I like Wind Mobile. But really folks, a network outage due to an weather or a network upgrade should be communicated as such via twitter or your main page. Something like, “Some customers could be experiencing network outages due to bad weather or network upgrade.” What’s the harm in that? No harm, no foul.
I’ve seen this countless times from other major brands.
Instead, some companies feel that I need to make a call to the call centre that is overseas and when I tell them this would be helpful to customers, I hear the standard “I’ll let my manager know” which translates to…nothing is going to happen.
It’s too bad.
Seriously, when you offshore your customer base support, we’re talking about thousands of miles of separation to have something register with staff there when something is a really important customer service function. Why do companies do this? Yeah, I get it. Costs and “leveraged assets” - but it is bunk.
Loyalty is built by how you think about your customer. I will admit, I went to WIND for competitive pricing but also because I wanted to see some innovative but solid competition — and thanks to WIND, this has occurred and has forced the rest of the competition to follow suit. Everyone now has a “Tab Offer” or an “unlimited Canada call and text” plan. That kind of goodness didn’t exist before WIND’s entry and we only had things like My5 and My10 programs which are extinct now.
Wind Mobile forced people to think about the phone bill — a $100/month wireless phone bill translates into $1200 per year — really, that is an insane service cost for communications (and data access) and continues to annoy Canadians.
Wind, I can handle the occasional outage. Trust me, you have offered a great service for the price point. But be brave and do more to report about the outages through accessible channels. Really, we should NOT have to make the call centre tell us about an operational issue.
To add some balanced comfort, I can assure you that my 3G data service which I pay a pretty coin for at Rogers doesn’t feel 3GS and even worse, has so many dead pockets across the GTA to Burlington, I am stunned at how badly covered we are on a main corridor where people travel most by car or train.
BTW, a little bird told me that something big is happening between WIND and Mobilicity soon. ;-) Within a 6-week time-frame. You heard it hear first!
#Z10 “dummy” in my hands.
So I walked into a #Telus store to ask some questions.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Inquiries about Z10 happening. A very good sign but some awareness issues still apparent.
2. Dummy phone size is perfect and love design. Weight though may not be true weight but if it is, damn light!
3. The incumbent base plan with data is too rich for me. 5GB cap on data. No cigar. Since I am with #WIND they are already offering unlimited data and I signed their pre-registration.
4. A retail “source” suggests that upstarts will undercut incumbents by $100 on price of device if you buy all-in without subsidy. So $550 vs. $650 all-in. 5.
5. Display coverage very good even if #Apple still owns large size of eye candy but I actually saw the #BB10 better placed than #Samsung on display side of things.
Focus on Z10, not Q10
Out of the gate, the Z10 as a content device has a good base and early conversion and chatter will mitigate fears from the “followers”. I still can’t get why people are transfixed (especially those that should know better) on the #Q10 and keyboard April delivery. Get over it. That market is for the keyboard generation. The consumer and socially connected generation could give arats ass about the Q10. This is about the consumer and the focus is correctly configured for this device.
I really love the device and its overall feel. I will show up at the #Telus store tomorrow when the real deal comes out. Of course, an unboxing with early thoughts will follow. I have very good feelings about this new product.
…it is my duty to communicate this because the media and every armchair critic has done their fair share of hot air and now it is time for the BB army to say otherwise.
I think we truly live in an era of complexity as consumers. I am starting to believe that business really doesn’t care about the customer after the sale. No, this isn’t one of the “customer always right” articles because the customer isn’t always right. This is one of those “make life as painful as possible for customers” because you’re not part of the thought process.
I decided to call Rogers on Civic Holiday to cancel two ‘dead phones’ on my current wireless plan. I am proud owner to one of those older plans where 3 cell phones under a single plan offered up unlimited calling between each number. This plan was created a few years before My5 and My10 were released by Rogers allowing subscribers to make unlimited calling easy between ANY phone number (landline or cellphone); thereby, de-coupling the physical phone from the process.
