“I couldn't get a call back from my provider. Once I filed a complaint with the CCTS, I received a call the next day and my problem got resolved.”
“The CCTS provided a solution when I was completely at a deadlock with my service provider. ”
Although Bell Canada accounts for 30% of this year’s complaints, it accounts for 37.5% of all billing issues, resulting in 7,650 issues raised. This is an increase of 53.7% over their proportion of billing issues last year.
Rogers accounts for 1,846 of this year’s billing issues, or 9%.
Cogeco Connexion has the third-most issues, accounting for 8.8% of all billing issues even though it accounts for only 5.4% of all complaints. With 1,801 billing issues raised, Cogeco has seen a huge increase of 582% from last year.
|wdt_ID||Service provider||# of issues||YoY change in # of issues||% of all billing issues||% of all complaints|
In many of the billing-related complaints we see, we find that customers have been charged a fee for their monthly services that is different from what they were expecting. Although some of these cases are the result of simple errors, we have found that many can be attributed to promotional prices or discounts not being applied or not being clearly described as time-limited. In addition, many customers continue to be charged for services after they have cancelled them, and some are charged for services that were never successfully installed.
Charged though no service provided
A business customer approached a new service provider to have his business phone lines transferred to it from his current provider. Due to a technical issue, the new provider was not able to complete the transfer on the date requested but began to bill the customer monthly service fees nonetheless. This continued for a number of months. The customer complained to the CCTS. During our investigation we helped the customer navigate the technical issues with the provider, and the service was eventually installed successfully. The provider agreed to credit the monthly charges it had incorrectly billed the customer and also waived the usual installation charges. The customer was satisfied with this outcome, and the complaint was resolved.
Billed after service cancellation
A TV customer cancelled his services but his service provider continued to bill him. For the first two months the charges were automatically billed to his credit card. He called his provider, who confirmed that the services were cancelled. The provider stopped the credit card billing but continued to issue bills for the cancelled services for another four months. The provider also threatened to send the unpaid account to a collection agency.
The customer contacted us and we investigated. We found that the customer had indeed cancelled his services but the provider had billed him for an additional six months. During our investigation the provider informed us that the invoices were the result of a system error. It provided an explanation and apology to the customer, ensured the account did not go to a collection agency and cancelled the invoices. The provider also refunded the customer the two months of service it had charged his credit card and provided him with an additional $50. The customer considered the matter resolved.
Promotions not applied
An internet customer contacted the CCTS and stated he was not being charged correctly for a service package including internet service. During our investigation, the service provider looked into the matter and confirmed that promotions promised to the customer and which should have been included on his account were not, in fact, included. The provider corrected the error and waived the first month’s service charges, and the complaint was resolved.
Promised discount not honoured
A customer called his service provider’s loyalty department in July to find out what plans it could offer him for his bundle of services. At the time, he was receiving a promotional discount of $15/month, which was due to expire soon. He later told the CCTS that his provider offered to extend this discount for another six months, after which his monthly price would increase by $15/month. However, when he received his next invoice he noticed that the $15 discount had not been applied. When he disputed this with his provider, it told him he must have misunderstood the offer, and the provider refused to apply the discount.
During our investigation we determined, based on the call notes and invoices, that the customer did in fact speak with the loyalty department in July, and the provider did offer a discount of $15. Moreover, the discount was to be applicable for 12 months, not just 6. The provider still refused to apply the discount, and the CCTS was required to issue a formal Recommendation that the provider honour the offer for the 12-month period. Eventually, this Recommendation was accepted by both the customer and the provider.
Although this year disclosure issues have increased at a slower pace than the overall increase in issues, there were still 5,514 disclosure issues raised. Many of these could have been avoided by ensuring that clear, concise and accurate information was provided to customers.
Bell Canada accounts for 30.5% of complaints but for 39.2% of all disclosure issues, up from 38% last year and resulting in 2,163 issues raised.
Rogers accounts for 546 issues, just under 10%.
TELUS has the third-most issues, with 404 issues, accounting for 7.3%.
|wdt_ID||Service provider||# of issues||YoY change in # of issues||% of all disclosure issues||% of all complaints|
Wrong internet package – Inadvertent error or misleading behaviour?
An internet customer signed up for service after being offered a plan that she later told the CCTS included unlimited internet usage. However, she was charged $400 for additional internet bandwidth usage over a four-month period. She tried to resolve the issue with her service provider, but when the provider would not refund the charges, she cancelled her service and contacted the CCTS.
