Customer Complaints About Telecoms Are Up 44% In Canada

Incorrect charges and non-disclosure of terms were the two most popular complaints customers had, according to a new federal report.
A possibly Canadian man presumably upset over hidden charges on his phone bill.
Image: Shutterstock

Customer complaints about telecom companies in Canada have increased by 44 percent over the past year, according to a new report by the federal body responsible for handling complaints.

According to the annual mid-year report from the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), a total of 9,831 complaints were accepted between August 2018 and January 31, 2019. According to the report, the top two issues reported by customers were “incorrect charges” and “non-disclosure of terms.”


In February, Canada’s federal telecom regulator—the CRTC—released a report that confirmed “that misleading or aggressive retail sales practices are present in the telecommunications service provider market in Canada.”

The top offender among Canada’s telecom companies according to the report was Bell Canada, which received just over 3,000 complaints, or roughly one-third of the total. Rogers and Telus—two providers that are often referred to, along with Bell, as Canada’s “Big Three”—accounted for less than 1,000 complaints each. Compared to last year’s mid-year report, complaints about provider Cogeco spiked to 790 from 120.

The spike in Cogeco complaints, CCTS Commissioner Howard Maker told the Globe and Mail, was due to a rocky shift to a new customer service system that overwhelmed the company with complaints. “More customers were impacted than anticipated and they [Cogeco] didn’t have the in-house resources to manage all the calls and complaints,” Maker told the paper.

There is a silver lining here, however threadbare: even though telecom complaints rose 44 percent over the last year, that’s actually a slowdown of the trend. The last CCTS mid-year report noted a 73 percent annual increase in complaints between August 2017 and January 31, 2018.

Shady telecom practices are an incalcitrant problem in Canada and the US. The CRTC revised the Wireless Code in December 2017 to make the industry more consumer-friendly and ensure customers can access and understand their contracts. After the latest CCTS report, the regulator is considering additional steps to clamp down on badly-behaving telecoms, Maker told the Toronto Star.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.