1. I am having a problem with my telecom service. Can you help me?
We probably can. If:
- you are a consumer or small business person (i.e. your monthly telecom bill is normally under $2,500), and
- your complaint is about deregulated local phone service (including white page directories, operator services or directory assistance), long distance service, wireless, internet access, or any combination, and
- the company from whom you receive your service (your “provider”) participates in CCTS,then you are eligible to file a complaint with us.
2. How do I complain to CCTS?
Filing a complaint is easy. The fastest and most effective way is by using our online complaint form. Using this form ensures that we get all the necessary information about you and your complaint the first time. This will allow us to process your complaint right away. Be sure to check out our Guide to Filing a Complaint.
3. Are there some telecom complaints you can’t deal with?
Yes. We cannot accept complaints about services that are regulated by the CRTC. Also, other expert bodies are in place to deal with certain types of complaints. For example, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada deals with complaints about privacy; the Competition Bureau deals with issues like false or misleading advertising; the National Do Not Call List deals with unwanted telemarketing calls. For more information about exclusions from our mandate, click here.
4. I think my provider charges way too much for its services. Can you look into this?
Our mandate is to determine whether the provider has complied with its obligations to you under its Terms of Service and internal policies and procedures. The amount that your provider charges for the services it delivers is a business decision that it alone is entitled to make. Marketplace competition means that you may find a better deal with another provider.
5. Are you a government department?
No, we are a private, not-for-profit corporation incorporated under federal legislation. We receive no taxpayer money – and we do not seek any.
6. So how are your operations funded?
The CRTC, Canada’s telecom regulator, ordered all providers to participate in CCTS and to provide its funding. Industry funding is typical for “ombudsman” type organizations like ours, both in Canada and around the world.
7. How can I expect you to treat me fairly when you are funded by the very company I am?
That’s a fair question. We have put in place a number of specific measures to ensure that we are independent of the industry and thus can treat you fairly. Among those measures are:
- Independent directors, who have no connection to the industry, make up a majority on our Board of Directors. In fact, two (of four) are nominated by consumer groups;
- The independent directors control certain key Board functions, including the appointment of the Commissioner;
- The Commissioner, who makes the final decision on the outcome of complaints, is required to be independent of the industry, thus ensuring the unbiased and impartial review of complaints; and
- Our Procedural Code provides procedural fairness for both customers and providers alike.
8. How much does it cost to file a complaint?
There is no charge for filing a complaint.
9. What happens when I file a complaint?
We will review it to determine whether it falls within our mandate. If so, we will send a copy to your provider, and will give the provider 30 days to contact you and try to resolve it. If it remains unresolved, we will assign it to a member of our staff who will collect all necessary information and documentation from you and the provider. We will use all of this material to propose a resolution that we think is reasonable in the circumstances. If the complaint still remains unresolved, we will use the investigation we have done to:
- Close the file, either because we have determined that the complaint is without merit, or because the provider has made what we believe to be a reasonable settlement offer; or
- Make a Recommendation for its resolution.
10. What steps can you take to resolve my problem?
Our most important tool is the ability to have a provider fix a problem. For example, we have required providers to fix billing errors, to restore service that has been suspended or cancelled, to cease collection activity and to correct improper reporting to credit bureaus, to provide credits for service not received, etc. We have asked providers to give their customer an explanation or an apology. Finally, in appropriate cases, we have required providers to give customers monetary compensation for certain losses that they incurred, or inconvenience that they experienced, as a result of the events leading up to the complaint . The scope of our ability to fashion a remedy is really quite broad.
11. How long does the process take?
The actual time required to handle a complaint will vary based on a number of factors, including:
- The current volume of complaints and available investigative resources;
- The complexity of the case or the number of issues to be resolved, particularly if we need to consult with outside experts;
- The degree of cooperation we receive from the customer and the service provider; and
- Any delays resulting from unsuccessful efforts at resolution during the course of the investigation.
For more details please see our Performance Standards.
12. How do you decide whether to tell the provider to fix my problem?
13. What is a Recommendation?
When we investigate a complaint but cannot “mediate” a resolution, we may make a Recommendation. We write to you and the provider, detailing our analysis of the complaint and recommending the resolution that we believe is appropriate. Both you and the provider have 20 days to consider whether or not to accept the Recommendation. If both accept it, the matter is considered resolved. If either you or the provider rejects it, we expect you to write to us and explain your reasons for rejecting it. We will then issue a Decision.
14. What is a Decision?
A Decision is the final position of our office in connection with the complaint. The Commissioner will review the reasons for the rejection of the Recommendation, and will then issue a Decision. The Commissioner may maintain the Recommendation, or may modify or change it. You are not required to accept the Decision if you disagree with it. If you accept it, it becomes binding on the service provider and must be implemented. If you reject it, the provider is not required to carry it out. You retain all of the usual legal rights and remedies and are free to pursue them. Either way, let us know within 20 days.
15. What will you expect from me when I file a complaint?
- After we accept your complaint, we send it to your provider. The provider will contact you to make a further attempt to resolve the complaint. We expect you to make a good faith effort to do so;
- The provider should copy you on the response it sends us about your complaint. If the provider tells us that the complaint is resolved, but you do not agree, let us know right away;
- We will need your full and prompt response for information or documents related to your complaint;
- We expect you to give reasonable consideration to any proposed solutions that we may bring to you during the course of our review of the complaint;
- If we make a Recommendation or Decision, to communicate your response to us within the prescribed time lines.
16. How do you use my personal information and what safeguards are h2 protect my privacy?
We use your personal information in order to help resolve your complaint. When we obtain your information, we enter it into our case management system and share it with your provider so that the provider can work with you and with us to resolve your dispute.
We may also use the details of your complaint to prepare reports or statistics to the public and to participating service providers. However, none of your personal information will be used.
We will not use or disclose your personal information for any other purpose without your prior consent unless otherwise required or permitted by law.
We have a number of safeguards in place to help protect your privacy and your personal information. Our case management system is password protected and encrypted using RSA 256 bit encryption. Our online complaint form is also encrypted using RSA 256 bit encryption to ensure the secure transfer of your information. We maintain appropriate security with respect to our offices and information storage facilities.
17. Will the details of my complaint be public?
No. Our process is designed to maintain your privacy. We do not publicize your complaint or discuss it with anyone other than you and your provider (unless we need to speak to a witness, or an adviser). We are required to publish our Decisions, and you will find them here. However, when we do so we name the provider involved in the complaint, but we remove all information that may identify you.
18. Does CCTS record telephone calls?
Yes. CCTS records incoming calls to its toll-free telephone number as well as direct incoming and outgoing telephone calls involving our Complaints Resolution Officers for quality monitoring and training purposes only. While information shared by you over the phone with our staff may be used to assist in the handling of your complaint, our recorded calls are strictly used for the purpose of improving our service and not for complaint-handling activities.