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Communications Companies Playing Hardball with Consumers – CCTS Mid-Year Report

OTTAWA – 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 notes that the Mid-Year Report revealed that the new most frequent complaint issue was “Incorrect charge”. The “incorrect charge” category covers a wide range of issues but may include Canadians’ continued disputes with companies about “overage” fees on texting and voice calls (usually long distance). PIAC also notes that there was an increase in complaints about mid-month cancellations, referred to as “30 day cancellation policy/Charges billed after cancellation”. Under CRTC rules, consumers can cancel any communications service mid-month and may not be charged for service after cancellation.

“The companies continue as well to mislead consumers, usually during sales,” explained Lawford (the second highest complaint category was: “non-disclosure of terms/misleading terms”). “It is unacceptable for so many of the complaints to continue to relate to sales-related matters – so we hope the CRTC follows up its Sales Report with action,” he added, referring to the CRTC’s recent “Report on Misleading or Aggressive Communications Retail Sales Practices.”

The CCTS Mid-Year Report 2018-19 also noted continuing problems with Canadians’ experience with the quality of communications services, in particular their Internet services, as well as disputes arising from wireless data charges.

For more information, please contact:

John Lawford

Executive Director and General Counsel

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Tel: 613-562-4002 ext. 25

Cell: 613-447-8125

jlawford@piac.ca

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