At the time, the three phones were setup for unlimited calling between my parents and I as my father shifted from hospital to old age home. Sadly, he passed on and as such, I was stuck with a legacy plan. There were no options. If I cancelled my plan a few years back, I would have been stuck with ETFs (early termination fees) totaling roughly $400+ each. Instead, I asked Rogers to freeze the lines and to put them on an emergency fee plan (approximately $15-$20 per phone per month). My calculations at the time indicated I’d save close to $400 doing this than paying the ETFs outright for both wireless numbers.s
I’m now one month away from full contract expiration with Rogers. Even though I have opted out of every marketing message known to mankind, I have been getting clobbered for Rogers loyalty with offers to get a new Android smartphone which hardly makes any sense since I currently own an iPhone 3GS and have already made significant investments in Apple’s ecosystem with apps and other content.
Although, I asked Rogers if there was some option for me given my particular case, I was stuck with two legacy phones and lines and a monthly payout of $40 for something which was no longer relevant to me. Keep in mind, I did try and find people to offload the numbers to over this period to no avail.
So I called Rogers to cancel my two inactive cell numbers. THE RESULT: It took me 45 minutes to complete this request.
Me: Hi Rogers, my contract is expiring next month and I’d like to cancel two 647 numbers that I have not used in ages. In fact, the lines are inactive and are on the emergency plan.
Rogers Rep: Is there any reason why you’d like to cancel them? Maybe you can find someone to take over these two phone lines as THEY will save on activation fees.
Me: The phone lines have been inactive and on an emergency plan for a long period of time — I would have found someone if I could.
Rogers Rep: Are you sure there is no one who could assume these lines?
Me (not impressed tone): No.
Rogers Rep: OK, let me make a note about your request and transfer your call to the department that will fulfill it.
(idle dead time, listening to some music, click…long wait for next rep)
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Hi, can you please verify your information again. (This is my number, date of birth, postal code. Even though I did all this with the first rep, I am asked to provide again.)
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: How can I help you?
Me: Oh? I thought the other rep was going to prep you for this call. Looks like they didn’t. I have two phone lines, inactive and on an emergency plan, that I’d like removed from my plan as I have no more use for them.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Is there any reason why you don’t want them anymore?
(Dear Sweet Geezus….)
Me: I already told the other rep so let me repeat again. Inactive, emergency plan phones because I no longer had any use for them and did not want to pay the ETF.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Isn’t there anyone you could FIND to take over these lines?
(Dear Sweet Heavenly Goodness!)
Me: No, as I told the other rep and now you again, there is no one. I would have found someone early on to avoid all this. Please remove these numbers from my plan.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: OK, let me do this for you. Thank you for being a Rogers customer. Please stay on the line. By the way, do you need a tablet?
Me: Uh, what? A tablet? What are you asking me?
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Well, to give you something in return for these cancelled phones (I guess, a new subsidy and new contract since I’m a month away from expiration)
Me: Nope, have an iPad. Should be on your profile since I buy your 3G data services for my iPad.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: OK, please stay on the line.
(Total cumulative time between initial call, first rep, transfer, second rep, and now holding status: 30 MINUTES)
I lost the connection to the rep. Happens all too often, I tell you. So I must call the fortress back and go through the process…again. Sigh.
I call again.
Me: Hi, I was on hold with ‘someone’ responsible for cancelling two phone lines on my current account/plan.
Rogers Rep: Is there any reason why you’re cancelling the line?
(Dear Sweet Heavenly Clementine!)
Me: Look, I’ve been asked a zillion times. I’ve explained myself too many times. These are inactive, emergency phone plans that were no longer useful and I was stuck with them to avoid ETFs. Please transfer me.
Rogers Rep: OK, there is a real backup on the queue but I’ll transfer you to the proper department.
(Long wait time follows… and finally!)
Rogers Rep: Yes, may I help you?
Me: Yes, I was on hold in the process of cancelling two phone lines from my current plan but lost connection. I’d like to know if they were cancelled as the rep never called me back to confirm after lost connection.
Rogers Rep: Please hold while I check your file. But before I continue, I need you to verify your date of birth, postal code and name.
So I provide this info…again. Sigh. :-)
Rogers Rep: Yes, the two phone lines were cancelled.
Me: Thanks. Can you provide me with the termination/cancellation reference code and last date of service? Thank you.
What’s Wrong with this Picture
I wasted a cumulative total of45 minutes to cancel two phone lines that were of no use to me until contract expiration. Between four reps, I was asked four times why I didn’t need the phone lines anymore even though it was clear as pie that they were inactive, frozen, and on an emergency plan. In separate occasions, rather than listen to my request, Rogers call scripts instead suggested they make things really difficult, putting their needs over mine to help them find someone to transfer the lines over to. C’mon folks. Listen to ME.
