Mobile Providers Can No Longer Charge You to Unlock Your Phone

As you’re already painfully aware, being a mobile phone user in Canada is an expensive endeavour.

We pay the most in the world for mobile data, are charged exorbitant amount in overage fees, and generally spend more money on smartphones than what any sane person would deem reasonable.

While most of that probably won’t change anytime soon, mobile users did score a small victory recently.

Two new rules initiated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to scale back unexpected charges and unclear terms of service went into effect December 1.

The first is that mobile service providers can no longer charge customers to unlock their phone. New phones, even if they are part of a wireless package, must now come unlocked. That means customers have the option of switching to a competitor’s network. Finally, SIM cards have achieved true freedom.

The second change concerns consent to overage fees – extra charges incurred by exceeded one’s monthly mobile data limit. Under the new rules, extra data or roaming charges can only be approved by the wireless account holder. That means those pesky teens on their parents’ plan can’t singlehandedly rack up the family mortgage by spending their entire vacation watching Instagram stories.

Ok, bit of an exaggeration. The CRTTC’s The Wireless Code of Conduct had already implemented a cap of $100 per month for data roaming and $50 for data overage.

New regulations for how customers receive contracts also went into effect. Moving forward, all wireless contracts must be in plain language; the service provider must give a permanent electronic or paper copy of the contract; the contract must clearly spell out minimum monthly charges and optional charges; and there must be a tool for customers to determine how much data they are using and potential roaming costs.

With “bill shock” now the leading cause of anxiety among Canadians, it’s about time the telecommunications giants were held accountable.