Old cell phone contracts that force consumers into difficult positions are the target of new legislation in Manitoba in the United States. The new laws, which will come into effect early next year, will stop cell phone providers from charging more than 50 dollars to customers who want to cancel a contract that does not include a free cell phone, though even contracts that do include a free cell phone will still face a different cap on fees.
The law, which is a change to the Consumer Protection Act of Manitoba, will also stop cell phone providers from including clauses in contracts that effectively allow them to change the terms and conditions of the contract on a whim and at a moment’s notice in what is being seen as an attempt to protect consumers from cell phone contracts that are being viewed as being increasingly draconian in nature. The changes to the laws, which received a massive response from residents of Manitoba when opinions on possible changes were canvassed last year, will also force the minimum monthly cost of renewals to be included in all advertising related to the product and limit the number of times the contract is automatically renewed.
“The key complaint was that they (consumers) felt they were held hostage by long term contracts that had excessively high cancellation fees,” says Gord Mackintosh, the Consumer Affairs Minister for Manitoba. “There’s nothing negative about the technology itself – it’s really the contracts we want to talk about.”