Steps Required to Reduce Switching Barriers and Enhance Consumer Choice in Canadian Communications Services Market
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Canadians do not switch communications providers despite their dissatisfaction with pricing and service, says a new research report released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). The report finds significant barriers to switching in the Canadian retail communications services market, with limited regulatory action taken so far to promote consumer participation in these markets. The retail communications services markets studied include: home Internet access services, home (wired) telephone, mobile phone (including telephone and data services), and paid television services (broadcast distribution, excluding “over-the-top” services). ”Consumers are reluctant to try out competitive communications services, despite feeling they can and should,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC. “There are clearly behavioural barriers as well as market barriers to exercising choice in these markets,” he added. The report notes that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has, over the past decade, tentatively addressed some switching costs barriers for some services (notably wireless telecommunications services) in regulatory codes of conduct. However, the report finds that regulatory and political action promoting choice and switching in all four communications services has been limited and uncoordinated.
Social Justice Articling Position at PIAC (2020-2021), Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – APPLY NOW
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Description for Social Justice Articling Position Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario Name and Location of Organization: Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) 200-285 McLeod Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1A1 For Articling Year: 2020-2021 Deadline for Application: May 21, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. (EDT) Interviews the weeks of: June 3rd - 7th and June 10th – 13th, 2019 Offers will be made: June 14, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. (EDT)
Friday, April 12, 2019
Have you faced any issues with your mobile wireless service – cellphones – be it your bills being too high, data overage fees, high roaming charges, poor quality of service, or any other problems? The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is reviewing the mobile wireless services. With this public consultation, the CRTC will be specifically looking at: the state of competition in the retail wireless service market; regulation of wholesale mobile wireless service and the provision and competition implications of the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) access; and the future of mobile wireless services in Canada- 5G technology and other developments. Here’s your chance to share your experiences and ideas with the CRTC; enabling them to better understand your wireless concerns, and accordingly, plan and take the required measures. PIAC encourages you all to participate, and share your views regarding the available choices within the retail wireless industry, issues you have faced with mobile wireless services, and any measures needed for improvement. It is important that you comment in detail, and be as specific as possible about your issues and ideas.
PIAC Supports New Policy Direction to CRTC; expects lower costs, more choice in wireless and Internet
Monday, April 8, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today expressed its support in a comment filed in answer to a consultation in the Canada Gazette for the Government's proposed new "Policy Direction" to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), intended to protect consumers, encourage affordability, increase competition and encourage innovation in telecommunications services. "PIAC supports the Government's proposed New Policy Direction to the CRTC to re-focus Canadian telecommunications regulation on consumers, cost and choice," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC. "We expect it will encourage concrete changes like more wireless service options, more Internet service options at higher speeds and all of it at prices Canadians can better afford."
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
The annual “Mid-Year Report” of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) (2018-19) released today shows an increase of 44% in consumer complaints compared to the same period last year – showing that there are continuing problems with the communications sector, said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today. Worryingly, more consumers are being denied clear rights in the Wireless Code and other consumer protections and are facing increasing willingness of companies to cut off their service. “We see a hardening of attitudes towards consumer complaints in these numbers,” said John Lawford, PIAC Executive Director and General Counsel, referring to an increase of complaints about lack of notice of wireless disconnections and an increase in complaints about matters such as mid-month cancellations. “Consumers have clear rights that are being flouted – so the only remedy is for consumers to bring forward even more complaints until the companies change their attitude,” he added.
PIAC’s Research Finds Low Consumer Awareness about Payday Loan Rights and Help Resources; Need for a Fair, Impartial, and Transparent Redress System
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
A new research report published by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) shows that many payday loan users remain unaware of their rights, and find it difficult to calculate payday loans’ high interest rates and costs. Repeat borrowing and continuous debt-cycles continue to prevail, with many users uninformed on how to deal with debt cycles, and better manage their finances. The research indicates that the existing government resources on payday loans, i.e., provincial information websites and complaint filing processes may be underused, as many payday loan users do not know of their existence. “Payday loans are ‘expensive’ for customers because the repayment is due so soon, not just because the interest is high,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel, PIAC. “Payday loan customers make better financial choices when this obscure fact is made clear – and they can learn fast and start saving money right away,” he added.
Government’s proposed “Policy Direction” to CRTC means lower prices, more protection for consumers in Internet, Wireless
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), today hailed yesterday’s announcement by the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) of a proposed new “Policy Direction” to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that should lead to lower prices, affordable access and more consumer protection for Canadians buying Internet and wireless services. “The Government has signaled with this Policy Direction that it wants the CRTC to change course and put consumer interests first,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “We applaud the Government’s acknowledgement that consumers need affordable access to the Internet, whether at home or on the go, and that consumer protection and increased competition are essential to achieve this goal” he added.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today released its Telecom Sales Practices Report to the Federal Cabinet, vindicating the public’s concerns that too many Canadians have suffered misleading, aggressive and unsuitable telecom sales practices at the hands of major telecommunications providers and firmly stating that such practices are unacceptable and must change. “Consumers told us that they were being misled, oversold and treated aggressively when they interacted with their telecom and TV service providers, whether at the door, on the phone, in a store or online,” said John Lawford, Co-Counsel to the FCSC. “We are extremely pleased that the CRTC believed those consumers and mapped out how to help,” he added.
PIAC Supports Keep Me Posted, a Campaign for Protecting the Consumers’ Right to Choose Paper or Digital Communications
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
PIAC has joined a global advocacy campaign, Keep Me Posted (KMP), working for the right of every consumer to choose, free of charge, how they receive important information from their service providers – on paper or electronically. PIAC has actively advocated for consumers’ right to receive bills and statements in paper format, free from any fees. In its 2014 report, “How to Pay the Piper: A Primer on Additional Charges to Consumers in Canada for Paper Billing,” PIAC called for the elimination of fees for paper statements and billing, finding that Canadians are paying between $495 and $734 million annually in fees for monthly bills and statements in paper formats to the banking and communications services industries (phone, TV, home internet and wireless).
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