Skip to main content

Of the big three telecom companies, Telus Corp. saw the greatest increase in the number of complaints.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

The number of complaints that Canadians lodged with the federal telecom and television ombudsman climbed 35 per cent to an all-time high, with issues around wireless service drawing the bulk of the gripes.

The federal Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) said that, for the 12-month period ended July 31, customers submitted nearly 19,300 complaints about their telecom and TV providers. That’s the highest number of complaints that the organization has seen in its 12-year history.

The Ottawa-based agency aims to resolve customer complaints about wireless, internet, home-telephone and TV services. Although the CCTS receives funding from the industry, it acts independently of it. The latest annual report, published Thursday, is the first that includes a full year of data on TV complaints, as they were not part of the organization’s mandate until September, 2017.

Story continues below advertisement

The rise in complaints comes amid broader industry expansion, as the number of customers and service providers grows. The CCTS, for example, added 29 new service providers in its most recent fiscal year.

CCTS commissioner Howard Maker said that greater consumer awareness about the organization and its complaint-resolution process may also be partly responsible.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission did some consumer research, Mr. Maker said, “and the evidence is that awareness of CCTS is growing significantly. To me, that’s probably the number one driver of the increase in complaints.”

The service that drew the most complaints was wireless, with 19,467 issues raised – up 53 per cent from the previous year. Internet service followed at 12,000 issues, an increase of 34 per cent.

“Part of it is that it’s a more complicated business,” Mr. Maker said of wireless service. “The options, the plans, the add-ons, the extras – it’s much more detailed and much more complicated than the other services."

Service providers compete aggressively for wireless customers, he added, and the aggressive marketing campaigns can sometimes lead to dissatisfied customers.

Billing problems were the top issue cited across all services, followed by issues related to the disclosure of important information about the service.

Story continues below advertisement

Of the big three telecom companies, Telus Corp. saw the greatest increase in the number of complaints, which rose by more than 70 per cent to 1,610. In total, Telus accounted for 8.3 per cent of all the complaints accepted by the CCTS.

Tony Geheran, Telus’s executive vice-president and chief customer officer, said some of the increase was owing to ambiguous language in the contract terms for customers on a specific type of plan. Mr. Geheran said Telus has resolved those complaints and made the contract terms more transparent and easy-to-understand.

“We think that particular spike will not reappear, as a result of those changes," Mr. Geheran said.

He added that the recent shift to unlimited wireless plans – where, instead of receiving data overage fees, customers have the speed of their service limited when they hit their data limits – is expected to reduce the number of wireless complaints going forward.

BCE Inc.-owned Bell Canada saw its complaints increase by 24.2 per cent, while the number of gripes by Rogers customers rose by 26.5 per cent.

In total, Bell was the subject of 31 per cent of all complaints, while Rogers drew 9 per cent and Telus had 8 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

ccts complaints

Total complaints accepted, 2016-2019

19,287

14,272

9,097

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

Five-year view of issues

Number of issues by type, 2014-2019

20,000

Wireless

15,000

Internet

10,000

TV

Phone

5,000

0

2014-

2015

2015-

2016

2016-

2017

2017-

2018

2018-

2019

NOTE: Complaints can be about multiple issues. TV complaints

were not in the CCTS mandate until September 1, 2017.

Top 10 participating service

providers by complaints

Number complaints accepted, 2018-2019

Bell Canada

5,879

Rogers

1,833

Telus

1,610

Virgin Mobile

1,253

Freedom Mob.

1,147

Cogeco

1,039

Fido

917

Koodo

755

Videotron

690

Shaw

659

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ccts

ccts complaints

Total complaints accepted, 2016-2019

19,287

14,272

9,097

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

Five-year view of issues

Number of issues by type, 2014-2019

20,000

Wireless

15,000

Internet

10,000

TV

Phone

5,000

0

2014-’15

2015-’16

2016-’17

2017-’18

2018-’19

NOTE: Complaints can be about multiple issues.

TV complaints were not in the CCTS mandate until September 1, 2017.

Top 10 participating service providers

by complaints

Number complaints accepted, 2018-2019

Bell Canada

5,879

Rogers

1,833

Telus

1,610

Virgin Mobile

1,253

Freedom Mob.

1,147

Cogeco

1,039

Fido

917

Koodo

755

Videotron

690

Shaw

659

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ccts

ccts complaints

Total complaints accepted, 2016-2019

19,287

14,272

9,097

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

Five-year view of issues

Number of issues by type, 2014-2019

20,000

Wireless

15,000

Internet

10,000

TV

Phone

5,000

0

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

NOTE: Complaints can be about multiple issues.

TV complaints were not in the CCTS mandate until September 1, 2017.

Top 10 participating service providers by complaints

Number complaints accepted, 2018-2019

Bell Canada

5,879

Rogers

1,833

Telus

1,610

Virgin Mobile

1,253

Freedom Mobile

1,147

Cogeco

1,039

Fido

917

Koodo

755

Videotron

690

Shaw

659

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ccts

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies