Ottawa orders CRTC to investigate reports of 'aggressive' telecom sales practices

​The federal government is ordering Canada's telecommunications regulator to look into whether internet, television and wireless providers have been using "misleading" and "aggressive" sales tactics.

More than 200 past and current telecom employees have come forward to CBC's Go Public

More than 200 past and current telecom employees — mostly at Bell and Rogers — have come forward to CBC's Go Public unit to describe intense pressure to mislead and lie to customers in order to hit unrealistic sales targets. (iStock)

​The federal government is ordering an investigation following allegations that Canada's largest telecommunications companies are using "misleading" and "aggressive" tactics to sell products and services.

Innovation, Science and Economic Minister Navdeep Bains has ordered the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to investigate and report on the sales practices used by Canada's largest telecommunication companies. 

The minister also called for a public inquiry to allow Canadians to voice their concerns and said the resulting inquiry report will have to propose potential solutions.

The call for inquiry follows months of CBC stories on the issue.

More than 200 past and current telecom employees — mostly at Bell and Rogers — have come forward to CBC's Go Public unit to describe intense pressure to mislead and lie to customers in order to hit unrealistic sales targets.

For example, a Rogers employee admitted to not telling mostly older customers about added fees, and to sneaking extra products or services onto a bill.

Hundreds of Canadian customers have come forward to complain about being charged prices that were higher than the ones they negotiated over the phone, or not receiving what a sales agent promised.

"Canadians have clearly expressed concerns. We've heard them loud and clear and we're taking action," Bains told reporters Thursday.

The statement from his department called the reported tactics "misleading and or aggressive."

"No Canadian should ever be misled or treated unfairly by a telecom corporation, especially those who are most vulnerable," he said.

The CRTC has until Feb. 28 to complete the inquiry and report.

Bains' office also wrote to the Competition Bureau to ask for its assistance with the inquiry.

Earlier this year, the CRTC rejected a request from a consumer group to hold an inquiry into questionable sales tactics in the telecom sector, saying there was no need.

Rogers, Telus and Shaw have told CBC they would be open to participating in a public inquiry on sales practices.

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