Rogers’ “Next” and Telus’ “T-UP!” early upgrade programs are consistent with the new Wireless Code (effective since December 2, 2013), and they essentially are innovative responses to market demand, suggests the CRTC in its ruling. It’s like this: you have requested such services, so there you have them. You were looking for early upgrades and early device trade-in programs? You have two: one from Rogers and one from Telus.
The Commission denies an application from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Consumers’ Association of Canada in which they requested that the Commission find that RCP’s “Rogers Next” and TCC’s “T-UP!” early upgrade programs violate the Wireless Code. These programs are consistent with the Wireless Code’s contract cancellation and extension rules, and are examples of innovative plans and services that respond to the needs of consumers who value the convenience of an early device trade-in and upgrade program.
The ruling is the regulator’s response to a Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) application submitted on June 17, 2014, claiming that both programs are in violation of the Wireless Code, as they require nonrefundable deposits.
For those unaware, Rogers’ Next and Telus’ T-UP both required subscribers to pay certain fees on top of their existent wireless charges for about 12 months. What does this mean for a Telus customer? If he or she agreed to pay for the $9/month T-UP! feature, after 12 months, he or she became eligible to upgrade to a new device.
The PIAC and CAC understood this as an early cancellation fee, hence violating the Wireless Code, so they asked the regulator to terminate them. Well, without success, it seems.
Under both programs, customers are informed that a condition of the program is that they sign a new two-year contract when exercising the early device upgrade option. They are therefore informed prior to their enrollment in the program that a decision to exercise this option will require that they enter into a new two-year commitment. Customers are not, however, required to continue their enrollment to avoid paying an ECF.
Therefore, the programs do not violate the contract length and extension rules of the Wireless Code, since the cancellation fee always reaches $0 within 24 months or is waived by the service provider. Further, the requirement to sign a new two-year contract at the time of upgrade is consistent with the Wireless Code’s contract extension rules outlined in section G.6(iii), since customers are informed of this requirement prior to enrolling in the programs. Finally, given the optional nature of the programs, the Commission finds that the requirement to sign a new two-year contract in relation to an early device upgrade does not introduce an undue barrier to switching service providers.
After carefully analyzing both programs, the CRTC ruled that none of them violates the rules; moreover, these incumbents were “innovating” while responding to market demand with these early upgrade programs.