Canadian cellphone consumers are looking for a fair shake, and that's the reason for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hearing taking place this week in Quebec.
The country's telecommunications regulator is proposing a "wireless code" that would establish new rules to govern wireless contracts and fees, which many consumers say are a problem. Among other things, the code would help protect cellphone consumers from "bill shock" resulting from unexpected extra costs.
One of the ways being proposed to accomplish that is to allow wireless customers to set a limit on their monthly bill ($50 by default) and, if that limit was exceeded, it would be up to the wireless provider to suspend services that would lead to more costs being racked up.
In testimony Tuesday at the hearing, representatives of Canada's biggest wireless providers questioned the value of such a limit, and especially one so low. Telus suggested a limit of $150 or $200 would be better.
David Fuller, chief marketing director for Telus Corp., said Tuesday that monthly bill caps are unnecessary since providers such as Telus issue notifications and provide online monitoring tools so consumers can track their usage.
However, CRTC commissioner Candice Molnar noted, "Not all customers want to spend their time sorting out how much data they have left, particularly in something like a family plan. I'm a customer and that's not what I want to do."
The CRTC's public consultations heard from many Canadians who want protection from high data-use charges, and who feel held hostage by industry-standard three-year contracts. Two-year contracts are the norm in Europe and the United States.
That old business adage, "The customer is always right," doesn't seem to apply in Canada's cellphone marketplace, and judging from the hundreds of Canadians who voiced their concerns during the CRTC's public consultations, consumers want more control over the wireless services they rely on, and for which they pay good money.
Hopefully, by the time the CRTC completes its work on this issue, cellphone consumers will have gained greater say in that area.
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