My letter to the CRTC

joseph's picture

Here's what I sent to the CRTC - for whatever good it does.  I think we need to organize and get this message out in the media - and put some pressure on our politicians.  Telus needs to feel some heat to live up to their obligations, and we are just a few tiny voices calling in the woods.

I live on Lasqueti Island about 40 km west of Vancouver.
When we moved here 5 years ago, there was good land-line telephone service from Telus and plans for a locally-run high-speed internet system, which has since been completed.  Both these communication networks are essential to our businesses, which include a B&B and a software consulting practice.  Having these services was an essential element to our choice to move here.

Over the 5 years, we have not been thrilled with the service levels from Telus - they consistently delay repairs and offer an infuriating run-around when phone lines and public pay phones are down.  However, recent developments are raising alarm bells for us.

Our phone is presently working - thankfully, because without it we would be unable to operate our business.  But several of our neighbours have been without phone service for weeks and Telus has recently informed them that they have no intention of repairing those lines until a "review of the system" has been completed - with no timeframe given.  They have been told by Telus that it is unreasonable to expect land-line service in such a "remote area" (I remind you we are 40 km from Vancouver and Lasqueti has had land-line service for many decades).

I am writing to you on their behalf, but also as a pro-active measure on my own behalf, because if our phone service is interrupted, I assume we will also be told not to expect repairs, which would completely devastate our operations in the middle of our busiest season.

My father worked for BC Tel and so I recall when Telus took over operations, privatizing that public asset, that they were given a lot of infrastructure, a monopoly, and a client base.  In return, they took responsibility for BC Tel's mandate to provide telecommunications services to all BC residents at a reasonable cost.

They are clearly shirking that responsibility and trying to abandon us because we are higher cost service than their urban markets.  I object strenuously to this and hope the CRTC will take some action to encourage Telus to uphold their obligations to all BC residents, and to Lasqueti Island in particular.

Communications services are a cornerstone of both economic development and social cohesion.  The phone lines in particular are critical for our safety - to report fires and to call for help.  The phones represent an essential service, and we rely on the CRTC to help us ensure that we receive that service - Telus does not appear to be listening to us any longer.


joseph's picture

CRTC Response

Any time I have complained to the CRTC in the past, I got back a standard form letter that said they'd passed my complaint on to Telus and it was up to Telus to contact me about it. Disappointing.
But their response to my letter above is quite personalized and actually states that Telus is to respond to the CRTC about this complaint.
I encourage everyone who's phone is out to do two things:

  1. Contact Telus and really pressure them to give you a date for repairing your phone. Force them to declare their intentions regarding repair of your service - don't take a run-around answer, really try to pin them down, and take note of (i) the date; (ii) the person you spoke with; (iii) what they told you;
  2. Contact the CRTC and make a complaint if you are not satisfied with the response from Telus. Be very clear about how long you've been without service and the expectation Telus provided about a possible repair date.

Here's the response the CRTC sent me:

July 18, 2011

Dear Mr. Fall:

This is in response to your correspondence to the CRTC dated July 15, 2011 concerning the quality of telephone service on Lasqueti Island, BC.

You state you have heard from some neighbours that TELUS will not repair their telephone service until it has completed a review of the system. In order to investigate this matter, we need to receive complaints directly from those subscribers affected. Confidentiality issues prevent us from providing you with information on their behalf.

However, by copy of this message, I am forwarding your correspondence to TELUS requesting the Company to report directly to the CRTC within 20 calendar days in accordance with Part 2 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure.

For more details on the CRTC complaint process, here's a link to our Fact Sheet "How to File a Complaint about Your Telephone Service"

I trust this information will be of assistance to you.


Michelle Edge
CRTC Client Services

1-877-249-2782 toll free / sans frais
819-994-0218 facsimile / télécopieur
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission / Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes / Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada

The saga continues...

I had a very positive conversation with the Telus Service Manager in Parksville, who called me to clarify statements made in my submission to the CRTC. He assured me that he DID actually have repair crews on the island several days this week, and that phone service had been restored to most of the homes with outages.
There is still one outage area (up Centre Rd. I'm guessing) where they are apparently having a lot of trouble diagnosing the problem. But the important message was that he has a crew working on it and it is their priority to repair this line and restore service to everyone as soon as possible.
Unlike any other communication I've ever had with Telus, this one seemed genuine and he seemed very upset that residents had not been informed that his crews were working to restore service. He was even more frustrated by the rumours that repairs would not be completed until a review of the system was completed. As it turns out, he IS conducting a review of the system to find ways to improve the quality of service and make it more robust and easier to maintain. But he was insistent that, in the meantime, his crews will be out here troubleshooting and repairing the existing system to restore service to all customers.

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