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Canadians can cancel their wireless contracts after two years under new CRTC wireless code

The code will apply to new contracts for cellphones and other personal mobile devices starting on December 2, 2013.

The wireless code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared with the CRTC, which included the length of wireless contracts, cancellation fees, roaming charges and other industry practices. Among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able 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/month and international data roaming charges at $100/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., 2-year), and
• receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.

The wireless code will apply to all service providers in Canada. In particular, the code will apply in full to postpaid services (where customers pay a monthly bill after using their services), and where applicable to pre-paid wireless services.

For more information about the wireless code, please visit www.crtc.gc.ca/wirelesscode.

Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-271

Full Press Release.

Your Rights as a Wireless Consumer contains the following additional info:

Do you pay a bill after you use your wireless service? If so, you use postpaid services, and you have the right
  • to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
  • to receive a Critical Information Summary, which explains your contract in under two pages
  • to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
  • to pay no extra charges for a service described as “unlimited”
  • to refuse a change to the key terms and conditions of your contract, including the services in your contract, the price for those services, and the duration of your contract
Do you pay before you use your wireless service? If so, you use prepaid services, and you have the right
  • to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
  • to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
  • to a minimum seven-day grace period in order to “top up” your prepaid card account and retain your balance
 

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Well, it's a step in the right direction.

The question now is... is it enough?

Also, will this mean that monthly rates will go up to "compensate" the providers on their lost gouging revenues from the 2 year contracts and maximum data and roaming caps?
 

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The rules mention "cancellation fee". Does that included the balance of the contract? Is that considered as part of the fee or are they really talking about a separate fee that carriers love to charge?
 

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Concerning 2 year contracts:

There are still 3 year contracts. If you cancel after 2 years you will be charged the remaining balance of your phone subsidy for year 3.

So no more cancellation fees. This is nothing new as Quebec had implemented this a couple of years ago and Bell just did this this February.

Only 2 companies that still charge a cancellation fee is Rogers and Telus.

Now for the other charges, Companies will lose alot.No more gouging on extra data.
 

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cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
So is this translating to "all you can eat" internationally for $100? Or the service just stops for you once you reach $100.
 

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There are still 3 year contracts. If you cancel after 2 years you will be charged the remaining balance of your phone subsidy for year 3.
I haven't seen the actual code, but from what I understand the balance of devices must be paid over the first two years. Meaning that year three is effectively meaningless. Presumably this applies to tabs too.

This will result in a shakeup of the market, I'm just not sure how yet. We might see higher monthly rates, or we might see higher up front hardware prices. It wouldn't surprise me if one of the flankers experimented with separating device costs from plans, like T-Mobile has done.
 

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  • have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
Well at first that seems like a game changer but then when you read the actual code, they state in there "at the rate specified by the service provider". So they can just inflate that rate to $500 effectively making this clause useless.

We really should have the device purchases separate from the service provider just like you home PC and home internet service is.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
To answer a couple of questions:

The Wireless Code
When a subsidized device is provided as part of the contract
a) for fixed-term contracts: The early cancellation fee must not exceed the value of the device subsidy. The early cancellation fee must be reduced by an equal amount each month, for the lesser of 24 months or the total number of months in the contract term, such that the early cancellation fee is reduced to $0 by the end of the period.
...the Commission requires WSPs to suspend national and international data roaming charges once they reach $100 within a single monthly billing cycle, unless the customer explicitly and knowingly consents to pay additional charges.

137. The Commission also requires WSPs to suspend data overage charges once they reach $50 within a single billing cycle, unless the customer explicitly and knowingly agrees to pay additional charges.
In other words, once you reach the cap your roaming privileges will be cut off for the billing month.
 

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^ That's just with respect to the cancellation fee - not the unlocking fee which is just says that they must inform the customer of. (In B-1-iv-e-iii)

I still don't see why they can't just collude to make that fee $500 and hence make the unlocking clause effectively disappear.
 

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Most of them already unlock for around $50. Why change that now? It's only really iPhones that even need carrier unlocks. Most devices can get the codes elsewhere for much cheaper anyway.

They are also mandated to cancel as soon as customers request it. No more 30 days notice.
 

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I still don't see why they can't just collude to make that fee $500 and hence make the unlocking clause effectively disappear.
I suppose this is technically possible, but charging an astronomical fee for unlocking would be so blatantly obvious to everyone the amount of bad publicity this would generate alone is not worth it.

Before this ruling, they could just refuse to unlock. Now, they can't. And although we often look at the cell phone market as an oligopoly, at least one or two of the companies would take the high moral ground and shy away from such a practice, making it even worse for those that chose to play smart ass.
 

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Also, will this mean that monthly rates will go up to "compensate" the providers on their lost gouging revenues from the 2 year contracts and maximum data and roaming caps
I personally don't think this will have an effect on monthly rates. Again, trends and competition is such that it would hard to bump up prices. Also, having two-year contracts means you have a lot more customers shopping around for new contracts at any given time. This is double incentive: on the one hand, keep your customers happy to they stay with you. On the other hand, make your plans attractive to those looking for a new provider.

The big difference we will see will be on the device subsidy side of things. It's unlikely we will see a brand new smartphone offered at $99 or $159 on a two-year term. Customers will have to give closer consideration to disbursing more up front for the device, or paying more per month to pay it off (this where the monthly bill could go up).
 

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The difference is that now it's at end-of-contract, the new system would be after 90-days.
I'm with Rogers and I've been aware for a few months that they started unlocking for $50 after 90 days ahead of this ruling.

For most people, it doesn't really matter that much when they are paying off their device monthly on a three-year term anyway. The cancellation fees might be eliminated, but most people won't want to fork out $300 to take an iPhone 5 from Rogers to Bell when they find out that's how much they owe on the device 18 months into a three-year contract. This is where most people will remain prisoners to their providers.
 

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The big difference we will see will be on the device subsidy side of things.
There should be mandatory separation of subsidy and service costs on the bill. The bill should also state when the subsidy has been paid and removed when paid in full. As it is, people get the subsidy included rate then keep on paying it long after the phone has been paid for.
 

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New CRTC Rules in Place

http://www.thestar.com/business/2013/06/03/canadians_can_cancel_their_wireless_contracts_after_two_years_under_new_crtc_code_of_conduct.html

The CRTC said that, among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able to:
  • Terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
  • 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 and receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.
And I think this is the key..

“So, in effect, it’s equivalent to those asking for a ban of three-year contracts without us actually banning three-year contracts, because what we’re saying is the contract’s amortization period can only be for a maximum period of 24 months.”
So the phone is paid off by 24 months. It means we'll pay more up front for the latest and greatest phones. But that's what we want in an age where phones are old after a couple of years.
 

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There should be mandatory separation of subsidy and service costs on the bill. The bill should also state when the subsidy has been paid and removed when paid in full. As it is, people get the subsidy included rate then keep on paying it long after the phone has been paid for.
That's the best suggestion! They should have to specifically disclose the subsidy amount and not be allowed to bundle it in the service rate.
 

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i dont know if i quite get this. after my device is paid off after 24 mo. my bill should go down by whatever the monthly subsidy amount is (15 or 20 $) ??? is this close?
so if i buy a GS4 on a new 2 year term for $200 and lets say $20/mo is taken off my "tab" until amortization. that s 680 bucks and call it even. then my bill should reduce by 20 dollars? since the subsidy is paid off?
sounds great but yeah right
there is a byod deal where you receive 10% off which is similar
 

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Have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
Paid in full phones should not be locked at all. Locks should only be allowed on subsidized phones. I don't have a problem with locks on phones while they're still on subsidy.
 
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