HAVE YOUR SAY: CRTC investigation into unethical sales practices of Canada’s largest telecos

As you may already know, on July 16 of this year, CRTC finally launched an investigation into the unethical, aggressive and potentially misleading retail sales practices of some of Canada’s largest Telecos. This comes after CBC’s Go Public pursued a story last and received over 200 reports from employees and over 800 complaints from customers over the retail sales tactics used by the Big 3 of Canada’s telecom providers (Bell, Rogers and Telus). This was followed by calls to the CRTC by customer advocacy groups such as Public Interest Advocacy Center and even by the federal cabinet to pursue the issue raised by the complainants. Hence, the CRTC has now invited customers as well as former and current employees to participate in the public enquiry. Submissions are open until August 31, 2018 and the public hearing on the matter is scheduled for October 22, 2018 at Ottawa.

 

Customers complain loudest:

 

As of the time of this writing, CRTC has received upwards of 700 complaints on public record. The vast majority of these complaints have been by customers who have had to face the brunt of the unethical practices employed by these companies. Here are some of the most common complaints submitted:

 

Misleading information about plan price, contract term, discount being offered etc..

 

Customers have complained about being misled as to the final price of the plan, the term of the contract, the details of the discount offered and the fact that employees fraudulently add-on services that were never requested and the customer get stuck needing to foot the bill for the unwanted services or pay hefty cancellation charges.

 

As CBC’s Go public reports, employees at Bell and Rogers are regularly either deliberately misinformed about the discounts that they are being asked to push or told to lie in order to close a sale. So it is no surprise that customers have these problems.

 

Contract details never set out in writing in advance:

 

Another major peeve reported by customers is the fact that companies authorise their salespeople or 3rd party contractors to make oral offers either over the phone or during door-to-door sales calls but never set those terms in writing before the customer has signed up for the service and belatedly discovers the hidden charges that he was never told about. Customers have reported specifically asking for a written quote for the services being offered to them and being refused on the grounds that a contract would only be sent to them after the customer accepts the service or offer.

 

Upselling to seniors:

 

Another troubling complaint that has repeatedly been made has been about the predatory practices that telecoms employ against seniors and other vulnerable groups such as students and others on limited budgets looking for a deal within their budget and suitable for their limited needs. Report after report from customers details how telecoms deliberately hide their cheapest plans and instead sell their most expensive plans to these groups in the interest of their own profit.

 

Bill-Shock and refusal to correct billing mistakes:

 

In addition to the well-covered issue of bill shock that customers face when they think they have signed up for a particular service but report receiving a bill totally disproportionate to their expectations and usage, one of the most frustrating problems that customers report is companies refusal to correct a billing issue once reported. Thus people report receiving an acknowledgment from the company that a mistake was made and then either never receiving a refund for the over billed amount or the same mistake being made over and over on every bill thus necessitating endless recurring calls to customer service to get the same mistake corrected over and over again.

 

At PlanHub, the customer comes first:

It was exactly these issues that Canadians have always faced with telecom providers that prompted us to start PlanHub. At PlanHub we help you make informed decisions about your telecom needs by providing an easy and effective way to compare prices and features being offered in your province across multiple service providers. So you always know the best deal available at any given moment to suit your needs.

On PlanHub.ca, you can optimise your results not only by the upfront monthly cost of the plan, but also for the overall price of the plan over two years. So, you can verify whether that plan you are offered with $0 down for the device is actually the best deal on the market.

 

PlanHub also allows you to customise your search for exactly your needs – be it data or calling and texting minutes. So that you are always in charge of your own requirements and when you go to the company to sign up for the plan, you know the exact plan you are going for and not allow yourself to be confused by a potentially unethical sales agent. Also, by clicking on the details button of any plan, you will see all of the plan details in one view so that you know exactly what you are signing up for and won’t be shocked next time you get your bill. Because, at PlanHub we believe that transparency is the best policy.

