A Manitoba woman whose cellphone was reported stolen says she was stunned when Bell Mobility told her she would have to keep paying her $65 monthly bill until her contract ends in 2015.
Calli McKay of Lockport, Man., says she was having dinner on Dec. 26 and had her Samsung Galaxy Note II in her jacket pocket. The next thing she knew it, the phone was gone.
"I was frantic. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, who took my phone?'" she told CBC News.
McKay said she contacted police to report the phone as stolen and called Bell to cancel her service.
But weeks later, she received a bill from Bell for just under $65 in "current charges for a phone I don't have," she said.
"They said that they can't do anything about it, that I have to continue with the contract for two years unless I want to buy it out," McKay said.
Under Manitoba's consumer protection laws, consumers can cancel their wireless contracts at any time for a reasonable cancellation fee.
In many cases, the customers only need to pay the prorated cost of any free phone they received as part of a long-term contract, according to the legislation.
"With the rules that are in place you have an opportunity to cancel the contract, and the only obligation being that you repay the prorated cost of the device that's remaining," said Gail Anderson, director of the province's Consumer Protection Office.
McKay said Bell won't let her out of her contract unless she pays about $500 to replace the missing phone, which she had for just two months when it was stolen.
She said she cannot afford to replace it, adding that she had signed with Bell in the first place only because the device was free with the two-year contract.
Officials with Bell Mobility told CBC News that customers can always buy insurance to prevent similar situations from happening to them.