ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 1 December 2010
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Volume 3, 1 December 2010
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Telecom Notice of Consultation
140 Promenade du Portage
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages
Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be
bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members
and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded
verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in
either of the official languages, depending on the language
spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Canadian Radio-television and
Review of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Telecom Notice of Consultation
Len Katz Chairperson
Timothy Denton Commissioner
Elizabeth Duncan Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Michel Morin Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Stephen Simpson Commissioner
Lynda Roy Secretary
Anthony McIntyre Legal Counsel
Celia Millay Hearing coordinator
140 Promenade du Portage
December 1, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
- Rogers Communications Inc.
- Cogeco Cable Inc.
- Quebecor Media Inc.
- Shaw Communications Inc. 370 / 2062
TELUS Communications Company 393 / 2203
MTS Allstream Inc. 413 / 2316
Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership and Bell Canada 424 / 2377
Public Interest Advocacy Centre, on behalf of Consumers’ Association of Canada and Canada Without Poverty 438 / 2445
Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (CCTS) 465 / 2586
Décision de la CRTC 494 / 2749
--- Upon commencing on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 0910
2047 THE SECRETARY: Order, please. A l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
2048 COMMISSIONER DENTON: So you are all wondering why we are in such a good mood.
2049 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
2050 Any opening remarks by the Secretary?
2051 THE SECRETARY: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.
2052 Good morning et bonjour à tous.
2053 We will now proceed with Phase II of the hearing, where parties will appear in reverse order to present their oral argument.
2054 Before we start, I would like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the oral argument phase.
2055 Please note that the Commission Members may ask questions in either English or French. Simultaneous interpretation is available during the hearing; the English interpretation is on Channel 1 and French on Channel 2.
2056 We would ask that you please turn off, and not only put on vibration mode, your cell phones and BlackBerrys as they cause interference with the communication system used by the translators and interpreters.
2057 During this phase participants may be called upon at any time to answer questions from the Members of the Panel or Commission staff in light of another participant's submission in its oral argument.
2058 For technical reasons and in order to facilitate the task for the court reporter and the interpreters, I would ask that you mention your name every time you will be asked to make an intervention.
2059 For the people sitting in the room, you are welcome to use the name plate placed on your table in order to indicate that you have intention to intervene.
2060 Now, Mr. Chairman, we will hear the join oral argument by Cogeco Cable Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Media Inc., on behalf of Videotron Ltd. and Shaw Communications Inc.
2061 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record and you have 10 minutes for your oral argument.
2062 MR. ENGELHART: Thank you very much.
2063 I'm Ken Engelhart of Rogers Communications and with me today again are David Watt and Alexander Adeyinka of Rogers; Patrick Désy of Videotron; Esther Snow from Shaw; and Michel Messier of Cogeco.
2064 Since we were the last party to appear yesterday our remarks will be brief.
2065 In response to the Commission's question regarding a 5-year membership review, we continue to believe that a further 3-year membership term is appropriate. We feel that after this 3-year period the CCTS will be sufficiently established so that market forces will ensure the CCTS' continued viability. Providing that it continues to operate effectively within its mandate, the cable carriers, and others we believe, will see value in membership.
2066 We submit that the CRTC does not need to hold another review of the CCTS at a specified future date. However, should one or more significant carriers serve notice terminating their membership, the CRTC could schedule a review hearing at that time. At that hearing, the Commission could determine whether the CCTS mandate requires adjustment, whether membership should be mandatory or otherwise assess the situation that caused the membership termination.
2067 As members can only withdraw from the CCTS upon giving 3 months advance notice, in accordance with Article 6.1 of the CCTS Membership Agreement, the Commission could review the situation in a timely manner.
2068 Thank you and we look forward to any questions you may have.
2069 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Engelhart and panel.
2070 I have a couple of questions with regard to your proposal here with regard to scheduling a hearing.
2071 So are you saying until such time as the CRTC disposes of an applicant seeking to leave the CCTS everybody remains a member or does this 3-month requirement as part of the articles of the membership agreement kick in automatically?
2072 MR. ENGELHART: The 3-month requirement is there today so what we are saying is the CRTC -- if somebody quit, then the CCTS could inform you and if the Commission wanted to hold a hearing it could do so. You probably couldn't have the hearing completed within three months, but it would be within that general time horizon so you could deal with the problem without the CCTS suffering a significant loss of revenue.
2073 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would that take an amendment to Article 6.1 of the membership agreement?
2074 MR. ENGELHART: No, 6.1 now requires --
2075 THE CHAIRPERSON: It says three months.
2076 MR. ENGELHART: -- three months notice, yes.
2077 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. But you are saying it might take longer than that for the CRTC to come up with a hearing, render a decision. So would that have to require an amendment to this?
2078 MR. ENGELHART: I mean if you wanted to ensure that there was no time period during which someone would have quit and you hadn't had a chance to look at it yet, you could always ask us to extend that to six months and we would have no problem with that.
2079 THE CHAIRPERSON: I thought I heard most of your members saying to the CRTC, "Stay out of our membership agreement and our rules and let us deal with those issues".
2080 Do I hear you now saying we should actually have some say into what the words actually are?
2081 MR. ENGELHART: Well, you are sort of a benevolent presence. You are not directly involved, but you are in the equation.
2082 THE CHAIRPERSON: I mean, everything sounds logical until such time as something happens and then, as you well know, when something happens all bets are off and it's whatever the words are on the piece of paper that dictate everything.
2083 So I guess I'm asking you -- and I will ask CCTS as well -- what the implications are if we do adopt your proposal with regard to the existing membership agreement and what that means.
2084 CCTS, do you have any views on the cable groups' proposition?
2085 MR. MAKER: Yes, Mr. Commissioner. Howard Maker, here.
2086 Our position has been from the outset that voluntary membership would raise some concerns, or certainly raise some operational issues and what this sounds like, if I understand it correctly, is the suggestion of a fixed period of membership followed by an optional period or a period of voluntary membership and we have taken the position that voluntary membership may not be consistent with the Order in Council and would raise some operational issues.
2087 We haven't expressed any firm view about whether there needs to be a subsequent review period, we think that's a decision for the Commission, but we have indicated that if you choose to set a review period that we are recommending that a 5-year review period would provide you with better data and more useful information.
2088 So I think that's our position on that.
2089 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2090 PIAC...? If anybody wants to jump in, by all means, you have your name tag there, just raise it and we will identify you and keep track of you all.
2091 MR. LAWFORD: John Lawford, for PIAC.
2092 I can think of four problems with that.
2093 First, practically, you have a gap. If you are hearing this and it's taking longer than three months, well, someone has left and there is a gap and then you have to, what, order them back in?
2094 Second, it's pretty much a sword of Damocles still hanging over the CCTS because you have these concerns and these fears making operations difficult, and again that can be used -- well, who knows, can possibly be used for leverage.
2095 Third, I mean why bother? Why bother to ask for a voluntary membership, which is kind of we are going to be in for this time, but if we leave you can maybe order us back in. Why not just make it mandatory.
2096 The last thing is, we would also echo the comments of Mr. Maker about the Order in Council seems to imply all telecommunications carriers to be members.
2097 Thank you.
2098 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I don't know if the threat to quit is a sort of Damocles, but if it is then the subsequent CRTC hearing is a sort of Damocles over that.
2099 So I think the Commission retains the final say, but you wouldn't, with this proposal, assume there is a problem, you would wait until there was a problem.
2100 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Engelhart, what would happen if in the next several years there is a need for the industry to develop some codes, some standards as well, and then everybody abides by them while they are in good standing with CCTS and then suddenly someone decides, for whatever good and valid reason in their mind, they choose to set notification, they are going to leave, and they do leave.
2101 What would happen to their agreement to stand behind those industry codes that they are no longer part of the industry that manages those codes?
2102 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. I think if you were a member of the trade association such as the CWTA probably membership in that trade association would be contingent on following any codes that the CWTA sponsored.
2103 If you are not in a trade association and you had left the CCTS, I think I would agree with the implication of your question, which is that you would not be bound by that code any more.
2104 THE CHAIRPERSON: So ultimately the consumer would be left in the lurch, so to speak, if he purchased services from a particular provider, understanding that these are the rules of the road and that provider agreed to these standards and then suddenly they don't any more.
2105 MR. ENGELHART: I think that's right. But bear in mind that Rogers for example has a customer promise which is above and beyond any codes that we are required to follow.
2106 I think the trend more and more for companies is to give customers confidence that they are being protected. Customers want to deal with reputable companies, but if you are suggesting that some carrier might go rogue and try to have a low-cost bad customer service model where they are not following any codes, it's possible.
2107 THE CHAIRPERSON: What recourse would that customer have at that time?
2108 MR. ENGELHART: Well, you know, they would vote with their feet. They would quit the service and tell their friends and go on the blogosphere. I think what we are all finding is if you don't give customer service it really hurts you in the marketplace.
2109 THE CHAIRPERSON: But if someone did go rogue, isn't it contrary to the Order in Council that says that every consumer should have a vehicle to have his concerns aired?
2110 MR. ENGELHART: There is no question the Order in Council says that. That's what it says. At the same time, as I argued yesterday, we don't think they set up the statutory mechanisms to do it.
2111 But, you know, we are not saying that you need to necessarily let people quit, we are saying you don't have to make that decision today, you can make it in three years or four years when a problem arises.
2112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. One of the things that you were silent on yesterday and today as well is the extension of customer availability of a CCTS organization where their service provider has revenues of less than $10 million, which is the exemption that we created several years ago.
2113 What are your views about consumers who subscribe to services from smaller players being to date carved out of the rules?
2114 MR. ENGELHART: Consistent with our views that membership should be voluntary, we don't think that the smaller players should be forced into membership. I think it's a mistake if they are not members, I think it will hurt them in the market, but it's a decision that we believe they can make.
2115 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are looking at it from the carrier perspective. If you put on your consumer hat would you say the same thing?
2116 MR. ENGELHART: I think that there are enough consumers at the margin who are aware of the characteristics of carriers that they will keep them honest.
2117 Does that mean that every customer will get treated right every time, obviously not, but I think the strategy of treating customers with less than perfect service is a bad one. The reason is because a lot of these markets are becoming sort of mature.
2118 You know, the time of easy growth in internet, easy growth in wireless are kind of over. There is still some growth, but it's much smaller. So churn becomes the big driver of your bottom line. We have done wonders at Rogers to lower churn, but we are still losing a million and a half customers a year, so it's a huge driver of performance.
2119 So that I think is why market forces can be counted on and the Commission doesn't have to be as reliant on the CCTS and they don't have to make membership mandatory.
2120 THE CHAIRPERSON: But I thought I heard a collective view that at this point in time there still needs to be the CCTS as a stopgap to address issues.
2121 No one is suggesting that every complaint that comes in falls in favour of the consumer as well, but there is at least an impartial party that tries to address the issue to the satisfaction of the parties to the extent they can.
2122 I guess it begs the question: Why shouldn't those that subscribe to services from someone just starting up or someone who is in a revenue business that is smaller and targeted and not have that availability, from a consumer perspective which presumably is why the Order in Council was drafted the way it was.
2123 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. I think that our customers want to have an impartial decider that looks at those complaints that have fallen through the cracks, but I think our sort of theme is that you should give the market a chance to drive people there, you shouldn't mandate it and the market will get there.
2124 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2125 Does anybody else have any different views?
2126 THE CHAIRPERSON: Hang on, I think Michel Messier wants to say something, Mr. Lawford.
2127 M. MESSIER : Je pense que je voudrais simplement rajouter à ce que Ken a mentionné.
2128 Or, notre perspective, nous, c'est de créer... Excusez.
2129 Or, la perspective qu'on amène, c'est une perspective de créer un incitatif, une plus grande valeur au CCTS, de façon à ce que les fournisseurs qui sont membres du CCTS aient un intérêt très grand à être membre et aient un effet stimulant pour les autres fournisseurs de services à devenir membre, plutôt que d'imposer une contrainte à tous les fournisseurs.
2130 Je pense, d'un point de vue aussi administratif, ce serait peut-être... je ne sais pas si les bénéfices seraient aussi grands par rapport à mettre en application toutes ces règles, à s'assurer qu'elles sont respectées que...
2131 Mais d'un point de vue... je pense, d'un point de vue consommateur, il serait bénéfique que tous les fournisseurs soient membres du CCTS, mais c'est une question de dynamique, et c'est pour ça qu'on a proposé, nous, d'avoir un seau qui puisse être publicisé et de créer un effet d'entraînement au membership de CCTS sur une base volontaire.
2132 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2133 Mr. Lawford...?
2134 MR. LAWFORD: John Lawford, at PIAC.
2135 The discussion of market forces doesn't reflect the reality I think the customers have, and that is that competition won't help you if you have a problem with a carrier and you want to leave and the carrier is still chasing you for money and your problem is unresolved. So I just wanted to mention that because that relates to what Mr. Engelhart said earlier about market forces helping someone and they can vote with their feet.
2136 But second, it's not a matter of having a strategy necessarily on poor customer service, the fact is that mistakes happen and negligence happens in the customer service area and all CCTS is there to do is to mop up those problems.
2137 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you see that need prevailing for all service providers, regardless of the size of their business?
2138 MR. LAWFORD: Absolutely. That does happen for all providers. The only question is how much difficulty are you going to put on CCTS to chase them all down.
2139 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2140 CCTS, do you have any other views to add?
2141 MR. MAKER: Howard Maker.
2142 One of the concerns that we have, as we have indicated, is the operationalization of a voluntary or semi-voluntary scheme.
2143 We have to put in place certain things in order to run this service, we have to lease office space, we have to lease equipment, we have to recruit and retain staff and I just wanted to highlight the concerns we have about the ability to do all those things that are so essential to providing the service in the face of the possibility of members coming and going.
