Nova Scotia Cellphone Legislation Effective May 1 Makes Cellphone Contracts Consumer-Friendly

by Istvan Fekete on May 1, 2013

As of today, cellphone users in Nova Scotia can benefit from greater protection, courtesy of changes to the Consumer Protection Act. According to the updated Consumer Protection Act taking effect Wednesday, May 1, wireless carriers in Nova Scotia must give local wireless subscribers a one-page information sheet, “Be a Responsible Digital Citizen,” when they sign a contract, and ensure cellphone contracts are clear and fair.

“Protecting Nova Scotians in the digital world isn’t just about better cellphone contracts,” said Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell. “Providing educational materials that support responsible cellphone use is just one example of how government is working to protect consumers from the devastating effects of cyberbullying.”

This is happening while the CRTC is still working on the “fine details” of the highly disputed national code for wireless services. The province has taken the initiative and issued changes in the Consumer Protection Act to force wireless players to make wireless contracts easier to understand.

“Be a Responsible Digital Citizen” is aimed at providing clear information about monthly costs and, what could be more important, the carrier won’t be able to change “major parts” of the contract, which means services, costs, fees or locations where the handset can be used without obtaining the wireless subscriber’s consent.

The most important change is that subscribers who are dissatisfied with the wireless service are rescued from paying hefty contract-cancellation fees. Under the updated Consumer Protection Act, they could pay as little as $50 to cancel contracts at any time. This, however, doesn’t mean they don’t have to pay off the remaining device balance.

Provincial regulations aren’t being received well by the big three, and their lobby group, the CWTA, was quick to point to the CRTC and the upcoming wireless code — we don’t have a clue when this will materialize — when Ontario announced its plans to introduce a new bill to make cellphone contracts more transparent and consumer friendly.

In an email sent to us, Rogers claims that a national code is better for consumers, because it provides the same consistent protection across the country.
What is becoming obvious is that while the CRTC is “working” on the wireless code, the wireless carriers have a free ground for their unfair practices (e.g., three-year contracts, early termination fees, etc.), so any local initiative is just another roadblock limiting their game.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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