Are you looking to subscribe to a cellular phone service? The following tips may be of interest to you before signing a contract with a provider.
These questions should help you choose a plan that suits your habits and your needs:
- Why do you need a cellular phone?
- What is your budget?
- How many minutes do you think you will use your cellular phone each month?
- Do you expect to use your phone for short calls or long conversations?
- At what time of day do you expect to use your phone most often?
- Will you make local or long distance calls?
- Do you plan to send and receive text messages? How many per month?
- Do you wish to go on the Internet? Do you need a data plan?
Before you subscribe for cellular phone service, the Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you inquire about the duration of the proposed contract.
If you choose a fixed length contract, you will be bound by an agreement for a fixed period of time, lasting, for example, from 1 to 3 years. During this time, the price of the services cannot be raised. See Amending the contract for further information on this subject.
If you cancel your contract, you may have to pay cancellation fees. Before signing an agreement with a service provider, find out about these fees. They will vary based on whether the carrier provided you with a cellular phone with a discount or not. For more information, see the page Cancellation fees for fixed-length contracts.
If your current service provider offers you a new phone for free or at a discount, this offer is likely contingent on signing a fixed length contract.
If you choose an open-ended contract:
- you will receive a bill each month, but you will not be bound by a contract for a fixed period of time;
- the price of the services may be raised. See Amending the contract for further details;
- you will not normally pay fees if you cancel your agreement.
You can choose services with prepaid cards. This option may also be called a "prepaid plan" or a "prepaid account". See Prepaid calling cards for more information.
The Office de la protection du consommateur advises you to ask the service provider about all the subscription features before signing a contract.
For example, ask questions about:
- what is included in the plan, in particular the number of:
- megabytes (for data transfer),
- text messages that you can send and receive;
- the existence of a tool to verify your consumption in order to avoid using more minutes or data than what is included in your plan;
- the coverage zone, which refers to the ability to use the service in regions other than the local zone, and roaming fees.
- rates for items that are not included in the plan, such as:
- additional minutes,
- long distance calls,
- additional megabytes (for Internet use),
- sending and receiving text messages,
- sending photos;
- how seconds and minutes are charged. For example, a call that lasts a few seconds may be billed as a one minute call, or by the second;
- additional fees for unlimited use during certain times of day, such as evenings;
- the cost of optional services, such as fees for voicemail or call display;
- payment conditions, in particular whether payment is required a month in advance or at the time of subscription;
- initial fees, emergency service fees, network access fees, activation fees.
All fees that you must pay, other than taxes, must be included in the price advertised by the service provider. See What is included in the advertised price for more information.
Find out about discounts available if you combine services from the same service provider, for example television, Internet and telephone.
Ask the service provider about subjects such as:
- the duration of the proposed contract;
- the possibility, for you and for the service provider, to amend the terms of the contract, and under what circumstances;
- the contract cancellation terms;
- the contract renewal terms.
Consider inquiring about:
- the cellular phone warranty;
- the cellular phone delivery time;
- the person to contact should a problem arise.
The service provider must give you a written contract for cellular phone service. Check if the contents are consistent with what you were told.
As of June 30, 2010, all cellular phone service contracts must include the following elements on the first page:
- a detailed description of each of the services specified in the agreement;
- the monthly fee for each service, including the monthly fee for optional services, such as voicemail;
- the monthly cost of all related charges, such as 9-1-1 service and network access fees;
- the total amount you will be charged each month;
- a description and the list price of goods sold or offered free with purchase, such as a cellular phone;
- the duration and the end date of the contract;
- the contract cancellation terms.
If you choose prepaid cellular phone services, the service provider is still required to give you a written contract.
Before you enter into an agreement with a service provider on its Web site or by phone, the service provider must give you information including:
- the name, address, telephone number, and if applicable, the fax number and electronic address of the business;
- a detailed description of the services specified in the agreement;
- the total amount you will have to pay, according to your contract, and the payment terms;
- the cancellation terms.
To find out more about what information the service provider must give you, see the pages about:
- getting all required information before concluding an agreement online;
- getting all required information before concluding an agreement by phone.
The service provider must send you a copy of the contract (for example, by email or by standard mail) within 15 days of its conclusion. The contract must contain:
- the information that must be included in all cellular phone contracts;
- all the information that the service provider was required to give you before your acceptance of the offer.
If you sign a contract at your home with a service provider using door-to-door vendors, the contract must contain information specific to itinerant merchants in addition to the information required in all cellular telephone contracts. See What a contract with an itinerant merchant contains for more details.
All contracts concluded in person
All contracts concluded in person with a service provider, for example in-store or from an itinerant merchant, must be clearly and legibly written on paper in two copies.
The service provider must first sign the last page of the original and the duplicate, and must then:
- allow you look it over;
- ask you to sign the last page of the original and the duplicate;
- provide you with a copy of the contract.
If your service provider has not respected the above regulations, you can contact the Office de la protection du consommateur to find out about your options for recourse and to file a complaint. See Contact us to find out how to reach us.
Last update : February 28, 2023
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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.