CRTC solicits complaints

Canadian consumers are being invited to tell a federal regulator about their personal experience with misleading or abusive sales practices at the country's telecommunications companies.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will accept written comments by Aug. 30. That will be followed by a public hearing on the matter in Gatineau, Que., beginning Oct. 22.

The CRTC said its inquiry — ordered by the federal government last month — will look closely at incomplete, unclear or misleading information provided to consumers as well as the sale of unsuitable products to ill-informed people.

"To provide a meaningful report to the government, it is important that we hear from Canadians across the country," CRTC chair Ian Scott said in a statement Monday

The regulator is asking for consumers, as well as current and former telecom employees, to weigh in on whether service providers are using language that is easy to understand, if they have experienced misleading or aggressive sales practices from a service provider, and whether existing consumer protections are sufficient to ensure they are treated fairly regarding retail sales practices.

It's also asking older people or people with a language barrier if the service provider made an effort to ensure they were able to make an informed decision.

The CRTC is focusing its questions to current or former customers of Bell Canada, Cogeco, Eastlink, Northwestel, Rogers Communications, SaskTel, Shaw Communications, TbayTel, TekSavvy, Telus Communications, Videotron and Xplornet.

The minister responsible for telecommunications, Navdeep Bains, announced the inquiry last month.

Bains said he had received many complaints directly and noted that a series of news stories had raised questions about the practices used by major telecommunications providers.

Scott had previously declined calls for a public inquiry lodged earlier this year by consumer advocacy groups.

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