HALIFAX – Cellphone users in Nova Scotia now have greater protection with changes to the Consumer Protection Act that take effect Wednesday, May 1.
Cellphone service providers now must give Nova Scotians a one-page information sheet, Be a Responsible Digital Citizen, when they sign a contract, and ensure cellphone contracts are clear and fair.
"Protecting Nova Scotians in the digital world isn't just about better cellphone contracts," Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell said in a news release on Tuesday. "Providing educational materials that support responsible cellphone use is just one example of how government is working to protect consumers from the devastating effects of cyberbullying."
While bullying is nothing new, cellphones have brought the activities to a new level, allowing people to remain anonymous when sending harassing or humiliating messages. This can make it easier for people to be more hurtful and say things they normally would not say to someone's face.
"Eastlink takes very seriously the critical issue of cyberbullying and its devastating impact on so many people," said Eastlink CEO Lee Bragg. "As a provider of Internet and cellular phone services, we believe that education on the responsible use of communications technology is necessary if Canadians are to put a stop to cyberbullying.
"Eastlink is pleased to make the province's information sheet and other educational information available in our stores and on our website. We further support the province's broader consumer legislation coming into effect today, which promotes fairness and clarity in cellphone contracts."
Cellphone companies now have to provide more information about minimum monthly costs and include it in advertising. Providers will not be able to change major parts of a contract, including services, costs, fees, or locations where the phone can be used, without the consumer's permission.
People who enter into, or renew, contracts after May 1 will be able to cancel their contract at any time. Nova Scotians who are unhappy with their service and decide to change providers could pay as little as $50 to cancel contracts. Consumers are still responsible for buying their equipment if they cancel early.
"I encourage consumers to be sure they understand their contracts before signing them," said MacDonell.
The amendments only apply to consumer contracts signed after May 1.