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Cellphones The Almighty Buck

TELUS Forcing Customers Off Unlimited Plans 268

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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  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:50PM (#24756965)
    The day I was able to say goodbye to my land line was a sweet day indeed. Telus managed to screw up everything I ever asked them to do.

    They're shady, unethical, and mostly incompetent. If it's at all possible to do so, just don't deal with them. Thankfully even rural areas are beginning to have better options.
  • I got a full refund (Score:5, Informative)

    by SolarStorm ( 991940 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:53PM (#24756983)
    Complain! I did and they gave me a full refund for my air card (i bought it outright instead of the monthly plan) I then switched to Rogers. They had a sliding plan that works for me. It does smell and I will never use a telus service again due to the way they marketted this.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Selfbain ( 624722 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:57PM (#24757025)
    So you think this is a reasonable change from an unlimited plan: http://www.telusmobility.com/on/business_solutions/connect_megabyte_rate_plan.shtml [telusmobility.com]
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

    by megamerican ( 1073936 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:58PM (#24757045)

    If you bothered reading any of the articles (since this is /. and your ID is less than 10k you didn't) then you'd know that they sold UNLIMITED plans when the real cap was 5GB and that they are only forcing people off the plan who went over that cap.

    It is a text-book case of deceptive practices (bait and switch).

    Had the company disbanded its unlimited service altogether instead of kicking off people over the real limit, I'd have agreed with you 100%.

  • by Alistar ( 900738 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:04PM (#24757113)
    In Saskatchewan we have Sasktel, which is a crown corporation, government controlled. I won't say its perfect, or it's the cheapest (although its certainly comparable), but I have never had any problems with them. They have unlimited and it appears to be unlimited, I have never had service cut off or degraded. Some months I use it a lot, some months I don't. Heck, even on their basic plan, I could run servers (although it costs more to get static IPs) with no limitations (beyond that set out in the plan 5down/1up for example). Of course as I said its not perfect. The speeds aren't exactly stellar although its belive its 25.99 for 1down/512up. Its ADSL While they try somewhat, their expansion to rural markets has not been terribly fast, although faster than shaw (the cable option - which will cut you off although has better speeds avalable)
  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:05PM (#24757117)
    I was really hoping for a good Telus bashing today. Looks like I have my chance.

    I have had nothing but problems with Telus. They cripple my phone, cripple the internet when viewed through the phone, and charge customers through the nose.


    1)Call Telus (*611)
    2)Yell AAAGGENT into the voice recognition system.
    3)Yell AAAGEENT again.
    5)When you get a human say "When I connect to the mobile web, my phone takes me to the Telus homepage. I am then charged 2 cents. I didn't want to go to Telus' home page, I wanted to go to www.google.ca. Can you please block access to all websites hosted by telus.
    6) They say "We can't do that."
    7) You say "You guys are ripping off paying customers. I would love to change my homepage, but this crippled handset won't let me. Instead whenever I use my mobile browser, I get directed to Telus home, and charged 2 cents.
    8) At this point they will do anything to get you off the phone, DON'T HANG UP!
    9) Tell them that you are not hanging up the phone until this issue is resolved.
    10) Eventually they will realize that they only solution is you give you a free spark 10 plan (so you don't get charged for viewing partner sites) which also includes VM and caller ID!
    11) Save $10/month.

    If you are a Telus customer (I feel your pain) please call them and do the above. It works, and you can screw telus out of some money.
  • by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:10PM (#24757161) Journal

    Well, this being Canada, the general course of action is to complain to the CRTC and then get the CRTC to fuck Telus up pretty good. At least that's been my experience. The CRTC generally doesn't tend to let the big telcos dick around any more than the regulations allow, with preference given to the customer when there's ambiguity.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skippy_kangaroo ( 850507 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:14PM (#24757191)

    If Telus sold underpriced plans, underestimated use, and lost money, how long are they obligated to maintain the service? Forever?
    For however long they promised they would! You don't just get to make promises and break them whenever you feel like it.

    A lot of US car companies are going under because they have very generous pension plans and a lot of retired workers to pay. Short of declaring bankruptcy they have to keep paying.

    This is the whole point of contracts - if Telus can't get it right then it's their own fault. It is also deceptive conduct which there should be consumer protection laws against - you can't just advertise something and lie about all its qualities and expect to get away with it.

