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Dear Bell and Rogers: Go To Hell!

July 11th, 2008

warning: not a true blog post, more of a rant

I got my hands on a new cell phone last month. It is a palm Trëo smartphone – in fact I am penning this rant on it right now. It’s a great combination of cell-phone and palm-pilot but in order to make the phone portion work, I needed to hook it up with Bell. I did so as a pay-as-you-go because every other plan requires I lock in for a minimum of a year and I have been royally screwed over by being locked in before, and will not do it ever again. With Bell pay-as-you-go it’s no data plan and 15¢ text messages.

Here it is a month later and Bell is about to hit me for receiving text messages too. Thanks Bell: it was not nice doing business with you. My instinct is to say no dice and drop Bell, but for whom? I could of course, go to Rogers but there in the process of screwing over their customer base. I could go Telus or Fido, although I’m not sure if they can handle the smart phone, but they’re just Bell and Rogers under a different name. I could go Virgin Mobile, but not with this phone. So the question becomes which big guy do I want to get screwed over by?

Meanwhile, on the home internet front, Rogers is changing things. If you download/upload a fair chunk of stuff, as I do, start paying more. I have literally had to curtail usage dramatically even though I signed up many years ago under the promise of unlimited internet. Like any promise Rogers makes, it’s worth less than the toilet paper it’s written on. And if I don’t like it my only option, assuming I want high speed internet, is Bell who offer the exact same package, with the exact same restrictions for the exact same price.

When Bell and Telus announced a few days ago the new text message policy, and the policy of these two companies turned out to be identical in price, scope and starting date Industry Minister Jim Prentice called on the two companies to appear before Himself and explain their policy. He shouldn’t have: he should have called them to explain their anti-competitive behaviour. While he had Bell there he could have called Rogers to explain why there is no difference in their high speed internet packages save for which Bangladeshi answers the phone when you call customer service. And finally he could have stripped them of recently acquired band width and offer it to AT&T and Verizon, who provide the same services in the United States, free. He could do so on the condition they create their own Canadian infrastructure (no piggybacking on Bell and Rogers allowed) and have service up and running in a year. Virgin Mobile, which is already here, should be offered the same opportunity.

What is needed in this country is not Ministers of the Crown demanding answers, but real competition with Tele-Com companies who don’t treat their customers like weaker cell mates.

Meanwhile Bell: should this policy go through, I will punish you. Likely not through the cell phone, but I’d give up the satellite dish in a heartbeat: feel like losing $40+/month to make 15¢/text? Rogers: I am steaming over your new internet policy and am waiting patiently to punish you, and I will punish you. Jim Prentice: stop taking policy cues from Jack Layton and start taking them from conservative principals; open up the market and let Canadians get true competition.

As to my original assertion that Bell and Rogers should go to hell, I’ve changed my mind. I wouldn’t demand that even Satan, Prince of the Underworld defile his home by letting them in: pity Canadian Tele-Com consumers don’t have the same option.



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