NEW, MORE FAIR CELLPHONE CONTRACT RULES WILL PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM EXCESSIVE CANCELLATION FEES, UNILATERAL CONTRACT CHANGES: MINISTER
– – – Companies Now Required to Disclose, Explain All Charges, Fees, Terms
A new law taking effect Sept. 15 will ensure families are better equipped to make informed decisions before, during and after signing a cellphone contract, Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau announced today.
“Today, many families depend on cellphones. This new legislation will help Manitobans get the cellphone 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 cellphone advertisements;
restricts automatic cellphone contract renewals; and
increases consumer protection for cellphone contracts not signed in person including contracts made over the Internet.
“Manitoba now has some of the best consumer protection laws in Canada for cellphone contracts. These new rules will make it even easier to understand the costs and terms of cellphone contracts,” said Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, on behalf of Rondeau at an event today.
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 cellphone 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 cellphone 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/index.html.