- Their information systems were not good enough to see that I used an iPad and their data services.
- They did not capture my reasons well enough since I had to repeat my “reasons” each and every time and tell them I had no interest to find them some customers (again, I tried long ago but was never successful).
- Their process was configured to transfer my call each time to another department to fulfill my request to cancel phone lines. I know operationally, there may be a reason but to a customer, it just seems like another layer of time wasted. Why transfer me and make me wait on another queue? For “retention” reasons? I’m not leaving - just cancelling two dead lines.
They did all this to me even though I was keeping one phone line with them. My iPhone 3GS plan. Is this how incumbents show their loyalty? This isn’t customer service. This is pain compliance. Every time I have to call an incumbent’s customer service group, I feel the pain in advance of the call because mentally I know the process will be painful and lengthy. Rather than make this pain and “guilt” free, I had to endure this painful process to get to the finish line.
Is this really worth 45 minutes of my time? OK, to be fair, I lost the connection in the first go-round so that added the additional 15 minutes but still, 30 minutes is a long time for any customer.
There is only one way to stop all of this. No more contracts. Pay for your phone outright, focus on a no-contract plan with incumbent providers, or go to an upstart provider like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile where the companies are forced to be good with customers with lower rate, no contract plans. I know there are well-intentioned customer service folks working the beat at incumbent providers but that doesn’t change the fact that organizationally, those good intentions are sometimes overwhelmed by call script agendas which hamper the customer service process.
At upstarts, customers ARE the life-blood (yes, they are at incumbents too) of their existence and must do more to keep good customers happy. No, I am not suggesting customers should rule the day, demand everything and be stupid about things. Those are ‘problem’ customers. No one needs them. But the customer contract is very different when I speak to a rep from Wind Mobile vs. one from Rogers.
These incidents should not go unnoticed. I know they’re not unique as consumer sentiment in Canada about their telecom providers is wildly negative. Perhaps more than in the US. If anyone at Rogers is reading this, please understand the issues and find a better way to fine-tune your processes with customers. The customer engagement call for this type of situation should not be 30 minutes riddled with script queries.
Next time, don’t make it so hard for a customer to do what they want easily. I met my obligations under the contract commitment. Don’t make work for me. If I were Rogers, I’d automate such cancellations through online self-service tools. Be brave enough to let your customers walk away from features or contract terms at the end of the term with a retention program in effect. It’s the right thing to do because the charade experienced above simply puts a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. It says, “it’s too difficult to do business with you. Why commit to a contract?”
To date, there is only one company that has given me “hassle free” customer service. Apple. The program? APPLECARE.
One would like you to believe that the above offer is so amazing that it might never been offered before. The fact is, the only thing that might feel different is the $150 Costco Cash Card tied to a nice, sexy three-year term. Do you REALLY want to lock-in?
I don’t know about you but I am done with contracts. To put it into context, my incumbent provider argued with me on the phone for two hours about seven months ago over something so silly, I couldn’t believe they invested the time and effort to try to make me feel like I was unreasonable. More comical was the fact that I kept changing the conversation in a quid pro quo fashion which only further highlighted how little they listened to the customer.
THE BACK STORY
I had a legacy 3-phone plan (three phones for unlimited calling — mom, dad…you know the deal) before the “MY-series voice plans” hit the marketplace. Because the other two phone lines were no longer being used, I placed them on “emergency plan” status as my only option to “morphine the pain” from knowingly paying for something until my contract expired — which happens to be September 2012. It’s been a long marriage but the divorce is near! Woo hoo!
When I asked for a similar setup for “emergency status” for my iPhone (since my incumbent provider quickly did this with each for my feature Samsung phones) I received the biggest “walled garden” response known to humankind! So for the next two hours, I wasn’t given any explanation why the iPhone 3GS could NOT be placed on the same “emergency plan” for voice minutes while keeping the robust 6GB data plan ($30/month data plan — received September 2009 months before Bellus launched HSPA) for connected apps, mobile video, VOIP etc. Oddly, once Bell and Telus launched HSPA, the data plans went up in uniform fashion for 1GB, 3GB, and 5GB across all three incumbent providers.
