Manitoba Government Proposes New Rules for Cellphone Contracts

Manitoba proposed new regulations for cellphone contracts today, leading the way for change in a wireless industry that is controlled by a few influential carriers. This was part of Manitoba’s five year “Let’s Make a Better Deal” plan for stronger consumer protection.

The province’s Minister of Family and Consumer Affairs, Gord Mackintosh, had this to say:

“Manitobans have told us they are frustrated by high cancellation fees, unilateral changes to contract terms and prices, hidden charges and complex and unclear contracts…

…They have asked for greater fairness and the ability to make informed choices and this legislation will make that happen.”

The changes will introduce seven new rules:

  • allow cell phone customers to cancel contracts before the end of term;
  • prohibit unreasonable cancellation fees, while allowing cost recovery for equipment provided or subsidized as a contract incentive;
  • stop charges for service that can’t be accessed due to damaged or defective equipment, unless the customer is responsible;
  • end unilateral amendments to a material element of a contract if the change doesn’t benefit the customer;
  • require the minimum monthly cost to be included in advertisements;
  • require companies to fully disclose and explain all charges and terms; and
  • limit automatic contract renewals.

Consultation with Quebec (which has similar legislation) and the input from roughly 250 consumer and industry responses helped create these rules. These new rules would come into effect in 2012, and would be monitored by the Consumer Protection Office. Penalties for not following these rules would range from $1000-5000 per breach, and potential fines up to $300,000 under the Consumer Protection Act.

This is amazing news for Manitobans, and I congratulate their government for stepping up and protecting consumers. Now, if only other provinces would get involved that would make a lot of wireless customers happier.

What do you think? Are these rules necessary or not?

[CTV, Province of Manitoba]

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Wayne Portacio

    they should have this on bc instead of that damn HST ….

  •  British Columbia needs to get on with this or carriers need to get on with this.

  • Anonymous

    About bloody time….now if only the BC Liberals would get off their fat government asses and do something like this! 

  • guest

    Yes, every province should have this legislation, as if they don’t make enough money on the actual plans!

  • Anonymous

    Why would carriers want to do anything that benefits the consumer? The have a monopoly and that suits them just fine I’m sure! It’s not like you can take you business elsewhere….well you can……but it’s all the same kettle of fish. None of the “Big 3” undercut one another or offer any real significant difference in plans to entice customers away from each other. It’s status quo….and when a smaller player tries to join the game they cry to the CRTC or when bandwidth becomes available they snatch it up in an attempt to thwart competition.

  • pk

    Sounds great to me but I don’t see it flying in provinces that favour to corporations over constituents (yes BC, I’m talking about you).

  • Drocass

    All this sounds wonderful, but this all benefits the customers not the companies so this will never see the light of day.

    As much as I would love to are this happen, the companies will fight this to the death because this will lower the amount of money they can beat out of customers. Won’t happen

  • Drocass

    They won’t. It’s like your boss asking you if you wish to volunteer to cut your paycheck by 20% every month. Would you do it?

  • Drocass

    They won’t. It’s like your boss asking you if you wish to volunteer to cut your paycheck by 20% every month. Would you do it?

  • erth

    ah, two year contracts? 

  • Though it sounds great on paper, I can see the telcos just raising their standard rates to compensate for these new rules. 

  • Anonymous

    Piss off the Rogers family? Not in Ontario, regardless of who is in power…