2144 THE CHAIRPERSON: How does CCTS budget today? I don't want to get into the quantum, but do you look out three years, five years and plan? The case management system that you are building right now, I mean is that something that's intended to last "X" number of years or do you sort of once you build it you pay for it this year and whatever upgrades you need and if two, three, four, five years you decide you have to start fresh you start over again and put it in the budget?
2145 MR. MAKER: Well, with respect to your question about the case management system, we anticipate that it's going to be robust enough to meet our needs for many years into the future.
2146 With respect to other issues, you know, certainly budgeting and planning is a challenge because the workflow that we get is really outside of our control, it's generated by consumers and arises out of the relationships with their providers. So the market conduct of the providers on any particular issue is what really drives -- and the awareness about CCTS on consumers is what drives our business. So it's very challenging for us to project how much we are going to see in terms of volumes from year to year.
2147 At this point that is what we have done, we have projected annually what we expect to see in the coming year and budgeted around those numbers. In future we might choose to do that in a different way, but that's what we do right now.
2148 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2149 Do any of my fellow Commissioners have any follow-up questions?
2150 Commissioner Morin...?
2151 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
2152 Good morning. I will ask my question in French.
2153 Hier et avant-hier, on a beaucoup parlé du coût pour mettre, disons, sur une facture l'annonce ou le message standardisé.
2154 Avez-vous une idée de ce que ça coûterait? On a parlé de millions. Est-ce que vous pourriez nous dire ce que ça coûterait pour une compagnie d'inscrire ça sur sa facture à chaque mois?
2155 Deuxièmement, si c'était quatre fois par année, auriez-vous un chiffre à nous donner? Et si on parlait d'encarts... On parle de feux fois actuellement d'encarts publicitaires annonçant le service. Si c'était quatre fois...
2156 Alors, je répète mes questions.
2157 Chaque mois, sur le bill imprimé, qu'est-ce que ça coûterait, électronique ou papier?
2158 Quatre fois par année, qu'est-ce que ça coûterait, et la comparaison avec les encarts quatre fois par année, disons? Parce que là, on parle de deux encarts par année. Si c'était quatre fois, qu'est-ce que ça coûterait?
2159 MR. ENGELHART: I will take a start and maybe my colleagues want to add.
2160 So generally speaking the bills have a space where you are allowed to insert messages, that's what that space is for, so inserting a message in that space, the cost is fairly modest because that's what the space is therefore.
2161 The difficulty, as I think parties have explained, is if it went in that space every month you wouldn't have the space available for other messages. So if the Commission required us to put it in that space every month, you would redesign the bill, and you would redesign the bill so that there was a different layout and the message was there all the time.
2162 As Mr. Brazeau said yesterday, whenever we ask our IT people to redesign the bill the cost seems to be inexplicably large. It always seems to me to be orders of magnitude more than it could conceivably be. Mr. Brazeau said it always takes them two years and $20 million and it's in that order of magnitude. We don't have a precise cost, but things tend to take at least a year, sometimes two years and in the millions, shall we say, to redesign a bill.
2163 If we did it four times a year I think that would be more manageable. I'm sure that it would cause some contention with other messages, and I'm sure that there would a lot of grumbling back at the office, but it would be more manageable than every month, because you would just put it in that designated place and you would juggle things around.
2164 A bill insert is no help, it's actually the most expensive way of doing things and when you have electronic bills a bill insert is really just an addition to the bill.
2165 COMMISSIONER MORIN: So it would be less expensive to print four times a year without redesigning the bill than put some insert that many people trash out every month?
2166 MR. ENGELHART: Yes.
2167 COMMISSIONER MORIN: The last question.
2168 You are talking about a tag, will it be possible to put this tag on without redesigning your bill every month or does the same rule apply as you said in comparison to 4 months instead of 12 months, the options you have.
2169 MR. ENGELHART: You mean the membership seal?
2170 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes, the tag.
2171 MR. ENGELHART: Yes.
2172 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Because it seems to me that for you it's very important because you are saying, "We are not afraid of complaints, we are members of this CCTS, or Association, and so on, so we are opening -- look at our bills, we are confident that you are doing the right job."
2173 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think the seal would necessarily go on the bill. It would certainly go on the website and it might go on some of your advertisements, because that's where you would be -- you are trying to sell things to customers and that's where you would be telling them.
2174 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Because I don't think that we have to micromanage the whole thing, I'm just looking at the ways to stimulate the awareness of the consumer at least.
2175 Thanks very much for all your answers. Oh, is there some answer --
2176 M. MESSIER : Très similaire à ce que monsieur Engelhart a dit.
2177 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci beaucoup.
2178 M. MESSIER : Je vous en prie.
2179 THE CHAIRPERSON: Does anybody else on the panel want to follow up? No?
2180 Commissioner Patrone...?
2181 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning.
2182 I just have one question and I would just like you to help me reconcile what appears to me kind of a contradictory idea that market forces will both ensure the CCTS' continued viability while at the same time those same market forces would produce the circumstances of which you spoke regarding churn, and the idea that a customer can always vote with his feet and leave if they don't like the service, which, in and of itself, suggests that that might render the services of the CCTS somewhat superfluous.
2183 Can you help me understand how the same forces that would ensure the viability of the CCTS would also render it unnecessary or superfluous, given the market challenges associated with providing good service and competition?
2184 I hope I have gotten my question across.
2185 MR. ENGELHART: I guess that we are entering an era, or we are in an era, where it is no longer sort of caveat emptor. The idea that customers had better look out for themselves is something that customers no longer feel is appropriate. They want to deal with companies that not only provide good services, at good prices, with good customer service, but things like corporate social responsibility are important. If you are not a company that has sound environmental policies or sound policies in the workplace, customers will leave you. They want to know what your charitable donations are. They want to know that you are a good corporate citizen.
2186 Customers these days -- not all customers, but a significant number, look at a package of characteristics about their service provider, all of which are important to them when they make that decision to buy.
2187 We also are at a time in the communications industry where we have more choices than we have ever had before.
2188 So all of these factors lead to an opportunity for the CCTS, and I think it is one reason why many of us in this room were grumpy when the Order in Council came down three years ago, and we are now relatively calm, because it is filling a need.
2189 At the same time, any organization -- private or public, or an organization like the CCTS -- will operate better if it has other than a guaranteed situation. If membership is mandatory and the CCTS knows that it is mandatory, forever, for everyone, I think they will be less conscientious than if they have to worry about members quitting, and I think they will stay on their game.
2190 I think one reason they have performed as well as they have over the last three years is because of this sort of dynamic, where it's mandatory but sort of not mandatory.
2191 That's why we are saying that market forces can contribute simultaneously to the existence of the CCTS and can help the CCTS to perform better.
2192 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So the risk of departure provides an insurance policy for ensuring that the CCTS doesn't become something which perhaps would run counter to the views that corporations like yours might deem appropriate within the context of how they operate.
2193 MR. ENGELHART: We were talking about this yesterday. They still have to be independent, but it's just like anyone else. If I was guaranteed a job at Rogers for the next ten years, I probably wouldn't work as many weekends as I do. We all go a little bit harder when we have a need to prove ourselves.
2194 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Just getting back to your initial answer to my first question, as I understand it, you believe that optics, that public perception around being a good corporate citizen, plays a role in what the CCTS does as an independent body, and that sort of fits in with your statement about market forces ensuring the CCTS' ongoing viability.
2195 Have I got that right?
2196 MR. ENGELHART: Yes, sir.
2197 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
2198 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think that concludes this phase with the cable group.
2199 Madam Secretary...
2200 THE SECRETARY: Thank you very much.
2201 I would now invite TELUS to come forward to the presentation table, please.
2202 When you are ready, Mr. Woodhead, you may proceed.
2203 MR. WOODHEAD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Ted Woodhead. On my left is Marten Burns, and on my right is Eric Edora.
2204 Like the Cable Carriers, we don't have a lot to add in this phase in terms of prepared comments, but we did provide a quick summary of the positions, as we see them, and TELUS' positions in this proceeding.
2205 Madam Secretary, were you provided with the document?
2206 THE SECRETARY: Yes.
2207 MR. WOODHEAD: So everyone has it in front of them.
2208 COMMISSIONER DENTON: At last, a briefing I can understand. Thank you very much.
2209 MR. WOODHEAD: This is, essentially, a table with what we saw as the issues that we discussed, as were set out by the Commission, and I will speak briefly to a few of them, if you don't mind.
2210 In terms of membership, I can't disagree, really, with what Mr. Engelhart said. As a practical matter, it strikes me, as a consumer organization subject to any operational considerations of the CCTS, that membership should be mandatory.
2211 We can play around with funding, in that, if you are below the $10 million threshold, it would strike me as reasonable and practical to say that these people -- these organizations -- wouldn't have the requirement to fund the organization on the basis of the revenue portion. That would just be more administratively simple, to me, although Mr. Maker could perhaps speak to that, in terms of chasing down the multitude of smaller providers.
2212 But it would still provide, from a consumer perspective, a place to go to have issues resolved during whatever the ongoing period is.
2213 We have no issue with the governance structure of the organization. We agree with its current mandate. As I said yesterday, we believe that this organization is actually doing a good job at fulfilling its remit in the GIC, and has been operating and has acted responsibly in the three years that it has been in existence.
2214 Its responsiveness, in fact, is underscored by the amendments to the claims process, and we believe that it is doing a good job on that and has become more efficient.
2215 On codes of conduct, our view is that codes of conduct should be developed by the industry, if they are developed at all, and to the extent that anyone is going to mandate them, there will have to be a process associated with that, and the CRTC, or some CRTC process, would have to be engaged.
2216 On remedies, our position is clear. We believe that the $5,000 limit is appropriate. I think, at this point, there is no evidence at all that it isn't. The largest award -- and there have been very few that have been rendered to this point -- is $1,100.
2217 In terms of public awareness, we tried to actually source from our folks back west the actual cost of developing a new field. They are not able to give us precise numbers, but we would stand by the point that this would cost millions of dollars, and I would echo the comments made by Mr. Engelhart in that regard.
2218 To proactively address your point about four versus twelve, that probably is more doable. Twelve would, as I said yesterday, move all other messaging out of that field, requiring new messaging and bill redesign, and we believe that that is not the way to go and that there may be other things that could be explored.
2219 But four -- if that's what it is, that's what it is.
2220 Again, in terms of inserts, I would echo Mr. Engelhart. That is by far the most costly one because it often takes, in the case in our systems particularly, in some areas, manual intervention.
2221 Transparency and accountability -- I don't think I specifically addressed that yesterday, but the Annual Report provided by the CCTS -- and we all talked a little bit about some of the numbers early on, but I found the report to be first class. They are addressing some of the issues, with respect to out of scope and other complaints, which they weren't able to aggregate in a way that made it particularly meaningful, but I think the case management system will do the trick there.
2222 In terms of accessibility, I believe that they have done a good job there. They are working on improvements to that, and I don't think you have an issue there.
2223 Lastly, in terms of the review period, our position is that five years -- that position was developed primarily because it is still in its early stages, so we thought that five years would be appropriate, but either three or five we would be happy with.
2224 That really is just a recapitulation of our positions, as they have evolved during the course of the proceeding. With that, I am happy to take any of your questions.
2225 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have a couple. On the claims process, it was discussed, either yesterday or Monday, the fact that although there is a 30-day trigger for initial responses back from the TSP to the CCTS on the investigations, there are no guidelines beyond that for the resolution at the investigation stage, at the recommendation stage, or at the decision stage.
2226 Do you believe that there should be some degree of accountability in those last three stages, as well, for clarity, for the sake of consumers?
2227 MR. WOODHEAD: If you could just give me a moment, I will discuss this with my colleagues.
2228 MR. WOODHEAD: Mr. Burns may want to add here, but he informs me that, while it may not be in the code, they do have performance standards publicly available on their website for each of those stages.
2229 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I guess we can follow up with the CCTS when they come before us later on.
2230 My other question has to do with the issue of awareness. As the CCTS moves toward a transaction component for handling complaints, I could see a possible inverse relationship to TSPs wanting to create greater awareness, because although it may cost $8 or $10 for every customer service call coming in, it will cost $100 for every call going to the CCTS. Ergo, if we don't publicize it too much, maybe we can handle it ourselves, rather than having it referred over to the CCTS, and that may be one of the triggers why Mr. Engelhart said yesterday that Rogers has their own ombudsperson, as well, before it goes across.
2231 What are your views on that?
2232 MR. WOODHEAD: Actually, just listening to how you articulated that, I would think that the economic logic there would be that, in fact, what would happen is that you would be incented mightily to solve this at the CSR level and not have it go to the CCTS.
2233 THE CHAIRPERSON: I agree. That's why I am saying that maybe there is less of an incentive for the TSPs to actually promote the CCTS, because they don't want that trigger to go to the CCTS.
2234 MR. WOODHEAD: Right. Although, in the process that we have, the CCTS has advertised to the customer, at the point of each escalation, its existence.
2235 I guess that I disagree. Our motivation is not to starve the CCTS for airtime. The CCTS probably did better, in terms of airtime, with the release of its Annual Report than by any media that it received.
2236 Our issue around the twelve versus -- I have just conceded that if you want to say that two isn't enough, maybe we could live with four, but twelve isn't -- not because we want to starve the CCTS for public awareness, we do that because it will cost millions of dollars to recreate our bill.
2237 That isn't our motivation, in any event.
2238 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Lawford, I think I just heard an offer of four. What are your views?
2239 MR. LAWFORD: Quarterly appears to us to be frequent enough for consumers to actually notice it.
2240 As Commissioner Morin said, he missed it in May. I missed it the last time it came around, too.
2241 I think that once every quarter consumers would notice it, but it's not so intrusive that the providers have lost all of their promotional space, and the space for other public service announcements, as well.
