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

1. Learn what information you should get

When you sign a contract with a new cellphone provider, they must give you certain information. This information depends on the kind of contract you have with the provider.

Postpaid agreements

When you sign a contract for a postpaid phone, your service provider must give you a copy of your contract. If you buy your phone in person, they must give you a paper copy at that time. Or, they can you an electronic copy if you ask for one instead.

If you buy your phone online or by telephone, they must give you an electronic copy of your contract within one day. Or they must send you a paper copy within 15 days, if you ask for a one instead.

This contract must clearly tell you:

  • what services are included, what the limits are for things like talk time and data, and what fees you will owe if you use too much
  • your minimum monthly payment
  • whether you got a discounted phone, what the phone’s retail price is, and what you paid for it
  • all “one-time” costs, listed separately
  • where you can find more information on rates and warranties
  • whether there is an early cancellation fee, how to calculate it, and the date that you will no longer have to pay it

Your contract must also tell you:

  • how long the contract lasts, what the trial period is, and how much you can use your phone during the trial period
  • whether the contract will renew month-to-month when it expires, and when this will start
  • whether upgrades or changes to the contract mean that you have to extend your contract
  • how to contact customer service
  • how to complain about the service, including contact information for the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS)

If your service provider doesn’t give you a contract within the required time, or if the terms of the contract are not what you agreed to, you can cancel your contract within 30 days. You cannot be charged a cancellation fee for doing this.

Prepaid

Whether or not you sign a contract, the service provider must tell you:

If your plan includes a new phone, your service provider must also tell you:

  • if there is an early cancellation fee, how much it is, and the date you will no longer have to pay this fee
  • the retail price of the phone and how much you paid for it
  • where you can find information about upgrades and warranties

Your service provider can give you this information in your contract, on a prepaid card, or separately.

People with disabilities

If you have a disability, your service provider must give you your contract in an alternative form if you ask for it. For example, if you have impaired vision, you could ask for a contract in Braille or as an audio recording. This applies to both postpaid and prepaid contracts.

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