Saturday, January 18, 2014

I hate the cost of mobile service in Canada

I know, goes without saying, right? So here goes. Darlene has a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan that's been working well for her. $100 per year gets her $100 worth of talk time (which she barely puts a dent in).

I got her a new smart phone for Christmas. The idea was to simply add a data plan to her PAYG plan and be done with it.

Nope. Not possible. At least not with the existing provider. The only data options were a day data pass - $1 for 10MB or a week data pass - $5 for 60MB (which I refer to later as 'drippy faucet'). Of course, these passes are not meant to be used as ongoing data plans, they're just tasters. I don't know how much of a taste they think we'd get with 10MB, but whatever. The bottom line is that you can't buy a data plan with a PAYG account.

So after explaining that Darlene's talk needs are less than basic, they offer me a $40 per month plan that includes 400 minutes of talk, unlimited evenings and weekends, unlimited texts, voice mail, caller ID, long distance calls in Canada are treated as regular calls and you get 400MB of data (I refer to this later as 'firehose'). They could give me that for $16 per month for 6 months.

I explain that this is great but it's still too much. Besides, after 6 months, it reverts to a $40 per month plan, which we neither want nor need. They explain that all we have to do is switch to a pre-paid plan after the 6 months.

OK, so get this - a $15 per month pre-paid plan gets you.... nothing. No minutes. No data. That's like paying $15 for a gift card and you don't get any money on it. Unbelievable! [disclaimer: it does get you some features, but what good are features with no usable data or talk time?]

So to the $15 add $10 for 100MB of data. Then add 20 cents per minute for talk. So we're talking $30 for the cheapest plan out there. No long distance. Ridiculous data cost to boot.

In the end, we're probably going to stick with the $40 plan, because why would you pay $30 for nothing when you could pay $40 for tons more. So once again, the consumer gets hosed. You either get drippy faucet or firehose. There's no in between.

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