Transcript, Hearing October 26, 2018
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: October 26, 2018
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Attendees and Location
140 Promenade du Portage
- Chairperson: Ian Scott
- Vice-Chairperson Broadcasting: Caroline J. Simard
- Vice-Chairperson Telecommunications: Christianne Laizner
- Commissioners: Joanne T. Levy, Monique Lafontaine, Linda Vennard, Christopher MacDonald, Yves Dupras,
- Legal Advisors: William Abbott, Yael Wexler
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Hearing Manager: Guillaume Leclerc
--- Upon commencing on Friday, October 26, 2018 at 9:01 a.m.
5286 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire?
5287 MS. ROY: Good morning. We'll begin with the presentation of Shaw Communications Inc. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
5288 MR. COWLING: Good morning, Mr. Chairperson, Vice-Chairs, and Commissioners.
5289 My name is Paul Cowling, Senior Vice-President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs of Shaw Communications.
5290 I am joined by my colleagues. To my right, Sanae Takahashi, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, Pricing and Packaging; Jocelyn Kearney, Director, Senior Regulatory Counsel; and Susan Ibach, Vice-President, People & Culture.
5291 To my left, Sarah Miller Wright, Senior Vice-President, Digital and Service Delivery; Pat Button, Senior Vice-President, Wireless Sales; and Dean Shaikh, Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs.
5292 I’ll pass it over to Sarah to kick things off.
5293 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: Thanks, Paul
5294 The most important perspective in this proceeding is that of the customer. This hearing provides an opportunity for all of us in the industry to listen to consumers, including the specific concerns of those who are seniors, those who have language barriers, and those who are vulnerable due to disabilities.
5295 This is a chance for us to reflect on how we can do things better. Shaw is well on our way to becoming a modern, digital company to serve the increasingly digital needs of Canadians.
5296 The process of listening to customers, contemplating what they tell us, and translating it into responsive policies and practices, is critical. Doing it well is a competitive advantage.
5297 It is clear from the record that some providers are better listeners than others. At Shaw, we strive to be the best. Our sales approach and agent training are based on our Best Value Best Experience model, which has been designed to promote clarity, accuracy and a relationship of trust.
5298 We work hard to acquire every one of our customers. After that, we work even harder for their loyalty. Their feedback drives constant improvement in our practices and is a critical input to our product development cycle.
5299 At Shaw we are continually reviewing our processes to streamline them, to empower our customers and to make it easier for them to do business with us.
5300 MR. BUTTON: In a sustainably competitive market, consumers have choices and are empowered through their ability to switch providers if they are unhappy with any element of the sales process.
5301 The Ipsos report shows that consumers consider switching to be the best way to respond to aggressive or misleading sales practices. Knowing this, providers should be incented to attract and retain customers through pro-consumer choices -- practices.
5302 This is the reality that Shaw faces in the wireline market, and it is a reality that Freedom Mobile is working to bring to Canada’s wireless market.
5303 Since its inception, Freedom Mobile has been the consumer-friendly, innovative and affordable alternative to the Big 3 in the markets we serve. We differentiate ourselves through customer-centric and needs-based approaches to sales, training and product development.
5304 It is therefore no surprise that there was only one complaint about Freedom in the interventions and that Freedom was not named in any of the Ipsos focus group’s testimony.
5305 However, this strategy on its own can only take us so far. We continue to face significant impediments to fulfilling our mission of bringing true choice to the wireless market.
5306 The Commission should take care to not add to those challenges, or further advantage the Big 3 through the remedies it recommends or adopts in this proceeding.
5307 In our view, policies that support strong, sustainable competition through investment is the single best way the Commission can incent customer-friendly practices without distorting the market.
5308 Thank you.
5309 MR. SHAIKH: The Competition Bureau and many other parties have emphasized that effective regulation must be based on evidence of harm and must be proportional to avoid distorting market forces.
5310 Overbroad regulation, or regulation focused on theoretical harms, could have the unintended consequence of hindering our ability to innovate, offer choice, and build strong, responsive relationships with our customers.
5311 For example, imposing extensive requirements on the sales process would impede our ability to bring products to market that are responsive to our customers’ needs.
5312 Standardizing the sales process would also remove our capacity to experiment with new sales mechanisms and leverage superior customer service as a competitive differentiator.
5313 It appears that there are serious concerns about certain practices of some of Canada’s biggest telecom companies. However, the record of this proceeding does not establish that all providers are engaging in misleading or aggressive practices.
5314 This needs to be taken into account by the Commission when assessing the proportionality of the remedies that have been proposed. Putting unnecessary constraints on TSPs that are doing the right things will hurt competition.
5315 As we will discuss, there is an opportunity in this proceeding for the Commission to act in a targeted manner to directly address the evidence of harm that is occurring.
5316 MS. TAKAHASHI: In our view, the clearest evidence of serious consumer harm on the record arises in the context of door-to-door sales.
5317 This proceeding has illuminated disturbing examples of vulnerable Canadians feeling intimidated or harassed by aggressive and relentless agents. One sticking a foot in the door, others not taking no for an answer, and yet others refusing to leave until a customer threatened to call the police.
5318 These consumer interventions clearly demonstrate the stress, frustration, confusion and privacy concerns associated with this channel. From the residential customer’s perspective, this comes as no surprise.
5319 There is something unique about an in-home sales interaction that makes the customer more vulnerable, as compared with a retail store visit, a digital sale, or a sales phone call.
5320 In a retail store or digital interaction, the customer has made the choice and is prepared to engage in a sales conversation. The customer can leave at any time.
5321 In-home visits are intrusive, unplanned, and it can be very difficult to end a face-to-face conversation, particularly for more vulnerable Canadians.
5322 Additionally, the interaction often takes place on a one-to-one basis, with little outside monitoring or oversight of the sales agent.
5323 There is no direct accountability for the information provided or omitted. This risk is amplified by the frequent use of third-party agents instead of company employees for door-to-door sales.
5324 Consumers should be empowered to have choice, including the choice to engage in sales interaction.
5325 At Shaw we do a number of things to make the in-home sales a positive experience for our customers. All of our in-home agents are Shaw employees who are trained on our Best Value Best Experience model.
5326 We follow a carefully considered hiring process that weeds out candidates who demonstrate unethical, overly aggressive, or sales techniques that disregard the customer experience.
5327 Our interviews are designed to elicit responses that show a candidate’s capacity or incapacity for empathy and caring for customers. And finally, we also have an internal Do Not Knock List.
5328 These measures are important because our in-home sales teams are also Shaw’s community brand ambassadors, representing Shaw at over 500 community events and locations in the past year.
5329 In contrast, companies that use third parties to conduct their door-to-door sales activities have significantly reduced oversight and accountability for the hiring, training and actions of agents. That is why we see third party in-home sales as the biggest area of vulnerability for consumers.
5330 MS. KEARNEY: There is also evidence of mismatches between customer expectations at the time of the sale and the actual service experience. The CCTS has observed that this is the primary driver of complaints regarding retail sales practices.
5331 Multiple categories of misleading practices explored in the Ipsos report relate to customers receiving information from sales agents that is inaccurate or incomplete.
5332 A possible solution is to require the provision of certain information at the time of sale, such as the promotional and regular price, length of promotion, services included if it is a bundled offer, and key service attributes.
5333 This would help to ensure that consumers have the necessary information to make informed decisions in the sales process, reducing customer confusion and frustration.
5334 MS. IBACH: At Shaw and Freedom, our sales teams play a critical role in how we are perceived by our existing and potential customer base. In fact, as self-installs become increasingly common, they are often the only point of personal contact that a customer will have with Shaw. They are key to our success.
5335 Knowing this, we have strived to create a workplace in which all of our employees feel valued, comfortable and motivated by the goal of serving our customers better.
5336 Sarah explained that we see our customer-friendly policies as a competitive advantage. We see our employee-friendly practices in the same light. Just as we compete for customers, we compete for the best employees.
5337 For these reasons, we do things differently from some of our larger competitors. For instance, we do not dock pay for processing cancellations, lateral package changes or downgrades in service.
5338 Additionally, while we do use a per unit commission model to incent our sales agents, it is supplemented by a dynamic pay for performance model that considers the employee's overall customer satisfaction and interaction resolution ratings.
5339 Our commitment is to provide our customer facing teams with the resources necessary to be successful in their roles.
5340 MR. COWLING: Focusing a recommendation or remedy on door-to-door sales would address the most significant area of risk and consumer vulnerability. The home is supposed to be a place of safety and privacy, but too often customers are feeling intruded upon. We have proposed that the Commission adopt a prohibition on third party door-to-door sales
5341 To the extent that the Commission mandates a new trial period, it should be targeted at services sold door to door.
5342 Another customer-friendly initiative the Commission could consider is a "can knock" list that would allow Canadians amenable to receiving residential in-home sales visits to give their permission. Customers should be allowed to set the terms of when they engage in sales interactions in the very personal space of their homes.
5343 Since J.R. Shaw founded the company almost 50 years ago, it has been in Shaw's DNA to provide customers with choice and to act in the customer's best interest. Consistent with the spirit of that commitment, we are asking the Commission to act to address the risks and occurrences of misleading and aggressive sales practices that are clearly prevalent in door-to-door sales.
5344 Thank you, and we look forward to your questions.
5345 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you for your submissions.
5346 Commissioner Vennard.
5347 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning, and thank you for coming to talk to us today about this very important matter.
5348 In the material you filed with the Commission, you identified the Freedom Mobile brand that your company operates. Can you confirm that the contents you are providing today relate to Freedom Mobile as well?
5349 MR. COWLING: They do, yes.
5350 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
5351 Does Freedom track complaints with respect to misleading or aggressive sales practices in relation to wireless services?
5352 On page 4 of your oral remarks, you mentioned on complaint. Is that it?
5353 I was going to ask you to provide a summary of the complaints for the relevant period.
5354 MR. COWLING: Sorry. On page ---
5355 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Page 4 of your oral remarks.
5356 MR. COWLING: Do you want to deal with that, Jocelyn?
5357 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You say there was -- in point number 6, there was only one complaint about Freedom.
5358 MR. COWLING: And we do track complaints relating to Freedom.
5359 MS. KEARNEY: That reference in the opening remarks refers to the consumer interventions on the record of this proceeding.
5360 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you.
5361 Then I will ask you if you would please provide a summary of the complaints for the relevant period as an undertaking. And for your information, the relevant period is from July 1st, 2017 to July 16th, 2018, including records outside this range but which are relevant to the relevant period.
5363 MR. COWLING: We'd be happy to do that. I just want to confirm that is that with respect to Freedom, or Freedom and Shaw?
5364 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Freedom.
5365 MR. COWLING: Just for Freedom for that period that the internal complaints that we've --
5366 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That's correct, yes.
5367 MR. COWLING: --- been tracking.
5368 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
5369 MR. COWLING: Okay. Thank you.
5370 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
5371 So that would be the first undertaking.
5372 As you have no doubt been watching and paying attention to the proceedings this week, you can see that one of the things that we're really grappling with is how do we define these very important issues that we are trying to get -- all of us trying to get our minds around.
5373 Now, there appears to be disagreement on the record as to whether aggressive or misleading sales practices are present in the marketplace, and to what extent. Could you please provide your views on this?
5374 MR. COWLING: So I'll start with the question about our views on the scope of the problem ---
5375 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
5376 MR. COWLING: --- and then I'll turn it over to my colleague, Dean, to talk about our perspective on the definitional questions which I know have been coming up over the course of the proceeding.
5377 So with respect to the scope of the problem, when you look at the totality of the evidence on the record, which includes the interventions that were -- that were part of the Commission's process as well as the Ipsos survey, there is a problem with certain providers, the largest providers, a small group of the largest providers, and in our view, when you look at the -- both the anecdotal and the Ipsos research, there is a problem in particular with door-to-door sales.
5378 With respect to the definition, I'll turn it over to Dean.
5379 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5380 MR. SHAIKH: And as we've heard from others, the Competition Act is a good starting point for defining misleading practices.
5381 The Competition Act, Competition Bureau deal primarily with misleading advertising. We think they should continue to deal with misleading advertising. We don't think that that regime is equipped to deal with individual sales interactions.
5382 We can borrow some of the language from the Bureau in that regime in terms of when sales agents knowingly or recklessly provide false information for the purpose of selling a product or service to a customer.
5383 In terms of aggressive, we're thinking about conduct that is intrusive, confrontational, coercive. But consistent with what Paul was saying, we would suggest that rather than defining concepts generally and applying them broadly, in this proceeding we now know that it's necessary, probably for a more targeted solution that would be more effective, and that's why I think it's been -- become clear that an issue is with door-to-door sales at residential customers, and that's where we think we can apply it more target.
5384 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5385 We are interested in things like the clarity of information and so on as well, so we take a very broad view of this.
5386 So would you like to offer a definition for "misleading sales practices" or would you prefer to align yourself with the Competition Bureau definition?
5387 We've heard different things about, and just to -- just to, you know, kind of expand on that a little bit. We've heard different things about misleading dealing with the information provided and aggressive dealing with the actual sales practice and the tactics used.
5388 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah. I mean, I think we're comfortable with suggesting that knowingly -- as I said, knowingly or recklessly providing false information for the purpose of selling a product or service to a customer is a starting point for a definition of a misleading sales practice in the context of an individual relationship.
5389 Aggressive, obviously, is a little bit more subjective. It's much more difficult to propose language other than looking through a thesaurus of what "aggressive" is, but you do want to be careful about making sure that aggressive is that confrontational, intimidating, intrusive conduct that's typical of residential door-to-door sales.
5390 You also want to make sure that you're not prohibiting vigorous and effective competition. Aggressive can mean other things, which is really good offers, and you don't want to go too far to prevent people from actually competing in the marketplace.
5391 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. There certainly is a subjective element to it. We've seen that quite clearly.
5392 What are your views on the Ipsos survey report? Do you think it -- would it be about what you would expect? Does it demonstrate a systemic issue in the marketplace concerning misleading and aggressive sales practices, and do you think it's just the tip of the iceberg?
5393 MR. COWLING: When we reviewed the Ipsos survey, we also looked at it in conjunction with the other evidence that was no the record, the interventions that were filed with the Commission in particular. And there's some interesting insights from the Ipsos survey.
5394 The one that leapt out at us is that the principal source of frustration is when a customer has no control or hasn't proactively sought out a sales activity, and that directly relates to the proposal that we're making today with respect to door-to-door sales.
5395 I would say when you look at the Ipsos survey and you also look at the interventions on the record in combination, again, it's clear that there may be a serious problem with sales that are misleading and aggressive in Canada, but it's also clear that it's being perpetrated by a very small number of the largest telecom companies in the country. And we have to be careful when we're designing regulation to address that problem that it isn't over broad and it doesn't hinder those of us who are competing and investing to bring choice to the market from doing just that.
5396 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5397 Now, it's clear that you think that the door-to-door is the primary concern.
5398 What are your thoughts on the over-the-phone, over-the-internet, the in-store sales and so on?
5399 We've heard from a number of Canadians this week that have had negative experiences in all of those contexts as well.
5400 The reality is that the circumstances of those channels as compared to door-to-door have a lot more oversight and accountability. And to the extent issues arise, they can be dealt with more effectively and the carrier itself can intervene and make sure that the problem is addressed.
5401 In the case of Thon (ph), for example, there's a voice recording and those voice recordings are monitored and there's an evidence of the interaction.
5402 That's not the case in door-to-door where often it's a one-on-one interaction, and then if there is an issue, afterwards there's a he's -- you know, it's a question of who -- a subjective interpretation of what happened.
5403 The other observation we've had is that from our own company's perspective and where we see Canada going, digital interactions are what we should be encouraging and what we -- where we should be heading. Digital interactions also allow for evidence. Digital interactions also empower consumers because they have more control in those interactions. Those are the interactions that we see as the future. That's where we're working very hard to strengthen our position in digital interactions. We believe those interactions empower consumers and drive choice and competition.
5404 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And I have some questions on that later, but thank you for that observation.
5405 Do you think that mass marketing campaigns are also subject to misleading or aggressive practices and, if so, how?
5406 MR. COWLING: I'll ask Dean to ---
5407 MR. SHAIKH: Again, that's I think something that's I would argue is sort of outside scope of this proceeding. I think the mass marketing campaigns involve the potential for misleading advertising and I think there's actually a comprehensive regime in place and legislation administered by the Competition Bureau that can deal with misleading advertising.
5408 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. We were thinking of it more from the point of the provision of information rather than the advertising per se, but I'll -- thank you for that comment.
5409 I want to start off the rest of the -- of our conversation with us having a really clear understanding of how Shaw does things, so, you know, how do you do things? And here, throughout your reply you talk about the best value best experience. And you've provided us with a lot of documentation on that particular model.
5410 The best value best experience model guides all of your consumer interactions. And to quote from your response to question six on page five of your reply to our July 16th request for information,
5411 "Shaw's best value best experience model guides all consumer interactions. The training model has been designed to promote clarity and accuracy for all consumer interactions and to build the relationship of trust that is fundamental to all our policy of long-term customer satisfaction. Shaw's customer facing teams are trained, instructed under the best value best experience model, which is a benchmark for all customer interactions." (As read)
5412 Now is that only for sales or is that also for complaints, people that phone in about billing issues, technical and so on? And I think it would be useful for the record if you would describe this model for us, since I will be referring to it a number of times in our conversation.
5413 MR. COWLING: Yeah, so I will -- I'm going to turn it over to Sanae to kick that off ---
5414 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
5415 MR. COWLING: --- and we will go into detail on it. The one contextual point I would make is, of course, this is at the heart of the proceeding ---
5416 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
5417 MR. COWLING: --- because this is really how we differentiate ourselves to establish that relationship of trust and respect and transparency with the customer and that is a point of differentiation for us, so this is a philosophy that imbues all that we do, as you'll hear from Sanae.
5418 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That's why I thought it would be good for you to outline it for us ---
5419 MR. COWLING: Yes.
5420 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- because I think it permeates all of your responses that will be coming up.
5421 MS. TAKAHASI: That's correct. Thank you for the opportunity to talk a little bit more about this.
5422 As you read from our response, Shaw's best value best experience model permeates everything that we do. We specifically reference it here as it relates to all sales interactions, but certainly it is something that permeates the entire organisation. So whether it's a customer service rep who's dealing with a billing question or a complaint or an in-store rep who's having the opportunity to demonstrate some of our products and services, the entire interaction that guides the conversation between the customer and our representatives are all guided by this model.
5423 The model starts with our hiring practices and ensuring that the reps and the representatives that we're bringing into the organisation have the capacity to be able to be empathetic, be good listeners, really take the time to establish that rapport with the customer so that we have a very solid understanding of what their preferences and needs are. That's always the starting place for a good relationship in making sure that there's always a very open and honest intern and exchange of information.
5424 And so the ultimate objective of what it is that we're trying to do is to establish that relationship of trust and openness. And then ultimately the conclusion is for a sustainable satisfied customer interaction where we are able to provide our innovative services on a long-term basis to that household.
5425 Another specific objective is to ensure that we're always providing clear and accurate information. And so as part of the training process we are constantly ensuring that the customer is not just going through a checklist of what it is that they need to provide in terms of information, that is a basic fundamental, but also making sure that they are truly listening to the way the customer is interpreting and understanding that information so that there's always clarity at the end of that interaction.
5426 And then last, but not least, certainly as we go through the review and evaluation process for the performance of our employees, all of this again is taken into account.
5427 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5428 I'd like to get some clarification on your methods of selling and how that model fits into that. And here I will be referring to the information in questions 1 to 7 on pages 1 to 7 of your reply to our July 16th request for information. And you might just want to turn to those pages so that you know exactly what I'm talking about.
5429 MS. TAKAHASHI: I'm sorry, so just in terms of clarification, so you're looking for an understanding of in general what ---
5430 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5431 MS. TAKAHASHI: --- channels we use and ---
5432 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, yeah.
5433 MS. TAKAHASHI: Okay. So first of all, I'd like to clarify that all of our sales channels are Shaw employees.
5434 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
5435 MS. TAKAHASHI: And our primary channels for sales, if I think about it from a customer approaching us inbound perspective, certainly there's our digital channel in terms of Shaw.ca and all the digital interactions that we have through our digital marketing campaigns that are designed to have the customers approach us for more information and understand what our products and services are.
5436 We also have, of course, retail presence where the customers are on a regular basis encouraged to come in, take a look at and have our products and services demonstrated, but also interact live with our retail reps.
5437 We also have inbound sales queue, so sales advisors that -- who are the people at the other end of the phone when you dial the number at the bottom of the -- either marketing campaign materials or the Shaw.ca website.
5438 On an outbound basis we have -- we still have outbound sales calls, meaning phone calls that are made, but to be honest, that is becoming a smaller and smaller proportion of our sales queues. And then, of course, we have the door-to-door reps that we've been talking about recently who are very geographically specifically assigned to their communities. They not only are assigned to go and knock on doors in specific neighbourhoods, but also are very much part of the community, attending community events, local presence when there's opportunities where the people are to be able to demonstrate and be able to talk about our Shaw services.
5439 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. On page two of your reply that I mentioned, you list basically five for your wireline and your televisions sales. And I'm wondering if you could outline also the compensation structure that you have for that in terms of commissions and incentives and so on.
5440 So for the first one, which is your contact centre inbound, your sales consultants and so on ---
5441 MS. TAKAHASHI: I'll turn it over to my ---
5442 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- these are all ---
5443 MS. TAKAHASHI: --- colleague Susan.
5444 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- everyone's employees of Shaw and are they salaried or commissioned based or ---
5445 MS. IBACH: Yes, so all of them are employees of Shaw. And our employees are compensated in a mix of salary, which is the majority of their total compensation, as well as a variable pay component.
5446 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. What about for the first one, contact centre inbound for sales consultants?
5447 MS. IBACH: The inbound?
5448 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5449 MS. IBACH: So they have a base salary. And then as part of their variable pay they have it -- what we call a "pay for performance model", which essentially includes commissions for sales and then a factor that considers their customer satisfaction levels. So, for instance, you can make great sales, but if you don’t have good customer satisfaction scores, that will impact your earnings. So we balance between sales as well as serving our customers and keeping them satisfied.
5450 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So you have a loop that goes right back that puts that accountability for the sale right back onto the agent, it doesn’t just sort of go off into a ---
5451 MS. IBACH: Correct.
5452 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- different area? Okay.
5453 Your contact centre outbound, do they have the same sort of pay structure?
5454 MS. IBACH: The outbound, yes, it’s the same as the sales consultants.
5455 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Same one. Okay.
5456 Can you tell us what your in-home community sales consultants are? Is that -- would that be equivalent to door-to-door or is ---
5457 MS. IBACH: That’s correct.
5458 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- that something different?
5459 MS. IBACH: That’s correct.
5460 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So this is door-to-door?
5461 MS. IBACH: Yes.
5462 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And what’s their compensation?
5463 MS. IBACH: So they are on a salary plus commission model as well.
5464 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5465 MS. IBACH: And then they also receive a short-term incentive plan bonus that factors in the customer satisfaction as well. So it’s not just the what they sell but it’s how they go about it.
5466 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So with all of these different types of employees you get that feedback, loopback, to the ---
5467 MS. IBACH: Correct.
5468 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- actual agent?
5469 MS. IBACH: Correct. That’s a key portion of our compensation for sales agents.
5470 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. The online chat?
5471 MS. IBACH: The online chat is -- it’s the same as our customer sales consultants.
5472 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you.
5473 And the retail, your service specialists?
5474 MS. IBACH: The retail, they receive -- it’s similar to the in-home sales, in that they have a base pay, they receive commissions, and then as well as a short-term incentive plan that factors in how they interact with customers.
5475 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So for your wireline and your television sales then you’ve got a combination of base pay and some sort of incentive structure?
5476 MS. IBACH: Correct.
5477 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5478 I notice -- I’m looking at page 3, and under “retail” you say “note that Shaw engages third party contact centres for the purpose of inbound billing and technical support calls.” Can you tell us a little bit about that?
5479 MS. TAKAHASHI: Sure. I can elaborate a little further. We do have third party organizations that we engage to handle our inbound typically billing inquiry questions, and they are not compensated in any way to make any sales. In fact, the -- we have -- their primary goal is to answer customers’ questions, clarify any understanding of invoices, services, products, and therefore, you know, primarily providing information.
5480 If there is a specific request from a customer to add a particular, as an example a channel or a theme pack, they are capable of doing that but they are not in any way trained to and/or compensated to make any sales on a proactive basis.
5481 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And these are also Shaw employees?
5482 MS. TAKAHASHI: They are not.
5483 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Oh, they’re not. So you have -- can you tell us a little bit about what your relationship is with these contact centres?
5484 MS. TAKAHASHI: So they’re a third party outbound -- sorry -- third party call centre that is contracted by Shaw ---
5485 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5486 MS. TAKAHASHI: --- and on behalf of Shaw to answer inbound questions from our customer base.
5487 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: On billing and technical support calls?
5488 MS. TAKAHASHI: That’s -- on billing questions specifically.
5489 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: On billing questions specifically. Okay.
5490 Do you have that both for the wireline and the wireless?
5491 MS. TAKAHASHI: That’s for the wireline. On the wireless side we also have third party.
5492 And I’ll have Pat ---
5493 MR. BUTTON: Yeah, very similar. And the technical calls are graded on levels. So we have Freedom employees, or Shaw employees that would handle any device specific or hardware specific technical calls. But none of the offshore -- actually, none of the call centres have a commission compensation regime, they’re pure salary, and there’s no docking of pay for moving down or changing plans or anything to support a customer.
5494 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So do they -- they would handle -- it would just seem to be logical that they would handle complaints as well. Would that be correct to assume?
5495 MR. COWLING: We have a very rigorous process for handling complaints. Maybe I’ll turn it over to Sarah to walk us through that. It would be different.
5496 MS. MILLER: Sure. Yeah. Absolutely.
5497 And just a clarifying point as well; so we do use third parties for some of our billing and technical support but it’s usually on an overflow basis. We also have internal contact centres. So it’s not 100 percent of that volume that’s handled by a third party. They help us through some of the ebbs and flows and bumps in volume, specifically on the wireline side, and also on the wireless side it is a mix of internal and external employees.
5498 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I’ve got a whole section on the complaint process.
5499 MS. MILLER: Yes.
5500 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So maybe we can just wait to ---
5501 MS. MILLER: We can go there, yeah.
5502 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, we can go there, and then -- okay.
5503 MS. MILLER: So the complaints process is we have a fairly ---
5504 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Can you just ---
5505 MR. COWLING: Do you want to wait on the
5507 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, just wait ---
5508 MR. COWLING: Okay. We’ll hold off on ---
5509 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- on the complaint process.
5510 MS. MILLER: Sure.
5511 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Because I’d like to just -- you’ve got different channels for your wireline, and your TV, and your wireless. So I just want to get some clarifications on your wireless sales channels as well.
5512 MS. MILLER: Absolutely. I can pass that over to Pat.
5513 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. You say on -- and here I’m looking at page 3 of your reply. You offer -- you say that your Freedom Mobile wireless services are offered within physical and digital sales channels, and then you outline it. You’ve got some dealer stores. Then you say that you’ve got third party retail locations such as Loblaws and Walmart and they -- you don’t monitor, oversee, sales activities at these third party locations.
5514 MR. BUTTON: Over ---
5515 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do you have a copy of what I’m talking about here?
5516 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Off mic)
5517 MR. BUTTON: No, I understand.
5518 So we sell, as do all of our peers, within Loblaws, The Mobile Shop, and in Walmart wireless centres within Canada only
5519 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Can you just enlighten us as to what that’s like, because there’s sales going on but you don’t monitor them either, right?
5520 MR. BUTTON: No, no, so we absolutely monitor the -- their operated by Walmart, and actually Walmart uses a company called OSL that actually would operate for them the wireless due to the complexity.
5521 Our training that we would give to our Freedom branded stores is the exact same training that we provide. The same -- we do a post-customer survey of every customer that onboards, and we do this with -- whether it’s our branded stores or our third party stores such as Walmart or Loblaws, and we have a feedback loop that goes to not only the store and store manager but also to the individual rep with remedial training or nudging to correct any behaviours that we think aren’t in the best interest of the customer.
5522 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So your actual monitoring process on that in terms of the complaints and so on does that come back through Shaw? How does that work? Because it’s not clear to me how you handle that part of it.
5523 MR. BUTTON: Although the call centre -- say if it was a complaint that happened during a call inquiring about your bill and that raised a concern for the customer which created a complaint, it would follow a similar process that -- Sarah would be able to talk to it -- gets collected and acted upon or escalated if required.
5524 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. But going back to the actual sales part of things, it’s not really clear to me how that works. Like do they -- who trains these people? Is it you? Is it ---
5525 MR. BUTTON: No, we have full-time training. We create the training at Shaw headquarters, and it’s disseminated by full-time Freedom and Shaw trainers that go into the market.
5526 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5527 MR. BUTTON: In the case of third party stores like Loblaws or Walmart, you would be doing WebEx training as well as in-classroom training whenever it’s possible. It’s at the request of us and at the availability of the third party retailer. And we would provide and do the training in most instances, but at the same time they have their own in-store trainers themselves. So in some cases we’re training the trainers on our culture, and our beliefs, and our products.
5528 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. How does it work then in terms of a -- you say that there’s a needs assessment, which I’m going to assume is probably similar to something like a suitability assessment or an analysis of some kind. How is that handled within all of those different sales channels?
5529 MR. BUTTON: Well -- so similar training about creating a connection with the customer first, which allows you then to have a quality engagement to establish the requirements and needs from a customer’s requirement.
5530 We use the exact same training regime and a mystery shopper program. So all stores are mystery shopped twice a month in Freedom retail brands and once a month in third party brands. And we test very clearly to make sure that they're actually able to respond to all the training that is based on this needs approach.
5531 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5532 MR. BUTTON: And the same feedback loop that I mentioned from the outbound SMS surveys we do, anything negative are reports given to the store manager and the sales rep and remedial training's conducted.
5533 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. What sort of information is it -- these are your two interests, so is the information consistent? Where does -- that the customer gets. What does that look like? Is that very similar? When do they -- when do they get information summary, what kind of information do they get?
5534 Could you maybe just flesh that out a bit for us and the record?
5535 MR. BUTTON: Sure. The -- I thought I could just talk for the next hour.
5536 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Please do.
5537 MR. BUTTON: The -- so in the Wireless Code, we conclude the sale with the CIS with all the critical information. During the process and our needs-based training, we actually reiterate and reaffirm each of the agreed positions or requirements from a customer needs, "I watch Netflix on the subway every day" and therefore, the sales rep will help with the calculation of how much data you might require.
5538 Do you like music? Oh, I only download, but I would love to have Spotify.
5539 And you create the needs-based approach and build a product based on what they need.
5540 And they're consistently readjusting and then looking at our brochures and sort of establishing based on the packages we have what's the best package for them and also what the best device because there's a dual sale process that happens in wireless.
5541 And prior to getting to the point of, let's say, the sale, the sales reps are trained very clearly to reaffirm each of the points, okay, just so we understand -- just like you're buying a car. You said you wanted to have 20-inch wheels because you want sport response, well, you want to be able to watch Netflix, so we recommend a big gig package of this level.
5542 And you go through it all with, of course, the reminder of this will fall into this promotion that has this price, the promotional periods are this, and you're now tailoring, pulling the whole package together, and then reaffirming.
5543 If the customer says, "Well, geez, that doesn't fit my wallet, that I expected to pay", and they say, "Well, the other alternatives are" and you -- and you kind of keeping going through the cycle until you get the final sale.
5544 And then the same thing occurs after the final sale happens with the CIS. You go in detail through each one of the points before the customer leaves. If they still, after the final sale, say, "Oh, I didn't really expect this", we redo the sale and go through the process again.
5545 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So when the sale is concluded, do they right on the spot get their contract or does that show up later?
5546 MR. BUTTON: They leave with a CIS package with a copy of the contract and a welcome folder that has all the contact information where they can go onto their "my account" and get more information, and their first bill is available electronically within the first two weeks.
5547 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Well, thank you for clarifying that for us.
5548 Now, I'm wondering with respect to vulnerable Canadians, vulnerable due to age, disability or the language barrier, is there any special training in place for seniors in any of your -- of these sales channels?
5549 MR. COWLING: The first premise always with us is the best value, best experience and to really create an authentic exchange between the customer and the -- and the sales agent.
5550 In terms of specifics on what we -- how we kind of address the concerns of vulnerable Canadians in that context, I'll turn it over to Sarah.
5551 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Sure. Absolutely.
5552 I mean, first and foremost, we're always looking to try and establish a good path of communications with all of our potential customers and customers, so we're -- that's, you know, first and foremost.
5553 And when it comes to vulnerable Canadians, you know, we make sure that interactions can take place via alternate means, whether that's online chat, whether that's utilizing some relay service or other means so that we can have a very good conversation with customers or potential customers.
5554 Ideally, we want to be able to relay that information as clearly and concisely as possible, so doing that in a mechanism that's comfortable for that individual is always what we're striving to achieve there.
5555 The other thing that we at Shaw is we tended to try and do things a little bit differently, and accessibility -- we undertook a focus group session and series of discussions in various markets so that we could actually get direct feedback from people with disabilities so that we could alter and potentially improve the mechanisms by which we sell to those groups.
5556 So we were -- we've done things like we've added ASL videos to our Youtube channels. We obviously close caption and do things like that as well just so that from both a sales and a service perspective we're communicating and meeting our customers in the way that makes them the most comfortable.
5557 The -- Pat can probably talk a little bit more on the wireless side around what we do from a data perspective on some of our big gig plans.
5558 So I think that sort of covers, or starts to cover, a bit of that group.
5559 When it comes to seniors and other groups that have been described as vulnerable in the proceeding, again, we do go back to some of just the principles and the tenets around best value, best experience because really what it comes down to is meeting the individual's needs.
5560 So the individual needs of that potential customer, whether they are millennial, a young family, a senior, it really comes back to that point of listening, hearing and coming up with a solution that works for them and their household.
5561 So in that sense, we don't -- we don't necessarily have a one-dimensional view of how to sell to seniors. We're really going back to that value system that we've created with best value, best experience.
5562 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5563 So I have a few questions for you that are sort of related, so I'm just returning to my list here. And we'll circle back to it a few times and I think there will be a bit of redundancy in our conversation as well.
5564 So how do your sales representatives assess the needs of customers and the suitability of the products sold?
5565 Is there a formalized needs assessment? Do you have a checklist? When is that done?
5566 MS. TAKAHASHI: So I'll talk a little bit about it.
5567 We really focus, again, in on establishing that relationship and allowing that, I'll call it, organic conversation to come forward. And so there is no script, although there is a -- ultimately a final checklist in ensuring that specifics that are required to be covered off in terms of basic understanding of what service is being proposed, at what rate, if there's a promotional rate associated with it, what that rate is during the promotional period, after the promotional period, what the timeframes are associated with it. So all of those basic need to know components certainly are covered off, but there is no script where we actually specifically don't provide a script and really provide the tools and the comfort level for the agent to be able to evolve that conversation on an individual basis.
5568 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Understood.
5569 There's been discussion this week, and obviously you've heard it, that service providers should be held accountable for ensuring that the services they provide to customers are suitable for those customers.
5570 We've heard stories about how that didn't appear to be happening.
5571 There is a particular concern for ensuring services are suitable to vulnerable Canadians as well.
5572 So in your view, what do you think of the suitability requirement and how do you think something like that could be implemented?
5573 MR. COWLING: The -- we've thought a lot about that, and obviously we're influenced in our thinking by our best value, best experience philosophy because our aspiration is to have a best value, best experience conversation with our customers, and the dimension of that conversation is difficult to predict because each customer's needs are very, very unique.
5574 And we would think that the entire industry would aspire to that kind of standard, but that standard is deliberately imprecise because once you get into precise questions that go to suitability I think you run the risk of excessive standardization, and if you have excessive standardization you're very likely to have very rigid, formalistic communication as opposed to authentic and engaged communication.
5575 So we see a lot of risk in that. We see a risk in that in terms of disempowering consumers rather than empowering consumers, which we believe the objective of this proceeding is, to empower consumers. So we would strongly discourage a suitability set of questions or a suitability standard.
5576 I think the drive has to be towards a more authentic conversation and a better exchange of information. So the proposal that we've made in our opening remarks is that at the point of sale or at the time of sale that there be a requirement to articulate the key information points about an offer and that that be made clear to the customer. The form of that communication would be at the discretion of the carrier, but that would ensure that certain key information, the details of the service, the details of the promotional period, the price at the end of the promotional period, the duration of the offer, we've listed the items in our opening remarks, that those things get communicated at the right time, which is immediately prior to the sale being confirmed.
5577 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. You've anticipated one of my questions here.
5578 MR. COWLING: Okay.
5579 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do customers get a written plain language summary of their sales offer before concluding a sale? And do you do that already?
5580 MR. COWLING: We don't have a written summary at the time of sale, but we -- as Pat described in the wireless context, we effectively provide all that information. That's the same approach that we would take on the wireline side.
5581 I do think that it's important that carriers have the flexibility to determine the form of that communication and it need not always be written.
5582 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay. I want to go back to the selling to the vulnerable Canadians. It's covered in pages four to five of the response, your reply, but for the record of this proceeding I have a couple of other questions.
5583 Could you please give us an overview of the measures Shaw takes to ensure that it employs appropriate sales practices when dealing with vulnerable Canadians, including persons with disability, older persons and persons whose first language is not English or French?
5584 MR. COWLING: I'm going to turn that to Sarah.
5585 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
5586 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Sure. So I think as we mentioned a little earlier around some of the channels and the mechanisms that we have to communicate with customers, again, we have several things that we do. I think we talked a little bit about seniors earlier, a little bit about accessibility and people with disabilities. The one thing we didn't mention was sales in different languages. So our home phone, internet and cable TV services we have chat that we can -- that we conduct in English, Punjabi, Mandarin and Cantonese. If a customer wishes to engage with an agent, they can call our number and we have agents that we can transfer them to that speak different languages.
5587 So, again, we endeavour to communicate with our customers in the way that they're most comfortable.
5588 And in some of our selling, operating footprint, those languages are very common, so we try and support that. French is also obviously supported in all areas of our business as well.
5589 We -- so I think as far as engaging with customers where English isn't their first language, we certainly do not want to have any practices that would take advantage or in some way, you know, provide unsuitable products and services for them.
