Consultation on Canada’s large telecommunications carriers’ sales practices

POR Registration Number: 028-18
Contract Number: 3201706
Contract Award Date: August 8, 2018
Delivery Date: September 27, 2018

Prepared for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Download this report in PDF.

Ce rapport est aussi disponible en français.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Political Neutrality Statement

I hereby certify as Senior Officer of Ipsos that the deliverables fully comply with the Government of Canada political neutrality requirements outlined in the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada and Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research. Specifically, the deliverables do not include information on electoral voting intentions, political party preferences, standings with the electorate or ratings of the performance of a political party or its leaders.

Mike Colledge
President
Ipsos Public Affairs

Key Findings

The purpose of this POR was to examine claims of aggressive or misleading sales practices by telecommunications companies in Canada to provide evidence in support of a report requested by the Governor-in-Council.

The POR sought to better understand the prevalence of aggressive or misleading sales practices based on Canadians’ own perception of these tactics, how they define such practices and incidence of a specific set of sales tactics commonly heard through complaints to CCTS. The POR also sought to gauge Canadians’ level of concern with these sales practices in the contact of the broader telecommunications sector and their appetite for the government to take steps to address these concerns.

Overall, four in ten (40%) Canadians who responded to the online panel survey report having experienced sales practices by telecommunications companies in Canada that they consider to be aggressive or misleading, the majority of which report their most recent experience took place within the past year (60% of those who experienced these tactics or 24% of all Canadians).

Prevalence of aggressive or misleading sales practices is even higher when asked about a specific set of tactics with a majority of Canadians reporting salespeople pushing telecommunications products or services they are not interested in (55%), while four in ten have had technical support representatives attempt to sell them products or services during the support interaction (39%).

Generally speaking, Canadians express concern with a number of aspects of the telecommunications sector in Canada and a strong majority are extremely or very concerned specifically about misleading sales practices (58%), while nearly half are as concerned about aggressive sales practices (48%).

Among those impacted by aggressive or misleading sales practices, few have taken significant steps to address the issue beyond speaking to friends and family about their experience (48%) and while four in ten (39%) complained to their provider very few brought their concerns directly to the CCTS (8%).

There is strong sentiment among Canadians that they want action from government at all levels to tackle the issue (77% agree) and a strong majority look to the CRTC specifically to address their concerns (74% agree).

Canadians more vulnerable to aggressive or misleading sales practices

Differences by Major Providers

Differences by Demographics

Differences by Official Language

Comparison to Voluntary survey results

Introduction

Ipsos was commissioned by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to conduct public opinion research on Canada’s large telecommunications carriers’ sales practices.

Background and Objectives

On June 6, 2018, the CRTC was directed by the Governor-in-Council to make a report on the retail sales practices of Canada’s large telecommunications carriers and specifically to examine claims of aggressive or misleading sales practices, the prevalence and impact on consumers and potential solutions. The final report is due to be submitted by February 28, 2019.

At the heart of the request by the Governor-in-Council is an increase in concern expressed by Canadians on the issue of aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sector.

The CRTC understands the concerns of Canadians. The commission launched a public consultation on July 16, 2018. In addition, the CRTC also undertook Public Opinion Research (POR) on the topic to measure the extent to which those practices are taking place and are perceived to be misleading or aggressive. This report addresses the POR component of the CRTC consultation.

Including POR as a component to the report to the Governor-in-Council allows the CRTC to measure the prevalence of these issues, Canadians opinions on the matter and to encourage participation in the consultation process. It is essential to the CRTC that a wide-variety of perspectives are included in any such research and on the public record. In particular, the CRTC sought to ensure that individuals who may not be able to participate in public proceedings are included in the research as well as those groups who may be more vulnerable due to age, a disability or a language barrier including Canadians with disabilities, seniors, third language communities and those who reside in smaller/remote communities. It is also essential that the opinions of both English and French language markets and those in Official Language Minority Communities are addressed in the POR.

The primary research objectives for this POR are as follows:

Methodology

The POR undertaken by the CRTC was conducted in two primary phases including both qualitative and quantitative research as outlined in the table below. Appended to the report is detailed methodological information, as well as a copy of the quantitative survey questionnaire and qualitative discussion guide.

