Fewer consumer complaints about their telecommunications services reached the industry’s national arbiter, according to its 2019/20 annual report.
The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) reported a 19% drop in consumer complaints over the 12 months ending July 31, 2020 compared to the previous year. CCTS was created in 2007 by the CRTC to resolve complaints from Canadian consumers.
In 2019-20, 15,661 complaints reached CCTS. This is the first annual decrease since 2015-16. Wireless services were the largest component of those complaints, followed by internet services. CCTS also deals with television and telephone complaints. The most common “types” of complaint across the four major services monitored involve billing, followed by contract disputes.
In the release that accompanied the report, CCTS noted that one impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was an increase in the number of consumers working from home from March onward, which co-incided with a rise in the number of complaints about home internet services. In fact, internet services drew more complaints about service quality than any of the other service categories monitored by CCTS.
The report indicated that 89% of complaints were resolved “successfully”, down from 91% the previous year. The report defines this as including the satisfaction of both the customer and the participating service provider.
CCTS is designed to handle complaints that are not resolved with the provider, and introduced some measures to ensure that consumers are aware of its role. The report shows relatively low awareness of these measures among complainants. Just 8 per cent said that the service provider told them about the CCTS during efforts to resolve the problem, 17 per cent recall seeing CCTS information on invoices or bills from the provider and 21 per cent saw notices about CCTS on their provider’s web site. Also, 55% of consumers reported going through three or more levels of complaint with the service provider before contacting CCTS.
CCTS is funded by all participating telecom and TV service providers as required by Canada’s telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Complaints accepted by CCTS are forwarded to the service provider with a 30-day response expected. Many complaints are resolved informally when the provider responds, but CCTS will launch investigations and sometimes mediate the disputes. They may recommend service providers make a payment to the customer to compensate for any loss, damage or inconvenience suffered by the customer, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Customers who are unable to resolve an issue directly with their wireless, internet, TV or phone service provider can file their complaint online for free at ccts-cprst.ca.