OTTAWA - Canadians need an “enforceable, comprehensive wireless code” in light of the number and type of complaints highlighted in the Annual Report of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS), according to telecommunications advocacy group Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).
The CCTS Annual Report, released Thursday, indicated that 60% of all complaints received were from wireless service customers. The CCTS also handles internet and wireless service problems for Canadians after being given the mandate by the CRTC.
"The CCTS can only do so much: the wireless industry needs to step up to address chronic consumer problems like billing errors, early termination fees and unwanted premium text charges," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. "We trust the CRTC will encourage the wireless industry to remedy these failings in an honest and constructive way, and to agree to a robust and effective wireless code."
Wireless providers have responded that given the tens of millions of customers they serve, there are bound to be some complaints and misunderstandings. Led by Telus, the Big Three all support the idea of national standards for wireless contract terms, but haven’t yet come to a consensus on the new rules and how they should be applied.
Shawn Hall, spokesperson for Telus, says that while the 1,211 complaints filed against Telus represents a tiny percentage of the 12.8 million customer connections it provides across traditional landline phone, wireless and Internet services, it’s still too many. But he notes that complaints filed against Telus represent only 11.2% of the total complaints filed to the CCTS over the past year.
“We know we’re not perfect, but we’ve been working very hard over the last few years to introduce a number of new customer friendly policies and improve the level of service we provide to our customers. This report validates that our efforts are making a difference in an absolute sense and relative to our competitors,” added Hall.
He says the decline in Telus complaints is the direct result of putting customers first and its Clear and Simple program that was introduced in 2009 with a new set of wireless plans that eliminated system access and carrier 911 fees.
“Since then, we’ve significantly reduced international roaming rates, eliminated contract cancellation charges in favour of simply paying off the remaining subsidy on your device, introduced data notification, created flex plans, launched learning centres, and introduced a simple trade-in program. Just last week, we eliminated the $35 activation and $25 renewal fees.”
The CRTC recently announced proceedings to create a wireless code and PIAC says it will be representing the Consumers' Association of Canada and Council of Senior Citizens’ Organization of British Columbia (COSCO). It’s encouraging all Canadians to participate in developing the wireless code.