Consumer Protection - News

  • – 2013-02-12 –

    As part of ongoing proceedings set to establish a 'Wireless Bill of Rights' for customers of Canadian wireless services, the CRTC held a hearing seeking input on what protections should be included in such a document. CIPPIC, appearing alongside its client in the proceeding, OpenMedia.ca, called on the CRTC to take strong steps towards alleviating growing customer frustration with a highly concentrated and difficult to navigate mobile service landscape. This requires, CIPPIC argued, simplified and standardized point of sale information on the nature and cost of services. It also requires that mobile service providers deploy real-time usage management tools that help individuals avoid bill shock. This includes handset-based notifications that kick in as individuals approach their usage limits, as well as a customizable 'hard' notification that will temporarily cut off usage as individuals approach excessive usage fees ($50, for example).

    In addition, effective protections will lower switching costs that currently keep customers locked in to their plans long after their smartphone battery expires, long after their frustration with changing fees or inadequate customer service raises their level of frustration to new heights, long after the wireless market has evolved to offer cheaper and more responsive service offerings. Lock-in, which, uniquely in Canada, is typically for three year terms of service, is achieved by a combination of technical measures preventing an individual from using their handset with another service and hefty fees (which can amount to hundreds of dollars depending on how far the individual is into their contract) levied at individuals seeking to leave their contracts early.

  • – 2012-12-18 –

    CIPPIC has submitted comments in Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-557, a proceeding which seeks to establish a set of rights of customers of wireless services across Canada. The proceeding was launched after the Commission decided, in Telecom Decision CRTC 2012-556, that wireless customers were in need for greater protections at the national level. CIPPIC's submission, filed on behalf of OpenMedia.ca, focused on the need to address many shortcomings in the Canadian wireless landscape and the need to facilitate competition. Specifically, CIPPIC called on the CRTC to restrict termination penalties and hardware lock-ins.

    Using a combination of technical lock-in mechanisms and excessive penalties for breaking contracts, providers prevent customers from switching outside 2-3 year contractual cycles. At the same time, these lock-in mechanisms prevent effective competition on handset prices. Providers have no incentive to ever compete on handset prices, as higher-seeming handset prices make handset subsidy-based three year lock-ins appear a fantastic deal for customers. In reality, however, customers end up paying more for the handset and more for their monthly services, while providers are insulated from actually having to compete to keep their customer base. An effective Wireless Consumer Protection Code will address this deficiency.

  • – 2012-06-26 –

    The Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre (CITSC) is scheduled for its official launch on June 28, 2012. The CITSC will be Canada's first comprehensive support centre for victims of identity theft. It will provide much needed support services for victims of identity theft who undertake the often long and difficult road to recovering their identities. This identy recovery process is typically lengthy and time-consuming. Modelled on the successful U.S. based Identity Theft Resource Center, the CITSC will operate as a source of guidance for Canadians in their attempts to navigate this process.

    The CITSC will also act as a source of educational materials aimed at educting Canadians on how to protect their identities and on steps that can be taken by Canadians to help spot early signs their identity may have been stolen. In addition, the CITSC will act as a source of research and knowledge dissemination regarding the parameters and nature of identity theft harms in Canada. 

    CIPPIC is highly supportive of the CITSC's initiatives, and will be participating in the public launch of the Centre. Join us in person at the Ottawa launch, which will be held from 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm EST in the Newfoundland Room of the Westin (11 Colonel By Drive) in Ottawa. The Centre will be simultaneously launched in Vancouver, B.C., at Library Square.

  • – 2010-09-01 –

    As part of TNC CRTC 2010-43, a process examining the obligation of internet service providers to ensure universal affordable access to broadband Internet, CIPPIC, acting for OpenMedia.ca, argued in its submission that the CRTC is tasked with putting in place a comprehensive telecommunications framework, and that this mandate includes the obligation to ensure a minimal level of affordable access to telecommunications services for all Canadians.  CIPPIC explained that the CRTC has broad and varied tools at its disposal that it may use to ensure all Canadians have access to broadband Internet.

  • – 2010-07-13 –

    As part of its intention to help Canada regain its leadership position in the global digital economy, the government recently concluded a public consultation process which sought submissions from all sectors of the public on who to achieve this objective.

    CIPPIC provided two input streams into the Government's consultaiton process. First, we helped develop and endorsed a consensus subimssion convened by Andrew Clement and Karen Louise Smith of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information. In addition, CIPPIC's 2010 summer interns put together a comprehensive submission that set out 36 recommendations. In this submission, CIPPIC calls on the government to encourage the creation of a digital environment that will be better for all Canadians and will serve as a model for other jurisdictions. CIPPIC offers recommendations on issues such as privacy, online file-sharing, and on quality and access to communications that will help the government achieve this objective.

    For more info see: https://cippic.ca/Digital_Economy_Consultation_Canada

  • – 2009-05-29 –

    Today, CIPPIC submitted a letter to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario highlighting the case for expanding the Ontario Consumer Protection Act so that it will better protect consumers from informational and other deficiencies in interactions with financial institutions.  Many such financial institutions are currently excluded from the CPA, yet consumers require CPA safeguards just as much during financial transactions as elsewhere, if not more.  The letter calls for a more detailed investigation of the issue.

  • – 2008-06-05 –

    A massive coalition of Canada's leading consumer advocates have today released an open letter calling on the Canadian government to embrace copyright policies that put Canada's interests first.  Consumer advocates from across the country - including two of Quebec's leading consumer rights organizations - have demanded a principled approach to copyright policy from Canada's government that rejects any law modeled on the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Signatories include Union des consommateurs, Option consommateurs, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Consumers Council of Canada, + read more

  • – 2008-05-30 –

    Modifying its earlier Decision ordering all large telecom service providers (TSPs) to join a new industry-funded consumer complaints body, the CRTC has limited mandatory membership in the CCTS to three years, clarified that contractual TSP liability limitations continue to apply to indirect damages, and decided that collective complaints are subject to the $5K cap applicable to individual complaints.
    CRTC News Release and Decision 2008-46