A consumer-advocacy group is calling for a code of conduct to govern how telecom companies sell access to the web as a new report shows more Canadians are complaining about their internet service.
The federal Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) published its annual report on Tuesday, revealing that for the 12-month period ended July 31, customers raised concerns about internet service 5,800 times, up 38 per cent from its 2015-16 report.
Wireless service continues to dominate the complaints the CCTS handles, but, proportionally, it accounts for fewer overall gripes than in the past. Meanwhile, internet complaints have steadily climbed, CCTS commissioner Howard Maker said.
“It’s a concern that, for seven years, the proportion of our work that’s related to internet is increasing,” he said in an interview. He noted that many complaints this year stemmed from BCE Inc.-owned Bell Canada’s move to increase prices on internet and home-phone services in February, a decision that attracted media attention along with heightened customer concerns.
Forty-seven per cent of all complaints about internet in the report were raised by Bell customers, although Mr. Maker added that through working with Bell, “we were able to resolve the vast majority” of those issues.
The wireless code – which the CRTC recently reviewed and updated, with changes such as a ban on fees to “unlock” smartphones set to take effect on Friday – aims to ensure consumers have clear, easy-to-understand information about wireless service and also to protect subscribers from unexpected charges for data overages or roaming fees.
Mr. Lawford said similar issues come up in relation to internet service, particularly around unexpected increases in rates or going over monthly data caps.
“It’s not smart to leave internet service, which is just as important as wireless now, without any rules.”
PIAC has also called on the CRTC to initiate an industry-wide inquiry into aggressive sales practices after a CBC report last week in which Bell Canada employees allege they have faced pressure to sell customers services they do not need.
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