Description Details Fieldwork Dates
Qualitative
Seniors

2 focus groups in urban centres (Calgary & Halifax)

2 focus groups in small/rural communities (Val-D’Or & Sault Ste Marie)

  • Sault Ste. Marie, Thurs Sept 6
  • Halifax, Mon Sept 10
  • Calgary, Thurs Sept 13
  • Val d’Or, Mon Sept 17
Individuals with disabilities 10 in-depth telephone/online-chat interviews
  • Wed Sept 5 –Friday Sept 14
General public in rural communities

1 online focus group in Whitehorse, Yukon

1 online focus group in Prince George, BC

  • Whitehorse, Wed Sept 12
  • Prince George, Thurs Sept 13
Third language spoken at home

1 online focus group in Toronto, ON

1 online focus group in Vancouver, BC

  • Toronto, Mon Sept 10
  • Vancouver, Mon Sept 10
Official language minority community

1 online focus group in Saint Boniface, MB and Moncton, NB

1 online focus group in Montreal, QC

  • Saint Boniface/Moncton, Thurs Sept 20
  • Montreal, Tues Sept 11
Quantitative
Online panel survey

n=1603 completed surveys among a sample of Adult Canadians 18 year of age or older. The sample was stratified by age, gender and region to the representative proportions of adults Canadians

Oversample of francophone market (n=206)

  • Mon Aug 27- Sunday Sept 9
Public survey for voluntary participation Hosted on CRTC website and promoted through CRTC social media channels. n=7075 completed surveys
Paper-based survey Available on request through the CRTC’s toll-free line. N=1 completed paper surveys

Notes to Readers

Detailed Findings

1. Issue Awareness

This section addresses awareness of prominent topics in the telecommunications sector as well as aided awareness of aggressive or misleading sales practices by telecommunications providers in Canada.

Unaided Awareness of Topics in Telecommunications Sector

When asked on an unaided basis what they have heard about the telecommunications sector in the past year, if anything, the most common responses are related to the perception of expensive or high fees and the increase in rates over time.

Other prominent topics mentioned by Canadians include technological improvement, increased competition and the perception that Canadian customers pay higher rates than other developed nation.

Figure 1: Unaided Awareness of Topics in the Telecommunications Sector

Figure 1: Unaided Awareness of Topics in the Telecommunications Sector

Base: All Respondents n=1809

Q13. What, if anything, have you heard about the telecommunications sector in the past year?

Unaided Awareness of Topics in the Telecommunications Sector - text version

Aided Awareness of Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices in the telecommunications sectors in Canada

At more than four in ten (44%), a strong minority of Canadians indicate they are aware of the issue of aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sectors in Canada.

Figure 2: Aided Awareness of Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices

Figure 2: Aided Awareness of Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices

Base: All Respondents n=1809

Q15. Before today, have you heard anything about aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sector in Canada?

Aided Awareness of Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices - text version

Qualitative Findings

Most participants are aware of aggressive and/or misleading sales practices by Canadian telecom companies and some techniques elicit stronger dislike than others, whether or not they have experienced them personally.

2. Issue Prevalence and Perceptions

This section addresses the level of concern Canadians attribute to different aspects of the telecommunications sector in Canada, the proportion of Canadians who feel they have personally experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices and the timeframe in which those experiences took place.

Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector

A strong majority of Canadians express concern with a number of aspects of the telecommunications sector in Canada. Level of concern is highest for:

Figure 3: Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector

Figure 3: Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector

Base: All Respondents n=1809

Q14. How concerned are you about each of the following in the telecommunications sector in Canada?

Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector - text version

Nearly half of Canadians also express concern with aggressive sales practices (48%), while closer to four in ten are concerned about the amount of competition in the telecommunications sector in Canada (41%), length of contract periods (40%) and to a lesser extent access to services in rural areas (34%).

Figure 4: Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector

Figure 4: Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector

Base: All Respondents n=1809

Q14. How concerned are you about each of the following in the telecommunications sector in Canada?

Concerns with the Telecommunications Sector - text version

Issue Prevalence

Four in ten (40%) Canadians indicate they have personally experienced sales practices they would consider aggressive or misleading from telecommunications providers in Canada.

Figure 5: Personally experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 5: Personally experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: All Respondents n=1809

Q16. Have you ever experienced any sales practices you would consider aggressive or misleading from telecommunications providers in Canada?

Personally experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

Timeframe of Experience

Of the four in ten who have personally experienced sales practices they consider aggressive or misleading, the vast majority indicate it was in the past year (60%), of which three in ten indicate it was either in the past 6 months (29%) or in the past 6 to 12 months (31%). One-third say their experience was more than a year ago but within the past five year (34%) and fewer than one in ten more than five years ago (7%)

Figure 6: Timeframe of experience

Figure 6: Timeframe of experience

Base: Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711)

Q17. When did you last experience this situation?

Timeframe of experience - text version

Qualitative Findings

Many participants believe that telecom companies engage in pricing practices that are unfair to them as consumers.

There were numerous pricing practices that we heard about in the qualitative research which were of concern to participants:

Participants would like a choice in how they interact with their telecom, rather than having it forced upon them.

3. Experiences with Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices

This section addresses how Canadians would describe their own experiences with aggressive or misleading sales practices, the proportion of Canadians who have experienced specific activities considered to be aggressive or misleading sales practices on the part of telecommunications providers and the actions they have taken following their experience.

Description of experiences with aggressive or misleading sales practices

Among the four in ten who have personally experienced sales practices they consider aggressive or misleading, nearly one-third described their experience as aggressive sales practices (32%) followed closely by those who described their experience as misleading sales practices (30%). Other common issues mentioned specifically include door-to-door pressure tactics (7%), billing issues (7%) or poor customer service (5%).

