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Cellphones The Almighty Buck

TELUS Forcing Customers Off Unlimited Plans 268

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-eat-all-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian telco TELUS sold a bunch of (expensive) Unlimited EV-DO aircard accounts last winter and are now summarily canceling them or forcing people to switch to much less valuable plans. TELUS is citing 'Violations,' but their Terms Of Service (see #5) are utterly vague and self-contradictory. The TELUS plans were marketed as being unlimited, without the soft/hard caps that the other providers had at the time. They were purchased by a lot of rural Canadians who had no other choice except dialup. Now TELUS is forcing everyone to switch from a $75 Unlimited plan to a $65 1GB plan, and canceling those who won't switch. Have a look at the thread at Howardforums, a discussion of the TELUS ToS (in red at the bottom), an EV-DO blogger who's been a victim, a post at Electronista, and of course Verizon getting fined for doing the same thing! Michael Geist has taken an interest as well."
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TELUS Forcing Customers Off Unlimited Plans

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  • Marketing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:48PM (#24756933) Journal
    Sounds like bait and switch...

    Except on closer examination it's the legal version... GOD how I love living in Canada! On the plus side, at least they didn't introduce an "Unlimited system access fee", claim it to be some sort of vague government forced thing, and then charge more for the fee (that is mandatory) than the service plan costs.

    Note to self: stop giving Telus more ideas on how to rape my ass!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:51PM (#24756969)

    Affected users should send Telus a huge bill for trying to get out of their multi-year service contract early.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:55PM (#24757013) Homepage

    ...and possibly even some sort of charges brought against them by the government.

    These Telecoms are making WAY more money than they deserve. I don't know which would be worse -- a government run telco/internet service or letting the abusive service providers keep on abusing.

    I am really very fortunate where I live. T-Mobile is my wireless carrier and they didn't comply with US government requests for warrantless wiretaps, my cable internet is ridiculously faster than any other I have seen and nothing about my service is blocked. I'm afraid to move because I might get crappy service. I'm not sure how I would respond to some of the troubles other people experience or have reported here.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Boogaroo (604901) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:57PM (#24757027) Homepage

    News flash: You don't have the right to cheap unlimited internet when you live out in the country.

    Maybe not, but Telus should at least be held to it through the end of the contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:01PM (#24757067)

    IANAL, nor am I Canadian, but I think we laymen can agree the quoted terms are unconscionable. If TELUS must change, then the customers who paid for something they're not getting should get something back.
    I was with you up until you said:

    At some point we have to realize that cell phones and internet access are pretty much not a privilege any more.

    Reasonable people can disagree over whether or not basic needs like health care are rights, but Internet access?!! That's nuts.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:01PM (#24757069) Homepage Journal

    If Telus sold underpriced plans, underestimated use, and lost money, how long are they obligated to maintain the service?

    what if they were making money, but discovered that the margins were higher for per/GB service? Are they allowed to just cancel contracts with users in order to extract a higher profit margin from their product?

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SolarStorm (991940) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:02PM (#24757095)
    I guarentee that I never went over 5 GB unless I got a LOT of spam that got through my server and was filtered on my end. They could not even tell me my usage when they cancelled mine. Just that they were cancelling everyones.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:03PM (#24757105)

    They are obligated to maintain the service for however long the contract says they need to maintain service. If they ask nicely, I might be willing to help them. But they have absolutely no right to just break any contract because they screwed up.

    There's a question of what the contract says exactly, but that's what courts are for. I hope that someone with deep pockets gets this going as a class action lawsuit, and sues Telus into bankruptcy.

    Newsflash: corporations can't just do whatever the hell they want.

  • by RobBebop (947356) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:05PM (#24757119) Homepage Journal

    At some point we have to realize that cell phones and internet access are pretty much not a privilege any more. All of us should have access to these shared resources (the tubes).

    Disclaimer: American viewpoint.

    I agree that these services are nearly necessitates in today's society. Communication is king. It is required. Broadcast TV has been made a free service based on government regulation. On the other hand, electricity and heat are more necessary than communication and they are in the same competitive mode to keep prices low.

