Wednesday, June 06, 2007

She Sells Cell Phones at the Cell store

If you've been reading my blog for a long time, which you haven't, unless you're stalking me (hi!), then you'll know of my pathetic experience with those dchnzzl's at Telus, Canada's worst cell phone company with the most horrendous customer service on the planet Earth.

Luckily, a couple months back the CRTC, Canada's mostly innefectual government radio/telecommunications regulations company, did something that actually benefits the consumer. They made Cell phone number portability mandatory for those who want it. That is to say, if I am fed up with the pathetic service offered by Telus, I can switch to any number of cell phone companies and keep my old phone number, which I'm attached to for sentimental reasons.

As a recap, basically, Telus stole $50 of my money for a whole weekend before giving me the minutes I had purchased. Apparently they wanted me to believe there was nobody who could solve my problem on a weekend. Later on of course, someone called me on behalf of Telus to do a customer service survey, which I found ironic. I told him only if it doesn't waste my minutes as I used pay & talk as I don't use my phone particularly frequently, and only had about 5 minutes of time left. He said it wouldn't, and wouldn't you know it, it did, and I got cut off before his survey was done. He never called back, obviously, because that would have given them the worst customer survey of all time. Though I'm sure they're used to getting bad customer feedback considering how woefully pathetic they are.

Another reason I wanted to keep my old cell phone number was to spite Telus, who would not get that number back to recycle for another hapless victim. I reason if everyone who hated Telus transferred their number over, they would be out of phone numbers to give out to new customers, and go out of business and die of dysentry and smallpox hopefully.

Anyways, first I purchased a phone with MTS, the Manitoba Telephone System, or something, I don't really know what it stands for, all I know is they had a flip phone in the colour black that didn't have a useless camera in it, and nobody else did. It had bluetooth, and was interesting, but MTS charges way too much per minute, so I let the minutes run out and screw them. They always did overcharge for other services here in Manitoba before competition came out. As an aside they own Allstream, and they want to become the fourth national carrier in Canada behind Rogers AT&T/Fido, Telus, and Bell. Frankly I hope they don't because while I don't particularly care how the underlying technology compares, I like the convenience of a SIM chip and being able to purchase unlocked phones. Sadly Rogers was able to purchase Fido and eliminate them as effective competition, but I hope they get broken up again one day. That said, Number portability took about an hour but I got it ported, despite I'm sure Telus's stalling.

Frankly, my minutes did not last as long as I thought they would with MTS, but fortunately 7-11 of all places was offering a $100 Speakout Wireless phone (it operates off of ZTAR who in turn lease the rogers cell network). The phone was free with the purchase of $100 in minutes. plus, 20 cents a minute is the cheapest I've seen pay as you go phones in Canada. Plus I could always transfer the sim chip to an unlocked phone, so, all in all, I purchased the phone.

I did encounter difficulty moving over my phone number this time. They had trouble doing it, but I bitched at MTS and the second time it went through. I suspect MTS was just stalling, and realised I wasn't going to take any shit, but I have no proof so I'm not going to dwell too much on it.

The phone they give you is a Nokia 1112, as seen in the photo here. You can see why they're able to give it away for free, but as a phone you can bang around and not have to worry about, its pretty decent. I got a dud as soon as I walked out the store, but when I went to return it, of course, it worked again, but I'll probably just end up returning it to Nokia in the next few days to see if they fix it, replace it, or whatever. We'll see. I'm interested in seing how good Nokia's customer service is here in Canada, so maybe I'll blog about what happens if it gets interesting. Another bonus with these 7-11 phones, at least the 1112, is they are completely unlocked. I put in a simchip from another company from another country and it worked for me. So that's a bonus. Plus the simchips for 7-11 seem to work in Rogers phones, as I tested it out on one locked rogers phone.

In any case, for now I put the sim-chip in an extra GSM phone my sister had lying around her house that I removed the
lock on. It'll do for now until I get this one fixed or I purchase a replacement in the next year or so. I find the 7-11/Ztar wireless customer service incredibly helpful and polite. They have probably the best customer service of any mobile provider in Canada and I found that shockingly refreshing. Another bonus is the cell minutes last for a whole year. If I decide to move to another province, I can keep this phone as a backup phone and keep my old manitoba phone number going for when I travel back or for people who want to contact me, and it would cost probably $25 a year if I barely use it. Plus Telus wouldn't get that number back ever. It's just such a great experience all around that even a broken cell phone screen (it stays all white for some reason) didn't turn me off of it. So, all in all, I'm rather happy with my current cell phone company.

Though I wouldn't mind if Nokia put out a black bluetooth flip phone with wifi, that charged and sync'ed via mini USB, that DID NOT include a fucking camera. I'm so sick of camera phones. I have no use for that feature. Plus if it had an mp3 player that'd be a bonus too. with some sort of controls
for the mp3 on the outside (and only black and white display on the outside cause who really needs colour on the outside).. and wasn't too big or blocky or have an antenna sticking out of it.. If that phone came to exist.. I think I'd buy it.

Man that was a fucking essay. I hope somebody learns something useful out of it. I could write a Stephen King novel if I wanted to I bet.

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