Telecom complaints dip, but not because of carrier awesomeness

The CRTC’s Wireless Code is the more likely culprit for fewer problems with wireless service.

telecom complaints

Telecom Complaints:

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So the number of telecom complaints in Canada is down. Everything is peachy, right?

Well, no. Not exactly.

The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services – it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? – on Wednesday announced the latest batch of what has Canadian phone and internet users ticked off.

The agency accepted 9,988 complaints in the year ended July 31, from 11,340 during the previous 12 months, a 12-per-cent decline. Leading the charge were fewer complaints about wireless service, which accounted for 52 per cent of the total, down from 60 per cent.

Canadian wireless carriers are sure to break out the bubbly early, before New Year’s Eve, in celebration of their awesomeness. Oh wait, here’s Telus already doing so.

CCTS commissioner Howard Maker was equally quick to rain on that parade.

“To draw the straight line to say fewer complaints equals better service, or a better company, that’s a bit of a stretch,” he told the National Post.

“We don’t know what the big issues are because maybe (providers) resolve all or most of them. We don’t know what’s going on in their shop other than what we see. We just have the stuff that came to us, and that’s all we can talk about.”

Much of the credit for the decline must go to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Wireless Code it implemented in 2013. The code outlawed certain behaviours, such as charging early termination fees after 24 months, and limited others, like roaming fees.

The spelling out of specific no-no’s has as much to do, if not more, with the continual decline in CCTS complaints as any of the carriers’ steps in improving customer service. Carriers simply can’t get away with as much as they used to. Sorry guys, you’re just not as awesome as you think you are.

The consumer watchdogs over at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre also point out there’s a bit of a whack-a-mole going on, with the number of internet service complaints increasing. Those climbed to more than 5,000 from 3,315 last year, a 52-per-cent increase.

“Canadians rely more and more on their internet connection – so it is disturbing that complaints against ISPs have shot up” said PIAC executive director John Lawford in a statement. “The internet service industry should consider its practices and the CRTC should consider an Internet Code like the Wireless Code.”

That’s a pretty good idea.

The overall decrease in complaints is also going to be short lived as the CCTS will soon be adding TV services to its mandate. That’s going to be a pretty big mole to whack.

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