    Here's the difference that I see, though, between all these services... if the government was to start providing these as "free services" (like the majority of roads are) they are basically saying "this is as good as it gets". Competition for cheaper methods of delivering heat and electricity has historically kept these prices low, so these industries is well regulated. However, duopolistic behavior by Verizon and AT&T have caused the telephone companies to practice the same tricks that resulted in the original breakup of AT&T in 1984. Prices are what the phone companies want them to be and customers cannot elect fair "lower cost" options (pay-as-you-go is a joke at a quarter a minute and $30 for 450 minutes per month is excessive... and there is no middle ground).

  • by TheBig1 (966884) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:13PM (#24757183) Homepage

    I hear you! I switched from my Telus landline to Shaw VOIP after Telus started charging an extra $5 / month because I *didn't* have a long distance plan.

    Before I was paying almost $30 / month for Telus with no features (no caller ID, VM, etc); now I am paying $20 on Shaw with some basic features, *plus* getting $8 off my broadband, for almost $20 / month savings.

    Add to that the fact that Shaw has always been excellent with their customer service, and this is a real no-brainer!

    Cheers

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:21PM (#24757271)

    I don't think it is legal. I was hoping Bell and Telus customers would test that theory en masse by declaring their contracts null and void when B&T decided to charge for incoming texts. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like anyone has.

    If Fido ever sends me my iPhone, I'm looking forward to them pulling the no free incoming texts so I can enjoy my new contract-free iPhone.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:26PM (#24757311)

    Telus used to be a government run telco. We never seemed to have any problems with the service and it was cheaper than it is now.

  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gwking (869658) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:39PM (#24757421)
    Yup, we certainly are. Unfortunately, as bad as Telus is, my experience is that Bell and Rogers are worse. And that is the full cartel of wireless companies in Canada; so you get to pick bad (Telus), worse (Rogers), or worst (Bell).

    Aliant (Bell) double billed me 11 months in a row. And they cut off my service, every month, for 'non-payment'. So at the end I had built up a credit of $950 on my account, and yet each month they still debited my account and then disconnected for non payment. When I said cancel the contract they argued over the cancellation fee. They finally relented though. I don't think they are stupid though, just pure incarnate evil.

    Rogers on the hand were a lot nicer. Just stupid beyond belief. My father started calling them 'Rogers Clueless' instead of 'Rogers Wireless' because they screwed up his bill, my sisters bill, mine, and almost any Rogers customers I've talked to. My favorite screwup is when they simply don't take the money for weeks or months because of some 'issue' in their system. Morans!

    So as of yesterday, based on the recommendations of two friends, I now have a Telus phone here on my desk and hope against hope they don't screw me too badly. The two friends have assured me Telus doesn't suck that match. I'll let you know when the two year contract runs out.
  • by ivi (126837) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:40PM (#24757423)

    In Australia, an ISP's customers can complain to the Telecommunications Ombudsman (TIO).

    If the TIO considers that the complaint has merit (even -before- it is investigated & decided), the ISP must pay TIO a fee, upwards of Au$200.

    The TIO may then propose a solution that costs the ISP additional money, eg, if it has to compensate the customer for some loss of service, etc.

    An ISP would tend think twice, before dumping customers, with such fees hanging over their heads.

    Perhaps USA (and other places) needs such a mechanism, to keep ISPs a bit more honest...

    One thing to avoid: In Australia, an ISP is required to "join" TIO, but there have been some cases of ISP's failing to join; in these cases, the fees wouldn't apply, at least until the ISP is belatedly persuaded to join.

    To make this work, a large fine for failure to join should be part of the enabling legislation.

