I’m going to get a cellphone. What do I need to know?

The Wireless Code protects cellphone users in Canada. The code is a set of rules about how cellphone contracts work.

Your rights depend on the kind of cellphone contract you have. They also depend on how long you have had the contract, and whether you got a discounted phone with your contract.

The types of cellphone contracts

There are two types of cellphone contracts: postpaid and prepaid.

A postpaid service agreement lets you pay for services you used the month before. Postpaid users usually have contracts that last between 1 and 2 years. Most of these contracts include the option to get a new phone.

A prepaid service agreement lets you pay in advance for things like talking time, texting, and data. For example, you might buy a prepaid card that you use to “top up” your phone every month. Or you might add “time” to your account online. This is sometimes called pay-as-you-go service.

Many people use prepaid contracts with phones they already own. But some prepaid agreements can include new phones. Many people still use these contracts, but they are less popular than they used to be.

“Locked” phones

A “locked” phone is a cellphone that only works with one wireless network. All cellphones purchased in Canada must be provided to you unlocked. If your phone is locked, or if it becomes locked, your service provider must unlock it for you free of charge.

Cellphone contract rules

All contracts for wireless services must include some basic information, like:

  • your name and contact information
  • the name, address, and contact information of your service provider
  • the date the contract was made, and how long the contract will last
  • the amount you must pay

Your contract must also be written in plain language. This means that it is easy to read and understand.

There are some fees that a service provider can't charge you for. For example, your service provider can never charge you for a device or service that you didn't ask for or agree to. This includes things like voicemail or call waiting.

If you have a problem with a service provider

If you have a problem with a service provider, you can:

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