Bell, Rogers, Shaw deliver testimony on final day of CRTC telecom sales hearings

All three carriers addressed allegations of aggressive or misleading telecom sales practices

ACT joins PIAC in boycotting CRTC hearing

Calgary-based regional service provider Shaw, Toronto-based national service provider Rogers and Montreal-based national service provider Bell concluded the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) hearings into allegations of unsavoury telecom sales practices by delivering approximately seven non-consecutive hours of testimony on October 26th, 2018.

Shaw wants expanded door-to-door protections

Shaw’s testimony spanned approximately two hours and reiterated a number of points the service provider made in earlier CRTC submissions, including the contention that any new rules should be proportionate to the harm allegedly caused by service provider sales practices.

However, Shaw representatives used their appearance before the Commission to introduce the argument that the use of third-party home sales representatives is the “greatest vulnerability for consumers.”

“Companies that use third-parties to conduct their door-to-door sales activities have less oversight or accountability,” said Sanae Takahashi, vice president of product and customer management at Shaw.

“We are asking the Commission to address the risks and consequences of aggressive or misleading sales practices…inherent to door-to-door sales” — Paul Cowling, Shaw vice president of legal and regulatory affairs

Shaw explained that it only uses first-party representatives to conduct door-to-door activities, suggesting that the Commission establish a “prohibition on third-party door-to-door sales.”

“We are asking the Commission to address the risk and consequences of aggressive or misleading sales practices that are inherent to door-to-door sales,” said Paul Cowling, Shaw’s vice president of legal and regulatory affairs.

Telus, one of Shaw’s direct competitors in some of Canada’s largest markets, defended its use of door-to-door agents during an October 25th, 2018 appearance before the Commission.

Bell proposes five-point plan to address unsavoury telecom sales

Bell representatives used a roughly three-hour-long appearance to introduce and defend a five-point proposal arguing against calls to legislate a new code of conduct governing unsavoury telecom sales practices.

Representatives from the Montreal-based service provider repeatedly argued that the proposal would apply to all service providers.

The carrier proposed new rules that would require all promotional and product offers are easy-to-understand; a 30-day cooling off period to allow subscribers to cancel wireline services, including internet and television; the implementation of a ‘do-not-knock’ list to prevent service providers from disturbing homes that are on the list; a requirement that customers receive written confirmation within 24 hours when they sign up for a service; and whistleblower protections for telecom employees to report unacceptable behaviour without recourse.

Bell’s 30-day cooling off period proposal wouldn’t apply to wireless services, however, as the CRTC’s Wireless Code already allows for a 15-day trial period with no cancellation fees.

Bell also reiterated its stance that there is no systemic unsavoury telecom sales practice problem.

Bell not only broke the record for the longest proceeding of the week, but also generated the largest number of undertakings for additional information.

Bell has until November 1st, 2018 to respond to the CRTC’s nine undertaking requests, and will need to provide answers on subjects ranging from the percentage of an average sales employee’s take-home pay to the churn rate for wireline services over the last five years.

Rogers responds to TekSavvy’s allegations

Whereas the other members of Canada’s big three telecom service providers — Bell and Telus — broke records and actively defended controversial sales practices, Rogers’s own testimony was  restrained in comparison.

Representatives restated the carrier’s stance that there’s no need for a new sales code of conduct, while once again stating the belief that there is no unsavoury telecom sales problem in Canada.

The carrier also used its appearance to refute TekSavvy’s claims that incumbent service providers sometimes try to poach customers during hardware installations.

Rogers senior vice president of regulatory, David Watt, explained that service technicians do not sell products.

Watt did concede, however, one particular case where a service technician attempted to sell a Rogers product during a hardware installation.

“In once case, it looks like we were at fault” — David Watt, Rogers senior vice president of regulatory

“In one case, it looks like we were at fault,” said Watt.

“They felt they were helping us because they were employed by us.”

When MobileSyrup originally reported on TekSavvy’s October 24th, 2018 appearance before the Commission, a Rogers spokesperson pointed out that the carrier previously used a September 14th, 2018 submission to the CRTC to specifically address TekSavvy’s claims.

Now that the CRTC’s hearings have concluded, all groups and organizations that delivered testimony have until November 1st, 2018 to submit responses to any undertakings assigned over the course of the past week.

All organizations who submitted testimony have until November 9th, 2018 to submit final replies in the CRTC’s proceedings.

The CRTC has until February 28th, 2019 to submit a report to government regarding any findings, results and recommendations as a result of the investigation into allegations of misleading or aggressive telecom sales practices.

Update 26/10/2018 9:11pm ET: Story updated to reflect that the Rogers spokesperson directed MobileSyrup to the carrier’s September 14th, 2018 CRTC submission.