Today it was reported that the CRTC will now require all phone companies in Canada to publish a consumers bill of rights in their phone books (see CBC article here). While the terms of the CRTC statement require phone companies to provide payment plans for outstanding bills, I don’t know if we can really expect the phone companies to act any less heavy-handedly than they have in the past – phone companies still retain the right to cut off your service if you owe more than $50 for local service. This means that the phone company could conceivably cut off your service for missing payment on one phone bill, no questions asked. I highly recommend setting up automatic monthly pre-authorized credit card payments as a way to prevent this from happening, especially if you’re a little bit forgetful.
On a somewhat related note: At the conclusion of the report about this on CBC’s Freestyle today, host Marsha Lederman questioned the usefulness of publishing the bill of rights in the phone book, since nobody uses the phone book anyway. Having lived in a big city (Toronto, for 7 years), I can attest to the uselessness of some phone books. If I want to call, say, Dave Taylor – hmmm, I wonder which of those 75 entries for “D. Taylor” is the one I want. (Imagine trying to locate John Smith!). However, for those of us living in PEI, the phone book is quite useful indeed – a very handy reference. We keep two in the house and one in the car, and refer to it often. Island residents who have “come from away” are so conditioned to the idea of the phone book as a “waste of trees” that they will often go to great lengths to try to track down someone’s phone number. I’ve had people call me to ask if I know so-and-so’s phone number: “I’ve looked for it everywhere, and I just can’t seem to find it.” Here on PEI, it really is as easy as “letting your fingers do the walking”.