directrices du CISC, mais à mon opinion, les questions qui relèvent d’élaboration de politiques sont en dehors du champ de compétence des groupes de travail du CISC.
3307 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’ailleurs, c’est conséquent avec votre position que si c’est un enjeu de politique publique, ça deviendrait du ---
3308 M. BOILY: Absolument.
3309 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- du ressort du Conseil?
3310 M. BOILY: Absolument.
3311 LE PRÉSIDENT: Plutôt qu’un groupe de travail. Et je dois vous avouer que j’ai souvent entendu dire, je ne sais pas si c’est vrai ou non, lorsque les groupes de travail sont saisis d’un enjeu qui est principalement de politique publique, c’est dur de trouver des consensus parce que les gens s’attendent plus tard à ce que le Conseil tranche.
3312 M. BOILY: Absolument. C’est la nature même -- si vous me permettez, Monsieur le président, peut-être un petit commentaire, c’est la nature même du travail en plénière. Toutes les parties sont -- on est devant un groupe de travail avec de nombreux participants et dans le cas qui nous concerne, ce serait probablement le cas. Il y aurait énormément de personnes alentour de la table, énormément de positions, de vues différentes, divergentes et c’est normal.
3313 Alors à ce moment-là, pour moi, c’est clair que l’approche CISC n’est pas la bonne façon.
3314 LE PRÉSIDENT: Pour poursuivre sur la question du mandat, qu’en est-il de votre position par rapport aux boîtiers ou décodeurs qui souvent -- pas toujours mais souvent font partie de la facture des abonnés?
3315 Est-ce que c’est hors mandant ou non? Est-ce que ça devait l’être ou non? Comment vous envisagez ça?
3316 Mme TABET: Oui, nous croyons que c’est hors-mandat. Je vais laisser Anthony élaborer sur le sujet.
3317 M. HÉMOND: Bonjour, Monsieur le président.
3318 Oui, effectivement, Vidéotron loue bien souvent ses appareils et a une politique de remplacer les appareils qui pourraient être défectueux.
3319 Donc, nous ne voyons pas à ce niveau-là de difficulté avec les équipements surtout en matière de télévision.
3320 Par ailleurs, au niveau provincial, il y a des lois qui protègent concernant les garanties légales pour les équipements.
3321 Donc, il y a déjà un cadre qui est en place et qui fonctionne.
3322 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc, pour vous, c’est quelque chose qui est hors-mandat parce qu’il y a d’autres recours, notamment j’imagine en petites créances par exemple? Ou advenant là que vous ne pouvez pas régler avant ça?
3323 M. HÉMOND: Bien généralement on règle avant ça parce que le client, quand il appelle, Vidéotron remplace l’équipement pour ce qui est de la télévision. Donc ça va très bien de ce côté-là.
3324 LE PRÉSIDENT: D’accord.
3325 Pour bien traiter des plaintes, il faut évidemment avoir de bons dossiers. Donc, je voudrais m’enquérir de votre politique par rapport de la rétention des documents, y compris possiblement des transcriptions ou des enregistrements des appels avec votre clientèle.
3326 Quel genre de preuve avez-vous? Est-ce que vous avez une politique pour aider la résolution des plaintes?
3327 M. BOILY: J’inviterais peut-être dans un premier temps mon collègue Pascal à répondre en première partie à votre question et probablement que mon collègue Anthony pourra continuer par la suite.
3328 M. DESROCHES: Monsieur le président, donc premièrement pour la politique de règlement des plaintes chez Vidéotron c'est certain qu’on favorise un règlement en première instance, donc avec nos opérations courantes. Chez Vidéotron on a une culture d’expérience client, une culture d’excellence du service qui se reflète autant en expérience client qu’en qualité de nos produits et services.
3329 On a une mission bien entendu, une mission d’entreprise qui est fondée sur l’expérience client qui nous donne notre destination, pis qui donne la destination à toutes les sphères de notre entreprise, que ce soit en service à la clientèle, installation, en projet, en marketing. Donc c'est avec cet -- cet esprit que nous -- que nous tentons de régler les plaintes en premier niveau.
3330 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je comprends, mais comment vous documentez vos échanges avec la clientèle?
3331 M. DESROCHES: Oui, donc notre -- notre façon de fonctionner au niveau des insatisfactions c'est que nous on collige toutes les insatisfactions qui peuvent provenir de notre clientèle, nos opérateurs sont outillés pour pouvoir régler ce type d’insatisfaction-là. Puis on revient à la cause racine si on veut là de l’insatisfaction pour pouvoir améliorer notre service constamment, parce qu’on -- on indiquait dans notre -- dans nos « Opening Remarks » que on a un taux de satisfaction de 97 pourcent, mais tout n’est pas joué là, donc il faut constamment s’améliorer.
3332 LE PRÉSIDENT: M'hm.
3333 M. DESROCHES: C'est donc -- c’est donc -- nous on retourne à la cause racine de l’insatisfaction pour pouvoir ---
3334 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je mets pas ça en question, j’essaie de -- je veux être beaucoup plus pratico-pratique. Je suis un client de Vidéotron ---
3335 M. DESROCHES: Oui.
3336 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- mettons ---
3337 M. DESROCHES: M'hm.
3338 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- et j’appelle parce que j’ai un problème de facturation, donc je le fais par téléphone, une ligne de contact téléphone. Est-ce que la conversation est enregistrée? Est-ce qu’y a des notes au dossier? Comment plus tard le client va être satisfait du règlement qu’y a été peut-être négocié avec l’agent au téléphone?
3339 M. DESROCHES: Ben en fait, oui, effectivement, y a des notes qui sont conservées au dossier du client, puis le dossier -- le dossier de plainte ou d’insatisfaction est effectivement conservé chez nous pour la durée de -- de la relation client que nous avons avec -- avec cette personne-là.
3340 LE PRÉSIDENT: Est-ce que -- non, personne veut ajouter?
3341 Donc -- mais -- donc c'est pas une transcription de la conversation, c'est une annotation que votre agent met au dossier -- à votre dossier interne?
3342 M. DESROCHES: Oui, exactement. On enregistre des appels chez Vidéotron pour pouvoir revenir à nos -- à nos conseillers en « coaching », en mentorat.
3343 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui, c'est pour la qualité de la -- du service à la clientèle.
3344 M. DESROCHES: Du service à la clientèle.
3345 LE PRÉSIDENT: C'est pas pour votre relation avec le client?
3346 M. DESROCHES: Non, exactement.
3347 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et -- oui?
3348 M. HÉMOND: Si je peux ajouter, tous les appels effectivement sont enregistrés, donc nécessairement on ne conserve pas l’appel d’une plainte, mais y a une note au dossier et cette note est escaladée.
3349 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qu’arriverait-il -- je sais pas là par un manque de la part d’un employé d’annoter, puis que effectivement un dossier se retrouve au CPRST puis la preuve documentaire est -- elle laisse à désirer, quelle est votre approche dans ces cas-là?
3350 M. DESROCHES: Mais notre approche est très factuelle, donc on -- on va revenir -- on a une relation contractuelle avec notre client, donc on va revenir aux bases. Puis bien entendu -- là ça dépend toujours de la nature de l’insatisfaction, mais nos chiffres nous le démontre, on a un taux de résolution très élevé ---
3351 LE PRÉSIDENT: M'hm.
3352 M. DESROCHES: --- chez Vidéotron. Donc on trouverait certainement une façon de médier cette plainte-là en l’absence d’une telle note.
3353 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je vous demanderai pas de partager le secret du Kamik parce que j’imagine que c'est pour vous important d’un point de vue de concurrence ---
3354 M. DESROCHES: M'hm.
3355 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- de pouvoir atteindre ces taux de satisfaction là.
3356 M. DESROCHES: Oui.
3357 LE PRÉSIDENT: Mais vous partagez quand même à l’interne, vous faites de la formation?
3358 M. DESROCHES: Absolument, oui.
3359 LE PRÉSIDENT: Est-ce que vous récompensez les employés, la masse générale, même les exécutifs dans la compagnie par rapport à des résultats favorables? Un peu comme on a discuté l’autre jour avec TELUS.
3360 M. DESROCHES: Avec TELUS. Oui, de plusieurs façons. Une façon -- une façon pour nous de récompenser l’excellence c'est via des programmes comme les prix de l’excellence là qui sont très courus chez nous, qui vont récompenser les employés qui ont une -- qui vivent la mission de Vidéotron de façon exceptionnelle, donc ça c'est un programme qui est très couru.
3361 Puis effectivement sur la rémunération incitative, y a une très grande majorité de la rémunération incitentative qui est basée sur l’expérience client et sur la qualité des produits.
3362 LE PRÉSIDENT: Sans donner un chiffre précis, si vous aviez à équilibrer le montant en général sur le retour aux investisseurs de -- les actionnaires en terme de valeur de la société -- parce que souvent les programmes incitatifs sont basés sur des modèles économiques -- combien de poids est mis sur ce type d’enjeu là par rapport à des enjeux reliés à la qualité du service à la clientèle?
3363 M. DESROCHES: Effectivement, ça serait difficile de vous répondre, Monsieur le président. Mais pour ce qui est de -- comme c'est dans notre ADN -- c'est pour ça que c'est difficile pour moi de vous répondre, parce que nos objectifs sont bâtis avec en tête notre mission qu’y est une mission d’excellence, une mission en terme d’expérience client, pis nos décisions dans le « day to day » là, dans le jour -- dans le journalier sont prises en fonction de ça. Donc la proportion est donc très grande, ça serait difficile pour moi de vous dire ---
3364 LE PRÉSIDENT: Est-ce que c'est majoritaire ou minoritaire?
3365 M. DESROCHES: Ben je vous dirais que c'est majoritaire.
3366 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.k. Je vais tourner là pour des enjeux par rapport à la promotion. Est-ce que vous avez songé -- quelle est votre approche -- parce que vous avez fait valoir que vous avez une -- un bon dossier pour traiter auprès des consommateurs, qu’en est-il des consommateurs peut-être ayant un problème physique, de cécité, d’ouïe ou de déficience de la parole? Comment traitez-vous de cette catégorie-là de consommateur en terme de s’assurer de leur satisfaction?
3367 M. DESROCHES: Ben en fait on a un programme élaboré là d’accessibilité de nos services aux personnes ayant une certaine déficience. Puis -- ben en terme de satisfaction, on s’assure que nos programmes à l’interne soient respectés pis qu’on fasse tout en notre possible pour rendre leur quotidien plus -- plus facile.
3368 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc mettons dans un kiosque de service, quelqu'un arrive avec un problème X ---
3369 M. DESROCHES: Oui.
3370 LE PRÉSIDENT: --- un handicap quelconque, vos -- votre personnel est entrainé de faire quoi dans ces circonstances-là? Est-ce que ils sont référés à un groupe de travail, ou est-ce que toute votre base d’employés est formée mettons pour traiter de quelqu’un avec un problème de cécité?
3371 M. DESROCHES: Oui, en fait pour ce qui serait d’un -- de spécifiquement un problème de cécité, dans nos -- dans tous nos points de vente nous avons mis en place des -- ce qu’on appelle nous des « pros » qui sont justement plus habitués technologiquement, pis y pourraient -- y peuvent aider pis sont formés pour aider ce -- des personnes avec déficiences ou des personnes qui simplement ont de la difficulté à utiliser nos services. Donc je crois qu’une personne avec une déficience se pencherait -- ou la personne au point de vente se pencherait vers un de nos pros dans nos points de vente.
3372 LE PRÉSIDENT: Le dossier public démontre que y a une différence d’opinion à savoir si le CPRST devrait traiter des -- des questions de -- d’accessibilité. Qu’en est-il de votre point de vue basé sur votre expérience?
3373 M. BOILY: Monsieur le président, relativement à votre question notre position est que les enjeux d’accessibilité, des enjeux extrêmement importants, des enjeux d’ordre sociaux, des enjeux complexes, de par leur nature doivent rester sous la gouverne, la supervision directe du CPR -- du CRTC, excusez-moi.
3374 Évidemment, le personnel du Conseil a une très grande expertise en la matière, donc pour nous en tant que tel, l’entité qui doit avoir justement la -- la responsabilité en tant que tel de la supervision de ces enjeux-là doit être le Conseil.
3375 Ça doit rester le conseil et non pas le CPRST, parce que si -- par hypothèse si vous décidiez ultimement de confier ces responsabilités-là complexes au CPRST, donc ça serait une charge énorme que vous placeriez sur les épaules du CPRST. Alors que, bon, le CPRST est déjà confronté à différents défis, il remplit très bien sa tâche, très bien son mandat, c'est une belle histoire en tant que tel. Alors confier justement la responsabilité de l’accessibilité à cet organe risquerait de -- de mettre en péril ce beau succès.
3376 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc c'est un enjeu de nature générale, quelqu'un qui fait quand même partie du groupe d’accessibilité aurait accès au CPRST, mais si c'est un enjeu qui était de sa nature plus relié à leur -- leur situation particulière, là c'est le CRTC qui s’en occuperait?
3377 M. BOILY: Exactement, Monsieur le président. C’est exactement ça.
3378 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et vous trouvez que c’est la façon la plus efficace de traiter de cet enjeu-là. Exactement pourquoi?
3379 M. BOILY: Bien, comme je vous disais tout à l’heure, en tant que tel, de par l’expertise du personnel du Conseil, de un, et si on regarde en tant que telle la réalité dans laquelle opère le CPRST, je crois que si le Conseil décidait de confier en tant que telle cette responsabilité-là au CPRST, le fardeau serait trop lourd. De par la nature des enjeux, la complexité des enjeux, je pense que c’est la seule façon -- c’est la façon la plus efficace de procéder en tant que telle.
3380 LE PRÉSIDENT: Dans votre présentation vous parlez beaucoup et vous semblez favoriser le contact, la promotion avec la clientèle en utilisant des plateformes numériques, soit le web ou des médias sociaux.
3381 Nous savons, par contre, surtout si maintenant dorénavant on veut inclure la télédistribution, que ce n’est pas tout le monde qui est nécessairement branché, capable de “surfer” avec les médias sociaux et l’internet.
