Right now in front of the American FCC is a proposal to ease early cancellation fees when people want out of their cell phone contract early. This is an American proposal I hope will come to Canada. Here those fees can easily be over $200. In the states it is usually around $175.
There is talk of bringing in a policy that would allow new users to cancel a contract within 30 days of signing a contract or within 10 days of the first bill. Canada already has a 30 day policy called buyer remorse. However the 10 days after the first bill idea would really be a godsend to Canadians whose first bill is much more then they intended. Too many times the first bill far surpasses what you thought it would be when you add all the charges up. Such an 'out' would force the agent to be 100% up front with the charges to expect.
The proposal would also cap fees at a certain amount and reduce them month by month over the length of the contract, something that some cell companies here in Canada already do. In exchange for these concessions by American companies the FCC will let them off the hook in lawsuits currently before the courts from angry customers.
It is interesting to note that the wireless companies themselves are the ones who suggested this and it is now in the hands of the FCC to decide. To Americans this could result in huge savings as some have been hit with fees as much as $600 to cancel.
We'll likely never see the day that these fees are eliminated completely. That's because cell phone service providers often heavily subsidize the phone when you first sign up and that money has to be recouped. When you see ads for $50 phones on a 3yr contract the companies are betting they'll get their money back over the 3 years. But how much is too much? If you're on that 36 month contract for 30 months you should not have to pay the same as someone who just signed up? Again most Canadian companies pro rate that fee over the contract but this is not the case in the States.
My hope is that this new American proposal passes and helps to promote more openness between the wireless company and customer.