Ontario Dialing Up New Consumer Protections
Law Requires Clear Contracts and Caps on Cancellation Fees
By A Correspondent
Ontario's wireless and cell phone consumers will now get clear information and fewer surprises when they enter into cell phone and wireless services contracts.
The Wireless Services Agreement Act protects wireless customers by requiring that:
- Contracts must be written in plain language
- Contracts must clearly outline which services come with the basic fee and which would result in extra charges for the consumer
- Wireless services providers must get customer consent before amending, renewing or extending a fixed-term contract
- Consumers pay less to cancel their contracts.
The act applies to new contracts, as well as existing contracts that are amended, renewed or extended as of April 1, 2014.
Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services, said, “Ontario has enshrined the rights of cell phone, smartphone and tablet users in legislation – not a code. We have responded to consumers and given them a law to ensure clarity in cell phone and wireless contracts, more choices, and transparent prices. Ontario’s consumers needed a champion, and we delivered.”
Protecting consumers is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths - its people and strategic partnerships.
- Approximately eight out of 10 Ontario families have a wireless services agreement.
- Overall complaints to the federal Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services have more than tripled over the past four years.
- A survey by OpenMedia.ca compiled the opinions and complaints of 2,800 cell phone users who called for an overhaul of the cell phone market.
- The province recently launched Consumer Protection Ontario, an awareness program that offers information on consumer rights and public safety, and encourages consumers to ask the right questions before they make a purchasing decision.
- Last month, the province launched a Consumer Protection Ontario advertising campaign.