5590 Again, you know, if we talk about the value system that we have at Shaw, it was mentioned right in our opening comments around, you know, the customer centric fabric of our DNA. Our goal is to always have a customer delighted with their services and having the right products and services for what they need.
5591 So, again, you know, we have that kind of overarching philosophy and then we support that through the mechanisms and practices that we're constantly looking to improve.
5592 So, for instance, you know, when we talk about accessibility obviously there are digital channels, online chat, my account, TTY, video relay, you know, ASL videos, things that where, you know, anything that we can do or if we get feedback directly from our customers who have disabilities, we take that on board and we try to accommodate or even try and be ahead of the curve by proactively offering those channels.
5593 So and that's no different for sales as it is for service as well. So when we're talking about interactions with customers it's really about just having those mechanisms in place.
5594 If Pat wants to talk a little bit about Freedom specifically, we can do that as well. And ---
5595 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Before moving to that though ---
5596 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: M'hm.
5597 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- if you could tell us what measures you have in place when selling to vulnerable individuals in the door-to-door context?
5598 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: In door-to-door?
5599 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5600 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Sure. So as Sanae mentioned, when we sell door-to-door our in-home sales agents, who are all Shaw employees, are well trained to sell appropriately, to not target and do things that are inappropriate with vulnerable people. So, again, really it comes down to training, oversight, auditing, making sure that all of those structures are in place. And we take it very seriously.
5601 If there ever were a complaint or something that we needed to deal with we would make sure that there's complete follow through. We take things very seriously when it comes to our customers.
5602 So I would say that channel specifically. As well, we recognise the nature of it being personal, being in the home, and we make sure that we train the people who are doing that job every effectively.
5603 I also like the fact that they are community ambassadors for Shaw as well. You know, they are employees in the areas and they live and work in the areas in which we service our customers, so there's a reputational value there as well. And we feel that that has some bearing on how people act and react in sale situations.
5604 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you. Thank you for that.
5605 We're interested in best practices and what seems to be working well and that too, which is why I'm asking some of these questions.
5606 Do you use the videos and so on in the stores where somebody who is able to access a video, for example?
5607 MR. COWLING: One -- just one comment I'd make is we do -- we have prepared and on our website we have videos in ASL and LSQ on common issues that our customers face, whether it be billing or modem installation, set-top box upgrade and so on.
5608 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
5609 MR. COWLING: I know that earlier in the week there was some discussion around video, particularly around the Wireless Code and being able to do that in the in store and we've ---
5610 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5611 MR. COWLING: --- we heard that and we think that's a great idea and we'd look at adopting that.
5612 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. So these practices apply to both Shaw and also to Freedom?
5613 MR. COWLING: Yes.
5614 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, okay. Okay. I want to talk a little bit about clarity of the -- of contracts. Wireless Code and the TVSP Code have rules addressing contract clarity. Do you think they're effective?
5615 MR. COWLING: Yeah, we do think they're effective and the requirement for plain language, for example, is something that we take very seriously. It -- again, it flows directly from our best value best experience billing and engaged relationship with the customer and we believe those requirements are effective.
5616 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. Do you think similar rules could help for other services such as internet or home phone?
5617 MR. COWLING: We've heard similar questions over the course of the week about that and I guess our view is this is -- in this proceeding we're really looking at sales practices. If there are measures that are desirable, requirements that are desirable, we would -- we interpret it as let's look at those measures, those requirements and implement those measures, rather than importing things from other codes.
5618 So that's why we've proposed the requirements and the measures that we have in our opening remarks relating to, in particular, clarity of information in the pre-sale process.
5619 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now the -- you record your conversations with customer service -- between the customers and the call centres. Do you permit customers to also record them?
5620 MR. COWLING: We don't prohibit that. It's ---
5621 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And if the customer asked you, do you provide the recordings to them?
5622 MR. COWLING: We would. It really doesn't come up much ---
5623 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5624 MR. COWLING: --- but we would do that.
5625 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. How long do you keep them?
5626 MR. COWLING: Depending on the division, between 12 and 28 months.
5627 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Twelve (12) to 28. Would you charge people for that?
5628 MR. COWLING: No.
5629 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: No? Okay. How long would you -- would it take if somebody asked for one of these recordings?
5630 MR. COWLING: We looked into this and there really isn't much activity in this regard, so we haven't ---
5631 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5632 MR. COWLING: --- confirmed how long it would take, but I don't think that would be a heavy lift from a ---
5633 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5634 MR. COWLING: --- from a time perspective.
5635 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: A week or two, within 30 days sort of thing?
5636 MR. COWLING: Yeah.
5637 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: O.k. For online chat functions where the customers can contact you, do you provide customers with written copies of the chat?
5638 MR. COWLING: We can. We can if they ask for it.
5639 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. How long would it take to provide that? Is it immediate or do they have to request it?
5640 MR. COWLING: Yes, that would -- again, that wouldn't be a hard thing to do.
5641 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thing to do if needed. Yeah, okay. Would there be a cost to do -- is there a cost to doing that?
5642 MR. COWLING: We wouldn't charge a cost, no.
5643 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5644 Now, I want to turn to complaints. Finally, we're going to get to complaints here. I know you've been eagerly waiting for that.
5646 MR. COWLING: Champing at the bit here.
5647 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Almost a complaint will she ever get to complaints.
5648 So I now turn to the handling of complaints, both from customers and also internally. And here I'd ask you to please clarify a few points on the material that appears on page 7 to 10 of your reply, and I'm just going to look at it here.
5649 MR. COWLING: Okay.
5650 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So your complaint process -- just to kind of paint the bigger picture here, your complaint process is the same for Shaw and for Freedom, or are there differences in that process?
5651 MR. COWLING: I think we'll start with Shaw and then we'll move to Freedom.
5652 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5653 MR. COWLING: Generally the same but I think there's -- we'll start with the Shaw side, if that's okay? Do you want us to start by providing an overview?
5654 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, that's fine.
5655 MR. COWLING: Okay.
5656 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: So we have a few ways in which complaints are handled. So in the direct customer-facing teams, if there is an issue that a customer has called in about or has chatted with us about, we do encourage that to be resolved and empower our customer-facing teams to handle the issue at that level or to escalate it to their manager or supervisor. We endeavour to handle those things live in the moment and make sure that the resolution meets the customer’s expectation.
5657 So in those sorts of -- I would call that kind of issue resolution before it gets to a formal complaint.
5658 The formal complaint process can happen through various channels. So you can access your voice form through our website. You can call us. You can write to us. We accept all forms of opportunities to resolve complaints.
5659 So they go through what we have in place as a process and a team that handles them directly. They manage them through a system that we have in place to resolve it within 24 hours if it hits our Executive Office complaints and we tend to then establish a feedback loopback into the organization as well.
5660 So we feel like having a group that exclusively handles the complaints to be able to rectify it as quickly as possible. They're empowered to do that. We manage and process complaints for a whole various host of channels as I mentioned.
5661 The other option of course is we have a customer satisfaction survey where customers can also provide direct feedback and we have s feedback loop for that as well where if they select that they wish to be contacted to further explore their comments, we do that as well.
5662 And really when we look at the issue of complaints in general, what we're really looking at is opportunities, right. So we take a business-wide approach to processing and creating that feedback right to the individuals and the teams that were involved, as well as organizationally what can we do better to assess root causes to ensure that these are not chronic issues that reoccur over and over again.
5663 So that’s really the overall way in which we manage and use tools to track and deal with the complaints in the organization.
5664 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. And this would be a good time to circle back to those two other locations that we talked about before.
5665 So in these third-party call centres, a billing issue might turn into a complaint. A technical issue might turn into a complaint. That's not what I -- that's not what I signed up for. How are those complaints handled?
5666 MS. MILLER WRIGHT: Again, so there is an escalation process that happens there too. So the first line of escalation would be to their direct leader as well. There's also an opportunity to direct transfer back in to a Shaw employee so that they can be handled at an escalated level if it's required.
5667 The agent can also fill out an advocacy form that they can find through our internal knowledge base called “The Pipe” and that way it can be sent directly through, whether it's feedback or complaint or something that's been done in error.
5668 So we do make sure that there's a very clear outlined process, whether it's internal or with third parties, on the ultimate resolution to the matter. So really it's a fairly simple process.
5669 As I mentioned I think right at the outset, our goal is to solve the issue as quickly as we can for the customer, making sure there isn't, you know, an excessive amount of customer pain involved in resolution and again getting to a root cause solution.
5670 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. What about on your third-party retail locations, your Loblaws and your Walmart stores and so on? The customer comes in and they sing a contract and they get this product and/or service and then it's not what they expected. They have problems with it or issues or whatever. How do those people complain?
5671 MR. BURTON: Generally in those instances, customers self select themselves to go to actually a branded store. So they would -- they would likely appear in a Freedom store and say, “I misunderstood or this isn't what I asked for” and the sales rep right there would take care of any adjustments or changes that they need.
5672 We actually document any customer profile changes and track that, especially as it crosses over channels, again for remedial or tracking purposes. If there is a change in a plan because they were sold more than they needed, the compensation of the originating third party is actually reduced accordingly. So there's no reward for misleading practices in the third-party channels.
5673 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5674 In what ways and when do you inform customers of various consumer protection mechanisms relating to disputes that they may have with you? For example, when do you tell them of the CCTS?
5675 MR. COWLING: Jocelyn, do you want to ---
5676 MS. KEARNEY: Yeah, sure. We advise of the CCTS as an option for recourse if the complaint remains unresolved at the second point of contact.
5677 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So you try and resolve it internally and then if it looks like it won't be resolved, then at that point you ---
5678 MS. KEARNEY: Yeah, and then we also have notifications about the CCTS on our websites, on the first pages of our contracts, on our terms of service, and on our monthly bills and that's organization-wide.
5679 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Do you think that improved awareness of the CCTS would resolve some of the consumer complaints raised on the record of this proceeding?
5680 MS. KEARNEY: We've heard you asking that question this week and we have a couple of observations about that.
5681 First is the new awareness plan just came into effect earlier this year and it might be premature to judge the success of that plan right now. I mean we heard from the CCTS on Monday that complaint numbers are up this year and that may be related to the new awareness plan. We think that the new measures that are being put in place will be -- ultimately have been very effective in enhancing awareness.
5682 And then the other thing is it's very important to us that Shaw as a service provider always be the first point of contact for customer complaints. Being able to be that point of contact to have an opportunity, as Sarah said, to resolve the complaint is integral to establishing a relationship of trust and respect with our customers.
5683 So it's imperative that they come to us first. So we're a little bit wary of suggestions that you'd go out and do a very broad PSA on the CCTS because what we worry is that it will undermine that opportunity that we see with the customer to resolve their concerns and build that relationship.
5684 And then also it’s not what the CCTS structure has been developed for.
5685 So CCTS’s structure is premised on the idea that customers go to the service provider first, not that they’re running to the CCTS the minute there’s an issue that the service provider might be able to resolve very quickly. They simply wouldn’t have the resources to deal with that kind of onslaught.
5686 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that -- that view on the CCTS.
5687 You’ve also heard us talk a little bit about the avenues for whistleblowers. Can you explain if -- what you have in your organizations?
5688 MS. IBACH: Sure. So Shaw has several mechanisms for employees to report conduct that is unethical or not in line with our practices. The first being Shaw has a Business Conduct Standards that every individual receives and signs off on upon hiring, and then subsequently every time that they change a role in the organization, they’re made aware and reminded of those obligations.
5689 And the Business Conduct Standards outlines our position on unethical behaviour, representation or unfair dealings with customers, and it has a clear escalation process on how employees can bring forward concerns in a confidential manner and without fear of reprisal.
5690 So that is a key avenue for us as an organization for employees to bring forward concerns in that respect.
5691 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5692 MS. IBACH: As well, we also have quarterly employee surveys; that is a major source of anonymous feedback from our employee base and we get regular feedback around our practices and our organization through that mechanism that goes out to all employees in the organization.
5693 As well, if we look at our culture, we have a very open culture where our senior leadership is regularly present in our branches and does regular roundtables and interacts with all of the customer facing and frontline employees. And a number of senior leaders; actually, quite a few of them, have personally invited employees to contact them directly if they see anything or have ideas about the organization.
5694 So we have created a number of mechanisms that employees can bring forward concerns.
5695 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5696 Your materials describe the introduction of a new HR program to address investigations. Does that improve your ability to track and investigate aggressive and misleading sales practices?
5697 MS. IBACH: It’s not specifically intended for that but it would, yes.
5698 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: It would, okay. MS. IBACH: It’s mean for all investigations, ---
5699 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
5700 MR. COWLING: --- whether it’s employee harassment or whatever in the organization.
5701 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, point taken.
5702 Now, I’ve got my big, long list where we’re going to move on again and now we’re going to talk about your viewpoints on new regulatory measures. So we’ll just sort of shift a little bit.
5703 And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to, you know, list and outline and explain some of these things because they do underline your recommendations and your viewpoints on what we should do about this. So thanks very much for bearing with me on getting clarity on some of these things.
5704 And some of it will be a little redundant because we’ve -- it’s going to be pretty obvious but I’ll just ask you to comment on these.
5705 Would it be more appropriate to take targeted specific action, or are systemic, industry-wide solutions needed to address misleading and aggressive sales practices?
5706 MR. COWLING: We would support targeted, specific action, particularly in the area of door-to-door, as we’ve outlined in our opening remarks.
5707 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you.
5708 What do you think are the most effective mechanisms you have in place to respond to consumer concerns about misleading or aggressive sales practices? You outline these on page 17 of your response, but for the record of this proceeding perhaps you could just mention them.
5709 MR. COWLING: The mechanisms for responding to...?
5710 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: To respond to consumer concerns about misleading or aggressive...
5711 MR. COWLING: Our primary mechanism is our philosophy: The best value, the best experience approach, and then we would address any complaints with the complaints mechanisms that we’ve outlined.
5712 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thanks.
5713 If the Commissioner were to extend the consumer protections of the Wireless and TV Codes to the Internet, what sorts of impacts would that have on your operations?
5714 MR. COWLING: Yeah, it’s very difficult for us to comment on that without knowing which specific requirements because obviously the TVSP Code or the Wireless Code, many aspects of those codes wouldn’t apply to the Internet, and they were developed in the context of a particular proceeding.
5715 So one of the reasons why we’ve made the proposal that we’ve made today is we believe it engages with the record, it responds to what we see as the most significant risk of harm, particularly in the area of door-door, which is where we believe you should act. And the two proposals that we’ve made, one with respect to door-to-door and the other with respect to an information requirement at the presale stage, would be quite straightforward to implement, whereas an import or adoption of codes that were developed in other contexts would be very difficult to do out of his proceeding. We would see a need for further process, and I’m not sure that’s what contemplated by the Order in Council.
5716 So I guess in answer to your question is it depends on which requirement we’re talking about in the Code.
5717 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
5718 MR. COWLING: But implementation -- implementation of anything that would affect IT, billing, or our systems is complicated; it takes time and it takes costs. So, you know, implementation periods in other contexts, whether it’s the Wireless Code or the TVSP Code, would be informative and a good precedent for what you might do here.
5719 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
5720 MR. COWLING: We’re a little bit puzzled by what you have in mind in that regard because as we’ve approached this proceeding, this is about specific targeted measures that would deal with the sales practices that appear to be causing concern on the evidentiary record.
5721 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So thank you for that.
5722 What are your views on the appropriateness of a do-not-knock rule that would allow individuals to opt out of door-to-door sales? I believe you have that already, you mentioned?
5723 MR. COWLING: Yes.
5724 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. How do people get on the do-not-knock list?
5725 MR. COWLING: If the -- and this is an internal list, so if they communicate to us through a channel that they don’t want to receive the door-to-door contact, then that’s communicated through to our sales channels.
5726 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thanks.
5727 The CCTS has stated that investigating complaints about misleading or aggressive sales practices would involve pre-contractual representations, undocumented representations, and the behaviours of the parties, creating evidentiary challenges.
5728 Do you have suggestions for how the CCTS would address that challenge?
5729 MR. COWLING: The -- currently the oversight of the CCTS is limited to cases where there's a service provider relationship, and again, our new information requirement which applies in the presale period or at the moment-of-sale moment, we’re envisioning that as a new requirement; it wouldn’t be necessary for the CCTS to oversee that. If there’s a complaint in that regard we believe it could be addressed by the Commission.
5730 So we agree with the CCTS about the limitations of their oversight. It’s limited to the situations where they have a service provider relationship, and they can deal with complaints in that context. But for presales, under our proposal, it wouldn’t be actually overseen by the CCTS.
5731 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that.
5732 What are your views on the CCTS publically reporting statistics on complaints of aggressive or misleading sales practices by a service provider?
5733 MR. COWLING: Yeah, I think in previous panel presentations there have been questions about a report card or an annual assessment, and we would not object to a publication of a report like that.
5734 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Does Shaw face significant challenges when complying with both Federal, including CRTC, consumer protection regulations and provincial consumer protection regulations? We’ve heard some talk about that, too, where we’ve got provincial legislation applies to some things and ---
5735 MR. COWLING: Yeah, again, that hasn’t really been a priority for us as we’ve been preparing for reviewing the issues in this proceeding. We’re focused on the sales practices that appear to be causing harm.
5736 We do observe, of course, that provincial statutes in several provinces ban or limit or otherwise regulate door-to-door sales, and we think that’s very instructive to the issues that are very important for this proceeding because of the vulnerabilities associated with the door-to-door venues.
5737 It’s unclear and in many -- in those cases the provincial statute wouldn’t apply to telecom, so those requirements wouldn’t apply to telecom and we see that as an opportunity for the Commission to come up with its own requirement on door-to-door along the lines of what we’ve proposed.
5738 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5739 In your submissions Shaw argues that the CRTC should focus on the conduct of door-to-door sales and minimum information disclosure requirements to avoid a mismatch of customer expectation and experience. Can you give us more details on how you think the Commission should address each of these areas?
5740 MR. COWLING: So as we’ve said with door-to-door sales we see the -- again, we’re informed by what we observed on the record as the venue in which the customer is likely to be most at risk of experiencing either a misleading or an aggressive sales practice, and we see that clearly in the case of third party door-to-door. So we’ve proposed and we would suggest you adopt a prohibition on third party door-to-door.
5741 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Would you suggest that should be all the way across the country or ---
5742 MR. COWLING: Yes, it would be a federal -- it would be a CRTC requirement so it would apply across the country.
5743 You know, we’re conscious of the fact, and we’ve said this very clearly at the beginning of our presentation, that when we look at the record as a whole, whether it’s the Ipsos study or the interventions, we don’t think there’s a problem among most carriers in Canada. We think there is a problem among a very small number of the very largest carriers in Canada. That’s very clear to us on the record.
5744 The practicality, feasibility of targeting regulation at a handful of players is probably a challenge, so we’re -- but it should inform the proportionality of the remedy that you design and that’s why we’ve suggested that you focus on door-to-door.
5745 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That would impact your business though, wouldn’t it?
5746 MR. COWLING: It would. We’ve certainly taken that into account. We have a door-to-door program. We take great care with the door-to-door program, recognizing that it’s a higher risk of vulnerability in that venue, but we believe we’re actually here at this proceeding because of door-to-door sales. We see that in the record. We see that in what the Ispos survey says about customers feeling the most frustration when they can’t control the sales interaction. We see that as inherent in the door-to-door sales experience, which is going to someone’s home. They haven’t made a choice to leave their home and go to a retail store or engage in digital online platforms. To us, this is the central issue in this proceeding.
5747 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5748 What about the minimum information disclosure requirements to avoid the mismatch of what the consumer expected to get and what they actually ended up with?
5749 MR. COWLING: So we thought there was again an opportunity here in the presale process on the sort of moment before the customer confirms to adopt in the industry a requirement that certain key information points about the offer be communicated in some fashion to the customer and that there be clarity about what those key information points are, the price, the duration of the offer, the duration of the promotional period, the price at the end of the promotional period, any minimum commitments or obligations associated with the service.
5750 And if there’s clarity on what are the key information pieces then you can leave it to the carrier to decide how they’re going to communicate that but as a minimum standard they need to communicate those things prior to concluding the sale. And that we believe will reduce the mismatch between what a customer thought they were getting prior to the sale and what the customer experiences after they’ve committed to the sale.
5751 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Two individuals who identified themselves as current or former Shaw employees at interventions 192 and 645 made submissions that Shaw emphasizes promotional rates and does not clearly disclose the regular rate that will apply when a promotion expires. What measures do you have in place in your call centres to prevent or address this type of conduct?
5752 MR. COWLING: I would just open by saying with respect to all the interventions that came through that were related to Shaw we clearly went and looked at those and made sure that whatever errors or omissions that occurred in that particular case have been dealt with through our process.
5753 With respect to those two incidents, I’m not familiar with them, but -- I don’t know if, Jocelyn, you have any further comment on those particular incidents.
5754 MS. KEARNEY: Could you repeat the numbers?
5755 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure. Two individuals who identified themselves as current or former Shaw employees at interventions 192 and 645 made submissions that Shaw emphasizes promotional rates and does not clearly disclose the regular rate that will apply when a promotion expires. That would be an information disclosure issue. And my question was what measures do you have in place in your call centres to prevent or address this type of conduct?
5756 MR. COWLING: The -- I mean, I think this is part of the best value best experience. There’s a quality assurance -- Sarah, do you want to address that?
5757 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: I mean, just really quickly, there is a call recording obviously that occurs in call listening and quality assurance and coaching. So generally speaking the customer facing agents’ immediate supervisor, you know, listens regularly to calls and has regular coaching sessions. So that is where that would be addressed in sort of performance management to ensure that the information that’s communicated is clear, is correct, so that, you know, from a consumer’s standpoint the promotion is understood, the promotional period is understood, as well as the pricing that will occur after the promotion is completed.
5758 So we do have a robust performance management and coaching program for all of our customer facing teams in our call centres and that’s where that would be addressed.
5759 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you for that.
5760 MR. BUTTON: I’d just like to add something to that.
5761 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
5762 MR. BUTTON: So in our submission we’re suggesting that we would provide the information in advance of the sale, and obviously the post-promotional period would need to be a line item in that.
5763 I’d even add that in the wireless industry the post-contract period should be. So in many instances there’s a device subsidy imbedded in the 24-month period at Freedom, on your 25th month your bill actually drops significantly.
5764 In our peer group with the big three in most instances their actual subsidy payment continues even though the device has been fully paid off.
5765 So there’s lots that can be gained from doing this and having the details of what the promotional and the way the plan works for our customer.
5766 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you for that.
5767 Can you comment on Telus’ proposal that if any additional self-regulatory mechanism is adopted, such as a new or expanded code to be enforced by the CCTS, whether it is appropriate to develop such a code through a CISC group? Is it feasible for the average consumer to meaningfully participate in such a group?
5768 MR. COWLING: Again, from where we’re standing, looking at the record, looking at the risks and harms that are evident on the record, and trying to design a proportionate remedy to address those, we don’t feel it’s necessary to delay that through a further CISC process.
5769 As we’ve said in our opening remarks, we think the Commission can do something through this proceeding. It should be proportionate, it should be targeted, and it should be focused on the harms that have been identified, but we don’t see the need for further process.
5770 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5771 Rebates and discounts that do not last for the full duration of a contract term or an expected period of time appear to be a significant source of consumer complaints. How does your company provide and promote rebates?
5772 MR. COWLING: Maybe just before we talk about what we do -- and I’ll turn that over to Sanae -- I would point out I think this is one way our proposed measure would actually help, because it would be very clear from that information requirement what the -- what any changes would be over the life of the contract, including, you know, after the promotional period.
5773 MS. TAKAHASHI: And again, imbedded in our best value, best experience, and the objective of making sure that the offers are clear and transparent and understood by the perspective customers as well as existing customers taking advantage of offers, in all points of interaction we endeavour to make it very clear what the rate is before, during, and after the period of a promotional period and exactly what the timeframe it’s associated with. So the expectations are set very clearly upfront.
5774 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. Now while we're on the topic of information and so on, what are your perspectives on the cooling off and the trial periods that some interveners have suggested, some parties have suggested? So, how would your company define these and are they provided to your customers?
5775 MR. COWLING: We know there's some discussion about cooling off period versus trial period. We kind of looked at it from the perspective of the intent. The intent is to give the customer a reasonable period in which to see whether the service is what they thought it was going to be. We're conscious of the fact that in the Wireless Code there's a 15-day trial period.
5776 We are also suggesting with respect to door-to-door that if you're going to look at an extension of a trial period that's an appropriate place to do it, because I think when customers are feeling vulnerable and wanting to get sales agents off their property they may sign up to something that they don't ultimately want. So a trial period there would be reasonable, and a 15-day -- the 15-day period that's contemplated by the Wireless Code maybe you do something greater than that for door-to-door, given the risks and harms associated with that channel.
5777 Does that answer the question?
5778 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Well, it kind of does. How do you handle them within Shaw and within Freedom?
5779 MR. COWLING: What do we have ---
5780 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, what do you have just ---
5781 MR. COWLING: --- with by way of trial periods?
5782 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5783 MR. COWLING: So on the wireless side obviously we comply with the Wireless Code and ---
5784 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
5785 MR. COWLING: --- have the trial periods that are contemplated by the Code. I'll ask Sanae to talk about what we do on that on the Shaw.
5786 MS. TAKAHASHI: We have two-year value plans of service agreements. And in those we honour a 10-day trial period as well.
5787 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So can a customer have, for example, a technology removed from their home? Like, there's a cost to that. We heard about that yesterday that there's a real cost to sending out technical crews and so on. How do you handle that sort of thing? Who pays for that?
5788 MS. TAKAHASHI: Sorry, are you referring specifically to installation or services?
5789 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, or whatever it is. I'm trying to probe around and see what you do when a customer is not happy and they want to leave.
5790 MS. TAKAHASHI: Yeah, so any customer that's taken advantage of a change within those 30 days for a service agreement, they -- the only charges they're responsible for are for the pro-rated amount for that period of the services rendered, as well as any transactional. So if they order a movie, as an example, or incur international long distance charges, so transactional fees they would be responsible for, but certainly not for anything beyond the date of cancellation.
5791 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5792 MR. BUTTON: Sorry.
5793 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: We're nearing the end of my -- okay, go ahead.
5794 MR. BUTTON: I'd like to add from, again, because I feel like I'm the agitator, but the current trial from a wireless point of view really works. The history and evolution of Freedom from Wind has been all about letting customers try the service because it's a value equation or had been a value equation prior to the Shaw's investment in network to bring it where it is now.
5795 So the Freedom has always given longer period to a trial, but more recently we've actually had to pull it back to match just the code. And the reason for this is the big three uses the trial period to aggressively contact any new customers that we have to win them back as they do their port-out. And they -- what they do is they then offer a matching big gig generous offer, similar to what they had briefly in market last fall. And they do this by calls and SMS, basically saying that during the trial period you have the rights to do this, as long as you -- and you qualify for the software as long as you provide your Freedom account number.
5796 And so we -- in Canada Freedom probably has the highest subsidies on devices as we're trying to actually bring new competition to the market, but the cost of this, these returns through this process that's being coached by our competition is creating undue costs and returns because you get a brand new iPhone X that we subsidize for $650. It comes back. The next customer doesn't want something that's got used headphones, maybe missing packaging, so you have to discount it by 3, $400. So this -- I caution the Commission on an extension to the trial period when you consider the additional cost of hardware and the predatory action. So if there's any change to the trial period, I'd ask that you also consider how you would manage the predatory actions that I just described.
5797 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. We're almost at the end here, so hang in.
5798 Now we get to talk about bundles or you get to talk about bundles. In your intervention you noted that bundling services may, in some cases, be a source of concern for Canadians in the way that they may be sold to them. So it's not the bundles themselves that you seem to think are a problem, but rather the way that they're sold. Could you please elaborate on the aspects of bundling that concern you?
5799 MS. TAKAHASHI: I don't think we have any specific concerns about bundling. We handle bundles and offers exactly the same way as we would a customer purchasing a single service, whether it be broadband or any other. We really do, again, focus on making sure that we're matching the customer's needs and preferences with the best offer and that there is clarity in the communication of exactly what all the components are of that offer. So we don't believe that there is anything specifically associated with bundling.
5800 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
5801 And here comes my last two questions. Competition in the market. You and other parties have argued that competition, the availability of different service providers, is sufficient as a consumer protection against misleading and aggressive sales practices.
5802 Can you explain -- is there anything else you want to add to your position?
5803 MR. COWLING: Yeah, I think that's an extremely important point. You know, Pat mentioned he's the agitator. We are in the process of building a wireless business where we're trying to disrupt the dominance of the big three. We were -- a lot of our comments over the course of this appearance would show you what we're trying to do in that regard.
5804 Retail distribution, for example, is an extremely important vehicle through which to get your services out in the wireless space and we have to effectively engage with third party retail distribution. For example, we have challenges on the trial period, for example. We have a host of other challenges in terms of barriers to investment and competition more generally that aren't relevant for today. But it is our strong view that the best form of consumer protection is a competitive market where consumers are empowered to exercise choice. We're trying to bring that to the wireless space. We already face intense competition in the wireline space.
5805 And the -- what that means, the implications of that from a regulatory perspective is that when you're designing regulation and a rule out of this proceeding, it's important to be very mindful that it's proportionate to the harm. Let's talk about really what the harms are and what the risks are, because what we don't want to do is have regulation that hurts or hinders new competitors that are making investments like Freedom, and benefits the big three or benefits the parties that will perhaps not even have regard for the rules in any event, which is part of the problem is was alluded to in some of the testimony yesterday.
5806 So this is about proportionate targeted regulation so that we can allow competition to thrive and we can allow Canadians to be empowered to choose and that's why we've been very careful and thoughtful about the proposals that we've identified for your consideration.
5807 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that and this is my final question.
5808 You state that sustainable competition is growing, but it also appears that complaints about aggressive and misleading sales practices are also growing.
5809 MR. COWLING: M'hm.
5810 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do you have any views on whether these trends are linked and what those factors might be?
5811 MR. COWLING: I don't think the trends are linked. I think what you might be seeing is -- and, again, we have to be mindful of imposing regulation that hinders new competition or hinders sources of new competition. Dean spoke earlier about we want to allow for rigorous competition. We want to allow for competitive differentiation. Where Canadians are put in positions of extreme or serious vulnerability and they can't really get out of it, we should address that and we should look into that and that's the genesis of the proposal that we've made.
5812 I think that's our thought on that point.
5813 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Well, thank you for that.
5814 I have no further questions; and I thank you for taking the time to come talk to us today.
5815 MR. COWLING: Thank you.
5816 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5817 Commissioner Lafontaine?
5818 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you for your presentation today. I just have a few quick questions about disclosure.
5819 In terms of the summary that you’re proposing at the time of offer, is this in a situation where the customer or prospective customer has agreed to enter into an agreement with your company, or would it just be a customer who calls or comes into the store, is interested to get some information, gets some information and can go away with it?
5820 MR. COWLING: Yeah, it’s a great question.
5821 I mean, we think we have to be careful again from a proportional regulation perspective. We’re talking about the moment of sale or the moment of confirming the sale, and it’s sort of like when you’re at that point, just on the verge of concluding the contract or the agreement, you need to go over the key attributes. And so -- and because we think that is a critical moment in time, that’s how we’re contemplating it.
5822 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Critical information summary of the terms of the transaction of sorts, is that...?
5823 MR. COWLING: Prior to point of -- prior to the sale.
5824 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Okay. And would it be across all services, all communication services, all industry players; is that what you’re proposing as well?
5825 MR. COWLING: Yes, that’s what we’re thinking.
5826 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you.
5827 And then in terms of the agreement, so this is a summary. Do you always provide a written agreement to your customers, in terms of the different services that are provided?
5828 MR. COWLING: It depends on the service. Maybe I’ll ask Sanae to ---
5829 MS. TAKAHASHI: On the wireline side we do provide various means of getting to, so it could be an electronic copy or a physical copy.
5830 When a customer signs a two-year value plan agreement on our month to month service -- service provided to households, the customer does not receive a written copy of any I’ll call it contract because there is no contract that’s in place. They should be provided, again, all of the specifics of the offer that they are provided, as we provide that both on the Web or through our sales agents, but there’s no specific written communication provided.
5831 MR. COWLING: And Pat, do you want to talk about on the wireless?
5832 MR. BUTTON: Sure.
5834 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you. And you talked about the cooling-off periods or trial periods; are all of these documents that you talk about provided to the customer within that cooling-off period, the various cooling-off period?
5835 MS. TAKAHASHI: Yes, prior to.
5836 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And does the -- oh, sorry; go ahead.
5837 MR. COWLING: Yes.
5838 MR. BUTTON: Yes.
5840 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And does the customer also receive a first invoice within that trial period or cooling-off period?
5841 MR. BUTTON: Yeah. So the customer would get electronic copies, possibly within a few days but certainly within two weeks of the first bill, which has got the prorated portion plus the next month forward with all the details. So that comes electronically to them, or they can get it on their My Account App.
5842 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: But they would see it before the trial period is done?
5843 MR. BUTTON: Before it’s done, correct.
5844 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you.
5845 MS. TAKAHASHI: Sorry; yes. And if they don’t physically receive -- if they happen to choose a paper copy, they always have access to the invoice online as well.
5846 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you, merci. C’est tout.
5847 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Levy?
5848 COMMISSIONER LEVY: Just really briefly; you’ve taken direct aim at door-to-door sales as the place where we might provide a remedy for this undertaking that we’ve having now.
5849 How do you square that with what we heard from Telus yesterday? Telus believes, especially in some of the rural areas, some of the out-of-way areas, that door-to-door is actually a benefit and is welcomed by people who want that information. How would you square those?
5850 MR. COWLING: Yeah, we --- I guess we heard from Telus that door-to-door is a critical component of the digital economy and developing the digital economy. That struck us as counterintuitive.
5851 When we were thinking through the channels through which customers and carriers would communicate going forward in a way that would empower those customers, to us the obvious option is a digital channel. One -- to use the Ipsos, you know, survey’s language, one where the customer can decide proactively how they’ll engage with their carrier. That’s a very significant source of frustration to people, according to Ipsos.
5852 So the way Telus described their various interactions in the communities is they’re dong multiple visits. It isn’t clear to me why you couldn’t, for example, get an invitation for a visit when you’re trying to assess the technical parameters of a new install. That would be by invitation and you could solicit that invitation through other mechanisms, whether it’s digital or other channels.
5853 So I didn’t hear in Telus’s testimony direct, relevant evidence about why door-to-door is unique or required to achieve the objective they were trying to achieve. I don’t see why you couldn’t get that invitation through any number of channels, and frankly, I think the Commission, the industry, we should all be encouraging channels that empower the customer to make proactive choices; and to us, door-to-door is inconsistent with that.
5854 Sure, go ahead, Pat.
5855 MR. BUTTON: Actually, going back to the theme of the day, informed choices. So door-to-door doesn’t allow customers -- in our industry, this technology is -- there’s a lot to consider, there’s a lot to ponder or research. So 75 percent of our customers research online prior to making a decision, going out to a retail store. Door-to-door, it negates that and trumps that and actually catches people on their heels.
5856 COMMISSIONER LEVY: Thank you.
5857 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner MacDonald.
5858 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good morning. Just a few questions, quickly, because most of my questions have already been addressed.
5859 But to get back to your comments around Telus’s proposal to have the CISC group develop a Code of Conduct. It doesn’t seem like you’re supportive of that idea and I’m just wondering where that stems from. Is that because you don’t feel it’s an appropriate forum, given that CISC traditionally deals with more technical matters? Is it because it adds additional time to the process? Or because it doesn’t provide the same forum for, you know, consumer groups and the public to come in and present in a forum such as this? Your response may be all of the above.
5860 MR. COWLING: Well, I mean, the key difference between, I think, what Telus has said and what we’ve said is that Telus has made it clear that they don’t think there should be any requirements -- new requirements coming out of this proceeding, and I think we’ve proposed to tailor targeted requirements that the Commission should consider implementing.
5861 So the concept of putting it into a CISC process doesn’t -- isn’t necessary under what we’re contemplating.
5862 And so I -- the CISC is generally viewed as a forum in which technical interconnection matters are dealt with. It isn’t a forum for deciding policy. So I guess the presumption is there wouldn’t be any new policy through that process.
5863 I struggle with what the objective is through that process and I -- and especially in light of what we’re proposing today.
5864 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you for that.
5865 To get back to your comments around the trial period or cooling-off period and how that may actually prompt aggressive behaviour. You’ve raised it; Eastlink’s raised it earlier. And you may want to provide this as a confidential undertaking, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences, how many of your customers or sales have -- or customers have been subject to, you know, aggressive practices after you’ve signed them with the other provider trying to get the win back?
5866 MR. COWLING: We’d be happy to provide that in a confidential undertaking.
5868 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect, thank you.
5869 With respect to the system costs of -- that you would have to go through with the implementation of any new Code, SaskTel, I believe yesterday, mentioned that when we came forward with the Wireless Code that required about $3 million worth of additional training and system upgrades to comply with the code. Can you identify for me what are the -- I guess the most costly elements or the most problematic that require the most changes? Is the major driver of cost customer -- sorry -- agent training, is it when we impose a change that may require an upgrade to the billing system. What are the specific items that end up costing the most money at the end of the day?
5870 MR. COWLING: So our most recent experience would be the TVSP Code implementation.
5871 Dean, I don’t know if you want to talk about the general experience there.
5872 MR. SHAIKH: I mean, that was a significant lift of course and consistent with what SaskTel said about the Wireless Code needing an update to the billing system with other operational impacts. The same is true of the TV Code. This was a long process, a lot of teams involved. Sarah, you were involved, Sanae was involved, a lot of teams involved to make sure that we had the processes in place, the billing system in place.
5873 And a lot of times it was just we were already doing the right things but we had to do things differently to comply exactly with the very specific terms of what’s in the TV Code. So we’re actually changing billing process and billing systems to do something we were already doing well but doing it a little differently to conform exactly, and that did come with significant costs in terms of real operational costs, CapEx, OpEx, as well as a significant cost in terms of human resources.
5874 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And I know perhaps the answer to this question is it depends, but when we implement a new code or, you know, prescribe new provisions that require system changes, what is an expected turnaround time for you to be able to change your systems or update your billing to comply with the code?
5875 MR. COWLING: I’ll ask Sarah to talk about the technology side of things.
5876 But I would -- you’re absolutely right, it does depend.
5877 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just as a reasonable starting point.
