When it comes to cellphone bills and wireless contracts, we've all felt at one time or another like pulling our hair out. Â
And what about the horror stories: someone takes an overseas vacation only to come home to a cellphone bill in the thousands due to roaming charges they weren't expecting to pay.
Although it is the responsibility of each of us to know what we are agreeing to when we sign a wireless contract, those contracts should be easy to understand, especially when it comes to the fees that can be charged for the services provided.
It is estimated that more than 27.4 million customers now subscribe to wireless services, and complaints about wireless have topped
the list of grievances filed with Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) for the past four years.Â Â
That is why theÂ Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is reviewing the rules that determine how telecommunications companies operate in Canada. Â
Last fall, the CRTC asked Canadians for their help in creating a national code for wireless services including cellphones and other personal mobile devices.
Canadians responded by submitting over 3,500 comments in writing and posting close to 600 comments on the online discussion.Â
Among those comments, people asked for: a clearer understanding of their wireless services and fees; the ability to unlock cellphones on reasonable terms; the ability to set a cap on additional fees, such as those incurred from long-distance calls, usage of voice minutes,
text messages, data usage and roaming; and online tools to monitor usage and any additional fees.
Taking these recommendations into consideration, the CRTC put together a draft code for wireless services and is asking Canadians again to weigh in on the working document, which will lead to a wireless code that will enable Canadians to make informed decisions in a competitive marketplace.
Once finalized, the wireless code will be administered by the CCTS, which will have the ability to force a carrier to stop certain practices; order them to provide consumers with
explanations or apologies; or order them to provide compensation up to a maximum $5,000.
Canadians can join in the online discussion by going to the CRTC website at www.crtc.gc.ca to review the draft code and let the CRTC know if anything is missing. People have until 5 p.m. PST on Friday.
In addition, for the first time in the history of the CRTC, Canadians will also be able to listen to a live audio feed of the public hearings and post comments as it unfolds.
All comments posted on the website will be taken into consideration as the CRTC finalizes the wireless code. The public hearings are taking place this week.
Most of us have come to rely on our personal wireless devices and it's even more important that the relationship between consumers and wireless providers is mutually beneficial to users and providers.Â
I encourage constituents to participate in these consultations. With your input, we can insure the CRTC develops an effective national code for wireless services to help consumers make informed choices.
In other words, no more pulling your hair out in frustration, which is especially good news for those like me who have only a little hair to begin with.
Ron Cannan is the member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.