Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Information
Technology, May 2008
On December 20, 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC), granted conditional
approval to a newly-established telecommunications consumer
agency known as the Commissioner for Complaints for
Telecommunications Services (the CCTS).
The CCTS is an independent agency with a mandate to receive,
to facilitate the resolution of, and, if necessary, resolve
eligible consumer and small business complaints relating to
certain retail telecommunications services offered by CCTS
members. Examples of services addressed by the CCTS are: local
telephone services, including calling features, long distance
telephone services, wireless telephone services, and Internet
access services. CCTS is a non-profit corporation funded by,
but completely independent of, Telecommunications Service
Providers (the TSPs). TSPs that have become members have agreed
to abide by CCTS policy in resolving complaints.
When the CCTS was established, membership in the CCTS was
voluntary and open to any entity providing retail
telecommunications services in Canada. However, the CRTC has
since required that all TSPs with annual Canadian
telecommunications services revenues exceeding C$10-million are
required to become members by February 1, 2008. The current
CCTS members are: Bell Aliant Regional Communications LP; Bell
Canada; Cogeco Cable Canada Inc.; Eastlink, MTS Allstream Inc.;
Rogers Communications Inc.; Saskatchewan Telecommunications;
Telus Communications Company; Videotron Ltd.; Virgin Mobile
Canada; and Vonage Canada Corporation.
If a consumer has had difficulty resolving a complaint with
a TSP that is a CCTS member, the CCTS may be asked to help. If
the CCTS determines that the TSP in question has not reasonably
performed its obligations towards the consumer, the
Commissioner may order the TSP to do certain things to resolve
the complaint, within the bounds of the CCTS Procedural
Code. This service is offered at no cost to consumers.
All complaints to the CCTS must be made in writing, either
through mail, fax or by completing the online complaint form
found on the CCTS Web site. The CCTS may proceed through four
stages of complaint resolution, if the complaint falls within
the scope of CCTS' mandate. These stages are as
CCTS staff receives and assesses eligibility of the
If the complaint is eligible, the staff will forward a
copy of the complaint to the TSP member with a resolution
response, with a copy to the complainant. The TSP member is
granted 20 business days to address the proposed
If the complainant indicates after the 20 business day
period that the complaint remains unresolved, the CCTS staff
will investigate and make a non-binding recommendation to the
complainant and the TSP for the resolution of the complaint.
The TSP member may challenge the complaint.
If either the complainant or the TSP member rejects the
CCTS recommendation and the complaint remains unresolved 20
business days following the date of the recommendation, then
the Commissioner will render a decision that becomes binding
on the TSP if the complainant accepts it. The complainant may
reject the decision and pursue redress elsewhere; however, if
the complainant accepts the decision, he/she must sign a
release. Decisions (accepted or not) will be publicly
available indicating the TSP's identity, but not the
identity of the complainant.
If the Commissioner determines that the TSP did not act
reasonably pursuant to the applicable contract, then he or she
may recommend that the TSP:
provide the complainant with an explanation or apology;
undertake to do or cease doing specified activities with
respect to the complainant; and/or
pay the complainant monetary compensation in an amount
not to exceed C$1,000 in the aggregate in relation to any one
complaint or combined related complaints. Amounts to be
refunded or credited to the complainant as a result of
billing errors do not constitute monetary compensation and
would not be subject to the above compensation limits.
The Commissioner may order any of the remedies available at
the non-binding recommendation stage, subject to any applicable
contractual limitations of liability.
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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