Figure 7: Description of experiences with aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 7: Description of experiences with aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711)

Q18. What did you experience? Please be as specific as possible.

Description of experiences with aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

In their own words…

Below are verbatim comments from the most prominent categories of open-ended responses.

Pushy/aggressive/insistent sales person/tactics
False/misleading advertising/deals/promotions

Personal experience with specific aggressive or misleading sales practices

When asked whether they have experienced specific sales practices, just over half of Canadians (55%) report having interacted with a salespeople pushing telecommunications products or services they are not interested in, while a sizeable minority (39%) indicate having technical support representatives trying to sell them products or services during the support call or interaction.

Approximately three in ten Canadians experienced rebate/discount offers where terms differ from the original information provided by the provider (32%), salespeople providing details of telecommunications products or services which end up being false (31%) or rebate/discount offers where terms are not disclosed before purchase (28%).

Figure 8: Experiences with specific aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 8: Experiences with specific aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: All Respondents (n=1809)

Q21. Have you ever personally experienced any of these situations?

Experiences with specific aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

Actions taken after their experience

The most common steps taken after experiencing an interaction they would classify as aggressive or misleading sales practices are to:

Nearly one in ten (8%) complained to CCTS directly while close to two in ten took no action (18%).

Figure 9: Actions taken after experience with aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 9: Actions taken after experience with aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711)

Q19. What, if anything, did you do about it?

Actions taken after experience with aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

Profile of Canadians who have experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices

When profiled by demographic information a number of notable differences exist between those who have experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices versus those who have not.

Canadians who have experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices are statistically more likely than those who have not experienced these sales tactics to be:

Figure 10: Profile by age, gender, region and on contract

Figure 10: Profile by age, gender, region and on contract

Base: Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711), Did not experience aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=1098)

Profile by age, gender, region and on contract - text version

Figure 11: Profile by income, indigenous status, presence of disability, children in household, primary language spoken at home, current internet at home and TV service provider

Figure 11: Profile by income, indigenous status, presence of disability, children in household, primary language spoken at home, current internet at home and TV service provider

Base: Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711), Did not experience aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=1098)

Profile by income, indigenous status, presence of disability, children in household, primary language spoken at home, current internet at home and TV service provider - text version

Qualitative Findings

Many participants had experiences with aggressive or misleading sales and marketing practices and these were very poorly perceived. Other practices received more of a mixed reaction. Broadly, any sales and marketing practice where the customer feels they don’t have a choice in engaging in the interaction is the most frustrating, and the ones where they are able to view the information on their own time and terms were the most favourably viewed.

4. Attitudes and Opinions Towards Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices

This section address Canadians’ broader attitudes and opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices.

Attitudes and Opinions

At approximately three quarters, the vast majority of Canadians agree that:

Figure 12: Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 12: Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: All Respondents (n=1809)

Q22. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

A strong majority of Canadians also agree that:

Comparatively, four in ten agree that all companies use aggressive or misleading sales tactics in some form and that it is a normal part of business (41%), while fewer feel that concern about aggressive or misleading sales tactics from telecommunications providers in Canada is exaggerated (30%).

Figure 13: Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices

Figure 13: Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices

Base: All Respondents (n=1809)

Q22. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Attitudes and Opinions towards aggressive or misleading sales practices - text version

5. Reaction to Potential Solutions

This section addresses Canadians support or opposition to a series of potential solutions to complaints about aggressive or misleading sales practices on the part of telecommunications companies in Canada as well as awareness of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).

Support or Opposition to Potential Solutions

At more than eight in ten, support is very strong among Canadians for each of proposed remedies.

Figure 14: Support/Opposition to Potential Solutions

Figure 14: Support/Opposition to Potential Solutions

Base: All Respondents (n=1809)

Q23. How much do you support or oppose the following actions being taken to try and address the increase in complaints?

Support/Opposition to Potential Solutions - text version

Qualitative Findings

Participants feel much helplessness in dealing with telecom companies. They do not believe they have any course of action to protect themselves, and so hearing about potential solutions during the course of the discussions was of tremendous interest.

Although there is some awareness that the industry is regulated, most do not believe there are any regulations in place as it relates to pricing, and sales or marketing tactics. One participant was told that the reason for higher telecom prices in Canada is because of the regulatory demands placed on the provider by the CRTC.

“Some regulatory body, and it’s probably the CRTC, came out like a month ago and identified the big companies that we’re talking about as being aggressive and not providing fair service. Well, it didn’t change anything.” – Senior, Calgary

Most believe that the actions should be overseen by a neutral third party; this could be a government regulator or an independent body. Participants were leery of having industry itself or individual telecom providers oversee such an initiative. They believed that the telecommunications providers would look out for their own best interests over those of consumers.

