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This document is released by the CRTC and is official.


A Few Facts About Cable Billing
Basics
The CRTC has established basic policies concerning the billing practices of cable companies, while encouraging self-regulation where the industry can and should take action.

CRTC Billing Policy
Cable companies:

must continue to provide basic service, as long as a customer pays the basic monthly fee one month in advance;
can not insist on more than one month's advance payment. By mutual consent, the company and the customer can make other arrangements.
are not obliged to send customers a bill every month. It is the customer's responsibility to ensure that the account is paid on time.
inform customers that they can pay the basic monthly fee without using post-dated cheques, a pre-authorized cheque plan or annual pre-payment.
must provide basic cable service once they've been paid for installation or reconnection along with one month's basic service; unless the customer has an overdue debt with the cable company for the provision of basic service.

Industry Standards
The cable television industry established a Code of Customer Service Standards to address the following:

billing (including clarity with respect to the marketing of discretionary services);
provision of high quality and reliable services;
variety and choice in programming services;
prompt and courteous service.
The Cable Television Standards Council administers the code and deals with complaints against member cable companies. The CRTC has accepted the code and agreed to refer complaints about customer service to the Council for resolution.

Disconnection
Cable companies can disconnect subscribers who are late in paying for basic cable service. A 30-day grace period is standard for most companies.

This is an administrative matter and does not involve the CRTC. Complaints against member companies of the Cable Television Standards Council (CTSC) are generally referred to the CTSC for resolution.

Extra Outlets
Each cable outlet in a household allows residents to watch different channels on separate television sets or listen to television and radio services all at the same time. This is why cable companies are allowed to charge the basic monthly fee for each cable outlet. They generally charge a much lower monthly fee.

When customers use a splitter to create an additional outlet, cable companies can charge for that outlet.

Extra outlets for cable service are often compared to extra outlets for telephone service, but they're not the same. Telephone subscribers are charged for one basic phone line, regardless of the number of telephones in the household. All of the outlets are tied to one line and customers cannot place two outgoing calls at the same time. Separate phone lines would be required to make two separate calls and additional charges for a second phone line would apply.

Payment in Advance
This is a long-standing industry practice that helps to reduce the impact of delinquent accounts and related revenue losses.

Prepaid Billing
Rate-regulated cable companies are obliged to send their customers a written notice of any increase they propose to their monthly fee for basic cable service.
Unless the CRTC disallows the increase totally or in part, the cable company can implement the increase on the date indicated on its advance notice to its customers.
Where customers choose to pay on a bi-monthly, quarterly or annual basis rather than monthly, cable companies may bill customers the amount of the rate increase that occurred during the prepaid period.
Contracts with a cable company may specify that customers are protected against certain or all increases.
Customers should check with their cable companies for details.
Special Rates
The CRTC regulates the maximum monthly fee that rate-regulated cable companies can charge their customers for basic cable service.
Cable companies will sometimes charge less than the maximum fee for seniors and others on fixed incomes.
Consumers should check with their cable companies to see if special arrangements can be made.
Rate Deregulation
Read Competition and the Cost of Cable for more information.

Date Modified: 2002-03-25