The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has announced intentions to create a national code to assist in consumer protection – and it wants the public’s help.
On Thursday, the CRTC said it was launching a public consultation to see what customers think as to developing a national code on new standards for wireless services. A public hearing is also planned to address the issue in January.
Canadian consumers have routinely complained about the confusion in cell phone contracts, with more issues mounting by the year. Many provinces have stepped in with regulations to address some of the issues, but the lack of national standards proves very limiting.
“Our goal is to make sure that Canadians have the tools they need to make informed choices in a competitive marketplace,” said CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. “In the past, Canadians have told us that contracts are confusing, and that terms and conditions can vary greatly from one company to another. We are asking them to assist us in developing a code that will help them better understand their rights as consumers and the responsibilities of wireless companies.”
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre applauded the CRTC for stepping up to the plate.
“Nearly all Canadians agree that wireless providers should have clearer contracts, increased pricing transparency and eliminate ‘bill shock’ for unexpected charges,” said consumer advocacy group lawyer John Lawford. ”This is a historic chance for Canadians finally to get the service they deserve from their wireless provider, no matter which one they choose.”
Canadians will be able to make their voices heard online or in writing to the CRTC. Comments can also be submitted by fax and submissions will be accepted until November 20.
As far as the carriers, most of them are on board with a national standard.
“They ensure that all Canadians enjoy the same safeguards, same terms of service,” said Telus spokesman Shawn Hall. ”Rather than having 12 regional debates about this, it makes sense to come together to have one national conversation that ensures all Canadians are treated the same.”
Rogers Communications has submitted its own draft for the consumer code that it hopes will be a starting point for the eventual national standard. ”So it means less for them to worry about, less for them to figure out, simpler more comparable plans between companies,” said Ken Engelhart, senior vice-president of regulatory at Rogers. ”In our view, it’s better to have a federal regulator that has an understanding of the business crafting the regulations.”