The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) just published the results of its 2016 public awareness survey, and the results are underwhelming.
Only 20 percent of the 2,011 survey respondents said they were aware of the government agency, which is designed to protect the interests of Canadian telecom customers. That number increased to 27 percent for those who had an unresolved complaint with a telecom company. 49 percent, however, said that they believed there was consumer recourse available in the event of an unresolved complaint.
Additionally, the survey revealed that few respondents reported learning about CCTS from their telecom provider, which are legally required to make information available about CCTS at defined points in their complaints-handling process. Instead, those who knew about the CCTS had more likely heard about it from media reports, online activities and word of mouth.
Lacklustre as these results are, CCTS wrote that they were not unexpected. The survey makes the point that general awareness of ombudsmen is often low, and compares itself to the U.K.’s communications regulator, which registered consumer awareness at eight percent in its most recent data.
CCTS admits, however, that Australia’s telecommunications ombudsman reached an all-time awareness level of 57 percent in 2012, far outstripping CCTS’ level.
“The key distinction between the Australian and Canadian environments is that Australia has an elaborate Ombudsman system for a variety of industries, and Australians have a long history of turning to Ombudsman offices for redress,” states CCTS, adding, “This history is absent in Canada.”
Ultimately, CCTS says it agrees with Canada’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, which also has low public awareness and recently stated in the results of an independent evaluation: “Awareness for the sake of it should not be the focus; besides, it is typically ineffective.”
Instead, it says, it will continue to focus on, “making information available and easy for consumers to find when they encounter a problem and actually need the Ombudsman’s help.”