Budget 2024 Targets Telecom Fees for Easier Plan Switching

budget 2024

The federal government’s Budget 2024 announced on Tuesday afternoon plans to make it easier to switch plans when it comes to cellphone, internet and home phone.

Changes are set to amend the Telecommunications Act to simplify the process for Canadians to renew or switch plans from telecoms. This plan is a direct response to the high fees and barriers faced by consumers when dealing with telecom companies.

Among these are cancellation fees which can be a huge barrier to switching plans. Also, customers often endure long waits to connect with customer service, further complicating the process, say the feds.

The expiration of promo periods, leading to unexpected hikes in monthly bills, is another challenge consumers face, often without being fully aware of their alternatives. A variety of “junk fees,” including charges for travelling abroad, changing phone numbers, or late payments, also can increase the cost of telecom services.

Budget 2024 also highlighted “Additional Cell Phone Fees Are Too High and Add Up”, pointing out the following fees from Rogers, Telus and Bell:

  • Insufficient funds fees: $25-$50
  • Phone number change fee: $50
  • Daily US roaming fee: $12-$14
  • Daily international roaming fee: $15-$16

The federal government say it has exceeded its goal of reducing cellphone plans by 25%, pointing to December 2023 data from StatsCan, where the latter reported a 50 percent decrease in cellphone plan costs since December 2018. Has your cellphone bill gone down in price since then?

The following amendments proposed for the Telecommunications Act is as follows:

  • Banning extra fees charged by carriers for consumers switching service providers.
  • Mandating carriers to help consumers in identifying potentially lower-cost plans before the end of their contracts.
  • Requiring carriers to offer self-service options, such as online portals, for customers wishing to switch or terminate their plans easily.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will be tasked with implementing these changes, including conducting consultations on the specific requirements.

Do you think these proposed changes will make life easier when it comes to switching cellphone plans? The practice has been made so difficult that most people don’t bother switching, when cheaper plans are out there from flanker brands. The best time to get a new cellphone plan is during Black Friday, when limited time deals debut.

As for Budget 2024 itself overall? Here’s what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation had to say about it:

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