CRTC says more can be done to ensure fair treatment of consumers

News release

February 20, 2019 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

In a report published today, the CRTC found evidence of misleading or aggressive sales practices by certain telecommunications services providers and concluded that more needs to be done to protect consumers. The CRTC’s report is an important step in empowering consumers and promoting their fair treatment.

The Report on misleading or aggressive communications retail sales practices finds that, even with the existing measures put in place by service providers and governments, misleading or aggressive sales practices occur to an unacceptable degree.

The CRTC is taking action to introduce new measures to ensure Canadians’ interactions with their service providers are carried out in a fair and respectful way, such as considering the creation of a new, mandatory Internet Code of Conduct and the creation of a secret shopper program to monitor sales practices.

The CRTC also found that misleading or aggressive sales practices have a harmful impact on Canadians, particularly on vulnerable Canadians, that the services providers’ internal measures are not always effective and that there are gaps in the awareness and effectiveness of existing consumer protections.

To address the situation, the CRTC will also consider putting into place additional measures, such as:

  • requiring service providers to provide pre-sales quotes to better inform customers
  • requiring service providers to offer trial periods to allow customers to cancel a service that did not match what they were offered
  • requiring service providers to ensure their offers and promotions match the customer’s needs and means, and
  • expanding the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services’ mandate to include handling complaints of misleading or aggressive retail sales practices.

Consult the Report for the complete list of proposed solutions.

Quotes

“During our public consultation, it became apparent that while service providers have many tools at their disposal to ensure misleading or aggressive sale practices don’t happen, they still do. These sales practices are harmful to Canadians and unacceptable. We are taking steps to address this situation and intend to explore additional solutions to ensure Canadians’ interactions with their service providers are carried out in a fair and respectful way.”

Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC

Quick facts

  • In June 2018, the government requested that the CRTC prepare a report on misleading or aggressive retail sales practices by Canada’s large telecommunications service providers.

  • The CRTC proposed a set of best practices for service providers, including that Canadians can obtain recordings or transcripts of their interactions with telecom representatives in a timely manner and at no cost.

  • Mobile wireless service packages at special rates designed to meet the needs of Canadians with disabilities is a best practice that’s in the public interest. The CRTC expects that these discounts are offered in addition to any other offer.

  • Some of the suggestions put forward by the CRTC in the report may require follow-up public proceedings.

  • The Internet Code proceeding was triggered by the increasing number of complaints about Canadians’ contractual relationships with Internet service providers. This proceeding is distinct from the inquiry on misleading or aggressive sales practices, which culminated with the presentation of the report to the government. The Commission will separately consider the submissions in those proceeding.

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