Wireless complaints down by 35% since 2014, but bill shock still an issue for one-in-five Canadians

News Release

January 5, 2017 – Ottawa – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Canadians are complaining less frequently about their wireless services, according to the 2016 fall survey on wireless issues, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced today.

The survey results will inform the current review of the Wireless Code, which includes a public hearing from February 6-9, 2017, in the National Capital Region.

In 2016, 17% of Canadians with wireless plans reported making a complaint, compared to 26% in 2014, resulting in an overall drop of 35% in the past 2 years.

The 2016 fall survey results indicate that customers primarily complained to their service providers about incorrect charges on their bill, data charges, poor service quality and misleading contract terms.

According to the survey, Canadians did not lodge complaints with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunication Services (CCTS), by and large, because 69% did not know about the CCTS , 13% did not feel it was worth the effort and 9% felt it would not resolve their issue.

However, bill shock remains an issue for one-in-five Canadians. In 2016, 21% of Canadians reported having experienced bill shock, down from 28% in 2014. Canadians identified data overage fees (48%) and international roaming charges (17%) as the main reasons for bill shock in 2016.

Quick Facts

  • In 2013, the CRTC established the Wireless Code to promote a dynamic marketplace and empower Canadians to make informed choices about their wireless services and establishing industry standards for wireless companies.
  • The CRTC has conducted annual surveys on wireless issues and awareness of the Wireless Code since 2014 to assess its effectiveness and impact on Canadians.
  • The fall 2016 survey reveals that Canadians aged 18-54 are more likely to experience bill shock than other Canadians (25% vs 15%).
  • Those on a shared or family plan, a relatively new and increasingly popular option for consumers, are also more likely to experience bill shock than those on an individual plan (28% vs 19%).
  • Half of Canadians find it difficult to manage roaming fees while travelling abroad.
  • Of the respondents who complained about an issue to their service provider, 25% felt that it was not resolved and 46% were not satisfied with the resolution.
  • Canadians will have another opportunity to provide comments on the effectiveness of the Wireless Code during an online consultation taking place from February 6-14, 2017.
  • In addition to the survey reports, data obtained through complaints, wireless service providers’ compliance reports, and annual reports of the CCTS will form part of the formal review.
  • The CCTS administers the Code and helps resolve complaints; Canadians are encouraged to contact the CCTS if they are unsatisfied with how their service provider has handled a complaint relating to their wireless services.


“We are pleased to see that complaints have been decreasing since 2014, but the survey results show that many Canadians are still having issues managing the data and calling minutes they use, as well as international roaming fees. We will be addressing these results with interveners during the upcoming public hearing. We want to make sure that the Wireless Code is helping Canadians to remain empowered and informed about their wireless services.”

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC

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