ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 15 February 2013
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Volume 5, 15 February 2013
TRANSCRIPTION OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Proceeding to establish a wireless code for consumers Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-557, 2012-557-1, 2012-557-2, 2012-557-3 and 2012-557-4
140 Promenade du Portage
15 February 2013
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 Contents.
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 Telecommunications Commission
Proceeding to establish a wireless code for consumers Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-557, 2012-557-1, 2012-557-2, 2012-557-3 and 2012-557-4
Crystal HulleyLegal Counsel
Celia MillayHearing Manager
140 Promenade du Portage
15 February 2013
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
27. MTS Allstream1567 / 9055
29. Globalive Wireless Management Corp.1673 / 9688
30. Quebecor Media Inc. (on behalf of Videotron G.P.)1753 /10148
31. The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS)1837 /10613
- v -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking1577 / 9109
Undertaking1582 / 9152
Undertaking1599 / 9249
Undertaking1632 / 9450
Undertaking1663 / 9628
Undertaking1663 / 9630
--- Upon resuming on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 0831
9053 LA SECRÉTAIRE : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît. Order, please.
9054 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Welcome to the hearing and when you are ready, please go ahead and make your presentation.
9055 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Thank you.
9056 I'm Teresa Griffin-Muir and I am the Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at MTS Allstream.
9057 With me today are Kelvin Shepherd, the President of MTS. Kelvin is responsible for managing our entire Manitoba-based operation, including our wireless business.
9058 To my left is Hong Chung. Hong is the Director of Wireless Products and Hong is responsible for the marketing of our wireless services portfolio.
9059 Just before I get started, I just want to mention we did provide you with a markup of the Draft Code and also we provided you -- it's part of the record of the proceeding -- one of our interrogatory responses because it has our contract attached to it.
9060 We appreciate this opportunity to appear here today.
9061 Wireless services are important to Manitobans and MTS strives to meet customers' expectations with the latest technology and competitive plans and services.
9062 We fully support the Commission's initiative to introduce a National Wireless Code of conduct for all Canadians. We supported the Manitoba Government's wireless consumer protection legislation introduced last September. During this process, we listened carefully to what Manitoba customers had to say and worked closely with government to help develop a set of rules that was both fair to customers and that fully supported a dynamic, competitive marketplace.
9063 We are pleased to find that many of the aspects of the Commission's Wireless Code closely correspond to Manitoba's legislation and to our current practices. However, there are some elements of the proposed Wireless Code that add to or differ somewhat from the Manitoba legislation.
9064 The coexistence of provincial and national codes could be supportable if the core elements are compatible or if the provincial is wholly a subset of the national. Otherwise, we believe that adherence to multiple Codes will create confusion in the market, ultimately leading to greater customer frustration, the very outcome the Commission, the industry and we at MTS are trying to address through the National Code.
9065 We strongly encourage the Commission to adopt a single National Code that builds on the provincial experience and takes into account the fact that some customers and providers are already subject to provincial legislation.
9066 Therefore, we ask that the Commission put in place appropriate transitional measures to help us and our customers adapt to the National Wireless Code.
9067 In this regard we support B1, Option 2 modified to extend the date at which all elements of the National Wireless Code comes into full force from 6 to 18 months from the date of the decision.
9068 We also believe that the National Code should apply to new customer contracts.
9069 I will now ask Kelvin to provide an overview of the Manitoba market and the steps we have taken to meet our customers' expectations.
9070 MR. SHEPHERD: Thanks, Teresa.
9071 Manitoba is a competitive wireless market where customers have choice of service providers and are able to change service providers with relative ease. We are driven to provide innovative services and an excellent experience to all of our customers.
9072 We work hard to ensure that our policies and marketing programs are fair and customer-friendly. We are making major investments in technology and new services to keep our network leading edge and to meet customers' growing demand for bandwidth and applications.
9073 For these reasons, we support efforts to improve the clarity and transparency of service delivery to wireless customers throughout the industry. We see the Commission's consultation as another opportunity to listen to customers and to seek new ways to improve our interaction with them.
9074 As Teresa mentioned, we agree with the majority of the proposed National Code and most elements largely align with our business practices and the Manitoba legislation.
9075 In keeping with much of D1 of the proposed Code, we provide customers seeking a post-paid contract with information on the monthly fee for contracted base services, including an indication of limits on any usage, the cost of the device acquired through the contract, and the minimum monthly contracted fee associated with the combination of these contracted services.
9076 In addition to identifying this minimum monthly fee, we provide a clear indication of any promotional pricing and the timeframe over which this pricing will apply.
9077 We also inform customers of any cost associated with each of the services that are not part of the contracted monthly minimum charge, such as optional services, and then provide the customer with the monthly costs for the total of the services acquired, including non-contracted services.
9078 The contracted prices remain in force throughout the duration of the contract. In the event of a price change to the non-contracted or optional services, the customer is given 30 days prior notice and may immediately drop these services or replace them with other optional services at no penalty.
9079 Further, the customer has the flexibility to cancel the entire contract without penalty and just repay the outstanding balance on a subsidized device.
9080 We unlock customer devices upon request after 90 days and have recently started to offer a comprehensive insurance policy, our Wireless Protection Program, to give customers the reassurance that any broken, lost or stolen device will be replaced any time during the contract term.
9081 At the end of the contract term, customers can simply revert to month-to-month service with no further commitment or increase in price. However, we have found that 80 to 90 percent of our customers prefer to commit to a new contract, usually within the term of their current contract so that they can upgrade to the latest wireless device or Smartphone. Even the majority of customers who initially revert to month-to-month ultimately sign up for a new contract for this reason.
9082 We try to offer services and service packages for all budgets, ranging from prepaid for those budget-conscious customers seeking certainty, to feature-rich talk, text and data for those wanting the freedom and flexibility to use their services anywhere anytime.
9083 We understand with the rapid evolution of technology and the introduction of Smartphones that customers can experience unexpected data charges, especially when roaming. Both customers and providers are adapting to the changes that have occurred in the industry over the last few years.
9084 Unexpected additional charges can damage the relationship we have with the customer and since customers often take multiple services this could have a significant impact. Moreover, they generally result in additional costs to us as, irrespective of the steps we take to maintain the customer relationship, we must still pay the third party roaming charges.
9085 Hong will now talk about the approach we propose to address certain aspects of D5 of the proposed National Wireless Code.
9087 MR. CHUNG: Thank you, Kelvin.
9088 We have a welcome SMS message that alerts customers of the potential voice and data charges that they may incur while roaming. Recently we introduced additional measures to monitor and inform customers of unusually high data usage charges, however these processes have yet to be automated.
9089 We recognize that the Commission is considering this same issue in D5 of the proposed Wireless Code. We think it would be useful for us to share some of our observations to ensure that the measures taken do not result in unintended and unwelcome consequences for our customers.
9090 Some of the measures prescribed in D5 of the Code, particularly D5.2, will be expensive and time consuming to implement. Therefore, a sharp focus is required to ensure that any measures effectively address customers' concerns and meaningfully reduce "bill shock". However, it is important to recognize that this means customers will have their services suspended when the cap is exceeded, causing various levels of inconvenience, if not potentially more serious customer concerns.
9091 After carefully reviewing our customer information, we have concluded that the problem is really related to data usage and, more specifically, roaming data usage.
9092 As a significant number of our customers, when roaming, exceed $50 a month in data roaming fees, we believe a $50 cap is too low. At this level, too many customers would have service suspended, the degree of customer inconvenience would be excessive and the operational cost of compliance would be significant.
9093 The same data suggests that a reasonably large number of customers, when roaming, still exceed a $200 cap. Nonetheless, we believe a cap in this range for MTS would provide a reasonable balance between protecting consumers from unexpectedly high data roaming charges and the operational costs of implementing the cap.
9094 However, the frequency and volume of incidents, even at the $200 cap, will require investment in new technology and automation.
9095 It is important to bear in mind, that it is only in the last five years that high capacity data networks and Smartphones have become pervasive, and only in the last two have we seen an increase in incidents of high data roaming bills. Even now, still relatively few of our customers have this experience.
9096 Given the industry's relative inexperience in this area, we strongly caution against pre-determined caps. Instead, we recommend that, if there is a cap, the service provider should have the flexibility to establish the cap that suits the characteristics of their customers.
9097 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: In a dynamic competitive market our ability to offer the services and experiences that customers want and expect is paramount to our success. To a large extent this depends not only on our ability to invest in leading-edge systems and network technology, but also on the flexibility we are provided to respond to customers.
9098 We believe a single national Wireless Code that includes the modifications we have proposed will establish a minimum service standard for all wireless customers in Canada, yet provide the market with the opportunity to increase competition, innovation and differentiation.
9099 Thank you.
9100 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that presentation.
9101 Commissioner Duncan will start the questions for us.
9102 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So good morning.
9103 I have a few pieces of paper here to juggle so just bear with me if you will, because I would like to also address the information here that you have given us with respect to your changes. I'm sure some of my questions will probably lead to that anyway.
9104 I can see that you offer fixed term service, but do you offer prepaid services as well?
9105 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes, we do offer prepaid services.
9106 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So are you, then, in agreement that the Code should apply to both post-paid and prepaid?
9107 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: We are in agreement that certain elements of the Code should be applied to both post and prepaid, but some elements of the Code really don't work for prepaid.
9108 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So you will notice in the draft it said "to be determined". Would you just take an undertaking to identify the items that we have, at least on this draft?
9109 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes, absolutely.
9110 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So that's the February 22nd date that we are using for that.
9111 So I'm wondering, then, in your fixed term agreements -- and I'm sure it's probably in the material you have given us -- but do you only offer three year or do you offer one and two?
9112 MR. SHEPHERD: We offer one, two and three-year fixed term contracts.
9113 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, you do.
9114 MR. SHEPHERD: As well as contracts -- essentially zero term contracts, if you want to call it that.
9115 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The month-to-month.
9116 MR. SHEPHERD: Month-to-month, yes.
9117 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. That's interesting, because many people that we have heard from this week are only offering three years. You know, they have found one and two didn't work for their customers, there wasn't sufficient demand, so it would be interesting to know, if you can tell us, what the uptake is, like what percentage opts for one year, two year and three year.
9118 MR. SHEPHERD: Perhaps I will ask Hong to give a little bit more detail, but we would agree that the vast majority of customers that are choosing a contract are choosing three-year contracts.
9119 Hong, do you want to perhaps elaborate a little bit more?
9120 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So is the monthly rate for the service in a one, two and three-year contract the same and the only difference the equipment?
9121 MR. SHEPHERD: That's right.
9122 Essentially our pricing for, call it the service component of our wireless service, is the same regardless of whether you are month-to-month or on a one, two or three-year contract. Essentially the difference between our one, two and three-year contracts is the price of the handset that is associated with the contract.
9123 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And so, I'm sorry, did you tell me what percentage went for one, two and three? Sorry.
9124 MR. SHEPHERD: No, I didn't give you an exact percentage, but what I would tell you is that --
9125 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The majority is three.
9126 MR. SHEPHERD: The majority. And although we do offer one, two and three-year contracts, we do find that most of our customers are taking the three-year contract.
9127 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But still as a service to your customers you are willing to continuing offer one and two? You haven't considered dropping one and two as a business decision?
9128 MR. SHEPHERD: No. We still have maintained that as an option for our customers.
9129 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And it's no added cost to you then, it's in place I guess.
9130 MR. SHEPHERD: There is a cost to some extent because you do have to maintain those additional options in your system, but generally we think offering more choice to our customers is the right thing to do and we basically still see some customers that might prefer a one or two-year contract although, as I say, the majority are choosing the three-year contract.
9131 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just talking about the Manitoba legislation, which I know that you are in compliance with, can you identify for us the specific areas where there are conflicts?
9132 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, Teresa do you want to try to go through the specific points where they may be some small differences?
9133 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Is it practical to do in a discussion here or do you think it's better done in a separate submission on the 22nd?
9134 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, I can highlight a couple.
9135 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Sure.
9136 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: And then we can just give you something.
9137 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Now, I have a copy of the legislation somewhere here.
9138 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: So I have it. I can talk to it from the Draft Code if you would prefer.
9139 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: From the Draft Code, okay.
9140 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes.
9141 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But I do have the Bill as well. I have Bill 35, but go ahead.
9142 Thank you.
9143 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, the Bill does not apply to prepaid at all.
9144 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9145 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Okay? And then in some instances there are slight differences in the way certain things are calculated. I'm trying to find an example now.
9146 Well, the enforcement obviously is not the CCTS, it's the government.
9147 The way contract renewals work, going month-to-month is slightly different.
9148 Our termination provisions only can include the subsidy for the set and no other economic incentive.
9149 Although, for us the set is the only economic incentive that we --
9150 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Some of these we will talk about more, anyway, as we go through it. So that's fine, thank you.
9151 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes.
9152 So those are just a few. I can actually undertake to provide you with a comparator.
9153 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. That would be interesting. It would allow us to more efficiently compare the two, so that's good. You have worked with it, so you know. That's great.
9154 I am just wondering if you are able to provide us some idea of the actual cost to MTS to come in compliance with the Manitoba legislation, and what you think the cost might be to make the next step, to come in compliance with what we end up with here, given the fact that at this point we don't exactly know what it is, but --
9155 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, I understand.
9156 To give you a rough sense -- and I am sure this is different for everybody, depending on where they are in their technology cycle. It took us about eight months of work from the time the code was proclaimed, although we had been, obviously, doing some work before that, and about $1 million in IT and other development work to implement the code.
9157 If you look at some of the differences that Teresa talked about, one of the big differences is that the current Bill 35 code doesn't really include any of the requirements around notification or caps, which I am sure we will talk about. So, obviously, we haven't implemented any of those things.
9158 To the extent that we need to go back into the system -- and "systems", I guess, is a more accurate way to describe it -- to change or modify some of the things we have implemented to align with the base requirements, I would say, of the national code, I expect that we could almost see about the same level of cost, again, because you are really going through a cycle of development and testing that is probably of the same order of magnitude.
9159 I think that the cost to -- we expect, anyways, that the cost to implement things like notification or caps would be significantly more.
9160 And, quite frankly, we only really have very high level estimates from our technology people at this point, but it could easily be four to five times the cost, because, primarily, we don't have some of the base platforms that are required to gather data usage in a real-time or near real-time basis and provide that information.
9161 So the cost for that component of compliance will, we expect, be significantly more, but I would say it's something that, over a period of time, we would have expected to implement in any event, for our own business purposes, and to manage that customer experience.
9162 So it's more a question of the time to implement, because we don't necessarily believe that it can be done in -- certainly in six months we don't believe it could be done. We talk about an 18-month timeframe. We think that's more realistic for some elements that would be required, like usage or notification or a cap process.
9163 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I take it that you would agree that the money will be well spent, in the interests of customer service?
9164 MR. SHEPHERD: I think there are a number of things. First, we have been moving toward this type of capability because we think it is required to really manage services that are going to come into the market, or that we want to offer. So the base capability, certainly, is something that, when we look at our technology roadmap, we would have had it on our roadmap.
9165 But I think, also -- and we will perhaps talk a little bit more about it -- we have implemented -- I would call it rudimentary manual processes to help identify situations where customers may be incurring a high usage cost, and to notify them, and to try to manage that situation.
9166 We have really only implemented those processes in the last several months, but it is clear that a manual process isn't sufficient going forward, and we would have to implement some type of usage technology -- management technology that assists customers.
9167 I think that implementation depends on how complex the code gets, in terms of how you implement the number of requirements in it, but certainly for a basic level of notifying customers and helping to manage usage, we would see those requirements as fairly consistent with the roadmap that we would be on over the next several years.
9168 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I appreciate your comment that the amount will be different for each company, based on their circumstances, but what, really, I think, is more important and encouraging is how it makes good business sense to do it.
9169 So, yes, that is very helpful.
9170 We are going to talk a bit more about the caps and the other notices that you send in a moment.
9171 I was going to ask you about the six months versus the phased-in, so that's B.1. You are suggesting 18 months instead of six, and you are suggesting that it would be phased it.
9172 Because you have already done the Manitoba legislation, there are a lot of things already in place now.
9173 How would we identify each phase? How would you see that happening?
9174 What elements would --
9175 MR. SHEPHERD: Why don't I start, and then my colleagues can wade in and help me, if I go too far off-track here.
9176 Certainly, because we have already implemented the requirements of Bill 35, we expect, even if there are some modifications to those elements of the code, that they could be implemented in a reasonable timeframe. Certainly six months is possible, for example, if there needed to be some minor changes, adding information to the contract, for example, implementing the form of the personalized information summary, for example, that we look at.
9177 If there are minor changes to what we have already done that need to be implemented, certainly six months is, we think, a reasonable timeframe.
9178 What we are really thinking about more at the outer end, the 18-month timeframe, are some of the requirements that are more complex, around data usage notification, for example, or implementing a more complex form of cap, which would really require us to bring in fairly new technology platforms that we don't have in place today and implement them.
9179 So we think that the timeframe for that should be further out.
9180 Internally we talked about what is the right timeframe. We think that a year is probably still a very aggressive timeframe, given our experience with implementing these technologies, but we think that 18 months is probably realistic and doable for those types of complex requirements.
9181 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I assume that 18 months is probably a conservative number, and that you would try to get it done as quickly as you can, because it is in your interest to get it done, in any event, because it helps your customers and helps you manage your relationship with them.
9182 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, I think, clearly, we would move ahead and do it as expeditiously as we could, but my own experience has been that, typically, if an IT person tells you that it's going to take a year and a certain amount of money, they are usually wrong, it takes longer and costs more.
9183 So I think there are good reasons to be conservative when you are talking about implementing something, but, clearly, if we could do it faster, we would try to do it faster.
9184 I think that some of the uncertainty is around the requirements.
9185 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sure.
9186 MR. SHEPHERD: Obviously, if it's a simpler requirement, it is probably somewhat faster to implement. If you get into a lot of complexity, some of the changes that we have talked about in our response, we would suggest, would help to simplify it and make it somewhat more likely that you could do it quicker.
9187 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I am assuming that, as a company, you wouldn't wait and do all of the first six-month ones, and then start on the harder ones, that everything would move forward from Day 1?
9188 MR. SHEPHERD: Typically, we would have to implement in parallel, and we have experience doing that.
9189 For example, the Bill 35 changes that we put in, to give you a sense, were phased in. We didn't wait eight months and implement them all at once, we implemented them, I think, in three separate software implementations, in parallel, I might add, with other significant billing work that we were doing at the same time.
9190 So, typically, these do get integrated. They have to get integrated into your overall IT development and release schedule, and they are done in phases, and done in parallel.
9191 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
9192 MR. CHUNG: Just to add to that, we are actually, in fact, exploring options right now, to see how we can implement those notifications and caps. So we are not waiting until six months to start.
9193 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
9194 It would be interesting to know how you feel the changes should apply to new and existing contracts.
9195 We have heard over the week, and, I gather, even from what you have just said, that there would be some aspects of it that existing fixed-term contract customers would benefit from.
9196 MR. SHEPHERD: Let me start, and perhaps my colleagues can wade in with a little bit more detail.
9197 Certainly, there are some things -- for example, even with Bill 35 we have seen this, where certain aspects of the code would apply immediately to existing customers.
9198 For example, in Bill 35 there is a provision that when a contract expires, and you go month-to-month, there are certain provisions in Bill 35 that apply to month-to-month contracts.
9199 So when an existing customer comes off their legacy contract, if you will, and chooses to go month-to-month, all of the provisions of Bill 35 that apply to month-to-month apply.
9200 So there is clearly, obviously, a benefit there.
9201 The advertising requirements, for example, is another example where it's not necessarily applies directly to legacy contracts, but all those sorts of things that are common in terms of activity in the marketplace apply to all of your customers.
9202 So, you know, similarly, and I recognize there's the issue with the timing we talked about in terms of implementation, but if you did happen to have a legacy contract customer at the time you started doing data notifications or caps, we would expect that it would probably be implemented and apply for those customers.
9203 So there's certain aspects that clearly work. I think it's more problematic -- for example, the contract language, the requirement for clarity, the personalized information summary and those types of things, it would be, I think, in my view, very difficult and probably doesn't make sense to try to go back and apply those to an existing contract. I'm not sure practically how you would do that.
9204 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I'm sorry, Mr. Shepherd, I missed that. Which aspect was that?
9205 MR. SHEPHERD: For example, things like the requirement around the language, the clarity of language in the contract or the personalized information summary --
9206 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, yes.
9207 MR. SHEPHERD: -- it would be difficult, I think, in my view, to go back and kind of try to apply those to existing customers on a legacy contract. It would almost be like you're entering into a new contract with them.
9208 So we see those types of things perfectly make sense when a customer enters a new contract but difficult to apply retroactively.
9209 Similarly, you know, to some extent perhaps the termination fee calculation. Legacy contracts didn't really capture the information to calculate that. So it would be, I think, more problematic to try to apply those to a legacy contract.
9210 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just speaking about the termination fee, how long then would it take before your existing customers would be able to benefit? I'm assuming it's going to be a benefit from the way we're proposing to calculate it. But how long -- let me rephrase the question.
9211 How long will it take your term contracts, one, two and three, to be covered by all aspects of the Code?
9212 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, Hong can give us a little bit more information here, but I think my expectation is that certainly by the end of this year well over half, I believe, of our customers will be on, call it a Bill 35 compatible contract, which is very similar to the Code, the contract and the termination fee regime that the national Code envisions.
9213 I don't know, Hong, what's our estimate here of when, call it, you know, 80 to 90 percent of customers would be on that type of contract?
9214 MR. CHUNG: So, Bill 35 came into force on September 15th, 2012. By September 15th, 2015, 100 percent of our customers will be covered under Bill 35 because of the way our -- like our longest contract term is three years. So every time a customer comes off contract and goes month-to-month, they would be covered under the new provisions of Bill 35.
9215 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I guess we're just thinking that you might reach that number sooner because people will be churning out and getting the latest phone and entering into a new contract. So I guess I was just trying to try to get at that number, if you had an idea what that might be.
9216 MR. CHUNG: Yes. So, we're forecasting by the end of 2014 that close to 90 percent of our customers will be covered by Bill 35.
9217 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And then, aside from the notifications, there's probably not anything material in what's proposed here; is that safe to say?
9218 MR. SHEPHERD: That are substantially different?
9219 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. Yes.
9220 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes. I believe that is probably the primary thing that would be different. I mean there are nuances, as Teresa talked about, in terms of how -- you know, of the legislation, but it's very closely aligned. Certainly, in principle it's aligned. It's just some of the details may be slightly different.
9221 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So you said about 80 percent by the end of 2014?
9222 MR. SHEPHERD: I believe, Hong, you can --
9223 MR. CHUNG: Closer to 90, 80 to 90 percent.
9224 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Ninety percent. Okay, thank you.
9225 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: But you also have to bear in mind today a number of the clauses in Bill 35 even apply just because they apply broadly as opposed to narrowly.
9226 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. Yes. No, I realize that. So I guess it might be interesting to know which clauses specifically are left over.
9227 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes. We could identify them in more detail, but really, it's what Kelvin is saying is going into the actual physical contracts of the customers. That pre-existed the contract.
9228 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, yes.
9229 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: But apart from that, most of the other things apply today, and also, you know, for example, Kelvin went through a few, and then our unlocking policy, certain other services that help the customer, give them flexibility would apply today. I mean if someone came in to get their phone unlocked, it would be unlocked.
9230 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9231 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: And some of those policies aren't even part of any legislation, they're just policies we have.
9232 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Customer service policies, okay.
9233 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right.
9234 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I just -- I don't want to miss anything.
9235 What do you regard as -- what circumstances -- we've had some discussion about this over the week about what circumstances trigger a contract renewal. So I guess the obvious one might be if you get a new phone, but are there other circumstances?
9236 MR. SHEPHERD: Okay. So let me talk at a high level and then Hong can perhaps wade in if there's some examples I miss here.
9237 But typically a new contract happens when a customer comes in. They may be under existing contract. We do have some provisions for early renewal or early upgrades. But a new contract is definitely entered into if there's a new subsidized device.
9238 We do have situations where we work with customers who may have -- you know, may still be under contract, may be out of hardware warranty, where we may find a way to help them with a replacement device, you know, at no charge during a contract, but that isn't a -- that isn't entering into a new contract.
9239 Essentially, you know, for example, if we have a customer that may have had a damaged phone, we find some way to find them a replacement phone. You know, there's no subsidy, there's no charge, there's no new contract in that case.
9240 So it's very clear that a new contract happens when a customer makes a decision to enter into a contract and it's signed.
9241 There are situations -- for example, we do offer -- customers that are approaching the end of their contract, we may offer them a promotion to extend their contract and it's very clear when we talk to them that a typical promotion might be extend your contract for a year, we'll give you one free month of service, for example, but there's a very clear discussion with the customer at the time that it's an extension of their current contract and it's clear that they're getting one month free of service in return for that.
9242 So I wouldn't call that a new contract, but it's a discussion with the customer that it's clear that they are extending their existing contract.
9243 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just on that point then with respect to the option you chose there in B2 that it would apply to new contracts, so it would seem that we might have to have a provision if you're offering to extend the existing contract that the Wireless Code then would apply at that point.
9244 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, I think it would be an interesting case to go through. I mean typically at that point the extension of the contract doesn't include any termination fees. So the customer doesn't have any remaining subsidy on their set.
9245 So, I mean, that's an example where you would say, okay, if there's a cause, a reasonable cause to terminate the contract, say, after six months, there's certainly no termination fee that applies, but obviously our expectation in offering the one month free is that the customer is going to stay for 12 months.
9246 So I understand those situations probably create some ambiguity if you're extending, call it, a legacy contract. I don't think there would be any ambiguity if you're extending a contract that's under the Bill 35 Code.
9247 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: But practically speaking, in that example that Kelvin is talking about, since, as he said, there is no termination provision, really what we're offering the customer is a promotional incentive to stay with us for another year. For all intents and purposes, they would be under the provisions of either the national Code or Bill 35 simply because there are no termination provisions. A lot of the broader terms apply to them already. So practically, the customer has the benefit even if they don't enter into a new commitment with us.
9248 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I wonder if there's a way that we could cover that in the wording. I mean I understand the advantages to offering a contract extension and the reasons for doing that. I just wonder if you could maybe give that some thought and suggest some wording change that might accommodate that.
9249 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, we could look at that particular situation and perhaps suggest how it could be incorporated. I don't really see it being that difficult but we'll have a look at it.
9250 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. And it may only revolve around the termination, which gets to be a non-issue when the device is fully paid for, but it's kind of difficult when you -- you would have to consider every item, I guess. So perhaps you can just give it some thought.
9251 If in the end you give it thought and you think no, there's no need, you could say that too. Okay. Thanks.
9252 Mr. Chung, were you going to add to that or you're okay?
9253 MR. CHUNG: No. Kelvin covered the two key scenarios.
9254 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
9255 Now, I just want to -- yeah, just on the single national code versus the -- what we're proposing to do is give the maximum or what's proposed here. I mean, as we cautioned when we issued this and even though we did issue the caution, this is not our code, it's just a compilation of what we heard, so -- so what the compilation is, that we -- the code would be -- would coexist with the provincial codes. And I see from your comments this morning that you're opposed to that notion.
9256 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, and on a theoretical level, depending on what the code ultimately looks like, perhaps they could coexist. And typically, you know, you would go to the higher standard, we recognize that. The problem for us is not the level of enforcement in terms of one code has a more restrictive or includes something the other one doesn't. It's more the nuances and the clarity for the customer. Because if the customer feels they're entitled to certain provisions under the legislation but other provisions under the national code that aren't identical, practically speaking it's really impossible for us to operationalize those things. So it's not so much we're fighting against trying not to have a higher standard of service. Not at all. It's really just the practical implementation when there are nuance differences.
9257 Right now the provisions or at least some of the proposed provisions are not as strident as what we're already subject to. We're obviously not going to erase all those things from what we do today. It's -- and the additional provisions, which are monitoring and notification, we would comply with. I mean, we've already expressed that we think how -- I mean, we have an opinion on how they should be delivered, but certainly we think that's something that's beneficial to the customer. It's really just the clarity so the customer and we can understand here's what we work to.
9258 MR. SHEPHERD: I might just add to that. I mean, just from a practical point of view one of the big tasks we had, and I -- and really, I think, still do have on an ongoing basis, is actually training our people on the code and on the requirements. And so, a big part of our implementation was taking all of our retail salespeople through training, explaining the new contract, explaining what they had to do with customers. You can imagine the difficulty at the operational level of trying to say, oh, by the way, there's another set of options. And I think just the difficulty in operationalizing it is really one of the other concerns. But certainly as Teresa said, if it's somehow merged into a single application, and we certainly don't have any concern about the additional requirements that are being asked for in the new code, that's not a concern, it's really just more being able to take this and operationalize it consistently so that at the ground level where you deal with customers it's clear to both our people and to a customer what we're doing. And I think it's -- it would be quite -- could be quite confusing if you're trying to implement kind of multiple options at that operational level.
9259 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Two questions come to mind. From the point of view of Manitobans, and they've just -- obviously are very well aware that this has just been introduced in Manitoba, is -- no fallout from that if there is a national code and ...? The provincial code would still be in place. That's ...
9260 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I think predominantly what the customer is most interested in is just having a feeling that they have recourse so that -- and that it's clear to them what their entitlement, if you want to refer to it that way, what level of service they can expect --
9261 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah.
9262 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- it's codified for them. I don't know that they would be upset if somehow that code became a national code, as opposed to the Manitoba legislation.
9263 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And just from a -- because obviously the decision is not made on which way it will go, but from an operator's point of view, and you're only operating in one province, but even it would affect you? I mean, if you're operating across the country it's a bigger problem, but you'd have to monitor the provincial legislation if it stays in place and ensure that you were always in compliance, as opposed to if there was just one code, you'd look at that code.
9264 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, I think it goes back to, as I said, kind of the operational implementation. It adds another layer of complexity and perhaps uncertainty even about certain aspects that make it more difficult.
9265 So, certainly, you know, we work very closely with the provincial government, we consulted with them and have worked hard to make sure we implement Bill 35. So, I mean, clearly we want to do what's right, but we're -- would be concerned, I guess, and would prefer there to be kind of a consistent code that we can look at and follow versus having to try to interpret between kind of two codes that are both potentially in force.
9266 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I appreciate that. And so there's just one last question then. Would the provincial code, I don't imagine it would be repealed, but would it still apply then on certain aspects of it? For example, on the device. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't ...
9267 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I guess -- and maybe Teresa can help me out here because I'm not a lawyer. I know this is a difficult area to get into, but my understanding is the law is the law. If the provincial legislation exists, we're bound by it.
9268 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But I guess what I'm asking is does the consumer protection laws in Manitoba apply to the service and to the equipment or just to the equipment?
9269 MR. SHEPHERD: It really applies to the contract, and the contract includes -- because of the way the language is structured, includes elements of both. So, for example, there's a minimum monthly cost or commitment, whatever the correct terminology is that's laid out, and the legislation has some specific requirements around that. For example, that we not -- that that cost or that minimum monthly cost is fixed during the term of the contract. So that's in Bill 35 and that's really the service. So I would say the Bill applies to the service but it obviously applies to things like the termination fee calculation which is associated with the device. So it applies to both.
9270 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: But it actually applies to the connectivity service, and we provide, as part of an incentive, to get people come onto our network and take our service, the device. There's no particular part of that legislation that deals with the device or how long the device should work or whether the device is under warranty. The device, as Kelvin says, only comes into the contract as a consequence of the fact that we, in giving our wireless service, include as an economic incentive or an inducement for the customer the device.
9271 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Interesting. I'll just give it some thought. I have more questions and other people want to ask you some questions, but I'm left here wondering what difference, both are going to apply anyway.
9272 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I would -- the legislation itself you mean?
9273 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah.
9274 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes. Yes.
9275 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Both will apply anyway.
9276 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes, I -- they would apply. Yes, we would have to comply with the provincial legislation.
9277 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. All right. Okay, thanks. Thank you.
9278 Now, there was a lot of discussion this week on the expiry of credits for pre-paid services. And so you don't apply an expiry date to pre-paid services if somebody has a credit balance?
9279 MR. CHUNG: We actually do. So we do have a time period of which pre-paid services are activated for. But if a customer keeps topping up, then that window continues and the balance is carried forward. But similar to other -- what others have said before us, there is a cost and an implication of keeping those numbers on our systems indefinitely and for that reason we need to age them. The majority of pre-paid customers don't call in to disconnect, so we need a process to recover those numbers and resources, and aging is how we do it.
9280 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So option two says you won't apply an expiry date and you do that? You do apply an expiry date then eventually?
9281 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, we haven't -- we're not necessarily going to apply -- we'll get back to you about pre-paid, I think.
9282 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. All right. Well, just let me ask you this too, and you certainly can do that, just so that I understand. So if somebody is not using the service, they have the credit, they're not using it, you don't want to tie up the number, as I understand from conversations earlier in the week, so how long then will you allow it to sit there idle?
9283 MR. CHUNG: So our aging timer is set at 180 days.
9284 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: 180 days, okay. And does it all start from the first time they use it? So if you have a pre-paid card that you buy in a store, the pre-paid doesn't start until you actually ...
9285 MR. CHUNG: It's actually at the last -- the last time they've used it it starts. So it's not right at the beginning.
9286 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So ... But when do you start the countdown?
9287 MR. CHUNG: So there's different timers. When you apply a -- there's different timers for different levels of credit. So we have a 30 day, 60 day and 90 day credit. Beyond that there's this extra 180 day timer. So that timer starts at the end of one of the first three levels.
9288 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So were people buying these 30, 60, 90 days as a gift? You could you buy it as a gift?
9289 MR. CHUNG: Yeah, the card itself has no expiry date. Once it's activated, that's when the timer kicks in.
9290 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, that was the question --
9291 MR. CHUNG: Okay.
9292 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: -- I was trying to ask. Sorry, okay. So is that fine? Or you may want to make other comments. You can certainly do that.
9293 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: No, I think I --
9294 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9295 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- I just wanted to be clear that we don't start the clock until someone activates the card.
9296 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That's what I was wondering. Okay, thank you.
9297 So on the Personalized Information Form, and I see that you submitted some information here this morning so we could look at that, but just sort of in the big picture, you have a similar type of thing now.
9298 And so maybe you might want to identify in the February 22nd comments things that you think maybe shouldn't be in the Personal Information Form, if you feel that there are some that shouldn't be or should be modified?
9299 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yeah, it's not so much the content. We will definitely think that over and let you know on February 22nd.
9300 It's more where that is, because right now that information is part of our contract. So we would prefer not to have a separate sheet.
9301 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes, and I see some parties -- you may not have heard all of them but some people are in that same position. And so then we got into a discussion. Some people wanted to put it wherever they choose that they felt it was best for their business to put it in the contract. Some others wanted it at the beginning.
9302 If you have comments?
9303 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Okay.
9304 Yeah, because I think the idea in our contract and the legislation, actually, was so the customer would get a certain amount of information to be able to make an informed decision not only with us but to exercise some choice and have some understanding, which I think is the whole purpose of that anyway.
9305 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So in yours again, it's at the beginning.
9306 Okay. So we did ask this question at one point: Which takes precedence?
9307 I forget now who answered the question but they suggested that if there was a difference between the information and the summary and in the contract itself, which you would hope there wouldn't be, but if there was would the summary sheet take precedence? Would you agree with that?
9308 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, actually, I would think the contract would take precedence.
9309 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I think that's why we are -- to some extent the other reason we are suggesting that. The way we structured it which is really to have that information really on the -- primarily on the front sheet of the contract in a single spot and, you know, we see the majority of that information is already there.
