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As many of you may know, starting June 3, 2015 the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) implemented a wireless code where effectively, any cell phone contracts that you already had for three years, automatically become two years and you are free as a bird and do not have any consequences to pay any contract break fees.

Here is a summary of the new Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission wireless code, courtesy of the Government of Canada website.

  • If you were in a three year contract with any cellular service provider (namely, the big three as known as Telus, Bell, and Rogers) you are no longer in a three year contract after June 3.  Meaning you are no longer in a contract!
  • You are free as a bird to switch to another provider if you signed on for three years before the June 3 date
  • All cell phone contracts are now a maximum of two years
  • Extra data charges are maxed at $50 a month and international roaming charges are capped at $100 a month
  • You can call to unlock your cell phone after 90 days
  • Return your cell phone within 15 days if you are not happy with it
  • Accept or decline changes (e.g. have more power) with your 2 year contracts

PROS to the new CRTC Changes

This is great for people who held three year contracts (ahem, like me) because it means you will have more flexibility now to choose a different service provider or to negotiate a new monthly plan that might be more economical for you.

For those that got a three year term and paid a three year term price for your device, you will get the remaining costs of the phone waived (which means the cellular phone company is taking a big hit) even though you technically should have been paying for that phone for another year.

CONS to the new CRTC Changes

Obviously this may affect the profit margin for the big three oligopoly of Telus, Bell, and Rogers.  As a shareholder (albeit a very minor shareholder) in Bell and Telus, my Bell and Telus stocks have been pretty flat lined for a while.

In addition, with 2 year plans, you will be paying much more upfront for your phone (gone will be more of the zero dollar options) because much of the cost of the phone was subsidized with that lengthy three year contract.  And possibly more per month too!

How to Take Advantage of the New CRTC Rules

Well, if you are an avid cell phone contract negotiator like me, you will want to research if there are any new plans or to see if you are eligible for a new phone (you will be).

The better choice would be (if your phone works fine and dandy like mine) to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).  With the BYOD plans you will NOT be locked into a contract and you will be free as a bird.  With the Bring Your Own Device plans you will also get cheaper month-to-month pricing for your plan too.

Here’s what I did, as per usual:

I made a call to my friendly retentions customer service agent through Telus.

I am currently happy with my phone plan but I don’t think it’s enough data as I use my tablet a lot.  Therefore, I told the retentions customer service agent that and he offered to give me something that was less than what I am paying now for my phone plan and data on my tablet.  Funny, when I called about 4 months ago with the same concern, there was nothing they could offer me and I was only able to use the Tablet Flex plan (which basically is a gambler’s idea as to how much data I pay for a month).

I didn’t have to be locked in, it was just a friendly, civil, polite, and pleasant conversation.

I’m happy with this but may continue to look around as I’m not locked in and only in a month-to-month, non contract payment plan.

It feels kind of funny, to be NOT in a contract for the first time in OVER TEN years!  I feel a sense of power and relief!  This feeling will last until I need to get a new phone and am too cheap to pay for it full price.

If you need another easy to read summary, check out this consumer rights check-list from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to make sure you understand the new changes in effect.

Readers, what do you think of the new CRTC changes?

Article comments

David says:

Hello there,
After receiving a hefty oversized phone bill (due to data overage) from Virgin this month, I decided to take it up with them citing this CRTC law. I was told very politely that as I had received notification of going over $50 in data overage fees (via text), I had implicitly accepted their additional overage charges of $5/MB and was still responsible to pay. I intend to contact the CRTC tomorrow to confirm this. Have I interpreted this article and the new law incorrectly? My work required significant data overages this month and I believed they were capped at $50. Thanks for all the great articles!

Kyle says:

Hi David,

I’m not intimately familiar with this law, but I would say that it is likely waiting for a legal precedent challenge in order to prove anything one way or another. Please let me know how it goes, and I’d be interested in writing a post on it.

Oli says:

Just to make sure I understand, does a 3 year contract become “NO” contract or a 2 year contract? My 3 year contract is supposed to expire Oct 2017, so do I still have to wait until Oct 2016 to make a switch?

Thanks Young for the $ saving tips 🙂

Kyle says:

A 2-year contract. After 2 years you will be free!

Oli says:

Thanks Kyle!