  • Comcast also (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@@@zhrodague...net> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:43PM (#24757461) Homepage Journal
    Here in Pittsburgh, Comcast dropped 4 channels from their analog lineup, and are charging customers the same price. I didn't care about two of them, but BET, G4, TruTV, and (believe it or not) The Style Network were all channels that had shows we watched. I talked to a Comcast drone over the phone about this, and he said that it was a business decision to allow for more HD channels. I realize that there is a difference between wireless carriers and cable TV companies, but the concept is the same -- we're being invited to pay more for less. Now, I get one single channel from Cable that I do not get over the air -- TBS. There aren't any competitors I can switch to, even though a separate cable company services the folks across the street. Friggin' sucks!
  • by Yuan-Lung (582630) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:00PM (#24757605)
    Dealing with telus for me was nothing but severe pain in the backside. They care nothing about customer satisfaction. They will screw you over and cheat you out of your money as much as they can, and when you finally leave, they then proceed to harass you with endless calls and try to con you into switching back with false incentives.


    Here is an example of their borderline criminal conduct. I used to subscribe to their home phone service. I had it on automatic payment (big mistake) One day, I noticed that my bill had been steadily increased from $30/mo for a single line to $40, $60, and then as high $80/mo for the past few months.

    I called them trying to sort it out. After several hours of navigating through the labyrinth of automated voice menu (no, 0 for operator did not work) I finally got put on hold for over an hour to speak with a human, and was cut off while waiting in the queue. After a few tries I finally got though, and got an explanation. Apparently, they had been taking the liberty to 'introduce new services' onto my account, without notifying me, and took my not noticing and canceling them a sign of agreement to adapt those service.

    They of course, refused to refund the charges because I had been 'enjoying the additional services' so I requested to cancel them on the spot. Apparently I could not do that either because I don't have this password somehow set on my account.

    While I was contemplating canceling the whole account and start over with a new number, with the hassle of informing all my contacts of a number change, Shaw called to promote their $25/mo digital line. So I switched. For the past year I have not paid over the $25/mo I agree to pay. There had not been additional features secretly added to my line.

    However, Telus was not happy about my switching. They called about 3 times a week asking me to switch back. Their call usually started with a pompous voice asking me to identify myself to them. They even demanded that I explained to them why I switched, to which their representatives received some colourful words from me and a request to never calling back again.

    Then they called again offering me ridiculous deals such as a comparatively lower 3-month INTRODUCTORY rate (and it would eventually go back up) if I switched my phone AND internet services to them. At this point, I started threatening with a harassment suit if they didn't stop calling. The call finally stopped.


    And you wonder why telus spends so much on their 'the future is friendly' PR campaign to tell people how well they treat their customers.
  • by Runefox (905204) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:37PM (#24757993) Homepage

    Hate to doublepost, but to that end, I'm not sure our work schedules are any different from the United States, and our holidays work the same way, too. There are certain holidays that are considered federal, and businesses must give overtime for anyone working during a holiday, or a full day's pay for those who would have been scheduled in on that day.

    As for our telecoms, I'd take a closer look at your own before saying ours is unregulated. The industry here in Canada borders on price-fixing and racketeering, but the industry in the USA is balanced solely by competition. While wireless is one point where American industry is ahead (ours has been battling between GSM (Rogers) and CDMA (Bell-Aliant/Telus) for some time - GSM won), I hear a lot of horror stories about American broadband and cable TV that border on the same kind of monopolistic behaviour as our Wireless providers.

    That said, the only cable provider in this neck of the woods is Rogers, and the only traditional phone company is Bell-Aliant. Both offer a phone service (Rogers over the cable network, Bell-Aliant over traditional copper), both offer internet services (both high-speed and dial-up, Rogers by DOCSIS, Bell-Aliant by PPPoE), both offer wireless services (Rogers by GSM, Bell-Aliant by CDMA (going GSM)), and both offer TV services (Rogers by traditional analog and digital cable, Aliant by PPPoE/specialized modem (reduces high-speed transfer rates) and satellite). Both are nation-wide corporations, and they've got a nice duopoly going on in the Atlantic provinces. This isn't a failure of the government (though it would be nice if they could regulate this a little more), but rather a failure in the market; The same could be said of AT&T/Comcast (former co-owner of Rogers) and Bell/Verizon, though due to the market dynamics in the United States (and mostly, the population density), others have been able to squeeze in. Of course, that's just my observation.