“No, that’s like the fox in charge of the henhouse”. – Senior, Halifax

Awareness of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS)

At three in ten (30%), a minority of Canadians have ever heard of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) before taking the survey.

Figure 15: Awareness of CCTS

Figure 15: Awareness of CCTS

Base: All Respondents (n=1809)

Q20. Have you ever heard of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) before taking this survey?

Awareness of CCTS - text version

Qualitative Findings

6. Canadians More Vulnerable to Aggressive or Misleading Sales Practices

An essential part of the POR commissioned by the CRTC was to ensure those groups more vulnerable to aggressive or misleading retail sales practices were included in the consultation to determine whether their experiences differed from those of other Canadians.

The audiences considered more vulnerable to aggressive or misleading retail sales practices include:

The quantitative panel survey provides sufficient sample sizes for analysis among Canadians with disabilities (n=338), Seniors (n=388) and Third language communities (n=195). The remaining, harder to reach, audiences were consulted through qualitative research which included sessions among all groups considered more vulnerable to aggressive or misleading sales practices.

Presence of disability

Those who self-identify as having a disability (n=338) are more likely to report experiencing sales practices they consider aggressive or misleading than those who do not. They are also more likely to express concern with the cost of services charged by telecommunications providers.

Figure 16: Differences in experience and level of concern among those with a disability

Figure 16: Differences in experience and level of concern among those with a disability

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Presence of disability (n=338), No disability (n=1416)

Prevalence of specific aggressive or misleading sales practices however is no higher among those with a disability and support for the potential solutions presented is also consistent with the broader Canadian population.

Differences in experience and level of concern among those with a disability - text version

Figure 17: Differences in experience and support for action among those with a disability

Figure 17: Differences in experience and support for action among those with a disability

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Presence of disability (n=338), No disability (n=1416)

Differences in experience and support for action among those with a disability - text version

Seniors (65 years of age or older)

Canadians over the age of 65 years old (n=388) are less likely to indicate having personally experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices both at the overall level and in regards to the specific types of sales practices asked about. Among those Seniors who have experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices, they are more likely to report it took place more than a year ago compared to the general population.

Despite the issue being somewhat less prevalence among this audience, Seniors are among the most likely to want to see all levels of government work together to address the issue and specifically to see action from the CRTC. Seniors are also more likely than the broader Canadian population to support the potential solutions presented.

Figure 18: Differences in experience among Seniors

Figure 18: Differences in experience among Seniors

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Seniors (n=388)

Differences in experience among Seniors - text version

Figure 19: Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action among Seniors

Figure 19: Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action among Seniors

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Seniors (n=388)

Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action among Seniors - text version

Third language communities

Third language communities are defined as those who speak a language other than English or French most-often in the household (n=195). Respondents from a third language community are more likely to indicate personally experiencing aggressive or misleading sales practices overall (50% vs. 40% overall), while prevalence of specific aggressive or misleading sales practices is also higher for some activities including:

Respondents from a third language community also hold somewhat different attitudes towards aggressive or misleading sales practices than the broader population. They are less likely to agree that all levels of government need to work together to address the issue (Total: 77%, Third-language: 69%), that telecommunications companies are too concerned with profit and not enough with consumer protection (Total: 76%, Third-language: 69%) and that companies use these sales tactics to pressure more vulnerable people into accepting products or services they do not need (Total: 75%, Third-language: 66%). They are also more likely to agree that all companies use aggressive or misleading sales tactics and that it is a normal part of business (Total: 41%, Third-language: 51%) and that concern about the sales practices in Canada is exaggerated (Total: 30%, Third-language: 40%).

Support for potential remedies is lower among those who speak a third language however a strong majority are still in favour of each solution presented.

Figure 20: Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action by Third Language Communities

Figure 20: Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action by Third Language Communities

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Third language communities (n=195)

Differences in experience, attitudes and support for action by Third Language Communities - text version

Qualitative Findings

While many were unaffected as part of a vulnerable population in their dealings with telecommunications providers, some themes emerged by group:

7. Differences by Major Providers

This section addresses differences in responses by major telecommunications providers. Respondents were asked at the beginning of the survey to identify their provider for each of the primary telecommunications services they currently use (i.e. internet at home, cellphone, TV service and home phone). Those who indicated currently having at least one service with each of the major providers were then grouped and analyzed.

Sufficient sample sizes exist to analyze the panel survey data by the four largest providers: Rogers (n=509), Bell/Aliant (n=545), Videotron (n=332) and Telus (n=443), while all other providers have been grouped as other (n=1036).

