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The CRTC today initiated a public process to develop a bill of rights for retail telecommunications customers, noting that much of this information is currently either hard to find or difficult to understand.
The “Consumer Bill of Rights” would be a list of clear and concise statements of existing telecommunications consumer rights, written in plain language. The Commission is requesting public input on which rights to include, how to communicate the Bill of Rights to consumers, and how to amend the Bill of Rights in the future.
“We’ve been calling for a Canadian Telecom Consumer Bill of Rights for some time now”, said Philippa Lawson, Counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, who represents a number of consumer groups in matters before the CRTC. “We are finding that telephone companies often take advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness of their rights, whether about security deposits, right to refunds, the availability of local-only service, or other issues. When consumers aren’t aware of their rights, they tend not to pursue them.”
Other jurisdictions, such as England and some American States, have developed telecom consumer rights documents, intended to educate and empower consumers in the increasingly competitive marketplace. It’s time that Canada does likewise, says Ms. Lawson.
The Bill of Rights will apply only to local telecommunications services offered on a retail basis by Aliant Telecom, Bell Canada, MTS, SaskTel, Telebec, and TELUS. “We hope that this will set a precedent for other phone companies to follow, whether in the local, long distance, or wireless markets”, said Ms. Lawson.
Philippa Lawson, PIAC tel: 613-562-4002 x.24