Big Three among those challenging new CRTC wireless code

by Andrew Roach on July 4, 2013

Over the past few months, the CRTC have been working on developing a new code to help give customers a better deal on their plans.

With the guidelines now finalised and ready to be implemented, many of the major providers have launched a formal review of the new guidelines amid claims that it could damage the state of the industry.

Rogers, Bell and Telus are amongst the group of networks who are appealing to the Federal Court of Appeal to change some parts of the code.

The conduct code was originally launched in June in a bid to try and make wireless plans much cheaper and to protect the consumer from being exploited by their network and is set to be implemented on December 2.

One of the main issues that the networks have with the new code of conduct is that they are limited to offering a three year contract to their customers.

While this may not seem different from what providers can currently offer, the new rules will be applied to current contract and not just brand new plans.

By introducing these changes directly to existing customers, the providers will feel that it will cause a lot of confusion between customers and their providers when the changes are initially made.

Alongside that, it would also mean the providers risk being undermined and losing their standing with both new and long-time customers. This was underlined by comments made by Telus spokesman Shawn Hall who said that “it sets a troublesome precedent if the government can change consumer contracts retroactively. We’re seeking clarity to have the code applied to go forward rather than retroactively.”

But providers are also seeking clarification on the changes made to subsidies in the new regulations. Normally, subsidies are spread evenly throughout the contract until it expires at the end of the three years unless someone wants to get out early.

At the moment, those who break their contract have to pay the rest of the contract plus any additional penalties. However, under the new guidelines, companies would have to tell the customers the exact costs and fees they’ll face if they leave their deal.

This has upset providers who feel that it could put consumers off signing a deal with a carrier if they don’t agree with the figures.

Even though it was to be expected that there would be some unrest towards the new code, the CRTC may face a turbulent few months as they look to battle against the concerns and views of major providers who are keen to protect their own interests until the very end.

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