Canadians invited to tell their cell phone horror stories, as CRTC considers new protections

Public interest group asks citizens to show the human side of a broken cell phone market

October 17, 2012 – In response to the CRTC’s recent call for citizen comments about national standards to protect cell phone users, grassroots group OpenMedia.ca is calling on Canadians for their cell phone horror stories. The group is also voicing concern that the Big Three cell phone companies (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) will use the CRTC process to weaken consumer protections.

On Thursday last week, the CRTC (Canada’s telecom authority) requested citizen input on the development of a code of conduct for wireless companies. Canadians have been speaking out about unfair treatment from big telecom companies for years.

OpenMedia.ca is launching CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca today to give citizens an easy way to make the CRTC aware of the real human consequences of our broken cell phone market. The Big Three cell phone companies (Bell, Rogers and Telus) control nearly 94% of the market and many Canadians feel trapped by long-term restrictive contracts, price-gouging and disrespectful customer service.

OpenMedia.ca plans to highlight Canadian cell phone horror stories in a crowdsourced submission to the CRTC. The group also expects the Commission to take the time to read each story. “The best way to make effective rules to protect citizens against telecom price-gouging is to ground them in the lived realities of Canadians,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Too many Canadians have been overcharged, put on hold for an unconscionable amount of time, or otherwise treated unfairly by cell phone companies.”

The Big Three cell phone giants have also come out in favour of the code of conduct process and OpenMedia.ca fears they will try to use it to their own ends, and to the disadvantage of consumers.

“Canadians are more and more aware that they pay some of the highest cell phone fees and are forced into some of the worst contracts in the industrialized world.” says Anderson. “We know that the Big Three would like nothing better than to use this process to weaken the existing rules and lock Canadians into arrangements that are even more costly and restrictive. It’s wrong, it’s bad for our country and our economy, and we shouldn’t stand for it. The CRTC should focus this process exclusively on what Canadians are asking for. For too long we’ve let a few telecom companies squeeze ever more money out of our wallets.”

Canadian cell phone customers can tell the CRTC their cell phone horror story at http://CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca.

Related comments from the OpenMedia.ca Facebook Page:

“Read a bit about this in the Globe yesterday and will follow up online today. I have lots to say about my experiences and my most recent one was finding out that I was put onto a three year term when I've been adamant about month to month billing and haven't been on a term for 5 years. I buy my phones outright.” - Linda HB Duguay, October 14, 2012

“My last bill from BELL canada, i went over my 200 minute limite by a lot without knowing it. I simply forgot about it. Bell did not inform me when I was going over my limit. Now my bill is nearly double. Thanks bell!” - Shawn Carriere, October 14, 2012

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is a grassroots organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open and affordable Internet. The group works towards informed and participatory digital policy.

OpenMedia.ca is best known for its StopTheMeter.ca campaign that engaged over half-a-million Canadians and its StopSpying.ca campaign that stopped warrantless online spying bill C-30.

About the CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca campaign

Earlier this year OpenMedia.ca launched a campaign decrying the price-gouging poor customer service and lack of choice in the cell phone market at http://StopTheSqueeze.ca.

On April 4, 2012 the CRTC seemingly responded by inviting comments on whether the Commission should development national rules for wireless service in Canada. OpenMedia.ca mobilized Canadians to write in and request that the CRTC do just that, noting that any rules should build upon (not erode) frameworks in the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, as well as on the framework proposed in Private Members Bill 133 in Ontario.

On October 11, 2012 the CRTC announced it would hold a public consultation on national rules for wireless services. CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca will give citizens an easy way to make the CRTC aware of the real human consequences of our broken cell phone market. OpenMedia.ca plans to highlight Canadian cell phone horror stories in a partially crowdsourced submission to the CRTC.

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Contact

Lindsey Pinto
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
1-778-238-7710
lindsey@openmedia.ca

More Information

  • In 2009, an OECD study found that Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile phone calls in the industrialized world. This was corroborated by a 2010 report from the New America Foundation. More recently, another study found that Canada has the highest roaming fees in the industrialized world.
  • On October 11, 2012 the CRTC announced it would hold a public consultation on national rules for wireless services. The CRTC is of the “preliminary view that the Wireless Code should address (1) clarity of contract terms and conditions, (2) changes to contract terms and conditions, (3) contract cancellation, expiration and renewal, (4) clarity of advertised prices, (5) application of the code to bundles of telecommunications services, (6) notification of additional fees, (7) privacy policies, (8) hardware warranties and related issues, (9) loss or theft of hardware, (10) security deposits, and (11) disconnections”.

CRTC Documents

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Topics: Cell Phones