Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) has reported a sizable increase in the number of telecom consumer complaints it received last year.
For the fourth consecutive year, wireless services topped the list of consumer complaints, which numbered nearly 11,000, the Commission said in its 2011-2012 Annual Report "We Listen. We Help."
"Once again, we've seen an increase in complaints about wireless services," said Commissioner Howard Maker. "This year 60 per cent of the issues raised in complaints came from wireless service users. Of all the complaints we received, most were related to billing errors or contract disputes."
Billing problems accounted for almost 51 per cent of all the issues raised in complaints.
Among the most frequent types of billing complaints were errors regarding customers' monthly plans, issues related to the 30-day notice for cancellation and premium text messaging charges.
Second to billing errors were contract disputes, the Commission said. They accounted for over 27 per cent of all the issues raised in complaints. CCTS often heard from customers who complained they were charged early termination fees and from those who alleged that they were signed up to contracts by their service provider without their consent.
The annual report notes that 90 per cent of the complaints CCTS dealt with were resolved to the customers' satisfaction. It also highlights the large number of complaints that could have been avoided with a little extra diligence on the part of the service provider. In addition, it addresses the Commissioner's view that many of the complaints should have been resolved by the service provider at an early stage, avoiding the need for customer escalation to CCTS.
"We are calling on service providers to increase their level of cooperation with CCTS," said Commissioner Maker. "In particular, we urge service providers to provide more timely and thorough responses to customer complaints filed with CCTS."
Despite processing 10,878 complaints, CCTS was required to issue only 55 Recommendations and 11 Decisions in 2011-12. "Our focus has been on resolving complaints at the initial stages and this process has really received buy-in from both consumers and providers," said Commissioner Maker.
Since CCTS was established in 2007, it has experienced an impressive growth rate in the number of participating service providers. In its first year, CCTS handled customer complaints for 16 telecommunications service providers. In 2011-2012, CCTS offered its complaint-handling services to customers of 178 service providers and brands across Canada.
The 2011-2011 CCTS Annual Report can be downloaded from www.ccts-cprst.ca/documents/annual-reports/2011-2012.
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. This includes billing errors, compliance with contract terms and commitments, service delivery, credit management and collections issues.