5878 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, the answer is really going to be it depends, because, you know, obviously anything that touches multiple systems, whether it’s billing, or activation portals, or online. But generally speaking it does require a fair amount of lead time for us. So it’s not -- and also what it usually entails is across the organization, across different channels and touch points and things like that. So there’s always multiple technology decisions for it to be a constructive change, you know, so it’s not manual it’s automated.
5879 Sometimes as well it does require us to undue certain things in our technology which can also add time to the process as well.
5880 So, I mean, I think -- I’m trying to recall the amount of lead time we had for the TVSP, but I know even that was a fairly time consuming task.
5881 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thanks. And just one final area; your concept of a can knock list, how do you see that working? Do you envision it working the same way the do not call list works today?
5882 MR. COWLING: No. I mean -- well, yes and no. This was -- the way we thought about this is looking at our own practice today we have an internal do not knock list, a national do not knock, or equivalent list would be difficult to administer, it would have to be on a TVSP basis.
5883 And the concept of a can knock list was really thought of as one mechanism under our requirement where there’d be a prohibition on third party door-to-door sales. If a customer wants to receive that solicitation there’s nothing preventing them from reaching out to a carrier and saying we’d like to receive door-to-door sales. So if -- you know, in a case what Telus was talking about in communities where they like door-to-door sales they could put their name on that list so that it would not be subject therefore to the third party door-to-door prohibition.
5884 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Given that the reason that -- or at least I believe the reason that most people would sign up to a do not knock list or a do not call list is to remove irritation. Does having a can knock list ultimately mean basically a door-to-door ban? Because I wonder whether it might not be a list with no names on it.
5885 MR. COWLING: Well, yeah, I mean, that’s -- we thought of this as a kind of a safety valve in terms of the prohibition on third party door-to-door sales. You could put your name on a -- really keeping in mind that the Ipsos concept of proactive customers want to decide when they engage with a carrier, this is an initiative that would meet that, I’m asking for door-to-door interactions.
5886 MR. BUTTON: If I could add. So what it does is it puts the onus on the telecom industry to actually market the opportunity to have somebody come to your store for an appointment to actually solicit business. So it’s not too dissimilar to say the financial advisors where they actually need to actually book an appointment to come in to actually talk and sell you life insurance or financial services.
5887 So it seems odd but it really actually works very much that you have to market that there’s a value for us to actually send somebody. And you referenced Telus, if Telus truly believes that they’re doing a service and that this is something that’s driving value then they can market to actually get people to actually agree for those appointments.
5888 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you very much for that. Those are my questions.
5889 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5890 Maybe a quick follow-on on Commissioner MacDonald’s question. Just in terms of the mechanism to implement any such measure, whether it’s a do not knock or a you may knock, were you contemplating something like Section 24 conditions?
5891 MR. COWLING: I’ll ask Dean.
5892 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, I think it would start on the Telecom Act and under Section 24 you’d say is a condition of providing service, TSVP’s are prohibited from engaging third party door-to-door sales on a residential basis. All the rules would apply residential. It would similarly have to be directed to amend contracts on the wholesale level.
5893 On the broadcasting and distribution side, I think you looked at amending the broadcasting distribution regulations you could immediately set as an expectation in that interim period, because there’s often a period between a decision implementation expecting there would be third party door-to-door sales residential customers only.
5894 Those are some options. You also have a very strong compliance in enforcement branch, and that administers the do not call list and anti-spam legislation. You could also look at that as possibility.
5895 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for that.
5896 You might have heard me yesterday asking one of the intervenors with respect to their customer satisfaction surveys and the like. Do you actually have ratings for your sales staff with respect to behaviour where you’re measuring the behaviour of the customer like suitability or clarity? Are they built into the assessment factors that you use as you are assessing the performance of your sales personnel?
5897 MR. COWLING: We have many people who can talk to this.
5898 MS. TAKAHASHI: So we do measure satisfaction ratings and likelihood to recommend. Those are part of -- used proactively as part of training and ongoing assessment and evaluation of our reps. Susan referenced them earlier. I wasn’t sure if you needed more detail.
5899 MS. MILLER-WRIGHT: Just as far as timing is concerned, so when surveys are sent to customers. So we do send a post-sale survey as well as ongoing when there is an interaction with one of our customer services representatives or a retail interaction.
5900 So of course the exception to that is if a customer has opted into a do not call list then obviously we respect their privacy and we don’t -- sorry -- anti-spam list -- then we wouldn’t email them a survey.
5901 But we do it at certain points in time. We believe that point-of-sale is an important time to do that but we also believe that throughout the lifecycle of our relationship with our customers we want to have a consistent amount of feedback through the survey.
5902 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
5903 Last, just on your sales force generally, you talk about customer churn. What about sales force churn, is that an issue and is that, in your view, a contributing factor or a challenge associated with maintaining the quality of service that you ---
5904 MR. COWLING: Well, as we said in our --- THE CHAIRPERSON: --- intend to provide -- or provide -- sorry.
5905 MR. COWLING: Yes. Sorry, I didn’t let you finish the question there.
5906 But, as we said in our opening remarks, one of the reasons why we want to create a good environment is because we’re competing for talent on the sales force side.
5907 Susan, do you want to talk about just what we’re experiencing?
5908 MS. IBACH: Sure. I don’t have specific numbers with me, but we do have churn, as we do in various other areas, but it’s nothing that’s alarming or high, out of the ordinary for our various channels across sales. So while we do have movement we don’t see that as an issue that interrupts our sales practices or our culture of sales.
5909 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for that.
5910 Commission counsel, you have a couple of small matters to attend to?
5911 MR. ABBOTT: I do indeed, sir.
5912 No further questions. There were two undertakings given. I’d just like to review those with you and have you confirm them.
5913 The first is to provide a summary of the internal complaints relating to aggressive and misleading sales practices for Freedom Mobile during the relevant period from July 1st, 2017 to July 16th, 2018, including any documents that fall outside the relevant time period but relate to complaints arising during the relevant time period.
5914 MS. KEARNEY: Sorry, can you repeat that very last part?
5915 MR. ABBOTT: Certainly.
5916 MS. KEARNEY: Including -- from including on.
5917 MR. ABBOTT: This will be available in the transcript as well, but just the very last part was including any documents that fall outside the relevant time period but relate to complaints arising during the relevant time period.
5918 MS. KEARNEY: Understood. Thanks.
5919 MR. ABBOTT: The second undertaking was to provide information on Shaw customers who have been subject to aggressive and misleading sales behaviour by another provider attempting to win back the customer.
5920 Undertakings are due on November 1st. You can file your response in whole or in part in confidence if appropriate.
5921 And it was a noble effort but you’re still behind Eastlink on the undertakings race.
5922 MS. KEARNEY: Can I also ask one more clarification on that second undertaking? I thought that that was specifically related to the trial period for wireless.
5923 MR. ABBOTT: And could you clarify that, because I’d have to say I did not pick that up.
5924 MS. KEARNEY: Okay. I thought that the undertaking was about new Freedom customers being targeted during the porting process that takes place during the 15-day trial period under the Wireless Code.
5925 MR. ABBOTT: I stand corrected.
5926 MS. KEARNEY: Okay. Thank you.
5927 THE CHAIRPERSON: Then thank you for that. Thank you for your submissions and being so responsive
5928 And with that we will take a break. Return at 11:20 please.
--- Upon recessing at 11:03 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 11:22 a.m.
5929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
5930 MS. ROY: Thank you.
5931 We’ll now here the presentation of Rogers Communications Canada. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
5932 MR. WATT: Thank you.
5933 Good morning Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is David Watt. I am Senior Vice President, Regulatory at Rogers Communications Inc.
5934 With me today on my left are Eric Agius, Senior Vice President, Customer Care. To Eric’s left is Melissa Marsh, Vice President, Channel Marketing. And to Melissa’s left is Ruth Altman, Senior Manager Regulatory. And to my right are Kim Barrington, Director Consumer Affairs, Regulatory and Julie Laurence, Vice President, Legal - Consumer.
5935 Rogers is pleased to speak to you about retail sales practices and address some of the concerns that have been raised in this hearing. We have been clear throughout this proceeding. We do not tolerate aggressive or misleading sales practices at Rogers. Selling our customers products and services that they do not want or cannot afford is just bad business. Our CEO, Joe Natale, has made it our number one priority to create best in class customer experiences by putting our customers first in everything we do.
5936 Rogers engages in over one million customer interactions each week and, over the past year, we have received very few sales-related complaints. While the number of complaints is small, even one is too many, and we know there is more work to do. We are making significant investments in improving the customer experience through enhanced training, monitoring and complaint mechanisms.
5937 We have read the interventions and have listened closely to the parties who appeared before you this week. We have heard a number of interveners talk about the need for a new retail sales practices code. We remain convinced that there is no systemic problem that would warrant such a code.
5938 However, if it is the Commission’s decision, then we want to be an integral part of the process. Along with other stakeholders, we would want to help design and develop the code. We have useful insights that could be incorporated into a new code to ensure it would achieve the Commission’s objectives, be practicable and, to the extent possible, avoid any unintended consequences for our customers.
5940 MR. AGIUS: Despite concerns raised at this hearing, the evidence actually shows that cases where consumers have been deliberately misled or sold products that are unsuitable for them are not as prevalent as some interveners and the Ipsos survey suggest. Over the past year, we received 2,200 sales-related complaints from customers, despite the fact that that our agents interacted with customers over 60 million times. Our own internal touchpoint surveys, which include 1.4 million customer responses per year, indicate that an overwhelming majority of customers would recommend Rogers to their friends and family.
5941 Rogers offers an array of services using different technologies and distribution systems. We also use a variety of channels to sell those services. Our businesses are supported by thousands of dedicated and highly trained frontline staff who are committed to our customers. They explain every product and service we offer and every promotion and bundle we provide. They do this in an environment that is highly competitive and constantly evolving. Despite these challenges, our frontline agents take great pride in their work.
5942 Our agents work tirelessly to meet the needs of our customers. We train them to use a needs-based approach that ensures our customers receive products and services suited to their lifestyle at the best price. When we onboard new wireless customers at retail, for example, we engage them in a five-step customer acknowledgment process. It begins with a device setup demonstration and ends with a signed acknowledgement that they have understood the information related to their purchase. We do this to ensure customers have key information presented in a clear and simple way during the sign up process.
5943 We are, in fact, committed to ensuring that every customer understands our product and service offerings. We recognize that for some, particularly those who are seniors, who have disabilities, or whose first language is not French or English, this may mean extra time and care. We empower our agents to take as much time as they need to ensure every customer understands the information we provide. Our agents’ primary focus is to serve the customer no matter how long it takes.
5945 MS. MARSH: Making sure we know our customers and exploring their needs is a principle that is embedded into our training materials, our monitoring and complaint processes, and our compensation incentives. We begin each sales interaction by asking general questions about each customer’s household. For example, we ask how many people live in the household, how many kids or teenagers reside there, what activities they engage in, are they gamers, do they watch Netflix.
5946 We also monitor these customer interactions using a variety of proactive and reactive measures. These include 100 percent call-recording, sales audits, customer surveys, mystery shopping, continuous improvement programs and coach-back processes. We do these things to improve the performance of our agents and to ensure a great experience for our customers. They are not intended to identify agents who fail to meet targets, nor do they create a high pressure environment.
5947 Our compensation incentives are also structured to incent agents to meet customer needs first in order to qualify for sales commissions. To be clear, the vast majority of the compensation for sales and service agents is fixed. The variable portion of their compensation is weighted heavily towards the customer experience. If a customer receives poor service, the agent will not receive his or her full variable compensation.
5948 In addition to that, if the customer terminates service within a certain timeframe, we claw back compensation paid to the agent who made the sale.
5949 Together, these policies ensure our agents are incented to sell only those products and services the customer wants and needs.
5951 MS. BARRINGTON: Having a robust and transparent complaints process is another way to ensure that we are doing what is right for our customers. Our goal is to resolve every complaint to their satisfaction.
5952 In fact, all well-founded sales complaints we received over the past year were resolved in this way. We also search for the root cause of an issue as a means to proactively address problems that might impact other customers.
5953 Despite our efforts to ensure that the service standards are met, if we discover that an agent or vendor has not behaved in a manner that is consistent with Rogers’ customer-first values, we take appropriate action. We simply do not tolerate bad faith and unethical sales practices.
5954 Ultimately, Rogers does not benefit in any way from providing customers with products or services they do not want or need, or that do not fit within their budget.
5955 Our entire approach to sales and service is devoted to ensuring a customer is fully satisfied with the products or services he or she has acquired. It is the right thing to do for our customers and the right way to run our business.
5957 Mme LAURENCE: Rogers est de plus d’avis que le nombre croissant de mesures de protection des consommateurs mises en place ces dernières années ont pour effet de permettre aux consommateurs de prendre des décisions éclairées quant aux services de télécommunication qu’ils achètent.
5958 Ainsi, tant le Code sur les services sans fil que le Code des fournisseurs de services de télévision protègent adéquatement les intérêts des consommateurs et favorisent leur traitement équitable.
5959 De plus, les processus du CPRST, les dispositions de la Loi sur la concurrence concernant les pratiques commerciales trompeuses et la législation provinciale concernant les pratiques de commerce forment un régime complet qui protège les consommateurs.
5960 Plusieurs fournisseurs de services ont aussi adopté leur propre processus interne de traitement des plaintes, de surveillance et de formation.
5961 Par exemple, Rogers est le seul fournisseur de services de télécommunications en Amérique du Nord qui possède un ombudsman qui assure un traitement indépendant des plaintes des clients.
5962 Tous ces mécanismes de protection sont en place afin d’assurer que les consommateurs reçoivent un traitement équitable.
5964 MR. WATT: In closing, as we have explained, Rogers has put in place a variety of mechanisms that are specifically designed to address and eliminate many of the concerns outlined in this hearing. Ensuring we consistently meet the needs of customers and do so in a way that is clear, simple and fair is the cornerstone of our corporate strategy.
5965 While it is clear that Rogers and other service providers continue to improve the customer experience, it is also apparent that customer concerns remain.
5966 As we mentioned at the beginning of these remarks, we are prepared to work with the Commission and other stakeholders to develop a new retail sales practices code.
5967 Such a code would have to be implemented in a practical manner for service providers and would have to provide reasonable timeframes for the various elements of the code to be designed and implemented, particularly where IT changes are required.
5968 Rogers appreciates this opportunity to appear before you today and we would be happy to address any questions you may have.
5969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Watt.
5970 Panel Members, Commissioner Laizner?
5971 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Good morning. I just want to establish for the record that you have a number of flanker brands as well and those would be Fido, chatr and Cityfone?
5972 MR. WATT: Yes, they would.
5973 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And that your comments that you make today and answers to questions apply to those as well?
5974 MR. WATT: Yes, they do.
5975 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Great, thanks.
5976 I’m interested in knowing as a baseline what you consider to be a misleading sale practice.
5977 MR. WATT: I’m going to ask Julie to respond to that.
5978 MS. LAURENCE: Yeah. We've heard earlier this week the reference to the Competition Act. Indeed, the Competition Act is the law of general application as it relates to deceptive marketing practices. So the definition of misleading should be interpreted, in our view, in application or in accordance with the Competition Act which prohibits the making of a misleading representation to the public in a material aspect.
5979 So both in terms of definition of the term and the interpretation, it should be aligned with the Competition Act and the framework and guidelines coming out of the Competition Act and the Bureau.
5980 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And would you agree that it would also include omitting to provide information that is important for a consumer to make an informed decision?
5981 MS. LAURENCE: Yes, certainly, yeah.
5982 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Now you mentioned in your submission that you filed on August 30th that you take action for overly aggressive behaviour. So I'm interested to know what you consider to be acceptable aggressive behaviour as opposed to overly aggressive behaviour?
5983 MR. AGIUS: So with regards to our monitoring, so we monitor 100 percent of all of the calls that are recorded and come through our call centres. We also do mystery shopping with our retail stores and our dealer stores. We do audits for our field sales which is our door-to-door channel.
5984 And we also have recently invested in a tool which translates all text or all voice calls into text and we have an analytics team that is analyzing that data on a daily basis, actually almost in real time to identify the voice of the customer and so we can see in real time if there's anything that requires our attention.
5985 So within all of these monitoring processes, we rely heavily and use heavily the voice of the customer to guide us, to guide us in identifying whether there are areas within our channels or within our agents where we need to take extra care, whether it's in training or performance management with these agents. So it's the customer that guides us through all of these monitoring mechanisms.
5986 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So what is acceptable aggressive behaviour in your view as opposed to overly aggressive behaviour that you mentioned in paragraph 6 of your August 30th submission?
5987 MR. AGIUS: Any time that the customer feels that they -- that the interaction with the agent is becoming uncomfortable for them, and so we've got specific tolerances around the type of language, hanging up on a customer, transferring a customer inappropriately. So we look for all of these things and we use that to assess whether there needs to be action.
5988 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But what is the behaviour on the part of the sales agent that you consider to be acceptable aggressive behaviour?
5989 MR. AGIUS: So the other important point here is that we survey every single one of our customers after they interact with our agent. And so our -- we have 1.4 million of these surveys that have been responded by our customers. Again, that is another -- another way for us to be able to assess the agent but our agents are trained in this needs-based sales approach.
5990 So their approach with the customer is to greet, to relate with them, to explore with them all of the opportunities, to agree with them on what's been said, and then to thank them. So this is how we've developed our training programs for our agents.
5991 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But I wouldn't call that aggressive behaviour. I'm asking you specifically what you consider to be acceptable aggressive behaviour which you distinguish from overly aggressive behaviour in your intervention to the Commission?
5992 MR. WATT: Our approach is a fairly nuanced approach. The overtly aggressive behaviours are easily recognized as Eric has said, like the hanging up the phone, the transferring immediately, obviously any rude comments.
5993 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What about no means no?
5994 MR. WATT: No means no would mean no. So that would end if the person did not respect that and those are, we would suggest, bright line areas. We take even a more nuanced approach in the sense, as Eric said, when we review and you detect that, what one person might view as a normal approach, you can detect in the tone of the customer that that individual customer found that to be a problem. We also view that as a problem.
5995 So it is a sort of a fluid line on the cases that are sort of towards the line. The egregious cases, quite clearly, they are viewed as aggressive and Eric can address how we monitor and how we discipline and train.
5996 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And it f a customer says I don’t need a bundle, I want “x”, how many times do they have to say it before the sales agent accepts it?
5997 That's another way of no means no.
5998 MR. AGUIS: So our agents are trained that when the customer clearly is -- wants them to move in a different direction, they're to do that. And so one no should be sufficient.
5999 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. What do you say to the 340 Canadians that cited negative experiences on the record of our proceeding? I think you were the second most mentioned company with respect to what you've also described as misleading practices. So expecting to enter into a contract with a certain service and getting a contract where the service is different, not understanding that a rebate is not going to be applied over the whole term of the contract, or feeling that you're being pushed into services, what do you say to those people that have filed interventions in this proceeding expressing those instances and concerns?
6000 MR. WATT: Okay. We have reviewed each of those interventions. We actually -- there are about 1300 total individual complaints filed overall and there were about 400 of those were generic template responses, a couple hundred addressed the industry as a whole. We identified roughly 226 that were Rogers' specific. About a hundred of those would relate to some aspect of the sales practice.
6001 So we took a look at each of those, and to be perfectly candid, in some instances we had absolutely failed those customers badly. In other instances there were -- you could see the misunderstanding that occurred. And in some instances we actually do not think that it actually was a well-founded complaint.
6002 To those -- and I'll pass you back to Eric just in a moment, but when we do make a mistake, we try to make it right for the customer. Sometimes it's difficult to do that quickly, but that is absolutely our goal and absolutely our goal to satisfy every customer. We do not like losing customers.
6003 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So when you looked through those interventions, which ones did you think were particularly egregious referring to Rogers?
6004 MR. ABBOTT: The ones that were egregious were ones where we clearly had promised the customer one thing and they actually had been delivered another.
6005 Now, having said that, some cases we were wrong. In other cases the customer I would suggest, respectfully, was not absolutely correct. Those are the most egregious.
6006 The -- you mention the issue of a promotional term ending. This is -- we try very hard to be clear when the promotional term ends, both in our written advertisements and in our conversations. It does pop up and you can see it in the surveys that people are upset when the promotional discount ends, but our experience is many people are upset simply because the promotional discount period has ended. They would hope it would carry on. We think we do a good job of being clear when the promotional discount ends, but people forget, to be fair, sometimes we're not as clear as we could be, but we try hard.
6007 MR. AGIUS: I'd just like to add a few things. One, as David mentioned in the -- in his opening remarks, one complaint is one complaint too many. And this is how we truly feel about our customer complaints. We have over $60 million customer interactions a year. That's over a million a week, and we strive to improve with every single one of those interactions.
6008 And I just want to share a program that we have in place, something that we've named "centre ice." So in four of our contact centres right across Canada we have physical space that's facilitated in each one of those contact centres. And we roll through agents, actually, hundreds of agents roll through this physical space. And what they do there is they answer calls from customers and identify opportunities where we can be clear, simple and fair with our customers. And then through this facilitation that we have, these opportunities are actually translated in the actions.
6009 For the last two and a half years this team -- and it's led by frontline agents -- they have developed 1200 opportunities and processes for us to improve so that we can continue to reduce complaints and continue to improve the customer experience.
6010 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you. I was struck when I read some of the interventions, by one in which the intervener explained that her mother did not use the internet and that she had been a senior citizen, didn't use internet services and felt pressured by both Rogers and Bell to allow a purchase of modems from both companies, allowed the installer into her home. And then what transpired, as I understand it, is that the technician arrived and installed the modem. And then when the customer attempted to cancel the contract, Rogers asked her repeatedly if she would -- knew somebody who could take over the service, tried to get her to keep the service by reducing the price.
6011 And what struck me about that situation, would you identify that as one of those egregious situations?
6012 MR. WATT: Thank you. Excuse me. I think there are parts of that account that are egregious.
6013 Maybe to step back, so we had I think five interventions relating to this topic with seniors acquiring bundles where they obtained internet where they didn't want internet. So we reviewed each of those. And we were able only actually to track down the one specifically and we went back and spoke to that person, and Kim will speak to that in a moment.
6014 But the situation here with actually that the price situation and why the internet is, we -- it was more economic for that individual to take our three product bundle than to purchase the cable TV and home phone service at their separate standalone prices. So economically they were not disadvantaged that -- and you say, well, that really doesn't make a lot of sense. But in that particular offer at that time -- and Eric can speak to the review process with the reps where they seek out the best price for the person at that time. Bear in mind, there are promotions coming and going et cetera. But in that instance where we had the account number and could go and track through that intervention, that person was not disadvantaged economically.
6015 Now, as to the other parts of the story, I can't speak to on that point. I'll actually ask Kim to comment on it and then maybe ask Eric to speak about the agent experience in those circumstances.
6016 MS. BARRINGTON: Asolutely. We were also concerned with situations like that when we read them in the interventions. One thing that's important to know is when an agent is speaking to a senior or any other customer and using the needs-based approach to determine needs, a very big part of that is also what -- you know, which of these products might be best suited to your budget.
6017 And as Dave mentioned, you know, if a bundle is more financial appealing than individual services at that time, then it is certainly within an agent's empowerment and most likely their good will to want to find a bundle at the best price. And so that may mean it includes internet or a modem that they don't plan to use.
6018 In the particular case that I think you're referring to, Commissioner Laizner, I recall that the reason the agent was actively asking for other alternatives is because the service had been used. And so there was this impression that someone in the home was maybe benefitting from that internet and they were looking for alternate ways to reduce the bill for that customer.
6019 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So in this case you think the intervention stated quite clearly that the request was to cancel the service and it took 45 minutes to get that done ---
6020 MS. BARRINGTON: Right.
6021 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- through several escalations.
6022 MS. BARRINGTON: Yeah, and I think the agent was confused because the service had been used and looking for an alternate way to maybe reduce the bill so they could continue to benefit from the service in the home.
6023 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But don't you think that it's problematic when a customer experiences issues at three stages of the sales experience. The purchase part where they're being sold something that they're not going to use, the installation where the technician sees what's in the home, and then again, the third stage where you're trying to cancel a contract and having difficulty getting that done. To me, that speaks to three different levels of the customer experience where in each level this intervener experienced problems.
6024 MR. AGIUS: One of the areas that we are working to improve is first call resolution. And so our -- and this is a very heavily weighted KPI for us to track and to improve on. And so we strive with every call to resolve the customer's issue on the first call, on the first try.
6025 And so eliminating these two or three times that it takes to resolve the customer's issue and to serve the customer is one of the areas that we are working tirelessly on to get better.
6026 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And at what point do you consider something to be a complaint, an issue to be a complaint?
6027 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, our customers can reach us in a variety of different ways, as we know, through online, live chat, through the call centres or at a retail store or through door-to-door. And anytime a customer is expressing dissatisfaction in any way that would be considered a complaint to us. And their first line of defence would be talking to that frontline person that they're speaking with, who are coached and trained to involve their manager or supervisor in any issue where they can't resolve the issue to the customer satisfaction.
6028 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So that first call and the first frontline agent they speak to is recorded as a complaint?
6029 MS. BARRINGTON: Not every time -- not every call is a complaint, but if the customer is expressing dissatisfaction in that first interaction, then, yes.
6030 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And so when you say that you received 2200 complaints, that would include that situation, that very first call?
6031 MS. BARRINGTON: When we report it in our RFI we reported formal complaints, which are the ones covering all channels where the frontline person was not able to resolve the issue.
6032 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So when you talk about the number of interactions you have with customers versus the number of sales complaints you're talking about a complaint at a later stage.
6033 MS. BARRINGTON: Yes.
6034 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And how many interactions does each complaint involve?
6035 MS. BARRINGTON: Just one. Now if there is a need to follow up beyond an initial phone call or email, then there might be more interactions, but it's guided by the escalation advisor who's in charge of responding to that case.
6036 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Well, we had an intervener earlier this week, Derek Patrick Hughes, who said it took him 41 calls.
6037 MS. BARRINGTON: M'hm.
6038 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So I would consider that to be 41 interactions on one complaint; is that right?
6039 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, our records don't align with Mr. Hughes, but I was actually personally involved in that matter as well. Back then -- it was also several years ago, his first complaint with us was over eight years ago and the second one was four years ago. We're also pleased to note that he continues to be a customer and is ---
6040 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
6041 MS. BARRINGTON: --- seemingly very happy with his services now, but there is no circumstance where it would be okay to have anything more than one call to Rogers that isn't resolved.
6042 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So what is the average number of complaints that you have that go past the first call and get escalated?
6043 MS. BARRINGTON: So do you mean the total number of complaints in general for any topic?
6044 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: No, I'm just seeking some idea about how often your complaints get resolved at the first call as opposed to escalation. Because we've heard on the record that Canadians are frustrated by the fact that when they experience issues they're constantly being asked to speak with somebody else, matters get escalated, you yourself had said that you have numerous levels to deal with complaints, so presumably those levels are necessary because you have them. So what I'd like to understand is, how often complaints get resolved at the first step as opposed to further and further and further up the ladder.
6045 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, we spent a good deal of time in the last few actually trying to reduce any burden on the number of transaction a customer has to have with us to resolve any issue. This has been a priority of ours over the last few years. Namely, when that frontline experience that I spoke of earlier, if there's something that doesn't happen well in that first experience, because, you know, if they're -- if we -- if by design our processes and policies don't result in a positive experience the first time, then we have deep concerns about that. Because we have work to do to rebuild the relationship with a customer who's been impacted by any negative experience.
6046 So the very first interaction is heavily trained and coached by an agent who they're empowered to resolve those issues the first time. And that is a great focus of ours.
6047 If they can't resolve it after involving their manager, there's only one stage it goes to next and that's our formal complaints team or our Office of the President equivalent. I think other interveners have spoken with -- about the same similar structure.
6048 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So when it -- how many layers of manager are there before getting to the Office of the President?
6049 MS. BARRINGTON: One.
6050 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Just one.
6051 MS. BARRINGTON: And they work directly with their agent on the call, so it's one interaction.
6052 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how many layers within the Office of the President?
6053 MS. BARRINGTON: One.
6054 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how long does it normally take for a matter to get to the Ombudsman?
6055 MS. BARRINGTON: So our Office of the President has a mandate to return a call from a customer within 24 hours. And if they can't resolve that interaction it's 24 hours as well for a return contact from the Office of the Ombudsman.
6056 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And at what point is the customer informed about the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom Services?
6057 MS. BARRINGTON: If the Office of the President is not able to resolve it.
6058 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6059 MS. MARSH: If I may add something, we also survey, right after a transaction, the customer the next day. So any interaction with any frontline agent, the next day the customer is called and asked four questions about the rep. And what's important about that is the rep then gets the coach back the next day. So if there was a really terrible experience with a rep, that feedback is super rapid and we are coaching and getting back to the root of the issue right away. That's something that's new this year.
6060 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So what are your thoughts on that Ispsos survey report that said that 40 per cent of Canadians felt that they had experienced misleading and aggressive sales practices?
6061 MR. WATT: There's been -- excuse me -- considerable discussion -- that has nothing to do with the survey.
6062 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Yeah, take your -- have a drink of water. Take your time. No worries.
6063 MR. WATT: And I was thinking, I don't really want to repeat comments that were made by many of the carriers yesterday, so get right to the point. We do think it's very instructive that on an unaided basis when simply asked what have you heard about telecommunications over the past year, only two percent think of misleading and aggressive sales practices.
6064 Then actually that survey gets very interesting because in the survey results it then shows the next slide being 44 per cent of Canadians when asked the question have you heard about misleading and aggressive sales practices say they have, 44 per cent say they have. That really -- that wasn't the second question that those individuals were asked in that survey when -- after doing the qualifying questions at the start.
6065 The first question was, what issues have you heard about in telecommunications over the last year? Two per cent. The next question is actually in the sequence, are you concerned about these eight items? And two of them were, one of them was misleading advertising and another was -- or sales practices and the other was aggressive sales practices.
6066 And then after having gone through that question, then the question was asked, have you heard about aggressive and misleading sales practices over the last year?
6067 So I don't think it's all that surprising, having been triggered by the previous question, that 44 per cent had said yes and that 44 per cent number was presented second after the summary. So I think that's something that's a little unusual I think.
6068 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Are you saying that for those Canadians who responded to the survey and said that they had experienced aggressive and misleading practices that they were not answering accurately?
6069 MR. WATT: No, I'm saying ---
6070 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Those 40 per cent of Canadians ---
6071 MR. WATT: --- that that had been triggered ---
6072 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- that took the survey?
6073 MR. WATT: --- in part, but it became -- where it was not top of mind in the unaided answer it was moved up in mind by the second question leading to the third result. But then the ---
6074 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So do you think they were responding inaccurately about having experienced misleading and aggressive sales practices?
6075 MR. WATT: The third point, there certainly is something wrong with the study and I'll tell you why. If you go to the actual results and go on to the next issues, 40 per cent of Canadians said they experienced misleading and or aggressive sales practices. Then of that 40 per cent, 8 per cent said that they complained to the Commissioner for Complaints, the CCTS. That survey result would suggest that 1. -- almost 1.2 million Canadians over the past 5 years had complained to the Commissioner. And we have factual evidence. We know what the number of actual complaints were. Over the entire life of the CCTS, there have only been 80,000 complaints over the past five years.
6076 So if you line it up with the survey timeframe of have you had a problem in the last five, there have only been 50,000 actual complaints to the CCTS but this survey would tell you that there would have been -- I think the number was 1,130,000 but they just didn't happen. So either the 8 percent number is wrong or the 40 percent number is wrong.
6077 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Do you think that 50,000 complaints is acceptable?
6078 MR. WATT: Absolutely not and that's why, you know, we try to put it right in our -- it's either our first or second paragraph, one complaint is too many. We mean that. We take it very seriously. One complaint is too many.
6079 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Now, we noted that more than 80 individual submissions on this record complained of being locked into contracts without their knowledge by Rogers representatives or complained of undisclosed costs. And a similar number of individuals complained that the prices and services promised over the phone did not match what they received.
6080 So I'd like to know whether you're planning any changes as a result of these complaints and how you respond to them?
6081 MS. MARSH: I'm going to tell you a little bit about what we do in all of our channels and then I'm going to tell you about something that we've just begun.
6082 So in all of our channels, at the end of a transaction, the customer will receive a critical information summary which goes through their upfront cost, their cost on the first bill, and their cost on subsequent bills depending on promotions, and very clearly outlines the promotion, as well as the contract.
6083 We've also begun something in our branded retail stores across Rogers and Fido where we are going to walk a customer through everything that they just purchased. And why that's important, as we take a pause with the customer, we make sure they understand how to use the device because some people are not as tech-savvy, we walk through how to manage their data and how to manage their account online. We walk through the charges they can expect on their bill, any type of fees that are associated with that, again to walk through the promotions.
6084 And each of these steps you cannot click next until the customer says, “Yes, I understand, I'm good”. So there's no time limit on it. It's what the customer needs to get through that and at the end, and this is the most important part, there's an acknowledgement that I understand what I've just purchased.
6085 So this is a new step that we've taken. It's been in the works for a while but to get it in the systems, as you know, can sometimes take a while and we are going to roll this out of course this ---
6086 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Is that for over-the-phone sales?
6087 MS. MARSH: So this has just begun in our branded retail stores.
6088 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay, but my question was about the individuals that complained that the prices and services promised over the phone did not match what they received and that was my question. And my question was what are you going to do about that?
6089 MS. MARSH: So they do get a critical information summary emailed to them right away over the phone -- after they've talked to the agent over the phone, they do get that. But what we've put in place is we realized we want to put an extra step that actually just walks them through it a little bit slower in case the person doesn't understand. So we do give them a written summary that we believe is simple but we're continuously improving and that's why I'm telling you that we would like to roll this other process out to all of our channels.
6090 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So you haven't done that yet? You're planning to do that for over-the-phone?
6091 MR. MARSH: The extra step, that is our plan, yes.
6092 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And if a person receives that contract from over-the-phone and says, “Well, that's not what you told me on the phone”, then what happens? Is that considered a complaint? Are they given what's over the phone or ---
6093 MR. AGIUS: So if that customer calls us back and articulates what you just said, then the agent would be trained to have that interaction with the customer to have the conversation to make it right. That's always what we try to do with the customer and what we tell our agents to try to do is to make it right.
6094 So they will review the notes from the previous call. They review what they have in the profile but at the end of the day, they're tasked and trained to make it right with the customer so that we can keep that customer and keep that customer happy.
6095 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And are those notes immediately accessible to the agent from the previous call?
6096 MR. AGIUS: They are.
6097 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And can the customer receive the transcript of that call?
6098 MR. AGIUS: The customer can. So we do provide customers upon request with transcripts of their call and transcripts of chat interactions if they like as well. And that's done within one or two weeks.
6099 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And then we were talking earlier about the over 100 individuals that submitted complaints that they felt misled by finding out they were promised a fixed rebate rather than a fixed monthly price which is what they thought they were getting.
6100 Is that a problem with over-the-phone as opposed to in-store? Like why is that happening?
6101 MR. WATT: I think it's happening because it is not a dead simple offer to consumers.
6102 Certainly in the written materials, it's absolutely clear that the rebate relates $20 for 12 months for example, and then states that the standard price is $20 higher than the price you're getting for that 12 months and that it is subject to change. The agents are to relate the same information to the customer.
6103 Are there instances where that may not be related as clearly as required? That obviously is the case because people are complaining and we're endeavouring to make sure we're doing a good job in that area.
6104 We have a variety -- you know, a variety of offers where now current offers have more of an emphasis actually on the guaranteed price for a fixed period. As we move forward, we're introducing that. People will -- if they are nervous about what we call the guaranteed savings approach, they can opt for a guaranteed price.
6105 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And why do you think that you're experiencing those issues with sales agents not giving all the information to a customer? Do you think it has anything to do with the compensation model? We've heard on the record from former employees saying that they don’t want to lose their commissions, so they're not going to tell a customer about heavy cancellation costs. I mean is that a factor? Why is this happening?
6106 MS. MARSH: Regarding our compensation, on average, 90 percent of all of our agents, commission is fixed. So they aren't motivated as heavily for sales. So if you said 90 percent is fixed, the other 10 percent, probably the largest -- the largest portion is for customer experience.
6107 So if I sell, you know, a bunch of things that somebody doesn't want and the customer experience is poor, I'm going to lose a big chunk of -- or in some cases in some channels, all of my variable. So that -- they're not motivated to provide something to customers they don’t need.
6108 In addition, we also have something called “claw backs” and that happens on average 90 days depending on the channel after a customer's transaction and why that it's important is 90 days later, if a customer cancels and says, “This is not what I wanted, it's not what I needed”, that agent does not receive that variable commission. It's taken away from them.
6109 So with these measures in place, there's not a lot of motivation to sell somebody something they don’t want or need.
6110 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. But you're saying, for example, that you get a customer survey about their experience with the agent the next day, right?
6111 MS. MARSH: Yeah.
6112 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Well that's often times before the customer realizes that there's a heavy cancellation cost that happens when they want to cancel. So you don’t see a problem with that?
6113 MS. MARSH: So if the customer cancels his service so after their first or second bill, the agent doesn’t get their commission. It's taken away from them. So the agent -- there's nothing in it for them to mislead a customer and the customer gets their bill and say, “That’s not what I wanted” and ---
6114 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Well, it's in it for the agent I'm told that 60 or 90-day period ends, right? If the cancellation comes after that time period, are there no cancellation costs if a customer cancels after 90 days?
6115 MS. MARSH: But the agent's commission is taken away. It doesn’t ---
6116 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: I thought you said it was only within the 90 days? If a customer cancels within 90 days, the agent’s commission ---
6117 MS. MARSH: Yes, yes.
6118 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But if a customer cancels further down and still incurs heavy cancellation costs, isn't that part of the assessment of the agent not telling them about them?
6119 MR. AGIUS: There's a couple of things. One, the agent -- the commission claw back is one thing that happens after the 90-day period. But then there's also, as Melissa said, a variable pay component that our agents also have. And so that variable pay, the biggest gate within that variable pay or the biggest component or element is around the customer experience.
6120 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Which you determine within the 24 hours of the customer signing up the contract, right?
6121 MR. AGIUS: Well, it's sent to the customer within 24 hours. The customer can respond either immediately or at a certain time after. It's as the customer wishes in terms of when the customer responds.