The primary differences when analyzing responses by major provider are as follows:

Figure 21: Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by major provider

Figure 21: Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by major provider

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Rogers customers (n=509), Bell/Aliant customers (n=545), Videotron customers (n=332), Telus customers (n=443), Customers of other providers (n=1036)

Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by major provider - text version

Figure 22: Differences in experience and support for action by major provider

Figure 22: Differences in experience and support for action by major provider

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Rogers customers (n=509), Bell/Aliant customers (n=545), Videotron customers (n=332), Telus customers (n=443), Customers of other providers (n=1036)

Differences in experience and support for action by major provider - text version

8. Differences by Demographics

This section addresses differences by demographic information. The demographic factors which were analyzed include age, gender, region of residence, Indigenous status and whether the respondent was born in Canada.

Region of residence

Experiences and attitudes towards aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sector in Canada vary based on where in the country the individual resides. The primary differences by region of residence are as follows:

Figure 23: Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by region of residence

Figure 23: Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by region of residence

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Ontario (n=611), Quebec (n=572), British Columbia (n=223), Alberta (n=175), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (n=110), Atlantic Canada (n=118)

Differences in awareness, experience and level of concern by region of residence - text version

Figure 24: Differences in experience and support for action by region of residence

Figure 24: Differences in experience and support for action by region of residence

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Ontario (n=611), Quebec (n=572), British Columbia (n=223), Alberta (n=175), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (n=110), Atlantic Canada (n=118)

Differences in experience and support for action by region of residence - text version

Urban/Rural

Experiences and attitudes towards aggressive or misleading sales practices differ somewhat depending on if the individual resides in an urban (n=1647) or rural area (n=162). Urban and rural have been defined by the postal code provided by each respondent for their residence and match Canada Post’s definition for a rural route delivery area. Rural route delivery areas are classified by those postal codes which have a “0” in second position. The primary differences between Canadians who live in urban or rural areas are as follows:

Figure 25: Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Urban/Rural

Figure 25: Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Urban/Rural

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Urban (n=1647), Rural (n=162)

Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Urban/Rural - text version

Age cohort

We observed several differences in experience and attitude when analyzing the data by age cohort. The primary differences by age of respondents are as follows:

Figure 26: Differences in experience by age cohort

Figure 26: Differences in experience by age cohort

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), 18-34 (n=469), 35-54 (n=621), 55+ (n=719)

Differences in experience by age cohort - text version

Figure 27: Differences in support for action by age cohort

Figure 27: Differences in support for action by age cohort

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), 18-34 (n=469), 35-54 (n=621), 55+ (n=719)

Differences in support for action by age cohort - text version

Indigenous status

While the sample size of those who self-identify as indigenous is relatively small (n=58) some trends are evident across key measures when analyzing results by this audience.

Awareness of the issue of aggressive or misleading sales practices is higher among Indigenous respondents and they are more likely to indicate having experienced such sales practices both overall and among the specific types asked about.

Indigenous respondents are also more likely to express concern with access to services in rural areas and less likely to feel concerned regarding the cost of services in the telecommunications sector in Canada.

Despite being more likely to have experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices, support for the potential remedies is lower than the general population but remains high with a strong majority in support of each solution presented.

Figure 28: Differences in awareness and experience by Indigenous status

Figure 28: Differences in awareness and experience by Indigenous status

Base: Respondents Born in Canada (n=1478), Indigenous (n=58), Non Indigenous (n=1420)

Differences in awareness and experience by Indigenous status - text version

Figure 29: Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Indigenous status

Figure 29: Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Indigenous status

Base: Respondents Born in Canada (n=1478), Indigenous (n=58), Non Indigenous (n=1420)

Differences in experience, level of concern and support for action by Indigenous status - text version

Born in Canada

Those not born in Canada (n=331) are no more or less likely to have experienced aggressive or misleading sale practices than those born in the country but have some differences of opinions expressing greater tolerance towards the tactics than those born in the country.

Respondents not born in Canada are less likely to agree that telecommunications companies are too focused on profit and not enough on consumer protection and more likely to agree that all companies use such sales practices and they are a normal part of business and that concern about the tactics is exaggerated compared to those born in Canada. They are also less likely to be supportive of the potential solutions than those born in Canada however a strong majority support each of the remedies presented.

Figure 30: Differences in attitudes and support by Born in Canada

Figure 30: Differences in attitudes and support by Born in Canada

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), Born in Canada (n=1478), Not Born in Canada (n=331)

Differences in attitudes and support by Born in Canada - text version

9. Differences by Official Language

This section addressed differences by Official Language and data has been analyzed by those who speak (n=1180) or French (n=570).

The primary differences by Official Language are as follows:

Figure 31: Differences in experience by Official Language

Figure 31: Differences in experience by Official Language

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), English (n=1180), French (n=570); Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices (n=711), English (n=493), French (n=197)

Differences in experience by Official Language - text version

Figure 32: Differences in attitudes and support for action by Official Language

Figure 32: Differences in attitudes and support for action by Official Language

Base: All Respondents (n=1809), English (n=1180), French (n=570)

Differences in attitudes and support for action by Official Language - text version

10. Comparison to Voluntary Survey Results

This section addresses differences in responses between the panel and voluntary public survey.

