Liberal MPP proposes bill to stop “unfair practices” by wireless carriers

Kate O'Brien

November 17, 2010 10:27 am


Ontario Liberal MPP David Orazietti has introduced a private member’s bill that’s aiming to stop “unfair practices” by wireless carriers. The proposed bill will reduce cancellation fees, make contracts easier to understand, remove prepaid phone cards expiry dates… but most importantly force carriers to unlock devices when they’re paid for.

Orazietti said “There are ongoing challenges with respect to transparency and regulations in this industry, and we want to see changes to that and greater protection for consumers. This is a pocketbook issue for consumers…When a piece of equipment is paid for, or a service contract is completed, we would expect that the service providers provide the information to allow the device to be unlocked”.

Orazietti now joins NDP MP Bruce Hyer an his private members’ Bill C-560. Hyer recently introduced the “Cellphone Freedom Act” that has a single focus of carriers proving unlocked cellphones.

Source: Toronto Star

  • raymond

    It is about time!!!!

    • FrankP

      Agreed. It’s too bad that it will take a LOT of TIME for something like this to pass – if it ever does. Do you think Rogers/Bell/Telus haven’t tried to influence these activities in their favour?

  • Tom

    Stopping “unfair practices” by the incumbent carriers would be great, and most of the steps mentioned would be great.

    On the other hand, I wonder what they mean by ‘reducing cancellation fees’? If I buy a $600 phone for $100 on contract and then want to break my contract then I should have to pay a significant penalty.

    Some people seem to think they should be able to walk away from such contracts with out much penalty. If that is allowed then the rest of us will have to pay more.

    In the same vein, if I buy my phone on contract, and I have a good history so they know that I’m going to fulfill my contract or pay my cancellation fee, then they should unlock my phone right away. They know that ultimately I will pay the full value of the phone so I should be able to do what I want with it right away.

    • MER1978

      I paid Rogers $140 for a Samsung Gravity.

      $200 (reg price) – $95 (subsidy) + $35 (hardware upgrade fee).

      In exchange for a $60 subsidy I signed a 3 year contract.

      A year and a half later I decided I wanted a smartphone like everyone else… so I called Rogers to ask them what it would cost to cancel my plan.

      $20 per month to a max of $400 they said… so $360… and all I got out of it was a $60 subsidy.

      I would hope this is the sort of thing they’re talking about with this new bill.

  • Reggie Noble

    I hope that they pass this bill ASAP. Cancellation fees are too high. I have a feeling that if the government passes the bill, the price of subsidized phones will increase dramatically.

    • Pascal

      Well we have a similar bill in Québec and the subsidized prices are still the same. If you cancel you contract in quebec you pay what’s left between the price of the phone and the subsidize price.

    • ken

      wait a week……..

  • Rene

    I find this to be a minor step in the right direction, but personally, I’d rather see our Gov’t officials do something about the price gouging at the gas pumps instead. Paying $1.10/L is ridiculous! If our MP’s wanna b***h about “unfair business practices”, start with the companies that make billions of dollars per quarter and price fix! (Not saying the cell carriers don’t need a kick in the pants, though).

    • ken

      Buddy, it is the governemtn gauging us, not the gas companies. They make only several cents profit on each liter. They make so much because we use so much. However on a $1.00 per liter gas buy in Ontario we have 37 cents in taxes. Go to the governemt, not the gas companies. For 37 cents a liter I should be driving on gold plated road with my goverment issued bmw

  • Herry69

    stop your effing yapping about it and DO something about it you lazy pig !

  • JAWG

    We’re talking about Provincial Liberals here approaching an election…even if the bill passes it will eventually be worthless.Federal changes are far more important and without restricting corrupt foreign ownership in Canada we are only destroying our industry further by not allowing genuine companies to grow.

    I still agree with Tom’s first part,you can’t expect to buy an expensive Android cheap without paying a hefty penalty for breaking the contract soon after just to use the phone with another provider and if you do once the CF is paid then the company should unlock it immediately…in Sweden supposedly now they are trying a new plan where if you get the phone cheap if you cancel early you pay the difference of what the phone was worth at signing and that is technically your CF.I was told this by someone who was visiting Canada and honestly to me if it’s true sounds like a great idea since we’re only talking about high priced units.

