Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Complaint Procedures

I often receive complaints about various aspects of telecom service in the Algoma District. If you are a customer of one the incumbent companies and are having a problem, you can try to use the established procedures and attempt to resolve the problem.

All the principal primary vendors serving the Algoma District have an established complaint resolution and escalation system. The depth of procedural information provided varies from vendor to vendor but can be found as follows:

Bell, Eastlink, Ontera, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Tbaytel and Vianet.

Also the third party companies serving the Algoma District have similar policies.

Rogers is somewhat different in that it is the only one that has an ombudsman who issues an annual public report.

The escalation procedures require you to go through each step of the 3 or 4 step process in sequence to get to top level management intervention.

In all cases, the ultimate arbitrator is the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). While the CCTS states it is an independent, not-for -profit entity, it is funded by the carriers who use the service. Membership includes both primary and third party vendors.

In my experience, if one follows the procedures, in most cases a mutually agreeable outcome can be achieved. It may take a while, be frustrating and time consuming, but it does work. That does not mean you will always get the result you want or think you deserve. Others have also reported satisfactory results when they were willing to take their time and follow the procedures. As in any dispute both sides have a points of view and the differences need to be resolved.

The most important action in the process is the maintenance of good records of all exchanges with the carrier. One can rest assured that the vendors are keeping meticulous records including voice recordings in some cases.

My approach is to use an oral approach for the initial contact. If I cannot get satisfaction at that point, all further inaction is conducted by e-mail. It may take a bit more work, but it simplifies the record keeping. In any case, as a minimum one should keep track of the date, time, what was discussed and with whom you made contact using either their company ID name or real name. If the vendor makes an offer of resolution, you should ask for a copy in writing either by e-mail or snail mail. Remember there is an adage often credited to movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn that says "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on”

There are other approaches to dispute resolution outside the established procedures but I only recommend them as a last resort.