2242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can I poll the rest of the folks out here? Bell, the cable guys, MTS, what are your views on four?
2243 MS MORIN: Suzanne Morin, for Bell Canada and Bell Aliant.
2244 No doubt, four is definitely better than monthly. Without having at my fingertips what the message is expected to be for the next six to twelve months, I can't say definitively what kind of impact that might have.
2245 When we come, we will share with you a little bit about what our bills look like and some of the concerns that we have, but there is no doubt that four is better than twelve.
2246 THE CHAIRPERSON: MTS?
2247 MS MALLIFF: What we would like to stress is that, before we get into agreeing to four or six or twelve, whatever it is, we assure ourselves that the value for that kind of publication in our bills will be of value.
2248 The first time around, yes, they did see a spike, but I don't think there is any evidence -- I don't think that enough time has passed to prove that it would happen on a continuing basis.
2249 After a while, you see things on your bills every month, you don't even know -- you don't see them any more. You don't look at them. You don't pay attention.
2250 So I would like to see and assess what multiple advertisements would provide, rather than just going into it -- because, as everyone else here has said, it is going to cost a lot of money.
2251 THE CHAIRPERSON: Isn't the way to assess it to try it and see if that is the cheapest way of assessing it?
2252 I mean, the only way you are going to find out if you will get diminishing returns is to sort of see what happens when you go forward with four and see whether the spike is still there or not. If it's not there, you have your answer. If it is there, then maybe there still is an awareness to it.
2253 And that is distinct and different from putting in a bill insert, where many people take the bill insert, and whatever is in there, and trash it before they even see what it says.
2254 This is actually on the bill itself, I guess.
2255 MS MALLIFF: I agree, I think that we should look at what the impact is. However, we have only witnessed the impact of one particular notice that came out.
2256 I think that all of the companies, very soon, will be putting out their second one, and I would like to see the statistics on that before I say: Yes, it is going to happen every time. Four times is a better choice.
2257 THE CHAIRPERSON: What about the cable folks?
2258 MR. ENGELHART: As I indicated, I don't have firm instructions on this, but just dealing with -- I think it's probably doable. I will not be greeted as a returning hero if I tell them that they have to do it, but it's probably doable.
2259 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2260 Commissioner Menzies...
2261 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I am kind of curious. We seem to be walking into the insert idea. How do you guys advertise your services?
2262 Let's start with TELUS. What is the primary medium that you use to advertise your product?
2263 MR. WOODHEAD: I wouldn't know what the primary is. You know, we advertise our services through print, media, short information messages to some extent, we do inserts, we have websites.
2264 I don't know which the primary is. I would suspect that our largest budget item is broadcast media.
2265 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Anybody else?
2266 Let me ask this, then, of the cablecos. Do you use inserts in bills? Is that how you sell your product? Is that the most effective --
2267 What I am trying to get at is whether this is the most effective way of doing this, before we box ourselves in. When it is going to cost people a lot of money and it's not going to produce any results, that doesn't necessarily make sense to me.
2268 MR. ENGELHART: Just to clarify your term, printing a message on the bill, we don't usually call that an insert. I think you are referring to the printed message, in the designated space.
2269 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes, something in an envelope being mailed to somebody.
2270 MR. ENGELHART: Yes. Sure, we use them, but, no, like Ted said, we advertise -- print, television, all sorts of places.
2271 Putting a message on a bill -- a lot of people don't look at it at all. Some people just glance briefly at it. But, obviously, there are some people who will say, "Hey", you know...
2272 The message will say, "Traveling to the U.S.? Buy a travel pack," and they will look at it and they will go, "Oh, yeah, I'm traveling to the U.S. I should buy travel packs." So it does have some effectiveness.
2273 You know, in the case of the CCTS, the interesting thing is of course that you have to go through the normal channels first so I actually think the best thing for the CCTS is the fact that when people get to our office of the president, if they are still not happy they are told, "You can also appeal to the CCTS". Because knowing about the CCTS is important, yes, but people still have to go through the internal channels.
2274 So I think putting a bill message is another way of raising awareness which is a good thing. Is it as powerful as some other mechanisms; probably not.
2275 MR. WOODHEAD: Sorry, it's Ted Woodhead again.
2276 I mean I agree with that. Our position has been that, you know the two existing ones, along with all the other means of promotion are adequate including directories in the important pages, right by where the CRTC information is; the prominent placement on e-bills, the two instances. I mean there seems to be some view here that it's kind of like, you know, one pill is good, four is better.
2277 I'm not sure that there is evidence that that is the case and that in sticking these things on the short information field, you know, whether -- you know I take your point. We can find out, but I'm not sure going in that it necessarily is going to achieve what you are trying to get at.
2278 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: PIAC, Mr. Lawford...?
2279 MR. LAWFORD: Just to say that the reason more is better is, first of all, we heard from Mr. Maker that the few that they have done -- they have had huge spikes, not just spikes but huge spikes. So you can expect to have if not spikes certainly lots of big bumps, I think, for the next few years if you do it on the bill. That's where people look.
2280 And people come into the telecom system, if you will, young people just buying their first cell phone, people switching carriers, trying new services for the first time and never had internet, whatever. Those people will see the bill. They will see the message on it there. There is a continuing need in our view and the bill is the best place to do it.
2281 So we don't think four a year is at all unreasonable. We think it's a reasonable saw-off in the middle. It's printed on the bill and, as the carriers say, they have space. It's just a matter of whether they push out promotional messages or not.
2282 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Maybe Mr. Maker could help me with that, because one of my concerns would be that certainly you get a spike and you achieve the goal of awareness. But aren't you just kind of creating a loop where people see that number, they phone that number first and you send them back to their telephone company and initiate a process that perhaps should have been -- is unnecessary and is just causing everybody a lot of extra work?
2283 Like I said, it obviously achieves the awareness goal but whether -- is that awareness efficient or inefficient?
2284 MR. MAKER: Howard Maker here. I don't have any data to answer that question.
2285 We don't have the ability to measure how many of the people that call us for an informational -- on an informational basis having seen the bill message, later come back through the process with an actual complaint that we accept. So I can't help you with that.
2286 On the other issues, though, I don't think there is any magic number to how many bill messages or bill inserts, you know, ring the perfect bell of consumer awareness. I think it's important to note that this is -- the bill messages are one piece of an overall plan about public awareness, albeit an extremely effective piece. They are one piece.
2287 We targeted bills because we thought that achieving consumer awareness for an organization like ours does not get accomplished with, you know, a spread in the national newspapers. People look at that and then two days later they don't remember who you are or what you are about or what acronym was that. There is plenty of research by other ombudsmen organizations to demonstrate that.
2288 So we wanted to be as much as possible in a place where consumers would find us when they need us. So the bills seemed like the perfect place, as does the website, because those are the kinds of places where people start searching when they have a problem.
2289 So far as MTS has pointed out, we have only been through one bill cycle, one cycle of bill messages. In fact, just this month we are about to start the second cycle with one of our larger members.
2290 So the jury is out a little bit in terms of what the impact is going to be. We don't know whether we are going to see the same kind of peaks, whether they might be higher, they might be lower. We just don't know. We don't have enough data right now to know what the impact of those is going to be.
2291 Our concern, of course, I don't have any problem with more bill messages. I would never turn down any free advertising for an organization that's trying to be better known. Obviously, more is better.
2292 Our concern would certainly be we would want to schedule it so that we limit the number of large providers that are doing these bill messages at any one time so that it runs a bit smoother for our contact centre.
2293 But hopefully that information provides some helpful context.
2294 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson?
2295 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. Thank you for that, Mr. Maker.
2296 I raised the issue the other day with respect to value of printed messages whether it be a bill or a statement mailer.
2297 And I was looking at your annual report, Mr. Maker, and customer contacts by far, by telephone, exceed all other forms of contact. Almost 75 percent of first approaches to the CCTS come via telephone. Second is 16.5 percent by a web form and 1.6 percent by the written word via mail and 7.7 percent by email.
2298 I know you know these statistics but I can't help but by looking at my own habits, feel that these are indicative of how the customer communicates. So if they do get a statement, their first inclination is to pick up the phone and call and call their carrier and see what they can do to resolve an issue.
2299 And in my experience I have not been looking at statements for a long, long time because they are coming to me online. They are much more convenient. I know at the end of the month I have to do my affairs, go online; look at the bill. Consequently, if there is a problem I pick up the phone and attempt to resolve it with a CSR.
2300 In all of the years that I have owned a cell phone, and my first cell phone was 1984 with one of the Motorola Bricks, I have obviously engaged CSRs to resolve billing issues, cancellation issues, the whole nine yards and I have never once until this year been aware of the CCTS through any engagement with a carrier of any kind.
2301 That's largely the result of having been satisfactorily dealt with, which is what I think is what the carriers' point is, that give us the right to mediate and resolve a customer issue because that individual is important to us. We have a contractual relationship with them and we want to honour it to the best of our ability.
2302 And with all of that said, I still feel that we have to think about getting CCTS awareness into alternate forms other than talking about the merits of the printed bill. I'm thinking with respect to call direction, you know, with automated direction.
2303 When you reach a call centre to a carrier whether the sixth option should be, if you have exhausted all other avenues of attempting to resolve your dispute, you have the option of calling the CCTS. Here is their phone number, because if 75 percent of the constituents are trying to resolve matters via the telephone, let's give them -- let's consider giving them that option in the way their calls are directed.
2304 How do you feel about that, Mr. Maker?
2305 MR. MAKER: Well, I agree with you that -- and as I indicated earlier, the consumer communications plan, the public awareness activities that we are doing encompass a wide variety of efforts and certainly the bill message is just one piece of the puzzle.
2306 I have no objection to exploring with our board, with our voting members, and with our stakeholders any other alternatives that we think would be effective in enhancing the level of our visibility and in enhancing consumer awareness. We would completely support that.
2307 We have considered some for this year such as the social media project that we are going to look at. We have also engaged someone to optimize our website for search capabilities. So we are always trying to think about new and interesting alternatives.
2308 I don't know whether putting us on the IVRQ at a TSP is the right answer or not but, as I say, we take outside advice on this. We discuss it with our members and with other stakeholders and based on that information the board and the voting members will make a determination about what they think will be most effective.
2309 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
2310 MR. WOODHEAD: Excuse me. Just on that I want to -- in our -- the internal fields that our CSRs look at, which we call one source, this is specifically on there. If the customer -- if you cannot solve this problem, the customer is to be advised of the existence and the contact details for CCTS.
2311 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. That concludes Phase II for TELUS.
2312 Madam Secretary.
2313 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
2314 I will now invite MTS Allstream to come to the table, please.
2315 THE SECRETARY: So when you are ready, Ms Malliff, please reintroduce your colleagues for the record and you may proceed with your presentation.
2316 MS MALLIFF: Thank you.
2317 Good morning, Commissioners. Good morning, Commission staff.
2318 My name is Donna Malliff. I am Director of Regulatory Affairs at MTS Allstream. With me today is Geoffrey White and John Maksimow.
2319 Our comments today will summarize MTS Allstream's views on the major issues, and clarify our position with respect to bill messages. Obviously, that seems to be the topic of discussion this morning.
2320 Although MTS Allstream tries to resolve all customer complaints internally and has only received a small number of complaints via the CCTS, we, like all others at this hearing, believe that the Agency plays a useful role and has been working effectively. Accordingly, the CCTS should essentially continue to operate as designed.
2321 In terms of membership, we are not opposed to universal membership, but believe that the existing $10 million communications revenue threshold for mandatory membership remains appropriate as it serves a useful, administratively simple way to ensure that most Canadians have access to the CCTS.
2322 In terms of governance and voting structure, the bylaws, and specifically the requirement of an extraordinary resolution for certain fundamental matters, ensures a proper balance between independence and accountability, and is therefore satisfactory.
2323 Here, we would like to reiterate that the definition of "extraordinary resolution" in the bylaws requires not just the support of two-thirds of the industry directors but also two-thirds of independent directors. Such a supermajority requirement for fundamental matters is a common governance practice and it motivates productive consensus-building for important decisions.
2324 In terms of mandate, we all agree that the CCTS was conceived as, and is primarily, a complaints-resolution body. We do see, however, a role for the CCTS, as it is currently designed, in facilitating the development of codes and standards by the industry and which all stakeholders can support, while avoiding the prospect of the CCTS re-regulating services that have been deregulated.
2325 Here, as in cases of other fundamental matters, the supermajority voting requirement places an appropriate incentive on the CCTS to obtain industry input early and often so as to develop appropriate codes and standards that the industry can support.
2326 In terms of public awareness, we believe that the current CCTS and industry initiatives remain effective, and we want to be clear that what we said yesterday about bill messages in our presentation that we agreed that if the Commission does decide to mandate these, it should be a universal and uniform obligation on all TSPs.
2327 We also want to echo the comments of the Bell Companies, TELUS and the Cable Companies in saying that it would be very costly -- possibly in the range of millions of dollars -- to revise the billing system fields required for permanent monthly messages about the CCTS' services.
2328 You have heard how the CCTS activity increased following bill messages, which has led some to conclude that bill messages are the way and only way to go in terms of increasing public awareness. As I mentioned, there has been one evidence and the evidence so far tells us -- the numbers tell us -- actually revealed that although there was a huge increase in contacts, literally 250 percent in 2009-2010, that that the number of complaints opened in the same period of time increased by 16 percent, but the actual number of complaints closed in the same period was just over 1 percent.
2329 These numbers do not convince us that mandating permanent monthly bill messages is the most effective and efficient way to proceed given what we expect may be diminishing marginal returns on what is already, it appears, a low-level effect.
2330 Therefore, this leads us to say that whatever additional expense may be incurred to increase awareness, the value of that expense should be carefully assessed because it is not entirely clear at this time, based on the very limited evidence before the Commission, about a one-time spike in customer contacts, that bill messages are, in fact, the most effective and efficient use of awareness dollars.