3382 Comment s’assurer que les différents canaux -- est-ce que vous avez un point de vue, parce que vous, comme société, vous devez faire face à cet enjeu-là sur une base quotidienne, des conseils pour le CPRST en terme de sa stratégie de promotion? Même le Conseil des fois, nous-mêmes au CRTC, on a l’enjeu qu’on reçoit encore des fax et des lettres écrites à la main.
3383 Mme TABET: En fait, nous on croit, comme on l’a indiqué, que oui, on pourrait améliorer sa présence sur les médias sociaux puisque la popularité de ces médias-là est de plus en plus accrue.
3384 Quant à la promotion elle-même, elle doit arriver au temps opportun, donc quand le client en a vraiment besoin, parce que si le client va directement au CPRST sans régler la plainte avec le fournisseur avant, le CPRST ne pourra même pas entendre cette plainte-là et doit le ramener au fournisseur selon le Code de procédure. Donc ça serait contreproductif.
3385 Il est important pour nous que notre client vient chez nous avant, qu’on règle son problème avant et l’escalade prévue en ce moment au deuxième niveau, elle est parfaitement adaptée pour répondre au Code de procédure qui est actuellement en vigueur.
3386 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc vous n’envisagez pas la possibilité peut-être de contribuer à la promotion, je ne sais pas moi, en utilisant un placement dans vos magazines, dans le Journal de Montréal ou peut-être même, je ne sais pas moi, sur vos services communautaires, de télévision communautaire?
3387 Mme TABET: Je ne crois pas que ça servirait l’intérêt public, ni l’intérêt du CPRST. Le principe fondamental est que le distributeur doit -- le fournisseur, pardon, doit régler la plainte avant de se rendre au CPRST. Donc je pense que ça serait contreproductif et puis ça créerait de la confusion auprès des consommateurs. Ils pourraient appeler tout de suite. Il faudrait que le CPRST les ramène au fournisseur. Donc il y aurait trop de confusion et ça ne serait pas en temps opportun.
3388 On a besoin du CPRST quand on n’est pas capable de régler la plainte avec le fournisseur et c’est là qu’on devrait être sensibilisé à sa présence.
3389 LE PRÉSIDENT: Même si le contenu de ce genre de publicité serait “On veut absolument vous satisfaire. Contactez-nous en premier, mais si jamais on est incapable de satisfaire vos besoins, le CPRST est disponible.” Qui ne fait qu’améliorer votre achalandage.
3390 M. BOILY: Monsieur le président, si vous permettez, j’aimerais ajouter quelques commentaires. Je pense que l’essentiel dans une telle situation c’est de faire en sorte que le client qui n’a pas été en mesure d’obtenir une résolution qui le satisfait relativement à son insatisfaction en tant que telle, il faut utiliser des mesures qui vont permettre en tant que tel d’informer cette personne-là au moment où il arrive à ce blocage en tant que tel. Et nous croyons que les mesures qui sont invoquées en tant que telles dans le plan de sensibilisation du CPRST permettent en tant que tel d’informer ces personnes-là de façon ciblée au moment justement où ils ont véritablement besoin de l’aide du CPRST.
3391 Mme TABET: Si je peux ajouter aussi, Monsieur le président, on ne voudrais pas présager à nos clients qu’il va y avoir un problème. Donc c’est important pour nous de régler cette plainte-là et la preuve c’est qu’on les règle.
3392 Annoncer tout de suite le CPRST à nos clients c’est comme si on vous annonce qu’il va y avoir un problème, donc prenez note qu’il y a un CPRST en place. Je crois que c’est très important de nous laisser la chance de régler cette plainte-là et au cas où cette plainte-là n’est pas réglée, en temps opportun on peut mentionner le CPRST.
3393 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je comprends, sauf qu’il y a des compagnies qui mettent de l’avant des politiques « satisfaction garantie », « on va vous rembourser si vous n’êtes pas satisfait », tout ça. C’est pas votre domaine, mais dans le domaine des ventes, ça s’est déjà vu de créer des attentes très élevées parce que ça motive la compagnie d’agir en conséquence.
3394 Mme TABET: Et on les a déjà. On a déjà notre satisfaction en 30 jours. On a tout ça en place, et bien avant d’avoir été soumis à des codes. Donc la satisfaction en 30 jours chez Vidéotron existe déjà.
3395 LE PRÉSIDENT: Qu’en est-il -- vous avez vu qu’on a eu une certaine discussion par rapport aux cotes de crédit dans le contexte de dispute et puis des agences de collection de dettes et tout ça.
3396 Quelles sont les politiques de Vidéotron à cet égard?
3397 Mme TABET: Pascal va répondre.
3398 M. DESROCHES: Donc pour ce qui est d’une plainte reçue du CPRST, notre première -- la première étape chez nous c’est de retirer ce client-là du processus de perception dans lequel il se trouvait peut-être, ce qui fait en sorte -- j’ai entendu les discussions à ce sujet-là. Puis je me questionnais à savoir si dans notre entreprise ça pourrait arriver une situation comme ça où on devrait remédier une affectation à sa cote de crédit, puis je suis forcé de constater que cette situation-là ne nous arrive pas parce qu’on a cette politique en place de retirer le compte client de perception ou de collection, le temps de régler le litige.
3399 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc vous n’avez pas eu d’expérience où quelqu’un a vu sa cote de crédit affectée par inadvertance et que vous avez eu à prendre un acte positif pour aller corriger l’impression qui avait été créée?
3400 M. DESROCHES: Non, pas à ma connaissance.
3401 LE PRÉSIDENT: Mais il n’y a rien qui vous empêcherait de le faire advenant la situation?
3402 M. DESROCHES: Advenant une situation comme celle-là, absolument qu’on mettrait à jour. Notre politique serait de mettre à jour -- est de mettre à jour justement les cotes de crédit des clients. Donc oui, on mettrait à jour l’information selon l’issue du litige.
3403 LE PRÉSIDENT: Il me semble que les pratiques sont inégales d’une société à l’autre. Est-ce que vous croyez que le Conseil, le CRTC, aurait un rôle à jouer à créer la norme par rapport à ce genre de pratique sur les cotes de crédit?
3404 M. HÉMOND: Je voulais ajouter un point, Monsieur le président, sur la mise à jour de ces cotes de crédit. Je ferais référence à deux lois particulières, la Loi sur la protection des renseignements personnels et documents électroniques au niveau fédéral et puis au niveau provincial on a aussi une Loi sur la protection des renseignements personnels et on a l’obligation de mettre à jour les dossiers des clients.
3405 Donc si dans le processus il y a eu une plainte et puis on doit modifier à ce moment-là les cotes de crédit ou l’information, on a l’obligation de mettre à jour. Donc ça existe déjà cette obligation.
3406 LE PRÉSIDENT: Vous me dites que la norme existe déjà sur une base pancanadienne à travers la loi fédérale?
3407 M. HÉMOND: Exactement.
3408 LE PRÉSIDENT: Possiblement en vertu des lois des provinces?
3409 M. HÉMOND: Oui, oui.
3410 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.k. Nous examinerons ça.
3411 Alors ce sont mes questions.
3412 Notre système internet ne fonctionne pas. C’est pour ça qu’on se consulte de façon analogique ces jours-ci.
3413 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup. Donc ce sont nos questions.
3414 Et nous allons prendre une pause jusqu’à 11h15 pour entendre les prochains intervenants.
3415 Merci beaucoup.
3416 Mme TABET: Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 11:01 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 11:15 a.m.
3417 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
3418 Madame la secrétaire.
3419 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Shaw Communications.
3420 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 20 minutes.
3421 MR. ELLIOTT: Thank you.
3422 Good morning, Mr. Chair, Vice-Chair Menzies, Commissioner Vennard, Commissioner Simpson, Commissioner MacDonald. My name is Morgan Elliott and I’m Senior Vice-President of Regulatory and Government Relations at Shaw Communications.
3423 I’m joined today by Sarah Miller Wright, Vice-President of Consumer -- sorry -- Customer Care on my right, and members of my regulatory team, Dean Shaikh to my left, Paul Cowling to my far right and Esther Snow to my far left.
3424 Shaw is pleased to participate in this conversation about the mandate and structure of the CCTS.
3425 There is nothing more important to Shaw than understanding and responding to the needs, expectations and the concerns of our customers.
3426 We operate in a highly competitive and dynamic broadcasting and telecom market. In this environment everything pivots around our customers, from the design of our products and service offerings to anticipating and addressing customer concerns.
3427 When we can’t foresee concerns or issues that come up Shaw brings a similar focus and determination to resolving things as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our success or failure in these efforts determines our success or failure as a business.
3428 Shaw strives to listen to our customers and provide best in class service, but there are times when people feel more comfortable having a third party assist them. This is where the CCTS can come in playing a complementary and important function alongside Shaw’s own complaint resolution process.
3429 Since its inception, the CCTS has provided a valuable service to Canadian consumers. This record reflects that Canadians are highly satisfied with the organization’s effectiveness. There’s also overwhelming agreement among the parties to this proceeding, including the CCTS itself, that things are working well.
3430 Like Shaw, most parties are pleased with the current scope of responsibilities and structure of the organization. With the addition of the TVSP Code the mandate will now extend beyond deregulated telecommunication services but in a way that is consistent in scope with the current mandate.
3431 As with the Wireless code and the Deposit and Disconnection Code, Shaw is confident that the CCTS can incorporate the TVSP Code into its responsibilities without disruption to its operations and governance.
3432 In the eight years since the CCTS was created it has developed a track record of success. It’s been driven by an effective governance model that features appropriate representation from the industry and consumer groups which is further balanced by independent directors. The organization itself has not made any recommendations for major modifications.
3433 Over the course of this proceeding we have seen some parties request fundamental changes to the role and function of the CCTS. They suggest the ombudsman should cover broad new areas such as bundled features, content, equipment and accessibility.
3434 We believe that the CCTS does a great job, but we should be wary of expanding its mandate in a manner that would undermine the original intent and the role it currently plays so effectively. Significant changes would place a major burden on the CCTS staff by requiring them to become experts in multiple and complex topics. This would create delays for the resolution of customer complaints.
3435 Several of the areas proposed for more CCTS involvement are already governed by regulatory regimes over by the CRTC and Competition Bureau such as advertising, the programming, regulated wholesale service and accessibility. It would be inappropriate and ineffective to expand the ombudsman mandate to become quasi-regulatory overlapping with the jurisdiction of administrative agencies that have statutory accountabilities.
3436 Before handing this over to Sarah to discuss how we deal with our customer complaints on a day-to-day basis, I’ll briefly comment on funding.
3437 We continue to believe that companies generating a higher proportion of complaints should shoulder a higher proportion of funding responsibility. For this reason, Shaw has proposed that the CRTC should increase the complaint based portion of the annual fee.
3438 This approach has two benefits. The costs associated with the CCTS would be more shared equally by the service providers that use its resources and more importantly providers would be motivated to increase their quality of customer service to avoid complaints. This is what we should be working towards. The CCTS funding framework should set the right incentives for service providers to make this happen.
3439 This provides a good opportunity to transient position to Sarah who will now speak to how we at Shaw continuously build relationships with our customers.
3440 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: Thanks, Morgan.
3441 At Shaw every decision we make and every initiative we launch is driven by our customers and the need to provide them with competitive choice and exceptional value. We measure the success of everything we do from the customer’s perspective.
3442 We have heard similar statements from other service providers this week, and we know from competing with several of them that they also live by these statements.
3443 Customer satisfaction is an integral part of Shaw’s operations and culture. It is one of the foundational measures of the success of our company.
3444 We realize that a customer who feels heard and valued is more likely to stay with Shaw. This is why we proactively reach out to our customers for feedback through our Voice of the Customer Surveys. Customers are invited to take part in the survey whenever they interact with Shaw. Whether it was a conversation with a contact center representative, an in-home visit, retail interaction or an online chat we ask for honest feedback on the experience. This insight brings us closer to our customers and gives us the tools to build the best in class experiences that they expect and deserve.
3445 Consistent with our drive for customer satisfaction and engagement Shaw takes complaints very seriously. Customers can contact us at any time via phone, email chat, at our retail stores, or through our online support forum.
3446 We work very hard to ensure any issues are resolved quickly and effectively by empowering our frontline customer facing employees. However, if that does not happen we have a comprehensive customer advocacy program that includes a dedicated resolution team who respond to customers within 24 hours.
3447 Through the advocacy program customers are also able to raise any concerns or provide feedback to Shaw’s leadership and executive level teams. Transparency to customer issues is imbedded in our customer focus culture.
3448 There’s no doubt in our minds that a customer with an unresolved concern will start to look for alternatives. Within our serving area there is intense competition. Consumers know they have options and we know that they have options.
3449 For us, losing a customer because of an unresolved concern is an outcome we cannot let happen. As a company we therefore must and do work hard to resolve complaints as well as anticipate and mitigate future concerns. We make sure that any potential learning from an issue gets back to the right groups through continuous improvement and process redesign framework. This approach is not only necessary for Shaw to remain viable in the market we view it as one of our competitive advantages. We value our customers business and we never want them to feel unheard.
3450 MR ELLIOTT: Thanks, Sarah.
3451 Finally, we’d like to address two additional issues that have been raised in this hearing.
3452 First, in our submission we have argued that participation should be voluntary. This was based on our belief that service providers could distinguish themselves in a competitive market through CCTS participation. We also believed that the CCTS would be less burdened with ensuring compliance, especially by small service providers. However, we have heard from the CCTS and now agree that mandatory participation for all TSP’s and TVSP’s is reasonable.
3453 Second, we disagree with the suggestion that more needs to be done to promote the CCTS. The issue is awareness rather than promotion. Any customer who is not able to resolve a complaint with its service provider should be made aware of the option to make a complaint to the CCTS. Existing tools are sufficient, including CCTS descriptions on company websites, customer bill messages and notification at the second level of escalation. Additional promotional measures may lead to customer confusion and an increased likelihood that customers will take their complaint directly to the CCTS rather than first resolving issues with their service provider.
3454 This week we’ve heard a lot about the value of customer service and timely dispute resolution and we couldn’t agree more.
3455 You’ve heard Sarah speak about Shaw’s focus on customers and how our customer satisfaction rating is a key metric for success within our business.
