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Bell remains most complained-about service provider in annual report

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A new wireless code put into effect by the Commission for Radio-television and Telecommunication Services (CRTC) may be helping fewer Canadians feel frustration with their wireless service providers, a new report indicates.

The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) released its seventh annual report on Tuesday and for the first time in its history, complaints are on the decline – by 17 per cent, according to the commissioner. But complaints related to understanding contract terms were on the rise.

While the bulk of complaints received by the CCTS are consumer-driven, small to mid-sized businesses do use the outlet as a way to seek resolutions with service providers. ITBusiness.ca has requested business-specific statistics out of the report. Until then, considering what service providers receive the most (or fewest) complaints and what issues are often a point of consternation may be helpful for businesses in a position where they are considering a service provider or advising employees as a part of a bring your own device policy.

Bell Canada received the most complaints out of all service providers, repeating in top spot from last year. Bell’s customers filed 32.2 per cent of all complaints received by the CCTS. It resolved 84.6 per cent of those complaints, lower than the average of 87 per cent that are resolved on average. It also saw more of its complaints escalated to an investigation by the CCTS, with 34 per cent compared to the average of 29 per cent.

Bell was followed by Rogers Communications Inc., with 21 per cent of all complaints. Bell and Rogers subsidiary brand round out third and fourth place – Fido saw nearly eight per cent of all complaints and Virgin Mobile Canada received 7.2 per cent of all complaints. Telus is in fifth place (receiving the least complaints of the “big three” telcos) with 5.8 per cent of all complaints. Smaller regional service providers and new entrants round out the top 10:

Companies following the top 10 include Public Mobile, MTS Inc., Xplornet Internet Services, Shaw, Primus, Sasktel, Cogeco, and Acananc Inc.

When it comes to what most customers were complaining about, billing issues dominated the top 10 list. The good news is that overall, the number of complaints filed with the CCTS is down by 17 per cent since last year – the first time in the commission’s seven-year history that complaints have been in decline. While complaints about incorrect charges were still number one on the list, this topic of complaint was down by almost 17 per cent when compared against last year.

What’s on the rise is complaints about non-disclosure of terms and misleading information about terms, with an almost 75 per cent increase from customers. In its report, the CCTS states it is surprised to see an increase after issuing a warning to both service providers and consumers in its 2013 report. Service providers must ensure they properly inform customers of all necessary information relating to services, the CCTS says, and customers must be careful to review the terms and conditions of contracts.

“A 74 per cent increase is cause for concern,” the report states. “This issue is becoming an increasingly large proportion of all issues raised by customers.”

The bulk of complaints received by the CCTS is in regards to wireless service providers, accounting for more than three-quarters of all complaints. Internet (16.3 per cent), and home phone (six per cent) were the next two most complained-about lines of business.