Telcos Mistreat Canadians Through Price Gouging, Restrictive Contracts, and Poor Service: Report

A study released today by Vancouver-based non-profit organization OpenMedia shows a majority of Canadians report being forced into accepting poor and often disrespectful customer service.

Most Canadians identify the lack of choice in the cellphone market as the cause, pointing out that nearly 94% of the market is controlled by three large players: Bell, Telus, and Rogers.

The report, titled Time for an Upgrade: Demanding Choice in Canada’s Cellphone Market, makes the central conclusion that there is widespread mistreatment of cell phone users in Canada.

According to OpenMedia, Canadians have 12 specific problem areas, which the report categorizes into three major themes: disrespectful customer service, restrictive contracts, and price-gouging. The report points out that many Canadians are forced to commit to three-year contracts when entering a wireless service agreement, which impose “unjustifiable barriers to switching providers.” OpenMedia believes that a three-year term is “very long in terms of the competitive marketplace, the lifetime or technological relevance of mobile handsets, and general life changes.”

“There are many legitimate reasons why an individual might wish to change or end a fixed term contract, and no legitimate reasons to penalize them for doing so,” says legal expert Tamir Israel of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.

“The findings of our study clearly show that Canada’s dysfunctional cell phone market is a dead weight on our economy, and is in desperate need of an overhaul,” affirms OpenMedia’s executive director, Steve Anderson. “Unless decision-makers take action, Canadians will continue to face poor service and punitive high prices, and will continue to fall behind the rest of the industrialized world.”