9310 We feel that would be feasible to essentially have essentially the Personalized Information Summary as part of the front page of the contract would avoid any potential conflict. There would only be one definitive source and it would be the contract.
9311 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I mean, if there was a problem that would just be an error. I mean it would be corrected.
9312 MR. SHEPHERD: That's right.
9313 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yes.
9314 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah, okay. That's fine. Thank you.
9315 With respect to D2.1, the changes to contracts, so you've made a slight change to what was there.
9316 Oh, yes, you had this notion in your written, and I guess maybe it falls in Bill 335, the definition between base and optional, is it? So that's not incorporated, I don't believe, in what's proposed here or correct me if I'm wrong on that.
9317 Well, we were talking about essential elements. That was the term we had been using all week --
9318 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right.
9319 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: -- which I assume equates to your base.
9320 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right. Really, what the legislation does and what we're trying to convey with this change is there are certain elements that the customer actually is committing to for the entire duration of the contract and those are separated from other services that they may take at the time they enter into a contract with us, but may decide for a number of reasons not to continue throughout the duration of the contract with those optional services.
9321 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: M'hmm.
9322 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: So those services, as Kelvin said, could be dropped at any time throughout the period but the services that they are making a commitment to take for the duration. So if it's two years they are taking those services for two years. That's what their commitment is tied to. Those will not change.
9323 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And so in your scenario if I'm the customer and I've got the Personal Information sheet, it will be immediately obvious to me which ones, which items those are.
9324 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right. Actually, under the existing legislation we have what we call a minimum monthly cost. It's an MMC that we have to identify with your customer: This is your minimum monthly cost and you're committing to this and you understand what you're getting for this cost.
9325 And then anything beyond that would be part of their total monthly cost but not part of their commitment for the contract. That's made clear to them that is part of what we have to do today.
9326 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And is there any difference between what's recommended in this draft national Code in terms of essential services and your base services, or could you just give that some thought?
9327 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: We'll give it some thought. I don't think there are differences although internally there is interpretational issues maybe. I mean, my opinion is it's whatever your essential is what you're committing to for the duration of the contract.
9328 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And as long as it's set out and transparent.
9329 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right, yeah. And that's really what the customer in our experience wants to know, "What am I actually signing up for and what can I change?"
9330 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So if the provider wants to change these essential elements or the base services then the consumer has a right to try to cancel.
9331 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's correct, yes.
9332 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, and that's on the 30 days' notice.
9333 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right.
9334 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9335 D3.3, oh, yes, okay. So I was interested and you've got quite a few comments here in your termination fees.
9336 Yeah, if the consumer cancels -- this is D3.2 you've got:
"If the consumer cancels the contract early, the consumer cannot be required to pay any fee,...[et cetera] or other amount other than the termination fee described below and any charges payable for use of the services up to the date of cancellation."
9337 Yeah, okay.
9338 And so the early termination fees, now, you've changed some wording here but in effect what we've been talking about all week is that in a nutshell, I guess, is that you have to pay any unamortized portion of your device cost or your incentive. It seems to me that some people don't consider the device cost the whole of the incentive.
9339 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, in our case, under the legislation the only component is the device subsidy. There is no provision to add any other element of economic incentive. So for us it's very clear. It's just the unamortized component of the subsidy.
9340 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So, then, the changes that you've made here sort of support that.
9341 But maybe there is a few that you want to talk to, because I noticed if there is a fixed term contract and there is no incentive, then perhaps you could just talk me through what you've got here.
9342 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: If there is --
9343 MR. SHEPHERD: I think it's -- the language here we've said if the customer did not receive an economic incentive.
9344 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah.
9345 MR. SHEPHERD: So if they didn't receive an incentive we're saying no cancellation fee would be applied.
9346 So if there is no -- the way it works, if there is no economic incentive in our case the only one possible is the device subsidy. So if there has been no device subsidy then, clearly, there is not going to be any termination fee. There is just whatever outstanding charges are owing.
9347 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Now, some parties did argue that for the $50 or the 10 percent I believe, as I understood it, the reason being that there are costs to acquire a customer and if they disconnect before you have a chance to recover those costs because I think --
9348 MR. SHEPHERD: I believe we've had that discussion and have moved on and are compliant with the legislation in Manitoba.
9349 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, this is in Manitoba's legislation, is it?
9350 MR. SHEPHERD: Absolutely.
9351 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, okay, okay.
9352 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, the thing is too, typically, although there are always costs to acquire -- there are acquisition costs -- our main form of economic incentive is in fact the device. So that if you came to us with the device of your own you don't really need to sign up to any contract because our rate remains the same month to month versus the rate when you actually enter into any kind of term contract.
9353 The idea of the term contract is part of you coming with us. We will provide you with a set if you make a commitment to us to stay for a certain number of years.
9354 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So would somebody be inclined to -- I don't know. I guess maybe somebody might want to take out a fixed term contract if they felt that would save them from a rate increase. People don't do that, I gather, from what you're saying.
9355 MR. SHEPHERD: I think it would be rare. Perhaps Hong can comment if he thinks otherwise but, in my experience people are entering contracts primarily because they want to acquire a subsidized device.
9356 Now, I have seen situations where customers are on a plan. They like the plan. They want to stay on the plan. They come off a contract and they may stay on month to month for a long time and come back with their own device, for example, and upgrade it themselves to stay on a contract because they think it's a great deal or whatever, but they have that option.
9357 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9358 MR. SHEPHERD: But I think primarily people are entering the contract and our experience has been they sign a new contract usually associated with some kind of device decision.
9359 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So the next point of it was on the monthly term where somebody has received a device as an incentive and using the 48 months amortization. So you have made some change there.
9360 This must be just to comply with the wording. This sentence seems to be the same. Is it just at a quick glance? Okay, all right.
9361 Okay. Hopefully I haven't missed anything there. Somebody else will probably pick it up if I have.
9362 You did note in your submission that moving from a 30-day notice period on a cancellation to zero -- zero day, I think you called it -- zero day notice period -- does possibly involve some extra costs. So I think it was a caution that you were throwing out.
9363 I was just curious -- we were just curious to know what those additional costs might be.
9364 You say it may also have adverse effects for customers, since an increased provider -- such as increased provider costs for termination.
9365 MR. CHUNG: Yeah. So prior to Bill 35, we did charge a termination fee to recover some of the administration -- administrative work associated with disconnecting that customer. But as of Bill 35, we were -- the legislation does not allow us to charge a -- sorry, does not allow us to require 30 days' notice, so at this point in time we're -- this is the -- our current situation, so we're okay with it.
9366 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So if there were additional costs as a result of that --
9367 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: We'd have to --
9368 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: -- you'd have to build them into your monthly rates.
9369 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right. We'd have to somehow get those costs or absorb the costs.
9370 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So that's what I'm getting at. I mean, what the extent of those costs would be, I gather they're not --
9371 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yeah, there's certain work that if you haven't noticed it falls within your normal processes, whereas if -- the cancellation date is the date we receive the notification and it's day zero, let's call it.
9372 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. It's not material.
9373 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: It's impossible for us to work it into a normal procedure, so there are costs associated with that either to address whatever billing went out or -- so that we can update all the processes, records in the company for the fact that somebody gave us notice on day X and we have to take them out of the system on day X. It's not really possible.
9374 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So what I hear you saying is you're now in compliance, the Manitoba legislation requires it and it doesn't sound like it's so earth-shattering that it's worth making a fuss about, the potential additional costs.
9375 MR. CHUNG: Yeah, so the process costs and the system change costs have already been incurred, so from that perspective, we're covered.
9376 There are still some minimal operational costs associated with each disconnect such as, you know, staffing our call centre to take these calls, but those are things that we're --
9377 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Normal business costs.
9378 MR. CHUNG: -- at this point in time can absorb.
9379 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. The automatic contract renewal, perhaps you could just explain your position on the automatic -- I see you made a few changes to this.
9380 What kind of notice -- you do give the 90, 60 and 30 days. You didn't change that.
9381 MR. CHUNG: So today we actually give two notices, but we feel that adding one additional notice is not a significant change.
9382 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And in your -- because the Chairman had asked this question a number of times. If I had a three-year contract or a two, one -- in your instance, I could have a -- and moved to the next month, you know, the 13th, 25th, 37th month, would my rate go down because my equipment was fully paid for?
9383 MR. SHEPHERD: No. So for example, the -- on a contract, whether it's 24 or 36 months, essentially the -- really, the -- call it the service costs or the connectivity cost, we have a consistent charge for that regardless if you're month to month or under a three-year contract.
9384 Really, the only difference on a contract is really the amount of subsidy, and then that's amortized over the period of the term.
9385 So the price doesn't change in terms of the minimum monthly commitment whether you're on a two or three or essentially a month-to-month arrangement.
9386 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you. There may be some other questions on that, but I understand what you're saying.
9387 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: But it just goes to the point I was making earlier. We have a monthly rate for connectivity irrespective, so the inducement to enter a contract with us is really the device. So if you stay with us for the entire term of your contract, you're acquiring the device at the end of the contract. That's the commitment we're making to have you as our customer.
9388 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. It's not in the month -- I understand.
9389 MS. GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right, yeah.
9390 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And so on your bill -- because I noticed, apparently, that SaskTel separates the service costs and the device subsidies on the bill. How do you how it on yours?
9391 And maybe you've given us information today here that says it, but --
9392 MR. CHUNG: So our monthly bill is -- the monthly recurring charge is the service charge. On our contract, we do show the subsidy amount, but we don't separate the monthly cost between service and subsidy.
9393 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: The idea of showing the device amount is -- or the subsidy amount is really to show the customer that this is the amount if you cancel early you will be responsible the balance of it, depending on how many months.
9394 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And does the customer see that only on the initial -- at the outset of the contract or does he see it every month on his statement, if I cancel this month it's going to cost me $300 or 250 or --
9395 MR. CHUNG: So today, it's just on the contract.
9396 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just on the contract, okay.
9397 And I think our personal information summary that we're suggesting might show a few points in it as illustrations.
9398 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I think, actually, our -- we would have a similar illustration for the customer.
9399 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, all right. Thank --
9400 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: And there would be an explanation to the customer at the time they entered into the agreement with us.
9401 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sorry; an extra?
9402 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: An explanation --
9403 COMMISIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9404 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- to the customer.
9405 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Now, I just want to talk a bit about distance contracts, which I presume you have. I mean, you mentioned about -- Mr. Shepherd, about training your staff. But do you sell through the third parties, you know, like third party outfits in some places?
9406 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes. We have a range. Obviously, we operate a retail channel. And the majority of that channel is operated by third-party dealers, if you want to call it, or almost franchise -- franchisees.
9407 In addition, we have a small number of corporately-owned stores, but it's a relatively smaller number, so our physical retail store channel is primarily run through third-party dealers.
9408 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The -- so obviously, there's a quality control and -- built in.
9409 MR. SHEPHEARD: Yeah, we have a -- I mean, we have, you know, obviously a contract with these dealers. They're exclusive to us, so they're selling MTS services. They use MTS systems which, you know, for example, in the case of the contract, the system actually produces the standard contract. There's rules based in the system that assist the salesperson in entering the data.
9410 We have a training program. We have a quality program, you know, a blind shopper program where we check on what's happening in our dealer locations. So we do a number of things to ensure that there's compliance.
9411 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you.
9412 I see that with respect to distance contracts, do you -- I presume you'd have those, people calling in or signing up online. This is A6.
9413 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes.
9414 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I'm backtracking a bit here.
9415 MR. SHEPHERD: I think -- and -- I think we do. We certainly would have the situation, as I mentioned, on this promotional extension which I think would effectively fall into that term because when you're -- when they're entering that arrangement over the phone.
9416 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, yes.
9417 MR. SHEPHERD: And I think potentially what -- maybe you want to comment. Would we have the equivalent kind of experience with pre-paid, potentially?
9418 MR. CHUNG: Yeah. For pre-paid, customers can buy their SIM card at the store and then activate it through a phone call, so that would be considered a distance contract as well.
9419 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: This is the instance in A6 where they're talking about people ordering their contract over the phone or online and then you mail out the terms to them. But you're in agreement with the 15 days and you've added some extra wording here, "and the consumer must promptly return in good working condition any subsidized equipment provided in connection with the contract" which, you know, makes certainly sense. I don't have any questions about that.
9420 What about remorse periods in general or what's referred to in the personal information summary as a cooling-off period? What type of a policy do you have there if somebody gets it and finds it's not what they were expecting?
9421 MR. SHEPHERD: Our standard policy, I believe, is 15 days. We have, on occasion, extended that in certain situations so, for example, I believe when we -- when we infused our HSPA network, we know there were going to be differences in coverage and performance between it and our existing CDMA network, and so I believe in that case we implemented a somewhat longer period because we were concerned that people might buy a new device, find it didn't have the same signal reception and we wanted to give them time.
9422 But typically, we find the 15-day period is sufficient.
9423 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Now, do you make special allowances in this respect with respect to people with -- persons with disabilities?
9424 MR. SHEPHERD: In terms of the remorse period?
9425 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yeah. Just because, as we heard from MAC the other day, you know, that sometimes it takes people longer to realize and --
9426 MR. SHEPHERD: I don't know that we have a policy to that effect. I mean, I think typically our service representatives do have a fair degree of flexibility to address individual situations. But I don't know that we do it as a matter of policy, unless I'm mistaken.
9427 MR. CHUNG: No, that's correct. But we do give our channels some latitude to accommodate different circumstances.
9428 And just one point of clarification as well, is our current policy is 14 days, but changing to 15 days isn't going to be a problem.
9429 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. All right. Thank you.
9430 So the instance -- I don't know if you would have heard the example the other day where the people from MAC were in and the lady explained the situation where she had self-identified herself -- had self-identified that she would have a problem with dropping the phone and the phone subsequently got broken. And the person she was dealing with, she felt, had not told her -- had left her with the impression that the phone would be stronger, I guess, more resistant, she wouldn't have a problem.
9431 He told her for $8 or so a month she could have a contract which she understood would replace the phone, but it didn't.
9432 So if you have issues like that, I assume you have an escalation process. Not that you'd necessarily have that exact example, but do you have an escalation process for persons with disabilities?
9433 MR. SHEPHERD: We have -- certainly we have a general escalation process including, you know, an email address that they can contact me directly, that's posted on our web. And I can tell you, I do get emails from customers directly on these issues.
9434 But we also do have a resource that's dedicated to providing assistance specifically to persons that have disabilities or special needs. And, so, that is an escalation channel for our sales people or our service people to go to should they need assistance in dealing with something like that.
9435 You know, that particular situation, I didn't hear the comments or understand exactly the situation but, you know, I think I'd say generally, you know, we probably haven't done as much as we probably I would like to deal with some of these situations.
9436 We've done some upgrades to our website for -- to enhance it for people with disabilities. We've got, I think, a discount that we offer to people, for example, that may have hearing issues that may not get the full utility out of our plans.
9437 And, so, we've done some things there, but I think I would probably admit that it's kind of a minimal amount. We do maintain a staff person to assist with these things, but I don't think we have a special training program, for example, for our retail group or anything. They generally rely on, when they run into a situation like that, coming back into our resource person for assistance should it be required.
9438 MR. CHUNG: So, just to add to that.
9439 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Mm-hmm.
9440 MR. CHUNG: So, as Kelvin mentioned earlier in the opening statement, we do also have a hardware insurance program, the hardware protection program and we do have collateral that we give to all our channels and they're supposed to re-instruct them to sit down or to discuss with the customer the obligations and what they're getting and not getting. So, we do try to mitigate that as well.
9441 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Yeah, one of the things --
9442 MR. SHEPHERD: Perhaps just to add one comment. I think we do, under our wireless protection program for $7 a month, and that's what we call our complete coverage, we would offer something that would cover that customer in that situation up to two incidents in a year or $2,000 damage.
9443 So, if a customer was in that situation where they were concerned, I may drop the phone, there's a warranty period obviously, but warranty only covers certain things, but we do offer a comprehensive insurance program where if a customer feels that they may be using their device in such a way that it may be broken or lost or damaged, that essentially there's kind of a no-fault, no -- a total coverage option available for them.
9444 So, we have introduced that because we do understand, in particular, warranty doesn't cover everything and, so some customers that may have concerns about that, we've started to offer them options to allow them to protect themselves and address situations like that.
9445 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And, so, to clarify then, somebody could have their phone replaced if they qualified up to two times, twice a year?
9446 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, we can provide more details on the program, but essentially it provides a staggered level of options. There's an extended -- kind of an extended warranty option, but then there's kind of a comprehensive insurance program option that you can pick that will cover you whether it's lost, whether it's stolen, whether you drop it in the lake, whatever reason, and I think the limitation is two incidents in a year or $2,000.
9447 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I think it would be interesting if you could submit some information on that. I think that would be information we --
9448 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, we can do that.
9449 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9450 MR. SHEPHERD: I believe we have information available here today.
9451 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So now, just turning to the notification tools, and you have -- I guess you agree that data usage seems to be the biggest problem, data and roaming you had said earlier.
9452 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, certainly our experience has been that data usage, in particular roaming data. I think potentially we may be different -- we could be different than other service providers.
9453 I don't know what their experience is, but we're a regional provider to begin with, so our roaming situation is somewhat different than other providers.
9454 We also offer an unlimited data plan in Manitoba where there are no additional charges regardless of how much usage. So, a large number of our customers take that plan and, so, they'll experience usage charges for data in Manitoba.
9455 So, generally where we do see the issue is roaming and it is data that is generally the issue.
9456 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And there's been talk about push and pull tools, and would they be a solution on their own without a cap? Is that a possibility?
9457 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I suppose it's a possibility. I think our own experience is, is that customers -- many customers don't react to being just notified that they have an issue.
9458 So, we don't have tools today that really allow a customer to monitor. Again, we have limitation systems and platforms today. So, largely we've been relying on manual processes, but we found even with that, you know, sending a text message to a customer that says you may be incurring, you know, a large roaming cost, often times they're not responsive to that.
9459 So, I'm not fully convinced myself, at least at this point in time, that those tools will fully address the situation.
9460 Potentially, you know, with time, education, more awareness, perhaps they could play a much bigger role in it, but I think our experience today is that, you know, it's difficult to get people's attention on these issues.
9461 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So, I gather from your opening remarks that a $200 limit, while not ideal, might be a good compromise on a cap?
9462 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, I -- you know, it's -- I can tell you what we're doing today in terms of our manual process and it is manual. We have to pull kind of reports three times a week. We manually analyze them.
9463 It would be kind of -- we don't really have billing data, we have usage data, so we kind of apply a proxy to try to determine what we think the bill might be at and we notify customers beginning at about $150 and we try to call them, but if we can't contact them by voice, we text them.
9464 And basically today if they get to a thousand dollars, we'll suspend their service. And we find that suspending their service definitely gets their attention. The text messaging and the calls often don't get their attention.
9465 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: No, and I'm sure that you hate to do that as a last resort, because people are dependent on it.
9466 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, they are, and this gets back to the question of what's the right limit and it does -- I'd be the first to admit it, it probably varies by customer, but certainly, you know, we don't want to be in a situation where a customer gets a large bill that they didn't expect. We don't want to be in a situation where -- you know, because realistically you can't collect large bills from customers.
9467 So then, you know, we reach an accommodation, an agreement with the customer to pay a lower amount, but often then we are out of pocket as a service provider.
9468 So, there's pros and cons to this. Certainly there's potentially a negative impact for customers if their service is all of a sudden interrupted in the middle of something important, so we're sensitive to that.
9469 So, we think notification certainly plays a role before you get to a stage of suspending service, but then I think at some point in time, you know, and whether it's $200 or a thousand dollars or some other number, you're going to have to take action in order to ensure that both the customer and ourselves aren't exposed unduly to cost and risk.
9470 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sure. Yeah, I'm just going to ask you just about -- because I want to give the others a chance to ask some questions, and today is the last day and we've got others, as you know.
9471 I'm just wondering on the unlocking and you lock -- the device is locked for 90 days.
9472 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, we -- we will unlock after 90 days on request.
9473 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9474 MR. SHEPHERD: So, that customer would have to come in, they'd have had to have service for 90 days with us, we'll unlock their device. We charge $50 for unlocking fee.
9475 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And the reason -- first of all, do you order your devices locked or unlocked; can you do that for your device?
9476 MR. SHEPHERD: Our preference actually is to have locked devices, and I can explain why, but our preference is to have locked devices.
9477 But it's situational. In some cases the manufacturer only provides a locked device, so we really don't have a choice; in other situations we have bought unlocked devices and sold unlocked devices because that's enabled us to acquire devices in volumes that we can afford, more generic devices.
9478 So, in those cases we made a decision that, even though we prefer locked, we will take unlocked devices because otherwise we just couldn't afford, as a small -- you know, smaller provider to gain access to certain devices.
9479 And then, in other cases, the manufacturer gives us the choice, locked or unlocked, and typically if we have a choice we will choose locked.
9480 We prefer locked for a number of reasons. Principally it helps us manage risk. There's inventory risk, so, having locked devices while they're in inventory helps protect the device. It also helps us manage risk during the initial phase because, you know, if you have an unlocked device, potentially you're more vulnerable to subscription fraud, people coming in, taking essentially a zero dollar device and then never paying a bill and having difficulty, you know, because the device is unlocked from day one or within a very short period of time. So, there's that issue.
9481 And then, I think generally speaking though that, you know, we feel after 90 days we've got a track record, the customer's paid, you know, at least one bill, probably two bills and if they come in and their account is in good standing, we're fine to unlock the phone.
9482 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
9483 Mr. Chairman, then thank you.
9484 That's all I will ask right now. I will give somebody else a chance. Thank you.
9485 THE CHAIRPERSON: Great. Thank you.
9486 Commissioner Poirier?
9487 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Hello. Good morning.
9488 Since the implementation of Bill 35, I wonder, what is the reaction of your consumers, your clients. Do they understand the law? How do they react and do you get more or less complaints?
9489 MR. SHEPHERD: You know, that's a very good question and I don't know that I have -- I haven't done a study. I haven't done a market research study so I can give you kind of my impression, but I honestly don't have data, which is always concerning, right.
9490 But what I can tell you is that I think if there has been a reaction it has been positive. We haven't seen, I don't think, any concerns, certainly at the retail store level where people do an interaction. You know, customers aren't complaining, "Why are you taking me through this?" I think we have managed to find the right balance between having the right information and a good enough process that the customer experience is fine.
9491 You know, I have been in a store and seen the process work, right, and it can be difficult for a salesperson. You know, the person often is more interested in their new device and what they are doing with it than in listening to a person take them through things, but I think it's working.
9492 So I think from that point of view I certainly haven't heard complaints from my sales teams, or from customers that say they are unhappy with the contract or the process or the things we are doing.
9493 In terms of complaints, I haven't really seen a change in that. I will tell you, the majority of the complaints that get escalated to me or brought to my attention typically have been more around coverage issues, concerns that, you know, "How come my phone doesn't work on this highway? How come you don't provide cell service in a certain area?" So that's a significant number of the complaints or concerns I deal with.
9494 I regularly receive letters from people that would like us to provide service in their area.
9495 Some complaints typically when you get into a complaint you often find it's related back to a desire to have hardware earlier. "I know I have 18 months left on my contract, but I really want the new phone and I don't want to pay the termination fee or pay full price for the new phone", so many of those issues really aren't tackled by the legislation.
9496 I mean there is more clarity, customers I believe are more clear that there is a subsidy and they understand the termination fee and, to be fair, I think the new termination fee arrangement is better for the customer than what we were doing previously, so I think that's a positive thing for them and may over time reduce those types of issues, but those are generally the types of issues that have been brought to my attention.
9497 It's very rarely that I hear that somebody didn't understand their contract. In fact, I can't really recall of a complaint where a customer claimed they didn't understand the contract, they just don't necessarily like where they are in the contract, which is a difference.
9498 But I think generally our experience with Bill 35 -- you know, we went through a long process. I would say early on we were quite concerned, but I think as we went through the process, we worked with the Government of Manitoba, we worked to implement it, it has been reasonably smooth, it certainly hasn't been the end of the world.
9499 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. You survived.
9500 MR. SHEPHERD: We survived and I think at the end of the day it is probably better for our customers and for us, so I think overall it's going to be positive.
9501 Now, we are only I would say a few months into it really --
9502 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
9503 MR. SHEPHERD: -- but I would say that generally speaking once you -- the main concerns have been about implementation.
9504 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
9505 MR. SHEPHERD: Timeframe, you know, it took us eight months to fully implement.
9506 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
9507 MR. SHEPHERD: You know, we were really only given six so there was concerns about just getting things done.
9508 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
9509 MR. SHEPHERD: So I think our concern all along, after you get through some of the initial concerns about the business impact and how you are going to do it, is really more practical. What can you implement? What are the costs? How do you get done?
9510 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: But in general it's an improvement for the consumers, as I can see. It's positive.
9511 My second and last question: Did your clients have to pay an increase of their fees because of the implementation of Bill 35?
9512 MR. SHEPHERD: No.
9513 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Nothing.
9514 MR. SHEPHERD: No.
9515 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So you absorbed the cost because you related to some amounts of money, $1 million to new platforms, and so on. So you absorbed all the costs?
9516 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, it's a cost of doing business I think.
9517 I mean the reality is that every day you have changes in the business and you have to invest and you incorporate those costs into your model. But really our pricing is determined in the market in terms of a competitive market, what we are offering customers, what we think is a fair price. So the fact that we have had to incur costs for this or for a billing system upgrade or for new technology, they become accosted in business and certainly not something that we pass on in terms of some kind of charge to customers directly, it gets incorporated into our overall cost of doing business.
9518 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I guess the only issue would be as we have more requirements around legislation or the Code there are certain things that we might do that we will not -- like we don't have an infinite amount of cash to invest, so you have to make choices, so in absorbing you are making -- I mean you are complying and you are making a choice to do this and some of it we may have done anyway and absorbed it and others we defer something else.
9519 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes. Perhaps just to elaborate on that, I mean clearly like any company we only have so much funding to invest, we only have so many IT people, we can only do so many things, so obviously if we were obligated to implement something that was extremely complex and expensive that is going to impact what we can deliver to customers. But, as I was saying, at the end of the day reasonable costs of compliance are a cost of doing business and we deal with them on an ongoing basis.
9520 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. And I don't want to very much deeper into that subject, but do you mean that the Bill -- in a way it triggered innovation because you had to add some platforms to notify your clients, but in another way there are some down sides, it can slow down innovation in a different direction you would have preferred to have gone.
9521 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, clearly we had to find the $1 million from somewhere and we had to allocate it from other activities that we might have wanted to do, but I can tell you that is not an uncommon day-to-day challenge in our business. That's why I'm saying, as long as requirements aren't onerous overly, as long as they are reasonable -- I refer back to the data usage notification stuff as an example, as long as the requirements don't become so complex that it's just not affordable or it can't be technically implemented without a cost that a company our size can't afford, but if they are reasonable I think we would have had those types of things somewhere in our plan over the next couple of years in any event.
9522 So I think that is really what I'm encouraged by, is that if we can come up with something that is good for consumers, helps consumers, helps our business and isn't a major distraction of resources from other things that would also benefit consumers, that's really the only concern we would have.
9523 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Merci beaucoup. C'est une discussion très intéressante qu'on a eue avec vous. Merci.
9524 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Molnar...?
9525 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
9526 Just following up on this whole issue of the notifications and caps, it's the big issue for you, correct, and I believe I just heard you say it's really a business issue and you would need to solve it somehow from a business perspective; your concern is we shouldn't define it.
9527 Is that what I heard you say?
9528 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I agree it's an issue for our customers and that makes it a business issue for us. As well, it is an issue for ourselves in terms of managing cost and risk.
9529 So I think our concern would be that, first of all, we have a view of what is happening today with our customers. I don't pretend to understand what might happen with a national provider's customers, I think they have a different customer base, they have different experience, so I don't know what works for them, but I know today what we are seeing -- you know, we talked about $200, we would say that's maybe a reasonable figure for where we are today, but this business is evolving so quickly, the use of these devices is evolving so quickly, I would think it would be -- you should be cautious about being too prescriptive about something that you might think works today when two years from the now the situation can be very different.
9530 So I think all we are saying is that we think this is a business issue and we would be taking steps to solve it and if the Commission decides -- it incorporates something like a cap in their plan, we know from our own experience $50 is not the right number today. We think $200 works but, quite frankly, it might be $300 in a year or it might be $75 and I think we need to have some flexibility to be able to adapt these things as the situation changes and as our customers experience changes to be able to respond to that in the context of a market.
9531 So that's really what I'm concerned about, is that if you're too prescriptive you may actually not be able to respond in the same kind of speed that this kind of wireless Internet world is evolving at.
9532 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I guess a couple of things.
9533 If we're prescriptive, what this is talking about is unanticipated fees, so if the market is able to provide solutions to customers so that they can anticipate their fees or, you know, move them up.
9534 I don't think at this time -- at this time, if I understand, your policy is you have overage, you actually bill overage, and even within Manitoba, I think, I see it's not that much, $10 a gig.
9535 But you bill overage, you don't just automatically move somebody to a higher plan that better suits their data consumption that month or anything like that, right?
9536 MR. SHEPHERD: It depends --
9537 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So the fact that we're being prescriptive, if the market creates solutions for the customers so there are not unanticipated fees, perhaps, you know, this won't even kick in.
9538 So I'm a little concerned where you say we should give you flexibility because next year it might be 300, because, you know what I mean, like the goal should be none, there should be no unanticipated fees for customers.
9539 MR. SHEPHERD: I'm not talking about an unanticipated fee, I was talking about a cap, which is an attempt to help customers and the business manage the situation, and I'm certainly not suggesting that it would go up, it could just as easily come down.
9540 All I'm saying is that the current -- you know, our response where we talked about $50 as a cap not being the right amount and $200 seeming to be reasonable was really specific to the context of our business, our customer base and what we saw today, and my concern would be that it could change and probably will change based on a number of different factors and I think I just would be cautious about being too prescriptive in terms of setting specific things.
9541 I would agree that there are other things that happen and can happen in terms of how you package services.
9542 For example, one of the -- although you mentioned the $10-per-gig usage in Manitoba, which is true on some plans, we still have an unlimited data plan, which is the most popular with our customers, so that they are assured that they will never pay more than their fixed amount a month for usage, and we believe that's why that plan is so popular with customers, is because they see the value in knowing that they can use a lot of data and never pay more than a fixed amount in a month.
9543 Now, clearly, we aren't in a position to offer that if you're in the U.S. or Australia because we just don't have the financial capability to do that, but in Manitoba we see that as a very good way to assist customers and prevent, you know, usage charges that could be large.
9544 MR. CHUNG: I would just like to add to that.
9545 So we are in agreement that notifications are required prior to reaching the threshold of your bucket.
9546 What we did cross out was the percentages as well, and the reason we did that is setting it at 50 percent and 80 percent and having those percentages defined might not make sense depending on how big the bucket is -- so if you had a 10-gig plan and we notified you at 5 gigs, well, there might be too much time between hitting 5 gigs and 80 gigs for it to actually mean anything.
9547 So we just want to give carriers the flexibility to set those percentages based on something more reasonable and more meaningful to the customers.
9548 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
9549 So just to be clear, you said we should be careful and not be too prescriptive, and the wording that you placed here about caps, in your view, that gives you the flexibility you need? So you would be able to set the amount, it would relate solely to roaming and you would be able to set the amount and you would set that for all customers and not on a customer-by-customer basis?
9550 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, that's our view, that that could be implemented reasonably and provide a reasonable level of assurance to customers about what their maximum bill would be and at the same time provide us the ability to manage it in a way that works for both the business and the customer.
9551 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And then you would be able to --
9552 MR. SHEPHERD: And we are specifically saying roaming data because in our situation we believe that that is really the key issue.
9553 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm. It says as well that you would change that cap at your discretion and notify the customer.
9554 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, we believe first the cap would have to be -- customers should be notified of it. They should understand that it's in place and that if they go over that amount service could be suspended so that they have at least information if they want to opt out.
9555 So we believe there should be notification up front and clarity for a customer, and clearly, if we decide to change the cap for some reason we believe customers should be notified of any change.
9556 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Wouldn't you think that perhaps that would form part of the contract that you're contracting for service and you anticipate a certain cap?
9557 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I think we would --
9558 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So why would you view you should be able to change that to existing contracts?
9559 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, we believe it's similar to some other elements where, you know, there is the potential that that could change. It's not specific to a customer, it's a general kind of network-wide or system-wide parameter.
9560 So, first of all, I think clearly our intention would be to notify customers at the time they entered into the contract that there is a cap. We would give them the option of whether they wanted to opt out, but I don't think it would be the type of thing that, you know, is impacting the core of the contract with the customer.
9561 It doesn't affect their minimum monthly fee. It doesn't affect their subsidy. It doesn't affect any of those things, it's really affecting an element more of how the service works, which I don't think you would consider part of kind of the core contract that couldn't be changed.
9562 It's -- go ahead, Teresa.
9563 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Sorry.
9564 I just think -- I don't want you to misunderstand. We actually looked at this in a serious way and tried to collect data about our customers. It wasn't right away to shut down the idea.
9565 It's more our own uncertainty actually that we're reflecting here in the sense that it is an option for the customer to manage but you don't want to put an option in place that makes sense for us to actually implement. We could change so it's cost-effective, but the customer has a choice to opt in or out, as Kelvin was saying.
9566 And really what we were trying to do, just based on our customer base information, was figure out, okay, right now, this seems not unreasonable, the $200, but even we were not certain as we discussed it that we really could be sure that if we started doing that -- because we still have a certain number of customers who actually incur charges at that level and seem to be all right with that.
9567 So it's trying to strike the balance between what would be annoying to the customer or start to affect a lot of customers in a negative way if they were unaware and did not opt out and then what we could actually do in a way that wouldn't be too expensive for us to implement where we're unsure that it would actually deliver the kind of benefits.
9568 And also, we feel that as people become more accustomed -- it's a relatively new phenomenon, the smartphone, the data usage, all those applications that you have on that you don't realize you have on.
9569 As customers actually become a little more aware of what certain things they do affect their data usage, the customer starts to actually control themselves, which is often very effective. I mean I personally have found that.
9570 So we're trying to put it in that context. It wasn't just, okay, we'll set the cap and the cap will be here and then tomorrow we'll decide no, we don't like that cap, we want it to be higher.
9571 It was really a sincere look at here's the information we have today and at $50 we may be shutting down far too many of our customers. That's more or less how we looked at it.
9572 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, thanks for that. You know, it is important that it be a thoughtful consideration because this Code, if it does in fact move forward as proposed and there is a cap set at certain amounts, and there are discussions of five years until we review this, we want to make sure that we have set that appropriately.
9573 Just one more question and that's regarding your excessive use policy.
9574 You say you have unlimited plans and you have an excessive use policy, and I read it and maybe you can tell me if I read this wrong, but when I read it, it said that prolonged or continuous use of high bandwidth applications such as multimedia streaming is contrary to your excessive use policy.
9575 So are you telling me if you were watching movies on your iPad you would be shut down?
9576 MR. SHEPHERD: No.
9577 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: No?
9578 MR. SHEPHERD: We don't -- it's strictly based upon reaching a certain amount of usage in a month.
9579 So in our case the current fair usage policy is, I think, 15 gigabytes of data in a month. After you reach that threshold we apply a uniform policy across all traffic and it's, I think, 256 kilobits per second is our -- is what we limit to you after you've reached that amount of usage in a month. So, you know, if you want to watch Netflix on your device, we have no concern about that or ... It's up to you what you do with it. It's just that after 15 gigabytes in a month we apply our fair usage policy consistently across all applications.
