Can phone, internet & TV service providers increase their prices?

Paying invoice on phone

The answer is… it depends.

Generally speaking, the prices charged by phone, internet and television service providers in Canada are not regulated by Canada’s communications regulator, the CRTC. This means that service providers are generally free to set their own prices for their products and services and can adjust these prices for a variety of reasons. But are there any rules about service providers increasing their prices? This is a question we are frequently asked.

Contracts and Terms of Service

Phone, internet and television service providers deliver their services to their customers according to rules which they set, usually called Terms of Service, Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions (“Terms”). These Terms are generally incorporated into a customer’s service contract. But just because at one time the provider offered you certain services at a certain price, and that price is set out in your service agreement, that does not necessarily mean that the provider can never raise its prices..

We often receive complaints from customers about price increases. They want to know whether this is allowed. The answer is almost always… it depends.

Whether or not the service provider can increase its prices depends on a few things:

  • The type of service: wireless, internet, or television. There are overall more rules governing wireless service than internet service and television service;
  • The nature of your commitment to the service provider: either a fixed-term contract or indeterminate (or month-to-month) contract;
  • What the Terms and your contract say about prices; and
  • For wireless and TV services, the rules of the relevant code of conduct.

What You Need To Know

If you are receiving wireless service under a 2-year contract, the price is deemed by the Wireless Code to be a key contract term that cannot be changed during contract.

If you are receiving internet or TV service, generally speaking, the service provider has considerable flexibility to increase prices if their Terms permit it. TV service providers are required by the Television Service Provider Code of Conduct to provide the customer with at least 30 day’s notice of the change. In all cases you should review your service providers’ Terms, which often also impose a notice requirement on the service provider.

What You Can Do

  • Start by reviewing your service contract and your service provider’s Terms. What do they say about price increases? Are any restrictions, limitations or conditions imposed?
  • Next, consider any relevant code of conduct, such as the Wireless Code or the Television Service Provider Code to see whether they impact you.*
  • When in doubt, contact your service provider for some clarification.
  • If after you review the contract, the Terms and any relevant code of conduct you believe your service provider does not have the right to make a price change, you can file a complaint with us using our secure online interactive questionnaire or by email to response@ccts-cprst.ca.

 


*The Wireless Code prohibits a service provider from changing some key terms (including the price of the service) during the course of a fixed-term contract, unless the customer consents. For TV services, the Code doesn’t prohibit price changes. The Code only requires service providers to notify their customers 30 days in advance before making changes, including the price of individual channels or packages of channels. The notification sent to the customer must explain the change and when it will take effect. There is currently no code of conduct for internet services.

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