In order to allow the Canadian public to participate in the consultation process a separate voluntary version of the survey was executed and made available through the CRTC’s website and social media channels. In total, n=7075 responses were received to the voluntary public survey.

Those who responded to the voluntary survey are more likely to be male (66%), 25-44 years old (43%) and from Alberta (20%) or Quebec (32%) compared to the actual proportions of the Canadian population. A full detailed profile of respondents to the voluntary survey can be found in the appendix of this report.

The primary differences in responses are that those who completed the voluntary survey are much more likely to have heard of aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sector in Canada (87% voluntary survey vs. 44% panel survey) and to report having it personally both at the overall level (80% vs. 40%) and in regards to specific situations presented including:

Those who completed the voluntary survey are also more likely to express a high-level of concern (% extremely concerned) with the telecommunications sector across all areas presented of which the gap in attitudes is largest for concern with the amount of competition in the sector (59% vs. 19%), cost of services (83% vs. 48%) and misleading sales practices (59% vs. 30%).

Among those who experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices, respondents to the voluntary survey are more likely to have told friends and family (62% vs. 48%) and to have changed providers (31% vs. 25%), while those who responded to the panel survey are more likely to have complained to their provider (39% vs. 31%) or complained to the CCTS (8% vs. 4%).

Respondents to the voluntary survey are also much more likely to support action to be taken to address the issue of misleading or aggressive sales practices and in particular to ‘strongly support’ each potential solution presented by nearly a 20-point margin.

Figure 33: Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by awareness and experience

Figure 33: Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by awareness and experience

Base: Panel survey (n=1809), Voluntary survey (n=7075)

Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by awareness and experience - text version

Figure 34: Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by level of concern and support for action

Figure 34: Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by level of concern and support for action

Base: Panel survey (n=1809), Voluntary survey (n=7075); Experienced aggressive or misleading sales practices Panel survey (n=711), Voluntary survey (n=5677)

Comparison between panel/voluntary survey by level of concern and support for action - text version

Profile of Respondents

The demographic characteristics of the surveyed populations from the panel and voluntary surveys are presented below. Data presented in the tables below for the panel survey are weighted proportions.

Figure 35: Profile of Respondents
Age Panel survey Voluntary survey
18-24 11% 4%
25-34 16% 22%
35-44 16% 21%
45-54 19% 16%
55-64 17% 19%
65+ 21% 18%
Gender
Male 49% 66%
Female 51% 34%
Region
British Columbia 14% 10%
Alberta 11% 20%
Saskatchewan 3% 2%
Manitoba 4% 2%
Ontario 37% 28%
Quebec 23% 32%
New Brunswick 2% 2%
Nova Scotia 3% 2%
Prince Edward Island 1% -
Newfoundland and Labrador 2% 2%
Income
<$40,000 22% 17%
$40,000-<$60,000 18% 15%
$60,000 - <$100,000 26% 24%
$100,000+ 23% 25%
Prefer not to say 11% 19%
Born in Canada
Yes 81% 86%
No 19% 14%
Indigenous Status
Indigenous 4% 3%
Non Indigenous 96% 97%
Presence of Children Under 18 in Household
Yes 28% 26%
No 72% 74%

Appendix

Detailed Methodological Note

Quantitative Panel Survey

1. Survey Methods

Ipsos conducted a 10-minute online survey among a sample of n=1809 Canadians aged 18 years and older (n=1603 general population with an oversample of n=206 French-speaking respondents) stratified to the actual proportion of the Canadian population based on the 2016 Census by age, gender and region. Fieldwork was conducted between Monday, August 27th and Sunday, September 9th, 2018.

The survey was administered among a general public audience using panel-based resources for data collection and included sample from Research Now panel. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys. The panel provides a number of innovative incentive programs to participants tailored to the specific requirements of each survey, depending on the length of the survey, the subject matter of the study, and the time required to complete a minimum number of interviews. A point-based system is used where participants can redeem points for various items.

Weighting has been applied to ensure that the sample proportions match the characteristics of the population according to the 2016 Census, by age, gender, and region. Ipsos does not calculate a margin of error for online surveys because online surveys are considered non-probabilistic. A credibility interval is used instead. The credibility interval for a sample of this size of ± 2.8% in 19 cases out of 20.

The table below compares the unweighted sample to the 2016 Census results by region, age, and gender, as well as the weighted geographical and demographic distribution of the sample.

Figure 36: Sample frame
Definition Unweighted Sample size Sample proportions Census 2016 Proportions
Age
18 - 24 197 11% 11%
25 - 34 280 16% 16%
35 - 44 294 16% 16%
45 - 54 324 19% 18%
55 - 64 329 17% 17%
65+ 386 21% 21%
Gender
Male 877 49% 49%
Female 932 51% 51%
Region
Prince Edward Island 9 1% >1%
Nova Scotia 47 3% 3%
New Brunswick 31 2% 2%
Quebec 574 23% 23%
Ontario 608 37% 38%
Manitoba 63 4% 4%
Saskatchewan 47 3% 3%
Alberta 176 11% 11%
British Columbia 223 14% 14%
Newfoundland and Labrador 31 2% 2%
2. Response Rate

The following table provides the response dispositions and response rate calculation, as per the MRIA’s empirical method of calculating response rates for telephone surveys, with definitions extended to the online survey.

