Telecom complaints rise 114 percent in 2010-2011

OTTAWA, Nov. 4, 2011 /CNW/ - Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) reports an increase in telecom consumer complaints for the fourth straight year.  "Our Annual Report - Restoring Connections, released today, reports that 8,007 consumer complaints were filed with CCTS in 2010-11, an increase of 114 percent over last year," said Commissioner Howard Maker.

Highlighted in the report is the significant CRTC ruling that now allows for customers of all Canadian telecommunications service providers to go to CCTS.  "Canadians have identified that an independent agency like CCTS is essential in a market where competition is growing by the day.  Through public awareness and a renewed mandate from the CRTC, our number of contacts with the public is expected to increase in the coming years from the over 70,000 we received in 2010-11," said Commissioner Maker.

With over twenty-five million wireless subscriptions in Canada, complaints about wireless services continue to cause the most frustration and confusion for consumers. Over 62 percent of the complaints filed in 2010-11 were about wireless services, up from 51 percent in the preceding year. Almost 80 percent of all complaints were either about billing errors (45 percent) or contract disputes (34 percent). "Competition in this sector can bring innovative products, better service and lower costs, but it can also cause confusion in billing, data usage, service, and contracts. This is a trend we have now seen for four years, and it shows no sign of subsiding," Commissioner Maker added.

The report highlights complaints resulting from charges billed for data usage. CCTS heard from displeased consumers who did not understand how their devices use data, who were not aware of the amount of data available in their monthly plan, or who had no idea how much they had used. Many consumers questioned the accuracy of their service provider's measurement of their data use. The report notes that it can be challenging for consumers to confirm data usage with precision, even with the use of third party data measurement tools, making suspected errors very difficult to confirm. "CCTS believes it is not appropriate that customers should have to simply accept a provider's assertion about the amount of data used," said Commissioner Maker. "CCTS therefore encourages the industry to increase consumer confidence in the accuracy of its data measurements."

Contract issues presented the second largest source of aggravation and complaint from consumers.  As in previous years, many of the contract disputes resulted from early termination fees charged to consumers with fixed term contracts.  CCTS investigated these complaints by evaluating the contracts to ensure that customers had indeed agreed to service under a clearly written contract. "As much as customers must be diligent in reviewing the terms of their contract before committing," Commissioner Maker said, "Service provider contracts must be clearly understandable."

Annual Report: http://www.ccts-cprst.ca/en/documents/annual-reports/2010-2011

About the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS)
CCTS is an independent organization dedicated to working with consumer and small business customers and participating Canadian telecommunication service providers to resolve complaints relating to most deregulated retail telecommunications services.  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. www.ccts-cprst.ca

SOURCE Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS)

For further information:

or to schedule an interview with the Commissioner or for more information, please contact:

Carrie Croft
Thornley Fallis for CCTS
613-231-3355 ext. 227 or croft@thornleyfallis.ca

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Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS)

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