 

And to help you avoid bill shock and overage fees and to help you be in even greater control of your own plan, PlanHub is working on an exciting new Invoice Feature. Shhh…we can’t talk about it too much while it is still in development, but sign up for our alerts here and we will ensure that you will be amongst the first to know when this exciting new feature rolls out!

 

So try out our search engine at Planhub.ca, sign up for our alerts or chat with us on facebook messenger and start finding your best deals with us in under 10 seconds.

And remember, if you want to contribute to the ongoing public consultation by the CRTC and have your story heard in the ongoing struggle by Canadians everywhere to take back control over their telecom market, the deadline for submissions to the CRTC is August 30, 2018! So click here to have your voice heard !!

1 comment

  • Audie Armorer

    The unethical, aggressive and potentially misleading retail sales practices of ALL of Canada’s largest Telcos are a result of their desire and unbridled willingness to ‘outsource’ this sales practice to third party representatives . Having been employed by major telco suppliers over the years .I too was surprised when employed by a third party (PCS) to sell Bell FIBE services around 2015 . The job involved soliciting at major retail locations in Ottawa on behalf to the Bell fibe services to potential clients based upon Bell’s ability to reach those clients in that geographical area of the retailer. Yes the practice involved ‘hard sales’ techniques to get that prospect to convert to that Bell service on the spot. Contracts and special ‘loss leader’ prices are offered ( ie $99/month for 36 months) offered to entice and having been knowledgeable of telco contracts and services, i was told and shown ( i need proof) that yes these prices are held for three years . What Bell did at the time is bill the $99 per month but any increase due to changes in pricing are added to the account and discounted BACK to the 3 year number ($99/mo) until the client would come off the contract term and then automatically move on the 37 month to the current rate for those services! Thus some client would experience double digit increases in the 37 month and as such be legal under the law. Now i do acknowledge that some reps would be quiet about these facts but when asked myself , i would advise as such the monthly increase that could transpire on the 37 month. Why do they do this —Simple . During those 36 months contract BELL call centers would repeatedly call these clients and urge upgrades and ‘upsells’ to move them off this original contract and thus allow them to bill MORE. How do I know ? Because we were given only the Bell call center ( 1-800#) to our new clients for any issues or questions on the original sale and when a client of mine called to remove the ‘home/landline’ requirement they ‘upsold’ him to keep and thus negated the original contract and issued a new ‘contract’ thus allowing the Bell employee to capture the commission and control the contract . When i complained to my 3rd party employer (PCS) of the loss of sale by this ‘retained’ call center sale, they would not dispute so that they would not upset their master contract and basically said to me to get use to this loss of income because of my ‘bad’ sale! Consequently , having never been being cheated by any telco company i have worked for, I quit because of this unethical business practice . Thus as you can see the system , in particular the Bell Fibe sales process, is rife with unethical business practices to make sure that one reaches their monthly quotas and produce the results that management wants without having to investigate the actual ‘process’ ! Consequently you can see that a system that is based upon these type of tactics will produce, in front of the client, the most aggressive and unethical sales processes one can image . To resolve this i would suggest at least two immediate changes whereby these telco companies are NOT allowed to ‘sub-contract’ these sales services to any third parties but MUST retain in house to STOP the constant excuse before the CRTC that the contractor is ‘responsible’ . Second, these telco should have all services prices set or “tariffed’ and NOT allowed to provide any ‘loss leader’ pricing to entice clients to change and hence remove this constant ‘churn’ amount of clients which all the telcos are chasing and ( probably) spending vast sums of money that are not worth the total churn amount. It just doesnt make economic sense to our Canadian economy given now to what level it has finally come to . Unfortunately the CRTC has walked away from its ‘regulator’ status in the last 15 years and thus this CHURN business of constantly reselling services to this small segment of the canadian telco economy is disrupting the business environment and delivering a negative economic impact to the telco business!

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