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Resident Curmudgeon
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Consumer groups say unlocking fees are unfair, especially if you own your own phone

Canadian telecoms made a total of $37.7 million last year by charging customers to unlock their cellphones. That's a whopping 75 per cent jump in this source of revenue compared to 2014.

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 charge is unpopular with consumers. It has even been referred to it as a 'ransom fee.'

The unlocking revenue total was provided by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC said it could not confirm the exact number of providers in the tally, other than to say, it was "up to seven."

It also wouldn't provide company names or the breakdown from each one. That's because the wireless carriers argued that releasing their unlocking revenues publicly would put them at a competitive disadvantage.

CBC News did confirm that the $37.7 million total included Bell, Rogers and Telus, which own a lion's share of the Canadian wireless market.

Unlocking charge described as 'hostage fee'

The CRTC is looking into the issue of unlocking fees following much criticism about the fairness of the charge.

The controversial fee was a hot topic at a CRTC hearing last month. Consumer groups argued customers shouldn't be dinged for the service — especially if they've paid off their phone.

"You should be able to unlock it [for free] at the very least once you've paid off the device. You own it," says John Lawford, executive director with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa.

He also points out that it's the provider who supplies the locked phone in the first place, and then charges the consumer to undo the process.

"Who's the author of whose misfortune here?" says Lawford.
More here:

Telecoms made $37 million last year charging to unlock cellphones - Business - CBC News

Premium Member
15,673 Posts
I'm not really affected but I've often wondered how they get away with such charges when the Canadian Competition Act and its laws says they can't and has been in place for years.

"The Canadian Competition Act (“the Act”) is intended to protect consumers by prohibiting anticompetitive business practices and promoting competition in the Canadian marketplace. " etc.

Top Ten Things to Know about the Canadian Competition Act
etc. etc…
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