CRTC: Breaking up with the phone company made easier

Students at Laurier Brantford will have something to look forward to besides Christmas break this December. After years of dealing with long contracts and hefty cancellation fees – Canadians could be in for a break from cellphone companies.

A new code of conduct released by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) forbids cell phone companies from charging fees for customers who want to break their contracts after two years and from charging high data-roaming fees.

Unveiled Monday, the new code will apply to all new contracts and devices beginning December 2, 2013.

“Every day, Canadians rely on wireless devices while in their homes, at their jobs, at school or travelling abroad,” CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a press release. “The wireless code will contribute to a more dynamic marketplace by making it possible for Canadians to discuss their needs with service providers at least every two years.”

In a statement from Telus, one of the top three competitors in the cellular market, the company made clear that it is already doing many of the things outlined in the new code.

Another top competitor, Bell, told The Canadian Press that their company have already been providing customers with several ways to avoid signing long contract, stating that a two-year time frame could end up limiting customers even more in their options.

Rogers also weighed in with The Canadian Press stating that its biggest concern is retrofitting its IT system in time for the December deadline presented by the CRTC.

According to Knowlton Thomas, the managing editor of Techvibes, Canadians are currently paying what is among the highest prices for wireless service in the developed world.

“A recent report found the average monthly cell phone bill in Canada topped $77 at the start of 2013, up nine dollars from $68 in 2012—an increase of 13%, or 13 times the rate of inflation.”

The new code will allow consumers to:
• Terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term.
• Cap extra data charges at $50 a month and international data roaming charges at $100 a month to prevent bill shock.
• Have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full.
• Return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service.
• Accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., two-year), and receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.

“It sucks that it won’t affect my current contract but I guess my kids won’t have to pay as much in the future, and that’s awesome,” says Laurier Brantford student Swathy Sooriya.

Cornelia Reynolds, another Laurier student, agrees. “I like it. I’m on a three-year plan with Bell and I think that it’s cool that they’re making them change their policies. Kind of sad it won’t affect my contract though – kind of bursts my whole bubble about this.”

To see the Wireless Code from the CRTC – Click here.

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