The CRTC has ruled that Bell Canada’s practice of sending former customers "Thank You" cards violates winback rules and has ordered the company to stop the practice. Below is an edited excerpt of Telecom Decision 2006-17.  Mirko Bibic, Bell’s chief of regulatory affairs, questions the decision. "It is improper now to say ‘Thank you’ in Canada if you happen to work in the telecommunications industry and you’re an incumbent telephone company," he says. "If that is not the epitome of micromanagement I don’t know what is." According to the winback rule, ILECs are not to attempt to win back former PES and local VoIP customers in certain circumstances. The commission notes that the winback rule does not prohibit all contact with former customers.  Conversely, the mere fact that an activity does not include an express discount offer or other inducement is not determinative of whether or not the activity falls within the scope of the prohibition under the winback rule. The commission is of the view that the facts and circumstances of the particular activity in question must be examined in each case to determine whether the activity constitutes an attempt by the ILEC to win back former local exchange service customers in violation of the winback rule. The commission notes that while the text of the customer appreciation card complained of by QMI in this proceeding did not include explicit offers or inducements, the card, which was sent to all former customers and was personally addressed to each customer, invited the customer to contact Bell Canada and provided a toll-free telephone number for doing so. In addition, the card was followed up in each case by an automated survey call, in which the customer was again invited to call Bell Canada and a telephone number was provided in the following statement: "Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. Should you have any questions, please call 310-BELL." Bell Canada argued that the provision of a contact number was done simply as a courtesy in the event that the customer decided to contact Bell Canada in the future. The commission is of the view, however, that the invitation to contact Bell Canada and the provision of a telephone number were part of a winback attempt by Bell Canada, particularly if customers who transfer to an ILEC competitor call the ILEC to request information on its local exchange services, it is not a violation of the winback rule for the ILEC sales representative to provide them with such information and to transfer their service back to the ILEC, if they so request. As for the automated survey, the commission further notes that a survey is normally sent to a sample of customers, as Bell Canada has indicated was done with its market survey. The fact that the follow-up survey by way of automated calls was made to all former customers provides further indication, in the commission’s view, that the follow-up survey was part of a strategy on Bell Canada’s part to attempt to win back former customers. In light of the particular facts and circumstances discussed above, the commission finds that the combination of the customer appreciation card and the follow-up survey, where both the card and the survey included a direct invitation to all former customers to contact Bell Canada and provided a contact telephone number, constituted an attempt by Bell Canada to win back former local exchange service customers in violation of the winback rule.