OTTAWA - Wireless services topped the list of complaints for the fourth straight year, most of which should have been resolved by carriers, says Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) in its 2011-2012 Annual Report "We Listen. We Help."
"Nearly 11,000 consumer complaints were filed with us. That represents an increase of 35% over last year," said Commissioner Howard Maker.
The annual report notes that 90% of the complaints CCTS dealt with were resolved to the customers' satisfaction. It also highlights the large number of complaints that could have been avoided with a little extra diligence on the part of the service provider. In addition, it addresses the Commissioner's view that many of the complaints should have been resolved by the service provider at an early stage, avoiding the need for customer escalation to CCTS.
"We are calling on service providers to increase their level of cooperation with CCTS," said Commissioner Maker. "In particular, we urge service providers to provide more timely and thorough responses to customer complaints filed with CCTS."
As noted, for the fourth consecutive year, wireless services topped the list of complaints. "Once again, we've seen an increase in complaints about wireless services," said Commissioner Maker. "This year 60% of the issues raised in complaints came from wireless service users. Of all the complaints we received, most were related to billing errors or contract disputes."
Billing problems accounted for almost 51% of all the issues raised in complaints. Among the most frequent types of billing complaints were errors regarding customers' monthly plans, issues related to the 30-day notice for cancellation and premium text messaging charges.
Second to billing errors were contract disputes. They accounted for over 27% of all the issues raised in complaints. CCTS says it often heard from customers who complained they were charged early termination fees and from those who alleged that they were signed up to contracts by their service provider without their consent.
Despite processing 10,878 complaints, CCTS was required to issue only 55 recommendations and 11 decisions in 2011-12. "Our focus has been on resolving complaints at the initial stages and this process has really received buy-in from both consumers and providers," said Commissioner Maker.
Since CCTS was established in 2007, it says it has experienced an impressive growth rate in the number of participating service providers. In its first year, CCTS handled customer complaints for 16 telecommunications service providers. In 2011-2012, CCTS offered its complaint-handling services to customers of 178 service providers and brands across Canada.
In 2011-2012, CCTS put in place a new case management system allowing for more detailed information to be collected and analyzed. "We are pleased to produce enhanced statistical reporting," said Commissioner Maker. "The highlight is the in-depth statistical detail about the nature of the complaints. We are also providing increased detail about other aspects of our operations, with a view to added transparency and value for customers and service providers."