Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Province seeks citizens' input on cable, Internet billing

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Tired of confusing cable and Internet bills?

Ron Lemieux, the province's new consumer protection minister, wants to hear from you.

Borrowing a page from the Harper government -- which recently said it plans to mandate the unbundling of TV offerings -- Lemieux said Wednesday the province is gearing up to put together new rules for "fairer" cable TV, Internet and phone offers and billing.

"We know from the concerns that we're hearing... people aren't getting what they paid for," Lemieux said. "When you're offering a service and you're offering a program, people don't mind paying for it. But they don't want to be gouged after and tricked somehow into paying more."

He said the province's Consumer Protection Office wants opinions on issues such as all-in-one pricing, low introductory pricing and penalties for service cancellation.

Survey submissions can be made in French or English at http://www.gov.mb.ca/cca/ or in writing to consumers@gov.mb.ca or by regular mail to the Consumer Protection Office, 302-258 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R3C 0B6.

The province said about two hours after Lemieux's news conference, 72 submissions had been completed and another 52 were in progress.

Lemieux said the province wants to work with Internet and cable providers to come to a more workable solution, but he did not rule out legislation.

"The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) is responsible for ensuring what gets delivered as a product as far as television or in terms of what's produced and delivered, but provinces are responsible for the kinds of contracts and agreements that are out there and responsible for ensuring people are getting what they paid for," Lemieux said.

Gail Anderson, director of the Consumer Protection Office, said a frequent complaint is confusing language in the fine print of cable and Internet packages.

"A top complaint is a lack of clarity in regards to what happens at the end of a promo package," Anderson said. "A consumer signs up for an agreement and they are not aware of what happens at the end of the promo agreement."

The province recently brought in legislation stating cellphone contracts must be clear, explain all charges, fees and terms and cancellation fees must be reasonable.

No one from Shaw was available for comment.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

What bugs you most about how telecommunications companies do business? Join the Conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 31, 2013 A9

History

Updated on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:59 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds question for discussion

6:03 AM: Adds audio

7:33 AM: Corrects typo

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