A CRTC public inquiry into unethical sales tactics by Canada’s telecom companies has started to reveal an inside look into how our Big 3 carriers and employees work to land sales. The inquiry seeks input from customers, plus current and former employees of telcos, with August 30th as the deadline to file a submission on public record.
CBC Go Public spoke with former Rogers and Bell employees, who shared some alarming sales tactics, such as one inquiry made by 22-year old Idris Ali, an ex-Bell Canada call centre employee:
“We were unknowingly lying to customers,” says Ali, who outlines in his submission to the CRTC that managers didn’t explain that what he believed was a free 30-day trial for something called “Fibe Alt TV” was only free if the customer ended up keeping the service. If they cancelled within the free period, they would be charged.
“Most of us would not have sold that if we knew that people were being charged for it,” says Ali. “But that was never mentioned until we asked [a manager].”
According to Ali, he claims he was threatened by Bell he would be fired if he told customers it was OK to cancel Alt TV. He also said for every customer who paid $60 activation and installation fees, he would earn a $5 commission.
The alleged “toxic” work environment meant he would show up late for work or not at all, which resulted in him getting terminated after six months.
Senior manager of media relations for Bell Canada, Vanessa Damha, responded to the allegations to say, “Our representatives are trained to make clear … that a credit of $14.95 would be applied to a customer’s next monthly bill if they sign up for Alt TV.”
She says Ali did receive coaching after a customer complained about the Alt TV fee, adding, “We do not believe most service providers would simply offer a promotional price to an existing customer. Promotions are obviously an effort to attract new business.”
Former Rogers Employee Says Manager Told Workers to Lie to Seniors
Former Rogers employee, Anuj Taxali, claims in his CRTC submission he was told to lie to seniors by his former manager, in an effort to sell more expensive phone plans.
“Our store manager said ‘Pay As You Go’ wasn’t very profitable and didn’t contribute to our sales targets,” writes Taxali, who said his store manager hid prepaid pamphlets out of view, to instead target customers on higher-priced $50-60 plans with data.
“We wanted to sell clients what they really needed, and we were told ‘Don’t do that, sell something more expensive so we can make some money,'” added Taxali. After two months on the job (updated), he was fired for not meeting sales targets.
Rogers’ senior director of public affairs, Paula Lash, told CBC Go Public Taxali’s claims “do not represent our values or sales practices, and if an instance arises where we can do better we will work with our team to make it right.”
The CRTC has received over 550 online submissions from Canadians to share their sales experiences with telecom companies. The online submission process has been deemed confusing and complex for people looking to participate.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre says it wanted the CRTC to protect employees participating, to ensure they wouldn’t face legal consequences from their submissions.
“It concerns me that a lot of current and former employees won’t give any testimony, or will only give part,” says PIAC executive directorJohn Lawford. “And that’s not the way to change the culture of sales in companies and lead to public trust in the industry again.”
Are you a current or former employee from a large telecom company who could inform us about aggressive or misleading sales practices? We want to hear from you too: https://t.co/u8QPOXRqtU pic.twitter.com/x1kHoiOWPM
— CRTCeng (@CRTCeng) August 23, 2018
The public hearing for this inquiry is set to take place in Gatineau, Quebec, beginning on October 22, 2018.
Update: this story was updated to reflect these were former Rogers employees, with Anuj being let go after two months–and not six as originally stated.