6122 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So how often does the customer respond after 90 days?
6123 MR. AGIUS: Normally our responses are much closer to the time of the actual transaction.
6124 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. In some of the interventions on the record, it’s stated that employees may need additional protection when they internally complain about what they see as problematic sales practices.
6125 How do you enable employees to raise these issues with management and what are the consequences for them when they do it?
6126 MS. BARRINGTON: So we have a program that we call the STAR Hotline, and it’s a whistle-blower service, as been mentioned in other presentations this week.
6127 Our STAR Hotline is a program that we make available at the outset. So when employees are hired, we, you know, encourage any employee to raise any issue that they have about any topic that they want, and we promote it from the time that they’re hired and every year thereafter, as we review our business code of conduct policy with them.
6128 This program is made available to internal, external employees, and even customers who want to report a concern.
6129 We use an anonymous third party vendor so that there’s complete confidentiality for anyone who wants to make a complaint. And any issues are thoroughly investigated by either our human resources or our internal corporate investigations team, and, you know, we track and record all results and take action as required.
6130 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how many of those calls do you get through that third party in a year?
6131 MS. BARRINGTON: I don’t have that number with me, but I can -- we can take that away to fil as an undertaking.
6132 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how are employees made aware of the program?
6133 MS. BARRINGTON: When they’re hired, and then again every year when they go through their business code of conduct policy. We have it available on our internal website as well.
6134 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Intervenor, I think it was 341, who identified as an ex-employee of Rogers, stated that they worked in customer retention up until March 2017. So that’s fairly recently. Noted that:
6135 “Within the cancellation team, we would constantly have people trying to cancel and not knowing that they would have hundreds of dollars in cancellation fees. It was a common enough event that most managers wouldn’t bother investigating and would approve waiving the cancellation fee, provided the customer complains enough.”
6136 These are the words of the intervenor.
6137 “It was expected amongst all employees that the customers would not have actually been told about the contracts and we had to try and convince them it was their fault for not reading the contract word for word, emailed to them days after agreeing.”
6138 So what do you say to that?
6139 MR. AGIUS: I would say that’s not reflective of how we train our front-line agents and how we expect our front-line agents to interact with our customers.
6140 So we know -- and we know it’s not perfect. We know mistakes happen. But we are very vigilant at monitoring those interactions and taking the steps necessary to correct it, to make it right with the customer, and then, more importantly, ensuring that it doesn’t continue to happen.
6141 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But this intervention said it was a recurring issue, constantly have people trying to cancel and finding out there would be cancellation fees at that point.
6142 MR. AGIUS: We ask our agents to be as clear with the customers as possible, to explain, and to take the time to explain to the customers. And so this is the process that we have in place with our agents.
6143 MR. WATT: I could maybe just add a few points. So this must relate to the wireless business, where we do have contracts, because on the residential side, we’re effectively -- they have a contract, but it is a month-to-month.
6144 But then on wireless, it’s -- well, it’s a feature of our industry. It’s the way the Canadian industry has developed, where there are heavily subsidized handsets provided on a two-year term contract.
6145 And most people understand, it’s very clear, they understand that they have an option when they come in at the point of sale, and they can pay the full price for that phone, or take a heavily subsidized phone and sign a two-year contract.
6146 And I know there are lots of instances where people want to get out of the contract before the two years is up, but we are very clear and I think it is well understood that you are receiving a large subsidy for that phone in return for the two-year contract.
6147 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Did you listen to the presentation of Dr. Mary Cavanagh that we had earlier this week, a professor who conducted mystery shopping with her students, and their -- one of their most common observations was the lack of information on things like cancellation fees when at the point of asking for that information in a store.
6148 They went to kiosks of all the major providers, as well as the flanker brands. So in Rogers’ case, we’re talking three flanker brands, plus Rogers.
6149 So obviously it’s an issue.
6150 MR. WATT: I did listen to that testimony. It is an issue. That’s why we get the complaints.
6151 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And have you had your own mystery shoppers discover the same thing?
6152 MR. WATT: I’m going to ask Melissa and Eric to describe our mystery shopper program and the training that our retail employees undertake.
6153 MS. MARSH: We do do mystery shopping on an ongoing basis, all of our brands, both third party as well as our own channels, and we do look for them to be transparent and provide all the information. So that is something that we’re checking, are you explaining all the charges; are you explaining it upfront; are you explaining the bill; are you explaining the cancellation?
6154 So that is something that we do do. And we coach back right away. And it’s -- we invest a lot in this program. So it’s an ongoing -- an ultimate -- yeah?
6155 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So are the mystery shoppers finding that to be an issue, that matters such as cancellation fees, warranties, are not being disclosed when a customer goes into a Rogers outlet and asks for information on a particular product or service?
6156 MS. MARSH: No, we are not finding that as a common theme or issue that we have to address.
6157 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What are the common themes that your mystery shoppers find?
6158 MS. MARSH: For us, the most important is making sure that you’re matching the needs to the solution. And that’s what we’re constantly coaching.
6159 Every customer has a different set of needs, a different set of circumstances. And they’re complicated products and services, for sure. So we’re just continuing to coach on that, did you assess the needs and recommend the proper solution.
6160 The other thing is I’ll say, is when we talk about exploring the needs, it’s not just that, the other phase that’s really important is that you asked the customer if that was okay and you presented them maybe not with just one thing, but maybe two products. And, you know, some people are sensitive about talking about their budget, but at least it allows a customer to choose, you know, a high or low solution.
6161 So that ask phase -- and that’s in every one of our channels. If you did not ask the customer, present them with a couple of solutions, and make sure that they were okay with it, we coach back on that.
6162 So it’s that needs to solution and match up with the customer that is ---
6163 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So your mystery shoppers are finding that the issue is not matching up the needs ---
6164 MS. MARSH: No, it’s not ---
6165 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- of the customer to the product?
6166 I’m asking you ---
6167 MS. MARSH: Yeah, yeah.
6168 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- what they’re finding as an issue for Rogers to address.
6169 MR. AGIUS: One of the biggest issues we get constantly from our mystery shopping is that we’re told it takes too long. That the process in the store takes too long and are there opportunities, ways for us to simplify it?
6170 So we actually try to grapple with both sides of this equation, taking the time, explaining, and also trying to simplify.
6171 But that is one of the most prevalent complaints that comes through the mystery shops.
6172 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And is that because the sales agent is taking long to explain to the customer, or is that because the customer keeps asking questions to get more clarification on points that they’re not getting responses on?
6173 MR. AGIUS: It could be a variety of things. It could be the time it takes for us to process through our systems, it could be the conversation itself, it could be the number of questions, and then ---
6174 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: That the customer has to probe to get information they need?
6175 MR. AGIUS: Which is fine, because we tell our agents, take all the time you need with the customer. There is no pressure on an agent to cut short any interaction with a customer.
6176 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And so did your mystery shoppers find, as did Dr. Mary Cavanagh, that customers felt rushed in some cases?
6177 I mean, what we heard from Dr. Mary Cavanagh kind of goes to the opposite, that the sales agents at these kiosks, or in store places were trying to rush them into a sales transaction.
6178 MR. AGIUS: In our results and the feedback we get, we hear way more frequently that it takes too long.
6179 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And is that because of targets Rogers has for completing so many sales transactions in a certain period of time?
6180 MR. AGIUS: No. No, it does not.
6181 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: We talked a little bit about the issue of rebates and discounts that don't last for the full duration of the contract term and the fact that the expected period of time seems to be a significant source of consumer complaints.
6182 So I'd be interested in understanding how your company provides and promotes rebates.
6183 MR. WATT: I'm puzzling a little bit over the rebate.
6184 Principally, it is a discount off what typically people call the rack rate or the standard rate. And we promote it in our -- as I say, in our ads we indicate the time period and same on the -- the telesales calls.
6185 In terms of rebates, maybe referring to the days when you used to -- with a phone, if you would get a rebate coupon that you would actually send back to the -- to the manufacturer and get 50 or 75 dollars off. I don't think those are prevalent today. Principally offer a discount off the rate for a set of period of time.
6186 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And do you give the same prominence in your printed materials to the length of time of a discount and the post-discount period price, or is that something the customer has to find after seeing an asterisk and looking through the fine print?
6187 MS. MARSH: It is printed out in a critical information summary.
6188 And again, back to the program we talked about about the acknowledgement process, really just taking a pause to explain it to them. So it is in the package we provide.
6189 It is something as -- we are working to continue to keep talking about to make sure they understand.
6190 And then the third thing I would tell you and, actually, one of our first enhancements is coming in November. We have a voice of the front line program where all of our front line tell us what are their top ideas to improve the customer experience.
6191 And what you've just discussed is something we want to continue to work on, and there's a road map of enhancements.
6192 One example might be it's really prominent on your bill, really prominent on your bill, to make sure that you know, you know, that that promotion is ending in X amount of months.
6193 And so there's a series of enhancements based on our front line that we're going to continue to make that really, really simple, but today, they get a printout and in retail we stop and make sure they really understand.
6194 And then the third piece is the communications afterwards.
6195 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And when the interaction is online or over the phone, is the same prominence given to ---
6196 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6197 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- those matters?
6198 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6199 COMMISSIONER LAIZER: So how do you reduce the mismatch between the customer's expectation and what you actually deliver?
6200 I mean, you know, we keep hearing these issues from customers, so do you think your practices are effective?
6201 MS. MARSH: It's definitely, as I've mentioned, a couple of things that we're doing to continuously improve it. Whether it's continuously to coach on the mystery shopping and make sure that you're matching the proper solution, you're -- the critical information summary, which we've simplified the walk-out, customer acknowledgement process, later the continuous communications on your bill were other vehicles that we are ---
6202 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what about giving the customer a written piece of paper at the time that they're actually asking these questions as opposed to the critical information summary after?
6203 MS. MARSH: After.
6204 Yeah, so something that we have in some channels is a quote so that I can put together a quote. Not written, but actually in a system I could print out or email it to you.
6205 So this is what your -- you know, your cable bundle might look like. This is how much it would cost as well as the promotional periods. But what I would tell you, which is more ---
6206 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And you provide that?
6207 MS. MARSH: So that -- that's happening in some of our retail locations now. But what's more -- I think what you're asking is ---
6208 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: For what services?
6209 MS. MARSH: So we do that for wireless and residential.
6210 But what's, I think, for this -- for this hearing, what's important is that that is on the road map for next year for all our channels.
6211 And so the idea would be you can pick -- whether it's a phone and service plan or a cable bundle, you would then get a written summary of what you get included, up-front costs, first bill costs and then end of promotional, and the customer then could have that and then the key there is that when you go to another channel, the customer has some continuity and can connect the dots.
6212 So that is something that we have planned.
6213 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And if a customer changes the service that they're getting from you partway through the service, do they get another written confirmation of what the changes are?
6214 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6215 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Some of the parties have addressed the trial periods or cooling-off periods need to be provided for all services. And there have been a variety of proposals on what the duration of those cooling-off periods should be.
6216 So I'm interested to know how you define these, what services they apply to only for the ones that you're required to provide them for or do you proactively do it for other services as well?
6217 MR. WATT: We provide them for -- in accordance with the regulations, either the various provincial Consumer Protection Acts on door-to-door sales with 10 days. Then we have the Wireless Code with the 15 days, effectively a trial period in the sense that you're charged up -- if you exceed a certain level of usage, you do get charged in excess of that, but then you can return the phone in its original packaging, et cetera.
6218 And then we have the TV Service Provider Code. We have the 30-day time period for persons with disabilities.
6219 You know, there was discussion in the TV Service Provider Code proceeding wondering if that 30 days should be extended to all consumers or whether the 15-day wireless provision should extend to all consumers, and the Commission decided that, really, it did not need to be.
6220 The reason for the wireless 15 days was you could be in a location where, actually, your service was poor. The reception didn't work, that actually wireless service was not going to work.
6221 In the case of wireline service, the Commission decided no, you know that that service is going to work so you don't need the trial period to see if you're in a location where the service works.
6222 We do not provide any further trial periods, cooling-off periods or buyer's remorse periods. We've heard the discussions about possibility applying 60 and 90-day periods.
6223 Just very quick, and you've heard these points certainly on the wireless side. There was a gentleman this morning from Shaw said these are, in many cases, $2,000 devices that depreciate very dramatically as soon as you take them out of the original box and if they are brought back, there's a significant loss of value there.
6224 Then when we come to the residential side -- and I just say on terminology when we say residential, we're meaning cable TV, internet, home phone, so the home as opposed to the wireless.
6225 They are -- certainly on the TV side, you're looking at, with the newer versions of TV, a very expensive installation, very expensive -- expensive box. And to have a situation where companies would not be able to charge for that installation, if a person chose 15 days, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days not to take the service we think would be -- would not be appropriate.
6226 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So bottom line is you're only prepared to provide whatever cooling-off period is prescribed through regulatory or statutory avenues.
6227 MR. WATT: That would be correct.
6228 If other companies wish to differentiate their products and compete on that basis by having different terms, then that's fine, too. That's a competitive marketplace.
6229 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Do you think applying cooling-off periods to other communications services would help some of the consumer frustration regarding their concerns that they're being sold A, but when they get it, it's B?
6230 Would that be a quick way of addressing that issue as opposed to consumers going through your internal complaint processes?
6231 MR. WATT: I don't think so because if we look at the situations that are -- we talked about today, that is, the -- I didn't understand that the discount ended after a period of time, you're looking out six, 12 months.
6232 I don't think it's feasible to -- we can't have a cooling-out period where -- or buyer's remorse where the person has had the service for six months or a year. Then the other situation is, well, I was -- when my first bill arrived it was different than what I thought it would be. And that could be for a variety of reasons. It -- a lot of the issues relate to prorating of a bill. The first bill is typically always different than what the second bill will be.
6233 But say there has been a flat out mistake, or ---
6234 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: M'hm.
6235 MR. WATT: --- in the absolute worst case, somebody has been misled, as Eric said, when they phone in, we correct that situation. I don't think that -- I think to apply buyer's remorse for an extended period of time to address that issue would be an overbroad, overly heavy handed approach to that particular problem.
6236 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So would it be fair to say then that in terms of the concern about asymmetry of information that what we've been hearing from customers feeling at a disadvantage because they really don't understand all the terms of a service contract, whereas, the service provider has all that information, you would address that through what you mentioned before as providing a quote in the future. That would be a pre-sale quote that would contain all those terms so that the client or customer would have that information, as opposed to a cooling off period, for example.
6237 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6238 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6239 MS. MARSH: Yes, and also the acknowledgement process at the end of a transaction just to walk them through to make sure that they understand and they don't feel rushed.
6240 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And could they take away that quote?
6241 MS. MARSH: Yes, it would be an email.
6242 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6243 MS. MARSH: Yeah.
6244 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And it would apply online, over the phone, in a store?
6245 MS. MARSH: Yes, it would be in one system.
6246 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And do you have a timeframe when you intend to introduce this?
6247 MS. MARSH: Second half of next year.
6248 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Oh, great.
6249 Do you think that would be something that should be addressed industry-wide?
6250 MR. AGIUS: I mean, we speak for Rogers and we say that this is something that we want to be able to offer our customers. We think it would make their experience better. It would allow us to be clear, simple and fair with them.
6251 And the other point I'd like to make is that we're taking a lot of time and great pains in making sure our frontline teams are really clear as well on everything that we need to explain to the customer. At the end of the day, our frontline agents are the ones that are explaining all of this to our customers.
6252 So that is another area that we are investing heavily in terms of their training, providing them tools, using their voice and their guidance to help us to be clearer in how we serve the customer. So it's a number of different elements that we want to apply to create more clarity.
6253 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Now we know that in the Wireless Code and the TVSP Code there are rules addressing contract clarity. So do you think those should be extended to other services such as internet and home phone? You mentioned in your opening remarks that you would support a new retail sales practices code. Is that something that you envisage that new retail sales practices code containing, or would that be just a code of expected behaviours by service providers?
6254 MR. WATT: In our first submission, as you know, we proposed extending the clarity of offers provision of the TV Service Provider Code across all services.
6255 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6256 MR. WATT: And we think that would be very useful. We think that would address hopefully the largest problem, which is, in our view, the mismatch of what the person thinks they're getting versus then when they actually receive either the bill or the service. So we want to make that really clear.
6257 And to be clear, today in our opening remarks, and as we said, we have -- since August 30th we have read all the interventions. We have looked at the material, the RFIs, we've sat here this week. And we have heard many people asking for a broader sales code.
6258 So to be clear, we don't think there is a systemic problem. There clearly are problems, but the company is trying to improve their services, their systems, their procedures to address those. So to be clear, we don't think there's a systemic problem.
6259 But if the Commission believes that a broad sales practices code is required, as we say in our opening remarks, we want to play a role in developing that code so that it is a good code, it's practicable, that it meets your objectives and there are no unintended consequences.
6260 What we don't want to have happen, if we go down this path, is the situation that happened with the first Wireless Code where coming out of that three-year contracts for wireless services were prohibited. We think that was a terrible development for consumers. They were not able to amortise the phones over a longer period of time. They ended up paying more sooner. That particular issue didn't really get discussed at length in the hearing.
6261 So our point is, if there's going to be a code, they're developing a code, addresses a number of issues. They need to be thought through very clearly. We want to be at the table to make sure that it's a good code.
6262 But just to wrap up, we don't think there is a need for it based on systemic problems. We do think that extending the clarity of offers provisions would be a useful step to take. It's a lesser step than a broader sales practices code, at least with respect to sales practices.
6263 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So just talking about those two in turn, if you were to extend the clarity of contract from the TVSP to all types of services, what kind of operational impact would that have on you and would you see that as being a phase in over a period of time?
6264 MR. WATT: That we think would be a reasonable -- have a reasonable operational impact.
6265 Currently, we -- many of our residential services are sold in a bundle. So in order to comply with the TV Service Provider Code of Conduct we actually, for many of our internet subscribers that are taking cable TV at the same time, those same provisions apply. We've set up our system so the same type of 45-day notification ---
6266 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So that wouldn't be onerous to you.
6267 MR. WATT: That wouldn't be onerous.
6268 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what about a retail sales practices code?
6269 MR. WATT: The retail -- so the broader code.
6270 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Yes.
6271 MR. WATT: The standard it depends. A little bit of a background. So the second Wireless Code, those revisions, those cost us roughly $20 million in IT, development work, most of it outsourced. We use a variety of companies.
6272 Added to that, you can view it maybe as a fixed expense, but somewhere between 5 to $10 million of internal expense, manpower, personnel directed to implement the Code to -- then the training, and turn it to -- turn to Eric and Melissa to talk about the training. When you have the many tens of thousands of frontline people that we have they have to be trained on this. So that was an expensive proposition.
6273 Now, that's a complicated code in terms of its caps, notifications, roaming, domestic, single line, applied it in account level, so ---
6274 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what do you see is the best vehicle for developing that? Through the Commission? Through CISC, as TELUS was suggesting as an avenue? What are your thoughts on that?
6275 MR. WATT: Yeah, as I said, CISC is a bit of an odd name. It was first set up for interconnection to local telephony. However, it has been used for many other purposes over the past 20 years. The development of the do not call list, the actual operationalising of that was done through a CISC. So that is -- it's not just technical, the actual -- the processes, so we think a CISC could fulfil the role. There obviously needs to be consumer input into this.
6276 I should back up to the working group, the CISC working group on the do not call list. There was consumer representation there, individuals were there. The Canadian Marketing Association was there. It wasn't just the telecommunications industry. So I think they would have to be there. I think that it could be ---
6277 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
6278 MR. WATT: --- used for that purpose.
6279 There are other mechanisms the Commission has used over the years. If we look at the paper bill issue, the two vice-chairs chaired a day-long working session to address that particular issue. Obviously a one-day working session is not going to be sufficient to develop a Code that the last one is -- there was, actually, many years ago a very narrow topic of price elasticity of demand.
6280 There was a three or four-day basically huge round table of all the parties again coordinated by the Commission to address that topic. But you need a forum where there's frank exchange of what the problems might be and what might be doable and what the benefits of certain things would be.
6281 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Do you have confidence that the industry could reach agreement on this together with the consumer groups?
6282 Because it's a -- it's an interconnection steering committee that works collaboratively. Do you have confidence that it could be done in that forum?
6283 MR. WATT: Most -- certainly we're able to achieve it with the do not call list and the consumer groups involved.
6284 Frequently, as you -- I think you were alluding to, there are consensus reports and non-consensus reports when people don't agree, and it -- to be absolutely candid, it's very likely you would have a consensus report where many things were agreed to and you'd have non-consensus report for other items. And the Commission would have to make -- make a decision.
6285 I think your alternative if you're -- want to go down this path is I think you would have to have a subsequent proceeding ---
6286 COMMISSIONER LAIZER: Right. Of course.
6287 MR. WATT: --- and the issue is if you're trying to move it quickly and everybody would want to move quickly, you might well put out a straw person framework.
6288 And sometimes you end up constrained by that -- by that preliminary draft that people feel constrained ---
6289 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So what's your preference, then, if I was going to ask you to choose knowing that, either way, there would be a Commission process involved to either approve or do it on its own?
6290 MR. WATT: As you can tell, we had a lot of discussion about this last night and I'm still sort of discussing it in my brain as I'm speaking right now.
6291 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So would you ---
6292 MR. WATT: Could we make an undertaking to ---
6293 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Yeah, absolutely.
6294 MR. WATT: --- give this more considered thought, please?
6295 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: You can't leave here without an undertaking.
6296 MR. WATT: We're happy to do that.
6298 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. I'm going to move on to a couple of other areas.
6299 I just want to circle back on the question of the recorded conversations with customers and call centres.
6300 Do you -- is there a cost to consumers who ask for transcripts of the recordings or the recordings themselves?
6301 MR. AGIUS: There's no cost.
6302 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And how long does it take to get that to them?
6303 MR. AGIUS: Typically one to two weeks.
6304 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And where there's an online chat function, would you provide the customer with written copies of the chat?
6305 MR. AGIUS: We do if they request it, but typically they usually -- we get very few requests for that because the customer has that right in front of them on their own device.
6306 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6307 MR. AGIUS: But we do.
6308 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: I notice that in your reply comments you stated that you were not in favour of a suitability standard, that you felt that such an approach is completely unreasonable.
6309 So I'd like to unpack where your concerns are in that regard.
6310 MR. WATT: We're thinking on the suitability -- I would ask Eric to describe how we actually think our needs-based approach and our discussion approach, our agreed methodology actually does achieve a suitability standard.
6311 MR. AGIUS: So our front line agents work through the conversation and the journey with the customer to really try to establish what the customer's needs are and what the customer's budgets are. So there is a conversation, there's training. There's a series of questions that our agents usually -- and it's very free flowing because every customer's different -- for them to begin to build that framework for that customer in terms of what their needs and what their budgets are so that they can look into what offerings they can provide for the customer.
6312 So this is how this process works and every interaction we ask our agents to engage in that kind of a discussion.
6313 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So circling back to the example of the elderly person where you mentioned that it was just more economical for them to be in a package that provided them with modems and stuff they weren't going to use because that would be the only way that they wouldn't be economically disadvantaged, in understanding that -- maybe I'm speaking a bit from personal experience.
6314 But you know, my elderly parents don't want to have stuff around that they don't use, so why is it that you don't have packages that would meet the needs of people that don't need all those things and that are economical?
6315 MS. MARSH: We have bundles that are built based -- originally way back when we did bundles, it was because that's what was the best value for the customer. And in fact, it actually sometimes simplifies to have this is one bundle, it's a really good price, it's less expensive than buying everything a la carte, so it was built out of consumer preference and demand originally.
6316 And when I -- when I think about your question specifically 'cause I also have -- mother-in-law's elderly who doesn't want internet and she could purchase home phone and TV a la carte. And the agent put together a package that was best for her. It was basic needs.
6317 So you can still buy those things individually and the agent will put together the best package.
6318 I think in some cases, as David mentioned, sometimes the bundle is actually -- just because of a promotion that's on, it's less expensive.
6319 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But don't you think that that is exactly what's leading to the consumer frustration, that they're being sold things that they don't and feeling that they're being pressured into buying things that they don't need?
6320 MS. MARSH: Well, we often present both options.
6321 Back to the ask for the sale, we usually present a couple options. You can buy these two things a la carte or you can get it in a bundle. And we often present both options.
6322 And sometimes a customer's like "The bundle's a better value so I'll take it", and I would sort of jokingly say it's like when you get, you know, a fixed price menu and, you know, it's sometimes less expensive than getting a la carte.
6323 Just sometimes that's the case. But we do provide both options and anyone can put together a la carte combos.
6324 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And so is that the same situation for people in the deaf and hard of hearing community that don't want to buy voice plans because, obviously, they're not suitable for their needs, that that's imply the most economic option for them?
6325 MS. BARRINGTON: So we've had some changes in our pricing offering for consumers with disabilities over the years. Most recently, though, after consulting with some of these groups last year, we sort of took a different approach to that.
6326 So rather than try and customize product offerings for different segments of those because not every disability is the same, we took a different approach in consultation with some of these groups, and that was to offer similar products or plans and make-ups that other customers have, but with a discount that considers the fact that these are -- these customers may not be able to use the services to the full extent of everybody else.
6327 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And speaking about the accessibility community for their accessibility discounts, do you apply those on top of promotions that you offer for data plans, that sort of thing?
6328 MS. BARRINGTON: Yes, we do.
6329 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So they'll get the rebate on the promotion as well as the additional accessibility discount.
6330 MS. BARRINGTON: Correct.
6331 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: We've heard from the Deaf Wireless Consultative Community that they've had significant problems getting those accessibility discounts.
6332 Is that an issue for you in terms of your sales agents not knowing that those discounts exist?
6333 MS. BARRINGTON: We heard that, too.
6334 In fact, you know, we made changes to our discount program earlier this year, and one of the changes that we thought of in consideration of that feedback was that we need to make sure that our customer support team and our call centres is more easily accessible.
6335 So we introduced rather than having, you know, a transfer take place, a direct 1-800 number to that team that's published on our web site as well as a Star hotline so that a customer with a disability can get through to that group more directly.
6336 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And so do you see that as a way of also addressing their concerns that they often cannot take advantage of flash sales because they're time limited and they're not as mobile or whatever?
6337 MS. BARRINGTON: Absolutely.
6338 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how do you communicate that quicker avenue to this community?
6339 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, it's directly on our web site.
6340 So we've had an accessibility through a microsite page for some time, and so I -- you know, in consultation with these groups as well as we consult with a group of employees as well who have disabilities just to make sure we're addressing needs that we haven't maybe foreseen.
6341 That page has been there for some time, so we use it to promote any plans or services or changes that we've introduced. And there was something as well last year too where recognize that for those who are visually impaired, they would have to use a screen reader. And where it's located on our home page, the accessibility services tab is at the bottom of the page, so a screen reader would have to navigate through many tabs and terms before reaching it. So we introduced something called a skip link, through feedback from CNIB, that is placed at the top of the page. So in I think less than three clicks they can reach the accessibility services tab and get to that information.
6342 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Now you've indicated quite clearly that in your view there's no systemic solution that needs to be addressed that -- and so for the cases of misleading and aggressive sales practices that would warrant our intervention we've talked about, you know, a presale quote. We've talked about a new retail services code. What about other targeted actions or specific actions or systemic actions do you think would be necessary?
6343 MR. AGIUS: So as we mentioned earlier, our monitoring mechanisms that we have to ensure a great customer experience are in place and we're continuing to adapt and evolve them. Just as I mentioned earlier with our hundred per cent call monitoring, now we have a way for us to take all of those calls and translate them from voice to text. We have a team that's monitoring that and in real-time basis. Mystery shopping is something that we continue to do across the board.
6344 We ensure that these mechanisms take place equally, whether it's in the third party environment or in our own internal environment. Those surveys are a very important way for us to get the voice of the customer so that we can continue to improve.
6345 And then continuous improvement, infrastructure that we have like centre ice that I mentioned earlier, and voices of frontline that Melissa mentioned, empowers both our customer voice and our frontline voice for us to continue to improve.
6346 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So you don't suggest any other avenues that would be imposed as opposed to self imposed?
6347 MR. WATT: Just so I -- so the list was sales code, retail sales code, the clarity of offer extension and then the presales quote. Those are the three I think ---
6348 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What about amps, for example, or ---
6349 MR. WATT: Okay. You certainly have the power to levy amps. I think the message we're trying to get across here today is that, you know, where mistakes happen it's not because we've intentionally made them. That we've -- we're -- people make mistakes. We make mistakes. We're trying to improve, continuous improvement, all the things that Eric and Melissa have spoken about. So would amps inspire us more? We really don't think so. We want to keep our customers. We don't want to lose them.
6350 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what about the proposal that Democracy Watch made for a consumer telecommunications advocacy organisation?
6351 MR. WATT: Well, I think the ---
6352 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What do you think of that?
6353 MR. WATT: If they want to pursue that idea, they absolutely should pursue that idea. It's within their power today. They would bring another voice to the table. As I understand their proposal, it was to create an organisation, sell memberships to Canadians and participate in these activities and that would be fine. There are a number of these organisations today with PIAC, Open Media, Acorn, et cetera.
6354 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And how do you and Rogers address misleading or aggressive sales practices at the door-to-door stage? I mean, you give customer surveys for customers who enter into contracts, but what about those people that are just trying not to engage with somebody door-to-door and having problems getting the person to leave?
6355 MR. AGIUS: So with our field sales team that goes door-to-door and so all of those mechanisms that I mentioned earlier apply equally to them. So we have monitoring in place for our door-to-door interactions, the Commission claw back is in place for our door-to-door actions, the surveying that we do to our customers also happens for our door-to-door interactions.
6356 And just a couple of things I'd like to say on our field sales team. They provide, we feel, a very specialised and personalised engagement or experience with the customer. They provide access. So they go into areas like new subdivisions, like apartment buildings, they provide customer with a choice who doesn't want to access us in traditional channels. They also provide a personal experience. So it's one of those few interactions like retail that's face-to-face.
6357 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Do you think it would be best done on request by the consumer?
6358 MR. AGIUS: Well, 20 per cent of all of our interactions door-to-door today are done by referral and done by appointment.
6359 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So you would be in favour of an on-request door-to-door practice as opposed to otherwise?
6360 MR. AGIUS: So currently we don't have many complaints that come to us because we are knocking on doors unwontedly. Our agents know that if there's not an interest that they're to engage quickly, but we would be open to looking at analysts.
6361 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6362 MR. WATT: And if I could, sorry, interject, you look to the do not knock list. And we do like to give our thoughts on that. I -- what -- before I do that, one point I ---
6363 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Oh, I smell an undertaking.
6364 MR. WATT: One point I would mention, just to follow up on what Eric said, is of the complaints, the interventions that were filed, we had five that related to door-to-door. Door-to-door we do not view as being a particular problem. I know there is a perception and I think an underlying assumption that, well, it is more problematic, but that is not our experience.
6365 And then the second assumption that's been made here frequently is that -- particularly by Shaw this morning, is that in-house door-to-door sales are good, but third party door-to-door sales are bad and that's not been our experience either.
6366 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: You use third party door-to-door salespeople?
6367 MR. AGIUS: We do. We use a combination of internal and third party. And to David's point, the -- our customers are telling us that the experience that they have with our vendor partners is just as good as what they're getting with our internal partners.
6368 And the other -- a couple of other things I'd like to call out with third party, one is, having the agent in the home is also -- provides a very specialised service to the customer. While they're in the home they can assess their needs in a very different say. They can look at the home. They can look at the devices they have, where they are, the size of the home, and really provide some specialised information on what products and services would be best for them.
6369 And then the other thing is, we are typically and in many cases, especially to apartments and condominium complexes, invited, invited by the property management to have our field team be there so that their new tenants can have a seamless transfer of services when they come into the new building.
6370 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But, I mean, you would accept that door-to-door can be more threatening to an individual than other forms of aggressive sales because they're being accosted in their home.
6371 MR. AGIUS: We understand that the ---
6372 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And it's harder to get somebody to leave when they're in your home and they're not taking no for an answer.
6373 MR. AGIUS: We understand that the field channel is unique relative to other channels, and the fact that our agents are at a customer's home is something that we consider very carefully. It's a big part of the on-boarding, so we try to bring -- we try to on-board agents that are going to provide a great experience.
6374 We do audits, particularly in the first 90 days that an agent has joined us. We do very targeted offers to make sure that their behaviours are aligned with what we expect. We'll do ongoing audits throughout the year to make sure that they're able to deliver a great experience within that unique channel.
6375 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6376 MS. MARSH: Also, if I may add, yesterday we heard TELUS talk about their field team, talking about network enhancements. So there is also a service element that's important. And having somebody go to somebody's door and saying, "Hey, you know, we're going to be upgrading your network in your area" as a service call, that's an important role for the field sales team as well, and it's not just sales.
6377 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. The CCTS said that investigating complaints about misleading or aggressive sales practices would involve those pre-contractual representations, undocumented representations and behaviours that would create evidentiary challenges for them. I can see that a pre-contract quote could address some of those evidentiary challenges. Do you have any other thoughts on that?
6378 MR. WATT: Yes, I did hear the discussion both on Monday and then earlier this morning.
6379 Like it would require some change to the procedures if you wanted to go down that path.
6380 Now, you're talking about -- so if we have the situation where you've got the full retail sales code, and presumably -- we haven't really discussed this, that one option would be that they would be the administrator of that code.
6381 And I mean, that may be an issue even within that code as well. I guess I would not -- if that -- if you want -- if part of that code is that you have to have a pre-sales quote, then I guess you're sort of in the same situation, are we not, in that currently they can only judge against the contract, et cetera, not the sales experience when you're not -- not contracted.
6382 It's -- again it's an issue. I hesitate to take another undertaking, but it might be one that we should think about.
6384 MS. BARRINGTON: I think the issue of evidentiary burden is, you know, this is already in dispute resolution today, so there's always going to be an element, whether it's in a sales interaction or a service interaction, where the sale takes place in person or the conversation takes place in person and there's no record of that conversation.
6385 So that problem exists today insofar as the CCTS has to deal with, you know, he said/she said between the customer and their service provider.
6386 And so I don't see that problem going completely away with a sales code.
6387 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Presumably not for in store, but certainly for online or phone you would have those records; right?
6388 MS. BARRINGTON: Right. You would have a pre-sales quote, but there still may be a dispute related to what was said versus ---
6389 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But don't you record 100 percent of yours calls ---
6390 MS. BARRINGTON: We do.
6391 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: --- and your online chats, so it wouldn't be an issue for you; right?
6392 MS. BARRINGTON: Only in those channels in person.
6393 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6394 MR. WATT: I maybe should have added this earlier just -- and it may inspire more questions, but introduce Kim as the Director, Consumer Policy for Regulatory. But for five years Kim was Rogers' ombudsperson, so she brings that perspective of having dealt with the specific issues.
6395 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Do you think the CCTS should be publicly reporting statistics on complaints of aggressive or misleading sales practices by service providers?
6396 MS. BARRINGTON: I think it's well within the scope of how they conduct their work now to have a category of complaint that touches on any kind of misleading or aggressive practices, much like today where they have a section on their report -- on their annual report now that refers to misleading contract terms. That is already part of their practice.
6397 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And at what point do you inform your customers about various consumer protection mechanisms such as the CCTS or provincial?
6398 MS. BARRINGTON: At our second level of escalation.
6399 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So that would be the manager level.
6400 MS. BARRINGTON: At Office of the President, so the manager works with the front line employee in one interaction, so we don't treat that as two interactions because they're dealing with it together.
6401 So our Office of the President is our second level of escalation.
6402 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So the -- in your written submissions, you mentioned four levels. So you said service agent, manager, Office of the President and Ombudsman.
6403 MS. BARRINGTON: Okay. Well, I'm -- I wrote that, so ---
6404 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Oh, okay.
6405 MS. BARRINGTON: --- what I meant to describe and maybe I didn't do a good job ---
6406 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Unless my recollection is incorrect, but I thought you said four.
6407 MS. BARRINGTON: No, there are two people involved, so that front line call, if it's not working well or if it's not meeting the customer's objective, the manager's required to get involved in that call. So it's considered the same touch point.
6408 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But the manager speaks to the customer as well.
6409 MS. BARRINGTON: Not in every case, no. They sometimes are called in just to help coach the employee and get them through that interaction.
6410 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But when the manager speaks to the customer, according to the customer it would be an escalation; right?
6411 MS. BARRINGTON: They would take over the call from the employee.
6412 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. So you would inform them at that stage of Office of the President if there was no resolution at that office.
6413 MS. BARRINGTON: Right. We would actually transfer that case file or that complaint to the Office of the President and ensure it gets assigned and someone contacts them within 24 hours.
6414 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What do we -- what do you say to the fact that we've had an intervenor suggest that as they moved up the complaint escalation ladder they felt more pressured and that the tone got more aggressive on the part of Rogers to stay in the contract, accept some other ---
6415 MS. BARRINGTON: That baffles me.
6416 The only thing that I recognize in that is there would be a great effort to retain the customer's business. Like if there was -- you know, if there was a fault or a problem that was caused by somebody at Rogers through that interaction, they'd be working hard to restore trust and rebuild the relationship, but I'm baffled by anyone who would say that it becomes more aggressive.
6417 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: At what point in time do you consider that trying to retain the customer's business crosses the line to aggressive behaviour that warrants intervention?
6418 MS. BARRINGTON: Any time a customer says "No, that's enough".
6419 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what do you think about whether improving awareness of CCTS is necessary or how it could be accomplished?
6420 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, I tend to agree with what Shaw said this morning. There is a recent sort of focus on public awareness with CCTS that elevates what we were doing previously.
6421 Previously, there were components of that that included messaging on our customer invoices a certain amount of times per year and messaging on our web sites and have been elevated with the revised Wireless Code last year to include no more than two clicks from the home page on your web site and search keywords that would generate a result that prompts a customer to the CCTS, and also the promotion of the CCTS at the second level of escalation.
6422 I think there's -- I think there's time for that to take effect.
6423 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So you think it's just -- those are good new rules, but they haven't percolated through to consumer awareness yet.
6424 MS. BARRINGTON: Right.
6425 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Give me an idea of how the Ombudsman works and how -- how it's different when the Ombudsman gets into an issue versus the Office of the President.
6426 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, as an Ombudsperson I worked at arm's length from the contact centre, so I reported into a different area of the company. So I wasn't reporting into the same part of the business that our call centres in customer care and our front line sales teams report to, so I was able to sort of look at things from another lens.
