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OTTAWA – 30 November 2020 – The Commission for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) Annual Report 2019-20 of consumer complaints about communications services shows that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) “Internet Code” and “TV Service Provider Code” do not protect consumers and indeed are “dead letters” that mislead consumers into believing their Internet and TV use is protected when it is not, today said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).
The CCTS Report shows that consumers were able to use the Internet Code to vindicate their complaints against Internet Service Providers only 1.4% of the time. Likewise, consumers’ ability to rely upon the TV Service Provider Code to support their TV service complaints also was successful only 1.4% of the time.
“These two CRTC codes are dead letters, as they permit companies to raise prices mid-contract and to charge early cancellation fees, which are two of the largest complaint-drivers for consumers,” stated John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “The CRTC claims that these codes increase clarity of contracts and empower consumers but clearly they do the opposite: they disappoint consumers who complain,” he added.
Lawford contrasted the Internet Code and TV Service Provider Code with the CRTC’s earlier “Wireless Code” and “Deposit and Disconnections Code“, both of which contain important substantive protections for consumers, such as prohibitions on price changes during the contract period and clear rules for disconnections. Consumers were able to rely on the Wireless Code to support their complaint 6.5% of the time, while those using the Deposit and Disconnection Code successfully called it in aid over 7% of the time.
“The major complaint issues raised with the CCTS were about ‘disclosure’ and ‘billing’. That’s code words for the companies changing prices mid-contract, mis-selling at the start of the contract or charging huge termination fees. The answer is simple: outlaw price changes during the contract, whether for Internet, wireless, TV or home phone,” stated Lawford. PIAC has previously alerted consumers to the inadequacy of the Internet Code.
For more information, please contact:
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Tel: 613-562-4002 ext. 125