Canadians Want Roaming Charges Capped

by Jordan Richardson on December 12, 2012

Along with decrying cell phone contract lengths, Canadians have been sounding off about roaming charges.

According to a study by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre that was released Monday, 92 percent of Canadians surveyed want a $50 cap on data roaming charges. 89 percent believe they’re being charged too much in terms of roaming charges (not sure about the three percent difference between the two similar points, but statistics can be weird).

This sentiment leads to action, with 44 percent of Canadians surveyed stating that they turn off their phones when they’re travelling into zones where roaming could take place to avoid “bill shock.” 16 percent reported that they simply left their phones at home.

89 percent of those surveyed reported seeing a bill that surprised them when they returned home, illustrating the disconnect between what customers expect from their bills and what they actually receive.

“It speaks to the uncertainty that consumers face when they go abroad, and the fear of incurring a bill that would be outrageous,” says Janet Lo, legal counsel at consumer advocacy group and co-author of the report. “I think that to be safe, consumers are just shutting off their phones or leaving them at home to make sure they don’t get any surprises.”

Every so often we hear stories about alarming roaming charges and big unexpected bills. Some of the most frequently cited cases include that of a Vancouver woman tagged with a $27,000 bill after a trip to Egypt.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has a few recommendations in the report, including more consumer protections and a requirement for Canada’s carriers to set up a monthly “international roaming spending limit” that would be implemented with consumer input. There’s also the concept of sending roaming warnings, something many carriers are already doing.

Some of these recommendations could be threaded into the upcoming national wireless standard, if the CRTC gets its act together on that score.

“What consumers are asking for are better tools to manage that spending when abroad so they don’t come home to high bill shock…our report seeks to recommend some practices that carriers can put in place, or that the CRTC can mandate to better protect consumers,” said Lo.

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