Is that the creepy hand of Telus or Fido?

Canadian Mobile Phone Companies Violate their Customers

And not in a warm and fuzzy way either...

Moving from Montreal to Toronto in Mid-2005 signaled a bunch of changes in my life. First and foremost was not only moving to a new city, but moving out of my mother's place (THONKS MA!). During all the decision making associated with such an endeavor, I had to choose; land line or cellphone?

The choice seemed obvious. Landlines cost their fair share of money every month, and are only available while I'm plopped on my couch, not while I'm out on the town. Which I of course planned to be more often than not, so I got a Bell cell phone for what seemed like a decent 3 year term deal.

One day I was in the York-ish area and I stumbled upon a Chinese restaurant with a sign outside declaring "Hung Rian". The 11 year old in me instantly prevails and I snap a pic to send to my lady friend.

-ERROR! MESSAGE FAILED!-

Right here is where I should have checked the fricking fine print...

--
Message failed, you say? That's dumb. I could see it had only sent a few kilobytes of data before it crapped out. So I try again, twice, and no dice. I figure I'll just show her when I get home. I don't have it anymore, but really, it still provides hours of entertainment at the mere thought. "Hung Rian", heh heh...

Fast forward two weeks. I get my month bill from Bell, which should fall into the realm about about 40$ with tax. There's a 7 dollar "multimedia message" charge staring back at me; obviously an error. I hadn't exactly been using my phone to surf the net for pr0n, so I give Bell a call to straighten out the mild mess.

"The charge is for sending multiple photos to another Bell user."

The damn pictures didn't even make it through! Didn't matter, turns out that at the time Bell had some horrendous charging scheme for MMS messages, which amounted to $50 CAD per 100 kilobytes (or some other absurd amount; I've long since gotten rid of the plan). In trying to send a tiny cell phone cam pic that never completely made it through, I'd transferred enough KB to load a text-only web page, and Bell wanted my cash. The agent even sympathized with me, saying her daughter had racked up a $270 charge a few months prior.

It turns out that it's not only Bell. According to Thomas Purves, Canada ranks high enough to be only the third worst in the world when it comes to mobile data access vs cost.

With city-wide wifi initiatives providing faster and more abundant access to the intertubes, why is it that cell phones, while ACE when it comes to feature lists, get the shit end of the stick when it comes to checking out what's new on BlogTO? And how on Earth does Rwanda come out ahead of Canada? I'm not sure about firing an actual bullet between the CRTC's eyes, but a proverbial one would do just as well. Thomas Purves wants you to make sure your MP knows that you give a crap about being so far behind the curve, to the point where Bell can charge you $3600 an hour for high speed net access through your phone.

Oh, and no offense meant to Rwanda, of course. So, ever been donkey punched by your mobile carrier? Stupid me... of course you have! Share time!

Photo from BlogTO Flickr Groupie Artinxyz, mildly cropped for dramatic effect.

PS: Sorry Sameer, but it doesn't seem like Rogers has the right plan for you.


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