By David Paddon The Canadian Press
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints raised against Canada’s telecommunications providers, according to an annual tally released Tuesday by the private-sector body assigned to resolve disputes brought by customers who haven’t been able to get satisfaction directly from their provider.
The 14,272 complaints raised by Canadian telecom and TV customers over the 2017-18 period was up 57 per cent from the previous year, while the total number of issues they raised rose 67 per cent to 30,734, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services says in its report for the 12 months from Aug. 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018.
“With the addition of TV complaints to our mandate in September of 2017, we did anticipate an increase but not the 57 per cent that we received,” CCTS commissioner Howard Maker said in the report.
But, Maker added, fewer than five per cent of the complaints related to TV alone.
“The increase was in the same types of issues that Canadians have complained about historically: sales transactions that go wrong, service that doesn’t work as expected, and billing problems.”
The CCTS is a decade-old independent industry-funded body that works under a mandate from Canada’s federal regulator.
The dispute-resolution body was originally responsible for monitoring compliance with Canada’s wireless code, which was updated last year by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, effective Dec. 1, 2017.
Wireless services continued to have the biggest number of identified issues by far, with 12,757 in 2017-18, up 49 per cent from last year’s tally.
But issues with internet service rose even more quickly to 8,987, up 56 per cent.
Billing and contract disputes continued to be the two biggest issues identified in the CCTS report, regardless of type of service.
Bell Canada also continued to receive the biggest number of complaints, 4,734 or 33.2 per cent of the total not counting 847 directed at its Virgin Mobile flanker brand or its Bell Aliant (229) and Bell MTS (135) regional affiliates.
Similarly Rogers received the second-largest number of complaints, 1,449 or 10.2 per cent of the total, followed by Telus at No. 3 with 944 or 6.6 per cent of the total, not counting their flanker brands.
But relative newcomer Freedom Mobile placed fourth in the tally, after the number of complaints rose 185.3 per cent to 850.
Freedom’s corporate parent Shaw also saw complaints against it more than double, as did Videotron ‚Äî Quebecor’s telecom division ‚Äî Cogeco Connexion, Eastlink and TekSavvy, but the totals remained far behind the three national wireless carriers.
The CCTS says 10,214 or 71.6 per cent of the complaints it received were resolved without having to move to a higher level of intervention that included an investigation. A further 1,935 of the complaints were resolved after an investigation and 1,068 complaints were closed with or without an investigation for a variety of reasons
In 32.5 per cent of the closed complaints, the CCTS decided that a further investigation wasn’t warranted and 30.1 per cent were closed because the customer didn’t co-operate. A further 18.8 per cent were closed because the CCTS decided the service provider’s offer was reasonable.
Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:T, TSX:SJR.B, TSX:QBR.B, TSX:CCA)