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Attention: News/Telecommunications editors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2007
(OTTAWA) – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre today welcomed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to create a Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (the Agency) that will provide many consumers with a “one-stop shop” to bring their complaints about cellphone, telephone and Internet services.
The CRTC’s decision requires all telecommunications service providers with more than $10 million in annual revenue to join the ombudsman scheme. Most Canadian consumers of most larger providers, such as Bell Canada, Rogers, TELUS and several other telephone, wireless and Internet providers will be required to be members of the dispute resolution scheme. The Telecommunications Ombudsman will take consumer complaints and will have the power to make monetary awards up to $5000 in appropriate cases. It will be free to consumers.
“It’s a great day for telecom consumers,” said John Lawford, counsel for PIAC, who argued for an effective and independent ombudsman on behalf of consumer groups Canadian Consumers Council and the National Anti-Poverty Organization. “Finally consumers can get real redress for phone, Internet and cellphone company mistakes that cost consumers millions of dollars a year.”
The agency is expected to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2008 and may be able to take complaints prior to that time. However, PIAC cautioned consumers that it may take some time for certain telecom service providers to wake up to the new reality and expressed concern for customers of smaller carriers. PIAC intends to keep consumers up-to-date with the progress of the Telecommunications Ombudsman via its website.
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