Once in a very long while you hear about a government idea that actually puts a stop to evil, and Ontario legislation to protect people from hidden fees in cell phone contracts makes today just such a day.
Many of us are all too familiar with “Cell Phone Shock”, which is what happens when you open your cell phone bill and see hidden charges and fees that gouge your bank account. Ontario’s Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best says enough is enough and revealed a bill today that includes elements from two previous private members’ bills, including one from David Otrazetti, that will make cell carriers heel a little better. Citing contracts that are changed to add new charges without the knowledge of consumers, Otrazetti says “This is a pocketbook issue that consumers want addressed.” Here’s a list of the measures contained within the new bill:
- Cap the cost of cancelling a contract and charge only a “modest fee” for leaving fixed-term contracts.
- Notify consumers of any changes to their contract.
- Get consumers’ consent to renew, extend or amend a contract.
- Use plain language in contracts.
- Include all-inclusive price advertising for cellphone plans.
- Not charge consumers for services while devices under warranty are being repaired.
- Give notice to consumers who are about to incur additional charges for exceeding service limits.
There’s no word on when this bill will be magically transmogrified into legislation, but it’s great when government begins to implement measures to curb the evil-doing. It’s an established fact that Canadians have the most expensive cell phone service in the entire world, which is a sure sign that government needs to yank a few leashes to get things under control.