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January 7, 2016 12:22 pm  #1

CRTC Issues Mandatory Code Of Conduct For Cable/Sat Providers

It's been in the works for a while, but today, the final document was unveiled. It spells out what providers must do to ensure customers are well informed of what they're getting into before they sign up for a subscription. 

According to the Commission's press release, the Code is designed to accomplish the following:

  • provide consumers with the information they need in a format that is easy to understand, including the list of channels or bundles they subscribe to
  • clearly set out the duration of promotional offers, the regular price once any discounts end, and any obligations placed on a consumer if they accept the offer, such as a minimum commitment period
  • provide customers with a timeframe and information on any potential charges regarding service calls for installations and repairs
  • ensure that prices set out in written agreements are clear and state whether they include taxes or other charges, and
  • give 30 days’ notice to consumers in the event of a change in price of channels, bundles of channels or rental equipment.
  • customers should be able to know when a change they requested to their plan or package means that they will not be able to return to their previous plan or package at the same rate, particularly in cases of grandfathering arrangements. The Commission is therefore adding a provision ... to inform customers when this is the case.

It doesn't go into effect officially until Sept. 1, 2017 and it doesn't appear to be too odious for the firms to implement. And it's mandatory, despite the fact - surprise! - most of the big companies affected wanted it to be voluntary only. In fact, it's almost astounding to read some of the arguments they used to try to blunt this thing. 

Some examples:

-Rogers and Sasktel both balked at listing all channels and packages consumers pay for, arguing it "may be of limited value since the information can quickly become out of date." A cynical person could take that to mean they raise prices so often, they don't want anything in writing that they'll have to reissue at their own expense. Instead, they wanted a "reference" where the information is located - forcing you to hunt for it. 

-The Canadian Network Operators Consortium, which is made up mostly of Internet providers, including Pathcom and TekkSavvy - which are also covered by the new edict - tried to imply that including the information "would inflate the size of the agreement with no corresponding benefit to the customer." Who says size doesn't matter?

-And Bell posited that the CRTC didn't have the right to issue such a code in the first place. 

Television Service Provider Code

For those into the finer points of this thing, there's a far fuller explanation here. 

Last edited by RadioActive (January 7, 2016 12:45 pm)