    • KV

      Jawg,

      A rather sensible comment. A nice surprise ;P

      In regards to the whole ECF thing: Why do we go on contract for them to provide us a service? Do you need to go on a contract for a plumber to come out and unplug your toilet three times a year? Do you need to go on contract to get an accountant to review your books? No you don’t. Cell service isn’t any different.

      Phone subsidies are not a subsidy they are built into the price of you cell phone service. Rogers does not lose several hundred dollars by signing you into a three year contract and providing you a subsidised phone. A part of what you pay each month in your contract goes back to paying off the subsiy for your phone and everybody else’s phone too. Rogers make a killing on it trust me.

      The real ripoff here is that they expect people who have bought their phones outright to pay for everybody else’s subsidised phones as well by paying the same contract price for service.

      If we want real fairness in our system we should be asking for total disclosure on the costs associated with contract prices. i.e. how much of the contract monthly price goes to paying off subsidisation costs.

  • Meshach David

    Finally someone I can vote for

  • Lance W

    Someone give this man a bj.

  • Sam

    It’s nice to see that our fellow Ontarian brothers want to get a law similar to our bill 60 in Québec. Well, Ontarians: don’t be feared by the big 3: they will tell you that you could get less gift at the beginning of the contract or even higher phones prices but after 5 months of bill 60 here we always get more promotions than the rest of Canada including accesories, better plans and even better customer service. And our phones arent expensier than the ROC. I say that Ontarians should support this project law ASAP!

    Long live to phone freedom in Canada!

  • Terry

    It won’t pass. If you think Quebec is corrupt, you don’t know many Ontario mpps. lol

    The cancellation fee for a contract with a phone shouldn’t be higher then the cost savings when it was bought. There should be no inflated value or a static value. Just flat out, the cost of the phone.
    Course the problem is, if you cancel 1 year in your plan or 1 month before your plan ends, what determines the cost you have to pay.
    I also think phone contracts shouldn’t be longer than 3 years. 2 years MAX

    I think the best way to FORCE companies to do it would be, for example.
    The phone costs 600 but a 2 year contract reduces it to 100. That’s 500 off. So the contract should state that if you cancel early you have to pay up to the 500 back, based on this equation

    (savings/months of contract)*months left on contract = ECF
    So say I cancel 12 months in.

    So 500/24*12=250 plux tax obviously.

    It’s fair for both the company and the consumer. So obviously it won’t pass. lol

    As for being transparent, why they aren’t force to tally the full cost of the monthly plan after taxes, hidden fees and what not on their marketing already is beyond me.
    It’s like every other industry already went through this but wireless is apparently not affected. Their $15 a month plans should’ve have always stated the actual cost with hidden fees.

    And the fact that contract regulation is a provincial issue and not federal is just stupid.

  • Jason

    This is nice and all, but any chance we can get rid of three contracts and have two years as the max? I think it’s a rip off we’re paying the same amount for three contracts as they do in US for two year contracts.

  • Rob S.

    Half way through a 3 year contract with Bell Mobility.

    Blackberry Smart Phone was stolen last 2 weeks ago and they want $600 to replace and $50 to reactivate. Bell Mobility now offers insurance for Smart Phone, but did not 1.5 years ago. Only Corporate Stores offers Insurance. Not all Bell Mobility Stores are Corporate. To Cancel contract is over $400. Big Rip Off and we Need Consumer Protection.

    3 year term, 2 year term or no term – You are pressured for longer term as phone price is reduced significantly.

    Case In Point:
    Marriage Lasts 3 Years – 50% Assets
    Marriage Lasts 2 Years – 20% Assets
    Marriage Lasts 1 Year – 0% Assets
    Is the Above Scenerio Allowed: NO; So why are we allowing Bell Mobility and other Carriers to take Advantage of Us?
    Is Bell Mobility, Telus, Virgin, Rogers BBB Registered? NO!

    • sookster54

      The phone price (sometimes free) is why people sign up for 3 years, the drawback is you really don’t gain any benefits being a 3 year contract customer compared to a month-to-month customer, only difference is the carrier is saying “mwahahaha we own you now!” when you sign that 3 year, they get your monies no matter how you get out of it.

