TekSavvy to CRTC: Our Customers Affected by “Misleading” Incumbent Sales Practices [u]

Earlier this week, Internet reseller, TekSavvy, presented to the CRTC panel regarding sales tactics of Canada’s incumbent telecos.

According to Janet Lo, VP Privacy & Consumer Legal Affairs, TekSavvy, she says the company “believes in doing what is right for our customers and strives to treat consumers fairly and honestly.”

TekSavvy says it achieves this by advertising the best price possible, transparent both to their consumers and the marketplace. The company also does not use sales incentives or targets for employees for completing sales.

According to Lo, TekSavvy has a “unique perspective” as it is a wholesale-based service provider, while it is also impacted by the sales practices of incumbent competitors.

For TekSavvy, they claim major telcos take advantage of wholesale transactions because installations are usually completed by incumbent installers. It is at this point in time where installers are able to use this opportunity to “mislead and inappropriately poach TekSavvy’s end-user to the incumbent’s retail services” inside a customer’s home.

For consumers, TekSavvy believes they are “harmed where unfair pressure is used to complete a sale or upsell, where misleading or false statements about competitors are used to win a customer, or where consumers experience unsolicited sales in their own home when they are expecting service installation or repair.”

Lo concluded the competitive marketplace is “distorted” and wholesale-based companies are harmed based on incumbent installers and their interactions with customers at installation points.

TekSavvy concludes, “incumbents have a conflict of interest when they control wholesale inputs, including dispatching technicians to install service for a wholesale-based provider’s customer, and they compete with their wholesale customers for the same retail customer.”

Shaw and Rogers had their turn to respond to the CRTC this morning. Bell is responding as we speak. More to come on responses from incumbents later.

Update: A Rogers spokesperson emailed iPhone in Canada to note the company’s reply to TekSavvy’s allegations, which they call “simply untrue”. The full response by Rogers to the CRTC and TekSavvy can be read below:

V. Unsubstantiated TekSavvy Allegations

42. Another issue that Rogers is compelled to address in this reply is the unsubstantiated claim made by TekSavvy that Rogers’ technicians (i.e. those who perform installs and repairs) are making sales offers to TekSavvy customers when those technicians are carrying out their work. For the record, the allegations are simply untrue. None of our technicians are permitted to make any sales offers or make statements about competitors when they are installing or repairing facilities. Nor do we provide any incentive to a technician to encourage a customer to switch carriers.

43. Significantly, TekSavvy failed to provide any actual evidence of these transgressions as part of its submission. Instead, it merely makes allegations about Rogers that are anecdotal and lack any verifiable facts. Such baseless claims were also directed at Rogers by TekSavvy regarding its high-speed access (HSA) service in Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2017-49. In that proceeding, Rogers demonstrated that the claims made by TekSavvy were untrue. The Commission found in Telecom Decision CRTC 2018-123 that the evidence presented by TekSavvy was inadequate noting “that there is insufficient evidence on the record of this proceeding to justify imposing an RRP on wholesale HSA service providers at this time.”12 Further, the Commission determined “that it would be premature at this time to establish a formal mechanism to address instances of wholesale HSA service providers not meeting competitor service quality standards”13 indicating that the Commission rejected TekSavvy’s unsubstantiated claims of low quality of service.

44. In addition, TekSavvy’s allegations regarding our technicians fall outside the scope of TBNC 2018-246. If TekSavvy wants to raise concerns about technician sales practices, TekSavvy has numerous avenues to bring them to the Commission’s attention. To do so would contravene Rogers’ directives and CRTC Customer Services Group (CSG) safeguards as first established in Telecom Decision CRTC 92-12. Every Rogers technician is graded on a scorecard for their interactions with both wholesale HSA and Rogers customers. The scorecard, which is used in the performance review of each and every technician, does not differentiate between wholesale HSA and Rogers. They include performance objective metrics for wholesale HSA-related work as a means to ensure the same high quality of service for our wholesale HSA customers. Further, there are process measures which deter technicians to upsell wholesale HSA customers. Specifically, wholesale HSA customer accounts are clearly identified as TPIA and as such, are not eligible for sales performance incentives (i.e. upselling).