3456 We also work hard to engage with our customers through our Voice of the Customer and other initiatives.
3457 We firmly believe intense competition in the marketplace drives all service providers to improve customer service.
3458 The CCTS was established to provide an alternative avenue for recourse in the rare circumstances where a customer is not able to resolve a complaint directly with the service provider. We ask that the CRTC continue to ensure that the CCTS provides a complimentary function to the role of the market, internal response and customer feedback and the CRTC’s regulatory framework.
3459 At Shaw we will continue to focus on the needs of our customers. This means living out our brand promise that with Shaw you won’t miss a thing including the opportunity to be heard.
3460 Thank you, Mr. Chairman and the Commissioners, for the opportunity to appear, and we welcome any questions you may have.
3461 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Vice-Chairman, Telecom.
3462 Mr. Menzies will be asking you some questions.
3463 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
3464 So let’s deal with the change in view, first of all, get that out of the way. So in your -- you had been stating -- maintaining your position for years about -- that participation should be voluntary, but something happened on the road to Damascus or what changed your mind?
3465 MR. ELLIOTT: Well, to be quite frank, we viewed it as a competitive advantage to say “Hey, we’re belonging to the CCTS,” kind of like belonging to the Better Business Bureau or another organisation that gives you a stamp of approval.
3466 But we’ve heard some of the concerns that the CCTS has in terms of getting people involved, some of the mandates. So if it’s easier for them to include everyone, if it’s easier to get things done, then we can entirely be reasonable on this.
3467 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thanks for clarifying. We’ll probably come back to that topic in a little bit.
3468 But first, I just wanted to go back. In paragraph 15 of your Written Submission you want the CCTS to consider a survey or mechanism to receive feedback from industry service providers on processes and areas for improvement.
3469 What precipitates that? What is the need you’re trying to address or concern you’re trying to address with that?
3470 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure, and it’s almost two-prong with the paragraph before, too, as well. We would like to see some results that they’re hearing in terms of feedback that they’re getting so we can improve our own internal processes. There’s something -- some insights that we could use there.
3471 Second, in terms of paragraph 15, it provides us opportunity to make suggestions or to provide feedback to the CCTS on how they may improve their process to get faster resolution.
3472 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And would it be complicated, this? I mean, is there some barrier to service provider feedback currently that needs to be addressed?
3473 MR. ELLIOTT: It would just formalize the process.
3474 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Okay, thanks.
3475 I just want to make sure I understand your positions regarding the difference between -- I think they’re subtle, but maybe not, between awareness and promotion, because you’re clear that you don’t like the word promotion of CCTS, but you’re -- you seem kind of comfortable with awareness, right? Like, you’re happy to put it on your sites and that sort of stuff.
3476 So maybe you could just unpack that a little bit in terms of you want to make sure people are aware, but how do they become aware without promotion?
3477 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure. Well, of course we want them to be aware, but our main objective is to be able to solve the problem ourselves first.
3478 So what we’re worried about is with the promotion of the CCTS, that people, as opposed to coming to us first, would go directly to the CCTS, and not only does that waste the time and resources of the CCTS, we’d argue that it also wastes time of the consumer.
3479 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But isn’t -- just to be the devil’s advocate, doesn’t awareness of that being an option empower the consumer? You know, if they’re -- if we were in dispute about something, I could in the background say -- you know, if you guys can’t satisfy me, I’m going to take it to CCTS or something like that. And if I don’t know that, am I then less well equipped as a consumer than I might otherwise be?
3480 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure. I can see where you’re going with this.
3481 In terms of Shaw, we take a number of measures to ensure that actually our customers are aware of the process. We have our customer advocacy page where they can see the steps to take internally within Shaw. After the second time it gets raised, second stage, we make them aware of the CCTS quarterly on our bills. There’s awareness published that there’s CCTS.
3482 We’re just worried about promotion going, again, to the point where people are going to the CCTS first before we may even be aware that there’s a problem.
3483 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yeah, okay. That’s understandable. I think that makes it a bit more clear.
3484 Are you comfortable with -- there’s --sorry, I just want to check here -- I think it’s paragraph 39 I’m going to. Yes, you make a -- you’re proposing that a definition be added to the CCTS Procedural Code for TVSP. The wording’s clear.
3485 So other than that, are you comfortable with the CCTS Procedural Code as it is?
3486 MR. SHAIKH: There are no concerns around the TV Service Provider Procedural Code, the CCTS Procedural Code. On this, though, we took note of the CCTS position that our proposed definition could cause some confusion about whether certain exempt undertakings are captured, including new BDU undertakings, and we agreed that those are not the types of undertakings that should be captured. So actually we’d be, I think in light of that, more comfortable with the definition that’s in the draft TV Service Provider Code than this definition.
3487 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thanks.
3488 Maybe we can just also just go back to your interactions with customers. So typically, how does that work? How many interactions would you have with somebody who phoned up with a complaint?
3489 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: I think that you’re referring to the levels of complaint resolution that we have within the company. Am I correct in assuming that?
3490 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Typically, yeah.
3491 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Typically?
3492 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Like you would -- there’s the entry level, right?
3493 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: M’hm.
3494 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What I’m trying to get a sense of, how much gets resolved on a first call? How much gets -- then goes to a second call? What does the pyramid kind of look like in terms of that and how many of those end up at CCTS?
3495 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Sure.
3496 What I can say is that we empower our frontlines to effectively resolve a customer issue so that it’s quickly and effective from a customer’s perspective.
3497 I can personally attest, because I’m quite fortunate that I have the opportunity to talk to our customers on a fairly regular basis, that that is what their objective usually is, is to get their issue resolved quickly. So I can say that that happens in the majority of cases.
3498 There are a minority that then do get escalated further to the second level through our Advocacy Program. That’s our dedicated customer experience resolution experts. And then from there there’s an even smaller minority that go to the CCTS. I know that the number of complaints related to Shaw was less than 1 percent of the total complaints that the CCTS received last year. To me, that says a lot to the fact that our processes internally are working, that we are resolving a lot of the complaints. Whether they’re coming through our online forums, through our customer care centres or even just letters that are coming through to our executive team as well, we endeavor to, as I said, resolve these issues for our customers in a very expeditious manner.
3499 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. You said less than 1 percent?
3500 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Less than 1 percent of the total CCTS.
3501 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Less than 1 percent of CCTS’s ---
3502 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: We were .85.
3503 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- dealings are with Shaw customers?
3504 MR. ELLIOTT: We had 95 complaints according to the annual report.
3505 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In 2014?
3506 MR. ELLIOTT: The 2013-2014 annual report, yes, that’s correct.
3507 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Yes.
3508 MR. ELLIOTT: Unfortunately or fortunately, we did not make the top 10 list.
3509 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes, well, there’s all kinds of ways to measure success, I guess.
3510 Now, you support the current system wherein participation of small TSPs is only triggered when a valid complaint is filed. We’ve heard mixed views on that process, and I’d like to get your point of view on why you maintain that the current system is the best system?
3511 MR. ELLIOTT: Yes, just a minor clarification based on our opening comments. We do think it should be mandatory for everyone.
3512 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That’s what I was -- mandatory for everyone or mandatory -- mandatory when triggered or ---
3513 MR. ELLIOTT: Mandatory for everyone. After hearing ---
3514 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So no trigger?
3515 MR. ELLIOTT: No trigger.
3516 After hearing the CCTS talking about the delay in getting people on board into that process, that unfortunately hurts the consumer. So it’s better to have everyone right from the start.
3517 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And did you weigh the impact on the smaller TSPs of that or was that -- that would not be your concern, I take it?
3518 MR. ELLIOTT: Yeah, we don’t spend much time worrying about that, no.
3519 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thanks.
3520 The same for TVSPs, for independent TVSPs?
3521 MR. ELLIOTT: Correct.
3522 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So okay, the Code applies -- both codes or participation applies to everyone, in your view?
3523 MR. ELLIOTT: That’s correct. Even for the smaller ones, you know, maybe not everyone has the opportunity to go to the corner store to talk to the person that’s providing the service.
3524 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Do you think the Commission should play a stronger role in enforcement of participatory obligations such as awareness/promotion or whatever like that?
3525 MR. ELLIOTT: To be honest, we haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this. We’re very proud of our record and we think we’ve got very good dealings with the CCTS. In terms of how other service providers may or may not be living up to the commitments that they make, we’d be supportive of efforts that would let the -- that the CCTS might recommend or the CRTC might recommend to bring them in line. I would advocate to some of our customers that when you go to a quality service provider you get what you pay for. So you make trade-offs for getting certain services.
3526 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What’s the impact of a poor service provider on the reputation of the industry? You’ve talked about -- you talked a little about that -- well, a little bit that mentioned that the funding formula should probably go more heavily towards -- heavier burdens should be placed on those who are placing the heaviest burden on the system.
3527 But I’m also curious to known within that -- apart from the mathematics of it, I understand that, but maybe you could be specific about what sort of percentage you think it should be. Should it be -- the funding formula, should it be 50/50?
3528 MR. ELLIOTT: About 50/50.
3529 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: 50/50?
3530 MR. ELLIOTT: Well, if we had our druthers, we would say 100 percent of those who violate it, but we also understand there might be structural issues in terms of funding the CCTS if we went to that model. So in order to be a good cooperate citizen in this area, because, like you say, we all get tarnished if something bad happens, which we want to prevent, we also want to ensure there’s a robust system in there where consumers feel that they can go to another place if they’re not getting service from us. So I think that’s an equitable and reasonable compromise, a 50/50 funding formula.
3531 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. In terms of the promotion again, too, I was going to ask are you therefore opposed to the CCTS’s efforts to enhance its presence online? Because I’m still struggling a little bit with the difference between having presence and promotion.
3532 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure.
3533 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And I think what you’re saying -- well, you explain it to me again because it’s a fine line there, right?
3534 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure. It’s a very fine line.
3535 No, we wouldn’t object at all to increase social media. That’s a new method of communications for a certain segmentation of the population, so we would have no objections to that at all.
3536 I think where we worry about is being required to do more promotion on our basis. It’s a very fine line. You do want customers to be aware of it, but at Shaw we want the opportunity to resolve the problem first.
3537 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
3538 MR. ELLIOTT: We don’t want to see the CCTS, to be honest.
3539 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You don’t want your customers to be redirected from you to the CCTS as a first alternative, but you don’t mind the CCTS enhancing its presence or its profile or its awareness ---
3540 MR. ELLIOTT: Correct.
3541 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- provided it’s still saying “We’re the last resort, not the first resort”?
3542 MR. ELLIOTT: Correct.
3543 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Is there anything you think should be added or deleted from the category of complaints that the CCTS covers?
3544 MR. ELLIOTT: No, we would agree with the CCTS as it stands. It’s fairly encompassing.
3545 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Are you comfortable with CCTS interpreting codes of conduct or not?
3546 MR. ELLIOTT: There’s -- I’ve heard a lot of the testimony in terms of people being concerned with interpretation over and above what the Code says, and I think a reasonable person would say there has to be some sort of interpretation of what’s there. Otherwise, you can’t make a decision.
3547 So in terms of the corollary to that, in anticipation of the next question, I think they have to have the flexibility to interpret what’s there to make a fair decision, but if a service provider was not agreeable to what was being done and believed that they were going above and beyond interpreting or creating new policies, I think there’s avenues for us that we could pursue that don’t penalize the consumer in terms of coming back directly to the CRTC through a Part I or another proceeding.
3548 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thanks.
3549 What is your view on TekSavvy’s proposal that the CCTS should report on complaints about resellers that inevitably involve the reseller laying blame on the wholesaler?
3550 MR. COWLING: I’ll take that one.
3551 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
3552 MR. COWLING: The issue here is that you want to have some accountability between the service provider and the customer. I think that’s a fundamental principle underlying the whole regime. That’s what the CCTS Procedural Code encourages.
3553 So we’d want that in the wholesale -- in the case of resellers who rely on wholesale network services as well.
3554 If you start bringing wholesale services into the scope of the CCTS you’re really putting the CCTS and the consumer in the middle of a dispute between a wholesaler and a reseller. We don’t think that’s consumer-friendly and we think it’s outside the proper scope of the CCTS.
3555 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
3556 Are there any modifications you would suggest or you think are required to make CCTS’ structure more efficient or effective?
3557 MR. ELLIOTT: No.
3558 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No? Okay.
3559 I really enjoy talking to Westerners sometimes because everything is very clear and brief.
3560 It was suggested yesterday and previously that it -- information about the CCST should be placed on accessibility pages. Do you have a view on that?
3561 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Our website, shaw.ca, is 100 percent accessible. So all of our advocacy information, same search terms, whether it’s complaint, feedback, issue, problem, is all designed to be accessible as well. So we feel as though there’s parity already there.
3562 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So there’s accessibility on every ---
3563 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Yes, our entire website is accessible and compliant.
3564 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. That pretty much covers that.
3565 And PIAC suggested -- PIAC and associates suggests the compensation cap should be raised from 5,000 to 25,000 and I wanted to get your view on that?
3566 MR. ELLIOTT: Yeah, I think there’s a little bit of a misnomer about the compensation cap because if there’s fees or issues that go above that $5,000 cap, those get covered, and we think the $5,000 limit is punitive and the record shows that very few actually get to that stage. So I think there’s confusion that once you hit the $5,000, that’s it, even though it might be a $10,000, $15,000 issue in terms of billing, who knows. So we would be in favour of keeping the cap as it is. Anything greater would be overly punitive.
3567 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
3568 Well, they argue that if the cap was higher it would motivate the companies more vigorously to settle and that the smaller cap, their view was that it sort of encourages people to be less flexible in the settling of a dispute.
3569 MR. ELLIOTT: The threat to brand reputation is far more valuable than $5,000, $10,000, $25,000.
3570 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That’s interesting.
3571 How big an impact would -- do those decisions have on your reputation? Like how much of a marketing edge is, these days, customer service?
3572 MR. ELLIOTT: For us at Shaw, everyone gives lip service that’s critical, but it is in this highly competitive nature. We’re in a transformative stage in terms of where the industry as a whole is going from telecommunications to broadcasting. There is a tonne of choice out there. So brand and the brand experience is becoming more and more valuable and critical in terms of being able to sell your service.
