Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Telus and the data service plans for your phone

I just finished paying my monthly bill and have decided that since they raised the rates of the 'unlimited web/email' plan from $60 to $100/month I would give it one month. This, I did and then decided that I can find other methods of getting my data to my PDA then through the cellular line. I must admit however, that it being anywhere you have phone service, you also have the internet was a nice touch, but for $100? I don't think so! So I called them up and all seemed fine, but the girl wasn't sure if that was it as I just happened to ask "is there anything I will have to do at my end?", she passed me on to technical support and they said 'nope, everything should be good', and that was it. I hung up the phone and within 20 seconds I receieved a call back stating that they can't disconnect the data services because of the type of phone I had. My Audiovox 6600 PDA phone apparently 'must' have data, however when I first purchased the phone I didn't have this. In fact I went two months without it but because the phone doesn't have wifi (it has bluetooth), getting connected to a hotspot wasn't going to happen without purchasing an SD WIFI unit (approx $79). Therefore I ended up signing up for their plan. Knowing that if I am going to have it, I might as well not wonder how much I am using it and just go for the 'unlimited' plan which, at the time, was $100/month but for the first 3 months it was $50. But because I was an existing Telus client, I was not entitled to this special, therefore they came up with my own special plan of $60/month unlimited. I agreed to this (much to my dismay, knowing that I could purchase the WIFI card for a little more). After the first month, no problem, but the second month, I noticed almost $60 in 'overage fees'. Apparently the 'unlimited' isn't really unlimited and has a limit of 20mb (at the time, but has since been bumped to 200mb but also is now $100 which I am getting to). I never used this for email and only used the AvantGo services which basically uses an offline web browser whereas it connects and downloads all the data that you request so that when you are on the go, you can read the material just like you are connected but this is all stored in the cache. In any case this overage was apparently because my phone would just connect and update the services therefore the 2mb that it would download might be done a few times throughout the day. As a result I had virtually paid for two months with these additional charges.

Now, at the time when I phoned about this, and to get these charges reversed, I note that Telus was on strike therefore I was talking to management when I called. What a treat it was I must say, since I got to talk to someone that could actually make things happen and he quickly understood, removed the overages and that was that. The next month no problem, but the month after that, again, overtime charges but now that the strike was over, it was like going through city hall.. One level at a time, until I got to speak to a technician that could actually understand what I was talking about. The simple fact is that Telus offers an "unlimited' plan but does have to place a value on this just to stop the people from abusing it. I can understand that, but I could hardly be one to be told of abusing it since I wasn't even really using it for what it was. In any case, I learned that the rate was now $100/month but this was for like 200mb of data which as he stated 'you would never go over that' . Well I gave in to it simply because I wanted to believe that was the case, and because I was a 'loyal' customer with ADSL service, long distance service, two cell phones as well as data services, I was spending close to $600/month. Considering my business is communications, I had to chalk a lot of this up to the business and realize that in order to do business, you had to have the services. But after a month of this I figured that was enough and that $100 could be removed and put towards other services.

So now comes the fun. When I receive the phone call back from the Technician telling me that he can't take the data services off because of the type of phone I had (remember that I never had any services when I first bought it however). But apparently I would have to speak to the 'loyalty department' at which time I then was greeted by another representative that explained because of this phone (blah, blah, blah) that I would have to settle for the minimum plan of $25 which would give me 4mb (remember that one download was 2mb therefore I know it would mean I could sync my system twice in the month and I would have used up my plan).. Something they hope you will do so that they can bill you big time for going over the limit. In any case this really made no sense since I first purchased the phone it didn't have any services and now that I had them I couldn't remove them. Apparently that was the old days and now all phones of this type have to settle for a minimum. So asking for a manager was pointless (I tried but was given the runaround about how they manager wouldn't be able to do anything). I was then told if I were to 'sign up for a 1, 2 or 3 year contract.... "no thanks.. been there done that!" and I already knew that the phone in question did not have a contract. In fact it was on a grandfathered contract that if I were to change, I would lose all these great benefits that they no longer offer, such as 'by the second' billing and 'all incoming minutes are free'. So no, I do not want to sign up to any contract. So I settled for the $25/month plan which gives me 4mb. After hanging up the phone, I proceed to delete the telus connection so that my PDA will NEVER connect to their services so that I NEVER get billed for charges that I wasn't expecting because my phone just happened to connect to the services. At this point, less then 3 minutes after speaking to this representative, she is phone me back explaining that, along with this plan of $25/month and 4mb of data, the first 3 months of email/internet are FREE! Go figure! So now I have gone from spending $100/month on what is supposed to be an unlimited plan but was getting charged overages to $25/month for 'unlimited' for the next three months! And she was busy explaining how they couldn't remove the data plan altogether because they are a business, blah blah blah.. And yet I am getting more for less. It doesn't matter. I still disconnected the services as I can't wait to see my next bill as I am sure there will be something wrong with it.

The moral of this story is to always check your wireless phone provider's bill each and every month carefully. The simple fact that they offer an 'unlimited' plan but do not give you a way of monitoring just how much data you are using, like they have available for the internet users who can check their usage and bandwidth amounts, this is something that 'is in the works' .. The way I see it, they shouldn't be able to charge any overages if they are not allowing us a way of managing our time. The technician agreed with me and said he would be sending this to management.. I haven't seen any changes yet.

To add to this after just posting this and then checking the Telus website for the rate structure, the plan that I apparently signed up for which I was told had 4mb of data, only shows .5 mb of data. So I really have no idea what plan is what. Either the services they are showing online are outdated or they simply can't handle the structured setup they have based on each individual client. In my case I have two different phones and only one of them is under a contract. Be aware of any long term contract. Even though you may be getting a great phone that would normally cost you hundreds of dollars, in the end you will probably be spending more on services that you will be told YOU HAVE TO TAKE, just as I have! If I were to have never signed up for the services, then that would mean $300 less money Telus would have receieved from me, but now it appears you have no choice. Isn't this what the CRTC is supposed to be monitoring?