    PS Good troll - you've even been modded insightful.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:23PM (#24757279)

    $30 for 450 minutes per month? You've got to come up here to Canada and see what excessive is all about.

  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:31PM (#24757353) Homepage Journal

    I was with Telus since mid-nineties til everyone was finally forced to introduce a way to switch carrier without losing the mobile phone number. I had to wait for that unfortunately before I could switch, but once it was here I ran from Telus as fast as I possibly could. I am with Rogers now, they suck too, but with Telus it was the figurative mobile hell, locked phones with no SIM cards, outrages charges, various catches (for example with Telus I had to call them before going to US to turn on the roaming, otherwise they would charge me about 10x the normal amount.) I HATE TELUS. I wish them all to rot in hell.

  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:32PM (#24757365)
    Wanna hear something even more crazy? The "Basic" Voicemail only allows you to have 3 messages for something like 48 hours. If you want more than 3 messages, you have to upgrade to another tier.

    The "Basic" VM is not free either...
  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:39PM (#24757417)

    Not only that, but man, when you guys buy a book published in the US, its always like
    $20 US $24 CA

    And the Cannadian Currency is worth more than the US dollar now!

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:25PM (#24757871)

    The income taxes in my province (Alberta) are lower than in California and several other states. Some of the things you think you know actually aren't true.

    And did you just say that unregulated telecoms are a bad thing about SOCIALIST societies??

  • by josecanuc ( 91 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:33PM (#24757947) Homepage Journal

    The U.S. dollar has been worth more than the Canadian dollar since July 21, 2008.

    http://finance.google.com/finance?q=USDCAD [google.com]

  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:33PM (#24757953)

    They are not permitted to hang up on callers; as long as they remain on the line and are not abusive. This is standard across may call centers, as disconnecting the call constitutes refusing to help with the customers problem and not acting reasonably.

    The agent will eventually try anything to get you to go away as their calls per minute rate is dropping all the time you stay on the line, and most are paid bonuses based on how many calls they handle in day/week/month.

    Some call centers are allowed to put you on hold for a considerable length of time, in the hope that you hang up; don't hang up.

    If you are cut off while complaining, write them a letter with the time and date of the call, tell them you were disconnected while attempting to sort out your problem, and give them a reasonable time to get back in touch with you to rectify the problem (say 14 days).

    If you get to the next step of legal action, after the reasonable time has expired, they don't have a leg to stand on; all because they disconnected your call and don't respond well to letters.

  • Re:Marketing? (Score:3, Informative)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:44PM (#24758071)
    [...]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.

    Uh yea they do. My bill dated July 25 has the following fee:
    System Access Fee - 6.95.

    Sorry if you were being sarcastic.
  • Re:Sheeps (Score:3, Informative)

    by simmee ( 1180333 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:50PM (#24758135)
    Yes, this is why I stick to prepaid. It cost more for calls/data, but they can't force me to stay on / pay ridiculous fees to leave if I find a better deal. They've tried hard though to get me onto a plan (at least onece a month).
  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StrategicIrony ( 1183007 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:21PM (#24758477)

    Canadian wireless companies are the worst in the world.

    I was looking into plans that would cover Canada and the US as if it was one big roaming/calling local area. US providers used to offer a $25 add-on to their national plans to cover Canada too, but they were getting raped by Rogers/Telus so they quit. Now the only way to cover both is to go with Rogers/Telus and take a Canadian number.

    A plan with 1600 minutes costs on the order of $450 USD with unlimited data, and that's not "REAL" unlimited data. They also charge for text messages and many areas in Canada are "roaming" even though it's a national plan.

    A comparable "nationwide" plan in the US with "real" unlimited data costs about $120. Too bad we can't just add on $25 any more. The problem is that Canadians were buying those plans and taking them home because they're SOO much cheaper.

  • Re:What??? (Score:2, Informative)

    by speedingant ( 1121329 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:24PM (#24758513)
    Absolutely. It has happened in NZ, where Telecom decided it made a mistake and stopped offering their unlimited plan. But they still allowed the current users to make use of the plan until their year "contract" was up.
  • by Magic5Ball ( 188725 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:30PM (#24758593)

    Tips for dealing with Telus (after 6 months of trying to cancel a basic landline resulted in them sending a monthly bill for a $0.01 credit):

    1) To bypass much of the queue, navigate to the part of the phone tree that new customers use. These CSRs, unlike the SE Asia ones, can do things other than take notes on your account. The following applies to the useful, non-outsourced CSRs.

