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Consumers complain most about TV services to Canada's telecom watchdog

TORONTO – One of Canada’s telecom watchdogs received more consumer complaints about TV than any other service, even though television isn’t the agency’s responsibility.

The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services received 8,678 complaints about TV issues between Aug. 1, 2015, and July 31 of this year, the CCTS says in its annual report.

That’s up 19 per cent from 7,294 similar concerns during the same period a year prior.

But TV complaints won’t fall under the CCTS’s mandate until next September when it will begin to assess, accept and help resolve consumer beefs about these services.

CCTS communications officer Alyssa Esposito said in an email that the watchdog will only accept and review any TV complaints it receives on or after Sept. 1 next year.

Currently, the CCTS can only address complaints about cellphone, land line, Internet and long-distance (including prepaid calling cards) services, as well as operator services, directory assistance and white pages directories.

The watchdog says it accepted 8,197 individual complaints, which addressed an average of 1.9 issues each. That’s an 18 per cent decrease from the year prior.

Altogether, it dealt with 7,931 issues about wireless, 4,177 issues about Internet and 3,086 issues about local phone services.

Billing was the No. 1 consumer grievance in each of the three categories.

However, the CCTS commissioner and CEO Howard Maker said in a statement that the watchdog is also concerned about a rise in objections over 30-day cancellation policies and charges after services have been cancelled.

Companies are prohibited from demanding customers provide 30 days’ notice to stop their wireless or Internet service. However, this year, the CCTS received 386 complaints about this practice from wireless customers (a decrease of 14.4 per cent from the year prior) and 399 complaints from Internet customers (an increase of 54.7 per cent).

Maker said the CCTS will continue to monitor these grievances and collaborate with stakeholders on ensuring clarity and fairness for customers.

The largest number of all accepted complaints were registered against Bell (35.9 per cent), followed by Rogers (10.5 per cent) and Telus (seven per cent). Freedom Mobile, the company formerly known as Wind Mobile, and Virgin Mobile both represented 6.1 per cent.

This represented a decrease in the number of complaints for each company except Telus, which received 22.3 per cent more complaints against its services.

The CCTS said 89 per cent of the complaints it handled were resolved to customer satisfaction.