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Telus unlocking decision is not enough - Orazietti

NEWS RELEASE DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP ****************************** Orazietti fights for greater consumer protection from wireless providers Bill 133 introduced in Ontario Legislature by Sault Ste.
CellPhoneFun

NEWS RELEASE

DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP

****************************** Orazietti fights for greater consumer protection from wireless providers

Bill 133 introduced in Ontario Legislature by Sault Ste. Marie MPP demands fairness for cell phone and smart phone users

QUEEN'S PARK - Telus Mobility announced this week that its customers will soon be able to remove network locks placed on their mobile devices but the unlocking service will come with a $50 price tag.

The decision comes several weeks after Rogers Communications Inc. and its subsidiary Fido announced they would start offering an unlocking service to customers for a fee of $50.

“The recent decision by Telus Mobility to offer unlocking as a paid service falls well short of providing customers with any meaningful new consumer protections,” said David Orazietti, MPP. “Telus’ decision fails to recognize that a device that has been paid for in full should automatically be accessible to the owner at no additional cost.”

In November, Orazietti introduced Private Member’s Bill 133, the Wireless Phone, Smart Phone and Data Service Transparency Act, 2010, which proposes greater protection and transparency for consumers of wireless phone and data services.

Orazietti’s bill would apply to performance agreements for cells phones, smart phones and mobile data devices signed in Ontario.

Bill 133 is the most comprehensive consumer protection legislation proposed in Canada in the sector and requires clear disclosure of all optional and mandatory services, including the disclosure of “hidden fees” and contract cancellation penalties.

The legislation would also limit contract termination fees, among other provisions.

“Under Telus’ new rules, owners of many Smartphone models, such as the iPhone, the Samsung Elevate and the Samsung Advance as well as owners of older cell phone models will not be eligible to have their devices unlocked," said Orazietti. "When it comes to addressing unfair business practices, the major wireless service providers still have a very long way to go and frankly consumers are tired of being gouged by these companies.”

In addition to the removal of network locks on any device that has been paid for in full or is no longer bound by a service agreement, Bill 133 proposes that wireless service providers be required to:

- Clearly disclose the cost of all optional and mandatory services included in an agreement.

- Provide service agreements in plain language, making them more understandable to consumers.

- Reduce the cancellation fee charged to consumers based on a specific capping formula.

- Improve transparency regarding automatic renewal.

- Notify the consumer when they may incur additional charges as a result of exceeding usage limits.

- Eliminate activation dates and expiry dates on pre-paid cards for wireless service.

- Make costs more transparent when advertising the price of wireless services.

Quick facts

- A 2010 survey by the New American Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative comparing wireless plans and packages globally found that Canadian consumers pay the highest minimum monthly charge for cell phone services out of the eleven countries in the report.

- Over 22.5 million Canadians subscribe to wireless services.

- 77 percent of Ontarians subscribe to cell phone services.

- The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) reports that complaints about wireless carriers comprised 52 percent of the complaints it received in the 2009-2010 monitoring period.

- 75 percent of the complaints about post-paid wireless services received by the CCTS for 2009 fell within the following categories: billing errors, termination disputes customer service grievances and terms and conditions changes.

- Cellular phone service is the business category for which Better Business Bureaus in Canada had the most complaints last year.

- Complaints about cell phones and long distance charges consistently appear on the Ministry of Consumer Service’s annual list of “Top 10 Consumer Complaints”.

- In 2007 David Orazietti, MPP introduced Bill 11, Protecting Children and Youth from Second-Hand Smoke in Automobiles Act, 2007. The bill was adopted by the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport and amended the Smoke Free Ontario Act in 2009.

- In 2008, he introduced Bill 59, the Apology Act, 2008, which enables individuals and organizations, such as hospitals and other public institutions, to apologize for an accident or wrongdoing, without it being used as evidence of liability in a civil legal proceeding under provincial law. The bill was adopted by the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as the Apology Act in 2009.

- In 2010, Orazietti introduced Bill 56, the Breast Cancer Screening Act, 2010, which proposes increased access to breast cancer screening. Bill 56 passed second reading and has been referred the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

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