2331 By way of constructive comments for the CCTS, we think two changes could be made to increase its effectiveness: First, increasing the complaint-based portion of member fees from one-third to two-thirds. This change which would incent TSPs to have good customer relations practices and; second, incorporating into the Procedural Code targets for the Agency itself to complete its investigation and recommendations, a change which would be good for customers.
2332 Finally, we note that there is a broad consensus in this proceeding and an appropriate review period would be five years, with three years being too short a timeframe to develop any meaningful evidence and data.
2333 Subject to any questions, we thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
2334 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2335 I take what you are saying with regard to the bill message, the short message not being maybe the best solution. But you haven't tabled any other solutions either. You haven't said, "Try something else because it may be as good if not better".
2336 So you leave us with very little other than "We have tried it once. It's in the bill message. It spiked it". From your perspective it may not have created the complaints that it needed to, but it did create the awareness. We know that by virtue of the phone calls.
2337 But you haven't provided any other indicator or indicia that we should be looking at.
2338 MS MALLIFF: I think what we said is that it did create some awareness. We also agree with the other awareness techniques that we have already instituted, putting it on our website, the CCTS publishing its annual report, the publications on CCTS, all of this.
2339 We have to remember that this is a new organization and as the years go by things will improve. I think yesterday Mr. Engelhart mentioned about blogging and texting and tweeting. That's all -- I'm old here and that's all beyond me. But I know the social media is where it is today. That's where if people have problems with their products, with their services, they talk to each other and they find out very quickly where they can go to get help.
2340 For me, if I was looking for -- if I want to complain about a telephone company, I just go on the internet and say, "complain about telephone company". Guess what pops up on the Google first thing, is CCTS.
2341 I think a little bit more experience we will find that the word will get out more and more and, as I heard this morning Mr. Maker saying, they are looking into other avenues of public awareness. Perhaps they will work as well.
2342 All we are saying here is don't take this one spike as being the only way to go because it is a very expensive way to go.
2343 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2344 Mr. Lawford, have you got any views on the use of social networking to deal with some of these issues?
2345 MR. LAWFORD: I think it's very encouraging that Mr. Maker -- John Lawford -- that he has undertaken to study that. The social media is a bit of a two-edged sword, just simply from our organization's point of view. We just want to make sure there is some proper privacy controls around that.
2346 But in terms of just getting the word out, we think it's a great development. And if they are already undertaking a study of it I think that that's about as far as we can push it at the moment.
2347 There are other ways perhaps to get the message out besides the billing, but that's where we are thinking people when they have a problem look first. But we are very encouraged by them studying it.
2348 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2349 I have got a question for Mr. Maker.
2350 MTS in paragraph 11 suggest that we set up targets for investigation and recommendations. I raised that with TELUS a while earlier and Mr. Burns said you do have targets right now and guidelines.
2351 Can you expand upon what you actually have and how it's working and to what extent you make that information available to your members, to your board, to the general public at large?
2352 MR. MAKER: Yes, Mr. Chair.
2353 We have a performance standard document on our website. It was approved by the Board, I believe towards the end of 2008, and it's modelled on ISO-1003 which is a guideline for effective complaint handling for third parties.
2354 It covers all sorts of aspects of good management of complaint handling, accessibility, transparency; competence improvement, all of those kinds of things.
2355 It also includes what most people consider when they talk about performance standards, which is timeliness. And, indeed, the standard we have to date talks about timeliness of complaint handling at the front end of our process in the pre-investigation stage. It also -- and it talks about that with specificity.
2356 With respect to the subsequent stages, the investigations and resolutions, the recommendations and decisions, the current document speaks to that in a general way. We talk about doing it as reasonably quickly as we can, based on the circumstances of the complaint.
2357 What we are working on with our board is a way to formalize what our performance standards should be for those pieces of our process and we are also, as you know, engaged in the process of trying to rebuild our case management system so that once we put those -- once we decide what those performance standards should be, we can actually measure them because our current criteria or our current system doesn't allow us to do that.
2358 So for me, in my respectful view, that's the process we would undertake to provide accountability and transparency about what we do and how long it takes us to do it.
2359 We would presumably -- and I think I said in my opening comments that my objective is that once the system has been put in place, we will have a form of a performance standard around timeliness for that piece of the process approved by the Board and ready to plug into our system.
2360 Until this point, and certainly at the time we develop the performance standards document, we were experimenting with our process. It was new, we were trying to figure out what worked most efficiently, most effectively, you know, within the framework of our procedural code as it then was, and we certainly weren't ready to document what those standards should be, both out of fairness to the customers and out of fairness to our own staff.
2361 So that is high on our to-do list. And in my respectful view, that is the appropriate way that we should tell the public about what our expectations of ourselves are and what their expectations of us should be, and we would report on our progress measured against those standards.
2362 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2363 Any of my fellow Commissioners have any follow-up?
2364 Commissioner Duncan.
2365 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just a quick question. Am I correct in assuming that because the TSPs have already developed the message -- the wording I guess that was given to you goes in that space, there is no incremental cost to putting that on the bill two times versus four? I know you are giving up what would normally be in the spot, but...
2366 MR. MAKSIMOW: The cost is dependent on a number of variables. And if there are messages beyond the one promoting the CCTS, it may result in going to another page of messages and there will be an additional cost associated with that additional page.
2367 THE CHAIRPERSON: The opportunity cost you are talking about?
2368 MR. MAKSIMOW: The actual cost.
2369 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the actual cost of not using that space for what purpose you want to use it for versus putting on a regulatory message is purely the opportunity cost?
2370 MR. MAKSIMOW: Everything else being equal, then the cost is not significant.
2371 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
2372 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2373 That concludes Phase II for MTS.
2374 Let's go on to the next party, Madam Secretary.
2375 THE SECRETARY: I would now invite Bell.
2376 THE SECRETARY: Madam Morin, when you are ready you may proceed.
2377 MS MORIN: Thank you, Madam Secretary, Mr. Vice-Chairman and Commissioners. It is nice to be back. I am joined here again today with Bill Abbott and we are here for Bell Canada and Bell Aliant.
2378 We start our reply from the same premise we did our opening statement; the companies support the continued operation of the CCTS under its current mandate and structure.
2379 Now, the discussion of public awareness has centred around the placement and frequency of the CCTS board-approved message that appears twice per year on TSP member bills.
2380 Before discussing the issues surrounding the potential impact of mandated placement and frequency of such a message on our respective billing systems and platforms, let us look at an actual single wireline service Bell Canada bill, which is attached to our reply comments.
2381 Et, Commissaire Morin, vous nous avez montré au début, lundi, une facture avec beaucoup d'espaces blancs. Celui-là aussi a beaucoup d'espaces blancs.
2382 Parlons un peu de ces espaces blancs. C'est une facture ici pour un abonné, un client, avec un service chez Bell, service local...
2383 Cependant, si un abonné a aussi «sans fil», il faut ajouter sur la première page à la droite une autre boîte pour son service sans fil. Si en plus on est chanceux et ce client-là a aussi Internet, on doit ajouter une troisième boîte. Et si on est très chanceux, ce client a aussi la télévision avec nous et on doit ajouter une quatrième boîte. Cependant, il n'y a pas assez de place sur la première page et la quatrième boîte se trouverait sur la page 2, à l'endos.
2384 En plus, ce client paye à la banque ou par envoyé son paiement. Cependant, s'il payait avec une carte de crédit ou bien par carte bancaire, il aurait une petite boîte lui confirmant que c'est déjà autorisé, qu'il doit rien faire. Ça, ça se passerait à la gauche. Et en bas, c'est un bout de papier perforé où est-ce que... Ça, c'est le bout de papier que le client envoierait par la poste ou bien à la banque.
2385 La troisième page -- et c'est cette page-là dont je parlais lundi matin, ou lundi après-midi -- c'est là où...
2386 Parce que les premiers deux pages, c'est un sommaire de ses services avec nous. A la troisième page, c'est où on commence le détail. Alors c'est là où est-ce qu'on trouve notre petite boîte, où est-ce qu'on met ses messages.
2387 S'il avait d'autres services avec nous, en interurbain et tout ça, bien les pages continuent. Si on fait beaucoup d'appels interurbains, on peut avoir deux, trois, quatre pages supplémentaires. Et je crois que vous voyez un peu qu'est-ce qui se passe.
2388 Alors, le fait que c'est blanc ne veut pas indiquer qu'on peut nécessairement ajouter quelque chose, parce qu'il y a d'autres choses qui se passent.
2389 Now that you have a better understanding of why Bell Canada's bill looks the way it does, let us explain further the potential impacts on our billing systems and platforms. Now I will actually return to our written comments.
2390 You have heard it already from other TSPs that have come before you, billing systems and platforms are very complicated and expensive to change. We do not have a single billing system, but rather multiple billing systems that feed into several billing platforms that generate both paper and electronic bills for our residential and business customers.
2391 These billing platforms must be able to generate bills from millions of customers each month that reflect countless different factual scenarios that depend on a multitude of factors such as the number of different services a customer has, whether it is local, wireline, long-distance, optional services and features such as voicemail, wireless, TV, internet, whether equipment is rented or not, multiple lines or telephone numbers, reoccurring monthly charges versus unique monthly charges, any outstanding ballot or credit, payment method selected, et cetera. I think you get the message.
2392 While bills may look simple and some appear to have empty space available, bills are not Word or PowerPoint documents that can be changed by simply adding a textbox. In other words, a bill is not just a document, it is an aggregation of multiple inputs from a variety of sources with a field allocated to each source.
2393 Billing platforms include a complicated series of fields that are developed using complex computer codes that all have to come together to generate a single bill. Much effort is required in developing our billing platforms to give our bills a simple and customer-friendly look and feel regardless of the factual situations for a particular customer.
2394 So how do we send a message on a bill? Bills are pre-provisioned with a textbox where we can send a specific message each month. This textbox is what we in the industry call a short informational message or SIM.
2395 The SIM is typically setup in our billing platforms to appear at a particular place on the bill. In Bell Canada's context you have seen that it appears after the summary information is presented and immediately before the detailed information, which happens to be at the very top of page 3 of 3.
2396 This message box is used for other regulatory messages that we are required to include on our bills, such as the SIM required on all 705 residential customers' bills this month reminding them that 10-digit local dialling will start on 15th of January, 2011 or the E911 messages, as well as legal messages and promotional messages that we want to bring to the attention of our customers. It is located where it is because we think they will see it.
2397 The message box is also limited by the number of characters that can be included. If our existing message box has to be used for a reoccurring monthly message about the CCTS, either we have to forego the ability to include feature, regulatory, legal and promotional messages or we are left with the need of making expensive changes to our billing systems and platforms when there is no demonstrated need for such a reoccurring message.
2398 The current semi-annual CCTS bill message is an effective public awareness measure that was developed by the Commissioner as part of the public awareness plan and approved by a simple majority of the CCTS Board. As noted by the CCTS, public awareness is a long-term and continuous project and bill message are but one of several initiatives taken to promote public awareness.
2399 The Board is best placed to assess the results of the public awareness plan and allocate future efforts and resources based on those results.
2400 In fact, there are a number of issues raised in this proceeding, like future public awareness activities, which the companies believe would be more appropriately addressed directly by the CCTS Board. These issues include, among others, the introduction of a CCTS SEAL program, additional languages of operation, issue tracking, CCTS deadlines for activities at various stages of complaints handling, reporting on out-of-scope complaints. These are exactly the types of operational issues that the CCTS Board has been handling.
2401 Each of these issues will evolve over time. The Board provides ongoing oversight and guidance to react to changing needs and unforeseen developments. The Commission should not micromanage the CCTS's operations. Such Commission involvement could undermine the Board's independence and its ability to reconcile stakeholder interests.
2402 We would also like to highlight that, according to the existing CCTS governing structure, each of the issues mentioned above would be dealt with at the CCTS Board level by a simple majority vote.
2403 That means industry does not have the veto on any of these issues. The handful of issues that do have a special majority are exactly the types of resolutions where there should be a high level of agreement across all stakeholders represented on the Board. The balance of independence and accountability set out in the current governing structure is appropriate, has a successful track record and should not be changed.
2404 Lastly, we would like to address the appropriate review period. The companies originally propose a review in three years' time. We also said on Monday we weren't married to the three years. This first phase of this proceeding gave us insight into the timelines for the introduction of the new case management system and when it will begin to provide more granular information on the complaint's and the CCTS's performance.
2405 With the benefit of this insight, the companies support setting a five-year period before the CCTS is again reviewed by the CRTC.
2406 Thank you for your attention and, once again, we welcome your questions.
2407 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2408 I have one question. You are silent on the extension of the role of CCTS to those participants in the industry with revenue less than $10 million. What are your views of broadening it out to include all consumers who purchase services regardless of the size of their provider?
2409 MS MORIN: Vice-Chairman Katz, we didn't reiterate all of our positions. Our position regarding universal mandatory membership continues.
2410 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2411 Commissioner Morin.
2412 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
2413 On a posé différentes questions ce matin, mais il est évident que si on disait «quatre fois par année» -- et vous avez très bien expliqué, avec votre facturation, que ce n'est pas aussi simple que ça, les espaces blancs; et la facture que j'ai montrée, quand même il y avait plusieurs services, dont deux lignes terrestres.
2414 Le problème que j'y vois personnellement, c'est que si on permet à chacune des compagnies de mettre ces messages les uns en deuxième page, les autres en troisième page, les autres en quatrième page, c'est comme si l'exposition n'était pas la même. C'est-à-dire qu'en deuxième page, théoriquement, on a plus de chance de le voir qu'en troisième page, et caetera.
