100 Days Until I End a 6 Year Relationship (with my phone service provider)

Today, after I got home from my shift at work, I noticed a small package from TELUS, my current phone service provider. Normally, it’s just my monthly phone bill in the mail, or what they call TELUS Perks; small gifts such as movie passes or a charitable donation in your name. Today, however, it was something different.

Seeing this made me really excited.

Seeing this made me really excited.

I’ve been with TELUS for nearly 6 years now. It’s my longest relationship with anything ever. My first phone was a Motorola RAZR V3C, and my second, and current phone, is my HTC Desire. Yes, the original Desire, the one that shipped with Android 2.1 Eclair and never officially received any Android 2.3 update. But that’s besides the point. Well, not really, because since I was with TELUS, and my particular plan was that I’d have a credit spending limit of $200 (meaning I wouldn’t have to pay my phone bills until I hit that dollar amount), I couldn’t upgrade without jumping through a number of insane hoops. First, I’d have to pay off the remaining balance of my device, which is $10/month for however many months I had left. Then, I’d have to pay my $200 to get off that credit spending limit program I was on, and then to top it all off, a $275 cancellation fee. So it could eventually come close to $700 before I could even do anything else.

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In case you can’t read the text in that image, the booklet basically says that I am currently eligible for a phone upgrade and they’ll make it easy for me to do so by:

  1. Waiving my device balance (the $10/month and the $200 credit limit program would be gone)
  2. Offering special discounts on select phones so I can save more
  3. Giving me access to the hottest phone at the best in-market prices

Naturally, this got me pretty excited, seeing as despite the fact that my 3-year old phone with 512 MB RAM/ROM is running Android 4.2.2 fairly well, I desperately need a new phone as a daily driver. I flipped the page over and saw the phone that they were offering me:

Seeing the three phones that they were offering me immediately bummed me out.

Seeing the three phones that they were offering me immediately bummed me out.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Q, The BlackBerry Curve 9320, or the Nokia Lumia 620, all phone, maybe with the exception of the Lumia 620 (which is a Windows Phone 8 device, thus, has no app ecosystem), that are lower spec’d than my current device. Why on earth would I want to pay $25 to buy a phone that is arguable far worse than what I am currently working with?

But, to make sure that I wasn’t being stupid and missing anything in this sparsely detailed booklet, I called TELUS customer support, and they clarified that yes, those were the only three phones I could “upgrade” to at the $25 price point. If I wanted, say the Nexus 4, I’d pay $30, or if I wanted the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4, I’d pay approximately $180, the current subsidized cost of those devices. The real kicker was that I’d be locked into another 2 year contract, with a ridiculous monthly rate plan of a base $55/month with unlimited calling and texting and 250 MB of data. For another $8 per service, I could tack on Caller ID, Voice Mail, Call Waiting and Conference Calling. The only one I’d require are the first two, a $16 additional charge.

Then, because 250 MB of data is nothing, for another $30/month, I could tack on another, wait for it, another whole 750 MB of data. $30 for 750 MB?! TELUS, you have to be kidding me. Again, this is if I went with the cheapest phone out of the best that they can offer me.

That brings the total charges per month on a new two year contract to around $100/month, more than my current $80/month with unlimited texting, 300 minutes of calling, Call Waiting, Conference Calling, Voice Mail, Caller ID, and 1 GB of data. So with spending more, I’d be getting less than I currently have with my now grandfathered rate plan.

I decided to shop around a bit more, and looked at Rogers, the next best bet. The plans are relatively the same, but for another $150/month, you can bump you 250 MB of data to 20 GB. 20 GB for $150? The numbers seemed skewed to me, and they are. For home internet plans, you can roughly get 1 GB of data for $1, if you’re at the 80 GB data cap with Rogers or Bell.

It gets even better.

I then wanted to know why they charge so much per text message, $0.20/text. The customer services client told me it’s because of the infrastructure charges and the cost to actually send such a large file over the airwaves. That, is not true. The most a text message will ever come to in size is 160 kb. Even for your 5-6 pagers, they get split up, which is why the person who receives them receives 5-6 texts from you, even if it doesn’t look like that on your end. So that cost per text argument is frankly total bull.

To end the phone call with the customer services client, a woefully ignorant lady who kept having to refer to her manager on duty for basic questions such as, “how much longer do I have until my contract is over?” To answer that question, it is 100 days, as of writing this.

So, this was in essence, a horribly long-winded way of basically saying that the big three Canadian telecommunications companies are no longer economically viable for someone like me, a recent university graduate in their early 20s. It’s no wonder why so many people my age really want Verizon, the largest American telecommunications and phone service provider, to come and enter the Canadian market. It’s no wonder why almost everyone that I talk to is so bitter with Rogers, Bell, and TELUS, as well as their respective subsidiary companies, Koodo, Virgin, and Fido. It’s no wonder why so many more people, including me, want to jump ship to companies like WIND Mobile as soon as they are able to, and it’s no wonder why you will not be getting my money ever again.

