The Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Cell Phone Contracts) has been proclaimed to promote greater transparency in cellphone contracts and create fair practices for cellphone services in Manitoba. The legislation and accompanying regulation come into effect on Sept. 15.
"We've listened to Manitobans and we're responding with some of the best consumer protection in Canada for cellphone contracts," said Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau. "These new rules will ensure Manitobans will have clearer cellphone contracts, fair cancellation fees and reasonable rules for unilateral changes to contracts."
The new legislation:
* requires companies to provide a copy of the contract to consumers before the contract begins;
* requires companies to fully disclose and explain all charges, fees and terms;
* restricts companies from making unilateral changes to contract terms;
* allows consumers to cancel contracts at any time for a reasonable cancellation fee;
* requires the minimum monthly cost to be included in cellphone advertisements;
* restricts automatic cellphone contract renewals; and
* increases consumer protection for cellphone contracts not made in person including contracts made over the Internet.
The legislation will still allow companies to charge reasonable fees when consumers end contracts early in order to recover costs for equipment provided or subsidized as a selling incentive.
"In addition to increased protection, Manitobans can also expect increased transparency in advertisements that must state a minimum monthly cost of a cellphone contract," said Rondeau. "This provision encourages fair advertising practices and will result in less confusion for Manitoba consumers who are signing up for a fixed-length term cellphone contract."
Under the new legislation, the Consumer Protection Office can issue administrative penalties for non-compliance of up to $1,000 for the first offence, $3,000 for the second offence and $5,000 for all subsequent offences.