9580 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So would you consider then that you in fact are offering unlimited plans? Like, when you --
9581 MR. SHEPHERD: We're clear that it's unlimited in terms of you can use as much data as you want in a month and there will be never more than a fixed fee for that plan. There's no data usage charges. There's no overage charges. And in fact --
9582 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: There's not much of an application once you pin it down to that level.
9583 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, to give you a sense, I mean, we've seen customers under that fair usage policy use hundreds of gigabytes a data in a month. So it's not unlimited. It's pretty darn close, and it definitely is unlimited in the context of how we position it and clearly identify it in our advertising and our terms to customers. They understand what it means. It means that they're going to pay a flat rate a month and they're never going to get charged more for usage in Manitoba. And we think customers --
9584 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And they understand what happens after 15 gigs?
9585 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes. I think it's clear.
9586 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Thank you. That's all, thank you.
9587 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I have about four areas I want to ask you a few questions on and I think that will be it and we'll take a break after that, so ...
9588 I may have missed this, but how many wireless subscribers do you have?
9589 MR. SHEPHERD: I think 495,000-and-some odd as of the end of that year.
9590 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Yeah, in that ballpark. Because I was looking at the CCTS, the last report, the 2011/12, and I notice you -- there was about a hundred complaints or so. How many of those were wireless?
9591 MR. SHEPHERD: I don't know, Teresa, if you know an exact number. I would say probably a good percentage of them, but ...
9592 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Yeah. Probably two-thirds of them are wireless related. Not particularly related to the contract per se though.
9593 MR. SHEPHERD: Right.
9594 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: They're related -- I would say predominantly, as we were rolling out into less urban, if you want to call it, areas, it -- a lot related to coverage. Lesser relate to the customer, let's say, using a couple of hundred gigabytes a month and objecting to our fair use policy, but I would say the majority relate to coverage and the use of --
9595 MR. SHEPHERD: Service area.
9596 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- the device in certain areas for certain -- it's data related as well for certain functions.
9597 THE CHAIRPERSON: And when you look back and look at trend lines of complaints for the wireless side at the time that Bill 35 was being discussed and implemented, have you seen any changes to number of complaints, nature of complaints?
9598 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I would say no in the sense we haven't really had enough time with the Bill. I think there is certain billing clarity now that might not have existed prior that would probably have been dealt with more at the level of our customer contact people. Where someone just gets their bill and seems to not understand what they were being charged for and now there's a better understanding, but not in terms of CCTS complaints, no.
9599 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for that.
9600 Second subject is dealing with implementation of the code. And you started to discuss this, but on B2, you prefer option 2. And there's, in option 2, a reference to new contracts. And maybe you want to do this through an undertaking, but what is your understanding of a new contract, the term "new contract", and is there a point at which amendments are such that it goes such the core of the contract and an amendment no longer is an amendment and it's in fact the birth of a new contract?
9601 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I would prefer to take an undertaking just because I'd have to think about it a bit more, but --
9602 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's fine.
9603 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- I guess we were just thinking of it in terms of a renewal of a contract, but --
9604 THE CHAIRPERSON: At which -- but at one point one could argue, and I asked of others, that you've changed the contract so much that it ceases to be the original contract.
9605 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right, but in terms of changing the contract, that would be at the customer's behest. Are you talking about because we're staggering the implementation, I'm taking it?
9606 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, your point is you prefer option B2 --
9607 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right.
9608 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and you referred to a new contract. So I just want a bit of clarity what you mean by "new contract". It seems to me at one point what might be perceived or branded as an amendment is in fact a new contract.
9609 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right. We -- if we were actually materially amending the contract though, we would consider it a new contract, but --
9610 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I guess you'll have to help me understand --
9611 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: -- we can give you the precise ...
9612 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- what you mean by "material".
9613 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Well, an upgrade to the service, a change in any of the contracted terms, where the customer actually has the right to walk away, we would consider those things material. I have to think through that. I think Hong actually has an opinion on that.
9614 MR. CHUNG: Yeah. So our understanding of what "new contract" would be would be a hardware upgrade where you extend the term or change the term. In the cases of where you extend your term without a device subsidy and you sign up for 12 months for a, you know, promotional offer, that would be a new contract. And if you changed your monthly minimum cost obligation through mutual agreement, that would be a new contract as well. Those are kind of the scenarios that we had in mind when we were selecting option 2.
9615 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Well, you might want to add --
9616 MR. SHEPHERD: I think maybe -- I mean, because I'm listening, I think maybe the -- I'll repeat the question back a little differently, make sure I understand it. Perhaps you're referring to an existing -- it's called a legacy contract. And we say, well, that's not covered under the new contract, but we go in and amend it to make some change, I don't know, increase the price or do something. Is that the ...?
9617 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, there's a number of scenarios possible. I mean, it could be at the request of the customer, it could be at your request.
9618 MR. SHEPHERD: Mm.
9619 THE CHAIRPERSON: It could be a term, it could be an upgrade. I just want to know --
9620 MR. SHEPHERD: Okay.
9621 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- what you define as a "new contract". And --
9622 MR. SHEPHERD: I --
9623 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- it seems to me, at least from a legal interpretation, there is a point where you're amending so much contract it ceases --
9624 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah.
9625 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- to be an amendment to a contract and is in fact the birth of a new contract.
9626 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah. We --
9627 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'd like to know what your views are on that.
9628 MR. SHEPHERD: We should walk through that, I think, and give you a more fulsome view on it then because I think at a high level we're totally in agreement that there can't be a significant change, and certainly under the -- Bill 35 you can't change pricing, you can't change anything that's I don't want to say material to the contract and yet there are some things you -- and there are some specific things that are outlined, optional features that you can change. But we will walk through that and try to give you a more fulsome view of what can't be changed before it becomes a new contract.
9629 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, and that will be very helpful because I think we get into -- unfortunately into the granularity of this and we need some clarity. And so that's ...
9630 On the same subject matter of -- because it does come to implementation and how fast the whole customer base would be subject and benefit from the wireless code, I've asked this of other suppliers. If you look at your churn rate, if you could do it as an undertaking and tell us, you know, how much of your base, based on the prospective application, applying it to new contracts as defined, after one year, two years, three years what percentage of your base do you expect to be fully benefitting from the code.
9631 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah, we can give you that information.
9632 THE CHAIRPERSON: I realize it's a bit of an estimate. You know, it's percentages that I'm looking for rather than details.
9633 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes. We'll do that, though.
9634 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
9635 Third issue and it comes -- it flows actually from the Appendix 1 you had, a wireless service agreement you found. I noticed that the dealer is 4L Communications, Beausejour, and that triggered a question in my mind. This is community -- I believe -- a company that is probably one of your agents that operates just south of Winnipeg, and I think they -- I did some quick research, but about 7 or 8 percent of the population is Francophone. So how do you deal with customers that might want to contract in French?
9636 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I don't believe we have a French language version of the contract unless Hong corrects me. And he's not leaping to correct me, so we don't have a French language version of the contract. We clearly have employees and our dealers have employees that have language -- are bilingual or multilingual and we also will serve customers in French language if they phone our service centre, but I don't believe we actually have a contract that is --
9637 THE CHAIRPERSON: So the interaction might be orally in the language of --
9638 MR. SHEPHERD: Yeah.
9639 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the choice of the customer to the extent you have employees there --
9640 MR. SHEPHERD: Right.
9641 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- but it would be impossible for them to have a French version of the contract?
9642 MR. SHEPHERD: I don't think we have a French version of the contract, so today it wouldn't be possible because I don't have one.
9643 THE CHAIRPERSON: Hm. How do you ensure that there's actual informed consent?
9644 MR. SHEPHERD: That's probably a fair question. I believe we rely on the fact that we do have a contract even though it is in English and we've dealt with the customer appropriately at the time of the sale.
9645 THE CHAIRPERSON: Hm. You might want to come back on that in the comment phase.
9646 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes, I'm -- I hear you.
9647 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
9648 The fourth and final issue, and this, as you know, we've heard a lot about the terms of contracts and some are suggesting that we should prohibit three-year contracts and that's been an issue. And I guess one could do it, I guess, pursuant to a section 24 condition under the Telecommunications Act. And by that I mean I guess we'd have to link it to the term of the contract as it relates directly or indirectly to telecommunication services and, therefore, it would always be possible in a retail outlet for somebody to make some other arrangement with respect to the pure device, but you -- without linking it to the terms and conditions of the telecommunication contract. If we were to do that, could you tell me what would be the impact on your business?
9649 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, it's --
9650 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's not the question you really wanted, was it?
9651 MR. SHEPHERD: -- an interesting question because I think it -- so, first of all, I mean, the immediate impact would be that if everybody's subject to it, obviously then it's not a choice of getting a three-year contract from Rogers and you can't get one from us. So, I mean, the competitive impact is largely neutralized, in my view. I think the biggest impact is really that customers, as they would today on a two-year contract with us, would pay more upfront for a subsidized device. They would probably still get some level of subsidy in the device, but it would be less than they would on a three-year contract.
9652 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hmm.
9653 MR. SHEPHERD: I think that could have the potential impact of, you know, either dissuading some people from acquiring a device, it could incent people to buy their own device and come in and simply take service and then keep their device longer, but, I mean, generally that's not the behaviour we're seeing from customers. They generally are wanting the new devices. So I think the impact on our business largely would be that it would just simply change the dynamic where customers on two-year contracts are going to have to pay more for upfront. I don't think they pay more in total from an economic perspective, but they simply have to have more cash upfront to be able to afford the device.
9654 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I take it -- you've given a lot of answers from the perspective of the consumers. But if that were the case, I was wanting more from your perspective as business operators.
9655 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, it really comes back to the environment, to the competitive environment and the market environment. And if it's -- if that's the standard in the market, where the impact on our business is simply going to be around how to make two- year contracts as attractive as we can to customers and stay competitive in the marketplace, the same way we do with three-year contracts being attractive to customers --
9656 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mm-hmm.
9657 MR. SHEPHERD: -- quite frankly, I think if you look at some of our pricing, our two-year contract is likely a better deal for customers today in terms of the total cost, but they for whatever reason don't want to pay that cash up front and insist on going for a three-year contract. But if you just do the straight financial analysis, I think often our two-year contract may be a better deal for customers. So that's why I'm struggling a little bit.
9658 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. I understand.
9659 MR. SHEPHERD: In terms of the impact, I think it's a complex question, right, in terms of how the market reacts, how customers react. I think -- our view is that a three-year contract, along with, as I say, we offer one and two-year contracts are quite happy if customers come in with their own device to sell them a month-to-month plan. We believe more choice is probably better for consumers. And so, at the end of the day, I mean, the -- you know, the three-year contract is very popular. I know we hear a lot about the three-year contract, at least I hear in the media, but I don't really hear it myself from customers about a three-year contract. What I hear from them is concerns that I've had my handset for two years and I want a new one.
9660 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And, you know, I'm asking the question in the -- for the purpose of developing the record.
9661 MR. SHEPHERD: Right.
9662 THE CHAIRPERSON: And indeed we've heard others suggest that, no, removing the option of three-year contracts takes away customer choice, I understand that, but I wanted to see your point of view on this from a business perspective, to see whether or not -- what impact it would have on the business. It probably is not the last time we're going to discuss this in this proceeding --
9663 MR. SHEPHERD: Yes.
9664 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and in the written phases to follow.
9665 MR. SHEPHERD: Well, I wish I had a long well thought out financial analysis that I could generate a number for you, but I don't. And in fact, I'm not quite sure how you really understand the impact until you probably do it and see what happens in the marketplace.
9666 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
9667 Did you have something to add?
9668 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I was just going to add in looking at along -- what Kelvin says is correct, that if everybody is put on the same terms, the competitive impact on our business is -- we're all basically on equal footing. So it's the inducement for the customer actually that's more greatly affected.
9669 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
9670 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: And --
9671 THE CHAIRPERSON: You compete to keep that customer. I take it it's really important, from your perspective, not to lose a customer.
9672 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: To lose the customer, right.
9673 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because it's so expensive to attract a customer --
9674 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's correct.
9675 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- you want to keep them. So were we in the scenario of a two-year contract, the same market forces that are occurring at three-year contracts would be at play for the two-year contract, correct?
9676 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: That's right, except the value of the inducement would be different, as Kelvin said, and I guess then the cost of acquisition might get a little more aggressive just because, as you say, we're shrinking the time frame within which -- or, let's say, increasing the potential churn. So, I mean, there would be some sort of -- either we become greatly efficient or we have higher costs.
9677 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
9678 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: I mean, that would be the reality. And I'm thinking that a lot of that issue really comes around the termination provisions, the one, two, three. So if the termination provision is really solely attached to the inducement, there's less of a concern for the customer. It is more, as you say, a competitive issue as to -- for us and then an issue for them as how much can I really afford to pay upfront to have a certain type of device.
9679 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hmm.
9680 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: And if you eliminated the three-year contract, their ability to acquire the latest device or a nicer device than otherwise would actually be limited, yet the benefit to them might also be limited because tomorrow they could actually, in our case anyway, tell us, hey, we don't want to be with you. Even though we made this commitment together, we don't want to be with you and all that would be left for them to pay for was the remaining cost of the device.
9681 THE CHAIRPERSON: The -- yeah, the cost of the --
9682 MS GRIFFIN-MUIR: Right.
9683 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- amortized version, the cost of the device. Okay. Thank you. Very useful.
9684 We'll take a break now until 11 o'clock and hear from the next panel. Thank you. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1043
--- Upon resuming at 1059
9685 THE CHAIRPERSON: À l'ordre, s'il vous plait. À l'ordre. Order, please.
9686 We'll now hear from our next presenters.
9687 You're familiar with the process first to identify yourselves and go right ahead.
9688 MR. LOCKIE: Hello, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners.
9689 My name is Simon Lockie and I am pleased to be here before you to speak to these important matters. I am the Chief Regulatory Officer of WIND Mobile, and one of the company's co-founders here in Canada.
9690 Securing the financing for and building and operating a wireless company from scratch over a period spanning the last five years, and competing against the dominant entrenched oligopoly comprised of the "Big Three" incumbents has been an incredible and an educational journey.
9691 Considering our background and our position in the market, I think WIND Mobile is well positioned to give you a fresh and informed and hopefully a candid perspective on the subject matter of this proceeding.
9692 I am joined here by Algis Akstinas, who is over to my far right -- left, rather -- and Ed Antecol who is our Vice President of Regulatory and Carrier Relations.
9693 I want to start by telling you a little bit about where we are now and how we got here.
9694 WIND Mobile launched in Canada in December 2009. So we are still a very young company. While we are a private company, so there are limits on the various stats I can divulge, I can note that we have surpassed the 600,000 subscriber milestone, which makes us the fastest-growing mobile operator on record in the Canadian market.
9695 After a strategically-mistaken early focus on pre-paid, about half of our subscribers are now post-paid subscribers, the vast majority of which have become subscribers since the launching our "Tab" plan. In fact, almost 90 percent of our current subscriber adds are post-paid subscribers, which for us means no term contract but with a handset subsidy.
9696 In short, we are far ahead of any other new entrant in network and subscribers, and on these relevant metrics we are much further ahead than previous entrants like Microcell and FIDO and ClearNet at the same stage in their lifetime.
9697 When we built WIND Mobile, we did so based on a very simple principle, and it is one that we believe is near and dear to the Chairman's heart: a conversation with Canadians.
9698 Prior to our launch we created a website called "Wireless Soapbox" which solicited input from Canadians on what they wanted a new cell phone company to look like.
9699 This wasn't a marketing gimmick, but rather we knew if we were to stand a chance against the universally reviled but still enormously dominant incumbents, we needed to give Canadians what they actually wanted, which was very, very clearly not what they were getting from the Big Three.
9700 The response to Wireless Soapbox was overwhelming. Canadians were completely frustrated at the complete control the Big Three had over them, and the way that control was exercised.
9701 Obviously, Canadians wanted simple, unlimited plans set out in clear language. But most importantly, Canadians wanted no term service contracts. So that is what we gave them. And that is what they continue to want, as this Commission has heard from consumers directly from us and from consumer advocacy groups.
9702 Now, WIND Mobile believes in competition. We are the competition. We think if you could look into a crystal ball, into the future where there is a truly and vigorously competitive wireless market you would solve all of the issues that the various provinces and now the CRTC are now wrestling with. But while competition is ultimately the solution, the feedback you are receiving during this proceeding proves that it's not there yet.
9703 Actually, I believe in a truly competitive market what you would end up with is a bunch of companies that look a lot more like WIND Mobile and a lot less like the Big Three.
9704 But I'm not here to attack the Big Three. And I know this Commission is very much aware that these are enormously profitable and sophisticated companies and that everything they do and say is very carefully considered from the perspective of advancing commercial interests.
9705 Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a successful and profitable company. It's what we strive for every day.
9706 But if I may, where the difference lies between our company and the Big Three is that our company needs competition to succeed. It needs the conditions for competition to be present, competition that will drive change and better pricing and innovation and simpler terms and better consumer service. These are things that we need and that necessarily means that the Big Three will have to adapt.
9707 It is true that the Big Three are asking for a Code and I would ask you to consider why that is. It's certainly not about having a conscience. If they were really concerned about the anti-competitive policies and convoluted terms of service, they could voluntarily do everything this Code is going to provide for. But they haven't.
9708 In fact, there is not one single thing you can put into this Code that these companies could not freely choose to do. And as you are seeing, when the conversation starts to cross the line into meaningful actions that would actually change their behaviour, they push back.
9709 So the answer is that the Big Three have created these deplorable consumer conditions that several provinces have now responded to and the Big Three want to stop that legislative initiative. This is all this is about for them. With all respect, in WIND's submission, what they are seeking to do is use the Commission to do their dirty work in seeking to blow out the provinces' response to consumer angst.
9710 We are only going to speak very briefly to the issue of the constitutionality of the provincial legislation. We are going to be brief because, with all respect, in our view it's an irrelevant topic in this hearing. It is a red herring.
9711 Make no mistake, bolstering an argument against the constitutionality of the enacted provincial legislation, which started with a few provinces and is starting to gain real momentum with others, was 100 percent the motivation behind the Big Three supporting a national Code of Conduct. They want to do as little violence to their existing approach as possible. We have seen what that approach is when they are not constrained other than by market forces. It is not pretty.
9712 For the record, as a lawyer and speaking on behalf of WIND Mobile, I simply don't think the constitutional argument against these acts works, and I know that there are plenty of constitutional lawyers that agree with me. We can pay lawyers to provide legal opinions to this effect, and if the issue is raised in the appropriate forum that's what we will do.
9713 But it all comes down to them not liking legislation. This is part of their strategy to get around it. We see this as a matter for elected legislatures and courts and it's not a relevant issue, with all respect, for the Commission. So we are very supportive of the suggested approach in the Code. We think it's the right approach.
9714 And Commissioner Duncan, to your point, I think it's the approach that it was going to operate by default in any case.
9715 Now, the primary thing that we do want to speak to today and, actually, before I move on to that, I think that if there is a takeaway, it's that to the extent that the incumbents are correct and there is some violence being done to the provincial legislation, I think it's just even more emphasis on how important this Code is going to be and how it has to be comprehensive and it has to be effective.
9716 Now, the primary thing we want to speak to today in that regard is three-year service contracts.
9717 Now, the Big Three have claimed that consumers love them, and that we can't take away such an adored option. This is unfortunately also the position also being advocated by the CWTA.
9718 In this regard I have to stress and they knew going in that I would stress that the position that they are advocating is not the position of the industry. It's not the position of WIND Mobile and we're a member of the CWTA and we're in the industry.
9719 The unfortunate reality, however, for the CWTA and the Big Three is that consumers don't share their view. I would ask you to compare the consumer paradise the Big Three describe with what you hear from the Competition Bureau which is an independent regulator with no commercial agenda, and from consumer advocacy groups which also have no commercial agenda, and from consumers themselves.
9720 Consumers love subsidies but they hate the three-year contracts that they have to enter into to get them from the Big Three. These contracts are anti-competitive as noted by the Competition Bureau. WIND, on the other hand, earns our customers' business every day, and the only time these three-year contracts are relevant, by definition, is when people customer want out of them.
9721 The fact is, Canadians are addicted to getting cheap handsets, and this is a market reality that we had to respond to. We learned our lesson in the early going and we now use a handset subsidization concept called a "Tab".
9722 We are a clear and simple example that separating handset financing and service terms is perfectly feasible and a legitimate business model. As I noted earlier, we are about a 50 percent post-paid company, and about 90 percent of our new adds are post-paid.
9723 We would also like to offer some global perspective to the Commission on how unique Canada is in this regard.
9724 We are part of the world's sixth largest mobile services company, VimpelCom. VimpelCom has over 212 million subscribers worldwide, spread across 18 different countries. We are the smallest operation by far with only 600,000 of those subscribers. And yet, we are rather only slightly behind WIND Italy, which has 21 million mobile customers in terms of handset purchases in the group.
9725 Canada is a global anomaly.
9726 A study -- and we think the reason for that is highlighted by a study that Bell itself conducted which showed that the average Canadian changes their Smartphone every 2.5 to 2.75 years. Perhaps it is no coincidence that long term contracts are in place for three years, thereby requiring user to re-commit to another three years and allowing the cycle to continue.
9727 It takes two to tango, is how I would put it. The reason that these three-year contracts are so popular is because the incumbents realize that that is the way they make the most money from Canadians. They offer what they have to in order to get Canadians to commit to it. So they offer very attractive, up-front subsidies tied to these three-year terms, knowing that that's how they make more money than in the alternative.
9728 These are very profitable and sophisticated, metric-driven companies. They know exactly what they have to do to stay that way. They need to lock people into long-term contracts, and they know that the benefit, which is a huge and steady ARPU at inflated profits, is worth what they offer to consumers to get them to do it.
9729 They are quick to select specific comparisons to AT&T showing themselves as comparably or even favourably priced. What they don't point out to you is that AT&T's ARPUs are much lower than theirs and that the Big Three extract much more out of a customer over the years than AT&T does. These are facts that Rogers, in its investors' relations materials, trumpets very proudly. They are not facts that they tend to raise in forums such as this. And again, the reason they do it is because that's how they make the most money.
9730 We understand consumers are undeniably choosing these options. In our view it's because they don't have a meaningful choice with the Big Three.
9731 There was some discussion in the previous panel about what would happen and we can speak to that in the questions and answers. But I think what you'll find is that the competition continues and that subsidies are offered on a two-year term.
9732 So we would strongly suggest that the Commission listen to this consensus view from everybody except the companies who profit so massively from those contracts, and alongside the rest of the draft Code which we are very supportive of and we think is a terrific initiative. Make that the number one priority to create the conditions where these types of codes are no longer necessary.
9733 You can call it what you like. You can call it regulation. You can call it consumer protection. You can call it a nanny state, but I like to call it enabling competition and providing the conditions in which true competition can take hold and that is what this industry so desperately needs.
9734 So with that, I'll turn the mike over to Ed.
9735 MR. ANTECOL: Thank you.
9736 WIND Mobile wishes to address four key elements of the draft Wireless Code, referred to by the Chairman as the "Dash 3" version, which we feel are most important to consumers as follows:
9737 - One, application of the Code to pre-paid services;
9738 - Two, long term contracts;
9739 - Three, calculation of early termination fees and;
9740 - Four, tools to monitor and manage usage.
9741 First of all, with respect to the application of the wireless Code to pre-paid services, which we absolutely support, WIND Mobile offers two types of pre-paid services as follows.
9742 A traditional pre-paid pay as you go service called "Pay Your Way" where there is no monthly plan fee. Talk, text and data are individually priced based on per minute, per text, per picture and per megabyte of data.
9743 And the second type is a pre-paid monthly plan, which is -- which our plans are identical to the post-paid monthly plans except customers pay in advance for their service and any optional services that they may wish to use. When the month is over, the service is suspended unless more money is available in the account to pay for the next month.
9744 There are no term contracts for pre-paid, no handset subsidies, no early termination fees, no credit checks to obtain pre-paid services. Customers are not required to sign anything to obtain pre-paid services. We do request that customers provide a name, address, and email address to WIND Mobile when they register their phone, but this information is often not provided and a number of customers go by names like Mickey Mouse with addresses like 24 Sussex.
9745 For pre-paid monthly plans, both phone and mobile internet, if a customer does not maintain a sufficient credit on the account to allow for the deduction of the monthly plan fee for the chosen plan at the start of each month, a text notification is sent and service is suspended. Customers can top up their accounts within 90 days for phone prepaid plans and 365 days for mobile internet plans of such notification to reinstate the service.
9746 Voice plans accounts are placed in a 10-day suspend status where outgoing services will be blocked, excluding 911 and some services like 611. Incoming texts and incoming calls for voice plans will still function and then a disable state for the balance of the 90-day period where accounts can still be reinstated with the current phone number.
9747 "Pay Your Way" pre-paid plans do not have monthly plan fees. Instead, to maintain the account, customers have to maintain a `service life' for the account by topping up prior to the end of the account's service life. A hundred-dollar deposit, for example, will keep the account active for 365 days.
9748 All pre-paid plans provide customers with tools to obtain a remaining balance through a phone application or via WIND Mobile's website. There is no lag, as every usage transaction must be cleared by WIND Mobile's pre-paid systems prior to service completion, even when a customer is roaming.
9749 We use special real-time signalling with foreign operators to get this treatment and authorize each and every call.
9750 With respect to the application of the wireless code to pre-paid services, WIND Mobile notes that Option 1 of section A3 is the best fit with several.
9751 There are seven changes to the Code that we would recommend for pre-paid services.
9752 (1) The requirement for a contract should be replaced by a requirement to provide terms of service with every pre-paid SIM card.
9753 (2) Contract changes and policy changes sections need to be modified to provide for text message notifications of pending changes for pre-paid voice services. Pre=paid data service notifications may have to be done by email if available, as you can't really text a data stick.
9754 The consumer should have sufficient notice to use up activated pre-paid credits and port-out if they are unsatisfied with the change. And we recommended a minimum 30-day notice period.
9755 Contract cancellation provisions are not applicable to pre-paid services, as these services should all be month-to-month and early termination fees should be prohibited.
9756 Notification of additional fees should be replaced by a requirement that the customer be able to obtain up to the minute balance information, and to the extent U.S. and international roaming is enabled, a text alert concerning rates for voice and data when a device first connects to a network outside Canada.
9757 Both of these services should be provided at no additional charge.
9758 Tools to monitor usage should be replaced with a requirement for carriers to provide detailed online billing for any usage not included with a pre-paid monthly plan, usage detail for pay as you go pre-paid plans and the ability to see added optional packages associated with the customer's pre-paid plan.
9759 Section D9.1 should not be applicable, as there should be no security deposits required for pre-paid services.
9760 Disconnect policies need to be modified for pre-paid services. When the money runs out, or the time, so does the service. However, there should be a 90-day window where the customer can top-up and save the telephone number after an account is suspended.
9761 Something else that WIND Mobile does that our customers like is that we allow our customers to transfer pre-paid balances from one active account to another. And we also do a soft 10-day suspend, so the Commission might consider those as additional pre-paid disconnect provisions.
9762 As far as long-term contracts are concerned, we -- and the excessive termination fees, these impose switching costs on consumers, harm competition and reduce consumer welfare because they counteract efforts by new service providers to attract customers by forcing new entrants to provide competitive offers that compensate consumers for switching and thus operate less profitably.
9763 And (2) they reduce the incentive for established service providers to discount their prices or innovate by creating barriers for their customers to leave.
9764 We agree with the Competition Bureau's assessment that:
"in order to maximize competitive forces in a market, consumers must be able to easily move from one service provider to another."
9765 We agree that limiting contract length may limit incentives for zero dollar high end phones or cause some providers to seek higher monthly rates to recover the phone subsidy in a shorter period but, in the end, as supported by the Bureau, on balance, limiting service contract length to 24 months will help ensure consumers maintain the ability to move from one service provider to another, thereby creating a better opportunity for competition to thrive.
9766 As noted in our original submission, this should not prohibit three-year device financing options.
9767 As far as calculation of the early termination fees, we just suggest two changes.
9768 First -- and both of them are clarifications.
9769 First, the "total device subsidy" should not use an inflated retail price that no one in a properly operating device market would pay, and (2) subsidy amounts should not be inflated by the value of short-term promotional discounts such as three months of voice mail.
9770 Such promotions are often intended to push optional services and when the discount period ends, the billing starts without a further opt in. Such promotional discounts are arguably not subsidies.
9771 The last point I want to talk about are tools to monitor and manage usage.
9772 WIND Mobile generally supports notifications of additional fees per section D5.1 of the Dash 3 Code. WIND Mobile also notes that, generally, it does not cap voice services within a plan and, therefore, the issue is somewhat moot for WIND with respect to voice services.
9773 However, notifications with respect to bill shock are still very important, especially for data services, including roaming data services.
9774 In our presentation, and unfortunately, I don't really have time to go through them during this phase, we do have a number of measures to deal with bill shock and we do implement, which is very important to note, a data roaming cap of 200 megabytes.
9775 We can do this because all data usage, including bilateral roaming data usage, can be made to flow through our Policy and Charging Rule Function server in Canada known as a PCRF. This service, this PCRF function, is a standard 3G network element.
9776 Given the list of tools, caps and messaging already implemented by WIND Mobile, we are confident that the Commission's Dash 3 Code tools to monitor and manage usage can, for the most part, be implemented relatively easily. Significant development work would be required to develop specific customer limits for customer bills and the tap file lag issue with respect to getting roaming calling records for post-paid customers would pose some challenges.
9777 However, as long as total post-paid caps are viewed only as an approximate limit or early warning protection, comprehensive national bill shock tools can be readily deployed within six to eight months. We cannot understand why any wireless carrier would oppose such measures given the harm that bill shock causes to customers.
9778 Thank you.
9779 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
9780 I noted while you were making your presentation, and this is quite all right, that you went away from the text, and I'm fine with that. I just wanted to point that out. But your text, your written document that you provided us and some of the written comments, of course, are on the record.
9781 And I -- as I said, I know Mr. Lockie in particular, you were speaking from the heart and, therefore, sometimes you were going off the text. And that's -- I just wanted to make people well aware of that, that it wasn't as scripted as some of the other presentations, so people should really focus both on the transcript and on the written document.
9782 MR. ANTECOL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was just -- I was trying to keep to the time limit and so I have no --
9783 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's perfect. I just want to make sure nobody's surprised by that.
9784 So I'm going to ask Minister -- yes, end of the week. Commissioner Simpson to start the questioning.
9785 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I thought for a minute I just got a promotion.
9786 Thank you very much, gentlemen. I would like to start the questioning around an improvement of my understanding of your business model.
9787 I'm not that familiar with pre-paid or pay as you go plans and my senses tell me that what you're doing is different than a pure play value proposition company. You know, you seem to be finding your way into a new middle ground that I find intriguing, and I want to understand it better.
9788 So the first thing I have to ask, though, is that, you know, in my preparation for the questioning I was going back to your original written submission and you were quite -- as a company, quite eloquent but very -- you took a very strong position in the fact that you believed at that time, and I'd like to understand if your position has changed, that you didn't think that this wireless Code would be anything more than just all bark and not much bite.
9789 And I think the particular thing I want to focus on is that you were very strong in saying you didn't want this legislation to suppress, supplant or subordinate any provincial legislation because that's where the action can happen with big fines to, you know, get the big guys to modify their practices.
9790 Would you tell me why that's not in today's presentation at all?
9791 MR. LOCKIE: Well, I think to a certain extent it is in the sense that we think that the approach suggested in the draft Code is the right one and that it doesn't effectively lower the consumer protections that are already out there.
9792 So our general concern is -- as I think we stated here, is that the issue from our perspective are the market conditions, the issue are the problems to which the provincial legislation and this Code is responding and, so, we continue to be concerned that the effect of them.
9793 And in that regard, and I don't know how much time we want to spend on this, but I would just note that, you know, there's already a Code in place that, you know, deals with things like clear and simple terms and it's already used by the CCTS in resolving consumer disputes.
9794 We want to make sure that as good as all of this sounds that this is what happens, and we know that that's a goal that everyone shares, so we don't think we're unique in that.
9795 But at no point, and in no way are we opposed to the Code at all, we think that it's a terrific initiative and we think that it's important, we just want to make sure that it's effective.
9796 THE CHAIRPERSON: But there are significant limitations on both the administrator and potentially the enforcer of the Code, which might be CCTS handling both, or ourselves in a joint relationship where right now there just aren't the mechanisms to have the big hammer without legislation change.
9797 And so, with that said, you feel that the Code does have the ability, if it's followed by all the players, to further protect the consumer without the ability to have lots of zeros behind the fine.
9798 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. I think that there are measures that you can take, what I would characterize as softer measures in terms of understanding that consumers are aware of the Code and its content.
9799 And I think, I don't want to presuppose obviously what the final Code looks like, but I think that virtually everything in there is terrific and, to a great extent -- again, to get a little philosophical about it -- I think that, you know, where competition isn't producing the kind of innovation and friendly customer terms and so on that you like to see, then regulation in a sense becomes almost a proxy for that.
9800 And I think that one of the goals is obviously to have these things happen organically as they did with WIND. I mean, we started from scratch and tried to really respond to consumer desires.
9801 I think that those soft tools are going to be very important -- and I don't want to use words like shaming -- but just some way of making sure that people understand that this is what governs and that's going to be more -- that's going to have a more effective enforcement role than, you know, basically compensation in the resolution of a consumer dispute that's made its way ultimately to the CCTS.
9802 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So, to use the Chairman's term of success, it would be your position that in absence of being able to have heavy fines, reputational -- information that might affect reputation of the incumbents would probably do the job --
9803 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah, I think to a certain extent --
9804 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- without any shame?
9805 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah, I think to a certain extent it's already been a success. I think that if you read in the media and you look --
9806 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Go ahead.
9807 MR. LOCKIE: -- at our initiatives and your own at reaching out to consumers directly, simply the awareness of the issues and the fact that people are sort of being called to account for market conditions that, you know, that they've sort of suffered under and there's been a lot of consumer discontent for 30 years, I think that it's been very positive in that regard.
9808 And I think it's a question of maintaining that momentum and having people understand that, you know, these are standards to which the incumbents and all carriers are expected to adhere, and that to me is more -- is going to drive consumer behaviour in interacting with call centres and dealing with the CCTS and being more demanding in the retail outlets. I think that that's all possible.
9809 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hmm... In submissions from -- I can't recall if it was Mobilicity or Public Mobile -- but one of the two had taken the position that the pre-paid model, or pay-as-you-go model ironically, even though it was appealing to those with financial hardships or disadvantages, ironically the Code -- that type of business model created a working arrangement with the customer that the Code didn't have to solve because, you know, the ability of the customer to walk away from the arrangement was already there in the way that that business model worked.
9810 So, with respect to what you're doing, you've moved from what seemed like a value proposition model, you've moved into something that, I said earlier, was like a middle ground proposal.
9811 And the first thing that intrigued me was your WIND Tab formula and I'd like you to sort of expand on that for me, because it seems that what you've done is you've already sort of separated in the consumer's mind and in your business model the handset from the service, so that they understand that the two are -- may be linked because they're both coming from you, but the two are not attached at the hip like they are in a three-year contract.
9812 MR. LOCKIE: That's right, and I'm sure Ed and perhaps Algis would want to I guess amplify or explain some of our Tab in more detail, but I can say from a strategic or high level perspective, when we launched we did so with an idea, we're going to offer very attractive, simple, low-priced plans and people aren't going to mind paying up front for their handset and, you know, they stayed away in droves, as the incumbents like to say in the media about us.