We, as the consumer, want, and demand better choice that’s actually affordable. Paying over $100 a month for a phone service is ridiculous, and needs to stop. The big three have had their chance, in fact, many, chances, to change their practices and give the consumers what we’ve all been clamouring for since we all clued into what was going on.

The good news is that I only have 100 days left in my six year long, monetarily abusive relationship, with TELUS. 100 very long days until I can finally begin voting with my wallet.

Until then, I only have one last thing to say, and that is a big screw you to TELUS.


I wrote a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star regarding this issue. You can read it here.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/100-days-u...

Letters to the Editor: More Options for Canadians

Re: Canada doesn’t need fourth wireless carrier, says Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed, Business, July 24

Canada doesn’t need fourth wireless carrier, says Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed, Business, July 24

Bell recently published a two-page ad bemoaning the entry of Verizon into Canada’s mobile market, stating that it would hurt the consumer in the end. Frankly, I no longer feel any sympathy for the Big Three, as they have had, and lost, multiple chances at creating a fair and open market for the consumer, as well as newer and smaller companies. Both Bell and Rogers claim to have our best interests at heart, but really, they are scared stiff that they will have to compete in an open market against Verizon, the one company that could actually help create the market Canadians have been longing for this entire time.

The ideal, truly competitive market would be one where we would have five major carriers, Rogers, Bell, Telus, Wind and Verizon, and their subsidiaries, Fido, Virgin, Koodo and Mobilicity, as well as the provincial options such as Videotron. This would ensure that Canadians have the best possible options to choose from because, after all, competition spurs innovation.

Note: This originally appeared in the Toronto Star's Letters to the Editor Section on July 29th, 2013. You can find a link to that post here.

 

The Internet is Awesome, but...

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my close friends. I had sent her a link, and asked her opinion on the subject matter. Her response was, “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ignorant to more than 50% of what the Internet has to offer. I prefer tangible things, and fresh air, and books.” Her response got me thinking, and while I agree with her position, albeit to a very minor extent, I offered up my position in that the Internet is actually a very awesome place, and is very much so tangible.

Something doesn’t necessarily need to trigger a direct response from your senses for it to be tangible. For something to be tangible, it should have a real, lasting effect on the world around us. For instance, look at Google. In their 2013 I/O conference back in May, they spent a portion of their time discussing their Google Maps platform. In short, they said that by giving the tools to countries in which their physical maps were horribly outdated, the users were then able to create real world, real time, and editable maps that were far more accurate than the ones they had. That had a real, tangible, and lasting effect on those people and those countries.

You can watch the Maps portion of Google I/O 2013 here.

My friend further argued that the Internet, due to it’s status as a man-made creation, is not natural, and will lead to our demise as it allows for us to communicate through an instant medium, even though we are thousands of kilometres away. She also stated that we are being pushed farther away from what we once were, in that we no longer actively seek the physical, but rather are far more content in the virtual, as we seek out and build new friendships via Facebook and Twitter. She summed her argument up by saying that, “we forget that absence makes the heart grow fonder due to this instant world that we live in. That we’re so caught up in our phones, social media, and our laptop,s that we forget to stay and take a moment to process the information we are in taking in order to create an educated opinion. It’s addictive. And all emotion and sense of peace and stillness is lost while doing so.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not claiming that the Internet is absolutely perfect. I agree with my friend when she says that it’s a volatile place in a state of constant flux. It’s far from perfect, but so are we. However, using my friends logic, most of what we enjoy in this world is not natural, due to its status as a man-made creation. Books are included in this, as they too allow for the transmission of ideas from one person to another despite them being separated by thousands of kilometres. Where the Internet excels at is the sharing of ideas; it’s an amazing tool for discovering new ideas like none we’ve ever known before. All that the Internet is doing is cutting down on the amount of time it used to take us.

However, this is where I get to the part where I agree with my friend (to an extent). She does have a point in that there is a whole new generation of kids who don’t have the proper tools to actually meet new people outside in the real world (real being used in the sense as outside of the Internet). We are so caught up in following celebrities and sharing our every thought and emotion, that we forget that when we type out “lol”, we are no longer actually going through with the act of emoting.

Think of it this way. How many times have you personally had a panic attack when you’ve forgotten your phone somewhere, only to feel that sense of relief when you realize it’s in your other pocket. We can no longer go through a meal without constantly checking our phones, and there are even tips and tutorials on how to get by and handle without being connected. You can no longer go to a concert without seeing a see a tiny glowing screens and behind them, their owners craning their necks to view the musician through the tiny glowing screen.

The Internet is an awesome place to discover and connect with people along similar lines of interest. It’s a great place to share new ideas, and get feedback, and to educate yourself. That being said, it shouldn’t completely take over your life. Every once in a while, unplug yourself, and take in the world around you simply for what it is, and let your imagination run wild and think about what it could be.

The Internet is awesome, but sometimes it’s also awesome to just disconnect.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/the-intern...