New consumer legislation protects wireless customersThursday, April 25, 2013 by: SooToday.com Staff
DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP
Orazietti's proposed cell phone measures included in new consumer protection legislation
Ontario government introducing stronger rights for wireless consumers
QUEEN'S PARK - The provincial government is introducing legislation that will provide greater protection for consumers of wireless phone services, including measures originally proposed by David Orazietti, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie.
"New legislation introduced by our government will help protect Ontario consumers from costly, confusing, one-sided cell phone contracts," said Orazietti. "This is a pocketbook issue that consumers want addressed and our bill contains measures will make cell phone contracts fairer, more transparent and more affordable.”
The legislation would, if passed, create new rights for consumers of wireless services and help consumers understand the terms of their agreement.
If passed, the proposed legislation will benefit consumers of wireless services by:
- Requiring contracts to be written in plain language
- Ensuring contracts clearly outline which services come with the basic fee, and which would result in a higher bill
- Requiring providers to get consent from the consumer before amending, renewing or extending a fixed-term contract
- Enforcing a cap on the cost of cancelling a contract or no fee at all, making it less expensive for consumers to walk away from fixed-term contracts
“Ontario consumers want easy to understand cell phone and wireless contracts with no hidden costs,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services. “We want to remove the confusion and frustration that come with unclear contracts. Our proposed legislation, if passed, would be backed by meaningful enforcement so that consumers are better protected."
"Millions of Ontarians subscribe to wireless phone services and they want fair and transparent contracts,” said Ken Whitehurst, executive director, Consumers Council of Canada. “The Consumers Council of Canada is pleased that the government is putting the onus on wireless services providers to comply and meet consumer needs."
Orazietti has twice introduced legislation calling for greater protection and transparency for consumers of wireless phone and data services.
In November 2010, Orazietti introduced Bill 133, the Wireless Phone, Smart Phone and Data Service Transparency Act, which passed Second Reading in the Legislature with support from all political parties.
In 2011, Orazietti re-introduced the proposed legislation as Bill 5, which again passed Second Reading with all-party support.
Approximately eight out of 10 Ontario families have a wireless services agreement.
More than 80 percent of wireless service agreements are post-paid, meaning that people are billed after they sign agreements and use the services.
Overall complaints to the federal Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services have more than tripled over the past four years.
A recent survey by OpenMedia.ca compiled the opinions and complaints of 2,800 cell phone users who called for an overhaul of the cell phone market.
The Ontario wireless services market is dominated by three companies (Bell, Rogers, Telus) which provide 97 percent of all wireless services in the province. Six companies occupy the remaining three per cent of the market.
Pictured: Ken Whitehurst, executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada; Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services; and David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources