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article imageManitoba introduces new laws on cellphone contracts

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By Ken Hanly     Sep 16, 2012 in Business
Winnipeg - The Manitoba government has introduced legislation that will improve cellphone contracts for the consumer. The legislation mirrors legislation already passed in the province of Quebec.
The Manitoba Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh expressed the hope that the new regulations will help save consumers money. On some contracts the savings could be up to $640 a year. The government touted the legislation as providing among the best consumer protection rules for cell phone users in Canada. As the appended video shows compared to the U.S. Canadians pay more for less compared to cell phone users in the U.S.
Under the new rules, customers are able to cancel contracts before their term ends. Unreasonable cancellation fees are prohibited. Advertisements must include the minimum monthly costs to subscribers. Contracts are to be simplified so that a subscriber can understand the terms easily. When similar rules were introduced in the province of Quebec cell phone contract prices did not rise as some had feared, as companies tried to recoup lost revenue from excessive charges.
Other changes in the legislation prohibit companies from making unilateral changes to contracts that do not benefit customers. Automatic contract renewals will be limited. Companies will be required to fully explain all charges and terms of the contract. Consumer advocates have praised the new regulations as a step forward and urged that people learn their rights as cell phone userfs. Gloria Desorcy from the Consumers Association said to CBC News:"It's important for consumers to know what they're now entitled to...Because if we don't know, that we're entitled to it, then we might not complain about it. And that's our responsibility as consumers."
Any company that violates the new regulations could face a fine of up to $1,000. The fine would be increased for subsequent violations. While these measures will give protection against unreasonable cell phone contracts to Canadian consumers, we still need to reduce costs so that we pay similar prices for cell phone services as do our neighbors to the south.
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