3573 In terms of a marketing tool, we don’t tend to focus on the shortcomings of our competitors. We choose to focus on the benefits of being a customer of ours. So in terms of marketing we don’t use that.
3574 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But it’s branding in terms of promoting your -- we are good -- in promoting the love you have for your customers?
3575 MR. ELLIOTT: That’s right. Word of mouth is far more valuable than a commercial.
3576 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. All right, gotcha.
3577 Should CCTS remedies include requiring providers to contact credit agencies to mitigate any harm to their credit rating that might have occurred from having a dispute?
3578 MR. ELLIOTT: I can't speak for other service providers, but at Shaw we do that already. If it’s something that we’ve done and we’re at fault, we correct the record.
3579 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you. And lastly, do you think there are any metrics we should put in place at this stage against which we could measure CCTS when it comes up for its next review?
3580 MR. ELLIOTT: Other than the metrics that we mentioned in our submission in terms of being able to provide feedback to the CCTS itself in a more formalized way and sharing of data with us too as well, we would love to see some of the metrics that the CCTS already collects in its annual report.
3581 It said none of the companies were in compliance with the requirements and we don’t know if that’s true or not, because we’ve never been told and the information has never been shared with us, we’ve never had the opportunity to provide feedback. So it’s a -- it’s a claim made in isolation without any chance to exchange information.
3582 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, those are my questions. Thank you for the efficiency and clarity of your answers.
3583 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
3584 Commissioner Simpson.
3585 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
3586 Because of your footprint of your organization, you perhaps more than others are having to deal with multiple language situations. I know in your call centre your prowess at being able to engage customers and potential customers in something like a couple of dozen languages, and if they're from Cochrane you also speak cowboy.
3587 But -- but in all seriousness, do you find -- how -- how does it work? Would you care to comment on how it works with respect to the bilingual nature of the mandate of CCTS in handling customers? And are there any limitations in their ability to be effective in helping some of your customers that are not of English or French abilities?
3588 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: M'hm. Absolutely, so as you mentioned, in our footprint we have several languages that we support, we have dedicated queues for Cantonese, for Punjab, for Mandarin, et cetera. And then for some of the smaller languages, what we find is we’ve developed an internal process through our contact centres where because the languages of the customers that we support also reflect the employees that we have within Shaw, we service our customers in this practically within the same footprint in which -- in which our customers reside. So we’re fortunate enough to be able to mirror a lot of those languages within our own operations.
3589 So we have a process internally in which we can access a lot of the third languages and use our own employees to service our customers, if that’s their preference. So it’s a very simple question that we can ask if -- if there’s a preference on language and then we can service them.
3590 MR. ELLIOTT: And in terms of quality of service or different languages for the CCTS, I would defer to them in terms of what they feel they need in terms to be able to deliver ---
3591 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: M'hm.
3592 MR. ELLIOTT: --- a good service.
3593 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But if I understand you correctly, what you do is on as need basis you pull over call centre individuals to help broker the conversation difficulties?
3594 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: Yes, that’s correct.
3595 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
3596 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: Outside of those main key languages that we support on a dedicated basis.
3597 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
3598 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Vennard.
3599 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning. In your oral presentation to us you say that -- and I’ll just -- I’ll just quote your very own words here:
3600 “But there are times when people feel more comfortable having a third party assist them. This is where the CCTS comes in in playing a complimentary and important function alongside Shaw’s own complaint resolution process.”
3601 We’ve heard from several people in the last couple of days that CCTS is basically viewed as a last resort when -- when it’s not possible to come to a resolution with the customer. But yet, this suggests that you maybe see CCTS a little bit differently. I’m just wondering if you could clarify that, maybe explain this and expand on it a bit.
3602 MR. ELLIOTT: Well I think our track record as a company stands for itself, 95 complaints, I think were tracking between 65 and 75 complaints this year. We think it’s a effective tool that we can share with our customers in saying, “We’re not the final arbitrary -- arbiter of your issue, you have another avenue to go for -- to go to.” So I don’t know if that clarifies, but ---
3603 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So you don’t really see the CCTS function as being alongside Shaw’s complaint resolution process?
3604 MR. ELLIOTT: No, we want to deal with the complaints ourselves.
3605 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, okay. So when you're saying “a third party assist them” do you -- I guess what I'm -- I’m wondering if -- do you see CCTS as being the last resort in that sense, or complimentary? Because ---
3606 MR. ELLIOTT: Complimentary.
3607 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- these -- these are -- what do you mean by “complimentary” then? I -- these are -- these are your words, so ---
3608 MR. SHAIHK: So certainly what we mean there is at the second level of escalation the customer would be made aware of the CCTS as a potential avenue, and it’s in those instances where they may find that it’s easier to have their complaint assisted and resolved by the CCTS.
3609 To be clear though, the complaint should in the first instance be resolved by Shaw, that’s our view.
3610 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3611 MR. SHAIHK: And that’s what we’ve heard from other service providers, that the CCTS should be there as a last resort. It’s a statement that we agree with.
3612 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you. That’s all.
3613 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe those are all our questions, so thank you very much for your -- your efficiency and your participation.
3614 MR. ELLIOTT: Thank you very much.
3615 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
3616 So we will adjourn for the lunch break until 1:15 and then we’ll hear from TekSavvy. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 11:55 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 1:15 p.m.
3617 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre, s’il vous plait.
3618 Alors Madame la secrétaire.
3619 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of TekSavvy Solutions. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes.
3620 MR. ABRAMSON: Thank you. Mélanie.
3621 MS. HOWARD: Thank you. My name is Mélanie Howard, I am TekSavvy Senior Sales and Service Leader for Gatineau. That means that for our Gatineau operations I head our frontline agent teams and our next level customer account management groups.
3622 I try to make sure that our agents are empowered and that our escalations teams act as our consumers’ advocates. We advocate for consumers internally, and we advocate for consumers with the wholesale network access providers who deliver installation and repair services directly to our customers’ houses.
3623 MR. HEDDEN: My name is Matthew Hedden, I am TekSavvy’s Customer Experience Management, we call that CM Leader. That means I have the team that handles TekSavvy’s second level of escalations, it’s why I'm engaged on two sides of the fence. I engage resolving issues so that they never get to the CCTS, and I am engaged in resolving CCTS complaints whenever we receive them.
3624 TekSavvy’s tag line is different in a good way. Our model talks about treating people as we would want to be treated, fairly, honestly, with respect and consideration. Part of my job is stepping in to make sure that that's what we -- what happens.
3625 MS. LO: My name is Janet Lo, I am Director, Consumer Agreements at TekSavvy. I am the legal and regulatory team’s point of contact for all things consumer. I work closely with Mélanie and Matt and our colleagues in trying to build an environment that is consumer friendly, take makes sense and that meets not just our legal and regulatory obligations, but the consumer policy objectives that you have set out.
3626 MR. ABRAMSON: My name is Bram Abramson, I act as Chief, Legal and Regulatory Officer for TekSavvy.
3627 I apologize; I’m going to go over some new ground -- old ground because I know there’s some new faces.
3628 I know that some of you are familiar with TekSavvy, but for those who aren’t, we’re an independent internet invoice provider based in Chatham, Ontario, where we have about 80 percent of our workforce -- Chatham is about halfway between Windsor and London for those who don’t know it -- and here in Gatineau where most of the remaining 20 percent are based just on Montcalm Street.
3629 In terms of how TekSavvy relates to the CCTS in a way that might be a little bit different than some of the other service providers who have been before you, I think there are two related things that’s important to know about TekSavvy out of the gates.
3630 First and I guess most obviously, network access facilities.
3631 Now, we’ve been glad to deploy fixed wireless network access in a growing portion of southwestern Ontario, our historic and home base, in places that aren’t well-served by other broadband access facilities.
3632 We’ve also been glad to become affiliated so it’s a common ownership structure with Hastings Cablevision, a traditional analog BDU or TVSP in Madoc, Eastern Ontario just due north of Bellville where we’ve upgraded the old network access plant and have been steadily engaged in a series of further upgrades.
3633 But most of our customers are not provision over fixed wireless network access nor over a cell phoned incumbent cable plan. Most of them are served over wholesale network access. Wholesale network access service is made available under tariffed arrangements because it is an essential service that isn’t practical or feasible to duplicate and if no longer mandated would squeeze out the competition.
3634 What this means, though, is that when a consumer signs up for service with us it is a Bell, or Rogers, or Shaw, or Telus, or Videotron technician that either shows up to do the installation, or doesn’t, during the appointed window which has long been scheduled in advance. By definition, that tariffed service is not one that we have freely negotiated but one that has been mandated so we don’t have a lot of bargaining power.
3635 That colours our experience and our customers’ experience of the CCTS, because a big part of our CCTS complaints is driven by consumers who are frustrated at experiences controlled entirely by incumbents.
3636 Second thing, I guess, which is almost a corollary that’s worth taking in in terms of how we relate to the CCTS in this hearing, we’re also a buyer -- sorry -- we’re also a -- well, we are a buyer but we’re also a seller of wholesale services. We enable smaller ISP’s who want a simple way to access the same wholesale network access that we buy in large quantities and want to access our backbone and other network elements that are more under our control as well.
3637 That is a business we hope and expect will grow as we move to a disaggregated wholesale network access environment. That matters because it means that when we talk about the CCTS’ role, vis-à-vis wholesale services, we’re thinking about that part of our business too. It goes both ways and we’re more than willing to eat our dog food.
3638 More broadly, though, the CCTS is a big deal for us. We know that he CCTS’ core mandate has two overlapping pieces. It is to provide independent, impartial, timely, efficient and informal resolution of complaints, and it is to administer consumer Codes that the Commission has signed off on.
3639 We know that to fulfil those overlapping pieces of its core mandate there’s an outer circle of related activities in which the CCTS must also engage, like transparency, like outreach and like many of the things that we’ve discussed during this proceeding.
3640 Earlier this week we read a blog posting by one of the CCTS’ Board members entitled “Access to Justice for Consumers of Telecommunication Services”. It talked about how the CCTS can and perhaps does act as our industry’s piece of the solution to Canada’s what was described there as access to justice crisis.
3641 As a lawyer I admit that buying legal services can be expensive.
3642 Our remarks this morning, though, are made partly in that spirit with respect to access to justice.
3643 MS. HOWARD: You’ve heard from some of the incumbent providers during this hearing about the mountains that they’re trying to move to try and win back consumer trust. We’re not here to cheerlead or to puff our own chests, and we have a lot of work to do too. We’re working to constantly modernize and automate our approach so that no customer gets lost, so that no customer falls between the cracks, and we work as efficiently as we can to do it.
3644 That’s because we’re something of a paradox. On one hand trust is the currency on which TekSavvy’s business is built. Our agents and associates are important and they’re empowered to work directly with the consumer.
3645 We’ve never been an incumbent. We can’t rely on customer inertia or on winning someone’s business just because we bundle it with the underlying physical last mile. We have only ever won customers by out-hustling, by out-performing and out-servicing the incumbents. We’ve always worked to move mountains. But that’s a thin margin business. Inertia’s cheap. Moving mountains and winning customer trust is expensive but it’s all we do.
3646 Automation is how we try and resolve that paradox. Our analysts and software developers and our programmers they work really hard to make us as efficient as we can possibly be to beat our competition and win consumer trust, and we absolutely have to be tech savvy about it, and that means a significant investment in research and development.
3647 Our secret sauce, it’s pretty simple. Being tech savvy just isn’t enough. We also have to do the right thing.
3648 Earlier I talked about acting as customer advocates, and that runs all the way through our organization. We document every call, we audit performance constantly, and we try to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
3649 MR. HEDDEN: Being part of a smaller, leaner organization where we can pick up the phone, document processes and get things changed quickly is one thing that lets us do that. So does constantly being in touch with our customers.
3650 We are lucky because our customers are some of the most demanding in the country. In many cases they have come to us because they aren’t satisfied with what they’ve seen from incumbent and they are looking for more. They are on social media. They are on the phones. They expect us to get what they are saying and respond to it in a way that makes sense to them.
3651 My team takes care of the second level of escalation. We see the customers who aren’t happy. We sometimes joke that one of our biggest challenges is to spot and engage those customers on social media before our CEO does.
3652 But in a way that’s not a joke. Customers don’t care and don’t want to care about what the right window is to take their complaint to. From the CEO on down if they can make noise and find someone who cares and get resolution they will take it.
3653 Melanie talked about our agents do a role as consumer advocates. They advocate for our customers within the company but they also advocate for our customers in dealing with wholesale network access providers who deliver installation, repair services directly to our end users.
3654 I can tell you that most frequent and the trickiest of the most frustrating issues I deal with on either side of the CCTS fence relates to retail experiences that are wholly within someone else’s control and that we have very few levers to fix. Customers don’t care who’s responsible they just want a single window.
3655 MR. ABRAMSON: I’m going to talk a little bit about that single window and the CCTS’ role in providing it as a means to provide impartial, timely, efficient and informal resolution of complaints; in other words, to do its job.
3656 Retail internet access falls under the CCTS’ jurisdiction because it is a forborne service. Retail internet access is forborne, I’d argue, because wholesale high speed access is not. Wholesale high speed access is not forborne because so far there is not a sustainable competitive market for it.
3657 What this means is that we have competition at the retail level for internet services in part as the result of a mandated wholesale input. That wholesale input includes the wholesale network access provider’s provision of installation and repair services and maintenance of their network.
3658 Some of these are services that they provide directly to retail customers. Others are services into which only they have visibility. Wholesale network access providers store the personal information of our retail customers. On some occasions they have marketed their own retail services by accessing the personal information of another retailer, that’s to say our customers.
3659 TekSavvy acts vigorously as our customers’ consumer advocate through all levels of the retail experience, or at least we try, but portions of that retail experience are in someone else’s hands.
3660 When CRTC staff investigate consumer complaints within their jurisdiction, such as an internet traffic management practices complaint, they have not hesitated to investigate such as by way of simultaneous letter with both us as the retail provider to our end users and the incumbent whose customer we are as the provider of the tariff network access service that we resell as an input into the overall service that we provide.
3661 That makes sense. It lets investigators have all of the facts to try and see where the problem lies and even in certain cases try and resolve it.
