Canada’s large telecom companies don’t like the sound of placing caps on customers’ cellphone bills, but Telus chief marketing director David Fuller went a step further in front of the CRTC last week, telling the regulator that customers don’t want it either.
"I think a lot of customers don't want a cap [on their monthly bill]," Fuller said at a CRTC hearing into a proposed code of conduct for wireless providers.
Rick Mercer has a problem with that. A problem big enough, apparently, to declare that “the stupidest thing ever said.”
“How many times have you said something incredibly stupid and then found yourself in a rueful tailspin?" Mercer asked during a rant on the Rick Mercer Report Tuesday night. "Well now you can rest easy knowing that no matter what your blunder was, it will never be as stupid as when the chief marketing officer for Telus, David Fuller, said ‘I think a lot of customers don’t want a cap on their monthly cellphone bill'.”
As part of its draft proposal for a wireless code of conduct, the CRTC has suggested a cap on extra charges on monthly bills, which would be set to $50 by default. When the cap is reached, wireless providers would have to cut off whatever part of a customer’s service is causing the extra charges.
Fuller and other telecom execs argued that customers would not want to see their services cut off.
"We would have to stop service to a whole lot of customers, which would create quite a bit of unsatisfaction, in my opinion," MTS Allstream CEO Pierre Blouin said, as quoted at the Winnipeg Free Press.
Blouin suggested that a $200 or $250 cap would be more in line with what customers would like to see.
Bernard Lord, head of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, said at the CRTC hearings that the proposed cap would "limit a consumer's option… and interfere in the operation of competitive market forces."
A number of telecom execs argued that, so long as wireless providers were notifying customers of their usage levels, caps were unnecessary.
“Our opinion is it’s not necessary because you have the notifications… you have the online tools to track usage and especially now with the added protections of the ability to change your contract or switch providers,” said Denise Heckbert, manager of wireless regulatory at Eastlink, as quoted at Cartt.ca.
But consumers’ advocates told the CRTC the existing protections aren’t enough.
“Consumers are often in shock after opening a bill where roaming charges or coverage fees have been applied,” John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said at the hearing.
The CRTC announced last fall it would come up with a wireless code of conduct for the wireless industry. It released a draft of the code last month, and wrapped up public hearings into the draft last week.
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