9813 And so, what we did is we recognized that we had to stay true to our brand proposition -- and, again, on this conversation with the Canadians -- we couldn't just become another three-year contract company and maintain our brand and something that we believed philosophically very deeply, but we also recognized that we had to subsidize handsets if we wanted to attract Canadian consumers.
9814 And it's been enormously successful, we're very pleased with how that's worked out and the trend is very much toward post-paid.
9815 And the thing you have to understand, of course, is that these subsidies are very expensive for the company and you sink a lot of money when you buy these handsets effectively on behalf of your consumer and that's why not everybody does it.
9816 The Tab concept also differs from these contracts in the sense, it's not a straight line amortization, there's quite a bit of balance, if you will, left off at the end of the three-year period which we simply write off. We say, thank you for staying with us and we're writing it off.
9817 So, it really is an inducement and it really is a way of dealing with the hurdles that we would otherwise face.
9818 But I do want to pass on for some more detail on the Tab because I think --
9819 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Please, yeah.
9820 MR. LOCKIE: -- understanding the proposition answers the question.
9821 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. Well, the first thing I'd like to do is just draw your attention to the response to our December 10th interrogatories where in Appendix B we filed a legal description of our WIND Tab program and that I think is just for your further reference.
9822 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I have that, yeah. I don't think I have that with me, but let's just go through it.
9823 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. And I just want to note a couple of important things about the WIND Tab.
9824 So, the subsidy that we're providing on the phone goes into a WIND Tab. The customer can choose to pay off that Tab at any time or to make payments towards that Tab as they choose, so they can bring it down. The customer can leave at any time and simply pay off the balance of the Tab.
9825 The customer on the monthly invoice receives a statement of how much is still owing on the Tab, so, they're made consciously aware as they progress in their relationship with us about what's still pending on the Tab.
9826 And the last thing is, there is a loyalty reward for the customer at the end. So, we automatically make a contribution towards the Tab of 10 percent of the customer's invoice towards paying the Tab down each month, but if they've been with us for 36 months, we write off the rest of the balance of the Tab.
9827 So, in that way -- they can leave our service at any time, they can have our service for a month or two months and leave, their obligation is just the balance on the Tab.
9828 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
9829 MR. ANTECOL: And it's not complicated by, well, you've got to stick with a $50 a month data plan for three years in order to get this benefit and if you move to a lower plan then you pay this penalty, none of that.
9830 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Is the acquisition of the phone -- you know, what's the paper that forms the relationship on the purchase of the phone; is it a contract, you know, what's the obligation in terms of paperwork?
9831 MR. AKSTINAS: I'll answer that. We call it WIND Tab agreement, just we didn't want to all it a contract because of, I guess, the bad experience of the consumers with contracts, we call it WIND Tab agreement and we provide it when a customer signs up with us with a WIND Tab deal.
9832 I think it's important to understand that they have both of the options and they can choose to bring their own device if they want to, they can buy the device outright and they can take a WIND Tab option too.
9833 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So, the purchase arrangement is adjustable; I can choose to pay it off over a year, over two years, three years, it's not linked to any other obligations?
9834 MR. AKSTINAS: Yeah. They can pay it off earlier. They can also choose to upgrade the phone earlier. I think that happens too.
9835 They can choose the amount of Tab too when they join as well too, so...
9836 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Ah...
9837 MR. AKSTINAS: We currently offer three levels of Tab.
9838 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah.
9839 MR. AKSTINAS: It's flexible.
9840 MR. LOCKIE: And I would also add that we don't drive people to that behaviour. I mean, our plans are what they are, the Tab is completely separate from that. So, you don't get a better monthly rate or anything like that by going on a Tab.
9841 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
9842 MR. LOCKIE: The Tab is purely a handset subsidy.
9843 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And the phone you sell them, it's locked to your service, or is it an unlocked phone?
9844 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. Well, we have -- we have a number of -- there's a number of aspects to that.
9845 First of all, not all the phones we sell are locked and our most popular phone is sold unlocked. I just can describe that.
9846 Some of our handsets we sell locked. Our policy is we will unlock after six months for a fee of $10, but if the customer has paid off their phone or -- then we will -- and they come to our store, we will unlock their phone.
9847 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: For ten bucks, or --
9848 MR. ANTECOL: For ten bucks.
9849 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: For ten bucks.
9850 Okay. The thing that caught my eye when you were speaking about your subscription levels, you made reference to the fact that you were the second largest in your corporate group in terms of purchase of handsets.
9851 Is that a straight line with subscriptions, or are you finding that you're selling handsets like a retailer and not like a carrier?
9852 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. No, that's what's so striking about it, is that we are very small relative for example to WIND Italy which has almost as many subscribers as Canada has subscribers --
9853 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes,
9854 MR. LOCKIE: -- and yet it is the only group member that is ahead of us in handset purchases period, not relative to our subscriber base or anything like that.
9855 So it's an incredibly striking number and I think it is reflective of the fact that, you know, market conditions with 95 percent of the market with these three incumbents, all very strongly motivated, driving people into these three-year contracts and being the handset vendor and using that as a retention tool, it's a model that has developed in Canada, but you don't see it in the States and you don't see it virtually anywhere else in the world and we have had to respond to that as an actor in that market.
9856 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. Well, not to make it sound like a commercial, but I think it's a pretty good deal that you are selling 5-band sets. I think you operate on 1,700 megahertz --
9857 MR. LOCKIE: AWS.
9858 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- but the phones you sell are AWS, GSM, basically phones that can work anywhere.
9859 MR. LOCKIE: Yes, it's the phones that work on our spectrum. The most obvious limitation for our 3G network is the iPhone 5, but we have, I think, a very robust and attractive handset range --
9860 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9861 MR. LOCKIE: -- and the Nexus is very popular with us, BlackBerrys and the Samsung S3 is another example.
9862 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Just to finish off the handset questioning, you had said that if a customer of any of your competitors is going to either upgrade or walk away and there is a cost to do so on the handset side that they shouldn't be paying an artificially high rate. That may not be the exact term you used, but how is the consumer supposed to know what they are paying?
9863 Because what I'm looking at across the board is all phones seem to have a set rate that's advertised from not only the carriers, but retail stores like Best Buy, Future Shop, and so on. It seems to be a very consistent $699, $799, $899. So how would you recommend or tell us how a more net rate without subsidy would be calculated? How would that word?
9864 MR. ANTECOL: I think the competition law addresses this aspect, but essentially you just need to make sure in the Code that you use language that refers to the usual selling price for that phone. So as long as the Code refers to a standard that is used in the regular commercial marketplace, I think that would cover off the base.
9865 I don't know if that fully responds to your question.
9866 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
9867 MR. AKSTINAS: I just wanted to add to this.
9868 I don't know if you are familiar with what the unlocking procedure looks like. You just -- it's fairly simple. It's a software lock so you put the different SIM card and you have a message on the screen and it says, "We cannot authorize this SIM card, please enter the pass code" and the pass code is being entered and you can use it. So it is a fairly simple procedure. It's difficult to understand why you would charge $50 for it I think.
9869 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, it's like the plumber that charges $200, but he knows which pipe to tighten I presume, but that's as far as we will go with that.
9870 Can I move over to the questions I have on the plans you have?
9871 As I said, I am not too familiar with prepaid and prepaid monthly and I would like to understand the difference from your view between a pay-as-you-go prepaid and a prepaid monthly, because it seems that if I have a prepaid pay-as-you-go, as I understand it, if there is not money in that account at the end -- if there is not money in the account on an ongoing basis, if I take it to zero I have ended the relationship; is that correct?
9872 MR. ANTECOL: I was wondering if we could switch. I have a rate card so maybe I can help you understand the plan a little bit.
9873 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Sure.
9874 MR. ANTECOL: I can put the rate card up on the screen. The tech guys have this miracle, they can throw a switch and put this rate card.
9875 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sure. Yes, I actually have one of these right here.
9876 MR. ANTECOL: Yes.
9877 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But what I'm trying to understand is that I heard something about you were saying that there had to be -- if there was a $100 balance --
9878 MR. ANTECOL: Oh, okay. So --
9879 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Which makes it sound like it's a rollover monthly plan of some kind.
9880 MR. ANTECOL: Okay, let me -- the pay-as-you-go plan --
9881 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sure.
9882 MR. ANTECOL: -- is our least -- you know, it's less than 10 percent of our customer base and on the rate card it is the zero dollar per month pay your way column. So there is no monthly fee. You put money in the account and every time you make an outgoing call it's $0.20 a minute, there is no charge for incoming calls, and when you send a text for Canada or U.S. you pay $0.15 a call. So you can't do any of those actions unless there is money in the account.
9883 So the account has a service life, so depending how much of a credit you buy for the account, that is how long the account is going to last. So if you put $100 down we will keep your prepaid account active for a full year for that $100 cash injection and that will enable you to receive unlimited incoming calls for the year and make outgoing calls for the $0.20 per the rate card and $1.00 a meg for data usage.
9884 Now, at the end of the year you will get a text message before then telling you the service life is about to end and you will have the option to put more cash in.
9885 Now, if you put $10 in we will give you 30 days of service life and if you put -- correct me if I'm wrong, if you put $20 in you will get 60 days?
9886 MR. AKSTINAS: Sixty or 90.
9887 MR. ANTECOL: Sixty or 90, I can't remember, and then I think $40 will give you six months and $100 will give you --
9888 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: How is that $100 accounted for in the account? Is it treated like a security deposit or a retainer or what?
9889 MR. ANTECOL: No. It's an amount that goes into the account when you activate the phone and put money into it for the first time.
9890 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9891 MR. ANTECOL: So that $100 gives you the ability to use the phone for a year, receive incoming calls for a year, unlimited, and to do certain pay-per-use actions. And every time you do those pay-per-use actions you draw down that $100.
9892 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Draw down on the $100.
9893 MR. ANTECOL: Yes, you draw down on the $100.
9894 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you don't -- you have to do $100 and then $20.
9895 MR. ANTECOL: Yes. The $100 could go to zero before the year is up and then you would have to --
9896 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Oh, okay. So it's a float. It's a float.
9897 MR. ANTECOL: -- put more money in if you wanted -- sorry?
9898 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It's a float of some kind.
9899 MR. ANTECOL: Yes.
9900 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
9901 MR. ANTECOL: So that's the pay your way plan.
9902 The second type of plan on the prepaid is exactly the same as our post-paid and it would correspond to the columns $20, $30 and $40. I'm sorry, it didn't go up on the monitor there.
9903 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That's all right.
9904 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. So the monthly plans are the same. You get this package of service, if you just look at the $30 column for example.
9905 So for $30 you get this package of plan, which includes unlimited provincial-wide calling, inbound and outbound, et cetera; you get unlimited text for incoming and outgoing for Canada and $0.15 a text for U.S. You get that whole package for a month for $30. But if you want it the next month, you have to put in another $30 before the month begins.
9906 In addition to that there are pay-per-use services and either there is a float in there to cover the pay-per-use services or the pay-per-use services won't work.
9907 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But on the monthly plan is there like an automatic rollover? Do you have credit card information to ensure that there is a continuity of the plan per month-to-month, because it sounds identical to the pay-your-way.
9908 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. The customer has several options, okay, and a lot of customers who buy these prepaid phones don't have credit cards or don't want to give us credit cards.
9909 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9910 MR. ANTECOL: So the customer can inject money through a number of options. They can use a credit card for automatic payment into the plan, they could use automatic bank deduction if they want, they can buy cash cards, they can call up our call centre to transfer money in. So a lot of the customers will just -- at the end of the month they will make arrangements to put another $30 into the plan.
9911 What happens is, they will get a warning from us that they haven't renewed their plan, inviting them to make arrangements to renew the plan. Some of them will do it that day and some of them will do it two days after the month and three days after the month and some of them might forget about it altogether and decide they don't want to bother anymore.
9912 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
9913 MR. ANTECOL: We give them a 10-day grace period where the account is still active from an inbound perspective and then for a remaining 80 days they can still recover the phone number by activating the --
9914 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, okay. That helps a lot.
9915 MR. ANTECOL: Yes.
9916 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I presume, but I will ask the question anyway, that -- I'm moving into notifications now for a sec -- because of the interactive relationship your customer has with your service and the fact that they have to monitor their usage habits, I presume that you have a fairly robust notification system that goes directly to the phone via text; is that correct?
9917 MR. ANTECOL: I'm going to have Al just speak to it, but yes, we text message. For data sticks it's hard to text message so we will email.
9918 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9919 MR. ANTECOL: And also we leave voice messages for some customers.
9920 I will let you --
9921 MR. AKSTINAS: So probably a year ago we kind of acknowledged that we wanted to address the issue of bill shock, we had the internal task force, and obviously we addressed it from a billing perspective, from the handset perspective, from notification perspective, from training perspective.
9922 I can also say that it's not only the cost thing, it brings some sort of a benefit to us in terms of the way we evolve our billing systems, availability of -- I think the main issue is the availability of data in the real time to be able -- from all the different billing systems.
9923 But it also gives us opportunity to build some value-added services on top, so it's not only the cost, it could be a revenue source, too.
9924 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: What I find interesting -- and again, I'm trying to understand how what you are doing in your business model is having desirable consumer behaviour in terms of their responsibility to manage their plan, because this is one of the areas that is perplexing to me, which is you can write the Code but you can't necessarily get customers to understand -- consumers to understand their obligation and I'm curious as to why you don't believe that caps are necessary, and is this because the consumer is already engaged in actively monitoring their activity?
9925 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. So, first of all, as a general proposition we think that caps and preventing bill shock are an important element.
9926 Now, with respect to prepaid --
9927 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: As far as the other guys are concerned.
9928 MR. ANTECOL: No, no. We also have -- over half our customers in our fastest-growing segment is post-paid.
9929 COMMISSOINER SIMPSON: Okay.
9930 MR. ANTECOL: So, absolutely, we think caps are important and we have a number of measures that apply to both prepaid and post-paid for bill shock and for keeping customers informed.
9931 I'm wondering if I could just take a second to elaborate on some of those.
9932 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9933 MR. ANTECOL: So, first of all, we do the standard thing that you've heard every other carrier talk about and that's when a customer activates their phone on a network outside Canada they get a text message informing them of the rates for the various services, and that's a given and I think every carrier does that.
9934 We also provide Web tools to turn off individually domestic and U.S. roaming and also separately international roaming, and phones can also be manually set to disable roaming or just turn off data roaming, but a lot of customers don't know how to wade through those menus and they can turn that off through our Web interface.
9935 We have Web tools to add and subtract add-on packages, which you see some add-on packages in our rate card.
9936 We have Web tools to monitor current usage in a month and we provide usage information to both our prepaid and our post-paid customers so they can look at the calls they've been making and the number of texts, et cetera.
9937 But they can go online and we can demonstrate that here if you would like. We have an example ready to go, a live account.
9938 But you can monitor your current usage for the month. The only issue there is for voice and text roaming there may be a lag, and the typical lag is about 48 hours, although some carriers in some instances have been known to go longer periods of time, up to a month late.
9939 But the typical time for the roaming data to come to us and get processed on the website is about 48 hours for post-paid. For prepaid it's almost instantaneous.
9940 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Why is that?
9941 MR. ANTECOL: Because what happens is our prepaid customers run on a special prepaid platform, and when customers are prepaid customers and roam, they use prepaid roaming with the foreign operator.
9942 And so every call that they're making is signalled back to us and we then check the account balance in real time and say, is there enough money to make this call, and if there is we signal back to the foreign operator, let this call go through for --
9943 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Here's the dumb question. Why aren't you using the same protocol for the post-paid?
9944 MR. ANTECOL: Well, we basically bought two different platforms. Following sort of industry norms at the time, we bought a prepaid platform and we bought a post-paid platform, and depending on the type of roaming that the customer is doing, we -- or the type of customer, we --
9945 Now, the other thing to note though is -- and I run the roaming group and I have a team. We've negotiated over 140 roaming agreements. Not every operator out there supports prepaid roaming.
9946 So roaming may be somewhat more limited for a prepaid customer if the other country operator has not put the latest software on their network to support prepaid and a signalling system called CAMEL for data as well. So if they don't support CAMEL signalling, it's very difficult to authorize a roaming data transaction.
9947 So it is -- you know, to say, well, okay, all Canadian operators, you must use a prepaid platform for your customers when you're roaming, you would cut off a significant chunk of roaming opportunities for Canadians.
9948 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. Yes.
9949 MR. ANTECOL: So we really have no choice but to run two platforms.
9950 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm sorry I pulled you off of your list of notifications --
9951 MR. ANTECOL: Okay.
9952 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- but I just have one more question on this.
9953 From your industry experience, is this the norm in the system, that it's difficult to get an assessment of roaming costs ahead of -- you know, on an instantaneous basis? A lot of other carriers, do they have the same problem?
9954 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. We're a member of the GSM Association, so the rules we live by are the same rules as every other GSM provider. The GSM rules are basically as follows.
9955 For non-prepaid, in other words, for post-paid roamers, the carriers have 36 hours, they're supposed to deliver the calling records within 36 hours and then we process them usually the day we get them, okay.
9956 And then there are other rules that some carriers, foreign operators have implemented and others have not, where for high usage alerts they have to be provided within four hours. So in some cases, my group does get high usage alerts from our foreign operators and we assess that when we get those alerts in.
9957 So those are the GSM rules for post-paid.
9958 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
9959 MR. ANTECOL: The prepaid system is designed so that foreign operators don't allow calls unless each call is authorized and balance totals are computed instantaneously.
9960 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: This is going to call for some speculation on your part, but again, as an industry representative with some experience, why then is there the lag between notification, the warning that you're stepping into the minefield of roaming, and getting your bill 30 days later and getting that bill shock?
9961 Like why isn't this stuff even on a 48-hour basis coming to you so you at least know that you're in the danger zone before having to wait until your bill gets in?
9962 MR. ANTECOL: Well, I mean that's exactly -- I mean I hope I can get this computer up and running but I have an example where you can actually go onto your WIND account and you can actually see your usage in the month before your bill is generated. So our users are able to see that functionality.
9963 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. M'hmm.
9964 MR. ANTECOL: And also, and I didn't get through all my list of the tools --
9965 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, that's right. I apologize.
9966 MR. ANTECOL: But we do have a query on the phone -- it's called the USSD query, it's equivalent to an app -- that lets the customer query their in-month usage at any time.
9967 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
9968 MR. ANTECOL: And the only limitation on that is for post-paid, where there's the time limit on the TAP files for roaming --
9969 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9970 MR. ANTECOL: -- but for prepaid, it's pretty much instantaneous.
9971 And we do implement a 200-meg data cap on roaming.
9972 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9973 MR. ANTECOL: And the reason we're able to do that, irrespective of whether it's post-paid or prepaid, is that we've bought this standard 3G element server called a PCRF, and so whenever the customer, whatever country they're in, when they send a byte of data it comes first to Canada to our server and then it goes back out to the World Wide Web.
9974 So we're able to count the bytes and the kilobytes and whatever. So we can keep a running instantaneous total of how much data a customer is using and so we are able to cap all data roaming and non-plan data usage.
9975 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And you're sharing that with the customer on as much of a real-time basis as you can?
9976 MR. ANTECOL: Yes. We've implemented -- well, we do it on a country-by-country basis, and so -- because data roaming rates vary country by country.
9977 So, for instance, the 200-megabyte cap I mentioned is a U.S. and a Canada roaming data cap because our rates for the U.S. are $1 or 50 cents a megabyte depending on the plan. So it caps it at $100 or $200 depending on the plan the customer's at.
9978 But certainly, if we were going to implement a cap for some countries in Africa, the foreign operators will charge us up to $20 a megabyte and so we would never contemplate -- you can do the math but it would be insane to have a cap at 200 megabytes for --
9979 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So the valid question is -- again, I'm asking for some supposition on your part -- that caps, as we're looking at them as a consumer protection, wouldn't be necessary if the information from the carrier was a little more forthcoming and in more real time?
9980 So the question is: Is it unrealistic to expect that carriers could provide this information but just aren't?
9981 MR. ANTECOL: Well, I mean, certainly any 3G operator, and this -- it shouldn't -- I'm going to go out on a limb and say we -- because our groups implemented the project last summer. It's pretty much a standard off-the-shelf 3G element type server. You have to do a little bit of customization and a little bit of IT work, but it is a standard, the protocols exist.
9982 And so you plug it into your 3G network and you can keep track of all the data usage and then it's just a matter of setting the policies to give the caps.
9983 Now, I don't know how a CDMA carrier could function --
9984 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
9985 MR. ANTECOL: -- but I can tell you as a 3G operator that --
9986 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
9987 MR. ANTECOL: -- the data cap portion is not really that big a deal.
9988 But, Algis, maybe you want to add something.
9989 MR. AKSTINAS: Yes. I just wanted to add that I think it's important to note that over 90 percent of roaming, Canadian roaming happens in the U.S. So, you know, if you solve the U.S. problem, that's really the big -- you can address a big amount of this problem.
9990 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
9991 MR. AKSTINAS: I think the difficulty, to answer your question, is mainly around probably the bigger carriers or on the different rating systems they have. So it might be difficult to implement as a dollar value, but it might be easier to implement a megabyte value. That's one of the --
9992 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Before we put everybody to sleep, because I think we're getting into the deep end of the pool on technical, I do have a cleanup question though and it goes to the anti-spam legislation that is coming.
9993 The question I have is that -- and you pointed it out -- it's not practicable or achievable to send a text message to a data stick and e-mail would have to be the preferred medium to let somebody know their data usage on a data stick, but the anti-spam legislation has some sticky bits in it on commercial messaging.
9994 Have you looked at that and do you have any opinions on how our desire to communicate with a customer on their data usage by e-mail might fly in the face of the objectives of that Act?
9995 MR. ANTECOL: Well, first of all, I want to note that many companies are starting to implement anti-spam legislation.
9996 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
9997 MR. ANTECOL: We deal in my group with SMS or text message hubs and operators around the world, and they implement their own laws and they sometimes send us alerts saying this customer of yours is spamming us and we're stopping the delivery of messages for that customer.
9998 And so what we're -- we find ourselves increasingly coming into a world where anti-spam -- or anti-spam legislation is increasingly becoming an important part of part of the world that we operate.
9999 And the other thing is that spam can cause a lot of harm to -- especially if it originates in Canada and is targeted at other people around the world. We've had cases where one of our customers was sending over 30,000 spam messages to another country, where the recipients of the spam were paying 5 cents each to receive a text. So they were actually harassing at random people in another country.
10000 So, first of all, you know, the -- dealing with spam and the anti-spam is really important. Now, having said that, I mean, I take the CWTA's position that there are limitations with text messages in terms of what you can put in it and stuff like that.
10001 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, my question, I'll rephrase it, was my concern that you might find yourself victim of infringing upon the intent of the Act because you're busy sending a lot of e-mail messages to your client to let them know about their data usage. Do you think that the frequency of the messaging using e-mail puts you at risk of infringing upon the Act?
10002 MR. ANECTOL: Well, I don't think so. I mean, I -- but we can get back to you on that.
10003 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah, the truth is we really haven't looked at that. Obviously we would make sure --
10004 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
10005 MR. LOCKIE: -- that whatever we were doing complied as best we could.
10006 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah. You started out your written submission talking about the principle of starting a conversation with Canadians. And I found it interesting, you know, the syntax of that particular statement because you weren't just saying that you wanted to engage Canada in the conversation, you said there was a principle in engaging Canada in a conversation. And will you just tell me what that principle is?
10007 MR. LOCKIE: Well, I think it -- I mean, you're putting me on the spot, but the -- what I mean by that is simply that -- I guess it goes to what I followed that up with, which is it wasn't a marketing gimmick. We weren't trying to create the impression of someone who cared about consumers. We really wanted our company to be a corporate manifestation of that dialogue. You tell us what you want and we'll give it to you. And we recognize that that's what was wanted by Canadians is to be heard and to say this is what we want. We want unlimited plans; we want, you know, no service term; we want clear simple contracts; we want, you know, clear choices between a couple of different plans. So we went out and gave that to them. And I guess what I mean when I elevate it to the status of principle is that it's something that is core to us as a company and it's a core to what we are as a brand. And so, it is not -- it wasn't simply a -- it wasn't a survey. It wasn't input that we could kind of chew on. It was how do we want to be as a company, what do we want to be as a company.
10008 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So when you launched your bill of rights, you had four areas for your Facebook people to comment on. What about it was interesting is that because you don't offer three-year contracts, it didn't score at all. I presume that you didn't have to be a WIND Mobile customer to login to the Facebook page and comment, but there was no reference at all to three-year contracts but what did emerge was at the top of the pecking order was elimination of really termination fees as the biggest source of pain for those who are -- you know, that were weighing in on the conversation. I presume that to be, again, the fees associated with handset costs or do you feel that it's also related to any fees associated with the plan itself?
10009 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah, I think it's very difficult and in fact impossible to divorce the concept of term contracts and early termination fees because what you're terminating early is one of those contracts. And I think that, you know, what occasions the fee and sort of -- or what name they give it is less interesting to a consumer than what's the cost to me. I want to go to WIND or Mobilicity, or TELUS, Bell or Rogers or whom, but I have to leave my current provider. What's the interaction? What's the number I have to pay? And I think that's an important thing. You know, I didn't submit a personal response in this consultation. But if I did, what I would have told is the story of my wife, who was a long-term Fido customer back in the day, well off her contract month to month. And when we launched, as you can appreciate there was some in-house pressure to switch over to WIND. And so she called to terminate and they -- it was -- of course you get shunted right away to retention and you get offered all sorts of new plans and handset subsidies. And then there's the sword as well, which is, you know, you're going to have to pay a 400 dollar fee, but let's not talk about that because you don't have to pay that if you enter into this new term. Now, the reality was she didn't have to pay a fee, she was month to month. And then after about 45 minutes of that, I got on the phone and explained a little of the context for the conversation and we closed the deal.
10010 It's that event, it's that interaction that these contracts are largely about, right? It's this opportunity, and I spoke to it, it's a handset thing. It's not just a question of the lifespan of the handset but it's also how often these things are getting churned out with new, you know, features and colours and so on. It is specifically how do we create an event where people aren't just freely choosing from amongst the different options, where we have some leverage, a lever. And that doesn't even have to be a real lever, as in the case of my wife's example shows. It just has to be enough to create that dialogue because it's a retention tool. And that's what these fees are. It's not about the revenue that they generate, it's about the fact that they allow the sustaining of this relationship for another three-year term.
10011 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: In your presentation this morning you had said that with respect to early termination fees that you prefer option one. And in respect to the calculation of early termination fees is excessive, early termination fees create significant switching costs. The word "switching", are you using it in the telco/telcom vernacular or in a consumer -- or a consumer service sense?
10012 MR. LOCKIE: I'm talking about the consumer sense. I mean, I think it's an impediment to going somewhere else.
10013 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
10014 MR. LOCKIE: And it's a cash impediment, obviously.
10015 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
10016 MR. LOCKIE: And we -- you know, to a certain extent our subsidy and credits that we offer and promotions we have, we do our best to basically absorb some of that pain and to bring people over, but it's obviously -- it's an impediment because a lot of the times it doesn't get to us because that interaction at the call centre level happens and that sword, combined with the carrot, you don't actually end up hearing from them and that you otherwise would have.
10017 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. I'm going to go back. I'm just doing a few cleanup questions here. As I indicated earlier in our questioning, it had been offered -- suggested that the code really didn't need apply to pre-paid customers because the nature of the relationship eliminated a lot of the issues that the code was trying to address. But I'm curious that if the code did apply to pre-paid services, what impact that would have on your business.
10018 MR. ANECTOL: Well, first of all, we think the code should apply to pre-paid, but there should be some accomodation in the code, and I think I went through this morning the changes that would be required. I mean, and so when you give out a SIM card for a pre-paid to a customer, you should include a written copy of the terms of service. There might not be something for the customer to sign, but certainly a written copy of the terms of service. And even if you're selling this pre-paid service at Walmart or out of a vending machine, you can still have the terms of service included with that pre-paid SIM. So that's just one example of where you would modify the code where it talks about, you know, providing a contract and instead for pre-paid call it a -- you know, provide the terms of service. And so I can go through the list, but I think you need to provide code protections to pre-paid.
10019 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. That answer covered about three more of my questions, which is great, because I -- but I would still like to ask a little bit more about the SIM chip model and your business. And I presume that's because it's a convenient way to be able to get the customer to engage your services without necessarily having to do face to face because they can be vended or they can be offered at non-telephony retailers, you know, very similar to a calling card; is that correct?
10020 MR. ANECTOL: Well, I mean, customers choose pre-paid for a number of reasons, but sometimes they have no choice but to get pre-paid because they cannot get the --
10021 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
10022 MR. ANECTOL: -- they don't have a credit rating that's sufficient to get post-paid or they don't have a Visa card that they can put on file to deduct the monthly payments on a post-paid plan. And other times I've put my son on a pre-paid plan because I just don't want ginormous bills. So pre-paid is also used as a mechanism to control costs. Now, pre-paid, of course, has its disadvantages for customers as well. Namely, you have to do something every month to -- or you have to keep putting money into the system as required. And the other thing is you may not be able to get a handset subsidy with a pre-paid service. We don't offer our WIND tab with pre-paid and I'm not sure if anybody else in the industry would give a -- you know, a handset subsidy for a pre-paid service.
10023 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So if I was to -- you talked about going to a vending machine. If I was to -- I want to understand how I can become a WIND customer without having to walk into a retail store. And where I'm going with this is to understand how the code can be delivered to the consumer as part of that transaction if it's not a face to face or a distance transaction.
10024 MR. ANECTOL: Well, the first thing is when the pre-paid service is sold, it's often contained in a box --
10025 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
10026 MR. ANECTOL: -- with a pre-paid phone or just a pre-paid SIM that can be purchased, but it's usually packaged somehow. And terms of service can be included in that packaging in both official languages. And so if you deem it necessary to include a copy of the code with the terms of service, that would not present that much more of a difficult challenge, but I'm going to let Al just talk a little bit more.
10027 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
10028 MR. AKSTINAS: Yeah. It's both different needs of a consumer. So it might be visitors to the country that, you know, don't have a credit rating or just want the service for seasonal or whatever use.
10029 And also the mode of selling, so unassisted sales. A vending machine maybe is an extreme example, but some points of sale where not necessarily there is a consultant to help, you know, in a supermarket chain or whatever.
10030 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But you feel, though, that without -- again, I'm asking for supposition but without a lot of imposition or costs on distance relationships it would not be that onerous to expect to have some type of written version of the Code?
10031 MR. ANTECOL: Well, in fact it's not too difficult. We made a decision very early on that with every pre-paid service we would include a paper copy again in both official languages of our terms of service in every pre-paid box or attached to every pre-paid SIM card that was sold.
10032 So no, it would not be difficult to include something with every -- something in writing with every pre-paid service package.
10033 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My last question -- your submission was very clear in terms of the areas that you wanted to address on the Code.
10034 But my last question, to give some time to the other Commissioners, has to do with unlimited. Is it, in your mind, given the way your business model is versioning unlimited is it -- how necessary is it to qualify, for the Code to qualify what unlimited means? Does it need to be conditional and explained as such, or does it need to be defined as truly being unlimited?
10035 This is with respect to our knowledge that fair use plays a part in this.
10036 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. I wouldn't highlight unlimited specifically. I think, you know, obviously there are existing misleading advertising rules that have to be respected and there is this general rule that we have to be clear and simple.
10037 Unlimited is obviously an important part of our proposition and we're very clear with what I'll call fair use limitations on that unlimited package. I think that unlimited is the best quickest, clearest way to refer to those plans because that's what they are.
10038 It doesn't mean -- you know, just as one example, we have unlimited text messages. And Ed can speak to an example we dealt with quite recently where someone was using computers quite sophisticated doing text spamming and we were spending a fortune on these text messages, and he was doing it from roaming which cost us even more. It was clearly not a retail use.
10039 I mean the quote/unquote "limits" are so high above what any sort of reasonable user would have that, candidly, it doesn't make sense in our marketing and as our kind of core proposition on our website and so on to say, you know, it's limited but only if you're a fraudster or a spammer or something like that.
10040 It's just it is unlimited. And I think that so long as we stay on the side of the Competition Act which we do, and so long as we have clear, simple terms which we do, then I don't think there is any consumer harm happening here.
10041 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. That's it for me. Thank you.
10042 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
10043 Commissioner Duncan?
10044 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning -- it's good afternoon now.
10045 I have two questions.
10046 First of all, with respect to page 13 of your comments this morning and your suggested drafting changes that are on page 14, I'm just wondering. I think it would be useful to incorporate those clarifications that you're looking for in the wording of the drafted change.
10047 I just wonder if you could give some thought to that and maybe include that in the February 22nd submission because you're talking about total device subsidy, "should not use an inflated retail price and should not be inflated for promotional discounts", but it's not incorporated in the definition. I think it would be useful.
10048 MR. LOCKIE: Yes, no problem.
10049 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. And the other thing just I noticed when I read through it, and you have a lot of information in here, that you do refer to the fact that prepaid plans are available for people who are unwilling to provide a satisfactory deposit. So that's fine. That makes sense.
10050 But I was curious to know, so you do take deposits, require deposits?
10051 MR. LOCKIE: Well, require is a strong word. We have the option for people who want a post-paid plan but don't want to take a credit test or maybe they don't pass it. It's $200. I believe we then develop sort of -- I'll call it an internal credit rating with them. And after they have been in good standing -- is it a year?
10052 MR. AKSTINAS: Six months.
10053 MR. LOCKIE: It's six months actually -- they get their deposit back as a service credit and they now are just true post-paids as though they passed the test in the first place.
10054 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So, the wording in here with respect to deposits which we haven't had much discussion about over the week, is satisfactory, I take it, to you because I didn't notice that you didn't raise any reservations?
10055 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. No, absolutely.
10056 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you very much.
10057 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman. Thanks.
10058 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
10059 I just have a few questions for you. I'll start, first of all, with this brochure that you gave us. I'm struck by particularly the first page which states, "Dear overcharged, underappreciated, contract-loathing mobile phone customers" which obviously you're trying to position yourself in a very subtle marketplace.
10060 MR. LOCKIE: Very.
10061 HE CHAIRPERSON: I was wondering. I mean, if we get this right, aren't you going to have trouble differentiating yourself in the marketplace?
10062 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah, you know, it's an interesting question and it's something that -- you're certainly not the first person to ask me in particular as I discussed this in a social context and also professionally.
10063 I mean, to a certain extent that's absolutely true. And one of the things that makes us attractive is that we're not like them. Certainly, we want to stay not like them but we would like them to become more like us.
10064 Do you differentiate yourself less? Absolutely. But the net benefit, if you will -- to borrow a term from another regime -- but the net benefit to us is that competition produces the best outcome for us as a company.
10065 And I don't -- you know, I spoke very clearly about the commercial motives of the "Big Three" when they take positions and when they initiate regulatory proceedings and so on. We're no different. I mean, we want to be a successful company.
10066 Our view is that we can and will be successful in a competitive environment and that this is hopeful to that. So a lot of this clarity and a lot of these, call it consumer friendly things, are things that we think create an environment in which we'll flourish.
10067 And so after careful consideration we are strongly of the view that these types of -- call it a level playing field. Give us a level playing field and we're very confident in our ability to succeed.
10068 THE CHAIRPERSON: Again, on the brochure I noticed inside you say "No system access fees. No hidden fees". Fair enough. "No 9-1-1 fees."
10069 MR. AKSTINAS: I can probably comment on that one. We came into the market. All of these things existed that, you know, I think Simon's statement previously that we are the competition, I think that's probably what we managed being a player in the market to change a lot of the time. This is -- some of the incumbents changed the system access fees to be a government regulator recovery fees and similar.
