The new legislation requires that providers cancel contracts within 20 days of notice from consumers. They will also no longer be able to force payment for handsets provided, and will instead be required to take back mobile devices where payment is outstanding.
The only grey area that exists is the amount of money service providers will be able to claim for early cancellation. The CPA stipulates that the calculation of reasonable contract cancellation charges have to take ten points into consideration.
These include some sensible considerations, such as outstanding contract fees up to date of cancellation, the consumer's average monthly spend, the value of handsets that will remain with the consumer after cancellation and those that will be returned to the service provider, the duration of the initial contract, losses suffered or benefits accrued by the consumer and the length of the cancellation notice.
However, they also contain some subjective and potentially vague matters, like the "reasonable potential" of the service provider to find an alternative consumer, general practice of the relevant industry and the nature of goods and services that were detailed in the contract.
This creates leeway for cellular service providers to lash consumers for cancellations. The CPA doesn't do much to curb contract periods. The usual 24 month contracts are still allowed, and the act even makes it possible to have 36 month contracts, so long as "demonstrable financial benefit to the consumer" is shown.
You can therefore cancel but the cancellation fees might be high. However, if not reasonable then one can lay a complaint with the consumer tribunal on www.thenct.org.za