For a corporation such as Bell, it doesn’t matter if your wife has just passed away: she has an account, so she has to pay. These and similar horror stories and heart-wrenching complaints have been released to the public: All these stories are from Canadian wireless customers, and were recorded between January and August 2013 by the CRTC about telecom companies.
As the CRTC introduced the new Wireless Code in December 2013, the Canadian Press was interested to know what kind of complaints it aims to address – besides the ones we heard about in public debates at the time. While the documents were requested in September 2013, it was not until March 2015 that they received them via Access to Information legislation.
Among the wireless carrier horror stories, we find that telecom players automatically review customers’ contracts without their express consent, customers need to spend many hours attempting to cancel their services, and – an interesting one – mysterious charges from third-party services appear on the phone bill. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another wrote to the CRTC in desperation, accusing Bell of shutting off service for an “unknown reason” and that five calls to the company had failed to resolve the problem.
“Please please help me,” the complainant wrote. “I’m 77 years old and just lost my wife and I need my phone and Bell won’t fix the error that they caused.”
In its response letter to the CRTC, Bell said it had accidentally disconnected the customer’s phone line a week earlier than requested but restored service a few days later. The customer received a $56.44 credit as a good will gesture.
But the carriers have their own version of the story: The carrier asked the husband of the deceased account holder for the identity of the complainant in order to identify the case. As it turns out, the regulator had already sent it to Bell CEO George Cope, so . . .
On the factual side, these are complaints from 2013. Since then, the new Wireless Code has come into force and the number of complaints filed with the CCTS has dropped 17% year-over-year as of the end of 2014.
Still, Bell leads the list, accounting for a third of total complaints, but from the telco’s side this is normal: They are “by far Canada’s largest communications company with more than 21 million customers in every province and territory”, Bell spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis said in an email.