During our investigation, we obtained from the provider a recording of the call during which the customer had signed up for service. She clearly indicated that she required unlimited internet service, and the provider’s agent confirmed that this would be included. However, the plan that was added to her account had a limit of 50 GB of internet usage per month. The provider had either made an error when setting up the account or had misled the customer about the plan that would be applied to her account. Either way, we ensured that these charges were reimbursed to the customer. She considered this a reasonable resolution to her concerns.
Failure to honour commitment and be truthful with customer and CCTS
A wireless customer called his service provider in December to ask about available loyalty promotions. The customer later told the CCTS he was informed he could call back in early January, at which time it would have a promotion for him that included 10 GB of data for $60/month. The agent even provided the customer with a code to use when he called back. However, when the customer called back, he was told there was no such loyalty plan available. He was also told that there was no record of his conversation in December. The customer then complained to the CCTS.
In response to the complaint, the provider told us that there was no such plan available and that the code provided to the customer was for an old promotion from 2017. The provider also said there was no record of a call being made by the customer in December. We asked the provider for the call notes and any call recordings related to the customer’s account during the time he claimed to have called. Our review of the call notes confirmed that there was no indication he had called in December. However, the provider located a call recording it found in its system from December. During this call, the provider’s agent clearly offered the customer a loyalty plan including 10 GB of data for $60 starting in January, and gave him the code to call back.
Although providers are not required to offer specific promotions to their customers, they are required to give clear and accurate information and to honour commitments made to customers. In this case, the provider failed to do so. The customer accepted a payment from the service provider to compensate him.
Issues with contract term and price
A wireless customer had signed up for service with a provider that was offering him a wireless plan for $60/month. The customer told us he was informed that the price would not change during his commitment term. About four months later, the price increased to $70/month and the customer complained to his provider. The provider informed him that he was on a month-to-month service plan and that his commitment term was therefore only one month in duration. It explained that because his service was being provided in successive one-month terms, the terms of service allowed the provider to increase the price after providing a 30-day notice, which it claimed to have done.
The customer complained to the CCTS, telling us that he was misled by the provider into believing that he was on a fixed two-year contract and that during this time, his monthly price would be $60 and would not change. He told us his agreement clearly stated that during the commitment period, the monthly plan service rate would not change.
We reviewed the customer’s service agreement and confirmed that it did in fact indicate that during the commitment period, the customer’s monthly plan services and rates would not change. We noted that the agreement failed to indicate the duration of the contract, contrary to the requirements of the Wireless Code. We also found that, even if the customer had been offered service on a month-to-month basis, the provider could not demonstrate that it had provided the notice of a price change as required by the Wireless Code. As a result, we found that the provider likely led the customer to believe that his monthly price would not change for a two-year period when it had placed him on a month-to-month plan, preserving the provider’s right to make changes to the price. Because the provider had placed this customer on a month-to-month plan, we also found that the provider was in breach of two Wireless Code requirements: clearly indicating the length of the commitment term and providing thirty days’ notice of any changes to the agreement.
The provider offered to give the customer a $10/month credit for a 24-month period, therefore providing the customer the service at the price he was quoted and for the duration of what he believed to be his service agreement.
Failure to provide contract and Critical Information Summary
In another case involving a wireless customer, we found that the service provider failed to provide the customer with a copy of the wireless service contract as well as the Critical Information Summary required by the Wireless Code after she upgraded her wireless device. We confirmed that each of these failures constituted a breach of the Wireless Code. The provider disagreed on the basis that the customer simply made a change to her existing monthly service; therefore, no new contracts or Critical Information Summary were required. We explained to the provider that by upgrading her devices, the customer had agreed to three new fixed-term agreements and did not simply change her existing contract. We referred the provider to the CRTC’s analysis of early device upgrades expressed in Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-586, in which the CRTC stated that “…At all times, customers must be aware that an upgrade represents a completely new contract with new obligations, rather than a continuation or extension of their original agreement.”
Furthermore, the CRTC clarified in Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-200, Review of the Wireless Code, that the Critical Information Summary is an independent summary of the most important elements of the contract and does not replace or fulfill any requirements to provide the same or similar information within the actual written contract. This clarification confirms that the requirement to provide a contract and the requirement to provide a Critical Information Summary are independent of each other and that both prescribe different obligations. Therefore, failure to include the prescribed information in the contract and in the Critical Information Summary constitutes two breaches of the Wireless Code.
