CRTC grants conditional approval to a new telecommunications consumer agency



    OTTAWA and GATINEAU, QC, Dec. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today granted
conditional approval to a newly established consumer agency, the Commissioner
for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc.
    "We are very pleased that the industry came together to establish this
consumer agency so quickly," said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of
the CRTC. "It will provide residential and small business customers with an
effective, accessible and consumer-friendly recourse when they are unable to
resolve a disagreement with their service provider."
    The agency was launched on a provisional basis in July 2007. During the
first four months of operation, the agency received over 1,000 complaints and
inquiries, and successfully resolved the majority of the complaints it
received. Its services are available to consumers free of charge.
    In its decision, the Commission is asking the agency to make certain
modifications to its proposed structure and mandate to ensure its
effectiveness, as well as its independence from the telecommunications
industry. The CRTC expects the agency to implement these measures within the
next 45 days.
    The Commission also determined that service providers and resellers whose
annual Canadian telecommunications service revenues exceed $10 million are
required to become members of the agency by February 1, 2008.
    Additional information about the agency can be obtained through its
website, www.ccts-cprst.ca,
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/redirect.asp?URL=http://www.ccts-cprst.ca or by
telephone, at 1-888-221-1687.

    The CRTC

    The CRTC is an independent, public authority that regulates and
supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.

    Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-130
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2007/dt2007-130.htm

    Reference document: Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2007-16
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Notices/2007/pt2007-16.htm

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
           Backgrounder on the telecommunications consumer agency

    The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc.
provides residential and small business customers with an effective recourse
when they are unable to resolve a disagreement with their service provider
about an unregulated telecommunications service.
    Consumers should contact the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) if they are unable to resolve a
disagreement with their service provider about a regulated telecommunications
service.

    It is important to remember that consumers should attempt to resolve any
    disagreements directly with their service provider before contacting the
    agency or the CRTC.

    Where should consumers address their complaint?

    The following chart sets out the scope of services for which complaints
will be handled by the consumer agency and the CRTC:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Consumer agency                            CRTC
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    - Deregulated local telephone services     - Local telephone services in
      and Voice over Internet Protocol services  areas that have not been
      (including calling features)               deregulated
    - Long-distance services (including        - Emergency services (9-1-1)
      prepaid calling cards)                   - Accessibility services
    - Wireless telephone services                such as TTY
    - Internet services                        - Payphones
                                               - 900/976 premium services
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bundled services

    The agency is the first point of contact in the case of a disagreement
about a service that is part of a bundle that includes unregulated and
regulated services. If the complaint is deemed to be related to a regulated
service, the agency will then refer the complainant to the CRTC.

    Consumer agency complaint process

    Consumers with a disagreement about an unregulated telecommunications
service should always contact their service provider as a first step. If the
matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, they may then file a complaint
with the agency.
    Complaints may be filed by using the online form, which is available at
www.ccts-cprst.ca, or by mail or fax. In its decision, the CRTC indicated that
the agency should also accept complaints by telephone, e-mail and TTY.

    The agency will:

    - Assess whether the complaint is within the scope of its mandate.
    - If so, the agency will forward a copy of the complaint to the service
      provider, who will have 20 business days to respond, with a copy to the
      complainant.
    - If the service provider does not respond or the complaint remains
      unresolved after 20 business days, agency staff will investigate and
      make a non-binding recommendation to the complainant and the service
      provider.
    - If either the complainant or the service provider rejects the staff
      recommendation, the agency will render a decision that becomes binding
      if accepted by the complainant.

    Remedies

    To resolve a complaint, the agency can require a telecommunications
service provider to:

    - provide an explanation or an apology to the consumer;
    - undertake to do or cease a specific activity or activities; and
    - provide up to $5,000 per complaint in compensation to the consumer.

    Governance

    Although the consumer agency was established by telecommunications service
providers, it has been structured in a way that will ensure its independence
from the industry. Notably, its Board of Directors will consist of seven
directors, four of whom will be independent. In addition, two of the four
independent directors will be appointed by consumer groups.

    Membership

    All service providers and resellers whose annual Canadian
telecommunications service revenues exceed $10 million are required to become
members of the agency by February 1, 2008. This requirement ensures that as
many consumers as possible will have recourse to the agency's complaint
resolution services.

    For more information

    Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc.:
    P.O. Box 81088, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1B1
    Tel: 1-888-782-2924 (toll free)
    TTY: 711 or 1-800-855-0511
    Fax: 1-877-782-2924

    Website: www.ccts-cprst.ca
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/redirect.asp?URL=http://www.ccts-cprst.ca
    E-mail: info@ccts-cprst.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Relations: Media Relations
(http://support.crtc.gc.ca/CRTCSubmissionMU/forms/Mediarelations.aspx?lang=e),
(819) 997-9403, Fax: (819) 997-4245; General Inquiries: (819) 997-0313, TDD:
(819) 994-0423, Fax: (819) 994-0218, Toll-free No. 1-877-249-2782, TDD -
Toll-free No. 1-877-909-2782, On-line Services
(http://support.crtc.gc.ca/CRTCSubmissionMU/forms/main.aspx?lang=e); These
documents are available in alternative format upon request.


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