Saturday, May 27, 2006

Just Another Way to Rip Off the Little Guy...

On Friday, Telus Mobility called me to try to offer me a contract yet again (I've got this great grandfathered plan from the old Clearnet days with per-second billing), and I took the opportunity to complain about the fact that, given that I've been with them since 1999, all I've ever gotten as thanks for being a customer is a friggin' stuffed pig. Well, 20 minutes later, I managed to get $100 off the purchase of my next phone, and I managed to get them to waive the $25 phone-switching fee that they've magically started charging. I won't even get into that, because that's a whole other rant.

Anyway, since the deal was good for 90 days, I decided put it to good use...and since I was getting a new phone, I figured I'd get the latest and greatest in mobile phone technology - a Bluetooth-enabled phone. I did a bit of research and decided to go with the Motorola V710. The only drawback, I had read, was that the battery life was so-so, and that Telus stripped out most of the Bluetooth functionality from the phone so that the only practical thing you could use it for was hands-free talking, and car kits (hands-free use in a Bluetooth-enabled car). Whoopdee-do. But whatever - I saw you could get around it with some hacks, so I figured it was worth it. When I got into the store, however, I saw the LG8100, which *apparently* boasted Bluetooth capabilites for headsets, car kits, and data. I asked the sales guy numerous times if the data part meant that I could transfer files between the phone and my computer, and he assured me that I could. Done deal - I went with the LG without hesitation.

What a surprise when I got home and tried to connect to the Bluetooth USB adapter on my computer and found out that the phone did NOT support data transfer, as the sales guy had said. I went to the Telus online site, and lo and behold, it states "Bluetooth wireless support for hands-free sets, car kits, and modems. However, the software used in the LG 8100 available in Canada from LG Electronics does not support the transfer of data files." WTF??? First off, the sales guy LIED to me. Secondly, the info card beside the phone in the store said it had Bluetooth support for data (and on the phone box too). What's the deal? After some extensive research, I found a number of forums where people complain about the fact that Telus has disabled many of the Bluetooth features of that phone. Quite frankly, I'm really annoyed. If a phone is manufactured so that it HAS such capabilities, why the hell would a service provider disable them??? You're already paying enough for the phone.

That brings me to another point. I've had 6 phones from Telus/Clearnet since 1999. The last 3 have been these so-called smart-phones, which come with PIMs, Wireless Web access, etc. Each time, it seems like Telus strips more and more out of the phone. For example, 5 years ago, I got the one of the first color LCD flip phones on the market (it was a Sanyo). It came with a data transfer cable so that I could upload pictures and custom ringtons to the phone. My next phone was an LG. I found out that I could upload pictures and custom ringtones to the phone with a data cable as well, but this mytical data cable was nowhere to be found. Not even the LG site sold it!!! The new phone's data cable does not appear to be MIA, but you need to shell out an additional $30 to get it. Plus it comes with no software and drivers. shouldn't have! My only inkling of hope is that somebody who is a hardcore geek will hack the crap out of this phone and post it somewhere on the Web so that owners of the LG8100 can get the features that they paid for.

Before I end off this very long rant, let's not forget the fact that there are fewer and fewer out-of-the-box phone customization options, such as ringtones and wallpaper. Why? Because Telus (and I'm sure many other wireless providers) wants you to dish out the dough to download ringtons and wallpaper from their stupid site. It costs on average $2.50 + download fee to get a ringtone. It's cheaper to get a song off of iTunes, for crying out loud!!! And by the way, if I'm dishing out that much money for a bloody ringtone, the LEAST that Telus could do would be to give me a friggin' PREVIEW of the ringtone so that I don't end up buying the wrong one.

Do I feel ripped off as a customer? You bet I do! Companies will do anything to make an extra buck, and Telus is one of them. Fido was the last standing mobile service provider in Canada that seemed to have an inkling of what customer service and satisfaction was all about, but now that it's been bought by Rogers, I'm sure that poor little Fido will be assimilated into the giant Borg Collective that is Rogers. Resistance is futile.

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