Billing issues and misleading contract terms are top issues for consumers

Erica Johnson · CBC News · Posted: Apr 02, 2019 6:00 AM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago

Matthew Tomlinson spent five months trying to get Bell to give him a TV package at the price he was promised.

The 47-year-old Ottawa computer analyst says a Bell sales agent signed him up for the wrong TV package last June, which cost him an extra $50 per month.

"I felt like I was misled at every portion of my transaction with Bell," says Tomlinson.

Frustrated, Tomlinson filed a complaint with the telecom mediator, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS).

His complaint is included in a mid-year report released today by the CCTS, indicating that the number of Canadians unhappy with their telco service providers continues to climb.

Complaints up 44%
The CCTS says it accepted 9,831 complaints between August 2018 and January 2019 — a 44 per cent increase over the same period the previous year.

The biggest issues for consumers: billing disputes, misleading contract terms or non-disclosure of information and poor quality of service.

"It's unfortunate that we see the same issues on a regular, recurring basis," CCTS commissioner Howard Maker told Go Public.

CCTS commissioner Howard Maker says many of the problems consumers face with their telco service providers could be easily prevented with better employee training. (Andrew Lee/ CBC)
He says by the time consumers have filed a complaint with his organization, they are often at their wits' end.

"It's difficult to see them all have to spend time and resources on things that maybe didn't need to have occurred, if better processes had been in place in the front end."

Ninety-two per cent of complaints to the mediator were resolved, although the CCTS could not address 6,413 other complaints beyond its mandate, including customer service, pricing and operating practices and policies.

Companies with the most complaints
The country's largest service provider continued to receive a disproportionately high number of consumer complaints - Bell Canada was the subject of 3,034 complaints.

Rogers received 915 complaints.

For the first time, Cogeco placed third on the list, with 790 complaints, after an upgrade to its computer system led to customers losing service and being unable to contact technical support.

Telus received 746 complaints, making it the fourth most-complained-about telecom provider.

Freedom Mobile, owned by Shaw, expanded its service areas last year and placed fifth on the list, with 637 complaints.

Top issues raised
Customers filed the most complaints about cellphone issues (37.1 per cent), followed by problems with internet (27.8 per cent) and TV services (18.2 per cent).

Canadians were only recently able to file complaints about TV services. That process was introduced into the CCTS mandate in September 2017.

Read the report at:
This year's report appears to be a bit scant, missing out on the sample complaints and focusing primarily on the KPIs.