    2) Say "no" if the CSR asks to put you on hold, thereby reducing the chance of "accidental" disconnection when you point out flaws in their logic.

    3) Conversely, feel free to liberally drop the connection if you are not getting the terms you want. CSRs are very inconsistent in what they can offer or enforce (about 0.5 orders of magnitude in pricing concessions, etc.). Be sure to get each CSR's name so that you can refer to better offers that previous CSRs have made if you roll something worse than before.

    4) Since you're on /., the retention department will often bend over backwards if you (legitimately) point out that you blog about your CSR experiences, and your investigation of competitors' rates (especially Shaw). Wait two weeks for the deeply discounted service to activate and be retroactive (ask for retroactive to the last month or three if it's not offered automatically) before canceling (get a CSR to quote your balance owing). If they ask about the bribe you need to stay, reply with "you're a creative company, impress me."

    4a) Both Telus and Shaw offer signup promos if you claim that you are switching voice or Internet from another provider. Their only verification is your ability to recite an arbitrary string having the form [plausible user name]@[competitor].ca.

    5) If you're spending too much time in their phone tree or on hold, point out that you're calling from a cell phone or other toll line, and that you will be billing Telus $0.x0 per minute of the call not spent in active conversation. Their outsourced CSRs almost universally agree to this. Include an invoice with CSR's name and time of call with payment.

    6) Point out that you are logging their service availability, and will be pro-rating your payment.

    7) When offered or promised any action, ask for a specific deadline by which it will happen. Always ask "Can you do it sooner?" NOT "_Will_ you do it sooner". The answer will almost always be yes, but that it's inconvenient for the CSR to find that menu in their interface.

    7a) Recall that their offshore CSRs (support queue, or after hours customer service) are not empowered to really promise or do anything meaningful for you, so promises from them are meaningless. See 1), above.

    8) You can do all of the above without being abusive.

  • Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by QZTR ( 1351145 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @08:33PM (#24758623)

    In the US it's prorated (flat rate was ruled illegal recently, and I don't think most are using flat rate anyway), so it's not necessarily as much as you say. And honestly, I don't see why there shouldn't be a penalty for breaking a contract I agreed to. As far as the phone company, it sucks that they can do this, but what's your alternative? They're allowed to set their terms of service within reason, and I think this, while onerous, is within reason.

  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Man in Spandex ( 775950 ) <`prsn.kev' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @09:14PM (#24759059)
    What you can do is to try and get retention plans, plans given to customers who are ready to quit.

    I called Fido and asked them to match one of Koodo Mobile's plans with a better price and features. Telus has and is still pushing Koodo mobile strongly out there and they're stealing a shitload of customers because their plans are cheaper in average and there's no SAF (system access fee) so you can use them or Virgin Mobile (also no SAF) as a reference of what you are looking for at cheaper prices.

    For $22 + tax + SAF (around $30 a month), I'm getting unlimited evenings and weekends, 200 daytime minutes, 100 sms and call display. All I cared about was calls during evenings and weekends which for some reason (greed) is normally expensive and I made it clear that's what I needed in order to stay with them.

    The longer you've been their customer, the better the plans you can get. Just don't go to them like "You guys suck, give me more or I'll quit!". Make clear demands, you need unlimited SMS, unlimited local calls, and so on. And yes, DO NOT HANG UP, that's probably the most important thing here, but be ready to quit if they insist they can't (won't) listen.

    In the end, they need us, and it probably doesn't hurt them to give you an awesome plan because 95% of their customers are getting ripped and don't care.
  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @10:02PM (#24759469) Homepage
    The rates are only getting worse. 7 years ago, you could get a plan that included real voice mail, caller ID, free evenings and weekend from 4 pm to 8 am, and free lunch hour, and all for $35 total after taxes and all charges, and now you have to pay $30 even just for a basic plan, no vm, caller id, evenings and weekends starting at 9 pm. So by the time you add all the features you actually want, plus the system access fee, you end up paying $55 for what would have cost $35, 7 years ago. Even with all the advances in tech, and the fact that everybody has a phone, it still costs way more for service than it used to. I used to be able to get pay as you go, with 25$ for free evenings and weekends starting at 6, and 30 cents a minute for each extra minute. So for $35, and no contract, you could get evenings and weekends, plus 33 other minutes, which also included caller ID and voice mail. To get a similar deal, even under a contract now, you could easily spend $50. You might get 100 daytime minutes, but you'd be on a contract, and there's no way you would spend less than $50 a month, whereas, a lot of the time with the caller ID plan, I would only spend $30 a month.
  • Re:What??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @11:02PM (#24759975) Journal


    http://www.telusmobility.com/about/mike_pcs_pt_policy.shtml [telusmobility.com]