10070 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm more concerned about the 9-1-1 aspect.
10071 MR. ANTECOL: Yeah. Yeah, let me address that.
10072 So most of our competitors of the incumbents added an extra fee to the bill for 9-1-1. We do not. We eat that charge. My group routinely pays tens of thousands of dollars each month per phone number to the phone companies pursuant to their tariff, because we buy 9-1-1 access through the phone companies. We eat that. We don't seek to recover it from our subscribers as an add-on charge.
10073 Now, having said that, we're watching some of the provincial legislation that's brewing in Alberta and British Columbia, et cetera, where we operate and where there is going to be a requirement to collect a municipal subsidy fee on their behalf. And we'll have to deal with that when it comes along.
10074 But the concept of tacking something else on to a $20, $40 or $30 plan each month was just something we didn't want to do. So we eat that. We build it into our pricing.
10075 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think my concern is more the impression it may leave. I mean if we've come to a social consensus that we should have a 9-1-1 system because it protects Canadians in emergencies, it may leave the impression that a 9-1-1 fee isn't there. I take it that you're absorbing it. That's good.
10076 But it's a bit like the early days of the GST. People were saying there is no GST and there was a concern that the idea is not that there is no GST but the retailer was eating it -- was taking it on.
10077 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. And Mr. Chairman, the point is well taken. The reality is what we mean is that we -- you know, that we don't charge you, the consumer, a 9-1-1 fee.
10078 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
10079 MR. LOCKIE: That's all we mean and it's the same as system access fees. There is a bunch of silly kind of names that have been given to the different fees.
10080 TELUS with great fanfare recently announced that its getting rid of its activation fee and just, again, for context, then they get on the phone with the analysts and say, "Don't worry. Our revenue is not going anywhere because we'll find other ways to make it up."
10081 But these are fees and they are just ways of extracting additional dollars out of someone that you don't see when you sign up. That's what we're saying we don't have.
10082 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Fair enough for all of them. It's just the 9-1-1, I'm afraid you're leaving the wrong impression.
10083 MR. ANTECOL: I do have an important comment on what's going on with the 9-1-1 fees that you may want to take a look at, though.
10084 That is that we paid the tariff rate to the phone companies for the 9-1-1 fee per phone number. It's on the order of around seven cents or 11 cents. And what we see in the consumer market is 9-1-1 fees to consumers of 75 cents. And I just don't know what's -- every month and I don't get what's going on.
10085 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right, and that's another issue. It just may leave the impression that 9-1-1 is not a good thing. That was my point, and my sole point on that.
10086 My next question, obviously in this national capital region your AWS spectrum goes into Quebec. Do you have any points of sale in Quebec? How do you deal with -- is that how you -- avoid is the wrong word but is that how you manage the Quebec legislation is that you're not actually physically selling in Quebec even though there may be customers who reside in Quebec?
10087 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. We don't have any points of sale in Quebec.
10088 THE CHAIRPERSON: And why is that, even though there is -- obviously your coverage area does cover a portion of high density urban area on the Quebec side here.
10089 MR. ANTECOL: Well, I'm happy to share a coverage map if you think it's important. We have sent it to the CRTC in the past.
10090 THE CHAIRPERSON: I went and looked on it online.
10091 MR. ANTECOL: Okay. But really, we're only -- we only cover a small part of Gatineau, about a mile or so in from the river. We're not that -- I mean, there's not much coverage in terms of the entire Outouais region, so most of the coverage is spillover. But again, we rely on the fact that we don't have retail presence in the province.
10092 MR. LOCKIE: But to answer your question specifically, I mean, I wouldn't for a minute characterize it as getting around the Quebec legislation and so on. But it is a very incremental part of our business.
10093 We don't have a material presence in Quebec. It's really just incidental to Ottawa and to sort of open up a regime, if you will, is just not something that makes sense.
10094 THE CHAIRPERSON: A third question or subject matter, you're obviously part of a large multi-national group. And in some foreign jurisdictions, there were movements to go from three to two years, regulatory movements to limit the terms.
10095 Could you -- based on that footprint, for instance, in Italy, what was the experience of carriers when that regulatory intervention came in? What was the market reaction?
10096 If you're not in a position to do that now, it's fine through an undertaking, but it seems to me that you bring to this hearing an international perspective.
10097 MR. LOCKIE: Well, thank you for that.
10098 I think that the -- I don't have an answer for you now, but I would be very happy to draw upon my colleagues internationally and get some of that feedback because I think it is relevant. I think that, obviously, you know, market forces sometimes do the job when you have the U.S. example and where they don't, and the U.K. is a good example, then somebody steps in and does something about it.
10099 And I think, you know, much of what you've been hearing, I guess, wrapping yourself -- or wrapping themselves in the flag of sort of consumer interests saying, well, we're just very concerned that this is going to drive up costs for consumers, which is, to me, disingenuous.
10100 But they're -- but the reality, from my perspective, as someone who offers a tab concept, is that what you will see is that this call it artifice of a straight line amortization over some period will be replaced by just truly competing on, you know, we want -- how much of an inducement can we offer you.
10101 And it's not tied to some period. It's really -- it's how much of an inducement can we offer you.
10102 So we'll show you how that's had an effect sort of internationally and I think, again, from the consumer perspective, I would look more to how much do they pay over their -- you know, over the course of a year or two years or three years versus, you know, do they save 50 bucks up front and then pay 200 bucks over the course of the next year.
10103 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. I mean, we obviously track what happens in other jurisdictions, but I see the group is -- you know, can track all these.
10104 And I don't know what kind of regulatory action there may have been there, but, you know, I note that, at the very least, Italy is one place and there's other European jurisdictions, maybe, that could be of use.
10105 But because it will be in the nature of evidence, I believe, because you'll be -- it's not just argument -- could you do it for the 22nd of February?
10106 MR. LOCKIE: I don't know. I'm certainly going to try.
10107 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
10108 MR. LOCKIE: And it's a great suggestion and makes me wish that I'd already done it.
10109 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, it's just -- you know, we're just trying to build a record here of figuring out, well, if we were to go down that road -- not a decision. I'm not sure what the Twittersphere is doing right now, but it's not a decision. It's just in case because a lot of people have posited. I just wanted to have raised it.
10110 I was wondering what impact would it have on the marketplace based on your experience through that international network.
10111 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah. And as I say, I'm happy to provide that input and I would just, I suppose, qualify it in that, you know, the conditions that have arisen in Canada are a function of a very specific market structure and so it might not be fully illustrative to look at what happened in Italy or elsewhere.
10112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
10113 MR. LOCKIE: But I will provide as much input as I can.
10114 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we'll have the opportunity to make those distinctions.
10115 MR. LOCKIE: Sure.
10116 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was looking at the recent CCTS report, the annual 2011-12. And I was struck by the number of complaints you seem to have against, you know, three -- nearly 400.
10117 In light of your footprint in the marketplace, it struck me as a high number.
10118 MR. LOCKIE: It struck us as a high number as well.
10119 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry?
10120 MR. LOCKIE: It struck us as a high number as well.
10121 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Can you help me understand what was going on there?
10122 MR. LOCKIE: Yeah.
10123 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's obviously all wireless.
10124 MR. LOCKIE: I can sense that Ed also wants to speak to this.
10125 But my very quick response to that is, obviously, we think the CCTS is doing a great and important job. I think it's been a pleasant surprise, in a sense, to everyone just how effective they've been.
10126 We have not -- we don't have a large sample set. I mean, we developed the company -- you've already heard about our shift from our pre-paid focus to offering subsidies and so on. We also had some changes in our call centre and so on, and we're learning. And that was a helpful input to understand that that many cases were not getting resolved at the call centre level and working its way to the CCTS. And so we take those kinds of inputs very seriously, and we're concerned about them.
10127 And so we obviously will do our best.
10128 MR. ANTECOL: I want to add a couple of things.
10129 One of the problems that was leading to those number of complaints is our call centre agents were not dealing with the customer complaint in many cases. And a lot of the times, they could have very easily dealt with the customer issue, but they just weren't, and the customers were then heading to the CCTS.
10130 Since -- even before we saw the report -- because we do get quarterly invoices with tracking reports, so we knew a problem was developing just prior to the publication. And so we instituted weekly review meetings concerning customer complaints and what actions we could do to fix our call centre.
10131 And that program's been going on now for some time.
10132 And the latest quarterly invoices I've been receiving from the CCTS seem to indicate that there has been a significant reduction in number of complaints, so I remain hopeful that our efforts are paying off and that next year's report will show an improvement.
10133 MR. LOCKIE: Well, I also -- just to be clear, and I think that this is well known and certainly I know you're hearing from the CCTS right after, but obviously our strongly held view is that the CCTS facts and figures, as helpful as they are as inputs, are not reflective of some -- in any linear way of some kind of consumer discontent with particular carriers.
10134 I mean, I think that it shows, you know, perhaps a gap in how those complaints are being resolved expeditiously at the call centre level, but it doesn't mean that those are -- that that -- you know, just take that factor and apply it to our customer base and that's how many more customers --
10135 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I take it, then, we should be seeing some submissions from you in the March submissions on how we do measure success and --
10136 MR. ANTECOL: Yes.
10137 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- not rely entirely on --
10138 MR. ANTECOL: Absolutely.
10139 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- on complaints.
10140 MR. ANTECOL: Absolutely.
10141 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, good. Thank you.
10142 I believe those are our questions for you, so thank you very much.
10143 MR. ANTECOL: Thank you.
10144 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll take a one-hour break for lunch and we'll be back at 1:30.
10145 Donc, on lève la session jusqu'à 13 h 30. Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 1232
--- Upon resuming at 1330
10146 LA SECRÉTAIRE : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
10147 LE PRÉSIDENT : Alors, bienvenue à notre dernière séance aujourd'hui. Donc, comme est l'habitude, je vous demanderais de vous présenter et de faire votre présentation par la suite.
10148 M. BÉLAND : Bon après-midi, Monsieur le Président, Conseillers et membres du personnel du Conseil.
10149 Mon nom est Dennis Béland et je suis le directeur principal, Affaires réglementaires, Télécommunications, chez Québecor Média inc.
10150 Je suis accompagné aujourd'hui des personnes suivantes :
10151 - M. Bertrand Hébert, directeur général, Marketing et Excellence, Produits mobiles, chez Vidéotron s.e.n.c.;
10152 - M. Pierre Téolis, directeur, Projets et Efficacité opérationnelle, chez Vidéotron; et
10153 - M. Jonathan Lee Hickey, conseiller juridique principal chez Québecor Média.
10154 Est présent également avec nous M. Yanick Boily, directeur, Affaires réglementaires, Télécommunications, chez Québecor Média.
10155 Les observations que nous partagerons avec vous aujourd'hui sont structurées comme suit. Dans un premier temps, nous identifierons trois thèmes généraux qui, selon nous, devraient servir de fondement aux décisions que le Conseil prendra dans le cadre de la présente instance. Nous décrirons, par la suite, trois enjeux spécifiques qui risquent d'avoir des impacts substantiels sur Vidéotron.
10156 Premier thème général : Le coût d'opportunité.
10157 Vidéotron est un nouvel entrant dans le domaine du sans-fil. Nous avons acquis nos licences spectrales aux enchères de 2008, et nous avons lancé notre service en septembre 2010. Depuis, nous livrons une bataille féroce aux trois entreprises titulaires, lesquelles possèdent plus de 20 ans d'avance sur nous, en plus de se partager l'immense majorité des plus de 27 millions d'abonnés sans fil au Canada.
10158 De toute évidence, nous sommes confrontés à un immense défi. Qu'à cela ne tienne, nous sommes parvenus à nous tailler une place respectable dans le marché québécois du sans-fil. Notre réseau couvre, à ce jour, plus de sept millions de personnes, et 375 000 d'entre elles ont déjà fait le choix de faire confiance à nos services.
10159 Mais il y a plus. Le seul fait de notre présence a eu un impact énormément positif sur la compétitivité du sans-fil au Québec. Grâce à notre éventail d'appareils mobiles sophistiqués, nos forfaits hautement concurrentiels, nos innovations dans le domaine du contenu mobile et notre légendaire service à la clientèle, Vidéotron a été à même de contribuer largement à la relance d'un marché québécois du sans-fil jusqu'à tout récemment marqué par l'absence de concurrence.
10160 Or, malgré tous ces accomplissements, nous demeurons un joueur de petite taille, aux ressources limitées, un nouvel entrant qui se doit au quotidien de se démarquer par sa capacité d'innovation. Nous ne jouissons pas d'une marge de manoeuvre illimitée. Pour nous, chaque projet, chaque investissement, compte.
10161 En d'autres mots, pour nous, le coût de l'opportunité est bien réel. Toute nouvelle obligation qui découlera de la présente instance entraînera inévitablement une réaffectation de fonds et de ressources, fonds et ressources qui, dans d'autres circonstances, auraient été consacrés au développement de services innovateurs, en faveur des consommateurs qui sont l'objet même de la présente instance. Nous vous prions de garder cette réalité à l'esprit lors de vos délibérations.
10162 Deuxième thème général : Rien ne sert de réinventer la roue.
10163 La Loi 60 québécoise est entrée en vigueur le 30 juin 2010. Aujourd'hui, deux ans et demi plus tard, le bien-fondé et l'efficacité des mesures qui y furent incorporées font l'unanimité, tant du côté des fournisseurs sans fil que de celui des organismes de défense des consommateurs.
10164 Existe-t-il un autre exemple d'une agence réglementaire qui a choisi d'exercer ses pouvoirs dans un domaine aussi complexe et aussi controversé, et qui a vu sa détermination couronnée par un concert d'accolades? Posez la question, c'est y répondre.
10165 Le fait que l'Office de la protection du consommateur du Québec ait consacré pas moins de deux ans à étudier le sujet et à consulter une vaste gamme d'organisations concernées n'est certes pas étranger à la réussite de l'exercice.
10166 Nous apprécions le fait que le Conseil se soit grandement inspiré de la Loi 60 dans son document de travail publié dans le cadre de la présente instance. Tous les citoyens y gagnent lorsque nos autorités publiques se donnent la peine de prendre connaissance des meilleures pratiques employées par d'autres juridictions.
10167 Malheureusement, nous qui oeuvrons dans le domaine des affaires réglementaires avons beaucoup de difficulté à résister à la tentation de modifier, de jouer, d'amender un texte qui nous est confié. Il y a toujours quelque chose à améliorer, une toute dernière retouche.
10168 C'est à titre de nouvel entrant qui possède des ressources limitées et qui souhaite les consacrer à l'amélioration de l'expérience client de ses abonnés que nous demandons instamment au Conseil de résister à cette tentation.
10169 Bien sûr, aucune loi n'est parfaite, mais la réalité demeure que le cadre législatif mis en place par l'adoption de la Loi 60 fonctionne et fonctionne très bien même parce qu'elle protège pleinement les consommateurs et ce, sans surtaxer les fournisseurs qui s'y conforment.
10170 Donc, monsieur le président, conseillers, avant de faire le choix de vous éloigner du cadre de la Loi 60, posez-vous, s'il vous plaît, la question suivante: est-ce vraiment à cela que les fournisseurs devraient consacrer leurs ressources?
10171 En cas de doute, suivez le cadre de la Loi 60.
10172 Troisième thème général -- Des attentes réalistes en matière de mise en oeuvre.
10173 Les réseaux modernes de télécommunications sans fil, et surtout leurs systèmes en arrière-guichet d'approvisionnement et de facturation, sont extrêmement complexes.
10174 Des armées d'experts en technologie de l'information sont entièrement dédiées au maintien de ces systèmes et au traitement des demandes de modification qui doivent y être apportées afin de supporter toutes les innovations que les équipes marketing sont capables d'imaginer.
10175 On ne touche pas à ces systèmes à la légère. Chaque modification doit être méticuleusement planifiée, scrutée pour valider sa comptabilité avec une série de systèmes connexes et de paramètres de performance, testée et ultimement déployée dans un environnement réal. Tout cela prend du temps. Aller trop vite provoque des erreurs qui coûtent cher en termes de performance, de réputation et de satisfaction de la clientèle. De plus, la nature et la portée des modifications possibles sont souvent limitées par l'architecture informatique sous-jacente adoptée par le manufacturier.
10176 Soulignons à cet égard, encore une fois, que Vidéotron est un nouvel entrant dans le secteur du sans fil, avec de nombreux clients à ravir à ses concurrents. Toute mesure qui permet à l'ensemble des consommateurs de mieux comprendre ce qu'ils achètent, de mieux surveiller et gérer leurs dépenses et de passer plus aisément d'un opérateur à un autre est, de façon générale, à notre avantage. Dès lors, si nous vous affirmons qu'une mesure donnée est trop complexe, trop coûteuse ou encore prendra trop de temps à être mise en oeuvre, nous vous soumettons respectueusement que ces avertissements méritent votre attention.
10177 Abordons maintenant trois enjeux spécifiques soulevés par le document de travail du Conseil,, des enjeux qui provoquent de grandes inquiétudes chez Vidéotron.
10178 Enjeu #1 -- Produire un résumé personnalisé avant la conclusion du contrat.
10179 Commençons par un exemple concret de comment une petite idée bien intentionnée - un léger " tweaking " d'une mesure déjà en place - peut en venir à imposer des efforts substantiels à un opérateur qui doit s'y conformer.
10180 La Loi 60 québécoise prévoit l'obligation de présenter à un nouveau client, au moment de la conclusion du contrat, une partie personnalisée des services qu'il a choisis (nom, services choisis, prix, etc.), ce qui équivaut au résumé proposé par le Conseil. Vidéotron fournit actuellement un tel résumé/partie, qui est très utile pour le client.
10181 Le document de travail du Conseil propose (1) d'augmenter la quantité d'informations contenue au résumé personnalisé, et (2), que le résumé soit fourni avant la conclusion du contrat, afin de permettre au consommateur de faire un peu de magasinage entre fournisseurs.
10182 On peut débattre de l'utilité de certaines des informations que le Conseil propose d'inclure au résumé personnalité. Cela dit, l'augmentation de la quantité d'informations a des impacts relativement modestes sur un opérateur déjà conforme à la Loi 60, comme l'est Vidéotron.
10183 Par contre, pour nous, l'impact du deuxième changement, soit de donner le résumé avant la conclusion du contrat est important. Cette exigence n'est pas présente dans la Loi 60, et demanderait un investissement de trois à six mois de la part de notre équipe informatique. L'investissement serait encore plus important si le Code impose un format prédéfini.
10184 Nous vous soumettons respectueusement qu'à la lumière de ces faits, une obligation de produire des résumés personnalisés avant la conclusion du contrat ne se justifie pas.
10185 Enjeu #2 - Permettre à un client de refuser une modification contractuelle plutôt que d'annuler son contrat.
10186 Parlons maintenant d'un deuxième exemple d'un petit ajustement qui risque d'avoir des impacts opérationnels majeurs sur Vidéotron.
10187 À l'option 2 de la section D2.1 du document de travail, le Conseil propose qu'un fournisseur de services puisse modifier les modalités du contrat sous certaines conditions. Le Conseil propose également que si les modifications accroissent les obligations du consommateur ou réduisent les obligations du fournisseur de service, le consommateur peut refuser les modifications ou annuler le contrat sans frais ou pénalité pécuniaire.
10188 À l'heure actuelle, en conformité avec la Loi 60 québécoise, nous permettons à un consommateur d'annuler son contrat sans frais de pénalité pécuniaire lorsque nous modifions à la hausse ses obligations ou encore réduisons à la baisse les nôtres. À cet égard, soulignons que contrairement à ce que PIAC a affirmé au paragraphe 37 de ses observations en réplique, un consommateur placé dans une telle situation n'a pas l'obligation de payer le solde d'amortissement du bénéfice consenti, même s'il est assujetti à un contrat à durée indéterminée. C'est une pratique claire, nettement à l'avantage du consommateur.
10189 Ce qui est problématique avec l'option 2 décrite à la section D2.1 du document de travail est que le Conseil y a ajouté la possibilité pour le client de refuser les modifications contractuelles apportées par le fournisseur de services. En termes pratiques, cela forcerait les fournisseurs à « grandpériser leurs clients », avec la conséquence que nous serions tous respectivement obligés de garder en place une kyrielle de contrats qui varieraient les uns des autres en fonction des diverses modifications refusées par nos clients respectifs.
10190 Vidéotron, pour sa part, n'a pas les moyens de gérer une telle multitude de contrats et souhaite éviter d'avoir à consacrer ses ressources limitées à la mise en place des structures administratives et des programmes de formation qui en découleraient.
10191 Nous soumettons qu'il est tout à fait légitime pour un fournisseur de services de vouloir éviter un tel scénario en standardisant ses contrats de services. À la condition, bien sûr, de respecter le droit d'annulation ans pénalité prévu à la Loi 60 et repris par le Conseil. Permettre, en plus, le refus d'une modification contractuelle n'augmenterai en rien les protections substantielles déjà offertes aux consommateurs, et ne ferai qu'inutilement imposer un lourd fardeau administratif aux fournisseurs de services.
10192 Enjeu #3 - Imposition de mesure normatives en matière d'avis de frais supplémentaires, d'outils de surveillance et de gestion de l'utilisation.
10193 Les propositions du Conseil quant à ces sujets qui se retrouvent aux section D5.1 et D5.2 du document de travail soulèvent, elles aussi, des préoccupations très importantes chez Vidéotron.
10194 Pour comprendre ces préoccupations, il faut d'abord réaliser que chaque fournisseur doit, au moment de la conception de ses services sans fil, effectuer des choix relatifs aux plateformes d'approvisionnement, aux engins de tarification et autres systèmes connexes qu'il se procure auprès de manufacturiers. Ces plateformes sont limitatives quant aux obligations proposées dans le document de travail.
10195 Vidéotron utilise des plateformes qui permettent l'exportation efficace de données 'utilisation vers des interfaces externes. Le recoures à ce type de plateforme permet à Vidéotron de poursuivre une stratégie de développement d'applications externes (des « apps », qui résident dans les appareils plutôt que dans le réseau). Résultat? Nos clients possèdent la liberté de personnaliser leurs outils de surveillance et de gestion d'utilisation.
10196 Ce concept de contrôle personnalisé situé en périphérie du réseau est une manifestation patente de la magie de l'Internet. Permettez-moi à et égard, de citer un bref passage de la Politique réglementaire de télécom CRTC 2009-657.
10197 La dissociation de la capacité d'innover de la propriété des réseaux, et les coûts d'innovation des coûts d'entretien des réseaux a mené à une innovation sans précédent. Grâce à internet, le phénomène de l'innovation s'est répandu depuis le coeur des réseaux jusqu'à sa périphérie, plus concrètement, on a vu l'innovation se propager des grandes entreprises jusqu'aux membres du public en général.
10198 La première app de gestion de la consommation mobile disponible pour les clients de Vidéotron a été développée par Vidéotron elle-même. Elle peut être facilement téléchargée gratuitement à partir du magasin Android, en plus de se configurer automatiquement.
10199 Vidéotron mettra également bientôt à la disposition des développeurs indépendants d'apps un guide complet contenant les spécifications techniques nécessaires afin de leur permettre de concevoir eux-mêmes des applications de gestion destinées aux clients sans fil de Vidéotron.
10200 Ce choix technologique qui donne aux clients les moyens de gérer leur propre utilisation présente cependant une limitation. Notre architecture de plateformes informatiques ne possède tout simplement pas la flexibilité nécessaire afin de générer par elle-même à grande échelle des avertissements d'utilisation à l'attention de nos clients ou encore imposer à ces derniers des limites à leur utilisation.
10201 Modifier notre architecture de plateformes informatiques afin de se conformer à l'ensemble des mesures proposées aux sections D5.1 et D5.2 du document de travail entraînerait des dépenses si importantes, se chiffrant en millions de dollars, que nous serions contraints d'envisager le remplacement complet de certaines de ces plateformes. Ce n'est sûrement pas ce que le Conseil avait en tête en proposant ces mesures.
10202 Les innovations mises de l'avant par l'industrie du sans-fil quant à tout ce qui touche à la gestion de l'utilisation se multiplient sans cesse et à une vitesse grandissante Cela dit, tous les fournisseurs n'ont pas la même vision et tous les clients n'ont pas les mêmes besoins. L'efficacité et la convivialité des mesures mises en place par les différents fournisseurs leur serviront donc d'éléments de différenciation. Dans un tel contexte nous soumettons respectueusement qu'imposer à l'ensemble des fournisseurs une approche normative et standardisée constituerait une erreur.
10203 Monsieur le président, conseillers, nous croyons fermement que l'adoption de mesures normatives en matière de protection des consommateurs doit se faire avec discernement. Les coûts de conformité sont réels et, dans certains cas, prohibitifs.
10204 De façon concrète, la question qui nous confronte actuellement est la suivante : l'année à venir devrait-elle être consacrée à se conformer à des normes réglementaires ou pourra-t-elle plutôt être librement consacrée à l'innovation? Nous sommes convaincus que vous saurez trouver la bonne réponse.
10205 Nous sommes maintenant prêts à répondre à vos questions.
10206 We are now ready to respond to any questions you may have.
10207 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup, messieurs. Madame la conseillère Poirier débutera avec les questions.
10208 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Bonjour, messieurs. Je vous remercie beaucoup pour votre présentation qui nous éclaire un peu sur votre point de vue concernant le brouillon de Code que nous avons fourni.
10209 Est-ce que vous aviez pensé nous présenter à un moment donné une copie révisée du document que nous avons fourni avec des corrections claires et nettes de ce que vous suggérez, autant comme élimination que comme modification de vocabulaire, qui ferait en sorte qu'on aurait un outil complet et clair qui serait au dossier et qui permettrait à l'ensemble des intervenants de commenter sur vos positions qui, malheureusement, sont résumées dans un document fort intéressant, mais ne font pas le tour de toutes les questions?
10210 M. HÉBERT : Oui. Le fait qu'on a reçu le document de travail, l'ébauche de proposition il y a deux semaines et demie, ça a mis des contraintes à notre capacité de faire des révisions détaillées. Notre attention a vraiment été « focusée » sur les éléments qui dérangeaient le plus nos équipes à l'interne chez Vidéotron. C'est pour ça que... en fait, les trois items qu'on vous a soulignés aujourd'hui, vous voyez bien que les amendements ne sont pas très complexes.
10211 Le premier item c'est d'enlever le mot « avant ».
10212 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : On les reprendra de toute façon un par un, mais...
10213 M. HÉBERT : Dans le deuxième item, c'est d'enlever la possibilité de refuser plutôt que « annuler » et le troisième item, c'est plus large, mais je dirais il s'agit de carrément remplacer les deux sections en question sur les avis puis les outils. Or, quelque chose qui ressemble plus à des objectifs en donnant la flexibilité aux opérateurs de développer leurs propres solutions.
10214 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Donc, vous ne souhaitez pas nous remettre un document plus précis que ceux que vous avez là. Vous ne voulez pas le reprendre?
10215 M. HÉBERT : On peut absolument le faire.
10216 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Je pense que ce serait apprécié parce que...
10217 M. HÉBERT : Oui.
10218 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : ... peut-être que ça vous permettrait de regarder d'autres points dont on va discuter aujourd'hui avec vous.
10219 M. HÉBERT : Oui.
10220 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et peut-être que, finalement, votre position ne sera peut-être pas complètement toujours en accord avec ce que nous avons suggéré. En tout cas, je pense que ça serait un outil intéressant.
10221 M. HÉBERT : Absolument. Donc, ça serait pour encore le 22, si je comprends bien?
10222 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait.
10223 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est exact.
10224 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Je vais donc partir de votre document puis, ensuite, je compléterai avec d'autres questions.
10225 Vous parlez du coût d'opportunité. C'est quelque chose dont on a parlé ce matin aussi avec MPS Allstream. Je ne veux pas faire des comparaisons boiteuses parce que chaque compagnie a son modèle d'affaires et il est différent, mais eux aussi se sont fait imposer un Code au Manitoba et ils nous ont dit, c'est tout simplement "the cost of doing business."
10226 C'est ça le coût d'être en affaires que de se soumettre à certaines réglementations qui, de toute façon, et vous l'avez dit c'est légendaire chez vous, vont dans le sens de ce que les consommateurs demandent.
10227 Alors, est-ce que vous pensez que ce que nous demandons va tellement à l'encontre de ce que vos consommateurs veulent, que ça va être si coûteux que cela de faire des adaptations telles que celles que nous vous demandons dans le Code?
10228 M. HÉBERT : J'ai bien entendu le représentant de MTS ce matin. Il a mentionné à un moment donné que ça représentait un "cost of doing business", mais j'ai entendu aussi qu'il a parlé du fait que les ressources qui sont consacrées à ce genre d'activités déplacent d'autres projets.
10229 Et je me rappelle très bien, je crois que c'était la première journée de l'audience, le représentant de Telus qui a très bien exprimé un de nos points de vue en fait sur le coût d'opportunité.
10230 Ce qu'il a dit, c'est quand on considère des mesures réglementaires imposées, on ne devrait pas regarder les coûts en termes d'un montant de dollars, puis est-ce que ça avait passé au consommateur ou pas passé au consommateur, on devrait regarder le coût plus en terme de déplacement d'autres initiatives à l'avantage du consommateur. Et c'est exactement la situation dans laquelle nous nous trouvons.
10231 Le troisième élément en particulier, les avis de notification puis les outils de gestion puis les plafonds imposés auraient des impacts tellement importants sur nos systèmes comme on a dit dans notre représentation, on serait obligé même à songer à remplacer certaines de nos plateformes, que c'était un coût qui dépasse tout bénéfice pour le consommateur, à notre avis.
10232 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Puisque vous avez sauté tout de suite à cet élément-là, on pourrait peut-être poursuivre parce que... et je reviendrai sur d'autres éléments que je voulais aborder avec vous, les notifications donc, c'est quelque chose que vous faites différemment.
10233 Vous avez une application et c'est, en fait, le consommateur qui gère lui-même son utilisation de ses données, à ce que j'ai compris.
10234 Quel est le pourcentage de vos clients qui ont téléchargé cette application-là?
10235 M. HÉBERT : Je peux demander à mon collègue Bertrand.
10236 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Toujours.
10237 M. HÉBERT : Je pense qu'il a des chiffres.
10238 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait.
10239 M. BÉLAND : On parle d'environ... l'application a été lancée l'automne dernier, donc on parle d'environ 20 000 clients qui ont téléchargés... excusez-moi, je pense que je vais vous revenir avec le chiffre exact.
10240 Mais ce qui est important, c'est que le niveau d'appréciation était de 4.6 sur 5 et, donc, les consommateurs aiment beaucoup l'application et elle permet, entre autres, si on résume de façon très simpliste, elle permet, entre autres, pratiquement d'avoir la facturation en temps quasi réel du client.
10241 Donc, quand on parle, par exemple, de plafond de facturation, moi comme consommateur, est-ce que je veux... si j'ai le choix entre un plafond de facturation ou la possibilité de voir en temps quasi réel c'est quoi la facturation à l'usage, moi je préfère avoir la facturation à l'usage parce que lorsque j'atteindrai le montant de ma capacité budgétaire à payer, bien j'arrêterai d'utiliser le service à ce moment-là.
10242 Donc, ça, c'est un des grands avantages de l'application qu'on a mise en place puis on s'est collé à une façon plus moderne de fournir de tels services à notre cientèle Donc, les clients peuvent aller dans le magasin Google Play, télécharger l'application, donc dans un mode de fonctionnement qu'ils sont habitués de fonctionner.
10243 Donc, ça c'était un des gros avantages aussi, c'était de se coller à des meilleures pratiques de l'industrie en ce qui a trait aux applications qui étaient offertes à notre clientèle. Mais je vais vous revenir, ça ne sera pas long, sur le nombre exact de clients qui ont téléchargé l'application depuis son lancement l'automne dernier.
10244 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Par contre, là, vous me dites 20 000?
10245 M. BÉLAND : Non; c'est ça.
10246 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et dans votre introduction, vous parlez que vous avez environ 375 000 personnes/clients. Alors, 20 000 sur 375 000, c'est très peu.
10247 M. BÉLAND : Non. Je vais vous revenir avec le chiffre exact, là, j'ai...
10248 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : O.k.
10249 M. BÉLAND : Mais l'application a été lancée seulement l'automne dernier, donc ça fait environ trois mois qu'elle est disponible auprès de notre clientèle. Donc, évidemment, les gens... les gens qui sont nouvellement abonnés, ont a l'opportunité dès leur achat de service de pouvoir les accompagner et les éduquer sur la meilleure façon de suivre leur consommation.
10250 M. HÉBERT : J'ajouterais aussi que je crois que si on regarde le pourcentage de client qui ont téléchargé l'application, il faut garder en tête que cette préoccupation de ce qu'on appelle "bill shock", ce n'est pas une préoccupation de tout le monde non plus.
10251 Il y a bien bien bien des gens qui ont un téléphone cellulaire avec service... commençons avec les gens qui ont seulement un service voix et SNS. Il y a beaucoup de gens, leurs habitudes d'utilisation c'est de rester dans leur ville, de faire des appels, quelques SNS, puis regarder la météo de temps en temps. Ces gens-là n'ont pas nécessairement le... ne ressentent pas nécessairement le besoin d'aller chercher l'application.
10252 Mais pour les gens pour qui c'est important de savoir ce qu'ils font, comme Bertrand a dit en quasi temps réel, l'application est là, est gratuit puis ce que j'ai appris cette semaine puis ça m'a impressionné beaucoup, c'est une application en plus qui se configure automatiquement. C'est d'une facilité remarquable.
10253 Tu n'as pas besoin de rentrer, moi, j'ai tel plan, moi j'ai... Qui je suis, quel plan j'ai, l'application détecte toutes ces informations automatiquement se configure sur l'appareil et n'a pas à présenter ses bénéfices.
10254 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : C'est certain et bravo pour l'innovation. Je trouve ça fort intéressant, mais en même temps, on est là pour regarder l'ensemble des consommateurs.
10255 On s'est même fait dire par des groupes de recherche que bien qu'on pensait que les jeunes avaient une très bonne idée de ce que c'était que l'Internet, les bases de données, la consommation, on s'est rendu compte que, bon, les connaissances sont assez faibles.
10256 Il y a quand même beaucoup de personnes âgées, il y a toutes sortes de monde et votre outil, bien que très utilisateur "friendly", comme on dit, bon, ce serait intéressant qu'on ait des données plus précises sur le pourcentage qui l'ont, qui l'utilisent. Mais n'empêche que ça reste un système actif, c'est un système que le consommateur doit de lui-même initier.
10257 Ce n'est pas comme, par exemple, quand on voyage à l'extérieur du pays, on reçoit un avis nous disant, houp! vous êtes rendu à 80 pour cent de votre limite ou voici maintenant vous devez changer de coût de facturation pour le téléphone ou pour le "roaming" parce que les coûts aux États-Unis sont de cette nature-là.
10258 Est-ce que vous ne croyez pas quand même encore plus important, considérant ces éléments-là, que dans certains cas, ne serait-ce que pour les données et pour... je dis "roaming" là, mais le mot ne me vient plus en français, là, mais qu'on ne devrait pas faire des notifications directement au consommateur pour éviter... Des factures surprises, hein! ça en prend une qui devient catastrophique; pas besoin d'en avoir beaucoup, mais pour protéger le consommateur?
10259 M. BÉLAND : En fait, actuellement, on offre déjà des avis de notification à notre clientèle. La seule différence c'est que ce n'est pas conforme à ce qui est actuellement demandé par... dans le cadre du Code de conduite proposé.
