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Increasing Consumer Worries and Woes – CCTS Annual Report

Thursday, November 28th, 2019
The Annual Report 2018-19 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows an increase of 35% in consumer complaints for all communications services compared to last year. Wireless problems continue to lead the pack by service type, rising 53% over last years’ complaints and constituting more than 40% of all communications complaints.  Leading issues in wireless are billing and contract disputes, despite the protections of the Wireless Code; a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) “Report on Misleading or Aggressive Communications Retail Sales Practices”; and high retail pricing compared to other comparable countries, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) noted. “The Wireless industry is being reviewed by the CRTC right now. It is clear that billing, contracts and service standards are not meeting the reasonable expectations of Canadians,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “Canadians are increasingly frustrated by high costs of wireless service and the hassle of continued problems and so they are starting to complain.”

Stronger Regulatory Regime needed to address Consumer Issues regarding Retail Internet Access Services

Monday, November 25th, 2019
Canadians continue to face several issues with their home Internet access services and recent regulatory efforts to address them still fall short, a new Report released today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) outlines. Prominent consumer internet service issues include billing; home Internet speed, often claimed to be either slow, or subject to throttling and poor quality of service (often a mismatch between the advertised Internet speed and what is actually delivered); lack of contract clarity; and challenges in installing and cancelling Internet access services. The Report also reviewed how a potential “Internet Code” could be effective in addressing several of the above consumer issues regarding retail Internet access. While the Report was being drafted, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released its “Internet Code” decision. The Report analyzes the CRTC’s Internet Code and finds that it does not adequately address several consumer issues, including speed claims and in one case, installation fees, actually permits additional unwarranted charges to be added to bills by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). “The CRTC missed a golden opportunity to fix Internet service by rushing out the Internet Code with minimal safeguards for consumers,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC.

Le CDIP souhaite la bienvenue aux nouveaux membres du conseil d’administration

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Le Centre pour la défense de l’intérêt public (CDIP) a annoncé aujourd’hui l’élection récente de quatre nouveaux administrateurs à son conseil, tous experts en télécommunications, en radiodiffusion ou en recours collectifs.

PIAC Welcomes New Board Members

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), today announced the recent election of four new directors to its Board, all experts in either telecommunications, broadcasting or class actions.

Consumers Left Unprotected by CRTC’s Internet Code

Thursday, August 1st, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) warns home Internet consumers in Canada that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) yesterday released its “Internet Code” but that the Code has many traps for unwary consumers and likely will not assist customers who have had Internet service price increases, overage charges or early cancellation fees. “The CRTC’s Internet Code is a trap for unwary consumers because they may think it protects them but on issues that matter, like the ability of Internet Service Providers to change prices mid-contract or to charge you for cancelling service, it blesses those abuses” stated John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. The Internet Code will come into effect on January 31, 2020. However, it is “largely a glorified notice to consumers to beware of Internet Service Providers,” Lawford added.

Steps Required to Reduce Switching Barriers and Enhance Consumer Choice in Canadian Communications Services Market

Thursday, May 16th, 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.

The CRTC is listening, get your mobile wireless problems heard!

Friday, April 12th, 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 8th, 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."

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

Tuesday, April 2nd, 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.

Government’s proposed “Policy Direction” to CRTC means lower prices, more protection for consumers in Internet, Wireless

Wednesday, February 27th, 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.
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