Wireless contracts lock customers in for a set term – but your life (hopefully) doesn’t revolve around when your contract expires. Maybe you’re moving out of the country, or just want to take advantage of a competing carrier’s offer – whatever your reason, sometimes you need to break your contract before the time is officially up.
Since the CRTC’s Wireless Code came into effect in December 2013, the process to get out of your mobile contract has become more transparent, if not easier. As of June 2015, any and all cancellation fees – including any remaining device balance – will be waived for any contract that is two years old the Wireless Code, you can read about it here. In this post we will give you the low down on how to cancel your contract and how much it will cost you.
The process of cancelling your contract is fairly straightforward (at least in theory). To begin, all you have to do is call up your service provider and let them know you want to cancel and when. You may be transferred to another department that will make you an offer (special monthly plan price, reduce early upgrade fee, etc.) in order to entice you to stay – but as long as you are firm and repeat your desire to cancel, they will eventually process your request.
Note: Most phones are locked to use on one carrier’s network. If you want to be able to use your phone with another carrier, you will have to unlock your phone first. This could cost between $30 and $70 depending on you carrier. Make sure you tell the customer service representative that you want to unlock your phone before they cancel your account.
The How Much:
Buying your phone on contract is a little bit like taking out a loan to pay for the device – and each month you pay a bit of it off until it reaches zero.
If you are on a two year contract, and you got a new phone subsidized by your carrier – your only cancellation fee is to pay off the device balance. You can view this amount by logging into your account on your carrier’s website.
The device balance represents the discount that was given to you off of the price of your new phone for signing a contract. This amount reduces by an equal amount every month, and will be $0 after 24 months. This is the same amount you would have to pay to do an early upgrade.
If you signed a contract but did not take a subsidy on a new phone, your cancellation fee is lesser of $50 or 10% of your monthly fee, multiplied by the number of months left on your contract.
What if I’m still stuck on a three-year contract?
As of June 3, 2015, all wireless contracts (including most corporate contracts, if the plan is in your name) are now covered by the CRTC’s Wireless Code.
This means that once your contract reaches the two-year mark, it can be cancelled without penalty. If you cancel before the two year mark, your cancellation fee will be equal to the remaining device balance left on your account, representing the pro-rated value of the discount you were given off your device when you signed your contract.
When in doubt, ask.
If you can’t find a copy of the contract you signed when you got your phone, it can be hard to figure out which of the various cancellation policies will apply to your account. If you contact Rogers, Bell, Telus or your other provider by phone or online chat, they can look up what your cancellation fee would be without actually cancelling your account.