Monday, January 10, 2011

Cell Phone Contracts

So the Honourable Mr. Gord Macintosh (Family Services) set up some consultation paper to elicit feedback regarding cell phone contracts.

I've had the same (2) phone number(s) for many years. Over the past few years, I've had this little problem with my billing that won't go away. It won't go away, because Telus keeps renewing my contract, but I guess they don't make enough money off me, so they have come up with a creative way of dinging me a little extra every month.

When I make a call, (anywhere in Winnipeg), it's a hit and miss to determine if I'm using a Telus tower, or some other service providers tower. Telus has decided to charge me extra airtime if I'm using some other providers tower. More frustrating, the phones "Home Only" setting doesn't work in this instance, (although this was the "fix" they suggested a few months ago).

Telus CLEARLY advertises their coverage are on maps showing all of Winnipeg... but I guess they... lie? . I can tolerate the other locations I use being poorly serviced, (like at the shore of Lake Manitoba... it's shown as a digital service area, but service is so bad, I don't pick up. No point paying long distance to do my impersonation of the Verizon guy, ("Can you hear me now?")) but RIGHT in Winnipeg? I mean all over, not just in a few locations, I get stuck with extra air time charges, and their "customer service department", (611), can't seem to do too much to "help" aside from suggest I "upgrade my plan".

I understand them wanting me to change plans. The original Talk Winnipeg plan was for unlimited airtime at all times. I guess they can't make money at that at $30 a month, so they "sneak" in a way to increase the bill.

Turns out there are few, (if any), places to formally "complain", "whine", or "bitch". Well Gord, thanks for asking,

Consumer Protection Office
Manitoba Family Services and Consumer Affairs
302-258 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6

Re: Cell Phone Contracts

I read the discussion paper with interest, and felt that I would like to provide some feedback, specifically to

3) Should cell phone suppliers contact consumers and gain their consent before they are charged additional fees (for roaming, text messages or other services), especially if fees are higher than normal monthly charges?

I have been a Telus customer for many years. I purchased two "talk Winnipeg" plans which allowed unlimited talk, anytime for $30 monthly. Telus has provided me with various additions to the plan, always added as a "customer bonus". These items included unlimited texts, a five message mailbox, caller ID, etcetera. Certain fees are known to be added, such as the "911 fee", (which I can't for the life of me understand why I should have to pay), and a "system access fee", (same comment as previous). The greatest extra charges on my bills are "extra airtime" charges. While the plan is for unlimited talk, Telus has arbitrarily decided to charge extra for calls that are made on towers that are not "Telus" towers. If a call goes to a different service providers tower, there are extra charges incurred.

After numerous calls to Telus, a solution was provided by their technical services department. The solution was to set the handset to "Home only" mode. This had no effect, and after a few more calls to Telus, they informed me that this feature didn't really work.

The greatest frustration with the situation is that Telus advertises their "coverage area" on maps and brochures, when in fact, they have no such coverage area. Clearly if Telus is charging for any calls that are made in the vicinity of a non-Telus tower, they are advertising falsely, and have been since they came to Winnipeg. I've been told repeatedly that "you have an old plan, and the only way around that is to upgrade to a different cell phone package".

Clearly this type of extra billing and the inability to find a suitable solution coerces the client into capitulating, and changing plans to offer the client less air time, all the time under the guise of being "unable to help".

Clearly ALL Telus users are utilizing multiple service providers towers. If those clients are not being charged additional airtime while clearly within the service area they signed a contract for, then no clients, even those with existing plans, should have these extra charges levied against them.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this feedback,



CC Telus contact us (e mail)
Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs (e mail)

1 comment:

  1. Actually, if the NDP want to buy my vote, they should immediately make illegal any notion of UBB being allowed in Manitoba. All broadband should be on an unlimited basis. Overrule the CRTC.