Ontario Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best announced the introduction of the bill in the Ontario Legislature that promises to force providers to simplify costs of wireless services and be more “upfront” with users. Ontario is following Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland in developing the legislation.
If voted into law, the Wireless Service Agreement would:
• Cap cancellation fees at $50.
• Require wireless service agreements to be written in plain language and to spell out exactly what services the client will be charged for.
• Force cell phone companies to acquire written consent of the client before extending, renewing or amending fixed-term contracts.
• Prohibit providers from charging for services while a device under warranty is being repaired.
• Make it illegal for a wireless provider to advertise one price but charge a much higher “all-inclusive” price.
Ninety per cent of the Canadian mobile market is controlled by Rogers, Bell and Telus. Lately, the entrance of new smaller mobile operators like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile has forced the three incumbents to make changes to their contract plans, lower fees and introduce offers on options like device upgrades. Despite these changes, critics maintain that not enough is done to improve consumers’ understanding of mobile service conditions.
The Ontario government said the proposed legislation will take effect six months after being passed, meaning the changes could be expected by early fall. It would also cover existing agreements that are amended, renewed or extended after that date.