11/15/2013 06:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Rogers customer takes stand on 'punitive' cancellation fees

Rogers Communications has waived a contract cancellation fee for one Vancouver woman after a CBC News investigation discovered the charges were errant.

Susan Angel's three-year cellular service contract with Rogers expired at the end of October, but she knew long before then that she would be switching providers when the contract was up.

So two weeks before her contract expired, she signed a long-term deal with Telus. Despite having paid her bills from Rogers all the way to the end, the company considered it an early cancellation – and charged Angel $180 fee.

"I thought I was happily abiding by the contract and being a good customer and following the rules," Angel says.

"I thought I was doing the right thing – $180? That's quite a ding there for nothing. It didn't cost them anything."

Rogers told Angel that if she didn't pay the early cancellation fee, her credit rating would take a hit.

Steve Anderson, a Vancouver-based open media advocate and campaigner, says the fees are designed to keep customers from switching providers.

"It's very tricky, often you have to pay off until the very end if you want to break your service plan, some places still have a termination free. Usually it's a very costly endeavour made punitively expensive," he told CBC News.

"That's on purpose because cell phone companies really want to keep you locked into these expensive services."

As of Dec. 2, the cancellation fees Rogers charged Angel are a thing of the past. In June, the CRTC announced a new code of conduct for wireless service providers that allow consumers to cancel wireless contracts after two years without penalty.

Rogers Communications, Bell Canada Enterprises and Telus have challenged the new provision in the Federal Court of Appeal.

When CBC News contacted Rogers with Angel's story, the company said Angel should never have been charged and agreed to waive the fee.

Angel says she appreciates not having to pay, but still thinks the big wireless service providers wield too much power over consumers.

"To a certain point, they use that power and take advantage of it and I think it's unfair. Particularly in this case, I was really trying to do the right thing."