Consumer complaints over telecom and Internet services dropped 17 per cent in 2013-2014, the first annual decline since establishment of Canada’s independent complaints commissioner in 2007, the organization says in its annual report.
“Many of our participating service providers are making efforts to do better in the way they provide their services to their customers and the way they work with customers when things go wrong,” said Howard Maker, the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications services.
The CCTS in a release Tuesday said it received 11,340 customer complaints in 2013-14 and resolved 87 per cent to the satisfaction of both customer and service provider.
It accepted 13,692 complaints in 2012-2013, then the sixth straight year of rising consumer dissatisfaction, largely over cell contracts viewed as restrictive and overly complex.
The commission attributed this year’s turnaround to improvements in customer service after some carriers moved to reduce roaming charges and eliminate contract cancellation fees among other consumer friendly measures.
B.C.-based Telus, for example says it had implemented many of the provisions of a pending mandatory wireless code before the standard was applied to service providers beginning in December 2013.
The wireless code mandated contracts of less than three years for cellphone services, with the shorter handset amortization periods contributing to a 3.2 per cent increase in the average monthly bill for cable and telecom services last year.
“The question is whether these results . . . represent the beginning of a trend,” Maker said.
“From our examination of other statistics we are cautiously optimistic that the industry as a whole is becoming more focused on customer issues and on how it addresses customer problems.
And we are likewise optimistic that our efforts to drive positive change in the industry are bearing fruit.”
The report said Bell Canada was the most complained about service provider in 2013-14 as it was in the previous year.
Among six leading telecoms Bell accounted for 32.20 per cent of the total, followed by Rogers Communications at 20.98 per cent and its Fido brand at 7.98 per cent.
Virgin Mobile Canada under parent Bell Mobility was next at 7.19 per cent, followed by Telus at 5.76 per cent and Wind Mobile at 4.5 per cent.
And despite a decline in the total number of complaints received, the report said those related to non-disclosure and misleading contract terms and conditions shot up by 74 per cent from last year.
Many customers said they had not received all information on which services would incur additional fees.