So my conversation kept going on and on like a good little Energizer bunny and through all of it, I simply wasn’t being given a logical answer. By the end of it, the representative spoke “to their manager” and returned with an offer I simply could not refuse — $17 for 250 voice minutes and unlimited 6pm-7am calling 7 days a week with my 6GB $30/month plan. So, in Joker speak, I was ahead of the curve because I got the Super Plan early. To their credit, the $17 plan was far better than the emergency status plan. But was it necessary to do this to me for two hours?
So, the current “Super Plan” is really a mirror of the plan I eventually received because I also have my bundle for Video/Audio MMS, Global Text, and Visual Voicemail which clocks me in at the $67 price point. Sure, that’s an additional $7 but do you really think I am going to “lock in” for another three years with a provider that chose to argue with me vs. accommodate my needs at the time?
I’m not a Democrat nor am I an elephant but I don’t forget this kind of stuff too easily. After this call, I immediately went to Wind Mobile and am now happily part of the $40 Canada Miracle Plan which provides unlimited Canada/US calling, unlimited global text, unlimited data for my Blackberry, and yes, “tethering” (!!) to create a luscious mobile hotspots guilt-free. Am I a happy camper? You bet. Sure, some minor pains with the network but on the whole, I have been an absolutely happy WIND customer.
Perhaps the biggest shift for me has been the “contract-free” mindset. Look, if you want a sexy high-powered phone, you can get the subsidized contract and deal with ETFs (early termination fees) and other pains, or operate guilt free, get AppleCare (if you’re an iPhone/iOS junkie) and get on with it. Now, if the rumoured next iPhone this October includes functionality on the T-Mobile USA network (AWS), this could really spell trouble for the incumbent providers in Canada (Bell, Telus, Rogers and Fido — oh ok, including the sub-brands Solo, Virgin, Chatr, Koodo designed to compete against Public, Mobilicity and WIND) if the lust for iOS remains strong.
That said, the recent Samsung success with Galaxy s3 in North America with marketshare vs. Apple’s iPhone 4S (s3 - 10M units sold already) could be all that is required to get no-contract incumbent subscribers to move to the upstarts. There’s heavy promotion by WIND Mobile and Mobilicity for the new Galaxy unit so an additional entry point with the next iPhone could be major trouble with subscriber churn at Bell, Telus and Rogers if people did not renew contracts. I will be one of those subscribers.
The promotional intensity directed at me by my incumbent (with my contract a month away from expiration) has been astronomical in the form of an endless parade of SMS text messages (even though I have OPTED out repeatedly), emails and direct mail. Sorry, but these efforts to recognize my loyalty arrives far too late in the game. I’ll stick around for the juicy 6GB data pricing given that my iOS device is primarily a data-connected mobile/social computer vs. a voice-box.
But if you really look at what the incumbent providers offer vs. the upstarts, what is the difference? On the incumbent side, you have higher prices, more complex plan configurations and yes, better networks vs. cheaper prices, simpler plans, and reasonable networks that do a great job for the city dweller.
You decide what’s right for you.
It’s all very clear to me now. — Dave Bowman
- Rogers launches the “6GB Super Plan” for $60/month (mobilesyrup.com)
- Why Your Next iPhone Should Be Prepaid (cultofmac.com)
- WIND Mobile Launches GoWell G328 Feature-Phone on Prepaid (news.softpedia.com)
- Virgin Mobile begins prepaid iPhone sales (slashgear.com)
- Fido launches its own 6GB plan for $60, comes with 300 daytime minutes (mobilesyrup.com)
Canada’s giant telecom providers face at $18 billion class action suit over system access fees that they charged Canadians a long time ago. This could now cost them dearly.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused Thursday an appeal by Rogers Communications Inc., BCE’s Bell Mobility and Telus Corp. and others, who were asking the top court to throw out a case over controversial “system access fees.” — Financial Post, July 4, 2012
The class action lawsuit was filed in a Saskatchewan court in 2004 and now proceeds to the next level with 30,000 already on the list. At the time the story broke, there were only 7,500 registered names for the class action suit.
The statement of claim lists “All residents of Canada who have purchased wireless services from any of the defendants since April 1, 1987” as being eligible to participate.
Canadian telecom incumbents defended the fee claiming the funds were used as “administration costs” to cover costs for network investments in Canada’s telecommunications infrastructure.
