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B.C. government appoints MLA to work with Ottawa on reducing cellphone bills

MLA Bob D'Eith has been appointed to push Federal Government for better cellphone rates.
MLA Bob D'Eith has been appointed to push Federal Government for better cellphone rates. Richard Zussman/Global News

The B.C. government has found a vast majority of people don’t find cellphone contracts easy to understand.

The finding was part of a public consultation conducted by the province to look into ways to provide greater transparency around cellphone bills.

The report is based on 15,549 survey responses received between May 29 and July 5, 2019.

To address the issue, Premier John Horgan has appointed Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith to push the federal government for more affordable and transparent cellphone options.

“During the federal election campaign, most major parties made commitments to improve the quality and affordability of cellphone services in Canada,” Horgan said.

“Now is the time to engage with federal partners, build consensus and find solutions that will improve the lives of British Columbians and all Canadians.”

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READ MORE: British Columbia asking for public’s thoughts on cellphone bills

The B.C. government made a promise in February’s Throne Speech to address cellphone bill transparency. But the province is now deferring to the federal government for tangible action.

Trudeau promised during the election campaign to provide Canadians more relief from their cellphone bills, and the Liberals committed to cutting cellphone bills by 25 per cent.

The prime minister said he would encourage cellphone companies to reduce their bills by that amount over the next two years, and if they are unable to meet that target, the Liberals would introduce further competition.

British Columbians who filed out the survey expressed frustration, confusion and unhappiness with cellphone contracts and billing in B.C.

WATCH: Federal Election 2019: Campaign promises on cell phone bills and internet plans

Federal Election 2019: Campaign promises on cell phone bills and internet plans
Federal Election 2019: Campaign promises on cell phone bills and internet plans

“We’re fighting for the many seniors and families telling us first-hand they’re vulnerable to aggressive sales tactics and hidden fees,” D’Eith said.

“British Columbians have been loud and clear that they want easy-to-understand contracts, transparent monthly bills and more affordable plans.”

According to the report’s findings, only two-in-ten respondents agreed their cellphone contract was easy to understand.

The main issues with contracts were inadequate explanation of all potential charges, excessive contract length and hard-to-understand terms and conditions.

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Three-in-ten respondents said they have not had an issue with their cellphone contract or monthly bill.

The most common issues included an unexpected charge for usage (especially a data overage charge), the cost of a plan changing without knowledge or consent and an unexpected service charge (especially fees to change plan or to connect/reconnect).

Only six per cent of respondents agreed the cost of their cellphone service is reasonable and only nine per cent agreed they get good value for their cellphone service.