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ARCHIVED -  Order CRTC 2001-193

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Order CRTC 2001-193

 

Ottawa, 5 March 2001

 

Telemarketing restrictions extended to all telecom service providers

 

Reference:8665-C12-09/00

 

The CRTC is extending the telemarketing restrictions to all wireline, wireless and resale providers of telecom services and their customers.

 

Telemarketing restrictions have historically been issued according to geography and service provider category, resulting in a patchwork application of rules across Canada.

 

Those rules are no longer contingent upon geography or the type of service provider. Instead, this order provides for applying the telemarketing regulations to all telecom service sectors in all locations.

 

Public notice issued in June 2000

1.

Soliciting comments to extend telemarketing restrictions across Canada, Public Notice CRTC 2000-91, dated 30 June 2000, expressed the preliminary view that the rules for unsolicited communications using automatic dialing and announcing devices (ADADs), live voice and facsimile (fax) solicitations should apply uniformly across Canada to the following service providers:

  · all incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), including independent telephone companies;
  · all competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs);
  · interexchange carriers (IXCs);
  · wireless service providers (WSPs);
  · resellers of the telecommunications services provided by the above entities.

2.

The rules and conditions for unsolicited communications were set out in Use of telephone company facilities for the provision of unsolicited telecommunications, Telecom Decision CRTC 94-10, dated 13 June 1994, and Telecom Order CRTC 96-1229, dated 7 November 1996. Local competition, Telecom Decision CRTC 97-8, dated 1 May 1997, extended the rules and conditions to the CLECs operating in the territories of those ILECs to whom the rules apply.

3.

Presently, the Commission's rules for unsolicited telecommunications using ADADs, live voice and fax are not uniformly applied across Canada. That is, the rules now apply only to some telecom service providers and not to others. (See Appendix 1 on regional and sectoral disparity.)

4.

In addition, Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) has solicitation rules in its tariffs which were approved by its provincial regulator prior to the telco coming under the Commission's jurisdiction in June 2000. These differ in some respects from those approved by the Commission for other telcos.

 

Majority of participating parties support uniformity

5.

The majority of parties who commented on the extension of the present rules supported the Commission's preliminary view. These included the major telcos, the Bell Wireless Alliance (BWA) consisting of Bell Mobility Inc., Island Telecom Inc., MTS Communications Inc., MTT Mobility Inc., NBTel Inc. and NewTel Mobility Ltd. Other parties in agreement were Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus, Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), Canadian Survey Research Council, Ontario Privacy Commissioner, Action Réseau Consommateur and the Consumers' Association of Canada (ARC/CAC), Vidéotron Communications Inc. and numerous other organizations and individuals.

6.

Canada Fax Service (CFS) and the Canadian Fax Broadcasting Coalition did not support the Commission's preliminary view.

 

Compliance in the wireless sector

7.

A number of parties noted that extending the rules to service providers who are not currently subject to them raises a number of compliance issues.

8.

For example, with respect to the use of WSP services for telemarketing, BWA noted that not all WSPs will be able to display the calling number or alternate number from the originating party as would be required by the rules. Display of these numbers is determined by the type of interconnection between the WSP and the public switched telephone network. Eventually, however, BWA stated that WSPs will likely evolve toward trunk-side interconnection which will allow for display of the calling number.

9.

BWA supported uniform application of the rules to all categories of service providers, but it noted that the Commission has determined that wireless telephone numbers are considered confidential and are not to be disclosed without subscriber consent. BWA suggested that the Commission stipulate that this confidentiality should be waived when a subscriber uses a wireless service for telemarketing purposes.

 

Name display blocking in NBTel's territory

10.

ARC/CAC noted that NBTel now permits telemarketers to block the display of their calling name and number on the called party's set and proposed that this not be allowed.

11.

The Commission notes that NBTel, which prior to this order was not subject to any rules governing voice and fax solicitations, has a tariff for per-line call display blocking which allows callers including telemarketers in its territory to block display of their calling names and numbers on the called party's telephone set. Such blocking by telemarketers is not permitted by the rules in effect for the other telecom service providers where the call to solicit must display the originating number or an alternate number where the call originator can be reached.

 

Uniform calling hours

12.

SaskTel generally supported the view that all telemarketers should respect the same rules. It stated, however, that it does not support the adoption of uniform calling hours across Canada, because the present rules do not address time zones and apply to a telemarketer's calling hours as opposed to the time consumers receive a call.

13.

The Commission notes however, that its current rules for fax solicitations do take time zones into account by stating that the permitted calling hours for fax are those of the called party.

 

Rules will apply to resellers

14.

On the matter of applying the rules to resellers, Bell Canada, Island Tel, MTT, MTS, NBTel, NewTel (and TELUS in its own comments) cited a report by the Customer Transfer Group of the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee that had recommended that consumer safeguards be imposed on resellers and enforced through contractual arrangements or other means with local exchange carriers (LECs). This resulted in the CRTC Letter Decision of 1 February 2000 directing all LECs, as a condition of providing services to resellers, to include a contractual stipulation which would oblige resellers to adhere to the consumer safeguards described in the report. Pursuant to their service contracts, resellers are now required to enforce solicitation rules as a condition of reselling a LEC's services.

