Ontario has introduced increased protections for consumers when it comes to cell phone contracts. The Wireless Services Agreement Act, which came into effect last week, aims to prevent consumers from getting stuck in a manipulative or unfair cell phone contract.
Though some of the new guidelines mimic regulations recently put in place under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission’s Wireless Code of Conduct, elected officials hope it will go one step further to ensure wireless customers get clear information and fewer surprises upon entering into a contract.
The act includes a provision that customers who cancel fixed-term contracts after two years cannot be charged more than a $50 penalty, though they will still be responsible for paying off any existing device subsidies. Fines for violating the act range from $50,000 to $250,000.
“Ontario has enshrined the rights of cellphone, smartphone and tablet users in legislation – not a code,” Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles was quoted as saying.
Other guidelines include:
– Contracts must be written in plain language
– Contracts must clearly outline which services come with the basic fee and which would result in extra charges for the consumer
– Wireless services providers must get customer consent before amending, renewing or extending a fixed-term contract
The act – which was originally introduced by MPP David Orazietti – took effect April 1, and applies to all new contracts, and those that were renewed, amended or extended as of that date.
“Ontario consumers deserve easy-to-understand cell phone contracts,” Orazietti said, in a press release. “Boosting consumer confidence and protecting people’s hard earned dollars have huge economic benefits.”
*Source: Toronto Star