New Wireless Code Drives 17% Reduction in Consumer Complaints

by Istvan Fekete on November 5, 2014

The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunication Services “Let’s talk solutions” report is out, offering a cross-sectional view of the telecom market from the consumer’s point of view. Looking back over the past 12 months, Commissioner Howard Maker emphasizes the decrease in the number of customer complaints the CCTS has received. This is the first time in the CCTS’s seven-year history of issuing annual reports that the number of complaints has fallen – 17% compared to last year.

Maker is cautiously optimistic that the industry as a whole is becoming more focused on customer issues and on how it addresses customer problems.

Also, the 2013–14 CCTS report is the first to reflect the immediate effects of the new Wireless Code that came into effect on December 2, 2013. Maker notes that the report covers “only Code issues that arose in complaints we concluded between that date and July 31, 2014.”

The CCTS received a total of 11,340 complaints, of which they concluded 11,196. Of those, 4,676 were related to billing errors, and 3,379 included a contract dispute. Unfortunately for Bell, the carrier leads the list of such complaints, as previously highlighted by the commissioner in an interview with CBC.

After carefully analyzing the report, consumer advocate group Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) issued a press release praising the new Wireless Code, which resulted in such positive changes in the number of customer complaints.

•Roaming charges complaints dropped from 721 in 2012-13 to 527 in 2013-14 (nearly a 27% drop in this category);
•Early cancellation fees complaints dropped from 1,490 in 2012-13 to 1,144 in 2013-14 (a 23% drop in this category); and
•30-day cancellation policy complaints dropped from 1,835 in 2012-13 to only 1,167 in 2013-14 (a more than 36% drop in this category).

“The Wireless Code put a cap on roaming and data overage fees, regulated and capped early cancellation fees, and outlawed the extra 30 day charge” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “The wireless carriers should not claim they are better actors – they were made to behave by the Code.”

PIAC also points to the “disturbing increase” in wireless company complaints about “non-disclosure/misleading terms” that result in higher-than-expected bills. The consumer advocacy group hopes the CRTC will address this issue with stringent monitoring of the Wireless Code and otherwise.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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