3662 We’ve proposed that with respect to fact gathering at least, the CCTS do exactly the same thing. In particular, we’ve proposed and we’re asking this Commission to endorse a very -- what we view a simple change to Section 6.12 of the CCTS Procedural Code that would allow the CCTS to require a third-party participating service provider to promptly provide any information or document relevant to the complaint before the CCTS.
3663 Mr. Chair, Mr. Vice-Chair, Commissioners, that is how your staff does it and it is also how, from what we understand, the Australian telecommunications industry ombudsman does it. The reason it makes sense is because it would allow complaints to be resolved more efficiently and more timely. It would also resolve more complaints even if the CCTS did not act against the wholesale provider that is directly providing that retail service to the end user. And we’re not suggesting that they should so act.
3664 But right now, many of our customers believe the CCTS is largely useless because it does not provide timely resolution to a Rogers or Bell or Shaw or TELUS or Videotron installer’s failure to show up.
3665 Yes, they also believe that CRTC should evolve its rules that when a wholesale provider’s installer doesn’t show up to the end user’s home, that if off side and there is recourse, or that when a wholesale provider is able to give next-day installs to its affiliated retailer but only next month installs to other retailers, and the CRTC has already found this to be an essential service, that there’s got to be some kind of rule against that.
3666 But our customers also believe that the CCTS should serve as a place to provide timely and informal resolution of these fundamentally retail consumer detailed service delivery issues that cannot always be mapped out to the 9th decimal place in a tariff. That is part of the CCTS’ first core mandate, to act, respectfully in our view, as a gap filler.
3667 And with the same respect, we’d put it to you that maybe those consumers are right.
3668 MS. LO: Commission, we have taken a clear position. We think that the CCTS’ scope should not be unduly narrow, but that doesn’t mean that the CCTS should look into whatever it feels like without structuring its discretion.
3669 First, the Commission has already set out a test to distinguish policy from dispute resolution matters, and there is no reason not to apply that test here.
3670 Second, the CCTS does track what its out-of-scope complaints relate to and the CRTC has the opportunity to review that from time to time. That is why you are now putting BDUs or TVSPs into the CCTS’s scope and we imagine seeing it renamed the CCCS. We understand that was the biggest out-of-scope complaint area and it’s now being brought into scope.
3671 Third, as a practical matter, there are many issues that get swept in as a practical way of resolving consumer complaints in a timely, efficient and informal manner. Here’s an example. A while ago, a major cable carrier issued us a directive that certain kinds of modems would no longer be allowed on their network. With the stroke of a pen they made a whole bunch of consumer equipment obsolete. We had to tell the same to our customers and handle it in a pro-consumer way. Some consumers disagreed with how we handled it. Of those, some went to the CCTS. The CCTS accepted those complaints which related to hardware. We did not object. We worked and we want to work hard to resolve these issues.
3672 MR. ABRAMSON: Finally, in terms of scope and scoping, the CCTS can do a lot to help itself in defining its scope by being even more transparent. It can start doing more on the position statements front. The Australian TIO is an excellent example. We recognize that there’s a bunch of work there. However, there are also some simple quick wins that the CCTS can find immediately. It can start publishing its decision in well-defined plain text so that they can be pulled into third-party sites like CanLII which, for those who don’t know it, is a leading Canadian site in the, I guess, access to law movement worldwide. But is also able to exist because stuff is in regular well-defined formats and they don’t need to ask permission. It’s simply there.
3673 In the same way, the CCTS can start releasing its information in a spreadsheet format or other well-defined formats, as we heard another intervener suggest in this proceeding, so that it can join the open data revolution. To borrow a MIM, I guess, that’s been circulating without partisanry, “It’s 2015.”
3674 Mr. Chair, Mr. Vice-Chair, Commissioners, staff, we focused in this presentation on the issues we haven’t heard as much about in this hearing. Of course, we’d have been just as happy to talk about why trigger membership is the right approach for all communications service providers or why direct reseller membership should certainly be mandatory, or any of the other issues we’ve heard about in this proceeding, but we’d urge you to give serious thought to the need for the CCTS to become more efficient and more credible by including third-party participating service providers in its investigations just as your own staff already does.
3675 Thank you.
3676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. It’s good to see new faces and familiar faces and familiar faces in new roles. So welcome to the hearing.
3677 Commissioner Vennard will start us off.
3678 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Well, good afternoon. I’m a new face up here myself, so welcome to all of you.
3679 MR. ABRAMSON: Welcome.
3680 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Your intervention was very interesting, and I think we’ll have a fairly interesting discussion on many of the points. It’s creative and was very interesting to read.
3681 But right now -- well, in your intervention you proposed a number of changes in particular to the mandate of CCTS. So right now, what I’d like to do is just sort of for the benefit of everybody here, just get your viewpoints on participation just so that we can properly contextualize the various changes and expansions to the mandate. So if you could just make some comments on your participation? You commented on it in your submission.
3682 MR. ABRAMSON: Sure. I’ll start and I’m sure Janet will have some corrections.
3683 But, I mean, generally we think participation is important and a good idea. Right now, there’s a sort of trigger mechanism on the telecom side that’s been adopted. We think, on balance, that’s a good idea too. We recognize that there’s challenges with it. We don’t see the five-day trigger lag, if I can put it that way, as being realistic. We fully get, and from now being close -- working closely, I guess, with a very small BDU or TVSP, I guess I should say in this proceeding, in Madoc in Eastern Ontario, I mean, you know, turning on a dime within five days and changing any process is very difficult. Adopting the public awareness requirements -- or public awareness measures and so on, equally difficult. So a five-day turnaround is just hard.
3684 That said, looking at the way that the Commission has gone of late, which we think is the -- I mean, you know, there’s a lot of different things going on, but one of them I think has been about reducing the burden on smaller providers, making good use of exemption orders and so on, and setting out framework rules for people to follow rather than sort of trying an actively licensing them and sort of ensnaring them in what some may call red tape has been a welcome approach. We’ve grown and we’re no longer as small as we used to be, but we certainly have a lot of friendly competitors, if I can put it that way, who we’re happy to see in the marketplace and compete with who are much smaller than us and we know that it can be a real burden and, at the same time, that it’s also an incentive for those who know of the trigger mechanism to know that until someone actually files a complaint, until they haven’t resolved someone’s issue, they don’t yet have that requirement.
3685 So on the telecom side we think the trigger mechanism, on balance, makes sense, assuming there would be a massive administrative burden a) for the CCTS to have to register all the smaller providers in the country and then similarly, if you kind of multiply or added out all the little administrative burdens that each of those companies would have to go through, it would be very significant.
3686 On the TV side, yeah, we think, like everyone else, this makes sense. We’re happy to see TVSPs -- you know, there used to be, I guess, years ago the -- there’s so many acronyms dancing around that I know I’m going to get some of them wrong, but I guess it’s the Canadian Cable Television and then Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association, the CCTA, which had its subsidiary body sort of, the Cable Television Standards Council, or CTSC, which we spent some time and finally dug up the Code and we said we had better just append it to our submission now that we found it because everyone else is going to have to go through the same pain otherwise. And that made sense, and there was kind of a gap there. So we think it makes sense to -- I guess I’m talking a lot about gap filling, but to fill that gap as well and to have a body that consumers can go to.
3687 So, you know, some of my friends at the CCSA will no doubt shoot me for this, but I think it makes sense. There’s a huge administrative burden on smaller companies and that does have to be recognized.
3688 And so our suggested approach on the TV side is exactly the same trigger mechanism and treat companies as -- well, they are single entities. I mean, if you’re subject to the CCTS you’re subject to the CCTS or CCCS I guess we’re kind of noodling for and that’s whether it’s the telecom-related roles or the TV distribution related roles. And so if you’re already a member on the telecom side, then you’re affiliated TV operations should be subject and you shouldn’t be able to get out of it simply by having an affiliate held separately. So, for example, Hastings would have to join.
3689 On the other hand, if you’re not subject at all, then you shouldn’t be subject at all until there’s that first complaint because we think that from a red tape and an administrative burden standpoint, that too makes sense.
3690 So I don’t know if that sort of answers your question.
3691 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
3692 MR. ABRAMSON: But that’s a big piece of what we’re thinking about.
3693 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes it does. Just wanted to, as I say, sort of contextualize it within your larger submission.
3694 You also think that resellers should be subject to that same sort of trigger mechanism as well?
3695 MR. ABRAMSON: Yes.
3696 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now we get to sort of the -- the big changes.
3697 Given that your position on participation is that it should be very broad and very inclusive and so on, then we get to the point on the mandate expansion that you’ve suggested, that you’re suggesting would be useful.
3698 So let’s start by talking about some of these mandate expansions that you suggest. One of them is of course the categories of complaint. If you expand a mandate in a number of ways, then you might need different categories to put complaints that could potentially come about.
3699 So the big one here, as I see in your intervention, of course are those that involve wholesale disputes, so could you give us your position on that and how you would see an expanded mandate and what that would look like in terms of different complaint categories and so on, ultimately leading up to the changes that you suggest in the procedural code.
3700 MR. ABRAMSON: Sure.
3701 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
3702 MR. ABRAMSON: I mean that’s an interesting way of framing the question. Generally with respect to -- well let me start with, I guess, mandate expansion. I want to be careful.
3703 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
3704 MR. ABRAMSON: In our view, what we’ve proposed isn’t really a mandate expansion.
3705 I mean, we think the mandate is clear and we spoke to it a little bit in terms of -- and I don’t remember all six adjectives, but timely and informal and efficient and so on, dispute resolution for disputes by -- for disputes with consumers and small businesses, I guess, and then secondly to administer the codes.
3706 And I think that’s right. I think that’s what the CCTS ought to be doing, but I guess in our view, the way to acquit itself of that task in a way that will be more efficient and help resolves more consumer -- well help address, at least, more consumer complaints and perhaps in many cases indirectly lead to resolution would be to gathering all the facts.
3707 And we don’t think that the CCTS is in a position to gather all the fact, unless it gathers the facts from all the people who deliver services to end users.
3708 You know the example we gave is that when we’re dealing with a consumer driven complaint, with a CRTC staff investigator, typically we see two letters go out. One to us and one to the wholesale network access provider that is responsible for a portion of the service under a tariff and to us that makes sense.
3709 We don’t have a lot of visibility into what they do and this provides that visibility, not to us necessarily, but at least to the investigator.
3710 On the CCTS side, we think that the same approach would better equip the CCTS’s mandate and I suppose in the first of those two core mandates or core responsibilities that we talked about in the beginning of the presentation, you know, efficient dispute resolution.
3711 And that’s simply because some of the information doesn’t lie with us and we don’t fully have the answer.
3712 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How is that -- how is that process handled now? When your customer --
3713 MR. ABRAMSON: M'hm.
3714 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: -- as you say you have a certain sort of reliance on something that’s not really within your control.
3715 MR. ABRAMSON: Sure.
3716 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How does CCTS handle that particular situation now?
3717 MR. ABRAMSON: Let e sketch a broad response but I’ll also ask Matt and Melissa to --
3718 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
3719 MR. ABRAMSON: -- to step in to describe a little bit how it happens on the ground, especially with respect to the CCTS map, I guess.
3720 But generally my understanding is that the CCTS sort of says look, we can work with Tek Savvy and that’s about it and so, you know, Tek Savvy -- the installer didn’t show up on such and such date and this guy took the whole day off work to be there.
3721 And then he took a second day off work to be there and the installer again didn’t show up then a third time that happened again what are you going to do about it?
3722 And we say well first of all we’re, you know, we’re trying to work with the wholesale network access provider as closely as we can.
3723 But at the same time in the real world what ends up happening is we don’t have a lot of levers to negotiate with the wholesale network access provider, so we don’t get much, sort of, on the back end. We simply end up sort of compensating or paying out the customer, as often happens, and moving forward.
3724 But it’s, you know, when we talk about resolving the problems that we see so that, you know, stuff doesn’t recur this is not a problem that we’re able to resolve so it re-occurs all the time and it happens all the time and it’s one the areas of CCTS complaint that we see re-occur most frequently.
3725 There was a presentation, I guess, from TELUS and one of the folks there, Mr. Edora, was saying look if you look at the top 10 issues that the CCTS has none of them relate to the services provided by wholesalers to what he called re-sellers.
3726 You know, they’re all stuff that’s fully -- they’re all items that are fully within the control of the re-seller and that’s true when you look at the top 10 areas of complaints.
3727 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3728 MR. ABRAMSON: Of course, you know, companies who act -- companies who are either pure re-sellers or who work partly based on wholesale network access as we do, don’t generate a lot of complaints proportionality, because some of us do better, some of us do worse, but generally we don’t have a lot customers.
3729 If you look to the top 10 list from companies who do rely on that mode it would look very different and we talked a little bit about that in our submission in terms of what the largest source of our complaints are and by far they’re all things that are not within our control.
3730 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3731 So how is a complaint like that ultimately resolved then? It sort counts against you? You’d have to pay for it?
3732 MR. ABRAMSON: M'hm.
3733 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How do you handle that type of problem, because if it’s not something that’s within your control then you have limited recourse, I guess, to what you are able to do?
3734 MR. ABRAMSON: I mean I want to be careful, it’s not that we have no recourse but we have slow recourse; if I can put it that way.
3735 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, slow.
3736 MR. ABRAMSON: In our view there’s changes that ought to be considered carefully to the tariffs, to the regulatory framework surrounding it. And I know that the Commission has looked into these matters and has on its roadmap proceedings which we hope will in part address these matters or at least some of them.
3737 We don’t -- we don’t have a -- you know, we’ll see how that goes, I guess. We’re very interested in curious.
3738 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3739 MR. ABRAMSON: And hopefully over time that will eventually create general standards that will have to be met in delivery of wholesale services.
3740 So that’s one -- one thing that we do, is simply, I suppose, try and work on the regulatory front to scope out more of the consumer experience that arises as a result of wholesale services and include rules relating to that consumer experience right in the wholesale regime.
3741 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3742 MR. ABRAMSON: I guess on the other -- and, you know, so that’s one piece but another piece is simply to work directly with incumbents, which is tricky for a whole range of reasons.
3743 A, we don’t have a lot of bargaining power and it’s not clear to us that if they weren’t force to provide these services that they would wish to.
