Business

Bell, Rogers get most complaints about internet, phone service

Canadians made 8.5 per cent fewer complaints about their internet and phone providers in the six months between Aug. 1, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2015, according to the independent agency that is meant to resolve such complaints.

Incorrect charges, misleading contracts, inadequate service get Canadians riled

Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Howard Maker on the wireless code 4:33

Canadians made 8.5 per cent fewer complaints about their internet and phone providers in the six months between Aug. 1, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2015, according to the independent agency that is meant to resolve such complaints.

But that doesn't mean consumers are happy with telecom in this country. A total of 5,468 complaints were made in that six months, with Bell and Rogers topping the list for annoying their customers.

There were 1,989 complaints about Bell and 1,240 about Rogers, according to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). Despite being one of the big three telcos, Vancouver-based Telus had far fewer complaints, just 243.

Complaints resolved

The CCTS says it resolved 87.4 per cent of complaints to the satisfaction of both the customer and company involved.

The most common complaints:

  • Incorrect charges.
  • Misleading or non-disclosed contract terms.
  • Intermittent or inadequate quality of service.
  • Early cancellation fees.
  • 30-day cancellation fees.
  • Refunds not received.
  • Data charges.
  • Changes to the contract.

Code violations on rise

While complaints are down, the CCTS saw a surge in violations of the Wireless Code of Conduct created for ISPs and telecom companies by the CRTC in December 2013.

There were 324 violations of the code, CCTS CEO Howard Maker wrote in a blog on the agency's website. The most common violations were disconnection without a proper notification to the customer, changes made to contract terms and other aspects of a wireless or internet contract that violated the code, including not disclosing the full terms.

That's a 10-fold increase over the 30 violations noted in the previous six months, and reflects in part, differences of opinion between the companies and the CCTS over how to interpret the code, Maker said. The code is meant to provide clarity for customers, emphasizing full disclosure of terms of a contract.

For example, providers believed the code forces them to send a notification of disconnection only if they are cutting off the customer permanently, while the CCTS believes customers also should be notified of temporary shutdowns.

In an interview with CBC's The Exchange with Amanda Lang, Maker said the telcos are going through "a period of adjustment."

"I think service providers in attempting to adapt have made changes that helped reduce the number of complaints," he said. 

This period also reflects a time of change in the structure of cellphone contracts, as the telcos move to two-year contracts and the CCTS refines its understanding of the code, he said.

"We're trying to make sure that everybody understands the code in the same way and that's been a bit of challenge right now," he said.

Maker said one provider's contract was particularly problematic – triggering 60 complaints. He did not name the provider, but said the CCTS is working with the company to resolve problems.


Complaints to the CCTS by company

  1. Bell, 1,989
  2. Rogers, 1,240
  3. Wind, 361
  4. Virgin Mobile, 312
  5. Fido, 306
  6. Telus, 243
  7. Videotron, 149
  8. Koodo,  76
  9. Bell Aliant, 74
  10. Primus, 69

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