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So You Think We Have It Bad? A Look At Canadian Termination Fees

penaltyKid Over the past few years I have learned quite a bit about wireless plans in Canada. I remember the first time I heard of a 3 year contract… I used to think that carriers sucked in the US due to ridiculous early termination fees (ETF) and 2 year contracts. Then I started getting some insight into how bad it is just north of the border and all of a sudden I feel quite lucky. I recently did some digging into ETF (known as ECF’s in Canada) so I could get a bit more insight about how things work over there. I actually found it quite enlightening as to how bad it is in RIM’s own country.

So lets get down to the details. In general you will be forced to always sign a 3 year contract to get decent pricing on any phone. The only exception is FIDO who has a 2 year option deal for regular phones (not smartphones). To get a decent deal on any smartphone you will almost always sign a 3 year Voice Term + 3 Year Data/3 Year Surging contract.

NOTE: All numbers are in Canadian Dollars. There may be some slight errors in here just because this stuff is simply confusing! Let me know if I got something wrong.

Rogers – Rogers & Bell are more or less the same

  • Practically no discount for 2 year contracts
  • 3 Year Voice + 3 Year Data for all BlackBerry Handhelds.
  • Cancellation Policy:
    • Voice – $20 for every remaining month in contract, Max $400, Min $100. 
    • Data / Vision / Surfing – $5 for every remaining month in contract, Max $100, Min $25. 
    • NOTES: They require 30 days notice to cancel so you may get charged for another full month before cancellation is applied. 
  • Real World Example:  BlackBerry Bold retails for $599-$649 + tax on Rogers.  Rogers sells the Bold for $249+tax on a 3 Year Voice + Data.  Maximum cost for the Bold if one cancels their contract early in their contract is $249+$400ECF+$100DECF+tax = $749+tax (which in Ontario is ~$850)…

Bell Mobility – Mostly the same as Rogers with a few exceptions:

  • Data appears to be required for Smartphones as there is no 3 year ONLY option for these devices
  • ECF appears to be $400 MAX for ALL Devices and $100 minimum for ALL devices
  • NOTES: As usual cancellations take 30 days to process.

Telus Mobility

  • Practically no discount for 2 year contracts
  • 3 Year Voice + 1 Year Data for all BlackBerry Handhelds. After 1 year, you can remove data.
  • Cancellation Policy:
    • Voice – $20 for every remaining month in contract, NO MAXIMUM, Min $100.  No maximum means that at 36 months remaining, the Voice ECF is $720 + tax. 
    • Data / Surfing ECF is $100.
    • NOTES: Cancellations take 30 days to process.
  • Real World Example:  BlackBerry Storm retails for $599+tax on Telus.  Telus sells the Storm for $199 when the client’s Voice, Data and Email totals $40 before taxes.  Maximum fee is $199 + $720 + TAX ($1039 in Ontario). There is also the possibility of the $100 fee for cancelling data within the year.

I just find these numbers staggering. I know it is slightly offset by carriers in Canada letting you resign a contract while you are 2 years into it to get a new device. On the other hand most of my BlackBerrys barely last a year let alone 2 or 3! Let me know what you think or if you found a country that has worse cancelation fees.

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. 3 Year contracts are NOT required for data devices.
    They are ONLY required to get the phone at a 3 year discount price.

    People can take a 2 year or one year and pay more for the phone… heck they can take a month to month even.

  2. Hello,

    You should see how it is the thing here in Venezuela; Movistar for example sales the Bold with a contract for USD 1865 with a 500 MB monthly plan for 33 USD (just the BlackBerry plan) plus a mandatory voice plan; you are in heaven there; here operators do with customer all they want to and also do not take care of the service and customer support (people that works in operators hardly know what a mobile phone is LOL)



  3. Indonesia is the best.

    There are three carriers and all are about the same. You pay full price for your Bold, about $800 USD. I am on the XL network. I have a post paid account paying about $20 USD a month for unlimited data and 100 free minutes on the same network. To top that up, from 8 pm to 8 am, I pay nothing for calls on the same network. Best of all, there are no 1, 2 or 3 year contracts.

    Now, on my Storm, I use the same network on a pre-paid account. I pay about $0.50 USD per day for the BIS service and my calls cost me about $0.10 for the first call and then free from Midnight till 5 pm calling the same network.

    Both the storm and the Bold cost me less than $50 a month and both are on unlimited data.

    Just can not go wrong here. Maybe Canada and the US can learn a bit from the Indonesian carriers.

  4. Not BB related but still interesting. I had Clearnet (now Telus) in Ontario in 2001 before I moved to the US. With Clearnet I paid $5/month for unlimited e-mail on my Sanyo. When I got the same Sanyo phone from Sprint in the US I would have to pay $20/month for the same thing. Voice and ETFs were similar. At least back then it seems Canada had better services.

  5. I don’t think Ronen’s intentions were to state that 3 year terms were required…I think he was implying that without the 3 year contract, the retail price of the item was more than buying it “grey-market” thus making it pointless to buy it retail and just take the contract…or buy it grey market!

    The other problem is that the providers offer better pricing for the service when taking an agreement. For example, the data value packs on Rogers, while a great deal, require a 3 year data term…which in term requires a 3 year voice term. Telus’ equivalent “value packs” I believe also requires a data term (although, their data term is only 1 year).

  6. that is why i brought the Storm without a contract.

    These guys are a rip off. Even at $600. i still save enough for couple of Lattes.

  7. FWIW, with Bell the Data portion is much like Telus. You may remove it after 1 year without penalty. But it’s an extra $200 if you remove it early.

  8. Personally, I don’t care that I’m locked in – every year Telus allows me to sign another 3 year renewal (3 years from signing not 3 years additional) and gives me a new BlackBerry for free. I’m grandfathered on an old plan that basically gives me 1000 minutes, per second and free after 6pm, $0.10 long distance and $15/BIS for about $150 tax in. They’ve given me so many phones for free that if I ever had to cancel and pay the $700+ cancellation fees, I’d still be WAY ahead in the game.
    I don’t care about the minute differences between the carriers and I know that, for the most part, the coverage/service/prices are all the same. I’m actually happy with what I’ve got.

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