The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (“CCTS”) is Canada’s national and independent organization dedicated to resolving customer complaints about telecommunications and television distribution services. The CCTS established the compliance monitoring and enforcement program in 2017 in response to a request from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) in the 2016 mandate review of the CCTS.
Over the last five years, the CCTS’ compliance focus has been to educate Participating Service Providers (“PSPs”) about their obligations and engage with individual PSPs to bring them into compliance when a compliance issue is identified. The CCTS strives to continuously improve compliance activities based on feedback from our stakeholders – PSPs, the CRTC, and consumers. The compliance program efforts are focused on:
- working with PSPs to promote compliance with our rules so that our complaint-handling process remains efficient for customers; and
- monitoring compliance by PSPs with the PSP Public Awareness Plan (“Developing Public Awareness of the CCTS”), which sets out their obligations to promote customer awareness of the CCTS.
Between January 1 and December 31, 2021, the CCTS identified approximately 2,400 alleged compliance breaches of the Procedural Code arising in about 15,000 complaints. The 2021 compliance data shows fewer compliance breaches arising from PSPs who fail to implement mutually acceptable resolutions or CCTS-issued Recommendations and Decisions. At the same time, the CCTS observed the following compliance issues in 2021:
- a considerable increase in compliance breaches related to PSPs incorrectly informing the CCTS that a complaint has been resolved directly with the customer;
- almost double the number of compliance breaches flagged in which PSPs did not submit complete responses to complaints they had been unable to resolve with the customer (missing or insufficient documents or explanations); and
- a prevalence of breaches related to the objections process for merit-based objections, which are not allowed under CCTS’ processes.
To address these concerns, the CCTS will continue to hone our compliance approach by focusing on these areas. The CCTS will engage the PSPs that are primarily responsible for these concerning trends to ensure a solid understanding of Procedural Code requirements.
The CCTS is committed to continuing to build public awareness about customers’ right of recourse to the CCTS. PSPs are required to contribute to building public awareness about the CCTS by carrying out the requirements of the PSP Public Awareness Plan. The CCTS’ compliance program ensures that PSPs are doing their part to provide key information about the CCTS to their customers. The CCTS notes a clear improvement in PSP compliance with providing the CCTS notice on customer invoices, the white pages and sending text messages for pre-paid wireless customers. The CCTS observes the following compliance issues:
- smaller PSPs are more likely to be missing required CCTS information on their website;
- where PSPs have the required CCTS information on their website, there may be compliance issues regarding how easily the webpage is found, how PSPs position or explain the availability of CCTS on website notices, or whether the website search function returns information about the CCTS.
The CCTS encourages PSPs to build checks into their regular website maintenance processes so that the website notice about the CCTS is always easy to find and compliant with the Public Awareness Plan. Furthermore, as customers increasingly rely on accessing information online and via PSP websites, the CCTS will continue improving processes to promote and monitor compliance with public awareness requirements. The CCTS will also look for opportunities to better address any information gaps with smaller PSPs which may require more individual engagement.
While it is rare for the CCTS to terminate the participation of a PSP for failure to comply with its participation obligations, the CCTS terminated Maple Call Inc. in 2021 for its failure to pay a longstanding and significant outstanding fee balance, and referred the matter to the CRTC for further action. In addition, the CCTS signed up 18 new PSPs in 2021 and referred four to the CRTC for their failure to become a participant in the CCTS when required to do so.
The CCTS is pleased that many PSPs engage with the CCTS when we bring compliance issues to their attention. We work with PSPs on an individual basis to address non-compliance, and most PSPs are ready to work with us. When the CCTS identifies compliance issues, especially for very small PSPs, the CCTS invests considerable time and effort to educate and engage them, working individually to bring them into compliance. Sometimes, smaller service providers may not be familiar with the CRTC or industry regulations and may have limited resources and staff. This can lengthen the compliance engagement process. The CCTS tries to remain flexible, working with non-compliant providers to keep them focused on ensuring compliance with the CCTS participation requirements.