6427 I was also consulting with our legal team and regulatory to understand where there might have been, you know, a decision taken in a past case that might be influential.
6428 The goal of that body, that office, my role was in two parts, to resolve an unresolved issue that's taken -- just taken considerably too long to resolve already and, secondly, to inform the organization, particularly the executive level, on what is causing these issues, like why do there continue to be unresolved problems that aren't resolved.
6429 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Have you made any changes in Rogers as a result of Ombudsman proposals?
6430 MS. BARRINGTON: There were -- yeah, there were many changes. There was a monthly report that would be issued internally to senior people in the organization that was -- it included three to five items every month on trends that we had observed or unique cases that we thought would be interesting to dissect and understand better.
6431 This was -- it's been over a year since I've been in the role, but that was sort of the mandate, and where changes had resulted from that.
6432 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: How long does it take for the Ombudsman to do their work for a particular complaint?
6433 MS. BARRINGTON: It used to be roughly around three weeks, so I think we shortened it to about two weeks -- two weeks turnaround in recent years.
6434 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So the intervention by the Deaf Wireless Consultative Committee attached a letter from, I think it was, yourself regarding a deaf wireless consumer that had trouble with their plan with Rogers.
6435 So is that an example of something that took you three weeks to go through?
6436 MS. BARRINGTON: Yes.
6437 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what struck me was that the issue had been percolating from July of 2010 until your letter of July 2015.
6438 So is that the normal kind of time period it takes for a consumer complaint to get up to and be resolved, five years?
6439 MS. BARRINGTON: Oh, definitely -- definitely not. I mean, we could argue the whole point of having an Ombudsman's Office is to make sure stuff like that never happens again because there could be -- that sort of history over an issue can be lost in the day-to-day mechanics of listening to a customer and resolving an issue.
6440 But there should be no reason why any complaint would take that many years to resolve.
6441 I personally was involved in that matter, and I found it quite unique in its circumstances, and I was very interested to find a solution. And I’m sure, as you read, it wasn't a simple one to resolve for that customer.
6442 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And that would be somebody who would consider a more vulnerable customer.
6443 MS. BARRINGTON: M'hm.
6444 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So what changes did you make as a result of that so that another person in that community doesn't have to go through five years of grief before getting results from the Ombudsman's Office?
6445 MS. BARRINGTON: Well, at the time we had re-looked at our plans, our wireless offering for customers with disabilities, so I think that customer's concern was about the plans not having -- or us not having a data only plan. I think he was looking for a plan that didn't include voice, and at the time we didn't have one. And we've since created one that was data only, but we've since replaced that with something different based on new needs demonstrated by these groups.
6446 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Let me just check what else I wanted to ask here. I've lost my place. Give me a minute.
6447 You've indicated as well that you think, and other parties have argued, that competition and the availability of different service providers is a sufficient consumer protection against misleading and aggressive sales. So I just want to unpack that a little bit.
6448 We've heard from consumers that they go to family and friends. It's no use going to another company because they're all the same. What do you say to that?
6449 MR. WATT: Well, I don't think we are all the same. You know, I think that certainly when you look at the churn numbers, even though churn has been coming down, I know there's been debate about who has the lowest churn rate, but they're still in the order of 4 to 5 million wireless consumers every year who choose to go to another service provider. Significant -- very significant rates of churn on Internet as well, the same type of movement there. A little bit less there. There are fewer subscribers, obviously, because it's more related to a home rather than an individual. So their -- people are exercising their choice by moving to other providers.
6450 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And you said that there's a complexity to the telecom and broadcasting businesses. So there's different suppliers, bundles, many different products, the offers, they're changing constantly. Do you think that we need to have measures to bring simplicity to consumers? Is that part of the problem that it's -- the offers constantly changing, whether to grab customers from other providers to make it more confusing for customers?
6451 MR. AGIUS: I think the simplification of the experience of the customer experience is something we're working on every day. We're looking at every element of that experience, every element of the frontline agent experience, and working to simplify it.
6452 So this is an ongoing -- all of those continuous improvement mechanisms that I spoke to earlier are geared towards, or a big part of what they're geared towards is simplifying and making things easier and making things clearer.
6453 MR. WATT: And as for the actual offers themselves, I think they are to the benefit of consumers. That more individual consumer's needs are met by having a proliferation of offers so that they're more uniquely targeted to meet the needs of those consumers.
6454 We acknowledge that you can possibly have too much choice, and I think if you want to err, you're better to err on that side than to have too less. And then behind the scenes, in terms of fulfilling those services, Eric said we work very hard to try and improve all those processes.
6455 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And I'm just going to switch gears a little bit to ask something I meant to ask earlier and had forgotten. And that was your technicians, are they authorized or encouraged to sell products when they go into the home?
6456 MR. WATT: No, they are not. They do not sell products. I think maybe the background to the question is the allegations by third party Internet providers that we -- when our installers go into install service on their behalf that we try and win their customers away.
6457 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: That's right.
6458 MR. WATT: This infuriates us. We have seen these allegations over the years. They're always made in the press, made in generalities in hearings.
6459 I can tell you that in the last two years they have provided us in only five instances the address to contact to follow up on the installer who went to that location to see what his side of the story was. They actually provided this information that said this is what transpired, gave us the address. We were able to track down that technician.
6460 And in those five cases, one of them actually even -- wasn't even really trying to sell, but in three of the cases, our story was -- the technician's story was very different than what had been presented by the third party Internet provider. In one case, it looked like were at fault. The person was ---
6461 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6462 MR. WATT: --- pushing our services. There as no financial gain to them, but they felt they were helping us because they were employed by us. But that is it.
6463 Those are -- we can't address the issue unless we're given ---
6464 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
6465 MR. WATT: --- the facts. And the one there a couple of weeks ago, where again, the allegation. We contact -- we proactively contacted them when we saw the press reports and asked for the information, and we were told by them they were looking into it and would get back to us as necessary.
6466 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And do you have problems with salesforce turn as a result of your employment contracts?
6467 MR. AGIUS: Our attrition is in line with what we would expect. So we don't see that as a primary problem. But it's always something that we're working towards improving.
6468 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
6469 Mr. Chairman, those are all my questions.
6470 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6471 Commissioner MacDonald.
6472 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good afternoon.
6473 Just to get back to a line of discussion that the Vice-Chair was asking you about. It's with respect to your customer satisfaction survey that you send out within 24‑hours of any customer's reaction.
6474 What is the response rate? Some people just don't like taking surveys, so I'm curious.
6475 MS. MARSH: So we this year have had so far 1.4 million, and the response rate is between 10 and 25‑percent.
6476 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. And ---
6477 MR. WATT: Sorry. Just to be clear. We received the one -- we received 1.4 million responses.
6478 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Responses back.
6479 MR. WATT: Yeah, back.
6480 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
6481 MR. WATT: That's a big number.
6482 MS. MARSH: Big number.
6483 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And presumably, that survey doesn't stay active indefinitely. Is there a timeframe, you know, you must respond within a certain number of days?
6484 MS. MARSH: No, it's not -- no. You -- it's active for about 30‑days. And the questions that are asked, though -- this is the important part, I think, about the survey, is that the questions are did the actual sales rep explain to me what I'm -- how I'm going to use my products and services; what's going to happen next; they've made me feel confident, and my questions were answered or a problem was resolved. So they're very pointed questions about the interaction with the agent; they're not broad questions about just the provider. So I think that was an important point on that survey.
6485 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: But just to clarify, if I'm a Rogers customer and I go in and have a sales rep make changes to my account, how long do I have to complete that survey?
6486 MS. MARSH: Well, we try to get in touch with the customer the next day by phone and email, and the customer -- and we do try to reach them, and we leave them a voice mail. And they have up to three days to respond.
6487 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And if you're reaching out to them via email, they still have the 30‑days ---
6488 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6489 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: --- to respond?
6490 MS. MARSH: Yeah.
6491 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Could you maybe undertake to provide a copy of that email transaction that you send out soliciting the survey?
6493 MS. MARSH: Sure. And just to give you other context. We before used to send it out 30‑days after, and what was important was the customer doesn't remember the interaction as well. So that was why it was important to move to rapid so that right after the interaction you can tell us how that -- the representative interacted with you.
6494 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And just one final on that. I agree with you there's a, you know, a recency effect; the sooner they respond the more accurately they remember the transaction. And I can see that that would be very useful for advising on politeness of the sales rep or on items like, you know, how long was I stuck on the phone, things like that. But is that really useful information? Because they may not have had enough time to fully test drive their service or received their first bill to ensure that all is as they thought it was going to be during that interaction.
6495 MS. MARSH: So upfront -- and that's why we're really focused on upfront. We talk about the quote and the customer acknowledgement process, and we talk about -- some people are confused. The upfront is really important.
6496 So the questions are the rep helped me understand how to get the most from my products and services; they made me feel confident that I would get what I needed and so the questions are about that upfront, did the rep really explain to me what I was going to get? Because that’s the issue about later when they get their first bill, or they start using their products, the issue is upfront that there was some confusion.
6497 So that’s why that rapid survey, they helped me understand, they made me feel confident, those questions are really important.
6498 And that’s back to the quote. All up front is where the problem can start. So that’s why we ask that.
6499 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay, thanks.
6500 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras?
6501 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
6502 In the intervention about the elderly person that is getting a service that she doesn’t need, you said it offers more value, in that case it was more economical for that person to get the three services.
6503 Was that a promotional price at that time that made it cheaper? Or if those services -- three services sold at the regular price was higher than the two services only she would have preferred?
6504 MS. BARRINGTON: It was definitely a promotional -- like a bundle. Our bundles are meant to provide more value to our consumers, when you bundle services together.
6505 And at the time, from our research, there was no, you know, equivalent bundle, or a bundle of the other two services that would have given her the same value. So it was a three-product bundle that was more financially economically than these two products à la carte.
6506 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: For a limited time, then afterwards she would have been stuck to pay for three ---
6507 MS. BARRINGTON: Most of our ---
6508 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: For three services ---
6509 MS. BARRINGTON: Yeah, they ---
6510 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- but one service in which that she didn’t need? Okay.
6511 To not -- I’ve seen that, I mean, two services more expensive than three. And I’m wondering what is the rationale, from your end?
6512 I think also of local landline. I mean, people today with cellphones, they don’t need a local landline anymore. But people aren’t able to get rid of them. What’s the idea?
6513 Is it because with time and the increases on each service, you’re able to get more out of the customer on a monthly basis?
6514 MR. WATT: Well, the bundles, we can get a bundle without -- as you say, home phone is just barely hanging on. That’s an overstatement. Over 70 percent still have a home phone.
6515 The internet is the basic base product that we build our bundles on. And that is -- that’s really the issue.
6516 So we will go -- we -- our marketing people assess whether there can be a bundle without internet. We hear the problem. We understand the problem quite clearly now.
6517 MR. AGIUS: I’d just also like to add that the end of promotion time frame is a really critical moment for us with our customers. And what we want to do is keep our customers and keep them happy.
6518 So during that time period, when their promotions are coming to an end, we actually have dedicated agents that are specialists in end of promotion that connect with these customers and try to make sure that the next promotion or the next offer they go to is acceptable to them so that we can continue to retain these customers.
6519 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you. You’ve answered my question.
6520 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simard?
6521 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6522 I have a couple of follow-up questions to Commissioner Macdonald’s question about feedback.
6523 I’m wondering if the surveys are the only way to proactively get feedback on misleading or aggressive practices that might occur during the sales process?
6524 MS. MARSH: We also do call listening, and we also do mystery shopping, and audits for the field team.
6525 So these are all ongoing measures to either listen, or to have a mystery shopper report back, how they behaved during interaction. And that happens ongoing.
6526 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. And I know that you mentioned that this survey occurs right after the sales. If misleading or aggressive practices occur right after the sale, like let’s say that the customer wants to make some adjustments or even cancel their contract, has it been -- you just mentioned, like, calling, like, to, I guess, address these types of issues. But could you clarify for me? Could you please give me more detail about that to -- again to address misleading or aggressive practices that could occur right after the sale but also right after your survey?
6527 MS. MARSH: Sure. I’ll start with -- I’ll start, maybe Eric can add on.
6528 So if the transaction happened and the next day the survey went out and the customer said, “This was horrible,” that information goes to the manager right away. And so right away disciplinary action does occur from that. Because it is so rapid, we can address it right away and we get down right to the rep level and the manager gets it.
6529 MR. AGIUS: And I just want to underscore that our monitoring mechanisms are a really important way for us to stay on top of the customer experience.
6530 So with the call listening, for example, we do a sample of call listening for every single agent. And every agent also knows that their -- every interaction they have with a customer on the phone is being recorded.
6531 And so I think this is very important. Mystery shopping happens very regularly. We’ve got a rhythm to this mystery shops. And as I mentioned earlier, the same with the field sales.
6532 So this is -- in addition to the customer voice and the customer survey, this is just another way for us to have a very holistic view on that customer experience.
6533 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And do you have the number of the -- like the rates -- actually, like the -- a clear picture of the feedback that you get using proactive, like, measures or tools? Like surveys or, you know, the other one you just mentioned, compared to, like, complaints or, I would say, comments that you would get from your customers that they would do it by themselves, calling you or call centres.
6534 MR. AGIUS: We look at it holistically. So we look at every channel, every mechanism. It all rolls up for us as an overarching view. Or look at it like an air traffic control.
6535 In terms of these customer interactions, we have verbatims by our customers that we look at and review.
6536 We even call back some of our detractors that have responded poorly in the surveys to better understand the situation, to help us better remedy it, make it right by the customer, and then work with our agents to continue to give a better experience.
6537 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And your call back kind of approach, is it like the same one as the one that was described by another intervenor? Like it was systematic, like every -- after 30 days after a sale occurs?
6538 MR. AGIUS: The call backs I’m referring to is when we have a customer that in one of our surveys has highlighted an issue, we will, in addition to the measures that we take with all of our surveys, there will be customers that we will actually call back.
6539 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. But it’s not like for, of course, all sales, and it’s not ---
6540 MR. AGIUS: No.
6541 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: --- systematic?
6542 MR. AGIUS: No, it’s not.
6543 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And again, for, like, proactive feedback, it’s just like I would -- that’s what I understand, like, by the survey? Basically if we want to kind of summarize the ---
6544 MR. AGIUS: The survey is a very important tool for us to get feedback and hear our customer’s voice shortly after the interaction.
6545 And that information is extremely useful to us.
6546 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: But again, like, to me there’s a difference between, like, proactive feedback that customers, I guess, would do, and in comparison to proactive monitoring that you would do in order to get this feedback.
6547 So just to be clear, the proactive monitoring that you do is limited to the surveys; right?
6548 MR. AGUIS: Yes, that’s our primary tool.
6549 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you very much.
6550 MS. MARSH: I do have one other thing that we do do proactively.
6551 We survey our frontline every week and we ask them if there were any customer issues. And if there’s something that they had a recommendation back, they can -- they are free to make recommendations. And we are committed to actioning the top ides from the frontline to improve the customer experience.
6552 And of them, as I mentioned earlier, was end of promotion. They didn’t feel like it was clear. So that -- it’s proactive, it’s a front line telling us this is not working for the customer, it’s confusing and we are committed to actioning the top -- top ideas.
6553 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you.
6554 MR. AGIUS: Just onther thing that I think has been very helpful in changing the culture of our organization, so one of the things our CEO does every week is all of the customer complaints that are escalated to him, he shares those with the entire organization. And so we review those, we review how they were addressed, how they were resolved, and it’s just been a really important -- a really important piece of information that goes out to our entire organization every week to keep us grounded on what’s most important, which is our customer.
6555 MR. WATT: And when Eric means -- says “the entire organization”, he means regulatory, every individual within Rogers gets an email about 8 o’clock Monday morning.
6556 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6557 A couple of follow-ups. One, I just wanted to go back to the -- to the survey, the customer response. And I don’t have a specific reference on the record, but I thought I recalled on -- in some correspondence with complainants on a -- with respect to the feedback on chat. It was seven days. Has that changed in the last six months, year?
6558 MS. MARSH: Yes, we’ve moved to the rapid method, yes.
6559 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So that’s -- thank you for that.
6560 A couple of other miscellaneous questions just about cancelling, or a customer cancelling. I’m curious, you know, how hard is it?
6561 So can a Rogers customer call the front line call centre and just say, “I want to cancel” without being transferred?
6562 MR. AGIUS: So a few -- a few things. Most cancellations happen without a call, so our customers are free to be able to cancel and switch services without having to call us.
6563 THE CHAIRPERSON: But if they do ---
6564 MR. AGIUS: But typically, if they do call one of our contact centres, the first tier front line agent will transfer them.
6565 THE CHAIRPERSON: So they will get transferred.
6566 MR. AGIUS: Yes.
6567 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how long is the queue. Do you have average numbers, the queue to get through and how long might be the delay in getting transferred to a second line for that individual?
6568 MR. AGIUS: Yeah, that would vary on the time of the year and when -- you know, how volumes were. I know our wait times right now are extremely low, and so the amount of time it would take to have a phone picked up and get transferred is in the seconds.
6569 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And -- sorry, let me just check my notes for one second.
6570 Earlier in a response, you indicated that some lines of business and channels do provide a quote and the quote process would be rolled out to others more broadly next year.
6571 Can you describe specifically -- can you give us some more information about the plan? What will be in that quote document?
6572 MS. MARSH: So the important -- the reason why this one is more difficult to roll out to all channels is it's one system that we want to put it on versus right now in retail it's on its own individual system.
6573 What we want to do is we want to have it on -- across all of our channels. And what it would be is if you wanted to check out a phone and a rate plan and maybe some add-ons, you could put that together digitally, whether you're in a retail store with a rep or online or over the phone with a call centre rep and that you could then save that, what that looks like, so how much was the phone up front, how much is my first bill, what are promotions, when do they end, what would the bill look like later.
6574 You would get that in a digital form and it could be mailed to you.
6575 And then, when you decide you're ready to purchase, a rep could then open that up and say, "Oh, let me retrieve your quote", so then it's a very seamless, consistent experience. So that's why it will take us longer to roll that out. But that is on the plan for next year.
6576 THE CHAIRMAN: But what would be in the quote?
6577 MS. MARSH: Oh, well, how ---
6578 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you --- is it identical to what you’re offering today and being expanded?
6579 MS. MARSH: Products and services would -- so it would be -- I'm sorry. I just -- is it products and services you mean or do you mean the actual information?
6580 THE CHAIRPERSON: You mentioned you already have a process for ---
6581 MS. MARSH: I see what you're saying.
6582 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- quotes.
6583 MS. MARSH: Yes.
6584 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I wanted to know if it's the same element that are in that quote that will be offered on all the other channels.
6585 MS. MARSH: No, it will be -- it will be enhanced.
6586 So today it's a little bit more simplistic, but it is something we can still put together and say "Here's your bundle".
6587 Going forward, it would be evolved and we'd continue to simplify it.
6588 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how long will it be valid for when we honour the quote? There's -- you know, particularly I think of wireless.
6589 MS. MARSH: There's so many promotions.
6590 THE CHAIRPERSON: That personal experience going back after 30 days to change my plan and the plan that I signed up for isn't even -- doesn't exist any more, so.
6591 MS. MARSH: Yes, yes. There are many limited time offers, as you know, so we'd have to be crystal clear on it that this offer, you know, expires on Saturday. And then at that -- we would have to be just very clear, so it would depend on the offer. Yes.
6592 THE CHAIRPERSON: Will that not introduce a fair degree of confusion if you're going to give a definitive quote that might expire in two or three days?
6593 MS. MARSH: We would have to be clear this quote is good for till what -- like what would the time period be. We'd have to be super clear on how long it was good for, especially if we would want to make it seamless. So you got a quote potentially in one channel and then it was fulfilled in another, the offer would have to be available, so we'd have to be very clear on the duration of the offer.
6594 But offers aren’t typically just a few days, so hopefully the quote -- the quote to purchase timeframe would be -- wouldn't be that long.
6595 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
6596 Commission counsel, did they -- are they in the running for the undertaking contest?
6597 MR. ABBOTT: I'm so glad you asked.
6598 To begin with, no further questions. The excitement is palpable here at the counsel track side table.
6599 We have Eastlink in the lead with five undertakings, Rogers close behind with four, and watch out for the jockey in the blue jersey who's a competitor on a fast horse.
6600 So with respect to Rogers' undertakings, there are four. The first is to provide the number of Rogers employees who have submitted a complaint or concern to the Star internal reporting service during the relevant period of July 1st, 2017 to July 16th, 2018.
6601 Can you confirm that undertaking?
6602 MR. WATT: Yes.
6603 MR. ABBOTT: Thank you.
6604 The second undertaking is to provide Rogers' views on what implementation approach is appropriate should the Commission determine that a broader sales practice code is warranted.
6605 Can you confirm that undertaking as well?
6606 MR. WATT: I will just to clarify, implementation approach, that meaning whether it would be referred to SISC or to a hearing, that we're not the actual subsequent implementation, the implementation of the development code.
6607 MR. ABBOTT: That's correct, to the development.
6608 MR. WATT: Yes.
6609 MR. ABBOTT: Development, sorry. We should say what development approach for the code.
6610 So I'll re-read that.
6611 To provide Rogers' view on what development approach is appropriate should the Commission determine that a broader sales practice code is warranted.
6612 MR. WATT: Yes.
6613 MR. ABBOTT: Thank you.
6614 The third is to provide Rogers' views on the evidentiary challenges that CCTS may face if it were to over -- if the CCTS were to oversee a sales practice code that included misleading and aggressive sales practices, and how the CCTS could address any evidentiary challenges such as requiring pre-sales quotes.
6615 MR. WATT: Yes.
6616 MR. ABBOTT: Thank you.
6617 And finally, to provide a copy of the customer experience survey email that is sent to a customer after an interaction.
6618 MR. WATT: Yes.
6619 MR. ABBOTT: Thank you.
6620 The undertakings are due November 1st and, as you're no doubt aware if you've been paying attention, they can be filed in confidence in whole or in part -- or in part if appropriate.
6621 Thank you.
6622 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6623 That completes our time with you. Thank you for your presentation and responses.
6624 We’ll break for lunch now, a little shorter than usual, returning 2:30, please.
--- Upon recessing at 1:38 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 2:28 p.m.
6625 MS. ROY: Bell Canada’s presentation.
6626 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
6627 MR. MALCOLMSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission staff.
6628 My name is Rob Malcolmson and I am Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs, BCE. Before beginning our formal presentation, let me introduce the members of our panel.
6629 Seated immediately to my right: Rizwan Jamal, President of Bell Residential Services; next to Rizwan is C-A de Magistris, Vice-President, Loyalty and Retention; next to C-A is Kevin Cluett, Vice-President, Sales & Distribution ---
6630 MS. ROY: Sorry, Mr. Malcolmson, can you just put your mic more -- yes, thank you.
6631 MR. MALCOLMSON: And next to Kevin is Nancy Tichbon, Vice-President, Corporate Stores.
6632 To my immediate left is Ruby Barber, Assistant General Counsel, Regulatory. Next to Ruby is Melanie Schweizer, Vice-President, Legal. And next to Melanie is Denise Franc, a representative with our Accessibility Services Centre.
6633 And last but not least, behind me is Natasha Nanji, our Senior Specialist, Regulatory.
6634 Special thanks to Natasha who has kept us organized and relatively calm throughout the process.
6635 Today, Bell's customer-facing teams build and maintain relationships that support over 22 million wireless, residential and business customer connections spanning every region of the country.
6636 Customers are at the centre of all that we do, as is reflected in our overriding goal, to be recognized by customers as Canada's leading communications company.
6637 As you will hear, to help us achieve our goal we have stringent measures in place that govern our interactions with customers. We also continuously work to improve how we serve all customers in the normal course of our day-to-day operations.
6638 Based on the record of this proceeding, it is also clear that more can be done to strengthen the confidence and trust Canadian consumers have in our industry.
6639 For this reason, we are proposing solutions that address the main source of issues discussed during the hearing which, as the CCTS has described, appears to be a mismatch between customer expectations and what the consumer receives from their provider.
6641 MR. JAMAL: At Bell we strive to ensure our customer-facing team members have the training, skills and support they need to interact and work with customers with honesty, courtesy and respect.
6642 Providing customer-satisfying experiences with Bell is critical for our business success. Addressing customer requests efficiently, meeting our commitments, exploring the best options available and simplifying transactions are all fundamental to building and maintaining successful relationships with our customers.
6643 We take the negative experiences raised in this proceeding very seriously. And we take action when we fall short on expectations. We want to assure you that misleading and aggressive sales practices are not tolerated at Bell.
6644 We are also mindful that the vast majority of Canadians have not voiced concerns. We believe a main reason for this is the great work our 50,000 strong team at Bell performs every day to serve customers as best we can. This includes our customer-facing teams and the support they provide to millions of Canadians, generating many positive experiences thanks to their knowledge, commitment and dedication to do the best job possible.
6645 Much of this great work stems from a solid foundation, the Bell Code of Business Conduct. This Code clearly sets out expectations and responsibilities that all Bell employees must adhere to, and each year all employees are required to review and affirm their commitment to the Code.
6646 Consistent with our brand promise, we are always looking for ways to improve our service.
6648 M. de MAGISTRIS: Offrir un service à la clientèle uniforme, précis et efficace n’est pas une tâche facile quand on doit gérer 54 millions d’interactions, et les outils et les processus évoluent sans cesse.
6649 Tout en appuyant notre innovation en matière de produits et services, nous offrons une formation rigoureuse à tous nos agents en contact avec la clientèle. Nous faisons aussi un suivi régulier des appels avec les clients, des commandes de service en ligne, et des séances de clavardage sur le Web, afin d’évaluer l’efficacité de nos agents et de nos outils.
6650 Nous évaluons la qualité des interactions de tous les agents avec nos clients au moyen d’une grille qui nous aide à répondre aux questions suivantes :
6651 - Avons-nous bien compris les besoins du client?
6652 - Avons-nous recommandé des solutions avantageuses pour le client?
6653 - Les renseignements fournis étaient-ils toujours exacts?
6654 Au moyen de différents outils, comme cette grille d’évaluation de la qualité, nous sommes en mesure de déterminer si et quand nous devons ajouter d’autres ressources, ou si nous devons fournir plus d’encadrement et de formation.
6655 Nous nous fions également à certains indicateurs de rendement pour évaluer nos interactions avec les clients. Ces indicateurs nous aident à déterminer si le client a eu une expérience positive. Ils nous permettent aussi d’anticiper et de résoudre rapidement d’éventuels problèmes.
6656 MS. TICHBON : Just as regular monitoring ---
6657 M. de MAGISTRIS: I’m not done, Nancy.
6658 MS. TICHBON: I’m sorry.
6659 M. de MAGISTRIS: Nous comptons sur une équipe attitrée a notre Centre des services d’accessibilité, qui offre des produits et des services adaptés aux Canadiens vulnérables atteints d’une incapacité motrice, cognitive, auditive, visuelle ou vocale. À notre connaissance, Bell est le seul fournisseur de services au Canada à exploiter un tel centre spécialisé de services d’accessibilité. La portée de ces services, qui sont actuellement offerts au Québec et en Ontario, sera étendue à la région Atlantique et au Manitoba en 2019.
6661 MS. TICHBON: Just as regular monitoring is important to quality control at Bell, we believe it is important to collect, analyze and act upon the opinions of those we are serving each and every day, our customers.
6662 Accordingly, we invite all customers who have completed a transaction at our retail stores or through our call centres to participate in a satisfaction survey.
6663 Questions in this survey are designed to measure not just the customer's satisfaction with the product but to determine how happy they are with the service they received.
6664 If the customer provides a low score then we proactively reach out to that customer to better understand the cause of their negative experience and what we can do to make it right.
6665 When it comes to meeting our standards for customer service, staff at all of our stores, including partner retailers, receive training that emphasizes how fundamentally important it is to understand a customer's needs and avoid pushing customers towards products or services they do not want.
6666 Ensuring positive sales experiences is critical to our success in today's intensely competitive environment and helps us maintain long-lasting relationships with our customers. We are proud of the fact that the vast majority of customers are very satisfied with their retail experience at Bell.
6668 MR. CLUETT: As we upgrade our network ------ (Technical difficulties)
6669 MR. CLUETT: Yeah, thank you. Sorry.
6670 As we upgrade our network on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis with new fibre and wireless to the home connections, door-to-door marketing is one of the most effective means for us to reach out to customers and inform them about the availability of our new services.
6671 All neighbourhood marketing representatives are trained to accurately explain our products and services and what customers should expect if they decide to subscribe. Sales are generally not made by our neighbourhood marketing representatives but rather by call centre representatives who outline and confirm full details of the offer for each customer before the order is placed. All of these calls are recorded. All representatives receive standardized training and adhere to the Bell Code of Business Conduct and we monitor the quality of customer interactions and provide coaching for agents. And in cases of non-compliance, we take meaningful action, including terminations.
6673 MR. JAMAL: We recognize there is always more that can be done to improve customer service. And as the record of this proceeding shows, there is room for improvement by all major service providers.
6674 When considering solutions, it is important to take into account the often complex nature of the products and services we bring to the market.
6675 Each and every customer is unique in some way and each customer's expectations may not necessarily match what's on offer. For this reason, 100 per cent customer satisfaction may simply not be achievable. That said, it is an objective Bell strives to meet.
6676 We also believe the industry as a whole can do more. For this reason, we are recommending the adoption of several sales practices that would apply to all telecommunications service providers serving Canadians.
6678 MR. MALCOLMSON: To ensure our industry better serves Canadians we are proposing that the Commission recommend the following measures in its report to Government:
6679 First, all service providers must ensure that their wireline offers are clear in all communications with customers by requiring compliance with a modified version of the "clarity of offer" provisions included in the TVSP Code.
6680 Second, all service providers must offer a buyer's remorse option that allows a customer to terminate a new service within 30 days of installation, without an early termination fee.
6681 Third, all service providers must provide order confirmations by email, written in plain language, within 24 hours of the order being placed. The order confirmation would include: (1) the commitment period and any applicable early termination fees; (2) the services to be provided and the applicable prices, including an explanation if prices are subject to change and the expiry dates, and (3) a reference to the buyer's remorse option.
6682 Fourth, all service providers must institute a "Do Not Knock" list.
6683 And finally, all service providers must develop and maintain a whistleblower policy which allows team members to confidentially report behaviour they feel is not in accordance with policies and applicable codes.
6684 Our recommendations could be implemented quickly and would supplement existing oversight of individual companies in our industry by the Commission, by courts of law, by the Competition Bureau, the CCTS and various provincial agencies.
6685 Thank you and we would be pleased to respond to any questions.
6686 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you for your opening remarks and the constructive proposals.
6687 You mentioned a theme that appears throughout your submissions, including the comments today, is that the vast majority of Canadians haven’t voiced concerns. The vast majority of your customers are highly satisfied. And you also mentioned in the opening remarks today that you strive to interact and work with customers with honesty, courtesy and respect.
6688 So as the starting point, I guess I would just like to ask you to juxtapose that with against the more than 650 Canadians that have specifically raised issues relating to Bell and the more than 35 employees or ex-employees that have raised issues relating to Bell, all with respect to what are perceived to be misleading or aggressive sales tactics.
6689 So why don’t we start there with a discussion of that conflict so to speak.
6690 MR. MALCOLMSON: Sure, Mr. Chairman. I’ll ask Riz in a minute but I think, you know, context is important here and if you'll indulge me, we do handle 54 million inbound calls in any given year with 22 million customer connections. And the vast majority of our customers are in fact satisfied or pleased with the experiences they've had with Bell.
6691 We spent the week listening to, you know, where the industry so to speak has dropped the ball, we've dropped the ball, and in some instances. And so we've come forward today to make proposals that will -- you're never going to solve 100 percent for some of the issues that we've seen but we think the proposals we've put forward will go a long way to rectifying problems if they arise and after they arise.
6692 And I know Riz would like to speak to the number of complaints on the record and give you our assurances.
6693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6694 MR. JAMAL: Yeah. So as it relates to Bell, there were 404 complaints on the record which mentioned Bell and Virgin. These were the totality of complaints, not just the ones related to sales practices.
6695 You know, we believe that, you know, clearly there are opportunities here for us to do better. We have called back everyone of these 404 that we've been able to find, you know, with a minimum of two attempts. Our Executive Care Team has summarized each and every customer's complaint that they've spoken to to better understand root cause so that we can determine is there any new trends in these complaints.
6696 And what I would assure you is that, you know, we take complaints very, very seriously. We take these complaints and we try to learn from them and improve our service. And yes, there's clearly complaints here that we look at and we don’t feel like we did a very good job with them. And, you know, we're going to take them away and try to figure out how we do better moving forward.
6697 But we don’t take these lightly but there are a number of transactions we believe that go extremely well. As Rob indicated earlier, we do do a post-transaction survey and those post-transaction surveys when people do buy services from us, we see, you know, over 90 percent say that they are very satisfied or extremely satisfied.
6698 So I think we are doing a good job with a lot of the transactions and, you know, there's always opportunity to do better. And this hearing and the complaints that we've reviewed not just from this hearing but also from the CCTS, we feel like the biggest opportunity for us and the industry kind of relates to the mismatch of customer expectations and what they think that they're signing up for, which is why our proposals really hit at the heart of that issue.
6699 The first three of the five proposals really in our mind are about how do we set better expectations with customers so that they better understand what they're signing up for and we don’t have these issues to deal with as we move forward.
6700 THE CHAIRPERSON: I mean that's one definition of the problem but the other is aggressive or misleading sales practices.
6701 MR. JAMAL: Absolutely, and I think that what I would say is that, you know, proposals 4 and 5 from us kind of help us delve into that particular area.
6702 I would start by saying that, you know, number one, our Bell Code of Business Conduct that every single Bell employee needs to certify annually, clearly states the behaviours and the guidelines to which, you know, our employees should deal with customers and competitors and it's very clearly articulated in that code, you know, what we're expecting from our Bell employees.
6703 And I would say that, you know, in addition to that, you know, we've got a very rigorous whistleblower program in place that allows us to better understand if there are employees that are not following the code and we really do act on those complaints and we take them very seriously. And you see with our proposals 4 and 5 we are trying to address some of the other areas around aggressive sales practice that have been mentioned, you know, on the record to the Commission.
6704 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I mean we'll get into some of those.
6705 On the code, how long has it been in place?
6706 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think Riz is speaking -- or the Business Code of Conduct ---
6707 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Business Code of Conduct.
6708 MR. MALCOLMSON: --- has been in place for time immemorial at Bell.
6709 THE CHAIRPERSON: And just quickly and again we'll come back to some of these issues, on your customer surveys after the customer interaction, what kind of response rate do you have?
6710 MR. MALCOLMSON: I’ll hand it off to CA to talk about call centre and then Nancy to talk about ---
6711 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll get into more details later but just as a starting point, I just -- you were mentioning ---
6712 MR. de MAGISTRIS: Yes. So just as an overall starting point, we would get the same level of response that you have heard this morning, anywhere between 15 and 30 percent.
6713 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thanks.
6714 So I mean there's a whole bunch of areas I'm going to go through. You've been paying attention no doubt all through the week, so you're well aware of some of the subject matters I'd like to touch on.
6715 I guess at the outset I should say obviously you have flanker brands and as we asked earlier, I am assuming that your comments and responses today include those brands?
6716 MR. JAMAL: That is correct.
6717 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thanks. So let's start with definitions as we have with a number of parties. How would you define misleading sales practices that warrant intervention?
6718 MR. MALCOLMSON: So Mr. Chairman, we would -- we would define it the same way that it's defined in the Competition Act which you've heard I know already, knowingly or recklessly making a representation to a customer that's false or misleading in a material respect. So in other words, intentional deception. That's how we would define misleading.
6719 THE CHAIRPERSON: And aggressive sales practices?
6720 MR. MALCOLMSON: We've talked a lot about this and I think that -- it's a tough one in the sense that what's aggressive in any one scenario or overly aggressive in a sales interaction I think is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. It's subjective. You could have a situation where a person says, “Oh, you know, not interested”, but when they learn more about the product, they are in fact interested. So you know, query whether that is unduly aggressive.
6721 I think the way we look at it is what are the sort of indicators that someone has crossed the line and we would look at, you know, was the agent coercive? Was there harassment? Were they threatening? Were they confrontational? Were they trying to unduly influence the customer?
6722 So I think it's more having indicators than being able to come up with a bright-line definition.
6723 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe not a bright line but you just said, for example, they're not interested until they find out more about the product. So at a first glance, I'm not interested sounds like no to me. Is that continuing beyond that point? Is that aggressive?
6724 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think every sales interaction is different. It's a human interaction and, you know, if someone is speaking with an agent, I think it's fair and reasonable and I know people at the other end of the table would love to talk about, you know, how they try to understand the customer's needs.
6725 So I think it's a process of understanding a customer's needs and then determining if the person doesn’t want to make the purchase, then no. And if you will, we can talk a little bit about ---
6726 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
6727 MR. MALCOLMSON: --- how we try to do that in each of our channels.
6728 MS. TICHBON: Thank you. So just to start with, we have a really extensive training program that we actually give to all our Bell retail employees when they start. It's comprehensive and it's face-to-face. And the foundation of the training program is actually to understand the customer's lifestyle first.
6729 We've heard lots of people speaking today about needs-based selling. Well, for us to really get that right, we feel it's important to understand more about the customer's lifestyle.
6730 We teach them about the five W’s. So it's who is going to be using it, what are they going to be using it for, where are they going to be using it, and we put how in there too.
6731 And so by doing that questioning and teaching them to use opened questions and closed questions, we're making sure our sales associates really learn first about that customer’s lifestyle and then we move them into building a solution that suits the needs of the individual.
6732 From there we also then make sure that we actually acknowledge it. It's not just about hearing it that first time. And so we go through steps in our training to teach about ensure you have clarity. We teach them techniques to be able to paraphrase, to make sure we have really good understanding of what they're looking for.
6733 I can talk more about the training, but I think that covers off briefly how we really make sure that we're listening to our customers.
6734 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll come back to that -- well, maybe I'll go to suitability standards. So as you're making those inquiries, then you are getting a sense of the suitability of product for the customer?