10260 Évidemment, tantôt, Dennis parlait des limitations. On a amorcé cette réflexion-là l'année dernière, parce que, effectivement, on a toujours voulu être en avance et satisfaire notre clientèle. Et, évidemment, notre arrivée dans le mobile nous a fait réaliser à quel point c'était important de fournir des outils, de l'accompagnement sur l'utilisation des services de données mobiles.
10261 Et on a commencé à faire une réflexion en se disant :
« Mettons, on va envoyer des avis de consommation à 75, 80, 100%. »
10262 C'était la première idée qui nous avait sortie de la tête. Et, finalement, ce qu'on a réalisé, c'est qu'après avoir discuté aux gens d'informatique, le coût était vraiment... on parlait de montants quand même considérables. Je n'ai pas les chiffres exacts. Mais il y avait aussi des efforts importants à faire chez Vidéotron. Et on s'est dit :
« Est-ce que c'est la meilleure façon de servir le consommateur? »
10263 Et c'est à ce moment-là qu'on a décidé de... en fait, on parle d'une application, mais on a développé un API, dans le langage, qui est un Application Programming Interface, qui va justement permettre à une communauté de développement de pouvoir innover encore davantage sur la façon de suivre sa consommation. Donc, les gens ne seront pas limités à utiliser seulement l'application de Vidéotron. Donc, les données d'usage sont exposées à l'utilisateur, à l'appareil. Et, là, à ce moment-là, c'est pratiquement infini, tout ce qu'on peut faire.
10264 Les alertes, par exemple, une des choses qu'on fait avec l'application de consommation, c'est que, le client, on est capables de donner en temps quasi réel dépendamment des ententes bilatérales qu'on a avec différents pays, on est capables de pouvoir fournir en temps réel le coût de roaming que le client est... le coût en temps quasi réel.
10265 Donc, déjà là, à partir de l'application, on pourrait mettre des alarmes pour dire aux clients :
« Vous êtes rendu à 20 $ d'utilisation de roaming à l'extérieur, aux États-Unis. »
10266 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10267 M. BÉLAND : Donc, on a cette flexibilité-là. Donc, nous, ce qu'on dit, c'est que, oui, on veut aller dans cette direction-là de donner le meilleur accompagnement possible, donner des alertes. Mais on croit que ce type d'alertes-là peut être fait différemment ou de façon moins traditionnelle qu'on propose aujourd'hui via un SMS.
10268 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Tantôt, monsieur Béland, vous avez parlé de factures surprises. Et vous avez dit :
« Bon, il n'y en a pas tant que ça. »
10269 Est-ce que vous gardez des chiffres sur des gens qui se plaignent sur des factures surprises? Et est-ce que vous savez si, chez vous, beaucoup de gens dépassent leur utilisation permise selon le plan pour lequel ils ont opté? Chacun opte pour un certain nombre de gigabits. J'ai regardé vos plans; vous en avez divers. Alors, est-ce que les gens de façon générale respectent leur plan ou est-ce qu'il y en a beaucoup qui les dépassent?
10270 M. BÉLAND : On n'a pas des chiffres qu'on veut présenter aujourd'hui, mais on peut sûrement chercher les chiffres, mais peut-être qu'on devrait clarifier la demande, c'est...
10271 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Des factures surprises, premièrement, est-ce que beaucoup de gens appellent chez vous dans vos services pour dire « On a eu vraiment des frais excessifs » et commencent à négocier avec vous pour les faire diminuer?
10272 M. BÉLAND : Donc, des plaintes relatives à des factures surprises.
10273 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui.
10274 M. BÉLAND : On peut le trouver, c'est sûr.
10275 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et, deuxièmement, ma demande, c'est le pourcentage des gens qui, chez vous, se retrouvent à dépasser leur utilisation permise selon le plan.
10276 M. BÉLAND : Bertrand va peut-être me corriger si je me trompe, mais je crois que ce n'est pas une question facile à répondre, parce que nous avons les systèmes flex un peu comme d'autres compagnies vous ont parlé. Donc...
10277 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10278 M. BÉLAND : ...le client passe d'un palier à un autre automatiquement jusqu'à un certain point. Je ne sais pas si c'est facile que ça à dire combien dépassent leur panier, mais Bertrand...
10279 M. HÉBERT : Mais, enfin, on pourra, si le chiffre exact vous intéresse, on pourra vous revenir avec ces informations-là. Mais, de façon qualitative, on peut sûrement vous donner un peu de feedback. Et, ici, à ma droite, Pierre Teolis, qui travaille au service à la clientèle peut certainement commenter. Nous, ça fait... en fait, je m'occupe du mobile depuis le début de l'année, ça fait un an jusqu'à présent.
10280 Et, évidemment, on a mis beaucoup, beaucoup d'efforts justement à adresser cet enjeu de clients qui pouvaient parfois être surpris de leur facture. Donc, on a mis en place un paquet de mesures. Et on croit que ça ne... Oui, on peut l'adresser avec des outils, avec la technologie, mais ça passe en premier lieu par l'éducation.
10281 Donc, on a mis beaucoup d'efforts justement à éduquer notre clientèle, à leur faire comprendre c'est quoi le data, à quoi ça sert, qu'est-ce que vous faites avec votre téléphone. Être capable de leur dire en fonction de leur utilisation :
« Qu'est-ce qu'on peut... c'est quoi le meilleur forfait pour vous. Ou, à l'inverse, en fonction du forfait, qu'est-ce que vous pouvez faire avec tel ou tel forfait? »
10282 Et, de façon qualitative, et Pierre peut certainement commenter, mais on a vu, il n'y en a presque plus de gens qui appellent chez Vidéotron pour se plaindre d'une facture élevée. Donc, je pense que tous les efforts qu'on a mis de l'avant dans la dernière année ont porté fruit chez Vidéotron.
10283 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Mais il y a...
10284 M. HÉBERT : Mais on ne l'a pas adressée juste avec la technologie; on l'a vraiment adressée avec la formation. Les gens peuvent se rendre en magasin. Il y a des conseillers maintenant qu'on dédie, qui peuvent former les consommateurs pour vraiment les accompagner de la meilleure façon possible.
10285 M. TEOLIS : Oui, c'est un phénomène qui est plus marginal, je vous dirais, maintenant qu'il y a peut-être un an et demi, deux ans. À la fois, la clientèle a acquis de l'expérience par rapport à ces nouveaux types de téléphone-là; et aussi, notre entreprise a acquis de l'expérience par rapport à ces devices-là pour en discuter avec le client, l'informer, le tenir au courant, s'assurer qu'il a en main toute l'information nécessaire pour éviter ce genre de bill shock-là. Donc, je vous dirais qu'en ce moment, on n'en entend beaucoup moins parler dans les opérations qu'on pouvait le faire.
10286 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum. Parfait. Et c'est certains qu'une solution technologique, des fois, est très intéressante, mais n'empêche que, le consommateur, c'est parfois autre chose aussi qu'il veut. Et peut-être que les notifications restent un outil que les consommateurs veulent avoir. Et c'est pour ça que ma dernière question sur ce sujet-là... Vous dites à la page 8 que ça pourrait se chiffrer en millions de dollars que d'aller dans le sens de la recommandation D5.1 et 2, là, avec entre autres des notifications. Est-ce que vous avez fait un estimé réel de ce que ça pourrait être? Parce qu'on nous a parlé d'un million, nous, ce matin, chez MTS Allstream, mais...
10287 M. BÉLAND : Encore une fois, ça fait deux semaines et demie qu'on a vu les propositions. Donc, c'était...
10288 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui. Avec plus de temps, vous pourriez nous donner un estimé plus précis ou...
10289 M. BÉLAND : Bien, la référence à des millions de dollars, c'est surtout une référence au fait que, pour l'ensemble des mesures, on est rendus... c'est un peu comme ce qu'on appelle les extras dans un projet de...
10290 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10291 M. BÉLAND : ...construction ou de rénovation d'une maison, t'sais. À un moment donné, il y a tellement d'extras que tu arrêtes le projet puis tu pars un nouveau projet.
10292 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10293 M. BÉLAND : Puis, quand nos experts internes ont regardé l'ensemble des propositions du Conseil...
10294 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10295 M. BÉLAND : ...dans ces deux sections du document de travail, ils étaient rendus là...
10296 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : O.K.
10297 M. BÉLAND : ...à dire que nos plateformes sont carrément incapables de produire pour nous la totalité de ce qui est demandé.
10298 M. HÉBERT : En fait, j'aimerais juste rajouter -- puis je pense peut-être que je n'ai pas été assez clair tantôt -- on en envoie des avis de notification aujourd'hui. Puis la flexibilité qu'on a avec notre fournisseur, notre manufacturier qui nous fournit notre engin de tarification, c'est qu'on n'est pas capables de pouvoir le paramétrer en termes de pourcentage, mais on est capables par exemple d'envoyer un avis de notification à 50 Mo, d'atteindre le quota. Puis on est capables d'envoyer une notification lorsque le client atteint son quota.
10299 Donc, oui, on est capables de le faire, mais on n'a pas toute la flexibilité de pouvoir le faire à différents paliers. Donc, est limités à deux actuellement. Donc, ce qu'on dit, c'est : « Je pense qu'on donne quand même, on accompagne bien le client avec des outils d'avis par SMS et on vient compléter de façon adéquate avec un outil qui s'appelle notre application de gestion de la consommation. » Et, nous, on aimerait continuer à investir dans ce sens-là, parce que c'était la nouvelle façon de fonctionner.
10300 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum.
10301 M. HÉBERT : Les gens ont accès, on un appareil intelligent. L'appareil intelligent fournit une multitude, là, de possibilités qui pourraient aller jusqu'à prédire la consommation du client.
10302 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Mais votre application ne va pas sur des téléphones classiques, là; on s'entend?
10303 M. HÉBERT : Non, exact, ça va sur les téléphones intelligents, effectivement.
10304 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et c'est là qu'est peut-être aussi la complication pour votre clientèle. Quel pourcentage de votre clientèle a des téléphones intelligents par rapport à des gens qui ont des téléphones classiques, là? J'ai vu ça sur le site Web, vous offrez une grande marge. Alors, comment les gens qui ont un téléphone classique peuvent-ils être notifiés qu'ils arrivent à l'expiration de certaines données en tout cas?
10305 M. BÉLAND : Mais, comme on a entendu à l'audience le long de la semaine, les téléphones classiques avec voix SMS, ce n'est pas un enjeu. Le bill shock n'est pas véritablement un enjeu. Là où ça devient un enjeu, c'est avec les personnes qui ont des téléphones intelligents. Et...
10306 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Donc, vous allez dans le sens de ce qu'on a entendu toute la journée, qu'on devrait se limiter à des notifications plus précises du côté des données et de l'itinérance plutôt que de s'en aller du côté de la voix et des messages textes.
10307 M. BÉLAND : Et l'enjeu définitivement, c'est les données, dans la mesure où il y a un enjeu, mais ces mêmes personnes qui adoptent les téléphones intelligents, ces mêmes personnes sont les personnes les plus sensibles aux initiatives d'éducation aussi.
10308 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait.
10309 M. BÉLAND : Puis vous avez entendu Pierre tantôt dire que, notre expérience chez Vidéotron, le problème est en décroissance.
10310 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Um-hum. Je vais revenir, je vais laisser de côté cet enjeu-là; on en a discuté suffisamment. Votre deuxième thème général, « Rien ne sert de réinventer la roue ». Du côté du Québec, bien sûr, il y a la Loi de protection du consommateur et vous êtes entrés dans le marché presque en même temps que l'application de la loi. Donc, est-ce qu'on peut dire que l'application de la loi a eu un impact monétaire sur vous? Est-ce que ça vous a obligé à changer le projet initial d'affaires que vous aviez? Est-ce que ça a occasionné des coûts supplémentaires pour vous?
10311 M. BÉLAND : Mais la Loi 60 québécoise, il ne faut pas oublier que ça s'applique à l'ensemble de nos services, pas juste nos services sans fil. Donc, chez Vidéotron, c'était un projet important, la conformité avec la Loi 60 québécoise, définitivement. Le fait qu'on construisait notre réseau sans fil en même temps que l'OPC nous consultait sur le contenu de la Loi 60, définitivement, ça nous a aidés à incorporer certaines mesures au fur et à mesure qu'on développait notre service sans fil. Mais, pour l'ensemble de la compagnie, c'est sûr que c'est... on a dû occasionner des coûts importants.
10312 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et est-ce que vous pensez qu'avec cette loi-là au Québec, les gens sont généralement satisfaits ou est-ce que vous croyez que la complémentarité du code canadien pourrait venir ajouter à leur degré de satisfaction?
10313 M. BÉLAND : Difficile de spéculer sur la complémentarité puis l'impact sur la perception des consommateurs, mais on peut parler de l'impact de la Loi 60 québécoise. Puis, franchement, c'est un succès exceptionnel à tous les niveaux. Dans les médias, c'est les experts en consommation dans les médias. Chez les clients. On a même entendu lors de l'audience ici, là, la représentante de... de quel organisme?
10314 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : De l'Union des consommateurs.
10315 M. BÉLAND : De l'Union des consommateurs exprimer son appréciation de la loi. Il y avait un individu, le premier monsieur qui a participé par Skype a exprimé son association pour la loi. C'est extrêmement bien reçu. Puis j'irais jusqu'à dire : une fois avoir absorbé les coûts d'implantation chez Vidéotron, je dirais même que c'est bien reçu à l'interne chez Vidéotron.
10316 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : En général. Mais il y a quand même certains éléments de la loi qui ne sont pas prévus dans cette loi-là, mais que nous ajoutons. J'en nomme quelques-uns : le déverrouillage d'un téléphone, les services mobiles à supplément, la perte, le vol, la promotion du code, des forfaits illimités et ainsi de suite. Est-ce que vous pensez que le fait qu'on ajoute certains éléments pourrait être bénéfique pour les consommateurs au Québec malgré l'application de la Loi de protection du consommateur, tout comme il y en a une au Manitoba aussi, qui vient s'assurer que les consommateurs du Manitoba ont des droits et son protégés?
10317 M. BÉLAND : Tout à fait, il est toujours possible de bonifier quelque chose. Donc, oui.
10318 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Arrivons maintenant à votre enjeu 1, « Produire un résumé personnalisé avant la conclusion du contrat ». Si je comprends bien, vous êtes grosso modo en accord avec ce que nous proposons, mais c'est le mot « avant » que vous voudriez faire retirer.
10319 C'est une discussion qu'on a eue avec beaucoup aussi de fournisseurs de services sans fil. Et je vous dirais que, ce que j'ai compris, à date, de la majorité, c'est qu'ils souhaiteraient un peu comme vous que ce contrat personnalisé fasse partie du contrat, soit dans la portion du début du contrat, mais ne soit pas nécessairement remis comme un outil pour aller magasiner. Est-ce que, si c'était fait dans ce sens-là, ça vous convient?
10320 M. BÉLAND : Absolument, que le résumé soit le début du contrat la première, deuxième page du contrat, on serait tout à fait à l'aise avec ça. Effectivement, c'est le modèle qu'on a déjà adopté chez Vidéotron avec la Loi 60. Et on trouve que c'est utile pour les clients que ce soit présenté avec le contrat en avant, tout à fait.
10321 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Par contre, vous ne semblez pas tout à fait en accord avec l'ensemble des éléments qu'on veut inscrire dans ce contrat personnalisé. Et, ici aujourd'hui, vous ne le précisez pas lesquels des éléments peut-être vous trouveriez excessifs -- j'irais jusqu'à dire excessifs, là -- par rapport à ceux que vous demandez et fournissez déjà aux consommateurs. Est-ce qu'il y aurait moyen que dans votre document que vous allez nous soumettre, vous puissiez nous indiquer davantage lesquels de ces éléments-là peut-être sont superflus de votre point de vue ou si même vous voulez en ajouter d'autres?
10322 M. BÉLAND : Il n'y en a pas beaucoup, c'est sûr. La référence dans notre présentation, c'était plus pour porter votre attention au fait que, ajouter, enlever un élément d'information en fin de journée, ce n'est pas une grosse affaire. Ce qui devient gros, c'est de changer les processus, comment on utilise ce résumé, de voir les données avant plutôt qu'en même temps.
10323 Quand on a écrit la présentation, moi personnellement, j'avais en tête, si on parle des éléments d'informations spécifiquement, un élément d'information qui est peut-être superflu, c'est la notion de non seulement expliquer le montant du bénéfice économique, le nombre de mois sur lesquels le bénéfice sera amorti, mais en plus de dire aux clients... Mais, par exemple, ça veut dire que, après 6 mois de temps, après 12 mois de temps, je pense, à un moment donné qu'on tend la main du consommateur un peu trop, mais on est dans des éléments qui ne sont pas majeurs en fin de journée.
10324 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : O.K. Donc, vous seriez prêts à vivre avec la proposition qu'on a, si je comprends bien, surtout si on enlevait le « avant », ça pourrait vous convenir.
10325 M. BÉLAND : Oui.
10326 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. On continue avec l'enjeu 2, « Permettre à un client de refuser une modification contractuelle plutôt que d'annuler son contrat ». Est-ce que, pour ne pas rentrer, là, dans une rédaction précise aujourd'hui, est-ce que vous pourriez nous soumettre une sorte de verbatim qui vous conviendrait et qui ferait en sorte qu'on saurait clairement quelle est votre position pour le point D2.1. Entre l'option 1 et 2, là, l'option 2 vous amènerait, semble-t-il, à grand-pèriser -- comme vous dites -- trop de contrats?
10327 M. BÉLAND : Je vais demander à Jonathan peut-être de donner une meilleure saveur de la nature de nos préoccupations.
10328 M. LEE HICKEY : Oui. Alors, ce ne sera pas un problème de vous fournir, en fin de compte, un document suivi des modifications avec le genre de changements que nous avons en tête, l'idée étant que, si le client n'est pas d'accord, il peut résilier son entente et il part. Et, en fin de compte, ce n'est pas -- au risque de citer notre présentation -- on ne réinvente pas la roue. Dans le fond, c'est le modèle qui a été adopté par la loi québécoise.
10329 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Alors, au lieu d'en parler trop longuement, je vous demanderais de nous soumettre votre suggestion. Puis ça serait beaucoup plus simple, à moins qu'il y ait vraiment des enjeux majeurs dont vous voudriez parler.
10330 Là, je vais aborder avec vous d'autres thèmes qu'on a abordés avec l'ensemble des fournisseurs de services sans fil. J'essaie de comprendre ce que vous offrez comme service. En allant sur votre site Web, je me suis rendu compte que vous aviez surtout des offres reliées à 36 mois. Et je pense que, le reste, ce sont des contrats à durée indéterminée. Est-ce que c'est à peu près ça votre modèle d'affaires? Pouvez-vous nous le préciser? Offrez-vous des contrats d'un an, de deux ans, de trois ans ou seulement ceux que je viens de mentionner?
10331 M. LEE HICKEY : Alors, en fait, ce que nous offrons depuis l'entrée en vigueur de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur ou plutôt des amendements, on offre seulement que des contrats à durée indéterminée. Alors, il n'y a plus de contrat à durée déterminée chez Vidéotron. La distinction qu'on aime toutefois apporter, c'est que, si on finance un appareil ou que nous donnons un bénéfice économique, il est amorti selon le type de contrat ou selon le type d'offres que nous offrons sur une période qui peut varier entre 12 mois et 36 mois.
10332 Alors, pour répondre à votre question, en matière de sans fil, c'est amorti sur 36 mois, mais le contrat n'a pas de durée fixe en tant que tel. Le client peut partir lorsqu'il le juge, lorsqu'il n'est plus satisfait ou peu importe, mais il peut partir quand il veut. S'il part avant la période avant le... en fin de compte que le bénéfice consenti soit totalement amorti, il doit nous payer la différence.
10333 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Alors, si je comprends bien, s'il prend un appareil et veut le payer en 12 mois, il a le choix de le payer en 12 mois?
10334 M. HÉBERT : Bien, en fait, tantôt, on parlait qu'on a fait les modifications tout juste avant le lancement du mobile. Donc, au départ, on avait prévu avoir des contrats de 12 mois et 24 mois. Mais, en fait, la Loi 60 a rendu la chose un peu inutile, parce que, auparavant, avant l'arrivée de la Loi 60, effectivement, on avait des prix d'appareils à 12 et 24 mois; sauf qu'avec la Loi 60, on donnait le choix au client.
10335 Ca fait que, le client, supposons, au lieu de s'engager sur 36 mois, décide de nous quitter après 24 mois. Si on fait l'hypothèse qu'on lui a donné un rabais total ou un bénéfice économique de 300 $, le client avait le choix de payer immédiatement à l'abonnement 100 $ pour un contrat de 24 mois ou de payer 100 $ à la fin de son 24 mois avec la nouvelle formule de la Loi 60. Donc, on s'est dit :
« Est-ce que le consommateur va réellement vouloir payer 100 $ au début de l'abonnement versus payer 100 $ après 24 mois, parce que, avec la Loi 60, si on lui a donné un bénéfice économique de 300 $, après 24 mois, il me doit seulement 100 $? »
10336 Donc, si on me donne le choix, moi, de payer 100 $ au début ou après 24 mois, je pense que je vais choisir de payer après 24 mois. Donc...
10337 Et, évidemment, nos statistiques démontraient qu'il y avait au-dessus de 95% de la clientèle, malgré le fait qu'on offrait des prix de 12 et 24 mois, 95% de la clientèle choisissait un plan avec 36 mois. Donc, je pense que la décision qu'on a prise, c'était de simplifier l'offre. On s'est dit :
« Pourquoi annoncer une multitude de prix quand la majeure partie va prendre du 36 mois? Et ceux qui ont le choix de partir, qui veulent quitter au bout de 12 mois, 24 mois, bien, ils vont... ça va être bénéfique pour eux aussi. »
10338 Donc, c'est un peu pour ça que, aujourd'hui, on n'offre plus de 12 mois et de 24 mois. On s'est collés à ce que l'industrie fait, c'est-à-dire du 36 mois. Puis on a simplifié le processus d'achat pour nos clients. Et nos conseillers sont vraiment bien formés pour expliquer comment ça fonctionne le 36 mois avec la Loi 60. Mais, évidemment, il y a eu beaucoup de formations qui ont été faites auprès des conseillers pour qu'on puisse expliquer à nos clients qui disaient « Moi, j'aimerais ça m'engager sur 24 mois »; mais on leur explique « Monsieur, madame, de toute façon, ça... on ne l'offre plus maintenant, mais si vous voulez nous quitter après 24 mois, bien, vous allez seulement avoir à débourser 100 $ »; dans le cas de l'exemple que j'ai donné.
10339 M. TEOLIS : Juste pour préciser, dans le fond, on ne parle pas de la durée du contrat, mais plutôt de la période d'amortissement.
10340 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et c'est là que je m'en allais. Est-ce que votre client est lié au service ou est lié uniquement à l'appareil au niveau de cette fameuse entente qui peut être de 36 mois que vous faites avec lui?
10341 M. LEE HICKEY : La manière que -- et sans entrer dans toutes les complexités de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur -- la manière que, la Loi, elle est structurée, c'est qu'il doit être relié à l'appareil. Et on ne peut pas obtenir un bénéfice consenti sur un service. Alors, c'est toujours relié à l'appareil.
10342 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Donc, est-ce que vous considérez que vous faites une subvention ou que vous faites un prêt au consommateur?
10343 M. LEE HICKEY : Je pense que c'est une question de sémantique dans la mesure où on finance de façon indirecte l'appareil. Peu importe la façon dont vous mettez l'étiquette, au final, je pense que ça revient pas mal à la même chose. Je ne sais pas si mes collègues ont des commentaires additionnels à ajouter par rapport...
10344 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Je pose la question, parce que d'autres fournisseurs de services sans fil font vraiment une distinction au niveau de l'appellation.
10345 Certains disent c'est vraiment une subvention. C'est-à-dire qu'on offre un avantage pour attirer le consommateur, mais on n'est pas du tout dans la business dans l'affaire... comme une banque. On ne fait pas de prêts, et ainsi de suite.
10346 M. TEOLIS : Je suis certain qu'un comptable pourrait vous arriver avec des différences, mais...
10347 M. HÉBERT : On a parlé de ça, notre équipe. Et comme Jonathan a dit, on peut mettre l'étiquette qu'on veut dessus. Ce qui compte, c'est le contenu de l'engagement.
10348 Un engagement est pris, le consommateur va savoir, va connaître la nature de l'engagement, comment l'amortissement fonctionne, quels sont ses droits de résiliation, etc. Ce qui compte, c'est le contenu, pas l'étiquette.
10349 M. TEOLIS : Si vous me permettez, parce que ça a été un sujet de certaines de vos interrogations au courant de la semaine. Les appareils chez Vidéotron sont vendus. Et c'est en fin du compte à cause d'une condition de la Loi sur la Protection du consommateur qui dit que grosso modo, le bénéficie consenti ne peut être accordé que lorsque l'appareil est vendu.
10350 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Par contre, quand on va sur le site web, on se rend compte, par exemple, un Nexus, je regardais les prix au détail. Il va coûter, bon, 499,95 $. Mais si je le paie sur 36 mois, il va me coûter 399,95 $.
10351 C'est ce que j'ai vu sur le site web. Donc, il coûte moins cher si je m'engage à prendre un service. Sinon, je pourrais l'acheter et vous pourriez le déverrouiller et je pourrais aller ailleurs?
10352 M. BÉLAND : Dans le cas du Nexus 4, oui, il est déjà déverrouillé à l'achat de l'appareil. Donc, par contre, faut comprendre que Vidéotron, contrairement au titulaire, on n'a pas une multitude de fréquences. Donc, on opère sur la fréquence en WS.
10353 Donc, c'est pas automatique lorsque le téléphone est déverrouillé qu'il est nécessairement compatible chez le concurrent.
10354 Donc, dans le cas du Nexus 4, oui, le téléphone est compatible et puis le client pourrait l'acheter chez Vidéotron et aller l'utiliser ailleurs. Ceci, par contre, ceci ne garantit pas toujours le bon fonctionnement, la qualité de fonctionnement du service et pour être impliqué de façon régulièrement sur les comités de qualité chez Vidéotron.
10355 On s'aperçoit que le service, la qualité de fonctionnement du service n'est pas nécessairement relié jusqu'au réseau, mais aussi à l'appareil. Donc...
10356 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et pour les Blackberry, parce que vous avez une section Blackberry. Est-ce qu'on peut aussi acheter l'appareil et aller l'utiliser avec un autre fournisseur de services sans fil? Est-il complètement déverrouillé lui aussi?
10357 M. BÉLAND : Dans le cas du Blackberry, je ne crois pas. Je ne pense pas qu'il est déverrouillé.
10358 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : O.K.
10359 Donc, qui détermine si l'appareil est verrouillé ou déverrouillé lors de sa vente? Et est-ce que règle générale, la majorité de vos appareils sont vendus verrouillés ou non?
10360 M. HÉBERT : Les politiques changent d'un fournisseur à l'autre.
10361 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : M'hmm.
10362 M. HÉBERT : Il y a des fournisseurs qui vont insister que leurs appareils soient verrouillés. Il y en a qui vont insister que ce soit déverrouillé. Et il y en a qui vont offrir option.
10363 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et généralement, vous prenez quelle option, vous?
10364 M. HÉBERT : Nous, généralement, on prend l'option « verrouillé ».
10365 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Pourquoi?
10366 M. HÉBERT : Pour les mêmes raisons que vous avez entendues toute la semaine. C'est une façon d'assurer notre récupération de notre bénéfice consenti.
10367 Il y a des préoccupations par la possibilité de fraude. On a aussi remarqué que des appareils verrouillés se prêtent moins au vol. C'est quelque chose qu'on a observé dans nos points de vente.
10368 Les voleurs, ils sont très bien informés. Ils vont savoir par exemple le modèle de Blackberry est verrouillé et ils vont voler autre chose, par exemple.
10369 Donc, il y a une multitude de raisons pour lesquelles on a adopté une politique de verrouillage.
10370 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Vous comprendrez que toutes vos réponses suscitent beaucoup d'autres questions. Quelle est votre politique pour déverrouiller? Après combien de temps un client peut-il faire déverrouiller son téléphone? Et combien est-ce que ça coûte pour déverrouiller un téléphone chez vous ou un appareil intelligent?
10371 M. HÉBERT : C'est un service qui n'est pas offert présentement chez nous. C'est à l'étude. Il faut dire entre autres que le lancement de notre réseau a été en septembre 2010 il y a moins de trois ans.
10372 On arrive au moment de regarder cette possibilité plus sérieusement. Mais pour l'instant, ce n'est pas un service offert par Vidéotron.
10373 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Alors, quelqu'un qui voudrait vous quitter, bien, est-ce que vous allez tout faire pour le garder. Mais s'il veut faire déverrouiller, il devra aller ailleurs payer sur internet ou trouver un autre fournisseur pour le faire?
10374 M. HÉBERT : Si c'est son choix, oui.
10375 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Si c'est son choix. Parfait.
10376 En même temps, notre politique à ce moment-là qui demande à ce qu'on... Bien, notre politique... notre Code qui demande à ce qu'on déverrouille les téléphones après un certain laps de temps, ce serait quelque chose qu'on ajouterait à vos obligations.
10377 M. HÉBERT : Oui. Et vu que c'est déjà quelque chose qui est à l'étude, ce serait pas une surprise totale pour nous. C'est quand même quelque chose qui prendrait du temps si Vidéotron offre un service de déverrouillage, c'est sûr qu'on va le faire comme il faut. Ce sera pas en utilisant des sites de contrefaçon trouvés sur l'internet.
10378 Si on le fait, on va le faire directement en communication avec les manufacturiers en utilisant des processus sûrs, en utilisant des employés bien formés. Donc, il y a quand même un effort de mise en place qui serait nécessaire.
10379 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Mais c'est justement la preuve que parfois, la direction du Code qui a écouté les consommateurs peut aller aussi dans la direction de l'innovation d'une compagnie.
10380 M. HÉBERT : En fin de compte, la seule chose que je peux rajouter c'est que si vous avez trouvé l'idée séduisante, elle a certainement suscité et suscite une réflexion chez Vidéotron.
10381 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et c'est ce que je veux dire. Il peut y avoir beaucoup de directions qu'on suscite et qui peuvent se retrouver aussi à aller dans la même direction puisqu'on a consulté les consommateurs pour les suggérer.
10382 Alors, je pense qu'on travaille pas mal dans la même direction. C'est ce que je veux vous dire. Innovation et Code peuvent aller dans la même direction. Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez, Monsieur Béland?
10383 M. BÉLAND : Je serais plutôt d'accord avec vous dans le cas du déverrouillage, dans le cas des avis de notification et des outils de gestion. Je dois vous dire franchement...
10384 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui, j'ai compris.
10385 M. BÉLAND : ...que de notre point de vue, on a un choix technologique à faire.
10386 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui.
10387 M. BÉLAND : Puis il y a un choix moderne et un choix moins moderne.
10388 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui, puis on comprend. Vous avez bien expliqué votre point de vue. Alors je voudrais pas vous le faire répéter.
10389 Par contre, je voulais savoir, quelqu'un qui est chez vous. Et là, la façon dont j'ai compris, il y a pas de contrat pour le service. Mais il y a un contrat pour l'appareil.
10390 Est-ce que j'ai bien compris? Vous sembliez hésiter. C'est ce que vous dites depuis tantôt.
10391 M. BÉLAND : Sans entrer dans les détails juridiques de la chose, en fait, il y a un contrat pour les deux.
10392 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui.
10393 M. BÉLAND : Il est à durée indéterminée. Ça veut dire qu'il n'a pas une durée fixe. Et lorsque nous finançons l'appareil, le bénéfice que nous demandons au client de nous payer, il est amorti sur une période déterminée.
10394 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et est-ce qu'il y a une pénalité pour le consommateur qui veut mettre fin à cette entente?
10395 M. BÉLAND : Alors, la seule pénalité que le consommateur ou que notre client doit payer, c'est la période non amortie du montant financé.
10396 Alors, prenons par exemple, disons qu'on finance 500 $ et que la période financée dans le contrat est de 24 mois. S'il part au bout de 12 mois, il doit nous payer 250 $.
10397 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Et est-ce que c'est clair pour le consommateur? Est-ce que sur la facture, c'est indiqué de cette façon-là, qu'il comprend qu'il y a une distinction entre les deux ou tout ça vient dans un seul chiffre?
10398 M. BÉLAND : Dans la mesure où c'est une obligation de la Loi sur la Protection du consommateur, et que nous nous conformons, nous espérons que c'est clair.
10399 Et dans le fond, si on se fie au résumé que vous proposez dans votre Code, c'est en grande partie similaire à ce que vous proposez.
10400 Alors, si vous dites que votre résumé, il est clair, nous tentons vers la conclusion que ce que nous offrons aux consommateurs c'est probablement très clair aussi.
10401 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Une des questions populaires depuis lundi, c'est qu'est-ce qui se passe après le 36e mois pour quelqu'un qui a décidé de faire amortir le paiement de son appareil. Est-ce qu'il a une réduction substantielle du service?
10402 M. TEOLIS : Bertrand, je pense que tu es mieux placé pour répondre à cette question.
10403 M. BÉLAND : Bien, pour l'instant, ça a pas été... C'est pas offert parce que l'ensemble de notre clientèle, ça fait même pas trois ans qu'on est en opération. Donc, l'ensemble de notre clientèle est encore sous contrat.
10404 Alors on regarde le marché évoluer. Et on voit que c'est actuellement une tendance dans l'industrie. J'ai vu, j'ai constaté que tout récemment, un des titulaires offre aussi des rabais.
10405 En fait, dans le marché actuellement, les trois titulaires incluent leurs sous-marques, offrent des rabais. Donc, c'est clair qu'on va pencher sur cette nouvelle tendance, et puis...
10406 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Est-ce qu'on pourrait vous aider à le faire?
10407 M. BÉLAND : Bien, je sais pas. Je pense qu'il faut laisser quand même la place à la créativité. Ce serait dommage qu'on ait une seule règle qui soit la même pour tous les opérateurs.
10408 Je pense qu'il y a une tendance dans le fond qui apparaît dans le marché actuellement. Mais je pense qu'il faut laisser la place à la créativité auprès des gens en marketing ou qui veulent se différencier par rapport aux autres.
10409 Donc, il faut être capable de pouvoir garder l'élément de différenciation pour pouvoir effectivement se démarquer dans le marché.
10410 Donc, je pense que ça, faut garder ça en tête.
10411 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Quelle est la durée de vie des appareils que vous constatez parmi votre clientèle? C'est certain que, comme vous venez de dire, ça ne fait pas tellement longtemps que vous êtes en affaires du côté de la téléphonie sans fil. Est-ce qu'il y a un taux de roulement rapide des appareils? Est-ce que vous êtes capable de le chiffrer à ce moment-ci, de votre durée de vie en affaires?
10412 M. BÉLAND : J'ai pas les chiffres exacts. Mais, on a des clients qui ont présentement deux ans et demi de vie. Et on voit que certains clients ont déjà commencé à renouveler avec Vidéotron avec un nouvel appareil.
10413 Donc, j'ai pas les chiffres exacts. C'est peut-être quelque chose qu'on peut partager avec vous. Mais oui, il y a des gens qui renouvellent avant la fin de l'échéance.
10414 Et avec la Loi 60, c'est assez simple. Donc, si le client a un bénéfice consenti de 300 $, il est à six mois de l'échéance de son contrat, bien, il doit nous rembourser la partie, la proportion correspondant aux six mois restant du bénéfice consenti octroyé. Donc, pour l'ensemble de nos clients qui ont des appareils intelligents, on parle d'un montant de 30 $ - 40 $.
10415 Donc, il y a beaucoup de clients qui disent, moi je veux changer maintenant et puis on facilite, on facilite... on répond à leur besoin.
