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Cell Phone Companies Banned From Charging Customers For Unlocking Phones

As of Dec. 1, cellphone customers can ask their provider to unlock their phones free of charge, the CRTC announced Thursday. At the same time, it said, all newly purchased mobile devices must be provided to customers unlocked.

TORONTO – Canadian cell phone companies have been banned from charging customers for unlocking their phones.

CRTC listened to many Canadians who griped about unlocking fees especially since they were charged for the phone itself.

As of Dec. 1, cellphone customers can ask their provider to unlock their phones free of charge, the CRTC announced Thursday. At the same time, it said, all newly purchased mobile devices must be provided to customers unlocked, reported CBC News.

Telecoms often order locked phones from manufacturers that are programmed to work only with their service. Then they charge a fee — typically $50 — to unlock the phone if a customer wants to switch providers.

The unlocking fee has always been unpopular with customers. It has even been referred to it as a “ransom fee.”

When the CRTC reviewed its wireless code earlier this year, it invited the public to comment online. Many took the opportunity to gripe about unlocking fees.

“Now after paying for the phones we are held ransom to unlock them to go to another provider. Totally ridiculous,” stated one person. “Excuse me, but I own the phone.”

“That’s called a ‘Ransom Fee’ or ‘Hostage Fee’ in any other business,” wrote another individual. “It is unbelievable how the government allows these companies to extort money like this!”

In March, the CRTC reported that Canadian telecoms made a total of $37.7 million last year by charging customers to unlock their cellphones — a 75 per cent jump in that source of revenue compared with 2014.

 

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