6735 MS. TICHBON: Absolutely, yes.
6736 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I don't know if you had an opportunity to hear Commissioner Laizner's questions with Rogers, she described an intervention we received where both Bell and Rogers had provided an internet service to a customer who didn't require, it would appear, internet service, and yet two providers managed to sell services to the individual. Can you comment how that can happen when you are carefully assessing suitability requirements?
6737 MR. JAMAL: So just to be really clear, I think that, you know, as Nancy kind of outlined, we have a very needs-based approach and we try to understand the customer's needs. I think based on the intervention and how, you know, the details that we read, clearly, you know, something fell down and, you know, the rep, you know, did not do a very good job in that particular case. And, you know, it sounds like, you know, something that, you know, we've got to figure out how to solve in our ecosystem.
6738 I would say that, you know, this would not be something that we're proud of or we feel is right in any way.
6739 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in the measures that you've proposed today, would any of those help in this regard?
6740 MR. JAMAL: Well, I do think that, you know, the -- you know, many of the measures that we've put forward are really about trying to help set better expectations for our customers. And I think that, you know, the ability to have an order confirmation, post the discussion with an agent and clearly know what you're going to be getting and what you're signing up for before an installation actually happens, I think in general will help with regards to, you know, making sure that customers understand, you know, what they've agreed to and does it meet their needs or not. They have time to reflect on it.
6741 In addition to that, you know, Rob also indicated that, you know, we are suggesting to have a buyer's remorse period to ensure that in the event that the customer signs up for a fixed term contract that they would be able to exit that without any termination penalties for up to 30 days post installation. So in the event that the customer realises maybe this isn't the right product for me, it doesn't meet the expectations that I have, you'd be able to actually exit that particular relationship without, you know, termination penalties.
6742 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for that.
6743 Let's just stay on the suitability standard for a second. Can you go back over? You were saying -- you gave me a general indication of the questions that are asked. Can you be a little more specific? Do you keep a checklist? Is it a scripted process?
6744 MS. TICHBON: Yes, we actually do a lot of things with them. So the -- this training has eight standards in it and then we also have lots of measures in place where we can monitor the adherence to those standards. So our store managers would have an observation form that covers off each of the standards that I mentioned about making sure that they're establishing the customer's needs and that they're acknowledging them.
6745 We also teach them this process because -- and I think it's maybe where we want to get to with the suitability. You know, we don't want anyone to categorise an individual. You know, I don't -- it wouldn't be right for our sales associates to say, "You know, you're elderly, and so this is what you need."
6746 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hm.
6747 MS. TICHBON: And so when we do this process of understanding the lifestyle and some of the other questions that we ask, you know, it's tell us what your typical day would be. Or if they're looking at mobility product it would be, you know, what phone do you have today and tell us about how do you use it and what are the services that you enjoy with using that, so that we're truly getting to the bottom of that individual. We talk a lot about personalisation and also creating solutions that are right based on lifestyle and not making any assumptions based on their personal or what they perceive that the customer might want until they fully understand.
6748 THE CHAIRPERSON: But if we go to some of the specifics and visions in the record I'm looking at my notes and I see, for example, an intervention with a mismatch. I think it was Bell number 790, where the individual was told they could get a certain plan while bringing his own device. When the bill came it was higher and then told the deal only applied if you buy a phone. 791 being told they were being given a free tablet and then getting charged on the bill.
6749 Again, I sense a disconnect between the care taken to identify suitability and then the complaints we have or the submissions we have on the record.
6750 MR. MALCOLMSON: Maybe I'll start and others may want to join in, but to the extent that -- as I said earlier, the vast majority of the transactions go as planned. Customers are happy. But when things do go bad and things can go bad in sales interactions just by their very nature, that's why our focus was on how do we fix that if and when they happen. And we think that our proposal covers off or reduces the harms as a result of those negative interactions.
6751 So you would get a clarity of offer or confirmation of order. You would -- and you would have the opportunity to walk away after a 30-day period. So when something does go wrong, there's an opportunity for the customer who's had a negative experience, if we weren't able to resolve it, ultimately to walk away. We wouldn't want to see that happen, but I think that's the ultimate safeguard.
6752 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. We'll come back to that I'm sure later.
6753 Just to take up on the example I gave earlier where there was a situation where there were two high speed internet services by two different providers sold to someone who apparently didn't want either service, or need either service I should say, what are Bell technicians trained to do? I don't know within that case which service was installed first, but how are your technicians trained? If they show up and there's already a high speed service activated and working there, what would their response be? What should their response be?
6754 MR. JAMAL: So let me comment. And I would say that, you know, there -- I've gone on many truck rolls with our technicians and I would say that they've got a very challenging job. A lot of times when you're in the home many of the customers, you know, feel like you're invading their privacy and, you know, really actually want you in and out as quickly as possible. You know, generally they're very busy. Sometimes you have people in the home that aren't necessarily the ones that are subscribing to the service. It's hard to get a full understanding of what exactly is happening in the home.
6755 The technician really is showing up to install the service. And usually the due diligence on, you know, the sale has been done much earlier. For sure, if customers do have an interaction with our technicians, our technicians do have the ability to cancel orders at the door.
6756 And, for example, we have this program where we sell Wi-Fi extenders to our customers. And, you know, on, you know, a weekly basis I review that with the field technicians. And, you know, typically about 5 to 10 per cent of the times they'll walk into a home and actually say to the customer that, "Your modem is actually -- sufficient to actually cover your Wi-Fi needs. And, you know, if this is something you don't want, I can actually cancel it." And that happens 5 to 10 per cent of the time.
6757 So we do give our technicians discretion to cancel, you know, services at the door. And, you know, I would say sometimes it's very difficult to understand the customer's needs at the door because, you know, they're busy. You know, the right person may not actually be at home at the time of the install, et cetera. So, you know, I think that it -- you know, they do play a role, but at the same time, their main function is just to install the services. And, you know, many Canadians just want them in and out as quickly as possible and don't want to engage in a friendly conversation a lot of the times either.
6758 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you give those same technicians the ability to sell at the door as well as cancel services?
6759 MR. JAMAL: They do have the ability to generate leads. So if there is a customer, for example, that does -- you know, is interested in something and has engaged with our technicians, the technicians can then connect them with our sales call centre to then, you know, follow through on potentially the sale or understand the needs of the customer better and fulfill on that.
6760 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you keep any internal statistics on how common that is?
6761 MR. JAMAL: It's very small, but Kevin can speak to it.
6762 MR. CLUETT: Yeah, so I can speak to that. I think Rizwan's right, the primary focus of the technicians in the home is obviously to resolve the customer's issue and install the service. Their matrix really aren't focused on selling. If the customer did want, you know, interaction with the customer, we'll either provide the customer with a lead number that they can contact us, or if the customer so chooses, we'll put them on the phone with that technician.
6763 In terms of our overall sales, Mr. Commissioner, it's very, very small. Less than 1 percent would be our sales volume. It's not a material ---
6764 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you actually track the numbers inside? Would you undertake to give us those numbers?
6766 MR. CLUETT: Yeah, I have no issues with providing that number. Yes.
6767 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. It's your first installment in the undertaking race. I have confidence in you.
6768 There has been, on the record, a considerable amount of discussion about service providers being held accountable, if you will, than for the suitability of those services. You've identified a number of solutions, and perhaps they do this, but I'll give you a chance to articulate it further.
6769 What do you think of a specific suitability requirement? Do you think it is necessary? And how do you think it could be implemented? Or do you consider that to be subsumed in your proposed solutions?
6770 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think, as Nancy has outlined, our process for needs-based selling addresses the issue that a suitability standard would also try to address. So I don't think we need another piece of regulation to enhance suitability.
6771 You know, I listened to some of the proposals that were made earlier in the week. I think the group that PIAC was a member of was proposing a financial services type of suitability standard that would, you know, create rules that would require us to ask specific questions like do you rent or own your home; what's your income bracket. I think, you know, questions like that, if they were imposed, would not be welcomed by our customers.
6772 It's -- you know, the relationship between us and our customers and a bank and their customers is much, much different. So I don't think that type of suitability standard would benefit consumers.
6773 I think the combination of competition in the marketplace, needs-based selling, and then something like our proposal that, you know, clarifies what the consumer has been offered and provides the consumer with an opportunity to -- you know, to think about that offer and to walk away after a period of time, I think that gets to the nub of the issue that's been identified on the record of this proceeding.
6774 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. So let's go, I guess, back to some of the more broad issues.
6775 Obviously, you're highly familiar with the Ipsos research that's on the public record. You've heard us pose this question to a number of parties. How does -- how do those survey results compare to your assessment of the magnitude of the problem?
6776 MR. MALCOLMSON: I've listened to everyone criticize the Ipsos-Reid survey. I think at the end of the day ---
6777 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not everyone.
6778 MR. MALCOLMSON: --- it's a -- you know, it forms an important part of the record. It does indicate that, you know, we can do better as industry and our interactions with customers. So I don't think it -- I don't think it's -- you should take from it that truly 4 in 10 Canadians are dissatisfied.
6779 I think -- when we looked at the Ipsos survey, and I won't spend much time on it, but you know, when the unaided question was asked about telecom services, and you know, what, if anything, have you heard about the telecom in the past year, only 2 percent of the respondents to that unaided question referred to aggressive sales tactics. Twice as many referred to technology improvements and innovation, and twice as many referred to increased competition between service providers. So ---
6780 THE CHAIRPERSON: So ---
6781 MR. MALCOLMSON: --- I ---
6782 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry. Go ahead.
6783 MR. MALCOLMSON: But I -- when you look at the totality of the record, and you look at the interventions and the complaints, in particular, and we looked specifically at ours, I think we discovered that about 346 of the complaints related to sales disputes. We did a deeper dive on those, and 201 fell into the category of price not as expected, which is consistent with, I think, what Mr. Maker has been saying. And the other 78 of those sales dispute complaints fell into the category of potentially aggressive sales tactics.
6784 So we looked at those and we said to ourselves that seems to be the core issue, how do we fix it and then came up with our proposal.
6785 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll get to the mismatch or price not what was expected in a second, but I just -- I really want to get a response. So are you saying that you believe the Ipsos research overstates the problem ---
6786 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think like any ---
6787 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- of misleading and aggressive ---
6788 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think like any piece of ---
6789 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- sales?
6790 MR. MALCOLMSON: --- public opinion research, it's not perfect. It provides a snapshot of those who were surveyed. Those who were surveyed saw that there is room for improvement.
6791 THE CHAIRPERSON: And having looked at it and parsed the information, as you just said, you looked at the various elements, taking into account the various internal processes you have available to you, why do you think Bell has been identified as one of the most significant, I'll call it offenders, of misleading and aggressive sales practices, other than the fact you're the largest incumbent?
6792 MR. JAMAL: Yeah. I would say that, you know, we've -- you know, I can't really speak to the other services providers. I would, you know, just focus on ourselves and say that, you know, as we looked at, you know, the complaints that we saw on the record for us, as well as the CCTS, there was a theme that Rob kind of mentioned. And as a result of that theme, we tried to figure out, okay, how do we ensure that, you know, we get, you know, we resolve as many of those as we possibly can.
6793 And you know, given that there are a lot of employees in our ecosystem, and making sure that every employee says and does absolutely the right thing is challenging which is why we are suggesting putting in systematic controls, like Rob suggested in our proposal, to ensure that, you know, that, you know, we can on every single transaction ensure that, you know, we can get as close to setting the right expectations as possible, and giving the customer that in writing so that they can review it and they can digest it, and if they don't agree, they can walk away with no termination penalties.
6794 THE CHAIRPERSON: So in your submissions, you explained how you've been investing in improving customer service, I guess, since 2011 in terms of specific programs. So what motivated you to focus on customer service? Was there -- are there specific problems that you identified as far back as 2011?
6795 MR. JAMAL: I would say that, you know, customer service is an area where I think that, you know whenever you invest in it you realize that the bar gets raised even further, and with, you know, more intense competition we do believe that service is an area that we can differentiate ourselves relative to our competitors. So it's just been area where we feel like the bar has been raised. We need to continue to invest, and you know, with the increased competition it is a good area for us to invest to differentiate from other low cost providers that may be entering the space.
6796 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you think you're being successful differentiating yourself from your competitors?
6797 MR. JAMAL: I think that, you know, there is still a lot of progress that we require. I think that, you know, we have made some improvements but there is still plenty of improvements that we can make, as indicated by the record.
6798 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe turning to the mismatch issue. So you've indicated that a frequent complaint is the mismatch between customer expectations and what was offered. And CCTS, in their appearance, and a number of others, have commented on it. What's the other? Why is the problem -- why is there such a disconnect and what is the answer?
6799 I know you’re going to say the things you’ve offered up today, but maybe you can expand a little.
6800 MR. JAMAL: Well, I’ll start by saying, you know, as I kind of explained in my opening remarks, you know, there’s a lot of things for a customer to digest in a sales transaction. Sometimes, you know, that would be one product. It could be as many as four products that the customer is looking at buying from us in that interaction.
6801 And during that interaction, as Nancy highlighted, we do a needs assessment and, you know, there are a lot of options that then need to be discussed with a customer, and as you go through all of those different items -- like just take an example with Internet, you know, just -- and this is just one product. You’d have to discuss the speed the customer wants. You’d have to discuss -- or needs. You’d have to discuss, you know, the usage patterns that they may require, the type of modem that, you know, would benefit them. You know, do they require WiFi pods, what kinds of security are they thinking about for their thinking about for their home, do they require any additional home security. You’d need to also consider, you know, other factors like price and promotion. And that’s just for one particular product. Then you’ve got to think about that for television and possibly wireless. Home phone is much easier.
6802 But, you know, when you kind of put all that together it becomes a very long dialogue with the customer and you talk about a lot of things. And, you know, we believe that, you know, that’s where this mismatch in expectations sometimes comes up because you talk about a lot of things. You may retain certain things and, you know, things might have changed along this dialogue with the salesperson, which is why we’re recommending this order confirmation that, you know, we’d like to send to every customer at the end of a sales transaction, because that will ensure that, you know, we fully documented exactly what the customer has agreed to or not agreed to and, you know, they can then digest that and determine if that’s correct or not before the installation happens.
6803 And we also believe that, you know, if -- even beyond that, you know, we’re thinking about a 30-day buyer’s remorse policy that Rob also outlined which would allow the customer to ensure that they can get their first bill and make sure that, you know, it even matches the expectation of what they get in their bill.
6804 THE CHAIRPERSON: But if you can send a summary after -- I mean, I understand and I appreciate that the services are complex, particularly when they’re bundled together, and it’s not getting any simpler. But if we can send out a survey -- a survey -- a statement or a summary that will give a straightforward account of the products and services why can’t it be done upfront? I mean, why is there such a disconnect?
6805 MR. JAMAL: I think that’s what we’re recommending. We’re recommending that, you know, at the time of sale, you know, we would send it to the customer within 24 hours. I think that, you know, today if -- we could probably -- I think -- we think that, you know, it would be ideal if we could actually send it so that the customer could receive it, you know, during the transaction so we could go through it.
6806 In our retail channels, for example, you know, we do go through the order summary with the customer that’s in our retail channels right away, and that’s kind of ideally, you know, the experience we’d want.
6807 But at the same time I do think that, you know, from time to time once you get your service you may -- you know, there might be something else that you may not have talked about in the sales experience that you feel like it doesn’t meet your needs, or it’s something that is different than what you initially thought or anticipated, which is why we’re also suggesting the buyer’s remorse policy for 30 days.
6808 MR. MALCOLMSON: And if I may, Mr. Chairman, you asked a good question, if we can get it right within 24 hours on the order confirmation why can’t we in some cases get it right during the sales interaction.
6809 So we’ve asked ourselves that question and, you know, there are five or six reasons, or five or six things that can go wrong in that sales interaction. So, number one, human error; the agent simply misspoke or didn’t have the right information in front of her at the time the sales interaction was happening.
6810 A training issue; you know, sometimes we try to have our training foolproof but sometimes the training isn’t perfect and doesn’t work.
6811 A system error; you know, often times there’s errors in the system available to the sales agent at the time of sale. Another type of system error at the time of sale the agent goes and inputs the order and for whatever reason the order isn’t properly imputed. It could be error of the agent. It could be wrong system. It could be just a mistake.
6812 And then a billing error; at the end of the day billing errors happen unfortunately, and so if the customer gets a bill and it was an error on our part, it needs to be fixed.
6813 And then, you know, often times or sometimes in a sales call, in a call centre call the customer may just have misunderstood or not fully understood the dimensions of the offer.
6814 So those are all reasons why we think we need to confirm that order after the sales interaction has taken place. There’s no intention to mislead or be aggressive. It’s just sometimes errors happen.
6815 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those interactions are all recorded I assume.
6816 MR. JAMAL: In the call centres absolutely. In our retail locations they’re not recorded, no.
6817 THE CHAIRPERSON: We’ll come back to it, but in the call centre activity they’re recorded and will you make them available -- the material available to a customer?
6818 MR. MAGISTRIS: Yes, we do. So customers can request a transcript of their call and it’s available within 30 days.
6819 THE CHAIRPERSON: Within 30 days. And at no cost or at a charge?
6820 MR. MAGISTRIS: At no cost.
6821 THE CHAIRPERSON: At no cost. Thanks. Save me a question later.
6822 It seems that a significant portion of that mismatch relates to rebates and discounts, and I appreciate it’s a competitive market and there’s a lot of time limited promotions or rebates, but it seems to be a fundamental source of consumer complaints and consumer confusion.
6823 We had a discussion earlier today, Commissioner Laizner did with Rogers, about, you know, a bundle where one of the explanations for having Internet service when it wasn’t a desired service was it was cheaper to have in a bundle with two other services than the two services on a standalone basis.
6824 I would assume -- I didn’t look up that particular intervention, but I assume that was on a time limited basis. And so when you have time limited promotions and rebates what’s the solution?
6825 Because it seems there’s almost always going to be a disconnect. If you provide a customer with a bundle of three services for six months that’s cheaper than the two services they want it almost seems inevitable that after six months there’s a problem.
6826 MR. JAMAL: So I would say that, you know, number one, we don’t just have triple play bundles on sale, or double play bundles, or just, you know, an individual subscription on service. You know, it does vary from time to time, and that is a reflection of the competitive marketplace that we’re in, and I think that absolutely benefits consumers in the end. It gives consumers choice and, you know, they can decide what is, you know, right for them.
6827 I would say that, you know, what we think really hits the heart of what we’re talking about is to ensure that, you know, customers clearly know what they’re signing up to.
6828 I think if you look at our advertising we try to make our advertising as clear and complete as possible.
6829 And then, you know, we’re also suggesting, you know, taking the Television Code and the offer section and making that kind of go across all the other residential services as well in an effort to ensure that customers know exactly what they’ve signed up to and, you know, if there is a time limited promotion that they’ve signed up to how long is that time limited promotion, what are they saving with that time limited promotion, what are they then going to be paying after the time limited promotion.
6830 We try to be as clear as possible with customers, and ultimately they need to make the choice of yes this is the right thing for me or not. And our job is to try to set as clear an expectation for them so that there’s no mismatch when they do sign up with us.
6831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there a follow-up communication before that rebate or promotional offer expires ---
6832 MR. JAMAL: So on our bill ---
6833 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- or is it sort of once and done? Do you know what I mean?
6834 MR. JAMAL: Yeah. So on our bill actually it’s very, very clear, you can actually see when you’ve got a time limited offer, the duration of that time limited offer and when that time limited offer is going to actually expire.
6835 So if you have a copy of our bill you’d be able to clearly see that it’s indicated there so customers would know what the current price is of the package that they’re on and if they are enjoying a time-limited promotion, they would see that in a separate column of our bill and they would see when that would expire, and ---
6836 THE CHAIRPERSON: And would they see what the price would be absent ---
6837 MR. JAMAL: Yes, it’ll actually -- it shows you what your regular price is in that first column, yes.
6838 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do many of those proposals, do they focus as a discount, a guaranteed discount as opposed to a fixed price?
6839 MR. JAMAL: So generally speaking, today in market, you know, many of the promotions that we have at Bell right now would be a discount for a period of time off our current price and market for that service, yes.
6840 THE CHAIRPERSON: A discount off the price but it’s not ---
6841 MR. JAMAL: It’s a ---
6842 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- 20 percent off whatever the price is, as opposed to ---
6843 MR. JAMAL: So just to make it really simple ---
6844 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- a guaranteed ---
6845 MR. JAMAL: --- it would be $10 off of our regular price for six months, or it would be $10 off our regular price for 12 months, or it would be $20 off our regular price for 12 months. That would be the nature of the promotions that we have.
6846 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the regular price could change?
6847 MR. JAMAL: That’s correct.
6848 THE CHAIRPERSON: So let’s switch gears a little bit, in terms of marketing channels.
6849 I assume Bell makes use of pretty well all available marketing channels. And we don’t need to go into detail on every one but how would you describe your experience in relation to concerns about aggressive and misleading marketing practices in relation to potential problems related to various marketing channels?
6850 So that’s a long way of saying are some more troublesome than others, and that do you do about it?
6851 MR. JAMAL: So maybe I can start. So when we looked at the complaints on the record, generally speaking I would say that there wasn’t a specific channel that, you know, stood out with a disproportionate number of complaints relative to the others. So, you know, I don’t think that we believe that there’s targeted, you know, solutions required for that.
6852 And then maybe I’ll kind of hand it off to, you know, Nancy to talk a little bit about retail and maybe Kevin to talk about you know, our door-to-door channel and them maybe C-A can talk about our call centre in terms of ---
6853 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
6854 MR. JAMAL: --- what they see and if there are any opportunities there.
6855 MS. TICHBON: Yeah, maybe I’d like to start and talk a little bit about the survey that we send post-every transaction.
6856 So the survey is triggered automatically by our system, so it’s not something that a sales associate can get involved in as to whether one goes or not. We send them out. We get around 600,000 responses in our Bell retail channels, and so it becomes a really strong, big sample of a reflection of how our customers are feeling post a transaction with us.
6857 Ninety-six (96) percent of our customers say that they’re completely or very satisfied, so those top two boxes is 96 percent of the time. And we even -- to get at your question a bit, we go a step deeper than just the satisfaction with the rep; we’re specific in asking questions around their satisfaction to our explanation of their rate plan and their pricing.
6858 We also go in and ask a question about how well did we set up your device and set you going today, so your expectations were meet. And they’re also in the high nineties. We use that data, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly; it’s a big part of what we do in the sales team, and we also even get customer verbatim where they can actually tell us exactly what they felt. We read that, we take it very seriously.
6859 I could talk to many different systems, processes that we’ve changed as a result of that feedback to makes sure that we’re continuing to deliver. We want best in world service. I mean, in sales, satisfaction is what drives loyalty, and loyalty drives referrals. And so it’s just very cultural to us that we’re doing the right things to not get at what you’re describing.
6860 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is that for new sales only or for all sales interactions?
6861 MS. TICHBON: We do it on all transactions that come in, so a brand new customer but also if somebody was coming in as an existing customer and adding another line. We even survey if they come in and do a rate plan change with us.
6862 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I’m sorry if I’m repeating an earlier question but back to my point about perhaps call it consumer disappointment or remorse when the promotion period or rebate ends, is there any kind of survey that happens automatically at that point, or would it only happen if the customer engages, looking for another offer or promotion?
6863 MS. TICHBON: I’ll maybe let C-A answer that.
6864 MR. MAGISTRIS: Yeah, so it would be the latter. If the customer were to reach out at the expiry of the promotion we would send a survey post that interaction with the call centre.
6865 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please go ahead.
6866 MR. CLUETT: Yeah. So, I mean, I represent our door-to-door team, which we refer to as neighbourhood marketing.
6867 And I think -- you know, I watched the Telus submissions yesterday and the Telus session yesterday. I tell you that, you know, our views are very similar to Telus in terms of the importance of the channel, and our opportunity to get out in the communities that we’re investing in.
6868 Most of our activity takes place where we’re deploying fibre to the home and also where we’re deploying wireless to the homes, so on some of the more rural, undeserved markets that are getting broadband as a result of that investment.
6869 We think it’s an absolutely critical step in our process of deploying the network to then get out and speak to customers to not only explain the work that’s going on but also the service and the offers, you know, that would be available to them.
6870 You know, I think Nancy talked quite a bit about our needs-based selling in our approach and I would say across all of our sales channel there's consistency on that approach in terms of our training and the approach we take.
6871 I will just talk briefly, if I can, about one thing that we do differently, I think, than maybe some of the other providers that leverage this neighbourhood marketing approach.
6872 One of the things that we have is we have our representatives out in the neighbourhoods representing our products at consumers’ doors. And if there is interest on behalf of the consumer after they’ve discussed the products and the packaging, that sale is actually not concluded by that neighbourhood marketing representative.
6873 So there is another step within our process to ensure that we have, you know, the right level of quality and to ensure that the sale and all the processes that, you know, Rizwan talked about, in terms of the confirmation notes and all those things that occur, happen.
6874 So at the point that a customer shows interest at the door with our neighbourhood marketing representative, they are actually connected with one of our call centres; we call it live order entry. I think you would have, you know, seen it in our submission. And that agent follows a very prescribed call flow to makes sure that they are reconfirming with the customer the installation date, the products and packages that they’re getting, the pricing that they’re getting. So it’s another step in our process and that actually is the agent that would complete the sale for the customer.
6875 So it’s a nuance in the way we do it and it’s one that we think works well to ensure that, you know, there’s good transparency in the process.
6876 THE CHAIRPERSON: The door-to-door representatives, they’re third-party agents, are they not?
6877 MR. CLUETT: They are. Actually, we use reputable third parties. We actually use the same party OSL that Shaw mentioned this morning that they use for Walmart.
6878 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do you ensure that they are trained to your standards and adhere to your standards?
6879 MR. CLUETT: Yeah, so great question. In the past what we had done with some of our vendors was we would have a process called train the trainer where we would train and accredit their trainers to train our representatives.
6880 I’ve actually been in this role since January of this year and one of the changes that we have made is we actually have Bell employees directly train all of our vendor representatives.
6881 We think it’s really important. I don’t think -- I actually don’t agree with Shaw on, you know, the third party -- any issues with third party. I think that, you know, there’s many reputable companies out there; there’s great Canadian companies out there that we use that represent products for many, many different companies, and we think it’s an important part of the ecosystem; they’re experts at it.
6882 But we do think that it’s important for us, because they’re representing us and representing our brand, that we are very close to their hiring practices and their training practices, and in this case we actually deliver the training ourselves.
6883 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do you audit it? How do you satisfy yourself the standard’s being adhered to? Do you do separate surveys for door-to-door interactions?
6884 MR. CLUETT: Yeah. So we do do a very similar survey to what the retail channels and the call centre channels do as well. We do it more ad hoc and one of the things that we are going to be putting in place in the fourth quarter of this year is, you know, an automatic survey that goes after every sale interaction that we have within door-to-door, because we do do it more ad hoc. Similar questions and we get similar responses; it’s 95 percent of consumers are quite satisfied with the experience.
6885 But that’s not the only thing that we do in terms of auditing. We feel we need to stay really, really close to the business. So once a week all of our calls are listened to, so those -- that live order agent that I told you about, those calls are listened to, to ensure that the reps are actually falling the prescribed call flow and that it is -- you know, the quality is there and the accuracy is there.
6886 And then once a month, all of you representatives in field are shadowed by a more senior representative or one of our own internal auditors.
6887 One of the things we have done is staffed up more auditing resources internally to get out in the field to make sure that our standards are being upheld.
6888 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry. I think I missed the beginning of that.
6889 Is that the -- that's a systematic measure. What's the ad hoc?
6890 MR. CLUETT: Sorry. Nancy has a -- some of our channels have a survey that goes out after.
6891 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6892 MR. CLUETT: We don't actually have them instituted yet within the door-to-door channel. It is something ---
6893 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6894 MR. CLUETT: --- that we're putting in place in the fourth quarter. It's an enhancement that we're making.
6895 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's those ---
6896 MR. CLUETT: We do that more -- we've been doing that more ad hoc, and now we're going to do it as a more system approach.
6897 THE CHAIRPERSON: And now you're going to do it systematically.
6898 MR. CLUETT: That's correct.
6899 THE CHAIRPERSON: And when will that take effect?
6900 MR. CLUETT: Our plan is to have it in for the end of this year, so the fourth quarter.
6901 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry. We should probably continue down the channels.
6902 MR. MAGISTRIS: So we can -- we can talk about the call centre.
6903 So in the call centre, we follow a similar needs-based approach to selling. It's delivered by a mix of face-to-face training and on-the-job training where the agents would be paired with an experienced sales agent.
6904 Every time a sale is made, the -- it automatically generates that post-call survey, and that's automatically generated for every interaction that we get as well over 90 percent satisfaction with our -- with those interactions and, in fact, you know, many customers take the time to put out verbatims on, you know, things that we may not have done so well but also many other things that we do do well.
6905 If you'll humour me for 30 seconds, you know, I can -- with a couple of those, you know, I was very pleased the sales representative gave me the time I needed to think about what I talked about with him. He didn't pressure me, but he tried to get me the best deal, so I really appreciated that.
6906 My customer says he was quite impressed despite recent reports about Bell staff overselling. I felt that the people I spoke with were honest and had my best interests at heart. And we'd be happy to submit, you know, tens of thousands of such verbatim from our customers that we collect.
6907 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6908 On -- of your various channels, you've looked, obviously, carefully at the various submissions and/or complaints made.
6909 In relation to those that were concerned with aggressive or misleading sales practices, were they evenly distributed across the channels or was there one or more channels where they tended to reside, so to speak?
6910 MR. JAMAL: So I didn't do it by category. I did it more at the higher level of all the sales complaints, and those looked like they were generally in line with the overall sales numbers, so nothing kind of jumped out as being ---
6911 THE CHAIRPERSON: Nothing stood out as being ---
6912 MR. JAMAL: --- as being an issue like, you know, the smallest channel had the largest number of complaints or it was -- it was -- you know, it was in the right order which, you know, kind of made me feel good that there wasn't some sort of a big problem.
6913 I didn't look at it specifically, you know, when you just take -- if you just look at aggressive sales or you look at just misleading sales, was there a different trend. I wouldn't believe so given -- you know, Rob kind of indicated that, you know, the vast majority of the -- you know, the things on the record were related to misleading sales and, you know, just given how big that was relative to the others, I think that it probably would still be okay.
6914 MR. MALCOLMSON: Just to complete the answer, Mr. Chairman, when we looked at the record of complaints in this proceeding by channel, you know, we've heard lots about door to door.
6915 I think for Bell there were 36 door to door complaints on the record.
6916 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6917 I guess continuing on same -- similar line of questioning but just rather than going to the channel, thinking about the services, are there particular services where there appears to be a disproportionate or unrepresentative number of problems?
6918 MR. JAMAL: Yeah, I don't think we noticed a particular trend that would make us feel like, oh, you know, we've got a problem with internet or TV. Like I think that they were generally kind of in line again.
6919 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what about bundled services, or is that too general?
6920 Is that where the majority of problems occur?
6921 MR. JAMAL: Well, I would say the vast majority of our customer take bundled solutions, so that would probably mean that the vast majority of the complaints are there. So I'm not sure we'd be able to get anything from that.
6922 THE CHAIRPERSON: And mass marketing campaigns? I assume you use mass marketing as a ---
6923 MR. JAMAL: Absolutely.
6924 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- an approach.
6925 Are there any unique problems associated with it?
6926 MR. JAMAL: No, we don't believe there are any unique problems associated with mass marketing. I would suggest that, you know, we strive to make sure that our advertising is always clear and complete and, you know, we try to provide enough details so the customer can make a very informed decision.
6927 THE CHAIRPERSON: And just before I leave that area and maybe talk about some of the other cooling-off period and so on, in terms of your outbound calling -- and I appreciate that as you roll out new services and new neighbourhoods or upgrade the services available in any given neighbourhood you no doubt engage in more intensive marketing efforts.
6928 So I'm assuming, for example, if you've rolled out fibre to the home in a given area then you must logically -- I shouldn't say you must. I assume that you do more extensive marketing for those areas for those customers.
6929 How many times, for example, would you reach out by outbound calling to customers to tell them about a new service?
6930 MR. JAMAL: We have contact rules that we generally following and, typically, you know, our contact rules would -- you know, would be the same even in the situations where we are rolling out and upgrading new neighbourhoods.
6931 I would say that, you know, when we are upgrading neighbourhoods we -- we take a -- we take -- we take an approach that basically does not just have a -- leverage just one channel more so than another channel. We use all the channels and we really believe that, you know, certain customers prefer to interact in certain ways and through certain channels, so we try to make that all available.
6932 But you're correct to assume that when we do upgrade a neighbourhood with new technology or we roll out a new service in a particular area that there is, you know, I'd say an incremental focus, an investment that we put into that area to ensure that we can communicate to as many customers as possible in that area to let them know that something has changed and that, you know, there's this new service available to them that they can sign up to with Bell.
6933 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your contact rules, so if you call up a residence and say, "Did you know there are new services available? Would you like to hear more?" and they say, "No, thanks", what happens next? Do they get another call or is that the end of the outbound calling, for example?
6934 MR. JAMAL: We would -- at the end of that call, we would usually -- we would -- there would be notes that would be appended to that particular call and we would leverage that information.
6935 We have -- we have different modelling that we then use that determines, you know, people that we believe have a higher likelihood of purchasing through telemarketing and, you know, I think that, you know, we would take that information into consideration to then determine, you know, when that person would get contacted again.
6936 I wouldn't be able to tell you explicitly that if they said no, they weren't interested that we would stop contacting them. However, if they did tell us on that particular call that they did not want to be contacted by Bell any more through outbound calling that we would take them off of our telemarketing list and, you know, then, you know, that would follow our internal "do not call" process.
6937 And you know, that's followed across all of our channels and you can even go onto our web site to determine if you would like to not be contacted by Bell or not marketed to Bell about services.
6938 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that's if they make the specific request, but if they simply say, "No, I'm not interested", that doesn't -- that doesn't translate into no further outbound calls ---
6939 MR. JAMAL: That's correct.
6940 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- to the same number?
6941 MR. JAMAL: Yeah.
6942 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Cooling off and trial periods.
6943 So you have -- and in real time, I'm not sure if I'm able to simultaneously match up my questions with the proposals in your remarks today, so you'll forgive me if the questions are already, at least in part, answered.
6944 So what are your views about a trial period or cooling off period?
6945 MR. JAMAL: So I would say that, you know, from a wireless perspective today we comply with the Wireless Code. With respect to the -- you know, the TV Code, we also comply with that. Our proposal today was to extend and broaden that definition that we have in the TV Code today to basically suggest, not just for TV, but also for internet and home phone, that we would provide consumers that did sign up with fixed term contracts the ability to within 30 days cancel without any termination penalties.
6946 I think that, you know, the definition today in the TV Code allows for that, but only if there's a clear mismatch in expectations. We're suggesting that, you know, on fixed term contracts, for any reason, if the customer just decided that they -- for whatever reason decided that they just -- it was not a good decision and they would like to cancel service without penalties within the first 30 days, we believe that we should give customers the ability to do so.
6947 THE CHAIRPERSON: That would not apply to wireless? You're proposing to maintain the existing ---
6948 MR. JAMAL: That is correct.
6949 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- commitments under the Wireless Code for wireless products?
6950 MR. JAMAL: That's right.
6951 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why the difference?
6952 MR. JAMAL: I think that today I would say that the Wireless Code seems to be operating well and, you know, our belief is that there's no further requirements required on the wireless side. And we targeted, you know, our particular recommendation based on the complaints we saw on the record and, you know, the ones that, you know, were -- you know, that pertain to Bell and Virgin.
6953 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in terms of the 30-day period, how would you treat things like installation charges or other fixed fees?
6954 MR. JAMAL: So I think that, you know, we would -- you know, I think for us, you know, we would -- our proposal basically eliminates the termination charges; however, if there are install fees that go along with that or monthly subscription services, if they, for example, disconnected within a week, those would get prorated to the period of time that they actually had those services.
6955 So we're not suggesting they wouldn't pay any of the subscription charges. If they used the services for, you know, 15 days, we believe that they should be paying for the 15 days. However, we wouldn't, you know, make those longer than, you know, whatever period that they actually used those services.
6956 THE CHAIRPERSON: And installation charges in that example would not be refunded. So if it cost a hundred dollars to install a service that would not be rebated.
6957 MR. JAMAL: That would be correct.
6958 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what about where those services are bundled together, so when you have wireless bundled with TV bundled with internet, how would that buyer's remorse provision work?
6959 MR. JAMAL: The thinking or intent is that it would be related to the services that they just subscribed to or they signed up to. So all the ones that they subscribed to that they, you know, that -- at that time they would be able to get out of in 30 days without any termination penalties. But it would only relate to the ones that they've just prescribed to.
6960 So if, for example, they were an existing customer for internet and they added television service, it would apply to the incremental service that they added and it wouldn't apply to everything if they were already an existing subscriber to a certain service.
6961 THE CHAIRPERSON: And if the bundle included a discount I assume it would revert back to the price of the service -- standalone service or services that they had prior to signing up for the bundle?
6962 MR. JAMAL: That's correct. We try and -- yeah, we wouldn't penalise them further than where they were.
6963 THE CHAIRPERSON: So let's turn to the question of the sales offer summary and clarity and records of sales and clarity of contract. What do you think is required for a customer to understand what they signed up for and all of the terms and conditions?
6964 MR. JAMAL: So I would say that, you know, the customer needs to clearly understand the promotional price that they're signing up to, whatever that discount might be. So in our case it's, you know, you save X dollars and you save those X dollars for Y months. You know, my view would be, you know, we'd need to clearly articulate how much you're saving, for how long, and what the regular price is of that particular service when your discount ends. So that needs to be clearly articulated in terms of the offer.
6965 In addition to that I think that we need to clearly make sure the customer understands all the services that they've signed up to, including any installation charges as well. And, you know, the details of that.
6966 So, for example, if they signed up to internet with us, what internet package did they sign up to? Is it, you know, a -- an internet package that has a certain speed and, you know, a certain amount of usage. That would need to be articulated in the summary.
6967 In addition to that, if they signed up to a TV package, you know, what is the programming that they're going to get in their package, which already occurs with the TV Service Provider Code, and set-top boxes, et cetera.
6968 And then if you sign up to home phone, you know, what package you're signing up to and what does that mean in terms long distance or the features that you get.
6969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How would you -- sorry, and I'll finish on that. I assume that it would also be in plain language and easily understandable for the consumer?
