OTTAWA, 30 November 2022 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today called upon the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) to take active steps to improve public awareness of the free complaint resolution service, in light of the 2021-22 Annual Report of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services released today. That report shows a 25% year over year decrease in consumer complaints in the last operating year but also contains disturbing statistics that demonstrate communications companies are failing to refer unsatisfied customers to the CCTS.
“The industry has an obligation to refer customers to the CCTS when their complaint is escalated and not resolved adequately, but the CCTS found in nearly 9 out of 10 of these cases they do not,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. “The CCTS should count these failures to refer as an additional complaint – as is done in Australia,” he added.
PIAC also noted the disturbing spike in a new type of complaint: consumers who do not realize their cellphones may have hundreds or thousands of dollars remaining payable even when the nominal term of their contract is over or they wish to switch to a competitor mid-contract.
“The problem of non-transparent financing for ultra-high cost cellphones is the next huge consumer trap, and one that destroys the Wireless Code” added Lawford, noting that nearly all new wireless contracts in Canada with a smartphone are now sold under this billing structure.
Consumers continue to be disappointed with the effect of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) other codes of conduct, the “Internet Code” and “TV Service Provider Code” as neither limits the communications companies’ ability to change prices of service mid-contract, provided consumers are informed in advance of such increases. This is reflected in the Annual Report 2021-22’s sections on these Codes, which demonstrate only a few minor transparency breaches despite numerous attempted complaints under these Codes.
PIAC further calls upon the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services to change to an easier to remember name for consumers, such as the “Communications Ombudsman”.
For more information, please contact:
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
1-613-562-4002 ext. 125
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