CBC News: CRTC closer to code of conduct for cellphone companies

Article by Lisa Polewski for CBC News:

Catherine McCoy has had her share of frustration with cellphone companies, and she says the CRTC's upcoming code of conduct for the industry is "a great idea."

At one point the 26-year-old McMaster student received a bill from Telus for about $100 worth of data, for example, which the company explained was the result of her phone updating itself automatically. McCoy was eventually able to get that fee removed from her bill.

Then came the problems with her phone.

“Last summer, I was at a pub with one of my girlfriends in downtown Toronto,” said McCoy. “I went to take my new iPhone out of my purse so I could take a picture of us. Lo and behold, my phone wasn't there.”

McCoy said she certainly didn't blame Telus for her phone being stolen, but it was the struggle to get her phone replaced that caused her the most grief. She tried to buy a refurbished phone, but was told she would have to keep paying the bill on her stolen phone - as well as the bill for a refurbished phone - until the contract ran out.

“My only option, as it was turning out, would be to buy a brand new $800 phone,” McCoy said.

Persistence and constant arguing paid off for McCoy, who finally managed to get a new phone tacked onto her contract for a reasonable price.

“I get that phone companies have policies and procedures, but come on,” said McCoy. “You would think that these people weren't even human. They could not possibly have cared less about my problem!”

According to a report released earlier this month by OpenMedia.ca, a non-profit organization, McCoy's story is not uncommon. The report includes thousands of “cellphone horror stories” sent in by frustrated Canadians who have had bad experiences with service providers.

The stories range from people who could not get out of contracts, to people who were treated with disrespect by customer service representatives. Lindsey Pinto, communications manager for OpenMedia.ca, said the stories were sent to the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

She added that many of the issues stem from the fact that three big companies - Bell, Rogers and Telus - dominate the market.

“We haven't been doing enough to encourage competition, to encourage independent ISPs to enter the market and to lower the costs and barriers to entry for those independent ISPs," said Pinto. "These big guys have been doing things like retaining their customers through restrictive contracts … and automatic renewals.” Read more »

Read the full article at CBC.ca