Canada’s Cell Phone Companies Fail

by Jordan Richardson on June 18, 2010

Canada’s cell phone marketplace has been called a virtual minefield by the Better Business Bureau. With each of Canada’s major cell phone companies receiving a failing grade – the dreaded F – from the BBB, it’s hard to say with any sincerity that Canadian consumers are satisfied with the state of affairs in the sector.

Bell Mobility is the leader of the proverbial pack, with the highest volume of complaints to the Better Business Bureau out of all of the companies in the field. 1,022 complaints were tabulated since the start of 2009 to this article’s press time. In fairness, the vast majority of complaints were eventually resolved through mediation between the BBB and Bell Mobility.

Bear in mind, too, that the BBB can only account for complaints actually registered with the Bureau and that many more complaints go unlogged by any independent body.

Telus Mobility accounted for 754 complaints in the same period, while Rogers had 561. Reasons given for Rogers’ F-rating include “(f)ailure to respond to 317 complaints filed against business” and “(o)verall complaint history with BBB.”

“Complaints ranged from things involving their contracts, dissatisfaction with the customer service or coverage, and often people were a little bit confused about what the final bill was compared to the advertised cost,” Mark Fernandes of the British Columbia bureau said in a report to the CBC.

A quick perusal through the comments section at the CBC’s story on this confirms the general malaise felt by Canadian consumers about their telecommunications options. Customer dissatisfaction seems to come with the territory, as Canadians are uncompromisingly locked in to long-term deals and silly pricing schemes.

All the while, “good” corporate citizens and lobbyists for the telecom industry will remain fixated on the hallucination that all is well in Canada’s sector. All that is needed is a few deregulatory nods, some say. The foreign ownership rule relaxation will fix everything, we are told.

But this awe-inspiring sense of consumer dissatisfaction isn’t something that can be fixed by mere market forces and choice, nor can it be fixed by simply adding new “competition” to the heap.

Influenced by greed, the telecommunications industry maintains the status quo through ridiculous and bewildering fees, disgraceful marketing practices, backroom deals, and other designs to unconditionally rip off consumers and box out real telecom options.

Dubious, unethical tactics, like the changing of contract terms and/or rates after the customer is locked in it as Jeff famously experienced, remain the norm in Canada’s disturbed industry. And as long as there remains an inexhaustible supply of contemptible “Yes men” interested in upholding this disreputable, reprehensible, “legal” public mugging because it lines their own backslapping pockets, nothing will change.

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