2415 Et comme votre financement est lié -- le financement du CCTS est lié -- au nombre de plaintes, aux deux tiers, la compagnie qui fait preuve de transparence risque d'être affectée davantage. Moi, comme régulateur, je ne veux pas préjuger une compagnie ou une autre.
2416 Et ma question est la suivante. Est-ce qu'au final ce serait plus coûteux pour vous, moins coûteux pour vous de le faire à tous les mois, mais à la fin complète de la facture, c'est-à-dire un encadré, mais à la fin, soit d'un service d'une facture électronique ou d'une facture papier?
2417 A ce moment-là, est-ce que vous auriez besoin de refaire votre facture, que ça vous coûte des millions? Ce serait fait une fois pour toutes. Et si on change de compagnie à une autre, on saurait toujours qu'à la fin de la facture se trouve la référence pour appeler la compagnie dans un premier temps et appeler le CCTS dans un deuxième temps.
2418 MME MORIN: Alors, Commissaire Morin, nos commentaires changent pas vraiment, même dans cette situation-là que vous nous présentez.
2419 Ajouter n'importe quoi à nos factures, nécessairement ajoute un coût. Et même si nous regardions la facture qu'on nous a présentée, du mois de mai, pour ce client-ci, j'ai aucune idée qu'est-ce que ça va prendre pour ajouter une boîte à la fin de cette page 3/3. Et si le mois prochain, ce même client fait plusieurs appels interurbains qu'il n'a pas faits au mois de mai, nécessairement, il va y avoir une page 4 de 4. Et encore une fois, j'ai aucune idée qu'est-ce que ça va faire à nos systèmes.
2420 Mais même si on met ça de côté, le coût... Parce que je crois que nous sommes tous d'accord, ici, dans la chambre, que c'est coûteux de toucher à nos systèmes de facturation.
2421 Nous, chez Bell, pour nos factures électroniques, on a bel et bien mis ça tout en haut au début. Sur notre site Web, quand vous allez chercher votre facture électronique, c'est là. On a pris cette démarche, cependant, sur nos factures en papier, c'est à la troisième place, où nous pensons que cette boîte-là fait du sens.
2422 Je ne crois pas, même pour le côté concurrentiel, que c'est nécessaire de mandater pour l'industrie où se place l'information, comment rejoindre soit le fournisseur, ou ses étapes pour résoudre une plainte.
2423 En plus... Alors, maintenant c'est presque quelque chose de concurrentiel entre nous dans l'industrie: Quelle étape? Où? Comment? Quelle écriture? Est-ce que la boîte est rouge, est-ce qu'elle est bleue? Tout ça, c'est quelque chose qu'on décide. Est-ce qu'on a trois étapes, est-ce qu'on a cinq étapes? Est-ce que nous avons un ombudsman à l'intérieur de la compagnie ou non? C'est toutes des choses que nous faisons pour améliorer le service pour nos clients.
2424 Alors, je retourne encore une fois à notre position initiale. Et pour Bell, Bell Canada directement, pour nous, c'est la troisième fois, actuellement, que nous allons mettre ce message-là sur nos factures. Nous avons fait ça au mois d'octobre l'année passée, au mois de mai, et encore une fois au mois de décembre -- ça s'en vient.
2425 Alors dépendant du fournisseur et où est-ce qu'on se trouvait dans le système, il y en a qui l'ont fait une fois, ils font le deuxième... Nous autres, on est arrivé à notre troisième et nous allons continuer deux fois par année.
2426 On doit aussi se souvenir que des clients, des fois ils ont tous leurs services avec nous, des fois ils ont deux services avec nous et deux services avec un compétiteur. Alors il y a plusieurs factures, possiblement, d'où ils vont peut-être voir ces messages-là. Et comme nous avons expliqué au début -- et commissaire Maker a très bien expliqué -- c'est une de plusieurs façons.
2427 Alors, nous ne croyons pas que «it's the silver bullet», mais c'est une chose et nous allons continuer de le mettre. Et le CPRST est bien placé. Et la prochaine fois, lorsqu'ils vont revisiter leur plan de communications, de voir quels changements est-ce qu'ils peuvent faire.
2428 CONSEILLER MORIN: Loin de moi d'essayer de faire de la microgestion, là. Je ne veux pas vous dire quelle page. Puis j'ai proposé au départ: qu'est-ce que vous pensiez de l'idée de mettre ça, tout le monde, en dessous de la première page, en dessous, enfin, du montant total. Il semble que c'est très coûteux. Je suis attentif à ça.
2429 Mon point c'est d'être le plus neutre possible comme régulateur, d'avoir un endroit... Et c'est pour ça que je vous disais: est-ce que techniquement, de le mettre à la fin... Tout le monde saurait que c'est à la fin et c'est chaque mois à la fin.
2430 MME MORIN: Nous ne sommes pas d'accord que l'industrie devrait être mandatée. C'est dorénavant une question pour le CPRST et leurs directeurs à décider et à la fin de la journée c'est une décision qui se fait par simple majorité.
2431 Alors, nous pensons que vraiment, le CPRST est bien placé pour faire ces décisions-là et nous sommes prêts à continuer à discuter avec eux.
2432 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci beaucoup.
2433 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2434 Commissioner Simpson.
2435 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning. Ms Morin, earlier this morning we heard from, I am not sure if it was on behalf of Rogers alone or the cable group, their perspective that mandatory membership in CCTS might cause complacency within the CCTS with respect to their approach to their duties.
2436 Given that you have indicated that you are in favour of mandatory membership, do you have anything to add to the record on that?
2437 MS MORIN: I hadn't actually quite understood it that way. I don't think we would agree that mandatory membership would somehow introduce an element of complacency at the CCTS. Commissioner Maker and his staff and the Board have done an excellent or fantastic job, to use the word of the week. I don't believe that would be the case.
2438 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
2439 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. That completes this phase for Bell et al.
2440 I see it is 10:45, let's take a break until 11:00. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1046
--- Upon resuming at 1102
2441 THE SECRETARY: Order, please.
2442 A l'ordre, s'il vous plait.
2443 Mr. Chairman, we will now proceed with the presentation by PIAC on behalf of Consumers' Associations of Canada and Canada Without Poverty.
2444 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record, and you have 10 minutes.
2445 MR. LAWFORD: Good morning, Mr. Chair and Commissioners, my name is John Lawford, I am counsel to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and today with me is Eden Maher, our articling student.
2446 I would first like to tackle membership. We continue to believe that the end game of the CCTS should be to require that all TSPs become members of the CCTS. We see that TSPs are all members in the TIO in Australia, and so that we know that it can be done. And we are thinking of course of the customer who cannot fairly be asked to forego free independent complaint resolution services.
2447 We do hear from the CCTS, however, that smaller TSPs, probably smaller ISPs mostly, may be very difficult to track down, they may also likely balk at the requirement to pay fees or to publicize the CCTS. CCTS does not wish to have to run around playing policeman to get these members to comply, at least not for a while.
2448 So we would propose that the Commission think about a mechanism that gets membership up, the most for now, with the eventual goal of having all TSPs become members. Therefore, we request that for the next five years the CRTC lower the threshold for mandatory membership from $10 to $5 million a year, that is telecommunications service revenues.
2449 Were that change to occur now, the chances are that many more customers would benefit from CCTS membership and CCTS would have time to learn the lessons of efficiently encouraging membership amongst even the smaller players. The CRTC could encourage the CCTS Board to consider innovative funding mechanisms in concert with this lowering of the threshold.
2450 And I'll just mention that there is nothing stopping people from joining voluntarily, so hopefully some incentives could be thought of as well by the Board.
2451 Therefore, in five years the CCTS and the CRTC, as well as more, if not all, of the TSPs would be prepared, were there still significant complaints unaddressed by the system, to push for 100 per cent membership when all are ready.
2452 We would caution that such a proposal is, however, hard on customers, we realize that, of the smallest TSPs. So 100 per cent membership should be considered the goal eventually, unless complaint figures are so low for this group and costs are so high that it is not sound policy.
2453 We think this proposal is reasonable, it allows time for CCTS to compel and encourage membership and benefits most consumers in the shortest practical time. Crucially, however, it ensures mandatory membership as any loss of members would be fatal to the CCTS in our opinion.
2454 It also avoids the somewhat hard-to-manage three strikes you are in rule which would burden someone with, as MTS noted, being referee and ensures the customers would not be frustrated by being the poor old first or second batter who didn't get a remedy.
2455 I sort of don't want to deal with this, but I will anyway. The question of membership is the question of Commission jurisdiction to run the CCTS. By implication, the jurisdiction of the CRTC is involved and, with that, the requirement to pay fees and to fund the CCTS. And I will deal briefly with the elephant in the room. Shaw said in their written comments, and the cable representatives mentioned yesterday, and that is why I am dealing with it, that you have no jurisdiction to continue the CCTS, and they are wrong.
2456 The Commission need look no longer at the Order of the Governor in Council to report on progress toward the creation of the CCTS, that power is spent or almost. The CCTS has been setup correctly, with the possible exception of code creation or approval. And I will also mention that the Order mentions, where appropriate, trend identification, which hasn't been mentioned at all in this hearing, and the CRTC could report to the cabinet that that has been done, if it has not been done so already.
2457 Now that the CCTS exists, the real question is whether the Commission could itself have setup the CCTS without cabinet order? If so, any griping about the CCTS is just that and it has no basis.
2458 It is true that markets the CCTS deals with are all forborne. However, they are forborne from price regulation but subject to the exception for any conditions the Commission sees fit to impose on them in order to achieve whatever purposes the Commission identified at the time of the forbearance order or, if it didn't specify, then for any future reason.
2459 The consumer groups believe that the scope of the Section 24 conditions on wireline, wireless, including wireless data and internet service provide ample scope to promote the policy objectives of the Act and encourage just and reasonable rates are delivered via forbearance with the condition of the creation and maintenance of a consumer complaints body that ensures charges are made and services are delivered at a minimum what is promised.
2460 That is achieved in an otherwise forborne market by making a condition effectively this: you may charge whatever you like in the market and you may provide it on whatever terms you like, provided you stick to your word. All the CCTS is doing is formalizing an administrative method for ensuring TSPs are honouring their contracts and living up to their service commitments.
2461 So we turn now to specific details of our proposal.
2462 Firstly, our request to print CCTS information on all TSP member bills was limited to one year. It was not meant as a proposal to do so in perpetuity and it was not meant to introduce a new field in complex and costly TSP billing systems. It was meant as a punishment, a punishment to TSPs for not being very forthcoming about the CCTS in early years and not being very forthcoming on their websites.
2463 We are asking for TSP members to give up some promotional space for a year to raise awareness of CCTS where it works best, on the bill. We are willing to propose reducing this to once every two months for one year, again as a punishment, as we realize that there may be other public service announcements and promotions that should go on bills.
2464 After that, CCTS notice twice a year on bills seems a little low, and we have had some discussion today about quarterly and we think that is appropriate. We view that as reasonable and we believe that the CCTS Board is best placed to determine frequency.
2465 We do like, however, TELUS's idea of public service announcements for CCTS in broadcasting and we believe that companies with white and yellow pages should produce a hardcopy page, as MTS has done, describing the CCTS as well as improve the visibility of CCTS information in their customer service websites.
2466 Complaint handling. We would like the CCTS to be stating in more detail what is being excluded as out of scope. If it is in large measure, cable and satellite TV are forborne services, then you will have evidence that consumers do want and need a consumer agency like CCTS for these services and we should find a way to give them that, through CCTS or another way.
2467 If out-of-scope complaints are chronic refusals to escalate complaints to managers or to know company policies, then we need a code on consumer service, customer service, or a CCTS complaint mechanism to address this specifically.
2468 Complaint issues, I will try to re-explain this. We want, firstly, to ensure that if the customer has two actual issues, that they get two complaints and both get relief. But yes, we want a little more upfront work by the intake at CCTS to log at least other complaint issues because we view them as potentially serious areas to fix. Right now, they are not addressed, but they can affect the customers' ability to complain at all. And I will give an example on that, it is failure to refer customer to CCTS, for example.
2469 Codes. The Governor in Council's last real requirement is that the CCTS have some involvement in the creation or approval of codes, and we feel that this inclusion of CCTS at a CISC table, along with industry and consumer representatives, is sufficient to satisfy the GIC order provided the CCTS is eligible to propose the study of an issue of a certain matter that may become a code to the CISC Committee.
2470 If the CISC Committee strategy is not taken, the doubt the CCTS will be an effective code-making or approving body. The present voting structure, unless changed on this point, will result only in approval of largely window-dressing codes like the CWTA wireless Code of Conduct or rejection of any code with real consumer protection.
2471 Remedies. Our proposal to increase the threshold for monetary remedies to $10,000 from $5,000 rested on our understanding that customers could receive only partial compensation for very large frauds or inadvertently large charges such as wireless data roaming fees.
2472 It appears that in practice the CCTS will I many cases conclude the contract did not authorize the billing. And as it is a billing decision under Section 12.3 of the Procedural Code, no $5,000 cap is in play. To our knowledge, this is often the result with mobile premium service disputes.
2473 We are still concerned that the carrier may insist upon the letter of the contract, but we are fairly sure the CCTS is effective in reaching mutually satisfactory mediation in most of these cases. Therefore, we withdraw our call to double the remedy, however we suggest the Commission request the CCTS to report in its annual report for the next five years if such cases become more frequent as this may mean the scope of CCTS remedies they be in need of being adjusted to provide consumers a fuller remedy in these areas.
2474 These are our reply comments. We look forward to your questions and those of other parties.
2475 Thank you.
2476 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I have a couple of questions.
2477 With regard to codes, you have suggested that you are prepared to -- you proposed a compromise:
"... provided that CCTS is eligible to propose the study of an issue of a certain matter that may become a code to the CISC Committee." (As read)
2478 What is this significance of that proviso, because at the end of the day if the group decides not to pursue it what are you actually accomplishing?