 

Other comments

15.

CMA supported uniform rules, but opposed the current prohibition placed on ADADs solicitations. The CMA stated that once an individual purchases a product or service from a company, there is implied consent and reasonable expectation that the company will attempt to build an on-going relationship with the consumer by marketing similar products or services. The CMA argued that, in this situation, ADADs should be permitted.

16.

Canada Fax Service maintained that the current restrictions and enforcement provisions are unreasonable and argued against expanding the current regime. CFS was of the view that telemarketing "problems" are easily overcome by technology. Among other things, it stated that the Commission's regulation of the current regime has had a harmful effect on niche telemarketing innovations and activities in Canada. CFS did not, however, provide evidence to support its view.

17.

The Canadian Fax Broadcasting Coalition noted that there should be a uniform code of conduct for fax broadcasters, but there should be no hour restrictions on unsolicited faxes since they are directed at businesses, not to residential consumers.

18.

A number of parties did not specifically address uniform application of the rules but commented on unwanted solicitations, the effectiveness of the existing rules, and how they could be changed.

 

Conclusion

19.

The Commission notes that the lack of uniform application of the rules has led to consumer confusion and difficulties for telephone companies and the Commission in their efforts to resolve customer complaints. Furthermore, currently enforcement for violating the rules can only be invoked by LECs who are subject to the rules and who apply them to soliciting parties who use their facilities.

20.

A uniform application of the rules would enable both service providers and the Commission to deal effectively with customer concerns and consistently explain the rules to customers regardless of their service provider or location.

21.

The solicitation rules already apply to resellers by virtue of the Commission's letter decision of 1 February 2000 and there is no indication that implementing a uniform application of the rules to LECs, IXCs and WSPs will pose operational or technical problems other than the WSP calling number display issue outlined in paragraph 8. Therefore, the Commission concludes that implementation of consistent rules for these service providers is feasible.

22.

The Commission notes that the independent telcos did not provide comments in this proceeding although some were registered parties. The Commission concludes that the rules should apply to them also.

23.

SaskTel's current tariffs on unsolicited calling differ in some provisions compared to those found in similar approved tariffs of the other ILECs because it came under CRTC jurisdiction after the Commission-approved telemarketing rules were in place. The Commission considers that SaskTel's tariffs should be made consistent with those approved for the other ILECs.

24.

Some parties proposed that there be a review of the current rules on solicitations and the Commission notes CMA's arguments for changes to the existing ADADs rules. This is beyond the scope of this proceeding. These comments and replies will form part of the record and will be taken into consideration in a proceeding launched today in Public Notice CRTC 2001-34 to review the current rules and restrictions.

25.

In light of the above, the Commission directs:

 
  •  All ILECs including the independent telephone companies, to issue forthwith, as required, tariff pages that reflect the conditions and enforcement provisions required under Decision 94-10 and Order 96-1229, consistent with Bell Canada General Tariff Item 1800: (http://www.bell.ca/en/corp/aboutbell/tariffs/)-Part 2-Exchange Service. In the case of NBTel, this also requires an amendment to its tariff to state that per-line call display blocking will not be allowed for outbound solicitation calls by telemarketers.
 
  • All IXCs and WSP, pursuant to section 24 of the Telecommunications Act, as a condition of offering and providing telecommunications services, to adhere to the rules set out in Appendix 2 of this order. In this respect, the telephone number of telemarketers are no longer to be treated as confidential by WSPs.

26.

Furthermore, the Commission reminds all CLECs that, by virtue of paragraph 288 of Decision 97-8, they are now required to satisfy all of the conditions and enforcement provisions of Decsion 94-10 and Order 96-1229 regardless of where they provide service in Canada.

27.

Similarly, the Commission reminds all LECs that, pursuant to its letter decision of 1 February 2000, they are now required, as a condition of providing services to resellers wherever they operate, to include a contractual stipulation which would oblige resellers to adhere to the telemarketing restrictions of Decision 94-10 and Order 96-1229.

28.

A summary of the rules for solicitations using ADADs, live voice calls and fax is appended to this document (Appendix 2). By virtue of this order, these rules will now apply uniformly across Canada to all of the service providers covered in this order. For service providers with tariffs, the official version of the rules will be contained in that provider's tariffs.

 

Secretary General

 

This document is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site: www.crtc.gc.ca 

 

 

Appendix 1

 

Regional and sectoral disparity in telemarketing rules

 

This table shows the lack of uniformity prior to this order in the applicable Commission rules regarding ADADs, live voice and fax solicitations amongst the service providers listed below.

