The code of conduct the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) set down for the wireless industry ensures that consumers can cancel their three-year contracts after 24 months without paying a fee, meaning that as of June 3, three-year cell phone contracts are effectively dead. If you signed a contract on June 2, 2013 or earlier, then you are free to renew or go without a contract. You have options to consider now that you’re on your own to decide, and here’s a look at some of them.
This crunch of consumers is unofficially called the “double cohort” because it refers to those who were already on three-year contracts, as well as those who signed up for two-year deals when they were first offered in 2013. If you did sign a contract between June 3rd and December 2nd, 2013, you may be subject to a cancellation fee to get out, but it will be calculated by the CRTC’s code, not the terms of the deal you signed with your carrier, likely ensuring a much lower cost.
Since Best Buy is an independent player in all this, comparing rates and plans from one carrier to another is as easy as going into a store, asking questions and assessing the choices in front of you.
The carriers have been well aware of this surplus, prompting them to incentivize both their own subscribers and prospective new ones from their competitors. In other words, there are better deals to be had, and they can change constantly.
Renewing with your carrier
If you like where you are, and don’t want to stray over to another carrier, then you may find that extending or signing a new contract could also negate continuing on with your current plan. This is likely to be the case for many because the plans available now are different than those offered as recently as 18 months ago. Carriers insist customers choose a new plan when renewing fresh two-year contracts. Extending an existing contract can only happen while it’s still in effect—not when it has already expired.
Carriers have come up with special offers for customers who have stuck with them for a longer period of time. How the carriers define this depends on who we’re talking about, so I would suggest going in to see a Best Buy Mobile salesperson to get the goods on what’s out there. There is a free upgrade check at any Best Buy Mobile location to see what kind of renewal offer you would be eligible for.
Best Buy Mobile staff are able to cross-reference both the carriers supported by the retailer, but also those that aren’t, so you’re able to get a sense of what kind of plans are out there across the board. If you have viewed the end of your contract as an opportunity to leave and pursue another carrier, you can do so with or without signing a new one with whomever you go with.
Given the surplus of consumers now free to do as they please, carriers are offering unique deals and incentives to woo them away from competitors. This could mean slight variations in the plans they already have, creating a more flexible marketplace. And it is likely to continue for several months up to December. It gets even better if you already have a phone of your own when making the switch. Some providers, like Best Buy Mobile, even offer a selection of unlocked phones to choose from.
By comparing what other carriers can offer, particularly when you are specific about how much airtime, data or price point you’re looking for, any special deal can be found at Best Buy Mobile.
Buying a phone outright
The very concept of buying a smartphone outright is about freedom of movement. Carriers now have adjusted plans to accommodate customers who come in with their own devices. If you already own your device, then you don’t need to sign a contract, since the contract’s primary purpose is for carriers to recoup the initial subsidy involved with offering a phone at a reduced upfront cost.
Being free from a contract offers the opportunity to take this route. True, the outright price of a smartphone—especially a flagship one—can be fairly high, but you can save money in the long run. If you have a great monthly plan that has been grandfathered despite the latest plans being offered, continuing on with a fully-owned device is the best way to hang onto it. As I noted earlier, signing up for a new contract usually requires choosing from one of the current plans available. However, you are not obligated to do that if you already own your device, meaning that protecting an older (and cheaper) plan may require an outright purchase.
Finding the right deal
Don’t be shy to ask questions and gauge where there is room for negotiation. You don’t have to sign a contract to necessarily get a better deal, nor do you have to move to another carrier if you already have a great plan. It’s a unique situation that hasn’t really happened in the wireless industry in Canada before, and while some of it might come off as confusing, it’s an opportunity to seek out something better.