Lack of some required notices before disconnection
A wireless customer had failed to pay for her two wireless accounts and was disconnected for non-payment. Nonetheless, the Wireless Code requires that certain notices be given to customers before disconnection. During our investigation, we found that the service provider did not give the customer the 14-day notice of suspension as required by the Code. It also failed to give her the 24-hour notice prior to suspension of one of her two services. These failures breached the requirements of the Code.
After the customer complained to the CCTS, the service provider applied a $311.98 credit as a one-time adjustment to reduce the customer’s balance, a resolution which the customer accepted.
Lack of all required notices before disconnection
A wireless customer was not able to access his invoices online for three months, and he stopped paying his bill. He failed to report the problem to the service provider until the second month, and it took the provider another month to solve the technical problem. By this time the customer’s account was three months overdue, and the provider disconnected the service for non-payment.
Although the charges were legitimate and owed to the provider, and in our view failure to receive the invoices did not excuse the non-payment, the provider failed to give the customer notice of the suspension at least 14 days in advance and again 24 hours prior to suspension, contrary to the requirements of the Wireless Code.
The provider offered to issue a $200 credit to resolve the complaint, which we determined was an appropriate resolution.
Most often, these issues arise in the context of wireless services, but we also see them raised by internet, TV and phone customers. (For phone customers, these issues are most often in relation to business phone services.)
Bell Canada accounts for 38.3% of this year’s breach-of-contract issues, resulting in 997 issues, an increase of 56.3% from last year.
Rogers accounts for 252 issues, an increase of 39.2%.
TELUS has the third most issues with 190, a significant increase of 140.5% from last year.
|wdt_ID||Service provider||# of issues||YoY change in # of issues||% of all breach-of-contract issues||% of all complaints|
Refusal to unlock device
We received a complaint from a wireless customer disputing slightly over $1,000 in data overage charges. During the dispute resolution process, the customer also informed us that her wireless service provider refused to unlock her mobile device because of an outstanding balance on her account unrelated to the data overages in dispute.
During our investigation we determined that, at the end of August 2018, the customer requested to have her device unlocked, but the provider did not comply with this request or the related Wireless Code obligation. We also confirmed that the outstanding balance on the account was valid but unrelated to the data overages in dispute.
To resolve the complaint, the provider credited the entire amount of the data charges in dispute and provided the customer with the means to unlock her device.
NOTE: Our assessment was later confirmed by the CRTC’s determination that “…the device unlocking rules are not intended to serve as a payment collection mechanism for WSPs [wireless service providers.]” See Telecom Decision CRTC 2019-169, Paragraph 40.
Unreasonable early cancellation fees
A business customer cancelled his phone and internet service as a result of on-going unresolved service delivery issues. His services were being provided under a three-year contract that was to end in June, but he cancelled his service two months before the expiration of his contract. The service provider subsequently billed over $3,700 in early termination fees even though there were only two months left on the contract.
When the customer complained to the provider, it refused to credit the charges, insisting on full payment. It informed him that one of his employees who had been authorized on the account had extended the contract, which was now set to expire in another two years. The customer informed the provider that no one from his company had agreed to a new contract; however, the complaint remained unresolved.
During our investigation, the provider could not produce any documentation to demonstrate that the customer or an authorized user had agreed to renew the contract. As a result, we concluded that the contract should have expired in June and not in two years’ time. In that case, according to the provider’s own terms of service, it could bill cancellation fees of only $170. We issued a Recommendation that the provider credit the difference between this amount and what it had actually billed the customer for early cancellation. Both parties accepted our Recommendation, and the matter was resolved.
Complaints from internet customers about loss or degradation of service, such as slow speeds and outages, are the most common.
Bell Canada accounts for 30.4% of all internet service issues, with 1,026 issues, or 30.4%. This is an increase of 40% from last year.
Cogeco Connexion accounts for 14% of all internet service delivery issues, with 474 issues, accounting for 14% of all internet service delivery issues. Cogeco also has a significant increase of 251% compared to last year.
Xplornet has the third-most issues, with 272 issues, or 8% of these issues. This is a decrease of 17% from last year.
|wdt_ID||Service provider||# of internet service delivery issues||% of internet service delivery issues||YoY change|
In some cases, customers are experiencing internet speeds that they believe are unsatisfactory given the maximum speeds offered by their specific internet plan. Customers often expect to receive these maximum speeds and feel that their service is inadequate if this is not consistently achieved.