 

(Ö = rules and restrictions in place)

Service provider

ADADs

Live voice

Fax

BCTEL

Ö

 

Ö

Bell Canada

Ö

Ö

Ö

Island Tel

Ö

   

MTS

Ö

Ö

Ö

MTT

Ö

   

NBTel

Ö

   

Northwestel

Ö

   

NewTel

Ö

   

SaskTel

Ö

Ö (with variations)

Ö (with variations)

TELUS

Ö

Ö

Ö

CLECs

Ö

Ö in Bell Canada, MTS, TELUS territories

Ö in BCTEL, Bell Canada, MTS, TELUS territories

Independent LECs

     

IXCs

some

some

some

Wireless providers

some

some

some

 

 

Appendix 2

 

Rules for unsolicited calling using automatic dialing and announcing devices (ADADs), live voice and facsimile (fax) calls for the purpose of solicitation

 

Definitions

 

Solicitation is defined as selling or promoting of a product or service, or the soliciting of money or money's worth, whether directly or indirectly and whether on behalf of another party.

 

ADAD is defined as any automatic equipment which stores or produces telephone numbers to be called, used alone or with other equipment to convey a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called.

 

ADD (automatic dialing device) is defined as any automatic equipment which has the capability of storing telephone numbers to be called, or a random or sequential number generator capable of producing numbers to be called. ADDs include facsimile machines and predictive diallers. An ADD is often used by an operator delivering a live voice message.

 

Rules for calls using ADADs

 

The use of ADADs to make unsolicited calls for the purpose of solicitation is prohibited. These include calls made on behalf of a charity, the use of ADAD messages to request that a called party hold until an operator is available (when the purpose of the call is to solicit), radio station promotions, or calls referring the called party to a 900 or 976 service number.

 

Calls using ADADs are permitted where there is no attempt to solicit, i.e. calls for public service reasons, emergency purposes, to collect overdue accounts, market or survey research calls or calls to schedule appointments.

 

Weekday calling hours for permitted calls using ADADs are from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. These hour restrictions do not apply to calls made for public service reasons (i.e. calls made for emergency and administrative purposes by police and fire departments, schools, hospitals or similar organizations).

 

Permitted unsolicited ADAD calls must not be placed to emergency lines or healthcare facilities.

 

Permitted ADAD calls should begin with a clear message identifying the person on behalf of whom the call is made, including a mailing address and telephone number of a free call-back line. If the message exceeds 60 seconds, the identification message must be repeated at the end of the call.

 

ADAD calls are to display the originating calling number or an alternate number where the caller can be reached (except where number display is unavailable for technical reasons).

 

Sequential dialing is prohibited.

 

ADAD users must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that their equipment disconnects within 10 seconds of the called party hanging up.

 

Persons who resell Centrex service must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the end-user does not employ the service to transmit unsolicited ADAD calls other than those made for public service reasons.

 

Enforcement: Telephone service to the lines used in placing calls which contravene these rules may be suspended or terminated two business days after notification from the telephone company.

 

Rules for unsolicited live voice solicitations (which may use ADDs)

 

Caller mustidentify the person or organization they are representing.

 

Caller must, upon request, provide the telephone number, name and address of a responsible person to whom the called party can write.

 

Caller is required to display the originating calling number, or an alternate number where the caller can be reached (except where number display is unavailable due to technical reasons).

 

Caller must maintain a "Do not call" list which must remain active for 3 years.

 

Names and numbers of called parties must be removed from calling lists within 30 days of the called parties' request.

 

There are no calling hour restrictions on live voice calls.

 

Sequential dialing is not permitted.

 

Random dialing and calls to non-published numbers are allowed.

 

Calls must not be placed to any emergency line or healthcare facility.

 

Persons who resell Centrex service must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the end-user does not employ the Centrex call transfer feature to transmit unsolicited live voice calls.

 

Enforcement: Telephone service to the lines used in placing calls which contravene these rules may be suspended or terminated two business days after notification from the telephone company.

 

Rules for unsolicited facsimile calls used to solicit

 

Calling hour restrictions for unsolicited fax are weekdays 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; weekends 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (these permitted calling hours are those of the called party).

 

The fax must identify the person or organization on behalf of whom the fax call is made, including the telephone number, fax number and name and address of a responsible person to whom the called party can write (this also applies to organizations sending unsolicited faxes on behalf of another organization).

 

The fax must display the originating calling number or an alternate number where the call originator can be reached (except where number display is unavailable for technical reasons).

 

Sequential dialing is not permitted.

 

No fax calls are permitted to emergency line or healthcare facilities.

 

A DO NOT CALL list is to be maintained by the calling party and remain active for 3 years.

 

Names and numbers must be removed from calling lists within 7 days of the called party's request.

 

Persons who resell Centrex service must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the end-user does not employ the Centrex call transfer feature to transmit unsolicited fax calls.

 

Enforcement: Telephone service to the lines used in connection with placing calls that contravene the rules may be suspended or terminated two business days after notification from the telephone company.