Before we begin, quick heads up — if you have a problem with your phone or plan (as in, your phone is broken or the provider has misled you), check out our info on dealing with problems. See our page on problems with your phone or plan.
If you’re just not satisfied or want to learn more about cancelling in general, read on.
If you’re on a month-to-month plan or pay-as-you go, it’s unlikely you’ll face high cancellation charges — or any cancellation charges. Please read your contract first and call customer service to confirm this.
If you didn’t receive a discounted or free phone on signing the contract, the early cancellation fee can’t be more than $50.
When you walk out with your shiny new phone, remember, 15 days. Canadian laws give you a 15-day trial period from the start of the contract during which you can return your phone with no cancelation fee.
Save the packaging the phone came in. Set a reminder. Mark day 15 on your calendar. And make sure you stay under half of your monthly usage limits. If you have a disability, you get 30 days, and the usage limit doubles.
If there’s a problem, pack the phone up in its box, go into the store (or give them a call) and let them know you want to cancel. Be firm.
Why are cancellation charges so high? Because you have to pay for that “free” or discounted phone at some point!
When they offered you a free or discounted phone, your provider gave you what’s called a device subsidy. This means you pay off the phone, bit by bit, in equal installments through your monthly bill. If you cancel early, you have to pay off any remaining device subsidy.
The device subsidy is the retail price of the phone minus the amount you paid for it when you signed the contract. The early cancellation fee goes down gets each month. Eventually it hits $0 at the end of the contract.
So, for example, say the phone costs $1,200 and you got it for $0. That means an early cancellation fee of $1,200, less $50 for each month you keep the service.
Upgrades are tricky business. When you upgrade early, the provider can first make you pay off the subsidy on the last “free” phone they gave you.
When you’re nearing the end of your contract, providers will be eager to entice you with an upgrade. Why? They’ll lock you in for another two years! Make sure to shop around when you’re getting close to the end of your contract.
When a fixed-term phone contract runs out, the provider may automatically extend it on a month-to-month basis.
To do this, the contract has to say when the month-to-month begins. And the provider has to give you 90 days’ notice, where they explain what the new plan will look like. If they don’t do this, any changes to the plan won’t be valid. And, regardless, you’re also free to cancel and move on.
Just as when you were invited to upgrade, a lapsing contract means you’re in the driver’s seat. Take this time to shop around and look for a better deal, especially if you’re keeping your current phone.
If you’re under 19 and you want out of a phone contract, you can typically cancel it without penalty. This isn’t a guaranteed “out”, but if you reiterate that you’re a minor, the phone company may back off.
Make sure you return the phone (if they gave you one)! Also, be sure to send a letter to the provider saying you understand that they'll close the account. Keep a copy for your files.
Ready to cancel or make a switch? There are a few steps you should keep in mind.
Call customer service or go to your online profile. There you’ll learn what you’ll have to pay if you cancel. If the number seems high, ask them to explain the calculation. Keep in mind the cancellation charge factors in the retail price of the phone — which can be over $1,000!
To cancel your contract, you just have to tell your service provider. You can do it by phone, email or regular mail. Check your contract to see if there’s a specific way they want you to cancel.
If you phone, you may be re-routed through the Department of Enticing You To Stay. There, professional persuaders may dangle a new lower-cost monthly plan or reduce an early upgrade fee. Be strong. As long as you keep repeating your desire to cancel, they’ll eventually process your request.