We remind customers that most providers’ terms of service do not guarantee maximum internet speeds. Generally speaking, when reviewing a complaint about internet speed, the CCTS will consider the speeds that the service provider is able to deliver to the customer and will ensure that the service provider places the customer on the internet plan which offers speeds closest to those that the customer is receiving. A customer should not be expected to pay for speeds which are not attainable, and the CCTS aims to ensure that this does not happen.
Slower internet speed than customer expects
A customer called his service provider to complain about a service outage as well as a history of slow speeds. The customer stated that he completely lost internet and TV service for a period of three days. He also said that for many years, he had been paying for high-speed internet service but that his internet speeds were not very good, falling short of what he was paying for.
The provider credited the customer’s charges for the three-day period he was without service. It also gave him more cellular data for the duration of the outage so that he could access the internet through his wireless device. However, the customer also wanted compensation of $1,000 for the slower-than-expected internet speed he experienced.
During our investigation, we reviewed the provider’s terms of service and noted that it did not guarantee that the service would function all of the time or that it would achieve the maximum speeds available under the plan.
Nonetheless, it is fair and reasonable to expect that a customer’s internet service be “right-sized”, meaning a provider should place the customer on its internet plan which offers speeds closest to those that the customer is receiving.
We obtained and examined results of speed tests conducted by both the customer and the service provider and found that the customer’s speeds far exceeded the maximum speeds provided in his provider’s lower tiered price plan. As such, we found that the customer’s service was indeed “right-sized”.
We also reviewed the provider’s policies and procedures for when a customer reports a service outage and low internet speeds. We found that the provider followed its procedures and promptly addressed the customer’s concerns.
We determined that the provider was delivering the best speeds it could and had placed the customer on the appropriate plan for the speeds he received. In addition, the provider had promptly addressed the customer concerns, credited the cost of the service during the outage period, and provided the customer with additional cellular data during the outage. We found that no additional action was necessary to resolve this matter.
Proper investigation of intermittent internet service issues
A customer experienced intermittent internet service issues from the time he began service with his provider. He reported that the internet issue also caused pixelation and freezing of his internet-based TV service.Unable to resolve the issue directly with his provider, he complained to the CCTS.
During our investigation, we requested the necessary details from the provider and reviewed the applicable terms of service. Although the provider does not guarantee uninterrupted service, we still expect the provider to meet its obligations by following its own policies and procedures to help the customer when an intermittent service issue occurs. We found that one week after the customer reported his issues, a technician was sent to the customer’s home and determined that the issue was due to the modem. The technician replaced the modem outlet and the modem itself and also checked the external wiring and connection to the home, determining that the issue was not due to external equipment or wiring. The technician determined there were no other issues with the customer’s internet service at that time.
We reviewed the customer’s usage records during the time that he reported problems and for the three-month period thereafter. We found that after the technician visited the customer, the customer’s usage increased significantly, with an average usage of nearly 500 GB/month; this suggests that the quality of service improved. We determined that the provider had followed its own policies and procedures to help the customer by troubleshooting and sending a technician to his home to replace the faulty equipment and check for external issues. Furthermore, the provider applied nearly $200 in compensation towards the service delivery issues and offered to waive the early termination fee of $180 should the customer wish to cancel his internet services. We concluded that these actions were reasonable to address the issues.
Unreliable internet service
A customer complained that his internet service was unreliable since its installation, with slow speeds and frequent service interruptions. After more than a dozen technician visits and the replacement of two modems over a five-month period, the service provider acknowledged that the quality and speed of the internet service could not be improved. It explained that improvements could potentially be made by changing or upgrading the outside wiring but that because it was a reseller of internet service it could not make such upgrades itself. The provider offered to cancel the service without any cancellation fees, but the customer refused. The provider also applied a $50 credit to the customer’s account to compensate for the service interruptions. The customer remained dissatisfied and requested a full refund of the service fees paid.
We reviewed the provider’s terms of service and technician notes and determined there were over two hundred service interruptions during one month alone, and 28 days on which the customer’s internet usage was 0 MB. Although we found that the internet reseller did what it could to address the technical issues, we did not feel it was reasonable for the customer to pay for service when it was clearly unavailable to him for long periods of time. We determined that the provider had an obligation to provide a credit to the customer.
In determining the amount of this credit, we considered a number of factors, including the extent to which the customer was able to make use of the service, the provider’s response and multiple attempts to help the customer in a timely manner, the credit already provided to the customer, and the fact that the provider acknowledged that the service was not going to improve and suggested that the customer cancel service without penalty. Based on these factors, we recommended that an additional credit of $155, amounting to three months of service fees, be provided. Both the customer and the service provider found this to be a reasonable resolution.