2479 MR. LAWFORD: Well, I guess it's a bit sneaky, but I'm hoping that the CCTS, on a simple majority of its board, can vote to send something to a CISC Committee to study which may turn into a code.
2480 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But once the CISC Committee comes back with a recommendation, presuming it does pursue it --
2481 MR. LAWFORD: Yes.
2482 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- it's still up to the CCTS to approve it?
2483 MR. LAWFORD: It's up to you. It's up to the CRTC to approve the code which was developed through the CISC process, not CCTS.
2484 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So it's outside the actual CISC.
2485 So the only difference between your proposal and the SaskTel one is that CCTS can actually propose and sits on the CISC?
2486 MR. LAWFORD: Yes, they sit on the CISC and they can also propose an issue for CISC to study, that branch of CISC, that committee.
2487 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2488 Can I get some comments from those folks that would be on this CISC Committee and are, I guess, members of the CCTS as to their views on this proposal? Don't all speak at once.
2490 MS MORIN: Suzanne Morin, for Bell Canada and Bell Aliant.
2491 There is no doubt that using the CISC process as outlined by Mr. Lawford is preferable than amending or changing the current governance and structure of the CCTS.
2492 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Woodhead...?
2493 MR. WOODHEAD: I'm trying to actually understand the concern, but I believe what Mr. Lawford is suggesting is that the CCTS would participate in the CISC, as anybody can, and that's CISC would be charged with coming up with some code and that under the normal procedural rules of CISC either a consensus would be reached in which case you would make a decision -- or sorry, a consensus would be reached and you would essentially approve it or a non-consensus would be reached in which case you would be asked to make a determination.
2494 MR. LAWFORD: That's my understanding as well. That's what I'm proposing as well, the usual CISC process.
2495 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if the industry is going to be involved and the CRTC will be on the CISC as well, what significant role does CCTS play?
2496 MR. LAWFORD: I think CCTS can bring the very practical experience they have reached with individual complaints to the CISC committee, which is often missing whenever we get into these policy committees at CISC. People say, "Well, customers" -- you know, the providers say, "In our experience customers think this" and I say, "Well, in my experience they think that", and it would be awfully nice to have somebody say, "Well, actually we had 312 complaints that were exactly like the other thing."
2497 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Woodhead...?
2498 MR. WOODHEAD: With the greatest of respect, I think the primary value of the CCTS in sitting on that CISC Committee would be to give people a sense, including Commission staff, of the operational impacts of any of these ideas on the actual operations of the CCTS.
2499 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Engelhart...?
2500 MR. ENGELHART: A CISC process, it's a regulatory process managed by the CRTC. I don't see the value of combining that with the activities of the CCTS, which is a consumer ombudsperson working in some cases with industry codes of conduct, but outside of the direct regulatory system. So it doesn't seem appropriate to us.
2501 THE CHAIRPERSON: You don't buy Mr. Lawford's argument that having someone with actual experience on handling customer escalated complaints would be of value around the table?
2502 MR. ENGELHART: Not really. I mean I suppose you will know from their annual reports what their experience is, we can always ask them what their experience is, but I don't really at first blush see them getting involved in CISC.
2503 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me ask a slightly different question.
2504 If there was a CISC issue identified and there was an initiative struck, would you veto CCTS being at the CISC?
2505 MR. ENGELHART: My own view is I don't think it's an appropriate forum for them to be participating in and so if the cable representative on the CISC solicited my views I would say vote against it.
2506 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Any other comments?
2507 I guess before I get to Mr. Lawford or Mr. Woodhead, Mr. Maker, I guess you are at the beck and call of your board, so if your board tells you not to appear you can't appear?
2508 MR. MAKER: I think that's right, Mr. Chair.
2509 I'm not sure whether the CISC process is the best one for this because, frankly, I'm not that familiar with it. I am aware that when the industry faces issues that affect it broadly there is the ability to put together working groups to work on various issues and so I'm not sure what the best model is.
2510 From the CCTS perspective I think what Mr. Lawford was concerned about, at least in part, is the impetus for the creation of these codes and making sure they get done. Under our bylaw either the CRTC or any CCTS Director can request the CCTS to undertake the development of such a code. Now, of course that power or that request is still subject to the extraordinary resolution and that, as we have identified, may be an issue, as well as the ability to get clear directions from our board in terms of participation in such a process considering its stakeholder nature.
2511 THE CHAIRPERSON: So your procedures would preempt the CRTC from asking you to appear and provide information without approval from your board?
2512 MR. MAKER: I'm not sure that that's exactly the current situation. The current bylaw calls for the voting members by extraordinary resolution to determine whether they will accept the request to undertake the development of a code.
2513 Now, we are talking about something a little different, we are talking about participation by CCTS in the development of a code in another forum and so obviously there will be some massaging required to the bylaw to accomplish that, if that's what the Commission decides to do.
2514 THE CHAIRPERSON: Given there is no massaging right now and the bylaw is what it is, if we asked you tomorrow to appear, could you based on your reading of your bylaws?
2515 MR. MAKER: I see no obstacle to appearing.
2516 THE CHAIRPERSON: And providing information?
2517 MR. MAKER: Providing information, providing data, sure.
2518 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
2519 MR. MAKER: I don't see anything in the bylaw on a quick read that prevents that.
2520 Taking a position would be a different story.
2521 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood.
2522 Mr. Woodhead, I think you had your hand up.
2523 MR. WOODHEAD: I think it has essentially been answered, but I would see no impediment to the CCTS appearing in CISC. The extraordinary resolution aspect is not what we are talking about here.
2524 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Engelhart, would you see an impediment?
2525 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I'm not as familiar with the bylaws as my colleagues, so if they say there is no impediment then I will agree with them.
2526 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2527 Mr. Lawford...?
2528 MR. LAWFORD: Just to note that what we are looking for here is a way to satisfy the Governor in Council's order that CCTS be involved in the creation or approval of codes.
2529 The experience so far has been very limited, but not encouraging from our point of view. The CISC process works, it also leaves the likelihood that a code will be approved at the end of the day, we think, stronger if it comes to CRTC.
2530 The process is much more friendly to consumer participation as well, because it's a funded process like any other Commission proceeding, and at the moment whatever goes on in terms of code-making at CCTS is behind closed doors that we have already asked to join in that and been told that there is no funding available from CCTS, so it's very difficult for us to be involved in code-making.
2531 But at the end I'm looking mostly to find a way for you to be able to satisfy the order that the CCTS is doing code-making and at the moment I think there is a big chill on doing that through CCTS' own procedure and then even if they come up with one it's subject to the two-thirds vote, and so on and so on.
2532 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2533 My last question is with regard to you lowering the threshold from $10 million to $5 million. Personally I'm surprised that you did that because there are still some Canadians who are buying services from smaller carriers as well that you basically decided, for whatever purpose, to balance ways against them being engaged in utilizing an independent consumer-oriented body to adjudicate their complaints.
2534 MR. LAWFORD: The thinking is that the eventual result will be that all are required, but that setting up CCTS' procedures will be so difficult that the experience of trying to shove everybody in the day the decision comes out will create such a mess that it may jeopardize the exercise and in order to get the most number of customers covered the most quickly with a simple blunt tool, lowering the limit to $5 million right away captures, I would believe, people like Public Mobile and Mobilicity overnight, probably captures a lot of people like Comwave and this sort of thing, and they will be in there and more consumers will, yes, benefit from it right away, but the main concern was if CCTS can't handle it, if it goes badly, then everyone gets to say this is a bad idea and mandatory membership should be thrown out.
2535 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see you commented on the three strikes and you are in and you said it may be cumbersome and up to someone to referee the process.
2536 Have you thought about a process whereby the minute the CCTS deems someone to be in scope after having contacted their service provider, regardless of the size of the service provider, if the CCTS deemed it to be in scope they automatically come under the referee of the CCTS to make a decision on behalf of both parties.
2537 MR. LAWFORD: That's if you were to mandate mandatory membership but not require any of the small providers to actually become members or do anything, then they could fly under the radar until they got a complaint and you could do that so that the customer calls and says "Hi, I have a complaint against", I don't know, whatever new company there is, and the CSR says "Well, that's interesting, I have never heard of them", writes the name down and then runs off to Howard presumably and says, "You better call these guys because they are new."
2538 And you could do it that way in an iterative process and add them along, but the question is, are there so many administrative headaches that come with follow-up to that that it bogs down the CCTS. I hear them saying it will so much that they can't do their primary work for the other carriers, the other 99 percent of the people who are covered, or 95 percent, and that was my concern.
2539 So that's a possibility. You could view it that way, but I hear them saying the opposite, that it's going to actually be counterproductive. Although that one customer might get a satisfaction, they are going to have a number of others that get slowed down and that's a concern as well for us.
2540 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2541 Commissioner Patrone...?
2542 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
2543 I just have one question. What do you make of the argument that voluntary membership has a tendency to incent reasonable or moderate behaviour and/or responsible decision-making and, conversely, that having compulsory membership allows members no real recourse in event that the CCTS becomes -- and I'm going to quote a word that was used earlier -- "radicalized" at some future time, certainly not under the current administration.
2544 But how do you feel about the view that some kind of an escape hatch is necessary in the event of things getting out of hand?
2545 MR. LAWFORD: With respect, I would completely disagree.
2546 The thought is the CCTS will be less conscientious if there is mandatory membership, but we view it more as if they have the scope and ability not to have to worry about who their members are they will do a more independent and proper job.
2547 I mean take a look at Shaw's initial comments, paragraph 12 of their June 28th stuff, and it says, "Look at this horrible thing that happened. This code that was developed, it was completely inappropriate for CCTS to be doing this. They have no jurisdiction. We want to leave." Well, they didn't say the last part, but they said they have no jurisdiction.
2548 That has got to affect the CCTS' operation. It's generally more favourable to decision-makers, as I'm sure you know if you have a length of appointment that can't be challenged. What we are saying is, you know, the market -- it's not the market -- the potential for, if you will, manipulation is real if a carrier can just leave and leave CCTS a lot less margin to act in an independent fashion.
2549 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Thank you.
2550 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Menzies...?
2551 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I just want to follow up on this business on sort of two points you were discussing with the Chairman in your oral presentation today.
2552 In paragraph 4 you make the note what you are hearing from CCTS in terms of sort of universality of access for consumers is:
"... that some ISPs, smaller ISPs, might be very difficult to track down." (As read)
2553 I don't understand how it could be difficult to track down. Are there phone providers that we can find?
2554 MR. LAWFORD: I believe the CRTC has a list of CLECs and may even have a list of resellers, I don't know that there is a list of ISPs that the CRTC holds or that it provides to CCTS -- I can stand corrected if that's the case -- so there can be people popping up one month and leaving the next.
2555 Even in Australia you see in their most recent annual report they gained 113 providers and they lost 94, so I mean there's churn, if you want to use that word in the providership. So it is a bit of a task to keep up to date.
2556 Now, if the Commission were to undertake to provide CCTS with very up to date statistics on who is who, where they are and what they are operating in in Internet services, wireless and wireline telephone market, and all the resellers, perhaps we could do this mandatory membership thing for everyone, but again anecdotally what I have heard is that that information either doesn't exist or someone has to compile it and it's not being done now.
2557 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But what I'm trying to get at, how do we explain that to the person phoning with a complaint, right. Like, "I'm sorry you are inconvenient", you know, "like you cost too much", "it's too hard to handle your file." It seems to me that that goes -- I mean I understand that it's practical, but it seems to me that, even if it's a small percentage, that goes against the entire purpose of having a consumer complaints commission of some kind, that if it's not -- like if they can't go there they should be able to go to the CRTC.
2558 I'm just not -- I don't understand why you would give that up from your perspective.
2559 MR. LAWFORD: Let's go back to the decision. So Decision 2007-130, there was a lot of discussion about the value of this enterprise and somewhat out of the blue, from our point of view, came a $10 million requirement and I think it was intended at that time to allow CCTS to get up and chugging and it would be mostly Bell, TELUS, Rogers and everybody who made a lot of money who would set it up and get it going on the assumption there would be a lot of growing pains.
2560 In the next while I understand the growing pains haven't finished and that CCTS may not be a child any more but it's still an adolescent so it needs a little more time to get its processes down and it's numbers of staff up and everybody's comfort level in the room with the thing to the point where they can then start hunting down every last provider.
2561 You see, this also comes back to the problem of price forbearance and stuff. So the reason why somebody has no remedy any more is because all these markets are completely forborne.
2562 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I mean I understand that there are reasons for it, I will just leave it that I was surprised. I wouldn't be surprised to hear anybody else in the room sort of make those arguments, I just didn't expect to hear from you guys.
2563 MR. LAWFORD: Well, it's made with the goal of, as I said -- tried to say I guess maybe not very clearly in the written part -- the understandings that everyone shall be members I'm assuming that at the five year review there would be very little way to justify oneself at the point -- if you call it a show cause, you can call it a show cause for the small providers, why they shouldn't be members -- because by that point we will have a lot of numbers, there will be a certain number of people, yes, unfortunately, who didn't get satisfaction, but we will know that number exactly. We will have five years running of how well it's working and everybody will be comfortable with how it's working and if it's all mandatory membership until then I'm more concerned about keeping mandatory membership and 95 to 99 percent of the customers in than I am I guess about the last 1 percent and that just has to be like that.
2564 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
2566 MS MORIN: Yes. Suzanne Morin, for Bell Canada and Bell Aliant.
2567 Actually, even though our position has been universal mandatory membership we actually recognize the halfway or balancing I think that PIAC is recommending and we would support lowering the revenue threshold from the $10 million of forborne revenues down to $5 million for the reasons explained by Mr. Lawford, but also, you know, recognizing that the CCTS over time -- to the extent the CRTC can assist with some of the tools that are necessary to allow bringing in those smaller players, we definitely support that and believe that the Commission has some of that information.