3744 You know, so when someone’s providing you a service they’d rather not, they may not always deliver it with the greatest of enthusiasm or assign to the group within the company that provides that service the most resources.
3745 But nonetheless we try and negotiate and find ways to ask them to do better or at least with those parts of the company that we’re allowed to talk to.
3746 The third lever, I guess, that we’re here to talk about today is the CCTS.
3747 And I must say that when we look at how complaints have been looked at at the CRTC in terms of simply saying yes there’s two providers that are involved in this, we’re just going to ask both of them what’s going on.
3748 To us that makes a lot of sense and therefore we really see the CCTS as having an opportunity to get things done and I don’t think it’s all that efficient to not ask the other provider and to end up having to go through the stages and have everyone unhappy and then repeat the process all over again.
3749 But to ask the other provider what’s going on and at least to have all the information at its fingertips and we’re not asking it to, you know, resolve a dispute between the parties, but at least when the customer -- when the consumer goes to the CCTS, that it will know that the CCTS has fully looked into the matter.
3750 That’s something that we think really would help.
3751 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: But it wouldn’t make a difference from the customer’s point of view though. They have the problem and they don’t really -- they don’t really care whose problem it is and why they have the problem. They just want the problem solved.
3752 So what really what you’re -- in your submission, you’re suggesting that the CCTS be able to go to a third party and get that information.
3753 But that would be an extra step and certainly in the -- in the sort of process that you’ve outlined that would seem to lengthen the -- the amount of time that it would take to -- I mean it would -- it might not count against you, but if -- here I’m looking at what -- .36 on your -- on your report there, where you’re -- you’re talking about doing that but -- so basically when you get -- when CCTS gets a complaint, then what you’re suggesting is that complaints that are due to wholesale services would take a detour and an extra step to -- because you’re not suggesting that they should have additional power to try and intervene or negotiate in what might be a problem between you and the wholesaler. But you’re saying essentially that it should come back to CRTC and then we get involved too.
3754 It seems to me that this would lengthen the process quite a lot. Would you like to comment on that?
3755 MR. ABRAMSON: Yeah, no, I’m happy to. So look, there’s a couple of stages in the process.
3756 I guess the big picture, the headline is no, we don’t think it would take longer than it currently does to resolve a consumer’s issue. What’s happening now is consumer’s issue doesn’t get looked at. It basically goes through a whole bunch of stages and then it gets dropped, and it’s wasted everyone’s time and cost us a little bit of money.
3757 But that’s not -- you know, I guess over time, that’s not sustainable but more importantly, in the short term, it’s just not been terribly helpful for anyone.
3758 In terms of the time that it would take to get there, look, conducting the investigation, I think, is instead of sending out one letter, you send out two letters. They’re both -- the material back is due on the same date from each. And that’s exactly how things are approached currently with CRTC staff.
3759 And so I guess our view is at least if we’re going to do an investigation, ask everyone who has the information and make findings based on a fuller set of information.
3760 Now, if you want to refer the matter to the CRTC, you know, that’s something that would certainly help.
3761 In our view, even before you get there, if somebody was pinged at an incumbent in the carrier services group, and they knew that there was an external body actually looking at what they’ve done -- and to be honest, they actually had to look into it, instead of, you know, 100 things happen in a day; here’s another one; it didn’t work out; no real sanctions, so we all move on. We think that we would likely see a lot of these things getting resolved simply as a result of the interest shown in it, without having ever to go to the CRTC.
3762 We really do believe that.
3763 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: But from the customer point of view, what if the wholesale provider to you is not quick and doesn’t respond in a timely matter? And there is the issue of the relationship between you and the wholesale provider, not just you and your retail customer. But there’s that piece there that’s really -- it’s a big piece. It’s a real big piece.
3764 And in what you suggested, that piece would be -- you know, getting the information is one thing. Having somebody like actually -- like sending out a letter is one thing. Having somebody actually respond to it and having it being interpreted, which could get into interpreting the terms of a contract, i.e. the contract between you and the wholesaler versus you and the retailer. So it’s adding another layer there. And it’s one potential way to solve a customer’s problem for sure, but in my mind it takes a lot of extra steps there. And meanwhile, the customer still doesn’t have their problem solved.
3765 MR. ABRAMSON: I do hear what you’re saying in terms of -- and especially I’m sympathetic to the view that this would create more work for CCTS investigators where perhaps, you know, part of the thing that they’d want to look into would be, okay, there was missed install. Is there any contractual obligation not to have a missed install? Like what happens? What’s the sanction?
3766 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
3767 MR. ABRAMSON: In the real world, I suspect that wouldn’t take too many investigations to clear up. What they’d learn would be that there’s ---
3768 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What would you ---
3769 MR. ABRAMSON: That perhaps that contractual exercise would be a relatively thin one and they wouldn’t have to spend very much time looking for what may not always be there.
3770 But that said, at the very least, we think that the investigator hopefully on the same timeline would have more information at their disposal. We wouldn’t need to see it any more than we see the information that currently goes to the CRTC staff investigator when they send out two letters at once and give both of them the same due date.
3771 It’s possible that the information wouldn’t come back in time to the investigator but our experience is that people tend to be relatively timely with this stuff and, of nothing else, having the extra five pages or whatever it is on the investigator’s desk may lead them to a different conclusion, even if they don’t spend a lot of time reviewing it.
3772 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What do you have as an agreement, as a contractual arrangement between yourself and your retailer and yourself and your wholesaler? Like that part there, would that not be a potential solution for solving a customer’s problem rather than diverting it over to either CCTS or back up to CRTC?
3773 MR. ABRAMSON: The contractual arrangement between us and our wholesaler network access provider would absolutely be an avenue for solving this. We don’t have a lot of bargaining power with respect to those contractual arrangements. The substantial part of those contractual arrangements are set out in a standard form contract -- that’s like a tariff.
3774 It’s possible that by changing the tariff and incorporating this sort of thing or incorporating some of the -- or incorporating new requirements that govern those who use the tariff, and that’s what’s done on the voice side with competitor quality of service metrics, which are not directly requirements but they’re sunlight measurement as to, you know, the number of -- well, there’s concrete and I guess financial penalties. So there’s that too.
3775 But either way, there’s -- you know there’s aggregate, I guess, metrics that you have to meet like a service level agreement.
3776 And yes, those things could also help in the long term. I guess the caution that we would have is we don’t think that we’ll ever get to a place where those things will completely satisfy the ability in a an uneven bargaining power kind of environment, where we can’t negotiate that agreement with the wholesale network access provider in a way that we’ll do all the things that we needed to, to cover off consumer issues that -- that see matters fall between the cracks, really.
3777 And there needs to be some sort of gap filler where we can say, “Look, nobody thought of this but it turns out that I don’t know…” in matter -- or Melanie maybe you’ll have some ideas.
3778 But there always seem to be new things that we haven’t thought of that arise that cause service to be delayed. And I have to say if everything is left in the basket of let’s do a long regulatory proceeding and eventually get to a place where we mandate rules around that too, we may just never get there.
3779 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
3780 One of the other -- in your view though if we were to entertain the idea of something like this in a decision for something like this, do you see that as changing things any for the CCTS? I mean changing their mandate in any way?
3781 MR. ABRAMSON: I don’t see it as changing their mandate. I do see it as likely adding to their workload a little bit because there would be some more complaints. How many complaints?
3782 Look, they get a whole bunch now on the one hand that they’re simply unable to resolve but have to go through the motions on. On the other hand, you know, I haven’t looked at the latest monitoring report, but our market share, I guess, of all companies that rely on wholesale network access providers is -- I don’t know, it’s got to be south of 15 percent. Maybe it’s still south of 10 percent. I’m not sure off the top of my head.
3783 But I don’t think that we’re talking about a major element in the marketplace. And I do, I guess, return to the idea that when Mr. Edora laid out or pointed out the top 10 list, they’re all issues that are within the control of every service provider, on aggregate. As I say, I think it looks very different when you look at a company like ours, but the fact is we just don’t move the needle overall. And so in terms of the vast bulk of things, I don’t expect that there would be a massive change in workload.
3784 There could be a change in workload at first, as these sorts of issues first come before the CCTS and are novel. What we hope and really do believe is that in the medium term, once that period of novelty wears off, it would result in a better customer experience for those consumers who choose competitors that do rely on wholesale network access.
3785 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So are you suggesting that a message would go out and people would start to fall in line and it would balance itself out at some point?
3786 MR. ABRAMSON: I do think that, you know, one of the hopes with any -- whether it’s an impartial ombuds body or an active consumer advocate, whatever the CCTS is, and it’s sometimes a little bit of both, I think the hope is that by having it around, people acting in the shadow of the CCTS will try and avoid a complaint ever getting there in the first place by correcting their behaviour and doing things in a more consumer-friendly. And we think that would apply here too.
3787 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. With respect to in- and out-of-scope issues, and we can see that all of these are quite inter-related. So I’m just throwing some of this stuff out there for you.
3788 With the in-scope and the out-of-scope, when you’re suggesting that things like equipment should be included, that would certainly have to expand maybe the operating environment for CCTS and probably the mandate in some sense too.
3789 You referred to basically things becoming fairly complex, as we’re moving into a new era and son on. I like the term that you came up with, fuzzy -- consumer complaints.
3790 MR. ABRAMSON: Yes.
3791 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Referring to bundles and packages and so on, where you can’t really tell what’s in scope and what’s out of scope and son on and so forth.
3792 Could you make some comments about that and about how your company, and also CCTS, should think about these types of things too; these fuzzy consumer complaints?
3793 MR. ABRAMSON: Sure. I’ll talk a little bit about that but this is something I know you’ve been thinking about Janet.
3794 You know, although generally I’ll say these things are already fuzzy. We deal with hardware related complaints not infrequently and we just, you know, we accept them and we -- I mean it’s an opportunity to resolve a complaint with a customer and we try and do that.
3795 We don’t -- I know you’ve heard some talk in this hearing about objecting to complaints just as a company it’s not something we do a lot. We figure if a consumer has a complaint, wherever it’s coming from, it’s worth dealing with and so, you know, hardware matters are something that we’ve seen and we’ve simply dealt with.
3796 Janet, do you want to speak more broadly to the context?
3797 MS. LO: Sure, I could speak on some of the equipment issues.
3798 From our point of view, it makes sense that the CCTS ought to consider equipment issues. We’ve noticed in the wireless code and in the TVSP code, there are a few provisions that deal with some of the customer disclosures that are required regarding equipment and CCTS we think is in a good place to have a look at those disclosures and see if the provider met those obligations.
3799 So it seems to make sense that where hardware is tied at the service and it’s not customer owned equipment that ought to fall within the CCTS’s mandate. It doesn’t seem like a large expansion.
3800 We’ve also discussed some of the fuzzy areas in our reply-comments. We understand the frustration of customers who are just looking for a dispute resolution. A place for their complaint to be heard and they don’t know where that place is.
3801 The CCTS is becoming more well-known. It could be a first stop. We have seen a few complains, actually, that have been deemed out of scope because of marketing, for example, that might be done by one of our wholesale network access providers.
3802 What we think the CCTS ought to at least have in those scenarios is perhaps a strategy for referral. Like they’re -- once a customer comes through the door, makes that phone call, fills out that form, if CCTS is not -- cannot take that complaint within scope, it ought to do something to help that customer find the right door.
3803 I don’t know, Bram, if you want to add to that?
3804 COMMISSINER VENNARD: What would you suggest that should be then?
3805 MS. LO: I think part of it is sort of being attuned to what other agencies are there. Potentially, referring back to the Commission if it is something that is within the Commission’s scope, referring to other agencies that can help and maybe providing some more tools or some insight, education, to customers to help them be more informed and more empowered to take on those complaints in other venues as well.
3806 Bram, did you want to add?
3807 MR. ABRAMSON: No, that’s good.
3808 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Okay.
3809 Now you basically, you know, when we’re -- when we talk about different issues and so on, you -- do you think you’re -- they’re going to run into a massively increased workload or different issues or the same issues when it comes to TVSPs?
3810 Thoughts on that one?
3811 MR. ABRAMSON: Different issues. I mean, look the TVSP code is being considered, I guess, in a separate proceeding and I think many of the issues it raises are quite different.
3812 One that I must say we’re very curious about is installation. Missed installs, you know, depending on the final decision may be part of that code and that wouldn’t be surprising. That’s the way it was in the old CTSC -- whatever their code was called. Now I’m just -- it’s exhausted by now.
3813 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Lots of acronyms, yes.
3814 MR. ABRAMSON: Yes but, you know, and so we think that they’re -- look, I would say that anyway, I guess, but I really do think that some of them start to coincide with the things that we’ve been talking about.
3815 Because the delivery of a physical service in a way that jives with some of the concerns that we -- that we have and so, yes, we see that its scope will likely expand anyway.
3816 We see that it will probably need an increased budget and more staff and we contribute proportionally. We’re not the major contributors, so I don’t know that it lies within our mouths so be all that complacent about it, although from our view it’s worth paying for.
3817 I mean, you know, we want -- we want consumers to have a good experience and, you know, somewhat selfishly we think that when there’s a market where consumers are well informed and are well represented and do have an easy place to go we tend to do better.
3818 So, you know, there’s a bit of a convenience of interest there but that said, yes I think it will be a fair bit more work. I think TV will raise a whole bunch of new issues substantively.
3819 I mean procedurally there’s a lot of synergies, there’s a lot of the portal and the website and then all the different tools and simply knowing how to talk to the public and son.
3820 As you guys know, Melanie and Matt, I mean that’s a huge part of the job. You know, actually dealing with the substance of someone’s complaint isn’t 100 percent of it by any means.
3821 And so there’s a fair bit of synergies there just in terms of knowing how to take consumer complaints and address them.
3822 So I don’t want to overstate it but in terms of the substance of it, yes, I think there will be a lot that’s new.
3823 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Yes. And that would clearly have to add some categories of complaints because some issues that aren’t currently covered but I guess that will happen as it happens.
3824 It does bring me around to the fact that that will -- brings up the whole idea of changes to the structure of CCTS. In your view is the structure adequate? Will it need to be changed?
3825 MR. ABRAMSON: We -- I’m going to confess we don’t have a lot of expertise in that area.
3826 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Okay.