10416 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Si jamais vous avez des chiffres, c'est sûr que ça nous intéresserait de savoir. Parce qu'on a entendu des chiffres comme 2.5 ans à peu près. Si on interdisait les contrats de trois ans, on empêcherait les consommateurs de consommer autant des appareils. Alors, ils aiment consommer et changer régulièrement d'appareils.
10417 Le Canada est un des pays où semble-t-il, les consommateurs aiment le plus souvent changer d'appareils. Alors, ce serait intéressant de savoir, si jamais vous avez quelques chiffres, on apprécierait de les recevoir.
10418 M. HÉBERT : On va trouver les meilleures informations pour vous, pour identifier les tendances.
10419 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Tout à fait. Ce serait apprécié.
10420 Un sujet que je ne voulais pas garder pour la fin parce qu'il est important, c'est celui des personnes handicapées.
10421 On a reçu une organisation qui nous a dit que c'est pas simple de trouver de l'information et d'avoir des appareils.
10422 Et quand je suis allée sur votre site web, j'ai rien trouvé, facilement en tout cas, qui ferait en sorte que si j'étais non voyante ou malentendante, je serais dirigée clairement vers, ou bien un appareil plus facile pour moi à utiliser, ou bien vers un type de service qui serait facilement compréhensible pour moi. Est-ce que vous avez un souci particulier.
10423 M. HÉBERT : Je suis déçu un peu de votre commentaire. Parce que sur notre site web, le « Home Page » en bas, il y a un bouton « accessibilité ».
10424 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Ah! Je l'ai peut-être compris comme « accessibilité au réseau ». C'est pour ça peut-être que je l'ai mal...
10425 M. HÉBERT : Parce que, non seulement le bouton est là sur le « Home Page », mais c'est une ligne de boutons qui demeure. Vous vous promenez dans notre site, il est toujours là « accessibilité » en bas.
10426 Et ce que ça donne, c'est une page qui explique tout ce qu'on offre aux personnes handicapées pour l'ensemble de nos services.
10427 Donc, on parle là des enjeux de sous-titrage, on parle là du fait qu'on a adopté la norme W3C pour notre site web, pour des personnes handicapées visuelles. On parle de nos services, le 711 traditionnels puis de relais IP, etc.
10428 Donc, on a fait un effort conscient de consolider ces informations, de les rendre disponibles.
10429 On croyait très facile à trouver.
10430 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Écoutez, ça vous permet d'en parler et ça prouve que personne n'est parfait. Je suis en train de le rechercher, puis...
10431 M. HÉBERT : Mais vous soulevez un point intéressant. Est-ce qu'on devrait appeler ça « accessibilité » ou trouver un autre mot? Je sais pas.
10432 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui. Et je le vois en même temps que je vous parle. Mais bon, peut-être que je l'ai compris avec une technologie d'accessibilité. En tout cas...
10433 M. HÉBERT : Mais, je vais te dire, au-delà de ce qui est sur cette page web, on participe aussi à des initiatives, notamment, il y a déjà eu des discussions au sein de l'ACTS, l'association sans fil des initiatives de consultations. Donc, Vidéotron, on essaie de toujours participer à ce genre d'initiative le mieux comprendre les besoins de nos clients.
10434 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait.
10435 Et vous avez des appareils peut-être que vous vendez qui sont plus... qui peuvent répondre plus spécifiquement aux besoins des personnes ayant un handicap?
10436 M. HÉBERT : Oui. Et j'espère ne pas attirer les foudres. Mais je vais faire une autre plug pour notre application. Parce qu'un des gros avantages de ce genre d'approche moderne d'innovation à la frange du réseau et surtout le fait que Vidéotron, on ouvre -- Bertrand l'a mentionné -- on ouvre l'interface aux développeurs indépendants d'applications.
10437 Donc, s'il y a quelqu'un au Québec, au Canada qui est capable de prendre les spécifications de notre application, de notre interface, et développer une application taillée sur mesure pour un groupe handicapé en particulier, bien tant mieux pour lui, tant mieux pour nos clients.
10438 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Alors, c'est un appel à la créativité qui est lancé.
10439 Est-ce que vous offrez des services à la carte? C'est une demande particulière qu'on a reçue des groupes de personnes ayant un handicap?
10440 Ils se retrouvent dans des forfaits où peut-être le trois quarts du forfait ou des services ne leur conviennent pas. Ils voudraient pouvoir prendre uniquement peut-être le son ou autre chose.
10441 Est-ce que c'est quelque chose que vous offrez?
10442 M. BÉLAND : En fait, je dirais que c'est partiellement à la carte dans le sens qu'on a créé... il y a certains... il y a des forfaits qui sont pré assemblés. Et par la suite, le consommateur peut ajouter certaines options selon ses besoins.
10443 Par exemple, si un client désire avoir un forfait qui est pratiquement, purement data, bien, il peut prendre notre forfait de base à 16 $ et puis ajouter la quantité de data qu'il désire.
10444 Donc oui, on est pas très... oui, on a des forfaits qui sont pré assembles, mais néanmoins on offre beaucoup de flexibilité en termes d'option que le client peut ajouter à son forfait, que ce soit les appels interurbains, que ce soit différents niveaux de data, différents blocs de data.
10445 On offre le flexi-data. Donc oui, il y a beaucoup d'options qui sont offertes en termes de...
10446 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et vous êtes en dialogue avec ces groupes-là si j'ai bien compris?
10447 Alors, j'aimerais aller dans le dernier sujet. Pour moi, c'est celui de la législation et de l'implantation.
10448 D'abord, combien de temps pensez-vous que ce serait nécessaire pour que l'industrie puisse s'adapter à un Code qui pourrait ressembler au projet de Code que nous avons?
10449 Là vous avez dit « ça demande du temps », qu'est-ce que vous souhaitez qu'on considère comme durée?
10450 M. HÉBERT : Encore une fois, difficile de donner des précisions maintenant, vu qu'on a vu le contenu détaillé du Code il n'y a pas si longtemps.
10451 La section « avis » et « outils de gestion » mandatée, on est dans le... facilement le 18 mois chez nous.
10452 Pour les autres éléments, on pourrait vous revenir, prendre l'engagement de vous donner nos estimés.
10453 Il y en a sûrement qui sont plus faciles que d'autres.
10454 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Bien, ce serait intéressant de l'avoir, tout comme ce serait intéressant de savoir quels éléments du contrat, de façon proactive, pourraient s'adapter facilement au Code que nous proposons?
10455 C'est-à-dire que si par exemple, vous emboîtez le pas dans le déverrouillage des appareils, est-ce que cela pourrait s'appliquer par exemple sur tous les contrats que vous avez déjà, toutes les ententes avec l'ensemble de vos consommateurs? Ou, est-ce que ça devrait s'appliquer uniquement de façon à entrer en vigueur à partir de la date de l'application du Code?
10456 Est-ce que vous avez eu une réflexion à ce niveau-là?
10457 M. HÉBERT : Le cas du déverrouillage c'est un bon exemple.
10458 Si on développe l'offre et on les rend disponibles à nos clients, on peut imaginer que ça va être rendu disponible à tout le monde en même temps.
10459 Donc, il y a pas d'enjeu d'application partielle à des catégories de clients.
10460 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Mais, il y a des choses qui pourraient être faites plus rapidement. Comme par exemple, le contrat personnalisé. C'est quelque chose que vous faites presque déjà. C'est quelque chose, donc, qui pourrait être implanté plus rapidement, par exemple, que les fameuses notifications.
10461 M. HÉBERT : Si on se limite à l'ajout d'informations et pas à le rendre disponible avant la vente, définitivement.
10462 Donc, on peut vous revenir avec une liste de quels éléments pourraient être implantés dans quel laps de temps.
10463 De là à aborder la question, est-ce que c'est une bonne idée d'implanter un Code par étape? Ça mérite une discussion. Mais, on peut vous revenir avec la liste d'estimé.
10464 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Ça serait apprécié.
10465 Et pour finir, vous avez longuement discuté dans vos documents que vous avez présentés de l'intérêt de considérer de suspendre l'application du Code canadien pour laisser toute la place à la Loi de Protection du consommateur.
10466 Est-ce que c'est encore votre position? Avez-vous changé là-dessus ou avez-vous... levez-vous des drapeaux de ce côté-là?
10467 M. HÉBERT : Nous, on trouve toujours que c'est une approche faisable. Il existe le modèle déjà au Canada de la Loi sur la Protection de la vie privée. Donc, on est toujours d'avis que c'est une approche faisable.
10468 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Parfait. Puisque vous avez la même position que dans votre document, je considère qu'elle est complète.
10469 Alors, je vais laisser la parole à Monsieur le Président.
10471 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
10472 J'ai quelques sujets que j'aimerais discuter avec vous.
10473 Premièrement, j'ai noté dans le rapport, le dernier rapport du CPRST que vous avez à peu près 240 plaintes. À votre avis, il y en a combien qui portent sur le sans fil?
10474 M. HÉBERT : Selon les dernières informations que j'ai, c'est à peu près la moitié.
10475 LE PRÉSIDENT : Est-ce que vous pouvez nous donner un sens de la nature de ces plaintes? Est-ce que c'est des gens au niveau de votre couverture technique? C'est quoi la nature de ces plaintes-là en général?
10476 M. HÉBERT : Non. J'ai pas eu le temps de pouvoir...
10477 LE PRÉSIDENT : Vous avez des commentaires... Excusez-moi!
10478 M. HICKEY : Oui, j'ai regardé...
10479 LE PRÉSIDENT : Il y a toujours quelqu'un sur l'équipe qui a la réponse!
10480 M. HICKEY : Le principal sujet de plainte, c'est la consommation. Donc, l'usage que le client fait du data avec son appareil.
10481 Par la suite, ce sont les frais de résiliation qu'on peut facturer au client.
10482 Ensuite, des bris d'appareil et des enjeux de facturation. C'est à peu près le tableau.
10483 LE PRÉSIDENT : Donc, malgré la disponibilité, peut-être, d'un outil en ligne, vous nous dites qu'il y a quand même des clients qui se trouvent à être surpris de leur...
10484 M. HICKEY : C'est ça. Oui, mais on parle quand même de moins de 30 clients sur un potentiel de 375 000.
10485 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord.
10486 Et si vous regardez sur un horizon plus historique, depuis les modifications à la Loi sur la Protection du consommateur, je comprends qu'il y a pas long de vie.
10487 Mais est-ce que vous voyez le nombre de plaintes stable? En croissance? En décroissance par rapport au service sans fil? Ou peut-être que vous voyez pas d'effet encore. C'est trop nouveau.
10488 M. HÉBERT : Moi, personnellement, je pense qu'on voit pas d'effet encore à ce niveau-là. Surtout qu'on est un nouveau livreur dans le sans fil, c'est de faire des mesures à ce niveau-là.
10489 Je crois qu'il y a aussi la réalité. On peut imaginer facilement deux tendances qu'on pourrait peut-être appeler « contradictoires ».
10490 On est convaincus que l'entrée en vigueur de la Loi 60 a simplifié les choses pour nos clients. Les choses sont plus simples et les clients sont mieux informés. Ça devrait amener une tendance à la baisse des plaintes.
10491 En même temps, la présence de la réforme dans les médias, etc., les efforts de promotion de l'Office de la Protection du consommateur pourraient entraîner en même temps une augmentation des plaintes.
10492 Donc, distinguer les tendances, ça serait difficile. Mais je répète encore une fois que de notre expérience chez Vidéotron, c'est que les modifications ont simplifié et clarifié notre relation avec notre clientèle, ce qui est une bonne chose.
10493 LE PRÉSIDENT : Votre point à propos du nombre de plaintes peut être le résultat de plus de connaissances de l'organisme ou des droits des consommateurs ou pour toute autre raison. C'est pas nécessairement parce que le consommateur perçoit une baisse de qualité ou quoi que ce soit, m'amène à vous poser la même question que j'ai posée à d'autres.
10494 Dans le cadre d'évaluation de l'impact de cette initiative, sur quoi devrait-on se pencher pour évaluer les effets d'une nouvelle politique du conseil?
10495 M. HÉBERT : Nous, notre préférence, ce serait de focusser sur la part du marché des nouveaux entrants dans le sans fil.
10496 Si c'est à la hausse, la part du marché.
10497 LE PRÉSIDENT : Donc, pour vous, on pourrait avoir une incidence directe sur ça?
10498 M. HÉBERT : Pour être plus sérieux, je crois qu'inévitablement, ça va être un ensemble de mesures quantitatives et qualitatives avec probablement un examen complet du Code après un certain temps, possiblement de trois à cinq ans.
10499 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord.
10500 Et j'imagine que je vais pouvoir vous lire à ce sujet dans la soumission du 1er mars sur les mesures de rendement qu'on devrait considérer?
10501 M. HÉBERT : On va voir si on peut développer des recommandations plus précises.
10502 Mais encore une fois, comme j'ai dit, la partie quantitative, j'hésiterais à tirer des conclusions trop directes étant donné le potentiel de tendances croisées.
10503 Mais si on a de bonnes idées à vous donner, on va le faire.
10504 LE PRÉSIDENT : Excellent!
10505 Vous avez parlé des outils en ligne qui sont disponibles. Pour que je saisisse bien ce que c'est, parce que j'ai pas pu aller en ligne pour les voir, est-ce qu'ils sont expliqués en dollars ou en données, en unités de données?
10506 M. HÉBERT : Vous parlez des outils en ligne ou de notre application?
10507 LE PRÉSIDENT : Votre application. Pour moi, c'est en unités.
10508 M. HÉBERT : Je crois que la réponse est, c'est extrêmement flexible. Ça peut être l'un ou l'autre. Mais Bertrand peut peut-être confirmer.
10509 M. BÉLAND : En fait, ce qu'il y a, par exemple, un bloc de 500 Mo, évidemment, ce qu'on va présenter, c'est, il est rendu où dans sa consommation de son bloc.
10510 Et tout ce qui est « paper use », donc, tout ce qui est facturation en usage apparaît en dollars sur l'application. Donc, le client a, en temps quasi réel, c'est quoi les frais qui sont présentement engendrés par le dépassement de son bloc, parce qu'effectivement, il peut prendre l'action de commander un autre bloc, puis nous appeler à n'importe quel moment. Il peut prendre la décision de payer un usage.
10511 Pour l'utilisation domestique, c'est le réseau de Vidéotron au même titre qu'il peut décider de payer un usage pour les services d'itinérance qu'il veut bien se prévaloir.
10512 Donc, tout est en dollars.
10513 LE PRÉSIDENT : En dollars parce qu'effectivement, j'imagine que vous êtes d'accord avec d'autres que c'est pas très intuitif qu'un certain nombre de données...
10514 M. BÉLAND : Oui.
10515 LE PRÉSIDENT : Combien c'est? Combien ça vaut? On n'a pas beaucoup d'expérience par rapport à ça encore. Peut-être ça va venir un jour. Mais on n'est pas rendu.
10516 M. BÉLAND : Oui, et la beauté aussi de pouvoir le publier en dollars, c'est que le client, bien qu'à partir de l'application, pourrait aussi fixer un plafond de facturation.
10517 Donc, il pourrait lui-même décider de partir l'application et de dire, lorsque je serai rendu à 30 $ de paiement à l'usage, de facturation à l'usage, s'il vous plaît, désactivez le service à partir de mon appareil. Donc...
10518 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et donc, l'application permettrait à l'usager de dire, bien à 300 $...
10519 M. BÉLAND : C'est des choses qu'on pourrait faire. Parce qu'on a cette flexibilité-là.
10520 LE PRÉSIDENT : Ça existe encore.
10521 M. BÉLAND : Donc, la beauté, c'est d'en ayant créé un API, c'est qu'on se donne toute cette flexibilité-là pour le consommateur et ça n'engendre pas nécessairement des coûts importants considérant versus aller travailler directement, développer directement au coeur de nos systèmes.
10522 Comme par exemple, au niveau de notre engin de tarification qui nous apporte une certaine flexibilité, mais qui ne répondront pas aux exigences complètes du Code de conduite proposé.
10523 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et puisque l'architecture est ouverte, ça serait possible qu'une tierce partie vous propose des modifications à l'application, justement pour faire cela?
10524 M. BÉLAND : Absolument.
10525 En fait, du côté, il y aura un cadre de travail parce que l'application a été lancée l'automne dernier. Il y aura un cadre de développement qui va être publié auprès des communautés de développeurs dans le marché qui voudront bien bonifier l'offre de services pour nos consommateurs.
10526 Nous, notre objectif, c'est de s'assurer de répondre à l'ensemble des besoins.
10527 Mais il y a des gens qui pourraient aller plus loin étant donné que toutes les données d'usage sont disponibles. Donc, il peut aller plus loin jusqu'à, par exemple, lorsque... comme j'ai donné l'exemple de faire en sorte que l'application puisse désactiver le service de donnée à partir de l'appareil.
10528 Donc, c'est flexible, puis le client a plein contrôle.
10529 Si après ça, il décide de le réactiver, il n'est pas obligé de nous appeler au service à la clientèle. Il peut le faire de lui-même à partir de l'appareil.
10530 LE PRÉSIDENT : Cette application, est-ce qu'elle est utilisable par d'autres fournisseurs ou est-ce que c'est vraiment unique à votre plateforme?
10531 M. BÉLAND : Bien, c'est unique à Vidéotron. Donc, complètement uniquement à Vidéotron.
10532 Donc, les autres opérateurs, s'ils voulaient se doter du même outil, il faudrait qu'ils développement comme nous un API pour justement exposer les données d'usage et que par la suite, qu'ils puissent développer des applications. Donc, à ce niveau.
10533 Je pense que c'est unique à Vidéotron actuellement dans le marché.
10534 LE PRÉSIDENT : Maintenant, par rapport aux contrats. J'imagine que vos contrats sont disponibles à la fois en anglais set en français?
10535 M. HÉBERT : Bien sûr.
10536 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord.
10537 J'aimerais mieux comprendre votre position par rapport aux feuillets d'information personnalisés dans la phase précontractuelle.
10538 Il me semble -- puis peut-être qu'on se comprend mal. Mais il me semble que si je suis un client et j'entre chez vous pour possiblement établir une relation contractuelle avec vous à durée indéterminée, selon votre terminologie, j'aimerais quand même avoir une idée, regarder ce que vous m'offrez, aller chez le voisin voir ce que l'autre fournisseur veut bien m'offrir.
10539 Je comprends pas pourquoi vous hésitez de peut-être même juste imprimer en forme projet l'entente qui serait signée pour que la personne sache exactement à quoi s'attendre.
10540 M. HÉBERT : Si c'était facile à faire, on le ferait. Parce que comme on a dit dans notre présentation, on est le nouvel entrant.
10541 Si on pouvait avoir l'environnement où tous les fournisseurs sont obligés de produire ces résumés d'avant vente et permettre aux consommateurs de se promener entre les différents kiosques au mail local. Si c'était facile, on le ferait.
10542 Le problème, puis ça devient un problème de fonctionnement des systèmes, le fait qu'on peut produire une feuille de papier, à un moment donné, dans le temps, au moment de la conclusion de la vente ne veut pas dire qu'on peut le produire deux semaines, trois semaines, trois jours, deux jours avant.
10543 Ce sont des contraintes dans le système où résident les données, où résident les informations à quel moment dans le temps.
10544 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je trouve ça difficile à comprendre parce que je m'en vais chez vous, vous savez que c'est un marché concurrentiel. Les termes financiers de cette entente-là sont importants.
10545 Puis comme vous dites, on est souvent, on va dans un centre d'achats, puis tout le monde est là dans leur petit kiosque et on voudrait peut-être comparer. Mais pour comparer, il faut avoir quelque chose.
10546 Qu'est-ce que vous donnez à la personne qui n'est pas prête à signer tout de suite?
10547 M. HÉBERT : Mais justement, ce que vous proposez, c'est un résumé personnalisé. C'est une chose de donner un dépliant ou un résumé non personnalisé des services qu'on offre. C'est une chose. Tout le monde le fait évidemment.
10548 C'est la production à partir de nos plateformes d'informatique d'un résumé personnalisé qui contient les informations, toutes les informations que vous demandez. C'est là où il y aurait des développements, du développement à faire à l'interne chez Vidéotron.
10549 Et dans notre cas, c'est du développement significatif.
10550 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je saisis mal pourquoi c'est si compliqué.
10551 M. TEOLIS : Si je peux préciser la pensée de mon collègue.
10552 Dans le fond, c'est que pour produire la partie personnalisée, il faut que le client devienne client. C'est-à-dire que la production -- puis ça c'est une contrainte purement informatique. La production, avant qu'il devienne client, n'est pas possible.
10553 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K.
10554 M. TEOLIS : O.K.
10555 Et si, en fin du compte, si l'exigence éventuelle c'est que nous devrions produire le contrat avant la conclusion du contrat, cette portion-là requiert un développement informatique qui sera plus lourd pour nous. Dans le fond, c'est juste ça qu'on...
10556 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et la lourdeur, elle n'est pas dans l'impossibilité; c'est une lourdeur de temps et d'argent?
10557 M. TÉOLIS: Essentiellement, oui.
10558 LE PRÉSIDENT : Pourriez-vous nous donner un ordre de grandeur de ce développement-là?
10559 M. HÉBERT : On pourrait le faire pour le 22.
10560 LE PRÉSIDENT : Pour le 22 février?
10561 M. HÉBERT : Oui.
10562 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord. Bon. On va tourner vers la durée des contrats et je comprends très bien puis je vais peut-être parler d'un contrat de trois ans, mais je comprends très bien que dans votre cas c'est des contrats à durée indéterminée, mais l'amortissement peut se faire sur une période de trois ans?
10563 M. TÉOLIS : C'est exact.
10564 LE PRÉSIDENT : Est-ce que vous êtes arrivé à offrir des amortissements sur une période de trois ans parce que c'était un bon modèle d'affaires, vous pensiez, pour le consommateur ou est-ce que vous l'avez fait parce que les compagnies titulaires déjà dans le marché lors de votre arrivée avaient pas mal établi ça comme le modèle d'affaires?
10565 M. TÉOLIS : Je vais laisser mon collègue répondre avec plus de précision, mais je pense que c'est en fonction du rabais. Plus que le rabais est élevé, plus que la période d'amortissement est longue, mais peut-être que Bertrand peut rajouter.
10566 M. BÉLAND : Je pense que vous l'avez très bien dit. C'était le modèle d'affaires de nos concurrents, donc si on veut s'assurer d'avoir du succès dans le marché et que ça fait partie des attentes des consommateurs bien, nous, on prend le modèle qui est le plus... le modèle qui est gagnant dans le marché, donc...
10567 Et je pense que pour WIN... je pense que le meilleur exemple, c'est WIN. Il n'est pas dans notre marché, mais on les a regardés quand même évoluer. Ils ont tenté de se lancer dans un modèle d'affaires où le client achetait l'appareil et ils n'ont pas eu de succès, je pense et c'est peut-être pour ça qu'aujourd'hui ils ont mis en place une forme de financement qu'ils appellent la « balance », la "Tab", la "Win Tab".
10568 Mais, finalement, ils se sont retournés vers un modèle d'affaires où ils subviennent, donnent un rabais sur l'appareil en échange d'un engagement avec le consommateur.
10569 Donc, je pense que c'est plus une question de dynamique de marché que de...
10570 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est bon que vous voulez me mentionner leur position parce que si je comprends bien, eux, ils favorisent... c'est un peu le reflet des commentaires qu'on voit de plusieurs intervenants, les individus intervenant dans notre instance, qui favoriseraient une période plus courte.
10571 Donc, eux préconisent cette option-là, beaucoup d'intervenants préconisent cette option. Le bureau de la concurrence préconise de réduire la durée dans votre cas, la durée de l'amortissement, lorsque c'est lié à un service de télécommunication, j'imagine, en vertu de l'Article 24 de la Loi sur les communications parce qu'on va rester à l'intérieur de notre compétence.
10572 Vous, qu'est-ce que vous... quel serait l'impact, l'incidence sur votre modèle d'affaires si on allait dans cette direction-là? Donc, ça serait... ça serait pour tout le monde et, évidemment, tous les fournisseurs seraient assujettis à la même approche, qu'est-ce que ça serait l'impact dans votre cas?
10573 M. HÉBERT : Donc, précisément, pour un opérateur comme Vidéotron qui opère dans le cadre actuel de la Loi 60 avec le modèle qu'on a décrit, donc en pratique votre proposition, ça serait que Vidéotron soit contraint d'amortir le bénéfice consenti sur une période qui ne dépasse pas 24 mois?
10574 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est ça.
10575 M. HÉBERT : En termes pratiques, ça serait ça?
10576 LE PRÉSIDENT : Bien, c'est-à-dire, si vous voulez le faire, vous devez le faire dans un autre instrument, un autre contrat qui n'est pas relié au contrat de service, de télécommunications.
10577 M. HÉBERT : Parce que je crois que les deux questions sont différentes. Une question c'est, vous gardez le modèle actuel, mais vous êtes obligé de ramener la durée de l'amortissement à 24 mois.
10578 Je crois que votre deuxième question va plus loin en tentant de changer le modèle en tant que tel.
10579 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est que le deuxième volet de la question reflète le fait que ça serait possible que quelqu'un offre d'autres façons de financer l'appareil passé la période de 24 mois, pourvu que ce n'est pas lié au service de télécommunications.
10580 On pourrait faire ça par, je ne sais pas, moi, une ligne de crédit, une carte de crédit. Il y a d'autres façons de financer les appareils.
10581 Le modèle qu'on a, qui est préconisé dans le projet de Code est que la subvention, l'encouragement économique, peu importe comment on l'appelle, est relié à l'utilisation d'un service de télécommunications.
10582 Donc, si vous voulez juste répondre à la première partie, ça me va.
10583 M. HÉBERT : Hum, hum, oui.
10584 LE PRÉSIDENT : Mais, donc, si on parlait d'un amortissement sur 24 mois maximal?
10585 M. HÉBERT : Mais peut-être qu'on peut commencer par répondre...
10586 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui.
10587 M. HÉBERT : ... répondre à la première partie, Bertrand, juste le répéter pour clarté. Si on était en mesure de garder notre approche actuelle, contractuelle, mais si on était obligé à ramener à seulement 24 mois, un maximum de 24 mois...
10588 LE PRÉSIDENT : Un maximum de 24 mois.
10589 M. HÉBERT : ... la période d'amortissement du bénéfice économique, quels seraient les impacts sur notre modèle d'affaires, notre relation... la variété de forfaits qu'on peut offrir, et caetera?
10590 M. BÉLAND : Je pense que... évidemment, on est dans un marché où tout le monde... tout le monde opère dans les mêmes conditions, même conditions concurrentielles, donc si on choisissait, par exemple, de limiter les ententes à 24 mois au lieu de 36 mois, d'un point de vue opérationnel c'est faisable. On a la structure opérationnelle pour pouvoir le faire.
10591 Est-ce que ça change? L'impact, ça serait... probablement se traduirait par un coût d'appareil qui serait plus cher pour le consommateur, mais...
10592 Donc, c'est à peu près ça que je vois comme impact là. Donc, c'est que le consommateur va devoir débourser un montant plus élevé pour l'appareil. Donc, c'est...
10593 LE PRÉSIDENT : Les gens de WIN pensaient que ça aurait l'impact peut-être de libérer des clients qui sont présentement avec les compagnies titulaires et peut-être que ça serait plus facile pour vous d'avoir plus que 375 000 abonnés.
10594 M. BÉLAND : Ah! Ça c'est... de ce côté-là c'est un point fort intéressant. Effectivement, si tous les clients sont engagés sur 24 mois, on augmente les opportunités pour les nouveaux entrants comme Vidéotron, comme WIN, d'aller chercher une plus grande part de marché parce que les clients sont engagés seulement sur 24 mois.
10595 Oui, effectivement, je serais en accord avec... je serais en accord avec ce que WIN a mentionné ce matin, oui.
10596 LE PRÉSIDENT : Bon, en présumant que c'est un autre enjeu qu'on a par rapport à essayer de voir combien de temps ça pourrait prendre parce qu'il y a beaucoup de gens qui sont sur des ententes de trois mois, puis on l'a fait par des réponses écrites pour d'autres sociétés, est-ce que ce serait possible pour vous de nous expliquer si on adoptait le Code, combien de temps avec le roulement naturel, que ça prendrait de mettre toute votre base d'abonnés pleinement bénéficiaires du nouveau Code, par rapport à... en pourcentage après un an, après deux ans, après trois ans.
10597 J'imagine que ça serait en progression basé sur leur... parce que eux aussi c'est une durée indéterminée, je comprends, mais eux aussi ils doivent changer leurs appareils et, donc, c'est une opportunité pour vous de les mettre dans le nouveau cadre du Code.
10598 M. HÉBERT : Donc, effectivement, c'est un peu similaire à la demande qu'on a eue de la conseillère Poirier, c'est des statistiques effectivement sur le roulement de nos clients parce que, comme vous avez déjà discuté avec d'autres intervenants, il va y avoir quelqu'un qui active son service la veille de la mise en vigueur du Code et, par définition, il va y en avoir quelques-uns...
10599 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui, oui, il va y en avoir...
10600 M. HÉBERT : ... qui vont être là trois heures plus tard.
10601 LE PRÉSIDENT : ... qui va être là pendant trois ans.
10602 M. HÉBERT : Mais en terme de pourcentage, notion de roulement de nos clients...
10603 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui?
10604 M. HÉBERT : Oui, on va essayer de trouver des statistiques à cet égard-là.
10605 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord; pour le 22 ça aussi. Puis en terme de pourcentage? Parce que, évidemment, ça va être une estimation, je le sais, là parce que ça ne sera pas une science exacte, mais on voudrait savoir, mettons qu'on décide le contenu du nouveau Code, combien de temps ça peut prendre avant que tout le monde soit bénéficiaire de tous les avantages du Code, surtout si on regarde sa mise en vigueur sur une base prospective plutôt que rétroactive. Ça va?
10606 M. HÉBERT : Oui.
10607 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
10608 M. HÉBERT : Oui, absolument.
10609 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci. Je ne crois pas qu'il y ait d'autres questions des membres du panel. Donc, je vous remercie et nous allons quand même prendre une courte pause jusqu'à 1520 pour entendre notre dernière intervention de la journée et de l'audience.
--- Upon recessing at 1510
--- Upon resuming at 1521
10611 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
10612 We will now hear from our last intervener at this phase of the proceeding. Please go ahead.
10613 MR. MAKER: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, Commissioners.
10614 My name is Howard Maker and I'm the Commissioner of CCTS, and with me is Josée Thibault, our Director of Inquiries and Complaints.
10615 I will begin with some remarks about CCTS and our comments on recording and reporting complaints related to the Wireless Code. Josée will then address the Working Document and provide our comments on various provisions thereof.
10616 First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here and to contribute to the process for developing this Code.
10617 Le rôle principal du CPRST est de traiter les plaintes non résolues des consommateurs canadiens au sujet de leurs services de télécommunications sans fil, filaires et d'accès à Internet, et fournir un service indépendant, impartial, efficient, opportun et informel de résolution des différends aux consommateurs et fournisseurs de services.
10618 Cette mission est accomplie avec grand succès. Comme le souligne notre rapport annuel de 2011-2012, nous avons été en mesure de résoudre 90 pour cent des plaintes à la satisfaction mutuelle des consommateurs et des fournisseurs de services. Parallèlement, cela nous a aussi permis d'avoir une vision d'ensemble de la conduite des fournisseurs sur le marché et des préoccupations des consommateurs.
10619 MME THIBAULT : Nous avons déposé nos commentaires et y avons joint notre rapport annuel de 2011-2012. Grâce à notre nouveau système de gestion des plaintes, notre rapport inclut des données statistiques détaillées au sujet du traitement des problèmes selon un classement analytique en trois niveaux.
10620 Au cours des quatre dernières années, le nombre de plaintes déposées auprès du CPRST a augmenté de près de 250 pour cent. Le pourcentage annuel de plaintes reliées au sans-fil a augmenté substantiellement de 38 pour cent à plus de 60 pour cent. Nos données statistiques semestrielles de 2012-2013 illustrent nettement cette tendance à la hausse, avec une augmentation de 54 pour cent de l'ensemble des plaintes, et, de celles-ci, 64 pour cent touchent au sans-fil.
10621 The prospect of a mandatory national Wireless Code has appeal for CCTS. To be able to rely on a common minimum standard of service provider conduct for every provider in all parts of Canada against which to benchmark the conduct of the provider in the complaint under review is a very helpful tool for CCTS' dispute-resolution activities.
10622 This is not to suggest that the implementation of a Code will necessarily reduce the number of complaints to CCTS. The clarity that the Code should bring to the business will hopefully have that effect in the long term. However, in the near term, we expect that the number of complaints will likely rise, largely as a result of the publicity surrounding this proceeding and future public awareness activities related to the Code itself.
10623 MR. MAKER: In this proceeding the Commission invited comments on four broad issues. Our comments focus on two: the issues of enforcement of the Code and assessing its effectiveness.
10624 We would like to explain why we are not commenting on the substantive issues on which the Commission has sought input during this proceeding.
10625 CCTS governance is provided through an independent board of directors in which all stakeholders participate. There are seven directors; four are independent of the industry, two of whom are nominated by consumer groups. Three directors are appointed by the industry.
10626 In this hearing, you have heard radically different positions from participants on many substantive issues. Our board of directors also reflects these divergent points of view. Thus, we don't have instructions to provide a single "CCTS position" on these various issues.
10627 We trust that the Commission appreciates the limitations on our ability to comment on issues of substance. We view our role in this proceeding as one in which we comment on issues related to CCTS and its role with the Code, on which our board speaks with unanimity. Otherwise, we are here to provide the Commission with information and hopefully offer the benefit of our experience regarding the issues into which the Commission is inquiring.
10628 We share the common goal of making the Code effective and ensuring that service providers meet its minimum standards. We wish to stress that CCTS is a dispute-resolution body -- an ombudsman, not a regulator. We seek to distinguish between those roles, noting that it is traditionally the role of the regulator to enforce codes of conduct that it mandates.
10629 While it is absolutely our objective to support the regulator's activities on this issue, we have noted numerous comments from parties to the effect that CCTS should be vested with additional authority to punish service providers that are found not to have complied or to order them to change their contracts or change their practices to bring them into compliance with our interpretation of the Code.
10630 We strongly urge the Commission to avoid this approach. In particular, we caution against any changes to our authority or to our practices that would detract from what we do currently so well: assist customers and providers to resolve problems. Our processes have been built to accomplish this objective and a 90 percent resolution rate indicates a very high degree of effectiveness.
10631 Requiring CCTS to perform enforcement of the Code, as opposed to administration, is a completely different line of business that would impact our operations in many ways. More importantly, our credibility with service providers as a fair and impartial problem-solver would be adversely impacted by asking us to also act as an enforcement body with punitive powers.
10632 In addition, service providers might reasonably be expected to be somewhat less candid and cooperative in complaint-resolution if they believed that the information they provide would then be used against them in an enforcement capacity. This would have an adverse effect on our ability to resolve complaints efficiently and effectively.
10633 We have reviewed the Working Document version of the Code and in our opinion it strikes a proper balance between the role of CCTS as dispute-resolution provider and the CRTC as regulator.
10634 Section C1 provides that CCTS will administer the Code and that the CRTC will enforce it. CCTS proposes that we will continue to accept and deal with customer complaints related to the Code in the same way that we do all other complaints, including those related to, for example, the Deposit and Disconnection Code.
