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CRTC Wireless Code Now Live: 20 Rights You Need to Know About

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December 2 is here, and that marks the implementation of the CRTC Wireless Code, which establishes basic rights for wireless customers and forces carriers to implement a certain set of standards.

Details of the code were first announced back in June and the biggest change was the elimination of the three year contract. Canadian carriers were quick to implement two-year contracts to meet the Wireless Code, but it came with a cost as plans and the up-front prices for subsidized devices increased.

At the time of the announcement, Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC explained:

“The wireless code will contribute to a more dynamic marketplace by making it possible for Canadians to discuss their needs with service providers at least every two years. The wireless code is a tool that will empower consumers and help them make informed choices about the service options that best meet their needs. To make the most of this tool, consumers also have a responsibility to educate themselves,”

Rogers, TELUS and Bell have been busy since then implementing changes to adhere to the code, along with regional carriers as well.

Despite Rogers and Bell claiming these regulatory two-year contracts have possibly hurt smartphone growth, journalist Peter Nowak doesn’t buy it, calling two-year contracts the latest ‘wireless straw man’:

Slowing smartphone growth actually has little to do with shorter contracts and is instead part of a trend sweeping the developed world. Just about every manufacturer has been reporting slowing sales, from Android heavyweights Samsung and HTC to market laggards Nokia and BlackBerry. Even Apple was forced to quickly cut the price on the iPhone 5C, while Samsung is lowering its own internal projections for 2014.

Nowak points out the same message isn’t being spewed by TELUS, which recently had a reasonable wireless quarter and also fared well in the recent CCTS report, showing much lower numbers of complaints versus its rivals (Bell and Rogers had a combined 56% of complaints).

Anyways, back to your wireless rights. Below are 20 Wireless Code Rights you need to know about now that it’s in effect, as shared by the CRTC. Make sure you keep this checklist handy if you are dealing with your wireless carrier.

For postpaid customers (monthly users who pay after they use their wireless service), you have the right…

1. to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years
2. to cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if you are unhappy with your service
3. to have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone
4. to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
5. to receive a Critical Information Summary, which explains your contract in under two pages
6. to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
7. to limit your data overage charges to $50 a month and your data roaming charges to $100 a month
8. to pay no extra charges for a service described as “unlimited”
9. to refuse a change to the key terms and conditions of your contract, including the services in your contract, the price for those services, and the duration of your contract

Your postpaid wireless contract must:

10. use in plain language and clearly describe the services you will receive
11. include information on when and why you may be charged extra

Prepaid wireless customers (who pay before they use their service) have the right…

12. to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years
13. to cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if you are unhappy with your service
14. to have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone
15. to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
16. to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
17. to a minimum seven-day grace period in order to “top up” your prepaid card account and retain your balance

Your prepaid wireless contract must…

18. use plain language
19. clearly describe the conditions that apply to your prepaid balance and how you can check your balance

Are you a person with a disability?

20. You have the right to a copy of your contract in an alternative format for free and to a longer (30-day) trial period to ensure that the service and phone meet your needs.

What do you think about the CRTC Wireless Code? How has it affected your wireless needs so far?

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