3827 MR. ABRAMSON: We’re not -- and I hate to sound -- to echo what some others have said, but we don’t sit on the board. We’re not close to the governance of it.
3828 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Sure.
3829 MR. ABRAMSON: We simply deal with the CCTS as a body and interact with it as such and so far have had very positive interactions, but haven’t really kind of gotten into the governance piece of it.
3830 We read that part of the -- of the notice in soma. We read into some of the submissions and we -- we kind of said this is a little bit too inside baseball for us.
3831 COMMISSINER VENNARD: Yes. Fair enough, fair enough. No problem there.
3832 You propose some interesting changes to the funding model and, you know, maybe we should kind of look at some of that for a few moments.
3833 And in your -- in the funding model you’re basically proposing a fast track but I -- what I would characterise as a fast track where things are -- things are just put into two different tracks depending on whether or not there’s a pre-investigation stage.
3834 How can you have an investigation without a pre-investigation stage?
3835 MR. ABRAMSON: Well look, I mean, we -- part of it is just checking whether pre-investigation has already happened, but I mean in a lot of ways the pre-investigation stage has -- it’s hard to describe without sounding a little bit flip.
3836 But it’s what happens before the investigation and we’ve typically worked a fair bit before the CCTS initiates its investigation to try and resolve things with the customer.
3837 And look, it’s not -- this isn’t a life or death point for us. At the end of the day we’re happy to go through it but we kind of think things would get done more quickly and more efficiently.
3838 COMMISSINER VENNARD: M'hm.
3839 MR. ABRAMSON: Like -- there -- that seems to be a stage where we’re spinning our wheels a little bit.
3840 COMMISSINER VENNARD: M'hm.
3841 MR. ABRAMSON: And things tend to always be a foregone conclusion and so, you know, back to the kind of red tape discussion, that’s a part where at least in our experience and different companies may approach things differently, I don’t know, there isn’t a lot of value to that pre-investigation stage.
3842 Janet, do you want to comment?
3843 MS. LO: Yes I want to be a little bit careful. Some complaints come to the pre-investigation stage and that’s an opportunity for us to re-engage that customer and have a third look or -- if they’ve -- depends -- sometimes it depends how they get to CCTS. They may not have necessarily exhausted all of our internal escalations first.
3844 So the pre-investigation stage in those cases, are actually quite useful for us. I think the scenarios we’re considering here, is where a customer has exhausted our internal complaints, escalations processes.
3845 We’ve worked closely -- Matt’s team has worked very, very closely with that customer. We, in our view, have made our best possible offer internally and we know that they’re going to now go to CCTS and we’re not sure that we can do much more for that customer despite the pre-investigation stage.
3846 So what we’re really asking for here is a bypass straight to the investigation stage and in the event that the CCTS determines that what we offered was reasonable we would get a bit of a discount for that efficiency.
3847 COMMISSINER VENNARD: So would you pass your file over to them? Like how would you -- how do you see that going? Because I don’t see how they could get into anything that resembled an investigation unless they had information from somewhere.
3848 MS. LO: Right. So I suppose the CCTS would still conduct its investigation. It would -- the CCTS would still go through its intake process with that customer, and instead of sending it back to us for an opportunity to resolve at a pre-investigation, we would ask that it go straight to investigation, so bypassing it. In our view, it’s a mechanism to speed up resolution of the complaint.
3849 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And also, in your view, would it be to reduce duplication of work because you’ve already done it?
3850 MS. LO: For CCTS. It would mostly be to reduce -- in our view, if it saves the time for investigation, it also saves the time of the CCTS.
3851 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
3852 MS. LO: Because we’re pushing it right to investigation.
3853 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So then you’re suggesting also that there would be a discount in the amount that you were charged for that as well?
3854 MS. LO: That’s right. And we understand that the CCTS would still expense some time in the investigation. So certainly as a participating service provider, we would pay for that time. But what we were asking for is a discount because we sort of bypassed the pre-investigation stage.
3855 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
3856 MS. LO: And we think -- in case it wasn’t clear in our intervention, we were suggesting the discount would be available in the event that the CCTS found that our offer was indeed reasonable.
3857 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm.
3858 And in your intervention you -- in your submission you suggest that that should be -- you should be able to elect to do that if you want, that it should be an option for you?
3859 MS. LO: It’s an option, I think. Yes, it would be an option that we or any participating service provider ought to be able to take advantage of.
3860 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
3861 MR. ABRAMSON: And just to add, I guess, I assume -- I mean, the idea there is there would be an option because only we would know if we had already made our best offer to the -- it would be by way of saying to the CCTS, “Yeah, we’ve already heard this. We’ve already made a clear offer” and it’s to the customer to accept or reject, but we can’t do better at this point unless we discover more facts.
3862 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Would you think that should be extended to the customer as well? Do you think that they should have that same option?
3863 MR. ABRAMSON: So what would that look like? The option would be to ---
3864 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Bypass you.
3865 MR. ABRAMSON: Well, I mean, if they wished to accept the offer, then that’s great; we’re done, right? Yes, absolutely, the customer has that option, I think, and that option is to resolve the complaint by accepting our best offer.
3866 But I guess -- at the pre-investigation stage, I guess the point is there isn’t much investigation being done. And so it’s not as if we’re about to discover much more that will change the situation, and that’s why -- you know, we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten to. We’ve looked at it. We’ve made an offer and it’s to the customer to say, “Yes, that works” or “No, that doesn’t work.” We don’t need to go through a whole stage again and then say, “Okay, now does it work or not?” Well, nothing has happened yet.
3867 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: It seems like the complaint could get fairly complex and somewhat complicated if you, you know, start taking it apart like that. It could be as a result of wholesaler or it could be as a result of equipment, or it could be a many-component problem or issue that the customer has.
3868 MR. ABRAMSON: Yeah.
3869 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And in the end, they’re looking to you to solve the problem.
3870 MR. ABRAMSON: Which we’d like to. And that’s the point, is we’re trying to settle the problem. We’ve made an offer, and if the customer says, “I don’t accept your offer. I want the CCTS to help us resolve it instead.” Look, it’s not like we kind of hear them say, “Here’s the offer and now let’s move on.” I mean, clearly there’s a whole process involved, and we look into the facts and we talk a fair bit with the customer, and eventually we get to an offer, if that’s what makes sense.
3871 If the customer then says, “No, we need to do this at the CCTS” or “We need to resolve this a different way” then we’re at the pre-investigation stage. And if nothing new will happen yet, then the offer is not likely to change much.
3872 There’s other scenarios and, Janet, you’ve pointed them out, where -- and it’s a good point -- is where we haven’t done that, sort of not out of the blue, but we hear something from the CCTS and we haven’t exhausted -- you know, we haven’t gone through that full conversation. For whatever reason, they’ve just decided to go right away to the CCTS. Maybe they’re angry. Maybe they’re pressed for time, whatever it is. And those scenarios, the pre-investigation -- like, things may shift or move or something new may happen at the pre-investigation stage there because we haven’t had a chance to make that final offer.
3873 I don’t know, Matt, if there’s something you want to add in terms of how that plays out in actual fact maybe just to illustrate a little bit?
3874 MR. HEDDEN: So basically when they come in the frontline, we try to one-call resolution, and if it doesn’t make it on that initial call, we have another setup. Supervisors give them a call and try to justify or actually fix the issue they brought up.
3875 You know, we actually work very hard to try and resolve each individual complaint and ensure that those complaints do not happen again. Internally, we go as far as making sure our tools they had access to are readily available to ensure that the customer is actually happy and satisfied.
3876 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I’d like to talk a little bit about the proposed amendments to the Procedural Code. Do you want to tell us what’s most important about that from your point of view?
3877 MR. ABRAMSON: Yes. I mean, I guess what we tried to do there is boil it down to, you know, say like in actual practice, what would this look like? And this is, I guess, paragraph 40 of our initial intervention. And we kind of said, “Look, what’s the smallest, simplest change that could be made in order to enable this sort of investigation to take place so that the CCTS investigators really could have all the facts before them?
3878 And so we kind of read through the Procedural Code, and what we proposed in paragraph 40 is to add what’s -- I guess the text that we’ve underlined there, and it amounts to two phrases, one in paragraph a) and one in paragraph b) of that section 6.12. And I guess I’ll -- I don’t know if it’s helpful to read it out, but you know -- so:
3879 “In assessing whether a complaint is in scope and investigating or attempting to informally resolve a complaint, the Commissioner may a) require such assistance of the customer and the participating service provider…”
3880 And then we added:
3881 “…and any third-party service provider that is also a participating service provider, as the Commissioner considers reasonable and appropriate and b) request a participating service provider…”
3882 And then we added in parentheses for greater certainty:
3883 “…(including any third-party participating service provider) shall promptly provide, subject to the next Section 6.13, any information, document, including reliable copies thereof or other thing that is relevant to the complaint, whether or not such information, document or other thing is admissible as evidence in a court of law.”
3884 So basically whatever information is relevant. We’re not trying to do this according to the legal rules of evidence but simply trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened here.
3885 “The Commissioner may receive and rely upon any documents so provided.”
3886 And in our view, yeah, it would be absolutely helpful that the Commissioner and his staff have the ability to request relevant information from a third-party participating service provider.
3887 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M’hm. Which, from a conceptual point of view, is not maybe the same as the operational point of view in terms of the time to get it and the obligations that it puts somewhere else. That’s the diversion that I was talking about in the complaint process to put it out.
3888 And then you go on to say on the previous page you don’t really think that the CCTS should have additional powers to resolve this type of dispute. And there’s where the piece comes in between you and your wholesale provider, right? And there, it would have to divert out, as you’re suggesting here, divert out and over to CRTC to resolve that part of it, or maybe somewhere else. In my mind, it looked like you were thinking it would come over to us.
3889 Is that correct or did you have something else in mind?
3890 MR. ABRAMSON: I guess I’d want to speak to the idea that there’s a diversion. We don’t see that. We see the investigation as following the same timeline, but asking more people.
3891 Here in this paragraph 38, you know, that’s right, we wrote:
3892 “That does not mean granting to the CCTS’ successor…”
3893 Because we assume that perhaps it will become known as the CCCS.
3894 “…the power to resolve disputes between service providers. Such a power is not within the scope of this proceeding, nor under the CCTS, but there is no reason the CCTS couldn’t refer that issue to the Commission for determination.”
3895 So yeah, look, we don’t see every missed install as leading to a necessary dispute resolution between service providers. We think that once there’s the ability to look into these things, to document them, that itself will have sort of a salutary effect on the way this goes and we see that -- you know, yes, there may be things that, instead of simply getting stonewalled, get referred to the Commission. We don’t see that as taking more time than simply ending things there as now happens.
3896 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You’re really talking about -- what you’re really trying to get at here is, as I read what you have written and what you’re saying, some kind of mechanism to deal with that dispute between you and your wholesaler versus you and your retailer. That seems to be the missing piece there from what I read in your ---
3897 MR. ABRAMSON: I don’t know that I would agree. I mean, look, there is -- there is a missed install that ought to when -- let’s say it was a missed install, it’s just the easiest type of -- of, you know, retail service failure to focus on as an example -- so there yeah, perhaps there ought to be a dispute between us and the provider, because they didn’t give us the service that we’re paying for.
3898 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3899 MR. ABRAMSON: Or they provide it in a way that required the customer to be home -- the end user to be home a whole bunch of times ---
3900 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3901 MR. ABRAMSON: --- which is not the way it’s supposed to work. And you know, we ---
3902 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: It -- it seems to me like ---
3903 MR. ABRAMSON: --- we in theory could launch a dispute resolution each and every time with the Commission and ask Commission staff to mediate such -- such an event, which would be taxing on -- on Commission’s staff as well. Like I don’t know that that would be a better solution, but clearly it would a different one. It would focus more on the dispute between us and the seller of the service that we’re buying, as opposed to the failure of an installer to show up at a consumer’s house.
3904 What we’re saying here is that there's also been a failure of an installer to show up at a consumer’s house, and that ought to be looked at by a body that consumers have the ability to go to.
3905 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, because we -- we seem to keep circling back to the -- that relationship between you and your wholesaler and ---
3906 MR. ABRAMSON: Yeah.
3907 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- because -- because there's nothing you can do about that, because it’s not within your control whether or not -- whether or not they show up, you know, it -- as I understand your situation. But -- anyways, maybe perhaps one my colleagues has -- has something that they may want to add about that in further -- further questioning.
3908 I’d like to talk a little bit about the idea of the reporting and the transparency, okay. You suggested that there should be position statements from CCTS. That’s in your letter.
3909 MR. ABRAMSON: Yes.
3910 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You know, position statements being when they make decisions, when they -- you know, to publish -- to publish something. I’m wondering if you want to tell us more about that. It sort of fits in with your other proposals where you talk about publishing different decisions and so on, including in the standard text format that you’ve all already mentioned.
3911 MR. ABRAMSON: Yeah, I mean in our view the more insight into the general approach that -- that’s taken, the better. And the more complaints that’ll kind of stave off because people see and say, “Look, this is the standard we have to meet and there's no way getting around it.”
3912 The analogy I would make in the Canadian context I guess is -- is maybe the Office of the Privacy Commissioner which publishes quite a lot of material on its website as to the general approach it takes for I don’t know, data retention by a call centre, whatever it is. And that’s helpful because certainly as in-house legal and regulatory folks, we can take that and say, “Look, it’s not just about interpreting the general language of the law or the code or the rules, like --like here’s the specific guidance that they’ve given, here’s basically what we have to do or else it’s not going to work.”
3913 When we talk about as position statements, I guess we’re influenced by the -- the TIO, you know, the Australian Telecom ---
3914 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3915 MR. ABRAMSON: --- Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, you know, like when I go to their website they're -- they're constantly doing new ones. So you know, on February 3rd they put out another three I guess, one is called “Connection and Disconnection of Services”; one is called “Faulty Services or Equipment”; one is called “Responding to Consumers with Different Needs.” And for each one they’ve sort of set out a title of a position statement and they sort of explained what the scope of each position statement is.
3916 And then it sort of -- they’ve actually said, “These replace some of our earlier position statements.” And each one is a general overview of, “Look, here’s...” -- not so much the rules, it’s not like a code, but it’s “Here’s what we’ve seen and here’s how we’ve responded. Here’s the general approach that we take.”