10635 Section 4 of our Procedural Code provides the authority to consider "any relevant codes of conduct or practice" in resolving customer complaints. We will collect the relevant Code data and, as proposed in Section F1, we will report on it publicly in our Annual Report. We will also attempt to identify trends that we see in this data and report on them to facilitate such enforcement activity as the CRTC deems appropriate.
10636 Nous aimerions aborder deux points en particulier. Le premier vise à soumettre au Conseil notre proposition détaillée quant à la manière dont le CPRST se propose de collecter et rapporter les questions reliées au Code. Le deuxième vise à inviter le Conseil à étudier certaines dispositions du Code qui pourraient faire l'objet de clarification.
10637 We believe that we can report effectively on Code issues while at the same time preserving the processes that we have developed permitting the effective and efficient resolution of complaints.
10638 I would like to provide you with some details as to the manner in which we actually propose to record and report complaints related to the Code. Our proposal is modelled on the approach taken by our sister organization in Australia, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, or TIO, and the way it records and reports complaints to its regulator.
10639 So let's take an example and let's assume that in a given year we receive 10,000 complaints, of which 5,000, say, are about wireless, and in 4,000 of those we have a Code issue or a possible Code issue that's raised as the issue in the complaint. We would record and report on the number of times that a Code issue is raised in a complaint.
10640 Beginning with our most recent Annual Report, we have developed a model by which we report on the nature of complaints based on the number of actual issues raised, not the number of complaints received. We do this because some complaints raise a number of different issues and we want to capture all of the data.
10641 So we are proposing to report on Code issues similar to the way we reported on other issues in our Annual Report, a table called "Detailed Analysis of Issues Raised in Complaints," which you will find on page 31 of our Annual Report. So we would be reporting, first off, on possible Code issues, which is an approach that TIO used as well.
10642 At the first stage of our process, which is called "Pre-Investigation," historically, about 70 percent of complaints are resolved. Thus, give or take 2,800 of the 4,000 complaints that raise a possible Code issue would be resolved between the customer and the wireless carrier within the context of the process. These complaints generally are resolved without substantive analysis by any party of whether the complaint actually raised a Code issue and, if it did, whether there was a breach of the Code.
10643 The remaining 1,200 complaints would proceed to our second stage, which we call "Investigations," where they are handled by one of our Complaint Resolution Officers. Of these, typically 75 percent or so, in this example 900, get resolved and it is likely that the investigation of many of these cases will have advanced far enough so that we can determine whether a Code issue was actually raised. However, only in some of them will we have actually obtained enough information to allow us to determine whether or not a Code breach actually occurred and which provision of the Code was involved.
10644 The remaining 15 percent, about 180 in this example, will be closed for a variety of reasons. In most of these 180 cases, again, we should be able to say whether a Code issue was raised and in some whether a Code breach was proven. When a Code breach is proven, TIO reports these as confirmed Code breaches and that's what we would propose to do as well.
10645 The balance of the complaints in this example, about 120, will go to our Recommendation or Decision stage, and in those cases we will of course definitely be in a position to establish whether or not a Code issue was raised and indeed whether or not a breach took place.
10646 This approach is consistent with the Code data collection and reporting done by the Australian regulator and TIO. TIO administers two codes: a very broad Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code as well as a Mobile Premium Services Code.
10647 If you review their most recent Annual Report, in 2011-2012 they recorded almost 194,000 complaints, raising over 438,000 possible Code issues and reporting 1,146 confirmed Code breaches.
10648 We propose to report essentially in this manner, noting, however, the Commission's request for carrier-specific reporting as well as for reporting of trends.
10649 The Australian experience, we would submit, suggests that this, combined with other initiatives to be undertaken by the regulator and the industry, provide appropriate Code compliance reporting to permit the regulator to begin to assess the effectiveness of the Code as well as to undertake any required enforcement activities.
10650 Our current view is that we could make the necessary adjustments to our case management system to report in this manner without any great difficulty and it would have the benefit of allowing us to preserve our current complaint-handling processes.
10651 MME THIBAULT : Des questions d'interprétation seront toujours soulevées par les circonstances particulières de certains cas d'espèce, nonobstant la qualité de rédaction du Code. C'est au CPRST qu'il reviendra d'interpréter en premier lieu le Code dans le cadre de ses activités de résolution des plaintes. Nous avons donc étudié le Code dans cette perspective et identifié les questions qui pourraient se poser lors de l'application de ses diverses dispositions.
10652 Aussi, nous aimerions porter à l'attention du Conseil nos interrogations afin que les points identifiés soient précisés ou clarifiés. Nous espérons ainsi limiter le nombre d'occurrences des cas d'interprétation du Code.
10653 First, we wish to identify two very important words which are used throughout the Code but which are undefined.
10654 The first one is "consumer." It is not clear whether this includes a customer who acquires wireless services for business purposes, whether on a "business account" or whether they simply use the service for business purposes. Small business complaints do fall within our mandate and they currently make up roughly 7 to 8 percent of our work.
10655 The second term is "contract." It is not clear what exactly is the contract. Is it the terms of service? Does it include any documentation provided to the customer by the wireless carrier and related to their subscription? Does it include the relevant wireless carrier practices? We believe this is particularly important in light of the number of Draft Code provisions that reference the term, particularly the sections that relate to the right of the wireless carrier to make changes to these "contracts" and the rights of consumers when this occurs, such as in section D2.
10656 We would like to offer a few comments with regard to specific sections of the Code.
10657 In section B2, Implementation in Relation to New and Existing Contracts, Option 3 states that the Code is applicable to contracts renewed and amended after it comes into force. When we read this section, the meaning of the terms "renewal" and "amendment" are not necessarily clear. Is a renewal only when the existing contract term is extended and is it considered an amendment anytime a change is made to the contracted services?
10658 With regard to section C2, Recourse for Consumers, this section appears to be a summary of the CCTS remedies available to consumers under our Procedural Code. In our view it would be preferable to replace this summary with a reference to the relevant section of our Procedural Code so as not to give the misleading impression that any change to the Code is intended.
10659 With regard to section D1.2(i) and Issues that must be addressed in a Contract, particular changes to contract terms, we note that this is an important provision for both consumers and wireless carriers. Our interpretation of this section is that consumers are to be provided with a list of circumstances under which the contract can be cancelled, with or without fees, following a change to the contract by the wireless carrier. However, this section may also be read to mean that wireless carriers are required to provide the consumer with a list of all circumstances under which the contract can be changed or cancelled even if there is no change to the contract terms by the wireless carrier. We assume that the Commission's intent is to apply the former interpretation and not the latter, but we would welcome some clarity on this point.
10660 Section D1.4 and D1.5 with regard to the Personalized Information Summary and Contracts and Related Policies. We find that when investigating complaints regarding older contracts, wireless carriers cannot always produce the customer's contract or other relevant documentation. This has the effect of making complaint investigation and resolution more difficult and more time-consuming for us.
10661 We, therefore, wish to clarify whether the Code requires that this material be retained by the wireless carrier for the duration of the contract term, either in paper or electronic format as has been discussed during this proceeding.
10662 Section D2.1 - Changes to Contract by Service Providers.
10663 As we've previously discussed, the term contract is undefined in the Draft Code and under either Option 1 or Option 2 it's not clear what the wireless carrier can or cannot change. And, again, this is an extremely important provision for both consumers and service providers and it's one that generates large numbers of complaints.
10664 This is a key area of uncertainty that we believe you may wish to clarify. We also believe that the objective should be for the customer to be able to know and rely on exactly what the service provider can or cannot change before they enter into the contract.
10665 With regard to Section D2.2, Changes to Wireless Carrier Policies.
10666 The reference to policies that apply to contracts implies an intended distinction between policies and contracts.
10667 We frequently see consumers make decisions about their choice of wireless carrier and their choice of services based on extra-contractual factors, for example, fair use policies or coverage areas.
10668 And we urge the Commission to consider whether this provision, as currently drafted, provides sufficient certainty to customers that they can rely on the continuation of the agreement that originally enticed them into entering into this contract for these specific services and with this wireless carrier.
10669 With regard to section D5.3, Mobile Premium Services.
10670 The Draft Code obliges the wireless carrier to cancel the customer's mobile premium subscription service upon request and inform the customer how to unsubscribe.
10671 In the many complaints that we see about premium text messaging, we find that the issue is usually really about the billing of the messages and not as much about the subscription. Customers usually unsubscribe themselves, though certainly wireless carriers may be able to help customers unsubscribe in the event that the customer is having difficulty in doing so.
10672 However, it's not clear whether there's an intention here to address the billing for disputed MPS messages, and when such a billing by the wireless provider is considered to be appropriate.
10673 Our current approach requires wireless carriers to demonstrate the accuracy of the third-party charges they bill to customers in the same way as they must demonstrate the accuracy of their own charges.
10674 We suggest that clarification of this provision would allow consumers, wireless carriers and CCTS to better understand the Commission's intention with regard to MPS services.
10675 With regard to Section D8.1 -- Lost and Stolen Devices.
10676 We know that this is becoming an increasingly frequent issue in our work. The Draft Code requires that the wireless carrier suspend service upon receiving notice of loss or theft, and allows the billing of usage until notice is given. We know the terms continue to apply, including any early termination fees.
10677 But when a device is lost or stolen, there are many options available to customers beyond simply cancelling the contract and paying the early termination fees, such as reducing the monthly rate plan to the lowest one available for the balance of the term, or various options for obtaining a new device in order to allow the consumer to complete the term.
10678 However, the Code does not require the wireless carrier to explain to the customer the available options short of paying the ETF.
10679 Again, we encourage the Commission to clarify whether this is its intention.
10680 And, lastly, with regard to Section D10.1, Disconnection.
10681 Option 1 speaks of disconnections, but we see many cases where the wireless carrier ceases to provide service to the customer but characterizes this as a suspension.
10682 We understand that these suspensions are generally intended by the wireless carrier to be temporary, for example, to encourage the customer to pay an overdue account.
10683 In contrast, we understand the term disconnection to mean a permanent cessation of services, generally resulting in the customer losing the phone number and having the account closed.
10684 Disconnections often follow suspensions should the cause of the suspension not be addressed to the wireless carrier's satisfaction.
10685 We are unsure that it is the Commission's intention to apply these provisions only to disconnections, given that in Option 2 under Consumer Default the Draft Code also uses the term suspension.
10686 The Commission may wish to clarify its intent regarding the application of the Code to situations involving temporary suspension of service.
10687 In addition, this provision with regard to disconnection appears to lack items on issues that arise when wireless services form part of a customer's bundle of services. In particular, the issue of how partial payments are to be allocated is not addressed.
10688 Is it intended that a customer's wireless service could be cut off if he has not paid his internet or TV service, or can a customer require that a partial payment be allocated to the wireless portion of the service so as to ensure that that is not cut off?
10689 These are all matters that we urge the Commission to consider with a view to providing greater clarity and certainty to the Code.
10690 MR. MAKER: I might add, Mr. Chair, Commissioners, that attached to the material, the written remarks, we've prepared a table in which we've woven in these comments about the specific provisions of the Code beside the actual provisions of the Draft Code and we hope you'll find that useful.
10691 And I notice, Mr. Chair, we're almost at the end of our 20 minutes. The remaining part of our presentation is an attempt to pre-empt your question about effectiveness and I'm in your hands as to whether you want me to conclude or you want to save that for questions?
10692 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I've read it, so -- and because I read faster than you were speaking, but that's entirely normal. So, why don't we, because it's part of the formal process, why don't we go to questions therefore.
10693 Is that okay?
10694 MR. MAKER: Yes, that works.
10695 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Commissioner Molnar will be starting off with the questions.
10696 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, thank you for this.
10697 It is very useful to have somebody look through this with the point of saying, okay, how will this be implemented? And it is certainly very important that at the end this isn't something that's up for interpretation by any members, it needs to be clear for all. So, thank you very much for all the points on the clarity.
10698 And I have gone through them and recognizing that while you raise the questions, there's times where you can't recommend a solution because it gets into the substantive issues. I'm going to take that as a take-away, so...
10699 But I am interested to begin with, your statement that so far in the last six months complaints have increased by another 54 percent.
10700 Are the details of that, the reasons, are they the same, is it consistent with what you were seeing in the past or is it different wireless issues?
10701 MR. MAKER: I don't believe that we're seeing anything particularly different. We have not really had a chance to analyze the data in great detail, but it seems like similar amounts -- or similar issues that are being raised, it's just that for probably a variety of reasons the volumes have increased.
10702 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, Mr. Maker, Ms Thibault, I note that you have sat through this entire hearing, so you've heard all the wireless service providers come before us and tell us of all the improvements they've been making that would address customer satisfaction and the fact that there is legislation now in some provinces also intended to address satisfaction, it's really quite interesting that this trend would show a continued increase in complaints.
10703 Let me ask you first about working, as you do right now, with this provincial legislation in place as you are attempting to resolve complaints; how does that work for you?
10704 MR. MAKER: Well, when we get a wireless complaint from a customer in a province that has provincial legislation, we deal with it by and large the same way we deal with any other wireless complaint.
10705 What I mean by that is, under our Procedural Code our standard of review is to determine whether the service provider has reasonably performed its obligations under the contract.
10706 So, the first thing we do is make an assessment of what the contract includes and often, you know, the provincial legislation will dictate some of the provisions of the contract quite naturally.
10707 We do not then take a fine tooth comb and check the provisions of the contract against the legislation, we don't do that naturally.
10708 If, however, we have some concern that some provision in the contract relevant to the complaint is not compliant, or if the customer raises an issue saying, as sometimes happens, the calculation of this termination fee is not in accordance with Bill 60, or whatever the relevant legislation is, then certainly we'll look at it and we'll come to a view as to whether we think the -- not just whether the calculation of that termination fee meets the provisions of the contract, but we'll look at the allegation that the contract doesn't meet the provisions of the legislation.
10709 We don't have to do that frequently, it's not an issue that's raised regularly, but if we're satisfied that the contract doesn't appear to meet the provisions of the Code -- or of the legislation, we have options in our tool kit under section 4.2 of our Procedural Code, we have authority to consider other factors: general principles of law, good industry practice, codes of conduct and, of course, typically for an Ombudsman-type organization, fairness, reasonableness.
10710 So, that's what we do and if indeed, you know, if we have to offer a customer a remedy as a result of that, that's what we do.
10711 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, thank you for that. And just to follow up, you know, there's a couple of options here being discussed in this proceeding as to how this Federal Code would or would not co-exist with provincial legislation.
10712 Do you find that there would be any concerns on your ability to effectively meet your requirements and do your work under either of those conditions, or do you feel comfortable whether there is single jurisdiction or co-jurisdiction in being able to meet your mandate?
10713 MR. MAKER: Well, I certainly won't wade into the constitutional question about it, but I'll answer from a purely operational perspective and a purely selfish one, if I may.
10714 Training our staff to deal with one Code, understanding that Code intimately, understanding the philosophy behind it, how it operates would be certainly a lot simpler for us than implementing multiple Codes.
10715 And I can say that some time mid-year last year I came into possession of a document, it was a table with six -- approximately six columns and it was intended to compare the legislation in each of the separate provinces that either had legislation in force or contemplating it in draft form and to compare and contrast how they dealt with certain issues.
10716 As I say, it was six columns, finely spaced, over 20 pages, and I have to say that was a big scary, thinking, you know, to the extent that we might have to use various different provincial pieces of legislation to assess different complaints in terms of providing remedies for customers would definitely be a lot more challenging than just having one that we know well.
10717 MS THIBAULT: If I can also add, Commissioner Molnar, from an operations perspective as well, we are able to resolve a large majority of the complaints, 90 percent of them, and we do this quite efficiently. Of course it goes without saying perhaps that having to review a multitude of different pieces of legislation, or even just two for each province is going to potentially increase the amount of time that it takes in order to resolve these complaints.
10718 We also note that our Procedural Code requires the customer to make their complaint to their own service provider to begin with in order to give them a fair chance to resolve it, and then they come to CCTS. So in a lot of cases these customers have already been complaining for a while, so we are just conscious as well about anything that is going to affect the efficiency of our work.
10719 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you. I think you have been clear.
10720 You laid out what you could report, could you tell me what timeframes you were expecting to be able to report this in?
10721 Is this annual reporting you are suggesting or how often?
10722 MR. MAKER: Well, as I understood the working document, the intention was to report this information in the annual report, which means it would be annually. That is not to say that it might not be possible to do it more frequently.
10723 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: What would you recommend? Do you think it would be useful to have it more frequently, particularly in kind of the early years of the Code?
10724 MR. MAKER: Well, with respect, I think that's a question that the Commission needs to ask itself.
10725 We internally have access to much of this information on a going-forward basis, but in terms of how frequently it needs to be reported publicly to be useful for enforcement, for education, for information, that is not something that I have an opinion on.
10726 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
10727 Page 5 you note that "consumer" is not clearly defined and it's not clear whether or not this applies to business.
10728 I agree. I have looked at our Notice, I have looked at our Code and "consumer" is not defined.
10729 So you mentioned that your responsibility does include small business. Have you had any difficulty in defining what is small business?
10730 MS THIBAULT: No. Our Procedural Code actually defines it very clearly. A small business is considered to be a carrier -- sorry, a service provider whose normally monthly -- sorry, a customer is considered a small business customer when their monthly bill from their service provider is $2500 per month of less. This is the normal monthly bill. So of course if there is a billing issue there we don't consider that.
10731 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
10732 In the complaints that you are looking at today in the wireless, are you able to always identify whether the issue is related to business or more individual -- I don't even know what I should -- I want to say "residential", you know, residential and business, whether the joint use -- and I think many times with wireless there is a joint use between home and business, is that a problem for you today?
10733 I guess not because it's all within your Code, but are they normally subscribing under the consumer or under the business in those kind of joint use situations?
10734 MS THIBAULT: To our knowledge they are generally considered consumer subscriptions, however we have seen some business where it was subscriptions.
10735 But I think really, if I understand you question, is really to understand in the course of resolving and investigating complaints, is it clear to us whether it's registered as a residential or individual account or not if it is being used for business purposes because, as you state, there is often this mix use, personal and business.
10736 It's not always obvious to us. Sometimes consumers will tell us, "I use this for business purposes primarily or uniquely and therefore it's very important that the service be reactivated or the issue be corrected." So of course in those situations we are aware.
10737 But unless the consumer tells us, or the customer tells us, it is very possible we won't be aware as to whether the services are being used for business purposes or for personal purposes.
10738 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
10739 And I take it, you don't want to go further in recommendation whether this should or should not incorporate small business?
10740 MR. MAKER: I don't have a recommendation for you.
10741 I think our role is to point out that currently under our Procedural Code we deal with complaints for small business and we are essentially asking you whether that is something that is intended to be covered by the Code.
10742 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Thank you.
10743 I want to talk to you about promotion. You didn't address promotion directly, but you have promoted yourself to the industry and to the public.
10744 Do you have any suggestions or thoughts as it regards what would be an effective way of promoting this Code?
10745 MR. MAKER: Well, we have thought a lot about promotion, not specifically in the context of the Code.
10746 When you start from square one as an organization, as we did in '07-'08, clearly self-promotion was an important objective and we do it knowing that organizations such as ours, it is always the number one challenge because people aren't really aware of you until they need you and then they need to be able to find you when they need you and the rest of the time they are not very interested in whether you are there or not.
10747 So we developed a multi-faceted approach working with our participating service providers around promoting public awareness of CCTS and some of those measures could probably be used as well to promote the Code.
10748 So certainly it is a no-brainer to say that we would put the Code on our website and that we would be talking about it in our numerous media work or pieces of work.
10749 But further than that, you know, the Commission has required service providers to put a billing notice on every customers' invoice four times a year about CCTS in prescribed language so the bill is another potential approach for promoting the Code. We have, in our public awareness requirements, providers are required to put links to our website from their website, as well as a prescribed message about us indicating the independent nature of who we are what we do. Again, so service providers are an important part of that promotion process.
10750 Likewise when a customer comes to a service provider with a complaint, the service provider is expected to describe, at a certain stage of the process, the availability of recourse to CCTS.
10751 So those certainly are all real good ways to get the message out.
10752 When one of our big service providers prints a bill message about CCTS, our phones ring off the hook. We have seen that regularly, so that has been a big bell ringer, but certainly there are all sorts of ways to promote the Code.
10753 I know that some of our participating providers also have broadcast distribution undertakings and there is always potential for public service announcements and many ways to do public promotion and these are the ones that we have thought about so far.
10754 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, thank you for that. I appreciate you have been thinking about it, as have we.
10755 I have to say, I have a little bit of sympathy for the wireless service providers who said those customers want to leave the store and what they want you to be talking to them about is how to use that device, not all this other stuff that we think is important but they don't. You know, as a customer it's important, but you really want to know how to use your device. We have been customers ourselves and I think it is the nature so we would need to look at what else is a reasonable way of getting information.
10756 I just have one more question and it actually was because of the thoughtful way you went through this Code and saying how well it could be interpreted and applied.
10757 I have been wondering as we go through this if we have really created sort of a future-proof code here, because we have had a lot of discussion about what is in the market today and what is being applied today and we know that this is an industry that is evolving so very quickly, not just business models, but the applications, you know, the iPad and this whole device thing is going away with certain applications going forward.
10758 So when you looked at that, at the Code, did you give any thought to those kinds of issues, whether this Code as it is drafted today is really set up for the future?
10759 MR. MAKER: Thanks for that very simple question.
10760 MR. MAKER: That is really the challenge here. You are right, I often talk to people and I say, I think one of the things that drives wireless complaints -- and this is just anecdotally -- is that the pace of change in the technology is so fast that the service providers don't have enough time to really educate their own people about how their products work and about how the services work and how this feature interacts with this one but may conflict with a third one. I think it is really a challenge.
10761 So the $64 question I guess is: How far down the road this Code, whatever it turns out to be, will take us.
10762 I wish I had an answer for you, but I noted that there is a defined review period that has been suggested and these proceedings are important and, you know, I recommend that you consider having a review period that reflects how fast things change in this industry, but I'm not sure you can ever future-proof this because we don't really know where it's going.
10763 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, thank you. Those are my questions.
10764 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
10765 Madame Poirier.
10766 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Bonjour. Vous avez dit que pour vous et pour... on a entendu toute la semaine que pour les fournisseurs de services sans fil, ce serait de beaucoup préférable d'avoir un seul Code. Je le comprends.
10767 Mettons-nous maintenant dans la position des consommateurs et des gens qui habitent au Manitoba, au Québec, et ceux de l'Ontario ou de la Nouvelle-Écosse, qui auront aussi peut-être droit à un Code particulier.
10768 Est-ce que c'est aussi la même position que vous avez? Est-ce que vous pensez que pour les consommateurs, puisqu'il y a une complémentarité entre les deux codes, que c'est préférable qu'il n'y ait qu'un seul Code, et, si oui, à quelle condition?
10769 M. MAKER : Si vous me permettez, je préférerais répondre en anglais. Merci.
10770 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui, oui. No problem.
10771 MR. MAKER: I think one of the things that drives our concern about training our staff up to multiple codes and understanding them well is transferable to the customer experience. I think it will be -- it is potentially challenging for consumers to have more than one bodyguard, to have multiple codes that use different language, that take a different approach with slightly different principles underlying them. That's not to say that it's not something you could do. I think it's doable. In my respectful view, the -- one of the objectives that I have seen through the code is simplicity, clear language, all those objectives, and I think the Commission will need to consider whether those objectives work best with one code or multiple codes.
10772 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And the second part of my question was at what conditions would it be better for the consumer to have only one national code instead of different regulation in different provinces?
10773 MR. MAKER: If I understand your question properly, I think the answer is consumers will want to have the maximum coverage and protection that they can obtain from the code-making or the legislative process. That would be the condition I think that consumers would look for.
10774 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Deuxième question. Il y a l'équivalent en radiodiffusion, avec bien sûr des différences, le CCNR, que vous connaissez, qui rend public des mauvais comportements ou des décisions concernant des plaintes.
10775 Est-ce que c'est aussi votre approche, et est-ce que vous pensez le fait de rendre public qu'un fournisseur de services sans fil n'a vraiment pas respecté le Code peut être une punition importante qu'il faut regarder comme outil pour faire en sorte que de plus en plus de fournisseurs de services sans fil respecteront le Code?
10776 MR. MAKER: I think you're asking whether there's enough concern among the wireless provider community about reputational risk --
10777 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Exactly.
10778 MR. MAKER: -- and whether that reputational risk alone would be enough to motivate good behaviour in connection --
10779 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Not enough but part of the ...
10780 MR. MAKER: Part. Right. And I think certainly -- I only know what they tell me, and what they tell me is that they think it's a very strong measure. No major provider would want to see a press release go out, I think, that says CCTS has concluded that this provider has not followed the code in the following circumstances. And just for the record, I want it to be clear that when we make decisions, which is the final stage of our process, we make them public. They are available publicly, they're on our website. By the nature of our process, we don't issue very many decisions because up to that point there's lots of efforts for resolution and then there's a formal recommendation stage that we do where many complaints are concluded.
10781 But the name and shame power is typically thought of in ombudsman circles as a very important one. And in fact, it is the ultimate one in most ombudsman organizations. And we've seen that it's imperfect in the sense that, you know, it doesn't allow the compulsion of an outcome. And so, your question, you know, is it enough to motivate the right kind of behaviour, certainly in our organization to date we have not had a recommendation to our knowledge that has not been implemented by a service provider or a decision or even an amicable resolution. To our knowledge they've all been implemented. So I do think as a result of that that there is a concern that having a public disagreement with the Commissioner of Complaints and being called out for having dishonoured or disrespected the code would be a concern for most service providers.
10782 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: But is there a possibility you could use the name and shame manner to make sure that maybe wireless service providers that keeps on not respecting the code could be used by your organization, publishing, let's say, a press release on it?
10783 MR. MAKER: Well, there's many ways that we would think about in terms of how we would make such information public, but I think it's pretty clear the Commission has asked for detailed reporting about code breaches and the draft code certainly suggests that it should be specific to the service provider. So I think if we do an investigation and we conclude in the context of one or more complaints that a service provider is not following the dictates of the code, we would make that public. I think that's part of what's expected. And the question is -- that you're asking is, you know, what approach would we take to doing that. Would it be putting something on our website? Would it be in the annual report? Would it be through a press release? Would it be through some combination? That's a decision for our board to make in terms of how we would want to publicize that, I think, but all of those options are certainly available.
10784 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Et ma dernière question. En supposant qu'on adopte un Code qui ressemble au Code que nous avons présenté, quel pourcentage des types de plaintes allons-nous résoudre dans le sans-fil? Il va quand même rester, par exemple, le manque de couverture qu'un fournisseur de services sans fil n'offre pas à un client, alors que le déverrouillage peut être réglé par notre Code. Est-ce que vous pensez qu'il va rester beaucoup de secteurs dans le service sans fil qui, malheureusement, vont laisser les consommateurs insatisfaits?
10785 MR. MAKER: I think in our opening comments we made the comment that we think that the introduction of the code will not necessarily result in the number of complaints going down, at least initially. And in fact, potentially the opposite. We certainly haven't looked at the issues one by one with a view to seeing can we eliminate all complaints about something, and I don't think we ever will. We're dealing with big service providers in many cases with systems that don't talk to people and people that don't talk to other people, and some people and providers are more reasonable than others. So I think there's always room to expect complaints. I think that by clarifying some of the provisions of the code we will potentially reduce the room for misunderstanding, and I think that may be the best way to approach the notion of reducing complaints.
10786 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Merci beaucoup.
10787 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Just a few more questions from me, I believe, and that'll be it.
10788 So you -- I believe -- you did and your board chair was in the room Monday and I congratulate you for -- and your -- and Madame Thibault to have been present for the entire hearing. I think you've got probably the highest number of frequent flyer points to our hearing compared to anyone else in the room at least. You heard the presentation from MAC and we're hearing from other Canadians with disabilities, so I won't ask you whether or not you agree or disagree with the whole notion of having some provisions targeted to Canadians with disabilities because I think you're trying to stay away from the content of the code in your comments, but I was wondering if you felt properly equipped to interface with those Canadians in the next phase when we start administering it, were we to put that, and perhaps you already do.
10789 MR. MAKER: Your last remarks nailed it, Mr. Chair. You know, we have considered the needs of disabled Canadians since day one. We have measures in place to receive complaints from disabled Canadians and we have a variety of them. So that despite the nature of their disability, we permit them to communicate with us, you know, as far as taking a detailed complaint over the phone if need be. And I won't go into the details of those measures unless you wish me to do so, but we feel absolutely no issue about accepting complaints related to -- from disabled Canadians whether they relate to typical everyday wireless issues or whether they relate to unique issues related to their particular circumstances.
10790 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's excellent. In fact, I just want to give you the opportunity because there may have been the suggestion, perhaps even created by me, that maybe you did not have that, but I do -- it was my understanding that you were able to do that and you did do that. And that's correct?
10791 MR. MAKER: Yes.
10792 THE CHAIRPERSON: There was some suggestions earlier in the week. Now, I understand you bundle complaints, that you allow an agent of a named group of complainants to bring a group of complainants to you, but there was a suggestion earlier this week that we might consider a bit by analogy to quasi-class action suits for unknown people within a class. I'm using that by analogy, if you understand what I mean.
10793 And what would your view be on that? I know I read your comments in your original submission about cease and desist orders and I was wondering if you thought that having the ability to do broader class actions for unnamed complainants was more akin to your current process of bundling, or was it more akin to a cease and desist?
10794 MR. MAKER: We heard those comments as well. And, frankly, we were a bit concerned about them. Our procedural code does have a provision in it that allows us to accept, for lack of a better term, collective complaints in certain limited circumstances and with certain limited remedies.
10795 In particular, and this was an issue that was raised, we expect each customer who wishes to seek compensation to identify themselves. Actually, I'm no class action lawyer but I do believe that in most jurisdictions if you want to participate in a class action you actually have to opt in or opt out. So I don't think that provision is so unusual.
10796 It also requires that the people who wish to engage in the collective complaint, the facts -- the complaint must arise from a related transaction or series of transactions. So we do have the authority to do that. I'm not sure we have ever done it. I'm not sure it's ever come up.
10797 And I think perhaps part of the reason was that when the procedural Code was created it was not intended -- and this is hearsay because I wasn't involved at the time -- but it was not intended to really be a class action remedy which is more intended for the courts.
10798 And so we've heard a lot of talk about the $5,000 at CCTS. And just for clarity, that is the maximum compensation that we can award in addition to resolving the customer's issue that he or she has brought. So fix the bill and $5,000 depending on the circumstances if there is a direct loss that arose from an initial problem.
10799 And in the case of collective complaints the $5,000 would be sort of the cap for all of the complainants. And so that tool has not been used very frequently, if at all, if I'm not mistaken.
10800 So I'd be a bit concerned about the suggestion that CCTS is now becoming a systemic investigation body with compliance auditors going into the wireless service providers' offices and examining the networks, because we're not trained for that and we don't have that expertise and it's not really ever been contemplated before.
10801 THE CHAIRPERSON: And by the same token I take it if it was a systemic sort of an issue your view would be that that would be more for the Commission, the CRTC, to deal with?
10802 MR. MAKER: That's exactly correct. We'd identify it. We'd report it and we would anticipate that the Commission would want to address it in some way.
10803 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you.
10804 I was intrigued by a comment that got posted today and I wanted to -- you may not have had a chance to take it into consideration, but the issue here is it's a family law-related issue where non-custodial parents are giving cell phones to children in a separated situation. As well articulated as this is, I was wondering based on your experience, do you ever interact a lot with that sort of an issue?
10805 MS THIBAULT: We do get a variety of complaints where there is some sort of family dynamic involved; separating spouses, custodial parent versus non-custodial parent. So I would say anecdotally I'm we have seen those. I do not believe they make up a very large portion of what we see. But I do stress I'm speaking anecdotally and not with any specific figures.
10806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Just I suspect that means it's not a growing trend or something that makes your radar screen.
10807 MS THIBAULT: No, I don't believe so. No.
10808 THE CHAIRPERSON: My final question relates to your anticipated answer to may anticipated question on measuring success.
10809 So I take it that your perspective is we first have to be more clear about what the objectives we're trying to reach and presumably people will do that if they haven't done so far. Your other suggestion is based on those objectives you have some ideas about how one frames performance measures.
10810 But one thing that I wanted to delve in, in particular, is your suggestion that the qualitative survey which is one way of creating performance measures, should only be operational after ensuring the service providers are generally in compliance.
10811 First of all, I assume that that doesn't suggest that we couldn't do a base study before all this comes in so we see what impact it is. Is that correct?
10812 MR. MAKER: That's correct. You could do that, certainly.
10813 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what would you think because you talk about when it would generally come in -- providers would generally come into compliance. What's your experience in how long that might take?
10814 MR. MAKER: I'm not sure I could hazard a guess on that. It would certainly depend on what the final Code looked like, and we have heard various views about how long that might take from the providers.
10815 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your reason to delay it is so that we do not have disappointing early results?
10816 MR. MAKER: No. Perhaps I was unclear but what I'm trying to convey, I think, is that you want to measure the effectiveness of the Code. And unless you know that the Code is properly in place and properly being implemented and acted upon, you may well get the wrong answer to your question because you're not measuring the effectiveness. You're measuring the lack of compliance.
10817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Thank you very much.
10818 Again, thank you for participating in this phase of the proceeding because we are concluding this phase of the proceeding, and I want to thank you.
10819 So all that's left for me is to say a few closing remarks. So don't move. It won't take very long.
10820 I just wanted to reiterate the next steps in the proceeding so there is no misunderstanding. There will be, of course, on the 22nd of February, and I'm not aware of any other dates, numerous undertakings will be filed by interveners.
10821 As well, we issued an amendment to the original Notice of Consultation so it's 2012-557-4 which we would refer to internally as a "Dash-4" which states that interveners may file final comments by March 1st as well as final reply comments would be due on March 15th.
10822 And I remind everyone there is a page limit for the final reply comments and it is not the appropriate place to try to introduce new evidence. Obviously that has to occur earlier in the process so that everyone has a fair opportunity to comment.
10823 Je veux prendre l'occasion aussi pour remercier un certain nombre de personnes pour notre instance, qui ont participé à son bon déroulement.
10824 Premièrement, mes collègues. Mesdames, Monsieur, merci beaucoup pour votre travail cette semaine, et je vous rappelle qu'on n'a pas tout à fait fini. Il y a encore beaucoup de travail devant nous.
10825 J'aimerais remercier le personnel du Conseil. Évidemment, vous en voyez ici dans la salle d'audience et dans la salle d'examen, mais je peux vous assurer que nous sommes écoutés un peu partout où le CRTC a des bureaux, et il y a d'autres personnes qui contribuent au résultat final.
10826 J'aimerais aussi prendre l'occasion de remercier les interprètes, les sténographes, les techniciens de CPAC, les journalistes qui nous suivent et qui amènent nos débats à une plus large audience.
10827 J'aimerais aussi remercier ceux qui nous ont suivis sur Twitter, une nouvelle façon de partager nos audiences avec les gens qui ne peuvent pas nécessairement être ici dans la salle d'audience.
10828 Mais je veux remercier spécialement tous les intervenants, y compris les parties qui ont comparu jusqu'à maintenant dans cette instance, et ceux, par ailleurs, qui ont ajouté leurs commentaires en ligne.
10829 I take this opportunity to remind people that the online comments continue to be open until 5:00 p.m. tonight, Vancouver time.
10830 Donc, si vous avez des commentaires à ajouter en ligne, vous avez jusqu'à 17 h 00 ce soir, heure de Vancouver, pour ajouter vos commentaires en ligne.
10831 Donc, merci à tous. Donc, je déclare la séance ajournée. Merci beaucoup.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1622
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