Last November, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal struck down a motion from the carriers to have the suit dismissed, supporting in its decision previous rulings that said the “legitimacy” of the fees could be questioned. A three-member panel of justices also said the notion of “unjust enrichment” was strong enough to carry a class-action suit against the companies.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear that the PR machine for Canada’s incumbents is drowning out the consumer sentiment well-enough. Judging by the feedback from reader comments to the Financial Post article, it’s clear to many Canadians that they were unjustly charged and feel the reasons for the fee was not clearly outlined.
The Canadian telecom environment is a complex one. Consumer sentiment built around media reports and studies from OECD (challenged multiple times) indicated that Canada had one of the worst cellphone rates in the world. A Toronto Star study in 2004 concluded that Canadian telecom giants could collect $800 million annually based on the controversial fees. It was the Toronto Star report which sparked the class action lawsuit by the Merchant Law Group.
Ill-timed, the Canadian incumbents started to phase out the system access fees as new competitors like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile prepared for market entry with service bundles built around flat-rate plans and no network access fee.
Unfortunately, the hate affair by Canadians with telecom incumbents grows with media reports of them appointing ex-Cabinet ministers to the board, as reported on Techdirt.
WHAT WOULD ALEX BOSIKA DO?
Back to basics, folks! Consumer mistrust for telecom providers is at an all time high. In the Canadian telecom environment, consumers are now coming at the end with their ETF (“early termination fee”) contracts with suitable wireless phone plan options available from new market entrants. The anger and mistrust is so high that it is affecting incumbent revenues like never before. Layoffs are now commonplace at leading brand operators like Rogers. There is only one way out of this. We all know the answer and there must be greater emphasis to rebuild this trust and to convince Canadians that there is true and open competition because social media communities don’t lie.
Ethics, corporate responsibility, and moral decision-making must become the new paradigm in business today because to many, it never existed.
To sign-up for the wireless system access access fee class action suit, the Merchant Law group directs affected consumers to this page.
It’s a SUN UK-based story but the story hits home. I do hope CSRs are given more power and better tools to overcome rigid policies against consumers.
Consumers hate their telecom providers for many things, including contracts. See my earlier post on contracts here.
I am getting bombarded by one of my providers because my 3-year term (I will never lock-in for a contract again no matter what subsidy/discount/offer I am given) is coming to a end. Even though I opted out from all marketing via txt/sms, email and direct mail, I am being hit hard with offers to lock-in to free Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone) and Android Devices. Why would I shift to a new device (PLATFORM) when all my investment in the “app ecosystem” is with Apple’s iOS and further, when I am really happy with the phone itself.
Three strikes and you’re out!
The incumbent providers in Canada have a lot to deal with now. Loyalty across telecom providers has been tied to the bill and the quality of customer service response. If that’s any measure, then we all know what Canadian sentiment is like. The upstarts, like WIND Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile are not immune from customer anger either. That said, the contracts that are coming to a close (especially, the 3 years like myself) do present a huge churn challenge for incumbents in Canada because these folks are going to be in a position to pay lower monthly fees and get access to new devices as well. If Apple does release a new iPhone in the Fall (Sept/October) that works with the TMobile network, this opens up the possibility for iPhones (iOS) smartphones appearing the upstart networks.
At the moment, I am also a WIND/Blackberry customer in addition to an iPhone-carrying customer with one of the incumbents. I won’t renew under a contract so I have full flexibility to leave when desired. This decision has been made largely because the incumbent provider kept me on the phone for two hours telling me that I couldn’t do this or that while they kept changing the goal post. Two hours later, they remembered the customer should have choices but that has never been forgotten.
For the record: The customer ISN’T always right. Sometimes, they deserve to be fired. (80-20 rule). That said, being such a good ARPU customer on costly smartphone plans, I was appalled by the difficulty to address a simple, obvious matter which turned into a difficult jousting match. Too much work. So I have decided to fire the provider by not locking into a new contract/phone plan.
I think the days of mobile phone contracts are coming to an end. It’s a very common part of the North American landscape. But in a post-paid and pre-paid world (prepaid, newer to Canadian customers), it’s game over. Amateur hour is over. And most consumers will be more open to paying for the cost of the device.
What do you think? Share the same opinion or do you think I am wrong in my comments. Let me know.