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New law requires cellphone contract details up front

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A new Manitoba law designed to protect consumers from excessive cancellation fees for cellphone contracts takes effect on Saturday.

The new legislation will require companies to provide a copy of the contract to a customer before the contract begins. The new law will also require that companies fully disclose and explain all charges, fees and terms, and it restricts them from making unilateral changes to contract terms.

As well, the new legislation demands that cellphone ads disclose the minimum monthly cost. And it restricts automatic cellphone contract renewals.

Meanwhile, consumers will also get increased protection for cellphone contracts not signed in person, including contracts done over the Internet.

Companies will still be allowed to offer contracts that are three years or longer and charge fees to unlock a cellphone or provide paper bills. However, the charges, fees and terms of these services must now be clearly disclosed in the cellphone contract.

Businesses that do not comply with the new rules can be fined up to $1,000 for a first offence, $3,000 for a subsequent offence and $5,000 for all further offences.

More information is available at www.gov.mb.ca.cca/cpo/index.html.

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