2568 So in the interest of bringing in more and continuing to support mandatory membership, we would agree with the lowering of the threshold.
2569 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
2570 The other question I had, Mr. Lawford, was just on the -- I don't know if it was meant partly sarcastically or not, but the idea that the public awareness campaign was viewed as a punishment.
2571 MR. LAWFORD: Paragraph 18, I think.
2572 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
2573 I'm not sure that's helpful in the sense that now if we go along with it we are viewed as inflicting a punishment. But I am just trying to understand why you would decide to interpret it that way and not as something that was productive, unless you see something productive coming out of the punishment.
2574 MR. LAWFORD: The idea was -- the Commission said that there should be a public awareness campaign, that it should start in three months -- that didn't happen -- and that providers should have a way for people to get to know about this thing. And it popped up in various places, on various websites, sometimes quite late, and we think that there were a number of customers, over the start-up of this thing, even given the growing pains and getting it going, that missed out.
2575 So what we are saying is, have them put it on the bill, which is the most effective place, in order to try to make up for that failing.
2576 Now, if it is water under the bridge, and it appears to be punitive, and it's not going to be helpful, then that's fine.
2577 More important is the idea that you are taking a look at this billing frequency. Once every two years -- I am glad the Board went that far at the CCTS, but we suspect that public awareness from the bills would actually be reasonably and quite dramatically increased if it was four times a year. I will settle for three.
2578 The point of it is that there was a problem there that no one was acknowledging in this hearing, that is, that the current awareness efforts at the start weren't that good. We wanted to say that, and that's why we proposed something of a remedy.
2579 But if it's not helpful, and if it is going to cause pushing other billing messages off the bill -- things about whether your local area calling is now bigger getting pushed off the bill -- then we are not looking for that.
2580 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
2581 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2582 Madam Secretary...
2583 THE SECRETARY: Thank you very much.
2584 I would now invite the CCTS to come forward, please.
2585 THE SECRETARY: When you are ready, you may proceed with your 10-minute presentation.
2586 MR. MAKER: Good morning, Mr. Chair and Commissioners. Let me start by apologizing that our written remarks start with the words "Good afternoon".
2587 COMMISSIONER DENTON: Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
2588 MR. MAKER: That is exactly where I was headed.
2589 Once again, I am Howard Maker, Commissioner of the CCTS. With me is Mary Gusella, Chair of our Board of Directors, and, of course, Mr. Léger, our counsel.
2590 I would like to begin by addressing an undertaking given on Monday at the hearing. Commissioner Katz asked us to provide our thoughts regarding publicly reporting the aging of our files.
2591 We have gone back and looked at the capacity of our existing case management system, and we can tell you that right now we have the ability to determine the aging of complaints, but in order to do so we must perform a number of manual steps.
2592 Under our proposal for the revised case management system that we are currently finalizing with our vendor, we expect to have the ability to produce a variety of reports, and we will be able to automatically track the age of all the complaints in our system.
2593 Now, with regard to the information which we might choose to report publicly, with Board approval we could report on our performance standards that cover the timeliness of our investigations and resolutions processes.
2594 MS GUSELLA: By way of final comments, we would like to reiterate that the CCTS is not here to advocate particular positions or outcomes. Instead, our objective is to assist the Commission by providing information and offering perspective, based on our experience since the current Board came into place in June 2008.
2595 We have listened very closely to the presentations of the interested parties at this hearing, and we are encouraged by what we have heard.
2596 And there does appear to be a consensus among participants that we are off to a good start.
2597 We have achieved a high degree of satisfaction on the part of users of our complaint resolution service, and based on comments made at this hearing, our stakeholders appear to agree.
2598 MR. MAKER: Regarding membership, the two main issues are: first, whether membership should be voluntary or mandatory; and second, if mandatory, which TSPs should be required to join.
2599 The views provided by the parties to this hearing confirm that there are, indeed, a range of opinions on both of these questions.
2600 Voluntary membership, as we indicated in our earlier comments, would present significant challenges to the CCTS, particularly in relation to the overall funding of the agency and the funding obligations of the remaining members, in the event that certain members withdraw.
2601 Voluntary membership also appears to be inconsistent with the Order in Council.
2602 According to the evidence given at the November 2007 hearing around the CCTS, at that date the current membership requirements covered an overwhelming majority of Canadian consumers, thus coming as close as practicably possible to the requirements of the Order in Council.
2603 We have listened carefully to the proposals this morning, and, in particular, the one that the membership revenue threshold should be lowered.
2604 Extending mandatory membership to a wider range of TSPs could potentially provide coverage to a larger number of consumers. At present, managing our relations with our smallest members consumes significantly more CCTS time and effort, due to the more limited staffing and resourcing typically available to the smaller TSPs. We are wary of the administrative burden and the associated costs that pursuing various small TSPs might create.
2605 Whether membership is voluntary or mandatory, and whether the current membership threshold is retained or reduced, for reasons of operational efficiency and effectiveness, we believe that the three key factors for success are:
2606 First, rules and principles regarding membership that are straightforward for the CCTS to implement. This is intended to ensure operational efficiency and cost containment for members.
2607 Second, clarity as to any criteria by which TSPs caught by the threshold might be exempt from membership requirements. This is crucial to ensuring transparency in our membership process for TSPs.
2608 Third is the availability from the Commission of the necessary revenue and other information for the mandated members. It is essential that the CCTS be able to obtain TSP revenue information promptly and independently, to ensure consistent compliance with membership requirements.
2609 It is essential, however, that if we are to rely upon CRTC data, the Commission must be able to supply a comprehensive and accurate list of TSPs, their coordinates, and relevant revenue information.
2610 A mechanism euphemistically described as "three strikes and you're in" was put forward during the course of the hearings for comment. Triggering membership on the basis of some number of complaints raises, in our respectful view, several concerns. Setting a trigger for membership would be problematic. Of course, setting one that is competitively neutral and symmetrical would be extremely difficult.
2611 A trigger could also be subject to manipulation. The use of a trigger based on some number of complaints from customers would effectively shift responsibility for determining membership obligations from the Commission to individual customers.
2612 In addition, and although there was no detailed discussion of how this process might work, we are wary of having to begin the process of requiring a TSP to join only after we have received pending complaints against it. The process for securing the membership of a TSP, particularly one that is being required to join because of "bad behaviour", can take quite some time. In the interim, we would have complaints sitting in abeyance, awaiting the completion of these processes. A membership process that causes the receipt of complaints to trigger a membership obligation will see the processing of those complaints delayed, an outcome which we view as undesirable.
2613 Moving to industry codes or standards, the production of industry codes or standards has given rise to some controversy, both before and during this proceeding. Based on the comments made by parties at this hearing, there does appear to be support for a code-making process led by the industry, rather than by CCTS.
2614 CCTS can perform a helpful role in the development of codes, consistent with the Order in Council. The Commissioner's role could include participating in the discussions and providing comments on drafts of codes developed by the industry.
2615 However, the requirement that a code or standard be subject to CCTS' approval remains, potentially, problematic. Under our bylaw, such approval requires an extraordinary resolution, and obtaining the necessary support from a stakeholder board on controversial issues presents a significant challenge.
2616 With regard to our Annual Report, for the reasons described by us to you on Monday, we propose that the current requirement that we publish our Annual Report within 90 days of fiscal year end be altered. We ask that you consider adding an extra 90 days to the timeline, such that, with our July 31 year end, delivery of our Annual Report would be required by January 31 of the following year.
2617 MS GUSELLA: Regarding the review period, based on our experience to date, we have recommended that if the Commission decides to conduct another public proceeding to review the CCTS, the Commission may wish to contemplate a five-year interval between the conclusion of this proceeding and the next review. This would provide the CCTS the opportunity to fully establish its governance and operational structures, implement its new systems, and provide the Commission with data based on a reasonable length of operations.
2618 MR. MAKER: Over the course of the hearing, we did hear a couple of other comments which we wish to address further. Some of them have been addressed this morning, so apologies for any repetition.
2619 First of all, there have been some conflicting comments regarding the remedies available to the CCTS for complaint resolution, and, in particular, regarding our ability to award monetary compensation of up to $5,000. Mr. Lawford, I believe, made efforts to clear that up this morning, but let me be clear: there is no monetary limitation to our ability to recommend that a TSP correct, for example, a billing error.
2620 For example, in the case of a $20,000 billing error, our procedural code permits us to recommend, and ultimately, if needed, direct the TSP to waive or refund the full amount of the charges billed in error.
2621 The $5,000 maximum set out in the code relates to awards of monetary compensation that can be made to customers in appropriate circumstances, for loss, damage, or inconvenience that they have incurred arising directly from the circumstances of the complaint. This is above and beyond the amount of any billing correction.
2622 Secondly, I would like to comment on the suggestion made by MTS Allstream yesterday that the CCTS complaint handling process could be improved by fixing absolute time limits for complaint resolution. As we indicated in response to one of your questions, we agree about the importance of timely complaint resolution, and we are in the process of developing performance standards to cover the timeliness of our investigation, recommendation and decision stages of our process, supplementing the standards we currently have in place.
2623 We expect to measure our performance against these standards with a view to assessing the timeliness of our complaint handling activities throughout all stages of our process.
2624 We thank you for the opportunity to participate in the proceeding, and we welcome any additional questions that you may have.
2625 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
2626 I have a couple of questions, and I am sure that some of my Commissioners will have some, as well.
2627 With regard to your undertaking, you say that the aging of complaints can be done, albeit manually, but you did not say that you would do it.
2628 Is it your position that it is too costly and cumbersome and that you don't want to do it, or that you will undertake to do it?
2629 MR. MAKER: No, we didn't say that we would not do it. In fact, I would image that, as an internal matter, we would want to know the aging of our complaints and that our system will enable us to do that.
2630 As I recall your question, Mr. Vice-Chair, it was what we would publicly report, and I don't think that we have made any decisions about what statistics we would publicly report. It is indeed possible that the Board might decide that the aging of complaints is an appropriate statistic to report, but it would certainly be different from what we currently report, and I think that any such change would be a matter for discussion by the Board.
2631 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2632 I need to revisit some of the things you said on Monday, just to clarify.
2633 The new case management system that you are currently in the throes of working on, can you go through the timelines for me one more time?
2634 I gather that the RFP is out there, but there has been no contract signed. What is the timeline between when you select somebody, a contract is actually signed, work actually begins, the thing is operational, and when the first full year of data will be available to the public?
2635 MR. MAKER: Yes, I believe that I can help you with all of that.
2636 We have completed the RFP process. We have selected a vendor. We have documentation in place that will allow the vendor to proceed. In fact, the vendor is chomping at the bit to get going.
2637 We are simply in a period of lawyering the contract and the Statement of Work, and we expect that we will be able to get that going imminently.
2638 Based on the current scope of the project, my understanding is that the vendor estimates that we have about seven months of work from beginning to end. So if we were to start that today, that would take us to, I guess, the end of next June.
2639 Obviously these are estimates, and sometimes, as you know, in the middle of a project like this the scope can change somewhat.
2640 Ideally, our expectation is that, starting with the beginning of our next fiscal year, we would be in a position to start obtaining and collecting data in an entirely different way, which would, at appropriate periods, allow us to report in entirely different and, hopefully, substantially more effective ways.
2641 THE CHAIRPERSON: You say that your vendor is chomping at the bit. Do you see yourself giving him the authority to start swallowing on January 1st, or sooner?
2642 MR. MAKER: My hope is that it will be sooner. Frankly, this is an item that I am dealing with personally, and I have been a little distracted the last couple of weeks.
2643 MR. MAKER: I have a to-do list which is beyond just catching up on my e-mails, and certainly getting this thing finalized is definitely at the top of the list.
2644 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your fiscal year starts August 1st, right?
2645 MR. MAKER: Correct.
2646 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is seven months into the year, so seven months.
2647 MR. MAKER: Correct.
2648 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you see yourself being able to operationalize this for the first of your new year?
2649 MR. MAKER: We are hopeful that it will all be in place, and that's when we start collecting data in a way that we can then analyze and report in a more effective way.
2650 THE CHAIRPERSON: Presumably you will be getting data on a monthly basis for your own internal purposes?
2651 MR. MAKER: I am not sure exactly what data we are going to collect and exactly how frequently we will collect it, but, of course, in order to manage an organization, we need to know on an ongoing basis how we are doing and where we are at.
2652 And, of course, there would be management reports provided on a regular basis.
2653 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, if we accept your proposal of a three-month delay, the first time one would see your comprehensive Annual Report for the first full year would be January 31st, 2012.
2654 Is that right?
2655 MR. MAKER: That's right.
2656 THE CHAIRPERSON: With regard to membership and the various options that have been brought before us for membership, remind me again of the amendments you have made to your bylaw to have the $1,000 annual fee for smaller members. How does that work? Who is a smaller member?
2657 And I seem to recall a $130 amount somewhere in the process, I just don't remember what it applied to and how it worked.
2658 MR. MAKER: Sure, I am happy to clarify that.
2659 There actually has been no amendment to the bylaw. From the outset, the bylaw set out three categories of membership, based on revenues.
2660 The larger revenue TSPs pay a higher membership fee, those in the middle pay a reduced membership fee, and the smallest group -- and all of the sub-$10 million TSPs would fit in the smallest group -- pays a $1,000 initial membership fee.
2661 The figure of $130 that you correctly recall was a number that I took from our most recent TSP billing statement. We billed our TSPs for the second quarter at the beginning of November, and what I did was, I went down the list to see how much we charged each provider, based on their revenues, and I found the one that was closest to the $10 million mark -- and there was one quite close -- and their quarterly bill was $130.
