5 questions about the CRTC’s new wireless code

TORONTO – If you’re one of many Canadians with a horror story about trying to get out of a wireless contract, or left gasping for air after receiving a massive cellphone bill containing unexpected charges, you may find relief in new rules released on Monday.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) unveiled a new wireless code of conduct that will help consumers understand their basic rights and puts new mandatory requirements on wireless providers.

The code is a result of public consultations the CRTC held with consumers across Canada, many who said they needed more clarity when it comes to cellphone contracts.

With that in mind, answers five questions about the CRTC’s new wireless code.

1)      Can I end my contract early?

You sure can. One of the main highlights from the code is that consumers can cancel their cellphone contract after a maximum of two years, with no additional cancellation fees – even if they’ve signed up for longer terms.

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2)      I signed a three year contract two years ago – can I get out of it now without a penalty?

No. The code of conduct applies only take effect for new contracts starting on Dec. 2, 2013.

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3)      Will I still get dinged for roaming charges when I travel?

You will, but there will be a cap to avoid sticker shock on your cellphone bill after traveling. Domestic data roaming charges will be capped at $50 per month. International data roaming charges will be capped at $100 per month. If consumers want to use data roaming after the limit has been reached, they would have to authorize the carrier to do so.

4)      Can I get my phone unlocked?

Yes. Phones can be unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if the phone was paid for in full. The wireless code states the phone must be unlocked “at the rate specified by the service provider” for both subsidized and unsubsidized devices.

5)      Can I return my new phone if I don’t like it?

Consumers can return their phone at no cost within 15 days – and specific usage limits – if they’re unhappy with their wireless service. If you go over the usage limits set out in your trial period you could face penalty. Service providers must extend the trial period to 30 days for people with disabilities.

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6)      Bonus question: What happens if I lose my phone, or if someone steals it?

You must notify your service provider that your phone has been lost or stolen. They will be obligated to immediately suspend your service at no charge. Customers will have to pay for all charges incurred before they notified their provider about the missing phone. Customers will also have to pay either the minimum monthly charge if they continue with their contract or pay the applilcable early cancellation fee if the consumer cancels their contract. If you get your phone back, notify your provider. They are obligated to restore your service with no extra charge.

The CRTC said all wireless providers must comply with the code. If customers believe their provider is not following the code they should first try and resolve the issue with their service provider. Complaints should then be taken to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.

For the full description of the code, visit the CRTC’s website.

Watch the video below: CRTC official believes new wireless code will empower consumers

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