6970 MR. JAMAL: Absolutely.
6971 THE CHAIRPERSON: How about the idea of a quote in advance, a written quote for service, one where the customer walks way, for example, from a Bell store and wants to comparison shop? They want to walk in the Bell store and go, "I'm interested in a new telephone. I'm interested in a data package this big and so on." It would appear that it's not very easy at the moment for a customer to get a quote.
6972 MR. JAMAL: So on the residential side today we do provide potential customers sales quotations as well. However, we do think there's opportunity on our side to obviously, you know, enhance the sales quotation that we do provide customers.
6973 But in addition to that, I would probably like to say that, you know, this is not an area that we think -- you know, we believe that this is -- this would be an area that we'd like to obviously differentiate in the marketplace and provide, you know, this particular kind of service. And, you know, it would be an area that we think that, you know, we can do better than the others on on, you know, sales experience.
6974 We think that it's a very competitive and dynamic industry and, you know, we believe that, you know, the sales quotation and other things like that we believe could be areas where we could differentiate versus other providers. And, you know, the information we provide and how we would fulfil on those quotes through all our other channels, you know, in our view, could be an area that we could differentiate versus other competitors.
6975 THE CHAIRPERSON: You said residential. Were you referring to all residential services?
6976 MR. JAMAL: Sorry, residential wireline services.
6977 THE CHAIRPERSON: Wireline.
6978 MR. JAMAL: So home phone ---
6979 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not wireless?
6980 MR. JAMAL: --- internet and TV. So, just home phone, internet and TV, so just the wireline portfolio.
6981 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what about wireless?
6982 MR. JAMAL: Today we do not provide sales quotations on the wireless side.
6983 THE CHAIRPERSON: And why?
6984 MR. JAMAL: It's not been something that, you know, the channel has come back with as a, you know, something that they believe is a need or something that customers are asking for that they feel like would be a, you know, an advantage that they would have in market.
6985 THE CHAIRPERSON: Nothing further on that? I'm surprised, I must say, given the record seems to suggest that one of the concerns is not understanding fully what the price will be up front.
6986 MR. JAMAL: Well, I'll hand it off to Nancy who kind of runs our retail channel, which is, you know, where the vast majority of our wireless transactions are done and we can maybe speak to, you know, the need or, you know what we have today and ---
6987 MS. TICHBON: Yeah.
6988 MR. JAMAL: --- why that might be sufficient.
6989 MS. TICHBON: So wireline is absolutely where it's beneficial, as Riz spoke to on the home phone, internet and T.V. It tends to be a bit of a longer cell cycle when you move those products. And so often there will be multiple visits before the customer makes the decision. It’s the quote that comes very handy.
6990 On the wireless side, we don’t see that in the same way in the feedback from our team. So we have brochures in our retail stores that outline our rate plan pricing.
6991 And so that gives great clarity. And we use those. And, you know, we allow the customer to write on them too, and they leave with that information.
6992 And so I would agree with Riz, I think it’s just a faster process. They have the brochure that we provide. And it hasn’t come through. We track rep feedback and some really cool mechanisms to make sure we’re learning from our sales associates all the time, what they’re looking for. And this is something that we haven’t seen come through.
6993 THE CHAIRPERSON: You say there’s greater clarity. Did you hear the submissions and our conversation with Professor Cavanagh earlier this week, and her group of secret shoppers?
6994 MS. TICHBON: Yes, I did. And ---
6995 THE CHAIRPERSON: Seems to be a bit of a disconnect?
6996 MS. TICHBON: You know, I think there are areas that we have where we always want to do better and we didn’t do perfect. And we will continue to strive for 100 percent perfection.
6997 But overall, when you do look at the overall satisfaction of people that come into the store, I think we do get it right.
6998 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m ---
6999 MS. TICHBON: By that ---
7000 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- not sure that really answered the question.
7001 So Ms. Cavanagh’s evidence was that it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain detailed information. And clearly the suggestion is that there is a demand for it. You’re suggesting the customers -- there isn’t a demand for it?
7002 MS. TICHBON: I don’t want to speak against the study. I don’t know if Riz has ---
7003 MR. JAMAL: Yeah, I think that it’s not something that’s come up internally as something that, you know, the people in our retail channel are saying that this is something we, you know, believe will give us an advantage in the retail channel.
7004 So I think that this is kind of like, you know, at the hearing was the first time I think that, you know, we’ve even contemplated or even thought about this idea.
7005 I think that we’re more than happy to kind of take it away and, you know, come back with an intervention later with a more formal position on sales quotes in the wireless space.
7006 I think that, you know, it’s not something that, you know, we felt before we came here, based on the complaints we had on the record, or the complaints we saw at the CCTS from us that it was an area that, you know, was a challenge for us.
7007 And, you know, as such, I don’t think we have, you know, anything beyond that. And we can go back and for sure investigate and get a more formal position on sales quotes in the wireless space.
7008 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you take an undertaking to that effect?
7009 MR. JAMAL: Yeah.
7010 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7011 MR. MALCOLMSON: If I could just add briefly, Mr. Chairman?
7012 We did listen to Ms. Cavanagh’s evidence. And I think it’s fair to say that what she discovered in her mystery shopping differs from what Nancy discovers when she does her post-transaction surveys with customers. And if you wish, we can talk a little bit about that.
7013 And then the other point I’d make is, I think typically when people are making wireless purchases, they often do -- in advance of their coming into the retail location, they do lots of their own research online. And obviously there’s lots of information. Maybe too much information. But there’s an abundance of information online about different packages, and promotions, and device subsidies.
7014 So I think the online channels shouldn’t be forgotten when we talk about what happens in the retail store.
7015 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand. And we all collectively look forward to future research and more information, but you can’t reasonable expect to have surveys from customers that haven’t signed up with you because they’re frustrated trying to get the information to decide whether they want to sign up with you.
7016 I think that was the point of that survey. It’s difficult to get information to comparative shop.
7017 So if you could provide your comments on that, it would be appreciated.
7018 MR. JAMAL: Yeah, thank you.
7019 THE CHAIRPERSON: CCTS. So we talked about the interaction a little bit with complainants, you’ve heard us ask a number of parties.
7020 In what ways, and at what point in your interaction with customers, do you make them aware of the CCTS?
7021 MR. MAGISTRIS: So we comply with the -- you know, what we’re asked to do. So they would get a notice on their bill four times a year.
7022 And then in terms of the awareness in the contact centre at the second level of escalation if it’s not resolved would inform the customer of the ability to escalate their complaint to the CCTS.
7023 THE CHAIRPERSON: How many levels do you have ---
7024 MR. MAGISTRIS: So in the ---
7025 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- of internal escalation.
7026 MR. MAGISTRIS: Yeah, so I mean, we don’t -- we have, you know, more specialized queues.
7027 If I would say so, you know, you’ve got -- to paint a picture of what the contact centre looks like, you’ve got your regular frontline care, which takes, you know, all of the inquiries that customers may have on their bill or other inquiries.
7028 It is quite challenging, you know, training all of our sales force on all of the potential customer scenarios that might happen.
7029 So if a customer wishes to escalate at that level, the agent has the ability to bring in their supervisor, the agent has the ability to offer the customer a call back from a more experience agent, or has the ability to transfer it to a more senior agent in a different queue.
7030 Again, you know, upon the second escalation we would, you know, for sure try to continue to resolve the issue for the customer. But then we would also provide the opportunity to go to the CCTS.
7031 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And do you think that improved awareness of the CCTS is desirable, necessary?
7032 MR. MALCOLMSON: Certainly in our experience, Mr. Chairman, the CCTS -- people that have issues with bell, certainly seem to know to go to the CCTS.
7033 So -- but, you know, we heard what Mr. Maker had to say. The awareness level has gone up, I think he said from 20 percent to 30 percent in the last year alone, based on some of the awareness initiatives he’s undertaking.
7034 So quite frankly, I don’t think there’s an awareness issue with the CCTS.
7035 If I Google, and I did a few times, “How do I complain about Bell? How do I complain about my telecom service provider?” I’m immediately -- the first search result is the CCTS home page.
7036 So I think that general availability, in addition to the bill notices, and in addition to the notifications on our websites, and in addition to the notifications to specific customers when they are complaining about it at the second level of escalation, make it pretty clear that those that want to avail themselves of the CCTS know of its existence.
7037 THE CHAIRPERSON: And -- so you think it’s efficient? We don’t need to do more? Would more regular bill inserts or electronic communication about it be problematic for you?
7038 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well, every time you make a change to a bill, for example, there’s a cost involved in changing your system to do that.
7039 I think the amount of notifications is sufficient.
7040 We went through this when we did the recent review of the CCTS and through the Wireless Code. And I think that the quarterly notifications are sufficient, alongside every other tool that’s available to find the CCTS.
7041 THE CHAIRPERSON: You probably heard Democracy Watch’s intervention appearance before us earlier this week.
7042 What do you think of the proposal that what is needed is a consumer advocacy organization that would be better funded and more focused on telecom industry concerns?
7043 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well there certainly seems to be a number of consumer advocacy associations now that are focused on the telecom industry. The folks at Open Media certainly are vigilant, as are the folks at PIAC and the various coalitions that they form.
7044 And again, if Democracy Watch wanted to form another voice that was specifically targeted at our industry, I think, you know, more voices, more vigilance are welcome.
7045 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the key issue there is it would require notification to customers of the existence of those organizations beyond notification of existence to CCTS, for example, as a body to which customers can complain, or file their complaints with. I guess the suggestion there is you're making them aware of consumer organizations who might advocate on their behalf. Would you have an objection to having that included in a bill insert or electronic communication?
7046 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think our concern would be given the existence of the CCTS and the use of the CCTS by customers, given that there are other consumer advocacy organizations out there, to have a specific bill insert about a specific consumer group could very well add confusion to the process. So I don't think it's -- it's not an idea that we would support.
7047 THE CHAIRPERSON: I've jumped around, so you have to give me a second while I look at my notes.
7048 (SHORT PAUSE/COURTE PAUSE)
7049 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's talk about your salesforce itself, their training and, I guess, some of the challenges around that. Can you go back? You mentioned it a little bit earlier, but I wonder if you can go into a little bit more detail about how they're trained, and also, how they're compensated?
7050 MS. TICHBON: Okay. So in the training, as I suggested, it's really based around understanding the customer's lifestyle. It's all based on a foundation of needs-based, solution selling, making sure that it's personalized. And training doesn't just stop after the new hire has come in.
7051 I'd maybe like to take a few minutes to talk about a tool that we've purchased. And this tool is an app that goes on the individual's phone and it pushes content to them every day. And we're able to track the participation rate of the -- of our individuals with that. It's very, very high. It's also a tool that let's us test knowledge. And so I can actually see the knowledge levels in each particular area that's important to us.
7052 And the system is super smart. It actually -- the machine learns for us. And so by an individual, it's tracking their knowledge rate and pushing new content to them based on an individual's needs, rather than us having to leave that to, you know, someone finding out where the gaps are.
7053 And so, you know, that for us in training is really game changing to ensure that our sales associates are giving accurate information to customers and have a bit more instant recall on the things that are very important to us in the training cycle.
7054 You also mentioned compensation. If you'd like me to just touch on that.
7055 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7056 MS. TICHBON: Our compensation programs are really designed to be able to motivate and reward our sales associates at the same time. The compensation is primarily made up of fixed base pay, and then we also have an element of -- a smaller element, but of a bonus. And to make sure we're all doing the right things, that bonus has areas of clawback. I know other people have spoken about that this week. If there's a return, the sales associate will have a clawback on that piece of bonus.
7057 And I think -- you know, the other thing that's important to me when we build any compensation program, is actually about having a requirement that it's built around the core of our team, and not just these programs that are written just with top performers in mind. We wanted to create an environment of performances that's seen as being achievable to all with their day‑to‑day.
7058 I think the last piece I would just like to do before I pass to Kevin on the compensation is it absolutely is a balanced scorecard. And so compensation for us has elements of sales, but it is also very heavily weighted on customer experience too so that we really bring everything to get together to deliver to the philosophies that I've been describing to you guys today.
7059 MR. CLUETT: So for our neighbourhood marketing representatives, like I mentioned, you know, really important. They are a very, very important part of our brand representation. For many consumers, you know, they are the face of our organization, so it is super, super important to us that we represent ourselves well on the field.
7060 Similar to Nancy, we go through all the needs-based training. We have a five-day training course that, as I mentioned to you, we now have Bell -- we deliver it. Our vendors and third parties don't deliver it, so we deliver it ourselves; it's our employees, and our own trainers that do deliver it.
7061 It starts on Day 1 with our code of conduct, which we go completely through, and then we test on, and then, you know, require certification of the code of conduct to continue within our training curriculum. And then it continues in the proceeding days with product and price positioning, and then sales skills as well. And it finishes as actually in the field.
7062 So you know, before reps are actually sent out into the field to knock on doors, they do spend time in the field with experienced representatives, tenured representatives, and with our trainers to ensure that they're comfortable in the environment and -- you know, that we're addressing any concerns we might see initially. So that's kind of our initial training. It's really kind of a five-day curriculum that we go through.
7063 Similar to Nancy, we use Axonify, we use it in the exact same way. It is an amazing tool to be able to push messages that are, you know, relevant and important to your team. If you see any new offers coming out or you see new products coming out, or you see things that you think you need -- you know, broadly focus on with your base, it's a great way to get the message out.
7064 We also conduct weekly huddles with all of our teams, and then quarterly retraining, so refresher training with all of our teams. And in addition to that, I think I mentioned all of our agents spend at least one day a month in the field with either a sales manager or a sales coach. So you know, we really view it as an ongoing process with our representatives.
7065 In terms of compensation, we do work with third party vendors, and so they are paid on a per activation basis. Not a per sale basis, but per activation. And we would define activation as the service is actually installed and working at the customer's house.
7066 So as Rizwan mentioned, you know, we do send to customers that customer billing promise or that order confirmation, and you know, if that sale then never turns into an activation because the customer just has changed their mind before the installer were to get there, you know, our agents wouldn't get compensated or our vendors wouldn't be compensated.
7067 We balance that with quality reporting. So all of our representatives, regardless of the vendor, are measured on a few key metrics. One is their activation rate, which is a rate of how many of their sales actually ultimately turn into activations. You know, the thinking there being if a low percentage of your sales are actually turning into activations, there's probably something misleading in your sales process or aggressive in your sales process.
7068 In addition to that, similar to, you know, some of our other channels, we do track early tenure churn by agent, and we do look for agents that would be outliers in terms of customers that are having a higher churn rate within the first 90 days with us, and we would performance manage based on that.
7069 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do you find -- churn's not the right word -- the stability in the sales workforce? Do you have difficulty retaining employees? And I might as well do the follow on question, which is, obviously, you have seen on the record a number of submissions relating to the stress and pressure some individuals have felt in those types of roles.
7070 MR. CLUETT: Yeah. So in terms of attrition, employee attrition and sales attrition, I'd say that our metrics aren't out of line with what you would expect from, you know, any other sales channel that's similar to this in nature. I would say that our metrics would be a little higher, probably, in the early days.
7071 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry to interrupt. Your metrics in terms of door-to‑door, you're referring to or deadline?
7072 MR. CLUETT: I'm referring to door-to‑door, yeah.
7073 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7074 MR. CLUETT: Sorry.
7075 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll come back to the others ---
7076 MR. CLUETT: Yeah. I'd say that for our neighbourhood marketing representatives, I'd say it is a little bit higher, certainly, in the early days. You know, these people are out knocking on doors in all weather and all seasons, and you know, it's not necessarily a role that, you know, everyone determines is for them once they're out there. Once, you know, they get past sort of those early phases, our attrition rates are very similar to what you'd experience in say a retail channel. So you know, it's really just those early days where someone's really figuring out if the role is for them that we experience higher attrition.
7077 You know, for many Canadians, and you know, we hire and employ a lot of them through this channel, or our vendors employ a lot of them through this channel, this is an entry level sales position, and for many of them it leads to careers, either within our organization they progress to sales managers, or you know, to other areas of our business, or to other sales careers. So you know, we take responsibility and accountability for, you know, making sure that, you know, we're giving those opportunities to these individuals and training them and helping them grow.
7078 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in the other channels?
7079 MS. TICHBON: Yes, so in retail I'm very proud of our results that we have. We spend considerable amount of time ensuring that we hire the right people, that we're hiring on attitude and drive and looking for people with those right traits to -- so when they come in that we are having a good stable workforce. I agree with you how important it is.
7080 I'd also like to add too, if I may, you know, the values that we have our people first. You know, we believe that if our people are happy and smiling, our customers are going to have a great experience. And so we do put a considerable amount of time and energy and money to ensuring that we have those numbers on our turnover that I really am quite proud of.
7081 THE CHAIRPERSON: And when we talk about the numbers, attrition numbers being consistent with retail channels, are you all -- I can't ask you the question to speak for other parties, but are basically communication service providers all comparing themselves to one another or are they comparing it more broadly to retail sales?
7082 MS. TICHBON: I actually look broader than just telecom because I want to make sure that we're hiring the best people that are coming into retail. So when we benchmark, we benchmark across different retail organisations as well as telecom organisations.
7083 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your attrition rates aren't significantly different than other retail sales channels?
7084 MS. TICHBON: I'd like to say a little bit better.
7085 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, I didn't hear that last part.
7086 MS. TICHBON: I was being cheeky and saying I'd like to say a little bit better. But when we ---
7087 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's okay. If they are, you can say it.
7088 MS. TICHBON: Yeah, when we look, we have a strong best in class results.
7089 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
7090 I should have asked this earlier, but I didn't, do you use third parties on outside of the door-to-door?
7091 MR. MAGISTRIS: Yes, we do. And maybe it's a good segue to talk about the contact centres, so we do use a mix of internal and external call centre agents. I think to start at the beginning with training, as I mentioned, we would have a mix of face-to-face and on-the-job training where the, you know, the new sales agents are paired with more experienced sales agents.
7092 And then from an ongoing, you know, training and quality assurance perspective, you know, we -- you know, the team leaders spend a lot of time every month with their agents. They would do remote call monitoring for all their agents, regardless of the performance, to make sure that they are adhering with the quality grade that we put in place for the sales interaction. And then they would do 50 per cent of their time side-by-side with agents so they can provide additional coaching right in the moment. So that's a very big component of our ongoing training.
7093 And then the other thing that my peers would have mentioned that we're in the process of rolling up in the contact centres as well is this machine learning assisted training that is catered to specific agents based on their specific needs and delivered through a mix of, you know, gamification, standard quizzes and videos.
7094 And then to transition into the compensation, so the vast majority is, as well, base salary. They would have a -- you know, the portion that's variable is a mix of, you know, per unit, but, you know, based on a balanced scorecard that they would have. So, like, other channels, you know, they -- we're looking at their close rate, but also we're looking at the quality of their sales and making sure that over an extended period of time customers that have, you know, made those sales are still with us. And if that doesn't happen that impacts the agent and our contact centres as well.
7095 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your attrition rates, are they similarly standard or better than average?
7096 MR. MAGISTRIS: We think our attrition rates are better than average.
7097 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do you measure the -- how do you assure yourself? We discussed earlier on the door-to-door what measures you take to measure the performance and assure yourself that they are abiding by your codes and your standards. How do you do that with the third parties in your case?
7098 MR. MAGISTRIS: So everything that I ---
7099 THE CHAIRPERSON: In your area I should say?
7100 MR. MAGISTRIS: --- everything that I just mentioned applies equally to internal and external contact centres. So we have, you know, very good alignment with all our third party contact centres that they would, you know, compensate the agents using the same guidelines that we provide. They follow the exact same quality grade. They're binded [sic] by the same quality assurance and ongoing training practices, including TLs sitting side-by-side with agents 50 per cent of the time. So, we do go through a very rigorous efforts to make sure that everything we do internally our third party providers will do.
7101 THE CHAIRPERSON: And are you auditing that or is it self-audited or self-regulated by the third parties?
7102 MR. MAGISTRIS: It is a mix of both. So we -- you know, they will, you know, self-audit for a portion of time and we do send -- every time we go there, which is very regularly, we also do random checks and audit ourselves to make sure that it is consistent.
7103 THE CHAIRPERSON: And have you had to change any of your external suppliers in the last few years?
7104 MR. MAGISTRIS: Not as a direct relationship with that, but we do make changes from time to time of our external suppliers, yes.
7105 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
7106 I guess a very broad question I have, which is hard to pose and maybe even harder to answer, a lot of the parties we have heard from when asked why don't you just change suppliers or in response to the question is competition sufficient simply respond there's no meaningful difference. And so there appears to be a degree of either customer inertia or apathy that suggest it's they won't change. You and other providers have all described the industry as intensely competitive, and yet churn rates, while not insignificant, aren't that high. And we just talked about some -- you know, the difficulty in wireless, for example, to comparison shop, at least in person.
7107 You know, what say you about the state of consumer cynicism about their choices?
7108 MR. JAMAL: Well, I would say that, you know, we see a lot of customers switch providers every single day and you've got millions and millions of people, both in the wireless industry as well as in the wireline, you know, internet, television and home phone space that are changing providers on a regular basis. So we do see it, you know, frequently happen.
7109 You know, on the wireline side, you know, we see it at a very high rate, especially when we're building out new technology in neighbourhoods and we're offering consumers, you know, new services that they may not have been able to get from Bell. And we see, you know, on an accelerated level of switching that happens at that particular point. But I would say that, you know, the evidence that we see every single day in our industry would suggest that, you know, a vast majority of Canadians are switching. And, you know, I think that the reasons why they switch is because they believe they're going to get something better by switching.
7110 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are churn rates going up or down?
7111 MR. JAMAL: I would say that -- you know, I can speak about the wireline side. I would say that, you know, they would be, you know, they would be slightly up for us this year. So, you know, I would say that, you know, there is healthy competition and people are switching and we do see it in, you know, our churn rates and I believe that, you know, that would be same with our competitors.
7112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you be able to undertake to give us -- well, actually, why don't I ask the question on the wireless side for a second. Are churn rates up or down on the wireless side?
7113 MR. MAGISTRIS: So I think on the wireless side you would have seen almost all the providers already reported for the third quarter. And I think personally for Bell our churn rate was slightly up here on your third quarter.
7114 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm not sure churn rates for wireline service are posted anywhere. Could you take an undertaking to give us an indication of, let's say, churn rates over the last five years?
7115 MR. JAMAL: Sure. Yeah.
7116 ENGAGEMENT / UNDERTAKING
7117 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm trying to give you a chance to overtake the leading player in undertakings.
7118 Before we leave employees, do you have whistleblower measures in place, and can you describe them briefly?
7119 MR. MALCOLMSON: Yes, we do, Mr. Chairman. And it’s through a third party. It’s done anonymously. And the availability of the whistleblower option is made known on our website. And the proposal that we put in front of you today, as you saw, included a reference to the whistleblower policy.
7120 What’s different about what we’re proposing today is when you go into the whistleblower policy it enumerates various types of subject matter that you might want to complain about or whistle-blow on. So we would add to that menu on the whistleblower policy a specific heading for misleading or aggressive sales tactics. So someone that did want to complain would now have that ability under that policy.
7121 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that I assume would apply to both third party as well as Bell employees.
7122 MR. MALCOLMSON: It’s primarily utilized by employees but it is available -- we find that when people want to complain -- typically when customers want to complain or third parties want to complain they do it through different avenues.
7123 THE CHAIRPERSON: But would you have any way of knowing about employee complaints made or whistleblowing made to your third party service providers?
7124 MR. MALCOLMSON: When we get a -- if the third party supplier or vendor comes back to us with, you know, you’ve had a complaint about something, and then anonymously we have to go and investigate it, so we would know that it came from an employee, for example, if that’s what you’re asking.
7125 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I meant just how do you -- or do you know if -- say you have a contracted party doing work for you and they have an employee that is complaining about inappropriate practices within their company they may not have a way of raising it directly with Bell. Do you have any means of identifying or ascertaining whether anyone’s been blowing their whistle among the third party providers?
7126 MR. MALCOLMSON: In our attempt to win the undertaking battle, can we take that one away, because I do want to provide you with an accurate answer.
7127 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think you’re -- you may have already drawn into a tie. Yeah, please, if you don’t mind.
7129 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you’ve given us your recipe for action in your opening remarks today, and I guess we would call it a systemic approach since you are not suggesting it only apply to you but to everyone. Do you think that will be sufficient?
7130 MR. MALCOLMSON: Yes, I think what we’ve proposed today would address the issues that have been identified on the record of this proceeding. So, yes, and that’s why we didn’t propose yet another code.
7131 We proposed very targeted measures that we think were responsive to what the record identified as sources of consumer frustration, namely that mismatch, number one, and then the buyer’s remorse idea as a way to deal with those situations where a customer may have felt they didn’t understand what was provided or may have felt pressured into a sale. So we think we’ve addressed the two issues of concern.
7132 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why is it better than a code?
7133 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well, we looked at Australia for example. In Australia, as I’m sure you know, there’s a code that runs well over 100 pages and they still had I think something in the range of 167,000 complaints related to sales.
7134 So at the end of the day I don’t think -- I think it’s hard for a code to regulate prescriptively what at the end of the day amounts to a human interaction, a sales interaction.
7135 So our focus was if we can’t -- no one’s ever going to get a sales interaction 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time therefore come up with a solution that is there to remedy sales interactions that have gone wrong.
7136 THE CHAIRPERSON: Were we to decide to introduce a code, what kind of impact do you think it would have operationally? And I know the first part of your answer is it depends on what’s in the code. But you’ve heard us ask that question of a number of parties. If you could...
7137 MR. MALCOLMSON: So past experience with codes like the Wireless Code have shown us that depending on the content of the code the implementation of the code takes time, costs money and, you know, when you have to make system changes, when you have to train employees, it quickly ends up costing a lot of money in terms of capital expenditures, operating expenditures. So there’s always an impact. And that’s why we proposed sort of I think more targeted measures in and around the offer.
7138 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do you propose your measures -- your proposed measures be enforced?
7139 MR. MALCOLMSON: If you were to adopt those measures you could presumably impose them upon carriers and non-carriers under a Section 24 condition, so an eligibility to operate type of condition.
7140 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you have any comments about enforcement tools in the event that parties were not compliant, assuming we adopted it as you suggest, make it a section -- a condition, and then we find that they’re not being followed, what measures -- what enforcement measures would you identify that the Commission could reasonably make use of?
7141 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think if you found after the imposition of those requirements there was instances of non-compliance presumably you would take a graduated approach to enforcement and ultimately if you had a party that was refusing to comply or, you know, had a long series of non-compliant events your ultimate tool in your regulatory toolbox of course is monetary penalties.
7142 THE CHAIRPERSON: You no doubt heard Telus’ proposal about developing an approach, a code, through CISC. What have you to say about that?
7143 MR. MALCOLMSON: When I listened to their proposal -- their proposed code, it sounded to me, and I could have gotten this wrong, but really they were just talking about codifying the competition definition of misleading, coming up with some indicators perhaps of aggressive, and that would be the code, as I understood it.
7144 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, if we could, can we separate the code. It’s the content -- so I take your point about the content. What about the forum?
7145 MR. MALCOLMSON: We had the same reaction I think as others have had that a CISC process is -- typically it’s been a technical forum. That’s not to say it couldn’t be made to work to develop a code. And, you know, I guess if that’s the route you chose to go down we would want to be at the table and participate actively with other stakeholders. But I think it could be done through a CISC. Ultimately all roads lead to you. So I do wonder whether -- if that’s the route you wanted to go it just -- it started and ended with you but, you know, that’s up to you.
7146 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7147 A brief question about the challenges associated with complying with existing federal and provincial, sometimes I suppose municipal -- no not municipal -- and provincial consumer protection mechanisms. What has been your experience? Do you see this as a particularly challenging issue or do you find it sort of normal course of business to deal with the various jurisdictions and their respective roles?
7148 MR. MALCOLMSON: We do live in a world of sort of a smorgasbord of regulations across consumer protection, you know, across various provinces. We’ve got the Competition Bureau, we’ve got the CCTS rules, we’ve have your rules. So it’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we know we have to manage through.
7149 I don't know if that's a good answer, but that's what we have to do.
7150 THE CHAIRPERSON: You manage.
7151 I guess my last question and then I'll look to my colleagues to point out anything that I may not have covered, you've heard a couple of proposals for a do not knock rule or a list similar to a do not call approach allowing people to opt out of door-to-door sales. What are your views on it and how do you think it could be implemented if it were to be implemented?
7152 MR. JAMAL: So that is part of the proposal that we outlined, the five point proposal. And so we agree that that is a good approach, no differently than the outbound calling or telemarketing list that exists today. We believe that, you know, it would allow consumers that don't want to interact in that way to provide, you know, their name and, you know, get them excluded from, you know, our knocking list. So we think that's a good idea and worthwhile today.
7153 You know, we do have a do not knock list at Bell and you can get put onto that list. And, you know, within one week of being put on that list from all future lists you'll get a -- you'll end up getting excluded.
7154 So we do think it's practical and you can operationalise it and makes sense for consumers.
7155 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
7156 I'm going to start on this side. Commissioner MacDonald?
7157 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good afternoon. I guess I might just start with a suggestion. Given your position, you might want to consider deleting your how do I complain about Bell search from your browser history, but I'll just throw that out there.
7158 Just two quick questions. With respect to the five proposals that you've put forward in your opening remarks, even with those proposals I note that they would require some changes to your existing contracts, retraining of staff, perhaps the establishment of a new system to manage all of the do not knock requests. How is that easier or less burdensome than what may be in a code?
7159 MR. MALCOLMSON: Fair question. I think it depends on what's in a code. As I said, our experience with codes has been it becomes -- you know, they sort of take on a life of their own. It takes a year, maybe two years to implement and they're expensive to implement.
7160 So we -- you know, some of these things we're doing today, the do not knock list, as Rizwan just spoke about, it's something that we have. We think it's a good idea to extend across the industry. So this is simply more targeted and isn't going to be as much of an administrative or technical or capital lift as I think, you know, something like the Australian code would be. That's our point.
7161 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thanks for that. And just back to the point about whistleblower protections, you said that you have a policy already at Bell. And I'm assuming that covers a wide range of complaints that your employees may want to raise, everything from Jack is stealing office supplies to Jill is taking 90 minute lunch breaks; would that be correct?
7162 MR. MALCOLMSON: Yes.
7163 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So through that existing mechanism I'd be interested to know, and I understand you don't want to say it publicly, I'd be interested to know if you do receive any internal complaints about misleading sales practices of unethical behaviour?
7164 MR. MALCOLMSON: So we would undertake to take that one away, Commissioner MacDonald.
7165 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you.
7166 ENGAGEMENT / UNDERTAKING
7167 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Those are my questions.
7168 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Levy.
7169 COMMISSIONER LEVY: Just a couple of questions as well. This has been an odd hearing in many ways. We have heard language like abusive, predatory and bad deals, how do you respond when you hear language like that describing practices in your industry and some of them pointed very directly at you?
7170 MR. JAMAL: I would say that, you know, they would be unacceptable or not tolerated and when we're aware of them we take action. You know, in terms of, you know, the -- you know, the broader issue that we saw from the CCTS complaints as well as the complaints on the record, you know, we did see, you know, the biggest issue was around misleading sales. And, you know, we've put some systematic things in place to kind of address that.
7171 And with regards to aggressive sales practices, I think that, you know, we believe proposal four and five can help. One was the whistleblower program and then the other one was to make sure that, you know, if -- in the event that customers don't want to be contacted at the door, we'd create a do not knock list.
7172 So I think that our view was, you know, based on what we saw on the record in terms of complaints as well as what we've seen from CCTS complaints, that would really address the vast majority of issues.
7173 And, yes, there have been failures where, you know, there have been aggressive sales practices and, you know, we do not absolutely tolerate it at Bell. You know, it's very clear in our code the kind of behaviour that we expect from our employees. We get them to review the code each and every single year and we even have digital training that goes with that every second year as well.
7174 So we take it very seriously internally and, yes, we have, you know, 50,000 employees and, you know, from time to time there is an employee that, you know, that, you know, we'll need to deal with on that particular issue.
7175 COMMISSIONER LEVY: The culture of respect came up as something to be a touchstone and I think it's a good one for all of us to keep in mind.
7176 And my last question has to do as a somewhat of a follow-up on that. I wonder if you have discussed a promise of performance to your customers as it relates to the management of complaints. In a couple of instances we had interveners that on one case had 41 different interactions with your company before they got resolution of their issue. In another case a woman had 70, 7-0 interactions before her issue was dealt with, and I can cite the intervention numbers if you wish. The first one is 681 and the second is 1360.
7177 How do you respond to that? I mean, the -- I think that overlying misleading and aggressive, which is what we're all about, there's a feeling of being misled and being treated aggressively when you have to fight so hard and take so much time out of your day as a private citizen to deal with these issues as a customer. So I'd like some comment on that.
7178 MR. JAMAL: Yeah, I would say those two particular scenarios that you talk about, you know, unacceptable. It should not take, you know, that many interactions with Bell to kind of resolve your issues.
7179 I would, you know, make sure that you guys are all aware that for our frontline care agents, first call resolution is one of the most important metrics that's on their scorecard. We do take very seriously trying to resolve customer issues on the first attempt. And it is, you know, the most important metric on their scorecard.
7180 I would say that, you know, we continue to evolve and, you know, put new things in place to help us resolve issues faster. And, you know, just this year we've instituted case managers to help us resolve complaints even faster, but I'll hand it off to see if you want to add any more comments.
7181 MR. MAGISTRIS: Yeah, no, so I would say, yeah, you know, we did institute a case management approach because some of those scenarios get very complex and we trip over them over and over and that's why we wanted to have a case management approach where we don't leave it up to the frontline agents to resolve all of these issues and somebody can resolve some of that offline.
7182 You know, you had an example on the record of a customer of ours in Manitoba and it was a very difficult partial migration from residential to business and we're still trying to work with that customer to resolve it. Sometimes it can get very complex. And case management is just one of the many ways where we're trying to improve those customer experiences by, you know, having the ability to -- for them to deal with more specialised agents.
7183 COMMISSIONER LEVY: Thank you. That's all my questions.
7184 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Lafontaine?
7185 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Merci. Thank you. Good afternoon.
7186 Just a few questions about your proposals on page seven and eight of your presentation. Item three, all service providers must provide order confirmations. So this is all service providers of all communication services or specific communication services?
7187 MR. MALCOLMSON: All communication services.
7188 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And so there would be the order confirmation. Would there also be an agreement, some kind of formal agreement, or would this essentially be the contract with the customer?
7189 MR. MALCOLMSON: There would be the order confirmation within 24 hours of the order being placed, and then there would be the terms of the agreement in cases where there was an agreement provided after the fact.
7190 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Okay. Thank you.
7191 MR. JAMAL: And I'll just add to Rob’s comment, the reason why that's important is sometimes when we do install services, the customer does decide to maybe add an additional set-top box or make a change to what might be on the order, which is why it's really important to not only do the order confirmation, also after the install happens, you know, provide a set of service details and the terms of service because sometimes things do change from the time of order to, you know, the time of install.
7192 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Great, thank you.
7193 Just a couple of other quick questions. In terms of the trial period, you talked about a 30-day installation -- or 30 days of trial, I guess Item 2, and you've indicated that that wouldn't be for all services, that you would also propose to maintain the 15-day trial period for wireless services. That's correct, n’est-ce pas?
7194 MR. JAMAL: That's correct.
7195 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And what would be the impact of going to the 30-day for the wireless services on your company?
7196 MR. JAMAL: We didn't consider that just because when we look at the record, we didn't see an issue with regards to that on the wireless side today in the Wireless Code. So I think that we excluded that because we felt like that was functioning well.
7197 If you'd like us to go away and look at the financial impacts of extending the 15 days to the 30, we can take an undertaking to do that.
7198 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Monsieur le président, should we request or ---
7199 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, I wasn’t ---
7200 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Oh, sorry. Yes, please, if you would undertake to provide, that would be -- thank you. Sorry.
7202 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And then I guess my last question to you is just when I look at these proposals, it's not entirely clear to me how these particular proposals will improve the situation for the vulnerable communities, the deaf, deaf/blind. I see that these proposals suggest increased access to information, which is great.
7203 But how will it ensure that these communities, you know, again the deaf, deaf/blind, they themselves will have access to better information and that the services that are offered to these communities are suitable for them?
7204 MR. MALCOLMSON: Commissioner Lafontaine, we do that today and it's something we're very proud of. We actually have a dedicated accessibility centre for people from vulnerable communities. So when they self-identify, they are transferred to the accessibility centre and Denise who is a key member of that team can walk you through what the accessibility centre does sort of on a day-to-day basis for people with disabilities.
7205 MS. FRANC: Hi. For our accessibility customers, we're not a group that's there to sell them products. We don’t sell products. We don’t push any kind of product on our customers.
7206 What we do is we talk with them, we take the time to find out, as Nancy had mentioned before, what is their day-to-day routine, what do they use the services for, what type of disability they have, what have they used in the past, and we go through -- we talk with the customer. We become -- we become someone that they can explain what they have gone through and what they need.
7207 And from there, we will build products for them. We have voice-activated dialing for visually impaired customers, for seniors. We have -- for the deaf community, a lot of times we will email them back and forth. We may email our customers on a regular basis. We will even provide -- we will even do like similar to a chat with them. They'll send us an email, they'll have questions. We'll respond back to them because not all deaf communities will function with Bell Relay or IP Relay. They have many different avenues. Some of them we even do texting with, so we'll text back and forth with them.
7208 As far as providing services for them, we have -- we have special formats of billing. We have braille, large print, audio, eText. We can even provide their documentation in the format which they would prefer. For our senior customers ---
7209 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: So just on that point, sorry, so just in terms of your proposal, so the order confirmations, how would they -- so these particular order confirmations that you're proposing here, how would they be provided by -- to serve them?
7210 MS. FRANC: Effectively, we would send them to them email and if a request is made, we will have one process so that we would send it to the group of T-Base, the group that does these special formats for us, and we would have -- we would request they provide like a copy of the contract or the order summary of what they're going to get.
7211 A lot of times I will do it manually. I will take -- well, our team, we will take what the customer has and we'll put it, we'll outline it, and then in another column we will provide what we're offering so that they can compare because a lot of times if somebody has a cognitive issue, you can tell them everything but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they understood what we were telling them. So by giving them a complete format of what we're offering compared to what they have, it's a much easier prospect. And after that, they'll contact us when they're ready. They'll let us know and there's nothing forced on them.