Figure 37: Response Rate Calculation
Calculation for Panel Survey #
Total Email Invitations Issued 14572
Unresolved (U) (no response) 12001
In-scope - non-responding (IS) 203
Qualified respondent break-off (incomplete) 203
In-scope - Responding units (R) 2368
Over quota 100
Other disqualified 459
Completed Interviews 1809
Response Rate = R/(U+IS+R) 16%
3. Non-Response Analysis

There exists within the current sample the possibility of non-response bias. In particular, this survey would not include members of the population who do not have access to the Internet (either via a personal computer or mobile device) or who are not capable of responding to a survey in either English or French. In addition, some groups within the population are systemically less likely to answer surveys. Variations in proportions have been corrected in the weighting to reflect 2016 Canadian Census values.

Quantitative Voluntary Public Survey

Ipsos conducted a 10-minute online survey among a sample of n=7075 respondents. Fieldwork was conducted between Monday, August 27th and Sunday, September 9th 2018. The survey was voluntary and made public through the CRTC’s website and social media channels. The survey was executed through Ipsos’ online survey platform and the only restriction placed on participating was an IP restriction meaning that only one completed survey could be received per IP address. The voluntary public survey is not intended to be representative of the broader Canadian population. A response rate and analysis of non-response bias cannot be completed due to the voluntary nature of the survey.

Qualitative Research

Ipsos conducted a series of 10 focus groups (4 in-person and 6 online) as well as 10 in-depth interviews among a variety of audiences considered more vulnerable to aggressive or misleading sales practices.

Details of each qualitative session including fieldwork dates, number of participants and incentives provided are detailed in the table below.

Figure 38: Qualitative Fieldwork details
Description Details # of participants Fieldwork Dates Incentive
Seniors

2 focus groups in urban centres (Calgary & Halifax)

2 focus groups in small/rural communities (Val-D’Or & Sault Ste Marie)

32 in total (8 per session)
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Thurs Sept 6
  • Halifax, Mon Sept 10
  • Calgary, Thurs Sept 13
  • Val d’Or, Mon Sept 17
$100 per participant
Individuals with disabilities 10 in-depth telephone/online-chat interviews 10 in total
  • Wed Sept 5 –Friday Sept 14
$175 per participant
General public in rural communities

1 online focus group in Whitehorse, Yukon

1 online focus group in Prince George, BC

17 in total (7 in Yukon, 10 in BC)
  • Whitehorse, Wed Sept 12
  • Prince George, Thurs Sept 13
$100 per participant
Third language spoken at home

1 online focus group in Toronto, ON

1 online focus group in Vancouver, BC

19 in total (10 in Toronto, 9 in Vancouver)
  • Toronto, Mon Sept 10
  • Vancouver, Mon Sept 10
$100 per participant
Official language minority community

1 online focus group in Saint Boniface, MB and Moncton, NB

1 online focus group in Montreal, QC

17 in total (8 in MB, 9 in Montreal)
  • Saint Boniface/Moncton, Thurs Sept 20
  • Montreal, Tues Sept 11
$125 per participant

It should be noted that the qualitative findings are not generalizable to a larger population, and that they should be considered directional only.

Questionnaire

Quantitative Survey (Panel/Open-link)

Screening Questions

1. What is your date of birth?

Year

Month

[Terminate if under 18 years old]

2. What is your gender?

3. What is your postal code? (example: A8A 8A8)

[Ask Q4 for panel survey only]

4. In which industries or professions do you, or any member of your immediate household, work? Please select all that apply.

[If 1, 9, 15 terminate, otherwise continue]

[Ask Q5 for both open-link and panel survey. for panel survey, if yes to code 9 at Q4 ask Q5]

5. Do you, or any member of your immediate household, work for any of the following organizations? Please select all that apply.

[If none of the above continue, otherwise terminate]

Main Questionnaire

Service Type and Provider

6. Which of the following telecommunications and television services do you currently have for your personal use? Please select all that apply.

[If none of the above skip to Q13]

[Ask Q7 if cellphone selected at Q6]

7. Which of the following is your current cellphone provider? Please select only one.

[Randomize list]

[Ask Q8 if internet selected at Q6]

8. Which of the following is your current internet provider? Please select only one.

[Randomize list]

[Ask Q9 if TV service selected at Q6]

9. Which of the following is your television provider? Please select only one.

[Randomize list]

[Ask Q10 if home phone selected at Q6]

10. Which of the following is your home phone provider? Please select only one.

[Randomize list]

11. Are you currently on contract with your service provider for any of these services? (i.e. multi-year commitment)

[Insert response selected at Q6]

[If more than one selected at Q6 ask Q12]

12. Do you bundle any of these services with one service provider (i.e. purchase more than one product or service with one provider sold as a single combined product/plan)?