    These service terms (including any rates and charges) may be changed unilaterally by TELUS from time to time on at least thirty (30) days' notice to you, and such changes shall become effective once you use the service after such thirty (30) day period (which use shall be deemed conclusively to indicate acceptance of such changes.

    So according to this, they could change the contract so you agree to provide computer support to that cute girl in the next apartment and then suddenly turn her into your sex slave for all eternity. And if you don't like it, you have to submit to arbitration instead of going to court [well, you could go to court, but they would generally say [at least here in Canada], you agreed to arbitrate [clause 15].

    So there! I would be surprised if a similar clause is NOT most other cell phone contracts (in the Americas, Europe and Asia and everywhere else).

  • Re:What??? (Score:2, Informative)

    by incognito84 ( 903401 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @11:59PM (#24760543)
    I used to be a Telus customer. Quite possibly the worst service ever. About three years ago I was paying $60 a month for a plan with fifty text messages (incoming = 25, outgoing = 25) and around 200 cellular minutes (incoming and outgoing combined). The overage charges exceeded $0.50 a minute for outgoing and $0.25 for incoming (if I remember correctly). There was no voicemail or caller ID on this plan, unless I opted to pay an extra $15 a month. Here in Korea, my phone costs $50 a month regardless of minutes and text messaging... plus I get free, unlimited broadband internet with unlimited live TV streams (+100 channels/shows). It's just not worth it to own a cellular phone in Canada.
  • Contracts (Score:3, Informative)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:33AM (#24765195) Journal

    My favorite issue with Telus was in dealing with contracts and their "bundled" bills.

    My grandparents signed up for internet with them, and supposedly for the first while the internet rates were lower than normal. After a while, they decided to cancel and move on to Shaw. When they called in to do so, Telus told them that they were locked in a (3 year I believe) contract.

    Now keep in mind, this is not like a cellular service. There's no documentation, no terms of service provided. The box that came with the DSL modem had only the usage manual. Nothing signed, and nothing anywhere stating a contract.

    According to the phone agent, the "contract" was presented in a click-through on the software used to setup the modem. However, in this case I was the one that setup the modem, and had done so through their webpage (not using the software CD, and not seeing any click-through contracts).

    Telus - of course - could not provide anything to support their "contact", but the rep actually told me "if you don't like it, take it to court." When I asked for their legal contact info, I was told for that I'd have to "get a lawyer, and have him figure it out."

    At the same time, Telus is also the local phone monopoly, so bills for ADSL and phone service are combined. I tried to get *those* separated so that I could at least deal with VISA about the DSL service without getting dinged for non-payment on the phone part. Telus will not separate the bills.

    I've had plenty of issues with Telus on my own, but this case was the worst. Trying to trick senior citizens into believing their into a contract without any corroboration is just plani evil (and I did check the old advertising for the plain, no contract was mentioned).

  • Re:Sheeps (Score:3, Informative)

    by cortesoft ( 1150075 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @11:33AM (#24766107)
    Umm it IS an internet connection. It is for a data plan... that means internet... this is for a wireless card that you plug in to your computer to get internet access. In fact, it has no voice plan.. you can't use it as a cell phone. Did you even read the SUMMARY? It says that lots of Canadians who live in rural areas use it because it is the ONLY (meaning no alternatives) way of getting broadband internet access.
  • Re:What??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @01:38PM (#24768073) Journal
    If you agree by contract to allow the other party to change the contract without further consent from you then they are not forcing you to honor the change -- you agreed to the change beforehand.

    Whether the clause is legal is another question most probably related to the practical aspects of you as an individual being able to negotiate contract conditions with the much more powerful (legally speaking) service provider. Personally, I have always thought that it would not be considered equal under the eyes of the law, yet you find it in every contract you sign today. So likely it is legal (at least in the US, not sure about Canada).

Loose bits sink chips.