The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has unveiled a new wireless code of conduct. After a lengthy consultation process and months of work, the new wireless code is aimed to make things easier for an individual or small business. It takes effect starting on December 2nd, 2013 and it only applies to new or amended / extended contracts after that day.
There are numerous changes in the code and they are categorized under 10 different sections including Clarity, Contracts, Bill Management, and Mobile Devices. While there are a lot of changes, the highlights are: – Customers can terminate their wireless contracts after 2 years without any cancellation fees, even if they have signed a contract for a longer period of time. Many carriers have done away with the 2 year contract and force customers into a 3 year agreement. This is only happening here in Canada, so it’s great to see the CRTC step up and put an end to this.
- Carriers are now limited to a maximum of $50 charge for extra data usage above and beyond the amount defined by their plan. Long overdue in my opinion. Carriers should have been more proactive in protecting their customers from excessive bills. It’s not hard for them to notify customers are they are approaching their limit or have exceeded it.
- Carriers are now limited to a maximum of $100 charge for international data roaming a month. Another example of something that is long overdue.
- Mobile Devices are now to be unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if the customer paid in full for the device. Unlocked devices is a great way to allow customers to travel internationally without having to pay roaming fees from their Canadian carrier. With an unlocked phone they can purchase a SIM abroad and use that for the duration of their stay. The carrier still has the ability to charge for this unlocking, and the CRTC didn’t set any sort of guidelines around the price for this.
- Carriers are now required to accept returns within 15 days and specific usage limits if they are not happy with their service. Many carriers already do this, but very few people know that they can return and cancel their contract.
- Carriers are now limited to what they can charge for early cancellation fees when a customer wants to terminate contract early. These limits vary depending on a subsidized phone or not, but overall it’s good to see limits placed on this. I’ve seen some pretty crazy early cancellation fees over the years. For someone like me that has not taken a subsidized phone, it’s the lesser of $50 or 10% of my monthly bill for the remainder of my contract.
- Unlimited services will become truly unlimited. Carriers are not allowed to charge overage fees on services that are listed as “unlimited”. Further, a carrier cannot limit the usage of a “unlimited” service unless these limitations are clearly explained.
There is a lot more packed into this new wireless code. You can read it over here on the CRTC’s website. Some of the things outlined were are already implemented by some carriers. And that’s a good thing. But there is a lot more that is forcing the carriers to adjust their way of doing business, and that is a welcome change.