Canadians are complaining more about their wireless service

Canada’s complaints watchdog published its annual telecom complaints report


Canada’s telecom complaints department has released its annual complaints report, indicating that telecom complaints are on the rise.

According to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), customers complaints have increased by 11 percent since last year.

However, it’s interesting to note that this is the first increase in three years.

“In last year’s annual report, my message noted a three-year trend of declining complaint volumes, and I offered some thoughts about the possible reasons for the decline,” said Howard Maker, commissioner of the CCTS, in the 2016-2017 report. “So this year, complaint volumes increased by 11 percent. I guess you never know.”

In total, the CCTS received 9,097 complaints from Canadian telecom customers, who raised 18,448 individual issues.

With a total of 3,247 complaints — not including an additional 608 complaints from flanker brand Virgin Mobile — Bell Canada accounted for 35.7 percent of all complaints. Bell accounted for 42.4 percent of all telecom complaints.

“With the highest number of communications customers by far, Bell does tend to receive the highest number of complaints but the results relative to the industry show we’re making progress,” said a Bell spokesperson, in an email to MobileSyrup. “We had the lowest increase in CCTS complaints relative to our major competitors and our overall share of complaints is declining each year.”

Rogers came in second with 1,078 complaints, while Telus received 631 complaints. Rogers flanker brand Fido received 455 complaints, and Telus flanker brand Koodo received 263 complaints.

“Improving our customers’ experience is a key priority for us. Over the past five years, our CCTS complaints have gone down over 70 percent, but this is an ongoing effort and we have more work to do,” said a Rogers spokesperson in an email statement to MobileSyrup.

…the CCTS addressed 18,448 individual issues.

The CCTS was able to address 8,641 complaints, resolving 6,510 before an investigation and resolving 1,336 after an investigation.

Of those 9,097 complaints, the CCTS addressed 3,111 alleged wireless code breaches. Interestingly enough, of those alleged breaches, only 86 cases were actual breaches.

Independently, Rogers led the pack for actual breaches, with 25 confirmed cases. Bell had 19 confirmed cases, while Telus had 17 confirmed breaches.

However, including flanker brands, Telus (and Koodo) had 28 total confirmed breaches, Rogers (and Fido) had 27 breaches, while Bell (and Virgin) had 22 confirmed wireless code breaches.

Ontarians complained the most, submitting 46.2 percent of all telecom complaints.

“While we have seen a small increase in complaints year-over-year, Telus continues to have the fewest complaints of any national carrier, a position we have maintained for the last six years through a relentless focus on putting our customers first,” said a Telus spokesperson, in an email to MobileSyrup.

“However, we still have work to do, and that to improve, we need to continue to listen carefully to our customers. We welcome this kind of feedback, and will continue to learn from the CCTS report and its findings. Our commitment to making customers our top priority will not charge, and we’re embracing new ideas that will make the Telus experience better, every day.”

Freedom had six breaches and Quebec-regional carrier Videotron had no confirmed breaches.

A closer look at the issues

While Canadians filed 9,097 complaints, the CCTS broke down those general complaints into individual issues.

In fact, the CCTS addressed 18,448 individual issues. Of those, 8,543 were wireless issues, 5,763 were internet issues, 3,766 were phone issues, while 376 were “other” issues.

The CCTS report identified that billing and contract dispute issues were the leading cause of complaints.

For instance, Canadians raised 3,826 wireless billing and 2,156 internet billing issues between 2016 and 2017. Canadians also raised 2,907 wireless contract disputes and 2,009 internet contract disputes.

A strange paradigm also emerged in this year’s report.

“Although wireless continues to be the area about which consumers raise the most concerns — accounting for 46 percent of all issues raised this year — the proportion of all issues raised that relate to wireless actually declined for a third straight year,” reads an excerpt from the report.

The CCTS identified incorrect charges as being the most issues identified, with 2,333 incorrect charge issues. Interestingly enough, the least issues identified were data charges, with only 609 data charge issues.

Complaint resolution

The CCTS reported that it was able to resolve 91 percent of all complaints, with 85 percent of all complaints getting resolved within 40 days or fewer. Additionally, 74 percent of all complaints received some form of dispensation, with an average amount of $267 CAD.

Of Bell’s 3,247 complaints, the company was able to resolve 90.3 percent. Rogers accepted 1,078 complaints, and resolved 89.9 percent. Telus accepted 631 complaints, and resolved 88.4 percent.

The CCTS was able to address 8,641 complaints…

Ontarians complained the most, submitting 46.2 percent of all telecom complaints. Quebec came in second, with 27.5 percent of all complaints, while B.C. and Alberta placed third and fourth with 10.3 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

The Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories contributed 0.1 percent of all complaints, while the people of Nunavut complained the least, with 0.0 percent of all complaints.

For his part, CCTS Commission Howard Maker expressed confidence in his agency’s work.

“Through our Code administration work and our detailed statistical analysis of complaints and the issues that underpin them, we provide important information for all parties to better under the issues that confront customers, and to allow the regulator the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the consumer safeguards in the marketplace,” said Maker, in a November 28th, 2017 CCTS media release.

“All of this, together with our professional and empathic approach to problem-solving, supports the goal of a telecom market that works effectively for all participants.”

To read the full CCTS complaints report, click here.

Update 28/11/17: Included additional information, as well as comments from Canadian carriers.

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