Connect with us


CRTC hears more calls for constraints on sales tactics of cable, internet firms




A coalition of groups representing consumers, seniors and low-income Canadians is recommending tough new rules to rein in the sales practices of Canada’s telecommunications firms.

The groups made a joint submission Tuesday during the second day of CRTC hearings in Gatineau, Quebec. The CRTC is looking at whether cable and internet companies have been using aggressive or misleading sales pitches to sell their products.

John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, told CRTC commissioners the problem is severe even if cable companies won’t admit it.

“The companies are in denial. They have major sales problems,” Lawford said.

Lawford’s group, ACORN Canada (a group lobbying on behalf of low-income households) and two seniors’ organizations — CARP and the National Pensioners Foundation — told the hearing Canada needs a national sales practices code for telecommunications firms that lays out clear guidelines for what their salespeople can and can’t do.

The hard sell

The groups say there should be severe limits on door-to-door canvassers and the use of free hardware, such as phones or tablets, to lure new clients. Lawford warned commissioners that older Canadians are particularly vulnerable to door-to-door sales pitches because they may feel uncomfortable with turning away a persistent salesperson.

“When persistence becomes aggression at the door, they may even sign a contract or agree to a purchase because they are fearful, rather than interested in the product,” he said.

G​isele Bouvier, of ACORN Canada, told the hearing low-income Canadians are also at risk when it comes to high-pressure sales tactics.

“They already pay too much of their budgets for unaffordable service. They cannot afford salespeople who do not listen and sell them more than they need,” she said.

“No one can budget for being misled into a bad deal.”

In addition to a new sales code, the groups urged the CRTC to impose a 15-day ‘cooling off period’ on all consumer contracts with telecommunications firms. Lawford said that would allow customers a way out if they have second thoughts or if they feel the company was out of line or is not delivering what it promised.

“The consumer doesn’t have to give any reason,” Lawford said.

“If … somebody else comes in the household and says, ‘Oh my god, you signed that? What did you do?’ – it doesn’t matter. That helps cover a lot of these cases where there has been a very grey area, a sale that the consumer regrets.”

The groups say they would like to see Canada eventually move to a model of consumer protection at work in Australia. That country’s Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code provides a wide range of protections for phone and internet customers and lays out guidelines for companies when they deal with customers.

Earlier Tuesday, the CRTC heard from Aging Communications Technologies (ACT), a Montreal research project headed by Kim Sawchuk, a professor in the Department of Communications Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

‘Elder abuse’

Sawchuk told the hearing her group has conducted interviews with more than fifty seniors and found that about three-quarters of them complained of being pressured or misled by telephone cable and internet companies. Despite the small sample size, Sawchuk said she believes the problem is widespread.

“We’re fully confident that our findings are pointing to a very serious problem in Canada that is under-reported but which is also unacceptable,” Sawchuk said.

Anne Caines, another ACT member, went further, calling some telecommunications firms’ sales tactics abusive.

“Lying to seniors or pressuring seniors to get them to enter contracts, or to purchase services they don’t need, is a form of elder abuse,” Caines said.

She and Sawchuk urged the CRTC to impose a 60 day grace period on cable, phone and internet contracts. They also called for a ban on commission-based sales by companies and fines for firms that use aggressive or misleading sales tactics.

The CRTC is holding five days of hearings. Commissioners already have listened to a steady stream of complaints about Canada’s cable and internet providers.

Those companies will have a chance to defend themselves later in the week. Representatives of several firms, including Rogers, Bell, Telus, Videotron, will appear to make their case.

The companies have long argued aggressive or misleading sales practices are the exception and not the norm. They also contend that if consumers have any grievances about contracts or services, they can take them to individual companies, to various provincial agencies or to national bodies such as the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services, the Competition Bureau or the CRTC.


Source link

قالب وردپرس


The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla




Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

Continue Reading


PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm




Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

Continue Reading


Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover




KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

Continue Reading