3917 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3918 MR. ABRAMSON: We think that’s tremendously useful and it’s sort of a bit of a prophylactic approach I guess I would say to preventing complaints rather than only dealing with them. And that’s simply because there aren’t a lot of people in this country who have as much expertise at this point in dealing with -- with consumer complaints in that kind of way as -- as the CCTS staff.
3919 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I’d like to just talk a little bit about your -- your idea of the -- your ideas around the promotion and awareness that appear. And the way that I -- the way that I read your submission -- your intervention is that why the inclusion of the TVSPs, it seems to strike you as a good idea to utilize some of the -- their capabilities in order to make the public more aware of CCTS. Would that be a fair way to put it? And you offer some suggestions there.
3920 MR. ABRAMSON: Look, I think that one would always have to be mindful of the resources available to the TVSP, and I’m -- you know, I’ve had conversations with very small providers ---
3921 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3922 MR. ABRAMSON: --- who say, “Look, anything you ask us to do is going to be really hard unless you make it really easy.”
3923 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, yeah.
3924 MR. ABRAMSON: But for a company beyond a certain scale or whatever, a company maybe that’s big enough or that’s done something to be subject to the -- the CCTS, you know, look, you know, if I take Hastings as an example, it doesn’t -- it’s not a producer of program.
3925 Like if you were to say, “Make a PSA”, it would say, “Well, like hire some actors, like -- what -- how is this going to work?” But if we were to say, “Here’s a PSA, you have a community channel, please air it.” We could do that and that makes sense. Like we -- I know there's been a lot of discussion about the fine balance to be struck in terms of awareness of the CCTS ---
3926 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
3927 MR. ABRAMSON: --- and so on. And I dare say we’re not as fussed about that as some. I mean, you know, complaints will come in through the CCTS, they help us get better and that's not a bad thing. And so promoting awareness through the use of the existing avenues that TV service providers have available to them make sense to us. The only thing we’re worried about is sort of a bit of a scope creep or it’s just sort of assumed that “Well you're in the TV business, you know TV stuff.” And it’s like, “Well, we may not know as much as you think.”
3928 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, yeah. And you articulated some of your concerns on that. Would you see these public service announcements as -- as also including the TSPs or just for their own -- just the TVSPs?
3929 MR. ABRAMSON: I mean, you know, I think awareness breeds awareness. If you're telling people about the CCTS, I mean yeah, I don’t -- we haven’t much thought about this, but I don’t know that personally I see much value in saying, “Well, they can only talk about the TV aspect and not the telecom aspect.”
3930 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
3931 MR. ABRAMSON: I think it’s all fodder.
3932 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
3933 MR. ABRAMSON: And once -- especially once you're doing a PSA. And look, anyway, I mean, you know, you're doing an announcement, you know, kind of pushing people to the website of the CCTS, well they're going to see that the CCTS does other things. So it’ll be a very artificial constraint anyway. So at the end of the day I’d say we’re not too fussed about it, but you know, if there's announcements about the CCTS or the CCCS or whatever it’s to be called, you know, let them just say generally what that body does.
3934 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay, thank you very much, those are -- those are my questions.
3935 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
3936 Commissioner MacDonald.
3937 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you. Just very quickly, I’m looking at your website here and I'm going in to the assumption that you're dealing with multiple service providers just based on the speeds and the names of some of the different products that you’ve given them.
3938 MR. ABRAMSON: M'hm.
3939 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Is it also safe to assume that you're dealing with the larger facilities- base providers across the country in these jurisdictions? So certain services are tariffed and there's certain services that are not, and my thought is typically with these larger players. There's a retail arm and then there's a wholesale or carrier-to-carrier arm both in their own silos, never the two should meet.
3940 So you’ve talked about your lack of bargaining power in dealing in these situations, and is your view that you’ve got a lack of buying power in relation to the fact that these larger service providers would sooner own the relationship with the customer themselves, or is that in relation to your buying power relative to other companies that rely on their carrier services?
3941 MR. ABRAMSON: Our concern with, you know, to the extent you talk about a lack of bargaining power, that -- that is with respect to I suppose, you know, the competitor that I’m concerned with I suppose is indeed the retail -- the affiliated retailer of the wholesale seller. And I know that there are rules with respect to the firewalling of the carrier or, you know, the carrier services group. And certainly we -- we assume and believe that those help.
3942 But you know, it’s clear and I don’t think that there's any dispute that the standard of service that, you know, the retail arm of an incumbent receives is different than the standard of service that we receive as a retailer. And I, you know, I don’t think there's any question about it all.
3943 Now, that may be because the retailer -- I doubt -- like it doesn’t go through the carrier services group I don’t think, they're able to just sort of provision things directly and so there's a different route. And as a result, it’s not as if there's a carrier services group which is required to be blind as to whether it’s dealing with that incumbent’s retailer or us.
3944 The fact is there's the retailer which has full access to the full range of -- whether it’s troubleshooting tools, customer databases, whatever it is. And then there's a carrier services group which is assigned the resources that’s assigned and its job is to wholesale certain facilities.
3945 But those are different sources of supply and I don’t think that they’ve been held or held themselves to the same standard. I don’t know if there are rules saying that they have to all the time. Although I would probably argue that those rules are implied by the general duties that a telecom provider has.
3946 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Well, sort of on the topic of those rules, what I’m getting at is if you are dealing with the carrier arms of these providers you do have service level agreements in place with them?
3947 MR. ABRAMSON: For certain things we’ve been able to negotiate service level agreements, but it’s fairly rare. Certainly for wholesale network access no such thing exists.
3948 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. So in the situations where you do have service arrangements, as long as that provider hasn’t violated the service arrangement are you still advocating bringing in the CCTS if a complaint’s made?
3949 Like just to make something up that’s easy, say there’s a -- if you’re purchasing a service that the provider already has on net facilities in the building and they offer you a seven day timed install and they’re not meeting that obligation, would that be fair to bring the CCTS in versus if they are installing or they are -- they are living up to their service level agreements and should that be out of the scope of what the CCTS should look at?
3950 MR. ABRAMSON: Were there a seven day install requirement, even though that’s far behind what they’re able to meet themselves, when they talk about a next day or even a two-day requirement, but even a seven day requirement we would be thrilled.
3951 The fact is I just don’t know that the question arises, and I say that because I don’t know that there are any of these requirements on anything that we’re talking about that affects consumers in that way.
3952 The things that I’m thinking about I believe have some service level agreements attached to them are not consumer services.
3953 MR. ABRAMSON: Okay. Thanks. I was just sort of trying to figure out when and how the CCTS might be brought in to disputes with your service provider.
3954 MR. ABRAMSON: And in response I would say -- and I’ll return to that because I think it’s important. It’s a bit of a gap filler. I think that we absolutely do need to get to a world in which those kinds of service level agreements -- I mean, that’s competitor quality of service and that’s how it’s done in the voice world. I just think we’re not -- you know, the broadband competitor world is very rudimentary. We’re gradually kind of going up the ladder of this very complex system we’ve created for the voice world and it turns out voice is not the main thing anymore it’s broadband.
3955 So I’m thinking and hope that eventually we’ll get there but in the meantime companies and consumers are having a hard time and I think to some extent that will always be the case.
3956 In other words, I really do believe that we’ll always need a bit of a gap filler where if a consumer’s being treated in a way that they don’t like they have someone to go to who will fully investigate the matter and figure out why.
3957 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
3958 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just a couple of quick questions.
3959 Mr. Abramson, you’re a very good regulatory lawyer so you bring frontline people with you, and that’s excellent because it helps you answer questions that you don’t need to know into details, but it also provides us a very authentic opportunity to ask questions.
3960 So perhaps I’ll have one first for Ms. Howard. I get fully that your competitive advantage as a company is to ensure consumer focused services. But beyond that, what role does the fact your members of CCTS provide you a marketing advantage, if any?
3961 MS. HOWARD: A marketing advantage being a member of the CCTS. I think I would actually defer that to my colleague Matt. As a customer experience manager he ---
3962 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was going to ask him the same question in a moment.
3963 MS. HOWARD: Oh, okay.
3964 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe it doesn’t come into -- I was just wondering if it’s something when you’re trying to convince somebody to buy service from you is that something that you mention, you sell, you -- or perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps it only comes in. But Mr. Hedden will have a second to answer that in a sec.
3965 MS. HOWARD: Sure. In terms of the initial process of handling a customer at frontline level, we value, you know, the ability to go to the CCTS for assistance.
3966 However, at an agent level, while we empower agents to take ownership of the call and to manage the call, you know, to first caller resolution, that’s our ultimate goal to have a happy customer at the end of the call. If that’s not possible, then the agent will then escalate it to a senior support resolution associate.
3967 And at that point, you know, if within their authority they cannot handle the matter or approve a specific offer than they will escalate it to our third level escalation which is the CEM group or the customer experience management group who will then offer the CCTS as a last resort if we’re not able to reach an amicable resolution.
3968 MR. ABRAMSON: Just a small -- it’s our third level of contact which is the second level of escalation.
3969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, I translated it into ---
3970 MR. ABRAMSON: We were comparing it to floors and étages and ---
3971 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that’s always ---
3972 MS. LO: If I may add one -- it’s a good question. You’re asking at what point do we introduce customers to CCTS in our sales process.
3973 One thing we’ve done recently is each of our new customers that signs up for service receives an email from us confirming the service details of what they’ve ordered. What we’ve now done is added a line within that email that actually links to the CCTS and lets them know that if they have any complaints that body is there for them.
3974 So that’s something we do and go a little bit above and beyond our public awareness obligations.
3975 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So that was -- my question was before a dispute -- when they were still happy.
3976 Now, when they start -- so, Mr. Hedden, when they start to get grumpy, or unhappy, or unpleased how do you use the fact that they have the CCTS?
3977 I’m not questioning that you do what the various standards require you to do. But is it something that you actually say “Look, I’ve got a deal for you and I think it’s a good one, and if you don’t think it you have this as a resolution, but listen to me first I have something for you”? How do you use it in the real world?
3978 MR. HEDDEN: Yes, so basically they -- each customer that signs up, as Janet said, we let them know right away via the email. Other than that, you know, we try not to make our customers grumpy, as you could say.
3979 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m sure you don’t try.
3980 MR. HEDDEN: We do everything in our power to treat them as we would want to be treated as a consumer.
3981 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. But it’s not -- you don’t use the fact -- I’m trying to get -- does it provide you more credibility when you’re making an offer to make them satisfied with the counteroffer as you make when it’s escalated, that ultimately your offer is honest because it could be reviewed -- like they have further -- they’re not against the wall. In other words, they have options. So they know that you’re -- it keeps you honest in other words.
3982 MR. HEDDEN: Well, we like to be honest all the time.
3983 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, yeah. No, keep -- sorry, I misspoke. It helps you be perceived as honest.
3984 MR. HEDDEN: M’hm.
3985 THE CHAIRPERSON: Vis-à-vis your customer.
3986 MR. HEDDEN: So our customers actually -- you know, we strive in being honest with our customers straight and foremost. We let them know that we are a third party. We let them know that they have other avenues to make complaints if need be.
3987 As far as a marketing standpoint, just letting them know ahead of time prior to, you know, the service being installed, if they do not like it they can take the avenue and complain to the CCTS.
3988 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
3989 You see, Mr. Abramson, so I’m asking this because I want to know if in terms of specific knowledge or if it’s just general knowledge. And what I pull away from this is that it might be wasted earlier. I don’t want -- and I know some people have put different perspectives on this. But your thoughts?
3990 MR. ABRAMSON: I mean, we do tell them about it early, and we tell our customers about it upfront. We just figure it’s out there they should know about it. We shouldn’t keep them in the dark. And the last thing we want is someone, you know, being told at a dinner party or elsewhere about the CCTS and it turns out and they say “Why didn’t my provider tell us about it” and so we do.
3991 You know, and I get what you’re saying about, you know, it’s one thing to make an offer to a customer and say “Look, this is the offer that really makes sense” and another thing to say “Look, we’re not cajoling, or pushing, or anything else, this is what it is, it seems fair to us and if you don’t like it here’s a neutral body that will sort of say yay or nay.”
3992 And it may be a tool to consider, to be honest, but I don’t know that we use it in that way presently. I think that we’re not too different from others in that respect. You know, we don’t want people to go to the CCTS just because there’s no advantage to us.
3993 We’ve never had -- I mean, we don’t -- I don’t think we have a tonne of complaints relative to our size. We actually tried to figure out how to measure that. What we did was we looked at the mix of revenue -- like so 60 percent of the CCTS’ budget comes from revenue based fees and the remainder from complaints based fees. So we said well if we’re above 60 percent then we’re doing better on the revenue versus complaints and if we’re below we’re -- we’re doing fairly well we think, so we were pleased about that.
3994 But generally the reason that pleases us is because yeah, we’re just as happy to have people resolve things with us. It’s never gotten too far at the CCTS in terms of the stages of escalation. Certainly it’s not ever gotten to the final stages, you know, in terms of decision.
3995 And so while it’s often, I would say, very helpful to have an investigator from CCTS kind of pushing a little bit and saying, “Well, what about this? What about this?” I would like to think that if that’s -- when that doesn’t happen, not just “if”, because we have lots of complaints I guess, we’re doing that anyway internally.
3996 So there’s a value add, I guess I would like to say from the consumer standpoint, of knowing that if they don’t trust us, there’s someone else to go to.
3997 But we think we’ve been okay, and I would say that this has been a strength, of getting consumers to, even when they don’t agree with the position they take, to trust us. And to see that we’re being fairly open with them in terms of where we sit, in terms of the charges that we ourselves face if there are charges and in terms of what we can do for them.
3998 THE CHAIRPERSON: I didn’t mean to suggest that you had extraordinary problems. I just took the opportunity because it happens rarely that we would have people that actually have real-world knowledge as close to the frontlines as that, and I hope we haven’t taken you away from your work for too long when you appear to have prepared for this.
3999 So thank you very much for those answers. We appreciate it.
4000 Those are our questions and so we’ll be adjourned until 9’oclock tomorrow morning.
4001 Merci beaucoup; donc à 9 heures demain matin.
--- Upon adjourning at 2:39 p.m.
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