Your right to choose a phone company
When more than one phone company
offers service in your
area, you can choose from whom to buy phone services, you can switch
companies or you
may be able to buy some services from one phone
company and other services from another.
You have a right to choose your phone company and to choose the
services that you receive from the phone company. You do not have to buy
all of your services from the same phone company. For example, some
customers buy their local telephone service from one company and their
long distance service from another.
You have the right to change companies where more than one phone
offers service in your area. You can also change the services you are
buying from any company (see "Your rights when you want to
phone service" section).
In most circumstances, you will be able to keep your phone number when
you change phone companies, providing that you stay within the same
local telephone service area. When switching to a new telephone company,
you should consult with that company to see whether you can keep your
existing phone number.
Your rights regarding deposits for service
Your phone company may only ask for
a deposit in specific circumstances and there may be alternatives to
paying a deposit.
The phone company may ask you for a deposit if you do not have a
credit history with the company and you cannot provide satisfactory
credit information, you have a poor credit rating with the phone
company, or you otherwise pose a high risk of not paying your telephone
The deposit, where required, generally does not exceed the total of
three months' phone charges from the company, including charges for
local phone service and any extra services you decide to purchase, such
as long distance service and optional local services.
The phone company must inform you of the reasons for asking you to pay a
deposit and explain that there may be other options available. For
example, you can arrange for someone else, who has a good credit rating
with the phone company, to sign a contract with the phone company,
agreeing to pay your bill if you don't. This person is called a
guarantor. You can also have someone else pay your bill for you. Another
option is to get a letter of credit form a financial institution.
You earn interest on deposits that you have paid to the phone company.
The amount of your deposit and the interest you have earned will
periodically be shown on your phone bill.
The phone company must periodically review the need to keep your
deposit, or the alternatives to the deposit. If the reasons that
justified the need for your deposit are no longer present, the phone
company must return your deposit, and any interest, to you promptly.
If you cancel your service with your phone company, your deposit plus
interest will be returned to you, less any amounts that you still owe.
Your rights when the phone company wants to cut off your phone service
Your phone company can only disconnect your local phone
service in specific circumstances and after taking specific steps.
Circumstances when your local phone service cannot be cut off
Under no circumstances can the phone
company cut off your local phone service because you have not paid for other phone services, such as long
distance, Internet or cellular services.
The phone company cannot cut off your local phone service at one
location because you have not paid your bill for a different class of
service at another location, such as business phone service. Also, if
you are a guarantor who promised to pay someone else's bill, the phone
company cannot cut off your local phone service because you have not
paid that person's bill.
If you are unable to pay the full amount that you owe for your phone
service, you have the right to arrange a reasonable payment plan with
the phone company. The phone company cannot cut off your local phone
service if you are willing to enter into, and honour, a reasonable
payment plan. You may also want to consult with your phone company to
find out what optional services you can discontinue or block in order to
reduce your phone bill (see "Your right to block outgoing long distance
and 900 and 976 calls" section).
If you believe that some of the charges in your phone bill are
incorrect, you have the right to dispute them. You must let the phone
company know that you are disputing the phone bill and pay the part of
your phone bill that is unrelated to the disputed charges. The phone
company cannot charge you interest or cut off your local phone service
because you do not pay the disputed charges, unless it has reasonable
grounds to believe that you have disputed the charges as a way to avoid
or delay making a payment.
Circumstances when your local phone service can be cut off
The phone company may take steps to cut off your local telephone service
only in limited circumstances, such as:
- when you owe the company more than $50 for your local phone
service, including local optional services;
- when your local phone service charges have been past due for
over two months;
- when you fail to provide or maintain a reasonable deposit or an
agreed upon alternative (see "Your right regarding deposits"
- when you have failed to honour the terms of a payment plan
- when you use, or allow someone else to use, your phone for
illegal purposes or to make annoying or offensive calls.
Having your local phone service cut off is a very serious matter.
Consult your telephone company's "Terms of Service" found in your white
pages or the CRTC if you would like to clarify when your phone service
can and cannot be cut off.
Steps the phone company must take
The phone company cannot cut off your telephone service without
providing reasonable advance notice in order to allow you the
opportunity to pay outstanding bills, make payment plan arrangements,
sort out misunderstandings, or take other actions to prevent your local
phone service from being cut off.
The phone company must first contact you and explain why it is
planning on cutting off your service. If the reason for ending your
service is related to outstanding debt, the phone company must also let
you know that you can enter into a reasonable payment plan, what the
reconnection charge will be, and the phone number of a company
representative you can talk to if you are disputing charges. If the
phone company cannot reach you by phone, it must provide this
information to you in a written notice to your billing address, or by fax
or electronic document.
If the situation has not been resolved, the phone company must
provide at least 24 hours' notice prior to cutting off your service,
except in very limited circumstances.
Reconnection of service
The phone company must restore your local phone service when the
reason the service was cut off no longer exists. There may be a charge
to reconnect your phone service.
If the disconnection of your local phone service was in error or
otherwise improper, the phone company must restore your service free of
charge. Your phone service will usually be reconnected during business
hours on the next working day.