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November 2, 2010

Telecom service complaints on the rise in 2009/2010

Customer contact with CCTS rises 150%

Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) reports another year of increased consumer complaints about telecommunications services.
"As evidenced in our third annual report, customer contact with CCTS has increased 150% from the previous year," said Commissioner Howard Maker.  "The public awareness activities in which we are engaging, launched in partnership with our participating service providers, have served to inform consumers we are here to help them. Canadians are increasingly aware they can contact us with their concerns or complaints."

Since   July 2007, CCTS has provided consumers with an independent mechanism for resolution of complaints about deregulated local and long distance telephone services, as well as wireless service and internet access. This includes billing errors, compliance with contract terms and commitments, service delivery, credit management and collections issues.

The third annual report highlights the efficiencies CCTS has achieved in its complaint handling activities.  "CCTS fully processed 94% of the complaints received in 2009-10.  Of those, 84% were resolved to the satisfaction of both the consumer and the service provider," noted Commissioner Maker. "The parties had been unable to resolve these complaints until they brought their issues to CCTS. We are pleased with the willingness of consumers and service providers to work collaboratively with our staff."

The Annual Report highlights some failures of the industry's "number portability" process, pointing out the frequency of errors and criticizing the industry's failure to make the process simple and cost-free for consumers.  The report also contains important messages to consumers about the need to understand the telecom contracts to which they subscribe, in addition to providing helpful information for consumers about how to deal with premium text ("short code") messages.  CCTS challenges the industry to improve its processes and the training of its employees to ensure that customers are treated fairly and the process works as intended.

For the first time, over half of the complaints accepted by CCTS dealt with one line of business - wireless services. "That's more than twice as many complaints about wireless as for any other line of business," said Commissioner Maker.  He points out this development should not be a surprise. "The wireless business has the highest rate of growth, the greatest pace of change, and the greatest degree of complexity - at least at a retail level. With the recent launch of several new wireless service providers, and the anticipated entry of even more carriers in the near future, we can expect this trend to continue."

Commissioner Maker anticipates continuing growth in 2010 - 2011. "We intend to continue our efforts to achieve greater consumer awareness of our organization," he added. "As an organization dedicated to assisting customers and service providers to resolve disputes in an independent, fair, effective and efficient manner, gaining public confidence is paramount to achieving our goals." 

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