  • sookster54

    A recent census showed we pay the most for cell service and fees, I think we get less when we pay for more compared to others in the US and UK, the customer service and offered plans are a frigging joke, at least with Telus.

    • sookster54

      Oh and I would like to see 2 years maximum contract plans.

  • boink

    if he wanted to do something that would be fair for ontario consumers, where was he in stopping/protesting the HST?

    there is too much fluff in this, not enough actual changes. sounds like BS speak to ensure re-election.

  • MXM4K

    I like the idea behind the bill. However I’ve said this before.

    Nobody is forcing you to sign contracts! If you want the latest and greatest devices all the time, buy them at full price, and sell them when you’re done.

    I myself did sign a 3 year deal because a) The discount on the HTC Desire was very worthwhile, and b) The rate plan is fantastic for my needs over the next several years. I agreed to the terms of the contract, and read it in full before signing. If I didn’t like the terms, I wouldn’t have signed the damn thing.

  • tbr

    If they really want to make a difference they should make it unlawful to have contracts period.

    When you sign a contract you are giving them the OK to screw you.

  • Moe

    In Finland (home of Nokia) cell phone subsidies are illegal and they have awesome cell phone rates and great phones on that market. We have RIM, we only have to get the rest done right.

  • Rocco StiffReddi

    There is simply too much money to be made, so the idea of this bill is just for show. I have a far better idea.. draft a bill that says if a politician makes a promise it must be seen through. But lets be honest here folks. YOU can not dictate to a business what prices they can charge. Cellular is a business. Had the government adopted the European model and owned the spectrum and allowed it to be shared we would have the same rates as out EU brothers.

  • DaRazorback

    @sookster54

    You know I have lived in the states most of my life and I don’t understand your comment. You get a phone for three years so you can get it free, huh? I think your losing site of things. It is common practice in the states, we never sign more than a two year contract and you can get name brand smart phones for free too.

  • ken

    The reason the phones are locked is to ensure service reliability. Someone gets a phone from overseas with untested added software etc… it can upset the network and cause outages. I have seen issues that cause clients phones to not work properly on a network and iis the unlocked phone, not the provider. The big 3 would rather you use a phone on a month to month as it only takes them a few months to actually start making something, where as it takes a year and a half with an iPhone. These politicians have no clue.

    • Regulator

      Phones are locked so they can try to force you to stay on the network. I have used MANY non-provider unlocked phones and never had problems. Even after I flashed the phones with unofficial OS’s.

  • runfaster91

    Does anyone know when parliment will vote on this bill?

  • Fred

    In Ontario legislation is in effect that no longer allows
    companies to put time limits on gift cards purchased..After purchasing a phone at full price and buying time at regular
    price, they still cancel the unused $ amount after a specific period of time…if I have used $20.00 of a pre-
    purchased $100.00, how come they can steal the $80.00 and
    e mail the following day how much they miss you…We need
    protection from all thieves and this legislation is a good
    step in the right direction…thank you David.

  • Luke

    good for him!! Especially for getting rid of prepaid expiry dats, like speakout wireless (7-11).

  • Keegan

    Gotta love the liberals!! =)

  • GMan

    I understand that people want lower fees. What I don’t understand, however, is how people are SURPRISED when they are charged what they’re supposed to be charged.

    Yeah I wish I had more minutes with my plan. Or additional minutes cost less. But when I use more minutes than my plan allows, I KNOW I’ll be paying for the additional minutes.

    Yeah I wish I didn’t have to pay for roaming charges when I am out of my area. But When I use my phone outside of my area I KNOW I’ll be paying for that.

    Yeah I wish teenagers would stop being teenagers, but when I gave my son a cell phone I told him what the limits from the carrier are, I told him what responsibilities he has, and I told him this is a privilege not a right. But when he, of course, used his cell phone non-stop 24/7/365 I KNEW I was going to get a giant bill.

    So, why are people always “surprised” or “flabbergasted” with these situations?

  • JAWG

    GMan:

    Great point and most of Wind’s supporters are kids who have probably abused their privileges unfairly blaming the Big Three for their mistakes and making hateful claims with no substance that are lies…excellent post.