Government to ‘give consumers the tools they need to get the least expensive possible service and encourage the federal government to deliver more affordable cellphone options.’
Cellphone providers and online ticket scalpers were serviced notice in the B.C. Legislature on Tuesday that their profit margins were about to be scrutinized.
During the throne speech delivered by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin, the province committed to “take action to improve billing transparency” for cellphone users.
Austin said the province also planned to introduce rules that would ban ticket robots that buy up tickets en masse, so they can be resold at a hefty profit.
After the speech, B.C. Premier Horgan told reporters “we want to make sure that cellphone providers here in B.C. are open and transparent about the packages that they are putting forward. It’s a significant cost for families, and a significant cost particularly for young people.
“We want to make sure that we can do everything we can as a province to make sure that the contracts and the issues that are front and centre on rising costs are transparent, and open, and well understood by the public. I think the federal government shares that concern, and we want to work with them to make sure that B.C. can lead the way on reducing costs for cell coverage.”
According to Austin, Canadian cellphone and data costs are among the highest in the world. This is attributed in part to the nation’s vast geography. Canada’s big three cellphone providers are Telus, Bell and Rogers and they are overseen by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. However, the CRTC does not govern prices.
The process is expected to start with a legislative review and consultation.
Austin added the government would “give consumers the tools they need to get the least expensive possible service and encourage the federal government to deliver more affordable cellphone options for people.”
The issue of ticket bots came to the public’s attention during The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour in the summer of 2016, when tickets were sold out within seconds, only to end up on resale websites for considerably higher prices.
Since then, the Alberta government has put in place regulations to protect consumers from ticket sale gouging and the B.C. government has help public consultations.
The new rules proposed by the B.C. government for live ticket sales include “a ban on mass ticket-buying software, and more transparency for all companies selling tickets to live events.”
with files from Rob Shaw