7212 So if they wish to have, say, the voice-activated dialing, it's a service that could be maybe complex for somebody who has cognitive issues or visually impaired. They won't be able to enter their numbers.
7213 Well, I can give you an example of a time that we spent with one of our customers, they weren't able to do it and we offered them, well, we'll do it for you. We spent over an hour with them on the phone, going through each contact, entering the contacts, and revising it after. And once all this was done, the customer was able to do the calls on their own. They didn't need anybody to assist them. They felt more independent and that's what we're there for.
7214 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you. Merci.
7215 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras?
7216 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Merci.
7217 The rules that you propose today, is that for all subscribers, residential and business, or strictly residential?
7218 MR. JAMAL: The proposal that we put in front of you was for residential wireline customers.
7219 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Do you have separate sale departments and customer service for residential or it's all together with the business services?
7220 MR. JAMAL: It's separate.
7221 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: It's separate. So today when you come and you propose a solution, it's strictly for the residential customer for which you have a separate sales department and customer service department.
7222 MR. JAMAL: That's correct, and I would say the reason for that is when we looked at, you know, the complaints on the record, as well as the CCTS complaints, we felt like that was the opportunity, the big opportunity for us to really focus our attention so that we could deliver a solution that would help us really get at the heart of the problem and make things better for the vast majority of Canadians.
7223 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And when you say in your presentation that you have 54 million interactions with your customers, is that only with residential customers?
7224 MR. JAMAL: That is correct.
7225 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. You know, I think it's good to have all the practices, the programs within a company but they must also be followed. I mean, you know, I'm sure you're doing your best but we've had interventions that seem to suggest that you're not completely following them.
7226 What do you respond to that?
7227 MR. JAMAL: You know, I would say that, you know, our focus every day is to ensure that the policies and procedures we have are followed. That's our accountability and, you know, I think that, you know, when we look at the record, we accept responsibility for the complaints that are there. We're looking for solutions to make things better for Canadians, which is why we've put our proposal on the table.
7228 I would say that -- you know, and not to defend or to make people feel like we don’t take accountability, we don’t think that, you know, the complaints on the record are important, they absolutely are and they give us an opportunity to learn and get better and serve Canadians better. You know -- but would say, you know, the things you see on the record would not be a view of all the transactions that happen at Bell on a daily basis. I would say that they are, for sure, you know, scenarios where we have not met the customer's expectation.
7229 And we are all focused on trying to figure out how we correct and do a better job as we move forward, but I would not want to leave you and the rest of the Panel with the impression that this the -- that is the level of service that the vast majority of our customers would get; otherwise, they wouldn't be with us.
7230 You know, there's a reason why we have 22 million customer connections, and that continues ---
7231 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Well, these are not 22 million residential.
7232 MR. JAMAL: Total customer subscription ---
7233 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: That includes business and wireless.
7234 MR. JAMAL: That is correct, but the fact ---
7235 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But when we talk about wireline and bundle service, the number is much lower.
7236 MR. JAMAL: It would be lower, I -- you know, absolutely. The 22 million includes individual customer connections. So there could be multiple connections that we have in homes, absolutely, 100 percent, but the one thing that I would stress is that continues to grow each and every day.
7237 If -- you know, if we had that rampant an issue, you know, customers would not, you know, want to come to Bell. And I'm not trying to defend, you know, any of the things that we see on the record, but I just don't want to leave you with the impression that that is the experience that the vast majority of our customers get.
7238 There are definitely challenges, we agree, and, you know, I think that we've provided, you know, things on the record in terms of solutions that we think will address, you know, the vast majority of complaints we have in a systematic way to ensure that, you know, we deliver a better experience to Canadians.
7239 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. What do you say to Unifor intervention? That your system of performance management is a large contributor to the hostile environment and pressure on employees to use problematic sales strategies with customers?
7240 MR. MAGISTRIS: So I would say that we don't agree with that characterization. You know, we -- the performance management system that we use in our contact centre, which Unifor references in terms of the stack ranking methodology, we think is actually, you know, very good -- a very good way of performance managing our employees. It's not necessarily perfect, but it does do a couple of good things. The first one in terms of how we've implemented it.
7241 The first one is employees are performance managed at a site level, which means that if you're on the east side of Canada and taking mostly morning calls, and if you're on the west side of Canada and taking mostly evening calls, you're not compared together in terms of your results. So it's a compare at the site level which is a very comparable peer group.
7242 And the other thing that I would say is that allows us to rely on a balanced scorecard with a number of KPIs where, you know, if we set the wrong target that gets rebalanced across the entire peer group. And so no one will, you know, be unduly impacted by just one target that may not have worked. I think like in that aspect it corrects a lot of, you know, potential for issues that our agents might face.
7243 And then the other thing that I would say is should that happen, I mean, should an employee believe that, you know, one big adjustment or the fact they were partially on leave for a month impacted their performance, you know, from a bonus scorecard perspective, there absolutely is a process to look at that. And if we see that, you know, it puts them in a different (indiscernible) of performance, then we can make an exception and bonus adjustments. And we do those on a very regular basis, and be happy to provide many examples of that scenarios.
7244 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: When you talk about your internal surveys, that 90 percent of your customers are very satisfied with your services, is that only for residential?
7245 MR. MAGISTRIS: So that was for residential contact centres, yes.
7246 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And -- I mean, Bell had had some difficulty with its reputation in the market. You're trying to -- with the customer service, for instance, I mean, we're not talking about sales. You know, a client calling in, being transferred, talking 40 minutes over the phone, being discouraged, and pursuing with Bell to cancel his service. For instance, there was some intervenors to that effect. What are you doing to try to improve this?
7247 MR. JAMAL: So I would say that from a service perspective, we're constantly looking to improve our service. You know, I would say that we continue to invest more.
7248 And in addition to that, you know, with regards to, you know, customers that are looking to cancel, when they call into us, right in our IVR we have an option that they can use to actually, you know, go directly to the group that is responsible for cancelling service. You don't need to go to a frontline agent who then transfers you to someone else. Unlike other providers, you can go directly into our, you know, our cancellation queue, if that's what you desire to do, from the IVR.
7249 So I think that we continue to try to make things easier for our customers, and that's just one example of ways that we've evolved our service over the last number of years.
7250 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: For instance, when customers are called for promotions for a new free -- a free period for Pay TV, for instance, is that on a needs be basis, or is that trying to sell further products to clients?
7251 MR. JAMAL: So as I kind of highlighted earlier, we do have telesales and, you know, in our telesales area, you know, we really try to do a lot of modelling to understand the needs of customers, the opportunities, and the ones that prefer to buy from that channel, and we use that insight into determining which customers we are going to contact.
7252 And you know, we do that for both, you know, customers that don't have a certain subscription, or you know, if there is a particular opportunity where we see that a customer may be -- may want to be interested in an additional element to the service that they have, we do that and we basically try to focus on those that we think would particularly benefit from it, as well as those that, I would say, you know, we've seen from our data would suggest that they would like to buy in that way.
7253 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. My final question. I asked this to Rogers. Bundles of a three service, for instance, are cheaper than buying only two service. Like for instance, a local phone line, many people wish to get rid of it, they don't need it, but they have it because it's cheaper to buy it in a bundle than to get only the service they want. I mean, what is the rationale for this?
7254 MR. JAMAL: So I would say that, you know, when you look at, you know, our website, you'll see from time to time we will have promotions on, you know, people signing up to home, phone, Internet, and TV. We also have, you know, promotions for, you know, customers that, you know, want to sign up to just Internet and TV, or if someone wants to sign up to an individual service. So you know, we don't have, you know -- we don't have time limited promotions that are just on our triple services, and that changes from time to time.
7255 But in addition to that, specifically, because you make reference to home phone, typically, in most of our promotions, you can get access to the promotions on a triple; instead of having a wired landline you could replace that with a wireless service with Bell and still take advantage of some of those promotions that we have for triple customers.
7256 So if a customer does decide they don't want to have a wired service with us, you know they would be able to substitute a wireless service in its place and still take advantage of some of the promotional elements that go along for our triple customers.
7257 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I understand this, but for some -- for one that doesn't have a wireless phone with Bell but is with Bell residential for a television and Internet, he ends up also with a phone line to get a better price. Isn't this an aggressive type of sale?
7258 MR. JAMAL: Yeah, we don't encourage that. I think that in the end, you know, we have different types of promotions. You know, we do have promotions for, you know, three products, two products, one product and, you know, customers, you know, really have access to all. We don’t just have promotions on, you know, triple services. If you went on our website, you’d be able to see very clearly that we have promotions on all different combinations and, you know, really, the customer needs to make the decision that’s appropriate to them. And, you know, we try to walk them through that in our needs-based assessment and, you know, we share with -- we share with them the merits of, you know, the variety of solutions that are available to them.
7259 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Thank you very much.
7260 MR. JAMAL: Thank you.
7261 THE CHAIRPERSON: Merci.
7262 Vice-Chair Simard?
7263 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
7264 I have two questions. As you indicated that questions are welcome in both official languages, I am going to ask my first one in French.
7265 Alors, je… ce qui m’intéresse, c’est la même question que j’ai déjà posée auparavant à Rogers et plus particulièrement les mesures qui sont prises, les mesures proactives qui sont prises pour identifier les pratiques trompeuses ou agressives. Alors, je pense que M. Malcolm l’expliquait plus tôt aujourd'hui, le nerf de la guerre, ce sont les… en anglais, ils disaient les « sales interactions », les interactions au niveau des ventes.
7266 Alors, je comprends que, par ailleurs, sur le terrain, c'est ce qu’on a entendu en fait, je pense c'est le constat qu’on peut retenir tout au long de la semaine que, évidemment, lorsque y’a des pratiques, on voit probablement seulement la pointe de l’iceberg, et probablement plusieurs personnes – c'est ce qu’on retient – ne prennent pas le téléphone pour appeler pour se plaindre et c'est pour cette raison-là que j’aimerais bien être convaincue en quittant ce soir que toutes les mesures sont prises, les mesures proactives sont prises pour aller corriger ces pratiques-là de ventes trompeuses et agressives.
7267 Alors, on a beaucoup, beaucoup abordé la question des mesures que j’appellerais passives, plutôt passives, c'est-à-dire du point de vue du fournisseur, donc, au niveau des plaintes. Alors, encore une fois, ça prend un geste actif de la part du consommateur pour porter une plainte et, je viens de le dire, c'est pas tout le monde. On peut travailler sur la prémisse de départ que ce ne sont pas tous les clients qui vont prendre le téléphone pour se plaindre. Alors, ce qui m’intéresse, ce sont les mesures actives.
7268 J’ai entendu parler, donc, du sondage qui a été fait, alors ça, c’était une musique à mon oreille. J’ai également entendu parler de beaucoup d’interactions avec les clients. Alors, de façon très succincte, je sais pas si quelqu’un à la table pourrait me résumer ces mesures-là qui sont faites, les mesures proactives.
7269 Et au niveau du sondage, je serais intéressée à savoir, j’ai entendu parler d’autres intervenants, donc de sondages qui se faisaient par téléphone. Alors, je serais portée à penser qu’un sondage par téléphone va avoir de meilleures chances de succès qu’un sondage par exemple par courriel. On a parlé du taux de réponse tout à l'heure, mais j’aimerais avoir, donc, cette précision-là.
7270 J’aimerais également avoir une idée plus précise au niveau des appels qui sont faits, les appels de suivi suite à la vente. Alors, je comprends que c'est une autre… ben, je pense, une pratique exemplaire qui a été signalée par d’autres fournisseurs à ce sujet-là, donc est-ce que ces appels-là sont faits chez vous, puis est-ce que y’a d’autres mesures que sondages et appels et, si oui, j’aimerais les connaitre, et, sinon, si des mesures qui ont été identifiées par, par exemple, d’autres fournisseurs ne sont pas appliquées chez vous, avez-vous l’intention de les appliquer? Et, sinon, est-ce que c'est parce que y’aurait des limitations trop importantes?
7271 Alors, y’a beaucoup de sous-questions. Je pourrais répéter tout ça en anglais si c’est nécessaire et revenir là sur les questions si on les oublie.
7272 M. de MAGISTRIS: Mais je peux peut-être commencer par le centre d’appels, les sondages, les suivis qu’on fait au téléphone, et si y’a des questions que j’oublie, je vous demanderai, s’il vous plait, de répéter, mais je dirais au départ, les sondages qu’on fait, c'est pour toute interaction dans le centre d’appels, que ce soit pour une vente ou que ce soit pour un autre type de… pour un autre type de question.
7273 La façon dont le client peut répondre à son sondage, par SMS, par email, ou directement par téléphone dans notre... dans le IVR, donc on met à disponibilité plusieurs façons pour récupérer le sondage et les commentaires du… et les commentaires du client.
7274 On a parlé des réponses positives, chaque réponse qui n’est pas satisfaisante, y’a un suivi de cette interaction.
7275 Donc, en ajout de ce que j’ai mentionné auparavant, de toute l’assurance-qualité qui se fait, l’écoute des appels régulière de tous les différents agents, les interactions côte à côte que les chefs d’équipe vont avoir avec leurs agents, si jamais y’a un sondage qui a… où le résultat est pas bon, on va faire le suivi avec le client. Si, you know, avec… dans cette interaction, on a été capable de déterminer que y’a potentiellement un problème qui s’est passé avec l’agent, on va faire l’enquête aussi.
7276 Tous ces… on fait pas non seulement le suivi, mais aussi ça génère aussi une session de coaching avec le chef d’équipe et l’agent impacté par ce sondage-là, donc ça, ça va à travers le suivi qu’on fait… qu’on fait sur ces… sur ces sondages, et on regarde les tendances dans ces sondages, on essaie de constamment apprendre pourquoi on est capable ou pas capable de satisfaire les clients avec ces interactions.
7277 L’autre chose…
7278 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Pardon.
7279 M. de MAGISTRIS: …que je voudrais mentionner en termes de suivi…
7280 Oup! Pardon.
7281 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Je m’excuse de vous interrompre, mais précisément, pour identifier les pratiques qui se disent trompeuses ou agressives.
7282 M. de MAGISTRIS: Oui, donc, absolument. Si on détermine dans le sondage du client que y’a une inquiétude avec l’agent, on va aller écouter l’appel, tous les appels sont enregistrés. S’il est déterminé sur l’appel que l’agent a mal agi, dépendamment de la sévérité, on va prendre action qui peut aller jusqu’à le congédiement.
7283 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Mais est-ce que vous, vous faites ces appels-là de suivi? ON entendait…
7284 M. de MAGISTRIS: On fait absolument ces appels-là. Donc, si on reçoit un appel… si on reçoit un sondage négatif, on va faire le suivi avec tous les clients par téléphone. Ensuite, de plus, mon collègue a mentionné qu’on fait un suivi avant l’installation, on fait un suivi aussi après chaque installation de produits et services et on fait un suivi supplémentaire après la première facture.
7285 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: C'est celle-là qui… c'est celui-là qui m’intéresse.
7286 M. de MAGISTRIS: Voilà. Donc, pour s’assurer à chaque étape que le client a été satisfait et qu’on a répondu à ses besoins, ces agents sont capables de faire des changements, peu importe qu’ils soient au compte du client, si jamais c’est nécessaire à ce moment-là.
7287 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Bon. Je comprends donc que y’a un appel qui se fait systématiquement à 30 jours ou…
7288 M. de MAGISTRIS: Donc… oui, après la première facture…
7289 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui.
7290 M. de MAGISTRIS: …dans les 30 jours qui suivent…
7291 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait.
7292 M. de MAGISTRIS: leur première facture.
7293 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Excellent.
7294 M. de MAGISTRIS: Donc, c’est… on vend l’installation, après l’installation, des fois c'est… ils ont déjà reçu leur première facture et pour sûr après leur première facture.
7295 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Merci.
7296 And my second question is that Rogers has an ombudsman, you don’t, so I’m curious to know why.
7297 MR. MALCOLMSON: Your question was, understanding why we don’t have an ombudsman?
7298 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yes.
7299 MR. MALCOLMSON: You know, that’s -- Rogers has decided to do that, we focus our efforts in customer care, on our Customer Care team and we think, you know, that centralizing it makes the most sense; sort of one-stop shopping for the customer, if you will, and having another layer of internal bureaucracy or another channel probably, for us, wouldn’t be as efficient as dealing with it in our Customer Care Centre. So it’s about efficiency and having one place for the customer to go when they have an issue.
7300 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: So from your perspective, is it -- like, I understand that it is not necessarily a best practice to have an ombudsman internally.
7301 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think to each his or her own by service provider. We’re finding that it’s most efficient to centralize our customer care functions. I’m not saying an ombudsman does not work for other companies, we just choose to do it through our Customer Care team.
7302 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you.
7303 THE CHAIRMAN: Vice-Chair Laizner.
7304 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Good late afternoon.
7305 So I hear you when you say that you have all these personalized needs assessments and lifestyle questions, and that you see that these interventions, you know, have occurred from people that have had bad experiences but it’s really not representative, but what concerns me, for example as the Chair was asking you about the case where a consumer was sold a product that they did not need, did not use; the technicians came and installed two modems, and then the experience in cancelling the service was not pleasant, taking 45 minutes, trying to be sold whether it was Rogers or Bell, a continuation of the service.
7306 So, to me, that speaks to a failure at three different points in the customer experience. And I -- you know, with all these programs of training, and you’ve said your technicians they’re -- are able to cancel a sale, is that not evidence that there is a larger problem there that’s more pervasive because it’s occurring at more than one point in one customer’s experience?
7307 MR. JAMAL: So I would -- let me start and then if you guys want to add.
7308 So let me start from the technician and work my way back.
7309 I would say that there -- and I’ve been on many technician truck rolls and, you know, I’ll tell you that, you know, it’s very, very difficult at that particular stage to fully understand what a consumer may want. I’ve been in, you know, situations and I’ve seen emails where, yes, customers do actually want, you know, Bell service and Rogers service. I’m not sure why or for what reason, be it legitimate or not legitimate, I’m not sure but, you know, I think there are ---
7310 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what percentage of those people are elderly without use -- that don’t use the Internet?
7311 MR. JAMAL: To be fair to that technician, I did not go on this particular truck roll but, you know, a lot of times our truck rolls happen during the day. You know, I’m not sure if that -- you know, the technician would have known that, you know, this elderly lady, you know, lived alone or, you know, maybe, you know, she was -- you know, she was living with maybe her son or daughter and, you know, her son or daughter wanted the Internet service.
7312 So it’s hard to particularly judge all the dimensions of that particular scenario from the technician’s point of view.
7313 I would tell you that I don’t believe that our technicians -- you know, they try to do a good job and, you know, they are, you know, very, very good people working very hard.
7314 And, you know, I’m very proud of the frontline employees we have; generally speaking, I would say that, you know, they are great individuals. I spend time with them, and sometimes there are, you know, individuals that aren’t -- you know, that, you know, there might be one individual that, you know, gets into our ecosystem that, you know, may not be -- have the best of intentions. I wouldn’t say that that would be something that we could characterize as all of our technicians being a certain way.
7315 In this particular scenario, I would tell you that, you know, all the technicians that I've gone on jobs with I would not tell you that we have a pervasive issue whatsoever.
7316 And they have really, really difficult jobs. A lot of times I’ve been, you know, in situations with them and, you know, they’re being hurried out of, you know, doing their job well and, you know, people don’t want to talk to them, they just -- you know, they just want it done.
7317 And, you know, I would say that it’s -- it would be unfair to just assume, based on this particular incident that, you know, all our technicians are not doing a good job. I would say that, you know, based on the evidence on the record and what we’ve understood about this case, it is an unfortunate situation. And, you know, I think we take responsibility that at the front end of this, that we didn’t, you know, capture it based on our needs assessment with that customer. And, you know, I think that, you know, that obviously ---
7318 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Why was it so difficult to cancel the service, then? Certainly at that point, it would have been evident what the reason for cancellation was. Why did it take so long?
7319 MR. JAMAL: So I’ll hand that off to C-A. But, you know, in our ecosystem you’re able to go into our IVR right away and, you know, if you’d like to cancel a service you don’t have to go through a triage of different ---
7320 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: What does the IVR stand for?
7321 MR. JAMAL: Sorry; the -- when you call 310-BELL ---
7322 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Oh, okay.
7323 MR. JAMAL: --- you will get to a set of prompts to say why are you calling. One of the prompts that you can get would suggest you’d like to cancel your service. So you can call because you have a technical issue with your service, a billing issue, or you ---
7324 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And if you have a modem to return, can you use that service as well?
7325 MR. JAMAL: If you’re looking to return equipment because you’re cancelling your service?
7326 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Well, presumably if you’re cancelling your service, you, as a company, require the equipment to be returned to you.
7327 MR. JAMAL: That’s correct. So, you know, we have a variety of options. You know, consumers can go ---
7328 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Can you use the IVR in that instance?
7329 MR. JAMAL: Use the IVR to return equipment?
7330 MR. MAGISTRIS: So I think maybe the IVR will prompt ---
7331 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Prompt you.
7332 MR. MAGISTRIS: --- prompt you, do you want to cancel your service. At which point you will speak to a live agent. They’ll have a conversation around, you know, “Why are you calling to cancel?” If you want to cancel, that agent will cancel the service. They’ll inform you about, you know, how to return the equipment. That’s generally speaking.
7333 In the specific scenario that you were mentioning, if the technician is installing the Bell service, the customer can refuse the installation at the door.
7334 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
7335 MR. MAGISTRIS: If the installation is complete, we will send the information to the customer on how to return the products. It very frequently happens that, you know, let’s say if the customer was -- you know, the technician was in the home, the technician can pick up the modem, and we have a process for logging that the modem has been returned to us.
7336 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. But in this instance, the cancellation would have involved speaking with somebody in order to cancel because of the return of the equipment?
7337 MR. MAGISTRIS: So in this instance, given that -- assuming the Bell technician was the one coming in for the installation, the customer is able to refuse the installation at the door. And the technician will call their supervisor and, you know, inform the supervisor of what’s going on and they will be re-dispatched.
7338 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right. I think in this particular intervention, the equipment had been installed and subsequently the customer had to cancel both their Bell and their Rogers service because they didn’t meet their needs, and as part of the intervention expressed frustration and dissatisfaction that after having been sold something that didn’t meet their needs, having had installations by two companies, then the whole cancellation process took 45 minutes as well, with requests that the customer keep the service.
7339 So that’s just -- I mean, I don’t want to belabour the issue, but, I mean, that is not good customer service.
7340 MR. MAGISTRIS: So yes, I would agree that it’s a completely unfortunate issue. Like, our processes are that you can select on the IVR to speak to an agent to do the cancellation. You know, that agent will go through, you know, understanding why you’re willing to -- why you’re wanting to cancel. If you do want to cancel, we can process that interaction.
7341 We use, you know, a similar quality grid for loyalty and retention agents as I talked about for sales agent; it is very clear black and white what they’re supposed to do with the customer. You know, the customer says, “You have to cancel that service”, we cancel the service.
7342 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
7343 MR. MAGISTRIS: I can’t speak to the specific scenario that is very unfortunate and we’re -- you know, it took longer than it should have.
7344 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Now, you’ve indicated that technicians are given the discretion to generate leads for sales as well as cancelling services. So do they get the same training in that capacity as sales agents?
7345 MR. CLUETT: I can speak to that.
7346 Our technicians actually aren’t selling, in that case. They are just generating leads and interest from a client. So they’re not getting the full extent of our sales training.
7347 If the customer decides that they are interested in, say, our Internet products, the technician either leaves them with a contact number where that customer would then call that contact number, or they will connect the customer directly with a call centre at that time.
7348 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And we were talking about the research conducted by Dr. Cavanagh earlier. One of the points that was raised by Dr. Cavanagh, and I believe by other consumer groups as well, was that consumers felt rushed in the sales process.
7349 Have you found -- is there part of your employee metrics and performance evaluation that relates to how quickly they conduct sales, how many sales they do in a certain timeframe? Is it part of their evaluation to complete sales at a certain pace?
7350 MR. MAGISTRIS: So no. If your question is do they have an average amount of time that they’re expected to take with a customer for a sales, we don’t absolutely have that ---
7351 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And are they ---
7352 MR. MAGISTRIS: --- in our call centre and ---
7353 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And are they expected to complete so many sales in a certain period of time?
7355 MR. MAGISTRIS: They have an overall efficiency metric, but as I mentioned, you know, it’s a combination of, you know, what they are ready to sell as a percentage of their call, the quality of those sales, and then they would have, yes, some efficiency metrics. But I think it doesn’t preclude everything that we’ve talked about in terms of all of the quality assessment that would be made with that agent would actually be on, you know, making sure they walk the customer through every single detail from, you know, connecting with the customer, to using the appropriate call flow for that specific scenario, to using the appropriate question, to providing 100 percent information, to actually if the customer’s in front of their email address, to walk them through that electronic confirmation that we send to the customer.
7356 And all of that would -- if the agent doesn’t complete that, they would receive an automatic failure from a quality perspective.
7357 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And for telephone or door-to-door sales where the customer doesn't have internet or email, how do they get confirmation of their sale in that critical information summary?
7358 MR. MAGISTRIS: So in the contact centre, we -- we offer the opportunity to send it by email. If the customer doesn't have email, you know -- you know, very often our customers install their products and services within a few days and we wouldn't have the ability to send them a paper copy in advance of their installation.
7359 At the time of the installation, they do get all the documentation that was previously referenced in terms of, you know, the critical information and the terms of service.
7360 MR. CLUETT: And that -- sorry. That is consistent also for our door-to-door teams, the one ---
7361 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
7362 MR. CLUETT: --- different would be within our door-to-door teams we actually have that second step where they speak with the call centre who follows that call flow and reaffirms with them all the decisions that they've made.
7363 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And then at what point does the cooling-off period start?
7364 MR. JAMAL: Our recommendation is from the installation date.
7365 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And would they have the confirmation of the terms at that point?
7366 MR. JAMAL: Usually we send the confirmation of the terms typically just after they install, so they will have it, you know, well before the 30 days, yes.
7367 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And will they -- in your proposal for a 30-day cooling-off period with respect to other services, will the customer have a bill from Bell within that time period?
7368 MR. JAMAL: Yes, they should.
7369 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: I also had a question about accessibility rebates. And that is, do you put the accessibility discount together with promotions or is it an either/or situation where the customer has to choose one or the other?
7370 MS. BARBER: They're stackable, so you can add the -- our disability data on top of any promotion.
7371 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: We heard from the Deaf Wireless Consultative Community that they experienced a lot of problems in awareness on the part of sales personnel that this accessibility discount exists. And I think they -- they expressed frustration at the fact that they had to sign up for promotions and then fight the disability discount later.
7372 So I'd like to understand why that occurred and what you've done to address that.
7373 MR. MAGISTRIS: So I think in our case like that would happen in our -- you know, customers would -- a need for the accessibility service would happen in our accessibility queue. And maybe I'd let Denise comment on how we treat customers in the accessibility queue.
7374 MS. FRANC: Okay. So for customers who have disabilities, we do confirm their disability. Following that, they are eligible to have the accessibility rebate, which is a two gigabyte add-on to their mobility package that they have.
7375 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So are you saying -- because I heard you earlier saying that you don't engage in sales. Is that correct?
7376 MS. FRANC: No, the -- if the -- we don't engage in sales. What we do engage in is to offer them services that are more convenient for their needs.
7377 Like I mentioned before, somebody is visually impaired, we would offer them maybe voice-activated dialling or something like that.
7378 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: I get that. For the accessibility needs person that phones because they want to take a promotion and -- or I mean, online or goes into a store, they're hard of hearing, they want to access a service, at that point of sale, which is not phoning in to you, but at that point of sale, will the sales agent be aware of and give them the discount or do they need to then go to you in order to get it?
7379 MS. FRANC: They come to us ---
7380 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So for ---
7381 MS. FRANC: --- because we dedicated the customers to our department.
7382 We're a small department, and we do all lines of service.
7383 So no matter what it is after the customer has purchased the service or whatever, he'll always comes to the accessibility team. We will answer all their questions or -- or fix any issues they have. We will give them our direct phone number to contact us.
7384 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. But do the sales people -- are they trained to tell this customer that they can't get the accessibility discount at the point of sale, that they have to go through the additional step and how to reach you?
7385 MS. FRANC: They know that -- they will -- say that they activate a plan in the store for the customer. They will advise the customer following the activation to contact us or even sometimes they'll do it automatically when they're with a customer.
7386 As soon as we see the customer's profile, the agent in the store has confirmed that this is a customer who has a disability, we will go into the profile of the customer and add on the disability rebate.
7387 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So the frustration that we've been hearing this week is that there seems to be a disconnected in the knowledge of the sales personnel that that is the process and that what customers are hearing is that there is no discount available or it doesn't apply together with a promotion, so how do you address that?
7388 MS. TICHBON: We do cover off with our teams the accessibility team that we're very proud of that Denise has. It's covered also in our knowledge tools, so there's information available to people.
7389 I take your feedback away. That's, you know, not what -- the experience we would want at all, but we absolutely do cover it in many different places throughout our training and I'll take away that feedback.
7390 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And why wouldn't the discount be part of the dropdown menu for the sales person? That was one of the concerns expressed. So that person that are entitled to that discount don't have to go through this extra step.
7391 MS. TICHBON: I'd have to take that away to have a look at it, but -- yeah.
7392 MS. FRANC: Maybe I can mention why it comes to accessibility because if everybody was able to just add on this -- this discount, it would make -- the customers wouldn't be coming to our dedicated department.
7393 We're there for them. We're there to service them. We're there to inform them when new products come out.
7394 We have the Canadian Hearing Society that works with us. We have -- we have also different -- different organizations, if you want, that will also contact us. And we're the centre point.
7395 So for them to be able to maximize everything that's available for them, they need to come to us.
7396 It's not all the agents that have these accesses. It's not all the agents that know what's best for them.
7397 They have -- they do have understanding of it.
7398 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And what do you think about the request they've made that at point of sales or retail stores there be tablets with information dedicated to their needs either through tablet or through a video?
7399 MS. BARBER: So today in the Bell stores, you can access bell.ca, and if you're referring to the ASL -- the videos that were made for the Wireless Code, those are accessible in store because they're on bell.ca on the accessibility microsite.
7400 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. What percentage of the sales employee take-home pay is base salary versus bonus for the average employee?
7401 MS. TICHBON: That would be confidential information. I can tell you, though, that the compensation that they have set up is primarily based on a fixed base salary and there is a smaller component of it that is a bonus.
7402 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Will you undertake to provide that on a confidential basis?
7403 MR. MALCOLMSON: Yes.
7404 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And you've indicated that you have a sales quote process for residential wireline services, and so with those sales quotes when do they expire? How long are they valid for?
7405 MS. SCHWEIZER: It's seven days.
7406 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. Now, one of the other irritants -- and this is my last question -- is that service providers can change the monthly rate during the contract period and the customer isn't really made aware of the fact that they have to keep their end of the deal but the service provider doesn't have to commit and can change the rates of terms.
7407 Does Bell use this practice of retaining the power to unilaterally change the rates?
7408 MR. JAMAL: So let me just make sure that I explain very clearly what happens today at Bell and then, you know, if you have further questions.
7409 So all the offers that we have in market are not contingent on signing up to a fixed-term contract, so as I mentioned earlier, you know, the way our promotions are generally structured, you would save a certain dollar amount for a certain duration and then, you know, there is a current price that you would go to.
7410 When our prices do increase, we give customers at least 30 days written notice. The only fixed-term contracts that we have today for new customers are related to installation, and what I mean by that is our installation fee on TV -- and this is the only place where we have it -- is $209.95, and if you would sign up to a two-year contract, you can reduce that payment to $59.95. It’s one of the options that customers have. They don’t have to take it, but if they’d like to reduce the installation fee for television, they can take advantage of a fixed-term contract. At any point they can cancel and the only penalty that they would be would be to basically make whole on the installation payment advantage that they got at the time of installation.
7411 So, I just want to make sure ---
7412 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So on those fixed terms you reserve the right to increase the monthly rate after the promotion period?
7413 MR. JAMAL: No, I would just say that the fixed-term is related to the installation contract. You can take one, you don’t have to take one, and really, you know, when our -- you know, if our prices do change people have the opportunity to cancel. There’s no penalty, you know, associated with, you know, cancelling our service if you didn’t take an installation contract.
7414 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
7415 MR. JAMAL: If you did, you’d just have to reimburse the installation contract that you took. So if you got a benefit of a $150 and you decided to cancel in month one, you’d have to pay us back the $150 benefit that you got as part of that installation contract.
7416 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And in any other case, if you’re raising the rate, you give the customer 30 days’ notice and they can cancel?
7417 MR. JAMAL: In all cases, we always give customers 30 days’ notice and they can cancel, yes.
7418 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And when you provide them with the terms of their contract and your critical ---
7419 MR. JAMAL: In our service ---
7420 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: -- information summary ---
7421 MR. JAMAL: In our service terms, absolutely, it’s there, and in our proposal that we’re suggesting today ---
7422 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And is it clearly there that you can change the terms or is it in the fine print?
7423 MR. JAMAL: No, it’s clearly there.
7424 One of the things that -- in our proposal that we’re suggesting is to ensure that even at the order confirmation stage ---
7425 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: M’hm.
7426 MR. JAMAL: -- that we would, you know, highlight it in particular and make sure that, you know, it would be very clear to the customer at the time of order that that is the case, because I think that, you know, we want to make sure that we’re setting the right expectations at the time of signing up to Bell. We’re not trying to hide anything.
7427 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Right.
7428 MR. JAMAL: It’s very clear in our advertising. But we’re also going to make it very clear in our order confirmations that we have today. It’s going to actually be very clear and upfront so customers can’t mistake that.
7429 And in addition to that, on our -- in our proposal, we’re even suggesting that the installation contract, if you do decide to take one, will be very clearly highlighted in the order confirmation and, you know, you’ll clearly see that upfront ---
7430 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
7431 MR. JAMAL: --- and you’ll be able to make a decision appropriately.
7432 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay, thank you. Those are all my questions.
7433 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
7434 I believe Commission counsel needs to articulate and perhaps clarify some of those undertakings.
7435 MS. WEXLER: Certainly. So I’ll list the undertakings that I’ve noted down here, and if you could confirm at the end if you’ll provide them for November 1st.
7436 The first is to provide the percentage of sales executed via technicians during install visits or other technical visits, including by -- through the generation of leads during the relevant period that the RFI’s -- that was identified in the RFI’s.
7437 The second is to provide an explanation of your views on proposals for sales quotes for your wireless services.
7438 And third, related to that, is to provide your views on Dr. Cavanaugh’s survey as it relates to getting information on your services terms and conditions pre-sale.
7439 The fourth is to provide the churn rate for customers for wireline services over the last five years. And if I could clarify that you can provide that on a quarterly basis over that term.
7440 Fifth is to provide information on whether and how the third party agents are making use of the whistleblower program that you have in-house.
7441 The sixth is to undertake to provide information of whether you have received complaints of misleading and aggressive sales practices -- pardon me -- sorry -- the seventh -- no, sorry, the sixth is to provide the information of whether you have received those complaints of misleading and aggressive sales practices through your internal whistleblower plan, so the quantum.
7442 The seventh is to provide the financial impacts of extending the 15-day trial period to 30 days for wireless services that’s currently required. In other words, so to apply your buyer’s remorse program across all your services, to the wireless services as well.
7443 The eighth is to consider why the accessibility discount is not included for the drop down menu for frontline sales staff to apply at their point-of-sale.
7444 The ninth and final is to provide the percentage of a sales employees take home pay, what percentage versus the base salary for an average employee. I understand there could be differences across employees.
7445 So the undertakings are due by November 1st.
7446 MR. MALCOLMSON: We’ll endeavour to provide those.
7447 I just had a couple of points of clarification. Some of the items you enumerated we would want to file on a confidential basis.
7448 MS. WEXLER: Certainly designate the information as confidential in accordance with the rules and we take that away.
7449 MR. MALCOLMSON: And then number eight, which was why the accessibility is not on the drop down menu, I could very well have missed that but I didn’t know that we undertook to do that. I think we answered the question but -- we can look at the transcript.
7450 MS. WEXLER: Okay. I thought it was provided to -- the undertaking was to provide just a clear maybe additional information on that point. If you think it’s answered in full indicate that please.
7451 MR. MALCOLMSON: Okay. We will.
7452 MS. WEXLER: Thank you. That’s it.
7453 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, counsel.
7454 A couple of closing matters. As mentioned in my opening remarks on Monday, in order to enhance participation in our proceeding the Commission had invited Canadians to comment on the matters at issue in the proceeding by sending tweets to #crtforum that comply with our rules of engagement.
7455 The Commission has collected the acceptable tweets sent to that hashtag and the consolidation will be placed on the public record of the proceeding. The consolidated acceptable tweets document will be posted as soon as possible after the close of the hearing today.
7456 Parties in this hearing may choose to reply to the commentary on Twitter in their final written replies which, as stated in the Notice of Consultation, are to be filed on November 9th, 2018.
7457 Finalement, nous arrivons à la fin de l’audience, mais avant de terminer, permettez-moi de remercier tous ceux et celles qui ont participé à sa planification et sa réalisation. Comme on peut l’imaginer, plusieurs employés travaillent depuis des semaines à sa mise en œuvre.
7458 A big thank you to everyone who worked to support our hearing, our court reporters, simultaneous translation services and, of course, Commission staff and my panel colleagues.
7459 On behalf of the Commission, I would like to acknowledge all of the intervenors who took the time to share their thoughts and present their positions during this hearing.
7460 We’ve also received, as I mentioned, a number of comments on Twitter and we thank all those who share their views using that forum.
7461 Following the hearing all parties may file final submissions with the Commission on any matter within the scope of the proceeding by 9 November.
7462 I’d like to just say finally we’ve covered some important ground. I think I can speak for my fellow panel members when I say that we now have a much clearer picture of the situation then we did before the hearing got underway.
7463 Testimony and comments we heard and read over the last week will inform the report that we will deliver to the government on whether misleading or aggressive retail sales practices are used by large telecommunication service providers, their impact on consumers, and potential solutions to enhance the framework of existing consumer protections.
7464 Je remercie encore une fois chacun de vous pour votre participation et votre intérêt.
7465 La présente audience est maintenant terminée. Merci et bonne fin de semaine.
--- Upon adjourning at 5:40 p.m.
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