2662 So, in theory, any members that come in under the $10 million would pay a proportionately reduced amount, because this is based on a formula that has their revenues as a proportion of the revenues of the entire membership.
2663 THE CHAIRPERSON: Was that $130 irrespective of the number of complaints that you had, or was that per complaint?
2664 MR. MAKER: No, that is the revenue-based fee. Our hybrid model has a revenue-based fee and a complaint-based fee.
2665 So the revenue-based fee is the $130. On top of that there would be a complaint-based fee, based on the current structure, which would depend on the number of complaints we receive.
2666 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have an order of magnitude as to what a complaint would garner in the way of a fee for your processing work?
2667 MR. MAKER: That depends upon the stage of our process at which the complaint is finally disposed of. The amount changes, and the details of that information have been filed with you confidentially.
2668 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You said in your remarks this morning, on page 4, that if we were to move from the $10 million, or even at that $10 million, you are looking toward the CRTC to provide you with who the parties are, their coordinates, and relevant revenue information.
2669 I am just wondering what that latter revenue information is. All we have to tell you is whether they cross the threshold or not. You don't need the specifics beyond that, do you?
2670 MR. MAKER: Yes, we would like to have the specifics, because the hybrid funding formula that we have includes a revenue-based fee.
2671 Right now we have to go out, each and every year, to each and every TSP and say: We need you to give us your revenue data.
2672 And we have tried to make that as easy as possible by creating forms, which they can complete based on information reported to the Commission for contributions.
2673 So we say: In this box, insert the number you reported to the Commission on Form X, at line number -- whatever.
2674 We have tried to make that as simple as possible, but it requires us, annually, to go out and ask them for it.
2675 And we ask them to have a senior officer of the organization give us a statutory declaration as to the accuracy of the data, but we have no way of confirming whether the data is accurate.
2676 More importantly, it is a real challenge, in terms of resources, to repeatedly have to go out and get that data.
2677 THE CHAIRPERSON: You then, on page 4, follow through, and basically talk about the "three strikes and you're in", or some hybrid, and at the end you conclude that, under any situation, it is suboptimal, if I could call it that.
2678 But the reality is, doing nothing means that some consumers get nothing, as well.
2679 So when you say that it is suboptimal to sort of have to figure out how one does this, the reality is, if, in fact, the CCTS has been set up to provide a vehicle for consumers who feel they are not being heard properly to be heard, then the alternative that you are proposing here is: There is nothing I can do for them, it's just not workable.
2680 Is that what I am reading into this, or is there something other than that that you can offer up?
2681 MR. MAKER: No, I think that you are perhaps taking it a bit farther than it was intended to go.
2682 Certainly, as a consumer Agency, CCTS would have no principled objection to an extension of coverage to more consumers. Obviously, that's a given.
2683 What we simply want to make sure is that whatever the order is, it's made in a way that we can operationalize in a reasonable and efficient way without detracting from our core mandate. And we are always trying to balance what we do with how efficiently we can do it and how much it costs our members.
2684 We just want to draw to the attention of the Commission what we will require in order to operationalize whatever decision the Commission decides to make.
2685 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. One thing we talked about on Monday was the fact that in one of your categories of out of scope you had another which was two-thirds of what was out of scope.
2686 As you build your case management system are you going to create some sort of targets or thresholds so that it will be a more comprehensive analysis and for whatever sake the "other" category will have a metric that will be far lower than 67 percent or thereabouts?
2687 MR. MAKER: In the case of this year's statistics, as you describe them in our annual report, the "other" category is greatly overstated.
2688 And as we indicated on Monday, what happened is that early in the year for the most part, there was a training issue in our call centre. So not all of the subject matter information that would allow us to determine why these complaints were turned away, was collected by our staff.
2689 So that accounts for the highly-inflated number of "others". Many of these 6,232 "others" should rightly be in the specific service categories that are listed above. But the information for whatever reason wasn't collected, so we have grouped them in "other" category.
2690 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
2691 MR. MAKER: There will continue to be an "other" category because there are things that still are "other" people who haven't -- who call us but haven't yet been to their TSP perhaps, cases in which people don't tell us, those kinds of things.
2692 THE CHAIRPERSON: But as you eyeball the "other" and you see there is a substantial amount of one category, you will move it up the line from "other" into a distinct category over time, I would imagine.
2693 MR. MAKER: Yes. In fact --
2694 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
2695 MR. MAKER: -- I'm quite disappointed that we don't have more detail here for you because I know this is something the Commission wanted.
2696 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. My last question is one of awareness, and we talked about the various metrics for awareness.
2697 I thought I would take it one step higher and say, does the CCTS envision doing a survey of Canadians' awareness to CCTS rather than all this marketing and where we put it and whatever? For a nominal amount of money there must be a way of engaging an Angus Reed or somebody twice a year or something to just do a survey across the country to find out what Canadians' awareness is of CCTS.
2698 Is that something you have contemplated?
2699 MR. MAKER: Doing a professional survey is something that the Board could certainly consider as one option to determining the effectiveness of, both consumer awareness broadly, and consumer awareness as it relates to any of the particular measures that we have undertaken, so things like, "Did you see the bill message?" You know, "Did you see the CCTS message on your provider's website?"
2700 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm going even higher than that, "Are you aware that CCTS exists?"
2701 MR. MAKER: Oh, I hear you, all the way up. All the way up. And certainly that's an option.
2702 We have, actually, in-house started to do a little survey of our customers who have been through the process with a view to try to attempt to get some of that data. We are the very early stages of doing that and we haven't collected any data in a really formal way as yet.
2703 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because I would think that's a simple way of answering the first question, rather than getting into micromanaging as to where and how, let's find out whether Canadians are aware of it and maybe they are aware of it and things are working really, really well and we don't have to go any further.
2704 But at least that way we will have some indication, statistically-valid indication as to Canadians' awareness of CCTS however the industry the TSPs have chosen to promote the existence of CCTS.
2705 MR. MAKER: I think your point is well taken. I think the intention of the Board was to give the awareness activities a chance to have some impact and then measure it to see whether they actually have. So that may be something they will do in the future.
2706 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Those are my questions.
2707 Commissioner Simpson.
2708 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mr. Maker, first of all congratulations on another year of, I think, good accomplishments for the CCTS. I know that this is trying and time-consuming and distracting, but I think that your organization is doing a good job.
2709 I would like to go back to your comments in this morning's testimony regarding your perspectives on that notion of three strikes and you are in.
2710 What I was attempting to do is illustrate that if it's not achievable for mandated participation by all providers, I just wanted to draw attention to the ongoing goal, going back to the original GIC, that the idea of the creation of CCTS, in my mind at least, is that it should be accessible to all consumers if not participated in by all providers.
2711 To that end, taking your comments to heart, I would like you to comment and give me your feelings as to whether you think it's feasible that as part of your ongoing scope of work, that the CCTS could attempt to position itself.
2712 If it's not going to be an organization that has amongst its members the bad players but simply those who willingly and actively participate in good behaviour, that that be taken as a positive and if consumers can't always have their complaints heard because they have made perhaps an error, a decision to do business with a non-member, that the CTTS could give them through your awareness campaign not only a resolution mechanism but some guidance as to perhaps aid their decisioning as to who to do business with, to be able to give them access to your services should they need it.
2713 MR. MAKER: First of all, thank you, Commissioner Simpson, for your compliment. It's greatly appreciated.
2714 As I said before, you know, it does not lie in the mouth of CCTS to protest against broader consumer access to our services; quite to the contrary.
2715 We have just been trying to highlight some of the issues that we feel and we would like to see dealt with as part of going in that direction or in whatever direction the Commission wishes to go.
2716 How we can serve consumers who deal with TSPs who are non-members is something we have thought about and, indeed, when they call us we do try to explain to them why their complaint is not eligible, that their provider is not a member. We try to give them information about the reasons for that.
2717 Indeed, we are available -- we are open to voluntary members. Despite the fact that a TSP doesn't earn $10 million in Canadian telecom revenues, they are welcome to join. In fact, we do have a few that are below the $10 million threshold right now.
2718 So indeed, it may be that, as some of the TSPs have mentioned, there may be a marketing reason to promote CCTS on their behalf. I don't think it's our place to do their marketing for them. It's our place to do our marketing for us.
2719 And what we tell them is that regretfully we can't help you because your provider is not a member. Depending on the issue we will attempt to refer them to some other agency to whom they might have access in which you might be able to assist in some way, so for example if it's a complaint about privacy we might send them to the Privacy Commission. If it's a complaint about, you know, our regulated service, you know, maybe to the Commission, I don't know. You know there is lots of options.
2720 In the end of the day, though, if the TSPs think that there is a marketing advantage to being able to have a gold seal that says, "Proud CCTS member", then I think that's for them to go out there and promote that.
2721 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I would agree with you wholeheartedly. I was simply trying to elicit some thinking on your behalf, going forward in your board meetings and your member stakeholder meetings to bring it up as an agenda item.
2722 Because while I take the TSPs very strong arguments about the costs of manipulating the respective fields and the billing information because it is a horrific exercise and costly exercise to do so, I do know that they have a lot of authority and ability with respect to their marketing collateral material which is not similarly restricted.
2723 So I leave it to you to do the work. Thank you.
2724 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2725 Commissioner Duncan...?
2726 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. Good morning.
2727 And again, along with Commissioner -- well, my fellow Commissioners -- I'm sure we all congratulate you on what you have accomplished. You have got, it seems support from everybody so that is a great accomplishment.
2728 I just had a few questions. First of all, in your response to the Chair about the date we first see results, I think it would be January 31st, 2013. Is that correct?
2729 Because you will have it implemented for August 1st, 2011. Time goes by so fast, and then it will go for the full year and then 180 days past that because you only report once a year.
2730 MR. MAKER: We are just trying to do a little arithmetic here.
2731 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah.
2732 MR. MAKER: We should have the first year of statistics in theory by July 31st of 2012. Therefore, you are right, I guess, the first annual report that reports on those statistics would follow that in theory January of 2013.
2733 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sure. I just wanted -- because it does put it way out but it's -- that's all right. We understand that.
2734 MR. MAKER: I didn't bring my calculator, sorry.
2735 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: We understand that, yeah. No, we understand that.
2736 I am just wondering that -- because I am concerned about the 180-day delay. I just wonder if you only perhaps need that for this first time and then because you are implementing the new system, but after that could be reasonably expected to report within 90 days. What do you think of that?
2737 MR. MAKER: Well, this was not intended as a proposal just for the first go around. We run an extremely lean operation. We are actually quite proud of that.
2738 All of the folks who contribute to the development of the statistics, to the selection of the case studies, to the messaging, to the industry or consumers, to all of the writing and drafting, they all have fulltime jobs doing something else in the organization. And so it requires us essentially to down tools quite a bit during that three-month period.
2739 Then we have the obligation to -- typically, we draft in English and we send it out for translation and then we use a third-party design firm to put some design on it, to make it look professional. And each of these things takes a number of weeks.
2740 So it certainly would be in our interests to have a little more time to do that so that we are not doing this in a rush, that we have time to think about it thoroughly and also we have time to prepare it professionally while still keeping up with our day jobs.
2741 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I understand that and you did explain that all the other day. I just thought I might just ask that. I was just thinking it was all related to just your new system but, no, I appreciate what you are saying.
2742 I was just wondering just on your --following up again on your discussion with Commissioner Simpson, with respect to a non-member and you receive a complaint would that -- would your staff automatically escalate that within CCTS so that you would approach, call, contact that TSP and encourage them to join even though it's not mandatory but to sell, as it were, the benefits of being a member of CCTS?
2743 MR. MAKER: I can tell you that we did not escalate 9,320 calls to the Commissioner last year. We don't engage in that kind of sales call to TSPs.
2744 I think that the TSP community knows about us very well and they are fully aware of your decision. So they are all aware that they can join voluntarily and I think that we should interpret that rational and considered decisions have been made by them about whether or not they wish to be members.
2745 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
2746 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. This concludes this portion of Phase II.
2747 I would ask for all your indulgence in asking for a 15-minute recess before we adjourn this hearing. There may be some other issues that the panel may wish to deal with before we conclude this.
2748 So I will take a 15-minute break and we will reconvene at 12:30. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1215
--- Upon resuming at 1236
2749 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you all very much for your indulgence and patience.
2750 The Commission notes that the existing membership Decision expires on December 20th, 2010 and recognizes the need for certainty for both the CCTS and consumers about the status of the CCTS during this holiday season and beyond.
2751 Having considered the full record of the proceeding, including the submissions received from parties at the oral consultation held during these past three days, we are of the view that all residential and small business consumers that obtained forborne telecom services in Canada, including those that received services from TSPs that do not have more than $10 million in revenues, should benefit from the services provided by the CCTS.
2752 The Commission therefore requires, pursuant to section 24 of the Telecom Act, that all TSPs that offer services within the scope of the CCTS' mandates are to be members of the Agency for a period of five years. A period of five years, rather than a shorter period, as proposed by some parties, is appropriate to ensure sufficient certainty for the effective planning and operation of the Agency.
2753 This ruling is effective as of December 20th for current members of the CCTS and will apply to current non-member TSPs at a future date to be specified in the Commission's Reasons for its Decision which will be issued in January 2011.
2754 Thank you.
2755 Madam Secretary, are there any final...?
2756 THE SECRETARY: I do not have anything to add, Mr. Chairman.
2757 Thank you.
2758 THE CHAIRPERSON: This concludes this hearing.
2759 I want to thank all the parties for their cooperation both -- in the delay that we unfortunately had to announce back in September.
2760 I want to thank the staff for their hard work and their completeness in providing this Commission with the information necessary to this stage in making our decision and ultimately to our final decision as well.
2761 This hearing is adjourned.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1239
Johanne Morin Jean Desaulniers
Monique Mahoney Sue Villeneuve
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