OpenMedia.ca welcomes new CRTC Code of Conduct reining in 3 year contracts as positive step forward for cell phone customers
Wireless carriers will also need to provide a contract that is easy to read and understand, along with an enforceable Critical Information Statement, however, they will not be obligated to let customers use these statements to compare offerings from competitors, as other regulators have done. The Code will be enforced by the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS), a complaints resolution body with limited enforcement powers. The new rules are effective on December 2 this year.
A number of important issues remain unaddressed in the new Code. The critical information summary is not mandated to be a comparison tool, and will only need to be provided to customers after completion of a sale. The cost customers will have to shoulder to unlock their phones is not specified in the code. There are also no caps for additional voice or texting charges under the Code – only for data. There is also concern that the $5,000.00 penalty for breaking the rules will not be a sufficient deterrent.
“This new Code of Conduct is further evidence that the CRTC has started to listen to the concerns of Canadians,” says OpenMedia.ca Communications Manager Lindsey Pinto, who spoke at the CRTC hearings on behalf of Canadians. “Under the new Code, Big Telecom will find it more difficult to abuse cell phone users through restrictive contracts, price-gouging, and disrespectful customer service.”
“This is a positive start, but some of these rules will need to be built upon going forward. What is most important now is that Industry Canada do its part to fix our broken cell phone market. Canadians will never get the choice and affordability we deserve when just three companies control up to 94 percent of the market. At minimum the government should be enforcing its own rules, and stopping the Big Three from swallowing up assets intended for new more affordable telecom services for Canadians and businesses”
Canadians currently pay among the highest prices for wireless service in the industrialized world. A recent report found the average monthly cell phone bill in Canada topped $77 at the start of 2013, up nine dollars from $68 in 2012– an increase of 13%, or 13 times the rate of inflation.
Canadians can join with citizens across the counry to speak up for greater choice and affordability in our mobile market by joining the over 56,000 citizens who have signed the petition at http://DemandChoice.ca
OpenMedia.ca is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.
About the Demand Choice campaign
Early in 2012 OpenMedia.ca launched a campaign decrying the price-gouging poor customer service and lack of choice in the cell phone market at http://StopTheSqueeze.ca, and the CRTC responded by inviting comments on whether the Commission should development national rules for wireless service in Canada. OpenMedia.ca mobilized Canadians to write in and request that the CRTC do just that, noting that any rules should build upon (not erode) frameworks in the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, as well as on the framework proposed in Private Members Bill 133 in Ontario.
On October 11, 2012 the CRTC announced it would hold a public consultation on national rules for wireless services. It was in response to this that the campaign at http://CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca was launched, in order to give citizens an easy way to make the CRTC aware of the real human consequences of our broken cell phone market.
Communications Coordinator, OpenMedia.ca