[Ask Q13 for panel survey only]

13. What, if anything, have you heard about the telecommunications sector in the past year?

[Insert text]

14. How concerned are you about each of the following in the telecommunications sector in Canada? Please provide one response per item.

[Rows][Randomize]

[Columns]

15. Before today, have you heard anything about aggressive or misleading sales practices in the telecommunications sector in Canada?

16. Have you ever experienced any sales practices you would consider aggressive or misleading from telecommunications providers in Canada?

[If yes, once before or yes, on more than one occasion at Q16, ask Q17, Q18 and Q19, otherwise skip]

17. When did you last experience this situation?

[Ask Q18 for panel survey only]

18. What did you experience? Please be as specific as possible

[Text box]

19. What, if anything, did you do about it? Please select all that apply.

[Randomize]

20. Have you ever heard of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) before taking this survey?

[Show on separate screen after Q17] The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) is an independent industry-funded agency dedicated to resolving customer complaints about Canadian telecommunications and television service providers.

21. Have you ever personally experienced any of these situations? Please select all that apply.

22. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements. Please provide one response per item.

[Randomize]

23. How much do you support or oppose the following actions being taken to try and address the increase in complaints? Please provide one response per item.

[Ask Q24 for panel survey only]

24. Are there any other comments you would like to share?

[Text box]

Demographic questions

We have a couple final questions for statistical classification purposes. Please indicate the answer that best describes you. Be assured that your responses will be held in strict confidence.

25. Have you ever been an employee of a telecommunications company in Canada?

26. What was your total household income, before taxes, in 2017?

27. Are there any children 18 years or younger living in your household?

28. Were you born in Canada?

[If yes at Q28 ask Q29]

29. Do you self-identify as an Indigenous person?

30. What is the language you use most often at home? If you use more than one language at home, please select the two most used languages.

[Insert list and allow two responses only]

31. Does any of the following currently apply to you? Please select all that apply.

Thank you. Those are all the questions we have for your today. We greatly appreciate your participation in this research.

Discussion Guide

Focus Groups And In-depth Interviews

Session Breakdown

Welcome and Introduction 5 Minutes
Section 1: Context 15 Minutes
Section 2: Sales and Marketing Tactics 45 Minutes
Section 3: Reactions to Potential Solutions 20 Minutes
Wrap-up and Final Questions 5 Minutes
Session total 90 Minutes*

*Timing will be adjusted for 60-minute in-depth interviews

Detailed session agenda

Moderator welcome (5 minutes)

Unless otherwise noted, all questions are open-ended.

Section 1: context (15 minutes)

We are here today to have a discussion on telecom companies in Canada.

Q1. I would like to start by understanding who your current telecom provider is, and your relationship with them. How did you end up with your current provider and package?

Probes:

Q2. What information did you seek out or refer to when you chose a provider? Who was involved in decision-making?

Probes:

For seniors groups: Was another family member or friend involved in the decision?

I’d like to understand the degree to which you understand what you’re signing up for – do you go with their recommendation, conduct any research, or ask someone else?

Q3. How satisfied/dissatisfied are you with your providers and packages? What do you like, what do you not like?

Probes:

Section 2: sales and marketing tactics (45 minutes)

For the bulk of our discussion today, we’d like to hear about your experiences with sales and marketing with your current telecom provider.

Q4. Could you tell me about any positive experiences you’ve had with sales and marketing at your telecom? What made the experience valuable? Please tell me about it from start to finish.

Q5. Could you tell me about any negative experiences you’ve had with sales and marketing at your telecom? What made the experience poor? Please tell me about it from start to finish.

Probes/moderator to note:

Draw out details of experience as much as possible – storytelling from participant about what happened, how they would characterize the interaction, how they felt as a result of it.

Q6. For these more negative experiences, did you do anything about them or follow up in any way after?

Probe:

Q7. I’m going to list some more specific tactics, please let me know if you’ve had any experiences with these and if so, what the interaction was like. If you haven’t had any specific experiences, I’d still like to hear what’s appealing or concerning about them.

Q8. Have you ever experienced any situations in which you were not interested in, or did not proactively seek out information but were being sold products or services by your telecom? Please tell me about this experience. How did it make you feel?

Probe:

Section 3: reactions to potential solutions (20 minutes)

Q9. I’m going to read you some different actions that might be taken to try and address complaints – I’d like to hear your thoughts on each – what would be positive about them, and any drawbacks.

Q10. Are there any other actions you can think of that you think might help consumers like yourselves in these situations and interactions?

Final questions and advice (5 minutes)

Q11. What are your final thoughts and advice to my client? Was there anything missing from our discussion of this topic today?

Thanks & wrap