New cell phone contract will protect consumers from excessive fees
A new law taking effect Sept. 15 will ensure families are better equipped to make informed decisions before, during and after signing a cell phone contract. This announcement was made by Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau.
“Today, many families depend on cell phones. This new legislation will help Manitobans get the cell phone contract that is right for their family by ensuring service providers give them the information they need to make informed decisions,” Rondeau said.
The new legislation:
• requires companies to provide a copy of the contract to consumers before the contract begins;
• requires companies to fully disclose and explain all charges, fees and terms;
• restricts companies from making unilateral changes to contract terms;
• allows consumers to cancel contracts at any time for a reasonable cancellation fee;
• requires the minimum monthly cost to be included in cell phone advertisements;
• restricts automatic cell phone contract renewals; and
• increases consumer protection for cell phone contracts not signed in person including contracts made over the Internet.
“Manitoba now has some of the best consumer protection laws in Canada for cell phone contracts. These new rules will make it even easier to understand the costs and terms of cell phone contracts,” said Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, on behalf of Rondeau at an event.
Companies will still be allowed to offer contracts that are three years or longer, and charge fees to unlock a cell phone or provide paper bills. However, the charges, fees and terms of these services now must be clearly disclosed in the cell phone contract.
The Consumer Protection Office will be monitoring industry practices to ensure compliance with the new legislation. Businesses that do not comply may be issued administrative penalties of up to $1,000 for the first offence, $3,000 for the second offence and $5,000 for all subsequent offences.
Fair and clear cell phone contracts are part of Manitoba’s five-year plan for stronger protection for consumers, Irvin-Ross said. More information on the plan is available at www.gov.mb.ca/cca/cpo.