By Eric Pettifor
A lot of folk have been doing away with their land lines these days and using their mobile phone for everything. I was on the verge of doing the same, until a major gig I’ve been doing for the last five years began to look uncertain, and I started to look for ways to economize. Since they laid me off last week, I’ve been congratulating myself on my foresight.
Initially I’d held on to the landline because I thought I needed one for ADSL, but that’s no longer the case. After that it was primarily an issue of reliability. My landline has no batteries, and its signal strength doesn’t vary with the weather. But when it looked like belt tightening time, I had the brilliant idea of dropping to the cheapest mobile plan I could find, and then using the mobile phone essentially as a kind of deluxe pager.
I did my research with regards to mobile plans here in Vancouver, and came to the conclusion that the best option was a 50 minute plan with free evenings and weekends ($20), plus voicemail and call display (part of a $12.00 option bundle) with Koodo. This was back around the end of August. I signed up for the plan and cancelled my plan with Telus Mobility.
Here’s where things began to go south, so pay attention if you’re planning to try something similar. Telus’s call centre lady seemed aggrieved that I was going with Koodo, especially since she could offer me a special deal which was very similar, but for half the price. For a moment I was tempted, but I was a bit pissed that they didn’t mention this on their web site. That’s because, the woman said, it was only for long time customers like me. In truth, I suspect that it’s secret because they don’t want long time customers paying through the nose to know about it, and will only pull it out when they think that they’re about to lose a customer. I told her to cancel, and she said my Telus Mobility account would cease to be on September 9th.
I got a cheap Samsung phone from Koodo which was better than the cheap Samsung phone I’d gotten with my Telus Mobility account. The account worked as advertised, other than the fact that even though Koodo and Telus Mobility are both owned by the same parent company, Telus, their web sites are obviously the product of different shops, with Koodo’s being the inferior. I never have seen its “minutes used this month” feature work, and the tab tracker is inconsistent. (The tab is Koodo’s version of a contract, so they can say they don’t have contracts but still ding you for the phone if you leave early.)
A couple of days ago, a Telus Mobility customer loyalty rep calls me up, again with the same half price offer. This time I decide to take him up on it since it really is a great deal, 50 minutes plus call display and voice messaging for $15; that’s much more like it. He also mentions that the Telus Mobility site has time-used tracking as well.
When I logged into telusmobility.com today to check things out, what did I discover, but that the lady who had said she was cancelling my original Telus Mobility account had not, in fact, cancelled it, so there was money owing on it for September. An angry call to Telus support revealed that it wasn’t cancelled because my call was marked “call dropped.”
That had me recalling how aggrieved this call centre worker, probably in India, was that I was cancelling. Seriously, why should she care? The only reason I can think of is that they have a system of rewards and penalties to incentivize workers, and that it’s a very bad thing there to allow a customer to cancel their account. So she just recorded it as a dropped call.
If they don’t reverse the September charges, I’ll be cancelling the bargain account as well, since there is only so much evil I’m prepared to tolerate. In my opinion, there are no good mobile phone companies, they all suck, but that will pretty much cement Telus Mobility’s place for me at the top of the suck list.
The lesson to take away from all this? Research the various options out there and pick the one that looks best. But before signing up for it, call your current provider and let them know what plan you’ve chosen to switch to. You may be surprised by what they’re prepared to counter offer to ensure your “loyalty.”
Then be careful if you do decide to switch, as they may attempt, if only as a consequence of their call centre policies, to screw you over.