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Strengthening Protection for Wireless Consumers

Archived Backgrounder

Strengthening Protection for Wireless Consumers

Ministry of Consumer Services

The Wireless Services Agreements Act gives new rights to Ontarians with cell phone and wireless contracts.

Full Disclosure of Goods and Services

The legislation will help consumers better understand their contracts. As of April 1, 2014:

  • Wireless contracts must clearly list: included services; additional services that are subject to extra costs; the costs of those services; how services can be accessed; and what rates and restrictions apply (e.g. a long-distance plan available only within Ontario)
  • Contracts must include both the retail value and the value of any applicable discounts
  • When a supplier offers supplemental warranty coverage, providers must disclose manufacturer's warranty information on a phone
  • Contracts must include information on how cancellation fees are calculated
  • Providers must provide clear information on how roaming costs are calculated and when they will be applied
  • Providers must tell consumers if a cell phone is locked, how long the device will be locked and the cost - if any - to unlock it.

Clear, Easy-to-Understand Agreements

The legislation ensures contracts will be clear and written in plain language. They must include a list of every service that consumers will pay for and the maximum usage available for each service. Providers must deliver a copy of a contract in a form that a consumer can keep, like a paper copy or an electronic document that can be printed.

Contracts must also list other details such as activation and sign-up fees. If providers offer additional warranty coverage, they must give consumers information about existing warranties (e.g. manufacturer's warranty). If a service plan includes set long-distance rates, these rates must be included in the contract.

If a copy of the agreement is not provided to a consumer after it is made, or the provider does not make all the contract disclosures the legislation requires, a consumer has the right to cancel the agreement within one year of making the agreement. The provider must then refund all payments made under the contract to the consumer.

Strong Enforcement Measures

If the provider refuses to give a refund to which a consumer is entitled, the consumer can file a complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Services. Consumers may also consider taking the provider to Small Claims Court. Under the act, a consumer can sue for three times the amount of money they are owed by the provider.


Providers must have a consumer's consent if a fixed-term contract is amended, renewed or extended. This means consumers must agree to any change to the contract before the change is made.

Automatic renewal of a fixed-term contract is not allowed. Consumers are now protected against loss of service by permitting fixed-term contracts to become month-to-month contracts on the same terms as the expired fixed-term contract. This must be agreed to in the consumer's original contract. Consumers are required to receive updated copies of all amended or renewed agreements within 45 days of the change.

All-Inclusive Pricing

Under the act, advertisements by wireless services providers that show prices must include the all-inclusive cost of the phone. It must show the minimum cost (usually per month) and all additional costs that a consumer must pay. The all-inclusive cost must be the most prominent price information shown in an advertisement.

Cancel Agreements at Any Time with Caps on Cancellation Fees or No Fee at All

Consumers have the right to cancel a wireless services contract at any time by giving notice to their provider. The cost to cancel will depend on whether the contract is fixed-term or monthly, and whether the consumer received any free or subsidized items (e.g. a cellphone).

Type of contract

Is cell phone provided free or at a discount?

Cancellation Charge


No cell phone provided


Cell phone provided free or at a discount

Customer can be required to pay back a proportion of the value of the discount received. The cancellation charge is calculated as if the contract was a two-year contract rather than a month-to-month contract. For example, the consumer gets a cell phone valued at $200 for free and cancels the agreement after 12 months, the consumer would need to pay $100.


No cell phone provided

10 per cent of price of outstanding services up to $50 maximum.

Cell phone provided free or at a discount

Customer can be required to pay back a proportion of the value of the discount received based on the time remaining in the agreement. For example, if a consumer received a $500 phone at $100 ($400 discount) under a one year fixed-term contract and cancelled after three months, the consumer would owe $300.

Prohibited Billing

Consumers cannot be charged for services they could not access because their cell phone is being repaired while under warranty. If a customer receives a loaner phone while their phone is being repaired, the loaner phone must be provided free-of-charge. This would not apply to cell phones that are not covered by warranty.

Lost or Stolen Cell Phones

Consumers cannot be billed for costs incurred because someone used their phone after it was reported lost or stolen.



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