5 things you should know about CRTC’s new cellphone contract rules

TORONTO — New CRTC cellphone contract regulations kick in on Wednesday, bringing good news for Canadian consumers — especially those locked into three-year wireless agreements.

When CRTC’s new wireless code actually went into effect in late 2013, its impact only applied to new contracts. As of June 3, the terms expand to all agreements.

Here are five things you should know about CRTC’s new national wireless code:

1. No more cancellation fees after two years

“Basically the message is: you’re free to go tomorrow at no charge if you signed up [for a three-year contract] before June 3, 2013,” explained John Lawford with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
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Those who signed up for a three-year contract after June 3 but before Dec. 2 would still incur a penalty if they break their contract. But that penalty “would be a small amount,” Lawford added.

You can get a better idea of your potential cancellation fees on the CRTC’s site.

2. Millions will be affected by the changes

According to Scotia Capital analyst Jeff Fan, between 2.2 million and four million subscribers of Rogers, Bell and Telus, which have the overwhelming majority of cellphone customers, were estimated to still be on three-year contracts at the end of last year.

As of Wednesday, those customers will all effectively be “free agents.” And when combined with the customers whose contracts are already naturally ending in June, that will tip the scales of power to benefit the consumer.

READ MORE: What’s the best, cheapest Canadian cellphone plan out there?

3. Expect more deals

Josh Tabish of the OpenMedia consumer advocacy group said there is going to be a lot of opportunity for savings if you’re in a position to re-enter the market.

“Our community has been telling us that cellphone providers are phoning people all the time with retention offers, discounted devices, and (lower) introductory price plans are going to start cropping up all over the place as they try to attract customers switching from one carrier to another,” he said.

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So it’s a huge win for Canadians who have been trapped in a contract, according to Tabish, and “an opportunity for millions of Canadians to change providers and negotiate a better deal.”

“Because there are all these offers to catch these people who are dropping off three-year contracts you might want to switch and pay out your contract, even if it’s not that old, because there are all these great deals on the market – like more data,” added Lawford.

“If you have a need for more data, now’s a good time to, even if you don’t dump your carrier, call them and threaten to.”

READ MORE: Tools to help you pick the best Canadian cellphone plan

Lawford said it should say on your bill how much it would cost you to get out of your contract.

4. Reduced roaming charges

While this part of CRTC’s new wireless code is already in place, it’s still more good news for consumers. Extra data charges and international data roaming charges are now capped to prevent bill shock (so you don’t have to fear getting a $20,000 data roaming bill).

Last month, in what appeared to be a breakthrough for demanding more competition for wireless service providers, the CRTC announced it will regulate roaming rates what the big three companies — Bell, Rogers and Telus — charge the smaller companies with Canada.

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WATCH: For years, Canadians have been paying among the highest cellphone rates among the developed world. Here’s the latest in the consumers’ fight for more competition.

5.Where to go to complain

If you’re still confused or feel your cellphone company wants to charge you for something that goes against the new wireless code, you’re encouraged to file a complaint with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS).

READ MORE: 5 questions about the CRTC’s new wireless code

WATCH: See how far our cellphone technology has come since being introduced in the 80s. This report aired on August 1, 1984. 

With files from The Canadian Press


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