  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:57PM (#24758217)

    Aliant (Bell) double billed me 11 months in a row. And they cut off my service, every month, for 'non-payment'. So at the end I had built up a credit of $950 on my account, and yet each month they still debited my account and then disconnected for non payment. When I said cancel the contract they argued over the cancellation fee. They finally relented though. I don't think they are stupid though, just pure incarnate evil.

    I had to take Bell to court to get that cancellation fee back... they only agreed to settle out of court when I filed a motion asking for class action status. After they told me to bugger off when I went through the better business bureau, I basically resigned myself to the conclusion that even if I ultimately had to fork over the cancellation fee, it would cost them far more than the $200 it was worth. They were bad enough that I went back to Rogers, after having left them 10 years earlier over being screwed over by shitty customer service.... I still feel like I'm nothing more than a number to them, but they have improved significantly.

    But what I really wanted to point out is that, back in the day, the service was really good. I have no experience with Bell Mobility in the early days, but my first cell provider was Cantel AT&T, nearly 15 years ago. Their service was amazing. Really good customer service. It didn't really go downhill until after Rogers bought them out... it became Rogers AT&T, and sorta went downhill, then it became Rogers Wireless, and it became shit. Pure unadulterated shit. So far, not so bad, though. I'm relieved.

  • Re:What??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ari wins (1016630) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:40PM (#24758707)
    They didn't eliminate the plan, rather they're removing people from the unlimited plan who go over what they deem fair use. If you don't go over that amount, you get to keep the plan.

    It is, of course, all about maximizing profits at the cost of a consumer base that doesn't have many choices.
  • by koalapeck (1137045) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @10:19PM (#24759615) Homepage
    Telus is a joke, no way I'd ever do business with them again.

    OTOH, a friend of mine lost his cell phone so I suggest calling up Telus with the intent to leave because they don't offer the iPhone to see what they might do(let's be clear, he doesn't want an iPhone, but we know this particular phone is going to receive some sort of response from the Telus rep.). Not mentioning the lost phone to them at this point, he proceeds to tell them that he would like one of them new-fangled iPhones that everyone is talking about. Telus rep says sorry we don't have that phone. So he says oh okay, I'd like to cancel my service then. They proceed to go through the big laminated list of reasons the iPhone is crap, and he just simply says yeah, that's fine, I'll just cancel, how much is it to buy out my contract?
    At this point they go ahead and offer him a new Blackberry Pearl at no charge, and he informs them that this wouldn't be sufficient and he'd still like to proceed with canceling his services. They step up to the plate again and offer him an unlimited data plan in addition to his current Telus package at no charge, for the balance of his contract (2 1/2 years).

    Of course, he accepts this offer. So, although I hate Telus, sometimes they serve their purpose, such as situations like the one above.

    Of course after he finishes talking with the Telus rep he proceeds to call them back immediately to report his lost phone so that it is deactivated.

    This was approximately a month and a half ago and so far so good, Telus is honouring their offer of unlimited data, and he's still paying the same $48.xx a month he was paying prior to this escapade, and enjoying his new Blackberry phone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @11:29PM (#24760227)
    Having worked at all 3 of these companies (and still at one of them). The problem is/was their billing/rating solution.

    The problem is that all three had in house billing solutions plus crappy red tape policies and bad development practices. As all you slashdotters know, this makes for bad software.

    The unlimited plan was unlimited not because they cared but because the in house solution was crap and could not rate data usage, couldn't keep up with the flow of data from switches. So Telus had two options, not offer data, or offer unlimited data. There is a new vendor solution in place, the one that can rate data, so here we are trying to get out of unlimited data.

    Oh, and those who had capped data plans and stayed under the cap, well too bad, you could have used unlimited all along, too late now.
  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:34AM (#24762661)

    Fuck, you Canadians are getting shafted even more than I thought.

    For cell phones maybe. I wouldn't trade our Internet access for your phone rates though.

    ... And your government is the the one spending hundreds of billions of dollars that you don't have to support a "war" with no discernable enemies.

    It's a small shaft, I'll live with it.

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