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Manitoba introduces new law to simplify cell-phone contracts

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The Manitoba government ushered in new rules for cell-phone companies today by introducing a new law to simplify cell-phone contracts.

Legislation is to be tabled this afternoon, with intended implementation in 2012.

Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh said today it's hoped the new rules will save consumers as much as $640 a year on some contracts.

The rules will allow customers to cancel a contract before end of term, ban unreasonable cancellation fees and require the minimum monthly cost to be included in advertisements.

Mackintosh said Manitoba's legislation mirrors Quebec's, which is already in force.

He also said the terms of a contract have to also become clear, so that a customer doesn't need "a math degree" to figure it out.

As seen in Quebec, it's not anticipated phone prices will go up in Manitoba, he added, so cell-phone companies can recoup revenue lost by government reducing excessive cancellation fees.

The new rules also include the following protections:

  • stopping charges for service that can't be accessed due to damaged or defective equipment, unless the customer is responsible;
  • ending unilateral amendments to a material element of a contract if the change doesn't benefit the customer;
  • requiring companies to fully disclose and explain all charges and terms; and
  • limiting automatic contract renewals.

History

Updated on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 2:40 PM CDT: Corrects typos.

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