Could Canadian’s Get a Break on Wireless Contracts?

Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy the convenience of a cell phone? Probably not. One thing that no one enjoys is being locked into a contract with a wireless carrier that seems to pride itself on sandbagging customers with hidden fees. Canadian citizens have the support of consumer groups and others when it comes to doing something to change their wireless experiences for the better.

In fact, at the Canadian Telecom Summit on Jun. 5, 2012, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulators were encouraged consumer group executives to establish and govern a set of rules regarding contract agreements between wireless carriers and consumers. Of particular concern are the exorbitant early termination fees that consumers have to pay when they decide to end their contracts before the two-year expiration date. This allows wireless carriers to all but openly abuse customers because they know how prohibitive the early termination fees are for most, except in some places.

Labrador, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have implemented a $50 ceiling on early termination fees that gives Canadian consumers some relief and forces wireless carriers, namely Rogers Communications, Inc., Bell Mobility and Telus Corp., to work harder to hold on to their existing wireless customers. As a result, leaders in Quebec and Nova Scotia are reluctant to support a nationwide set of rules that would be overseen by the CRTC.

In Canada, wireless is an $18 billion market. According to Moody’s, Rogers, Bell and Telus control 90% of it. Smaller carriers like Mobilicity, Wind Mobile and Public Mobile have put some pressure on the big three by offering consumers easy-to-understand flat-rate plans. To remain competitive, Rogers, Bell and Telus must not only improve their customer service but also simplify their billing methods.

Questions abound, such as why can’t each province follow the lead of Quebec et al and simply put a ceiling on how much wireless carriers can charge consumers for terminating their contracts early? Even if it doesn’t solve every problem that Canadian citizens have with wireless carriers, it’s a good place to start.

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