It’s a strange feeling when you feel as if a business doesn’t want your business – in this case I’m referring to Telus who also happens to be my cellphone carrier.
I been a loyal customer since July 9,2003, and with the same phone number for over nine years. I have paid my cell phone charges on time, and on average have spent $1,200 or more over the course of a year – which would equate to roughly $10,800 over nine years that I have been a loyal customer.
As my contract with Telus is winding down over the next four months, I’ve thought about upgrading my four year old Blackberry to something a little more fresh. I’ve been generally pleased with my carrier’s service so far, and had the best intentions to stay on board going forward.
Sadly, that’s not going to be the case, as my carrier (Telus) is not interested in keeping a loyal customer of nine years, and is instead focusing on the new guy.
How This Came About
A friend sent me an email about a 72 Hour Sale: $0 Cell Phones (1 Year Plan) Telus was having, and after checking it out, reading the fine print, I decided to get on the phone with a customer service rep, and ask her about the sale, and that I was interested. I just needed to know what next step I would take to get a new phone, and would happily sign the 1 year contract, and even pay my early termination fee of $50.
My customer service rep told me that the deal was only offered to “NEW” clients, and that I would need to pay full-pop for a new phone if I didn’t want to go with any contract or get into a three year contract in order to significantly reduce the cost of the phone upfront. However, I was not interested in paying full-pop for a new phone or getting into a 3-year cell phone contract. Seriously, who likes being tied down to a contract?
“But I don’t want a new 3-year contract” I said, in an slightly annoyed tone. “I want to stay on with Telus, but it’s not fair that you’re offering a newbie off the street a better deal than you are for a loyal customer of 9 years”. Surely to keep a customer I thought the customer service rep would be able to offer me something more. “There’s nothing that I can do, this is only for new customers”, was the best answer she could give me.
I guess my argument fell on deaf ears. And that’s when I requested to be transferred to the retention department in hopes of speaking to someone who could do something. After a 5 minute wait, customer service agent “Joe” appeared on the line, and shit got real ugly really fast.
My protests continued, and I asked Joe, “What can you do for me”, which followed by the following replies:
“Sir, this is only a promotion for new clients that cell phone manufactures put on to get rid of their old stock, and refurbished models”
“If you are interested, we can waive the $50 early termination fee, and get you into a new phone and a new contract”
“Looking back in history, three years ago we gave you (which I negotiated by the way) a lot of freebies. Free voice-mail and caller ID, and surely you got one heck of a deal given to us almost three years ago”
This is where I got really annoyed, and replied with this:
“I didn’t call today to discuss what I negotiated three years ago. That’s the past, and kudos to me for being smart and was able to negotiate something. Secondly, that was the cost of doing business then and that’s what was necessary to keep me on board – I asked, and you guys committed”
“So, are you going to do something for me today, or am I going to start looking else where”
“I can’t do anything for you, this promotion is not for new clients only” my service rep replied, and the same line I heard at least five times in the 20 minute phone conversation.
“Alright, if you’re going to push away a loyal client that easily, then I’m not even interested in being with Telus. Obviously the new clients matters more, yet 80% of your business comes from existing clients like my self. So, please do me a favor after I hang up, and leave a note in your computer for others to see: Client is unhappy, and will be taking his business elsewhere in four months, because we Telus mobility are not interested in having loyal clients”.
Hung up the phone!
A Canadian Monopoly
Canadian wireless industry is ruled by three major providers: Telus, Rogers, and Bell. The big three also carry and own “discount cell phone providers”: Koodo (Telus), Fido (bought out by Rogers), and Virgin Mobile (bought out by Bell). Can you say monopoly? Oh yeah!
Furthermore, the Canadian government regulates and controls the wireless airwaves, and has made it virtually impossible for new players to enter the field. Some have tried few years ago with the government selling off limited amount of air wave signals – only to fail and go bankrupt years later.
The big tree carriers in Canada only believe in one word: SQUEEZE.
- Squeeze independent providers out of the cell phone market.
- Squeeze more money out of your wallet every month through new fees on your bill.
- Squeeze Canadians into tighter, longer-term contracts with disrespectful customer service.
Most Canadians will tell you that there are major holes in the Canadian wireless market. Both in terms of technology and pricing, Canada has been lagging behind both Europe and the United States for years. The technology is sub-par to what you can get in United States or Europe, and the prices Canadians pay for wireless service is outright highway robbery to what our neighbors south of the border pay.
If you don’t believe me, here’s how my current wireless plan breaks down:
Telus Talk 30 – $30
150 Daytime Minutes
FREE Local Birthday Calls
Outbound Call Display
Free Evenings & Weekends After 6pm
Voice Mail (FREE as negotiated)
2000 Text Messages – $10
Blackberry Data Plan – $15
Caller ID (Free as negotiated)
0 Minutes Long Distance (35 cents per minute)
TOTAL – $55.00 / Month
FEES – $7.99 / System Access Fee
TAXES – $8.19
GRAND TOTAL – $71.18
Somehow my monthly bill always hovers around $85-90 per month. Must be the 35 cent per minute long distance charges when I’m out of the city.
Money Drives Action
Large corporations like Telus and most publicly traded companies have shareholders to report to. It’s in their blood to cut corners to make more money. Even though large corporations like these should care about their clients, most don’t, because clients are just numbers. The more numbers, the better it is for the shareholders, and the lower quality of service is offered to clients in return.
Big 3 wireless CEOs made a lot of money in 2010, combined $22,788,361. Darren Entwistle, CEO of Telus earned a base salary of $1,225,000, then adding in pension, shares, bonus, etc… took him to $9,940,445. (Source: Mobile Syrup)
Look Out For Your Self, Because Nobody Else Will
You are your best friend, and your own worst enemy. You need to look out for your self first, and be #1. Never sacrifice what you believe in to appease others, or stay in a scenario that doesn’t work for you. All relationships are built on two simple basis – respect and give-and-take. If your wireless provider is not providing the type of service you expect, want and deserve – move on. That’s what I’m doing, because there are many others who’ll be glad to take my dollars, and treat me the way I want to be treated.
I’m not sure who’ll read this outside of my regular readership, but I just wanted to make it clear that this post is not an indictment on the everyday people who work at Telus. This post is aimed at the higher-ups, the key decision makers, and management in training the front-line employees. Step up to the plate, and offer value to your customers, rather than throw in their face what was negotiated in the past.
Better always exists out there, but sometimes the hassle is not worth a few bucks. In this instance with Telus, it’s not about the bucks, but rather about the principle. Why should a newbie get a better deal than a loyal paying customer of 9 years? It doesn’t make sense, even basic economics dictates that with the 80/20 rule. We should never allow our selves to be stomped on due our wireless providers wanting to save a few bucks. I say, “If you want to save a few bucks, cut the salary of the CEO”.
One of the main characteristics of capitalism is competition. Once companies become too powerful they dominate the market, which leads to monopoly – Canadian wireless market is a prime example of a capitalist monopoly. Regardless to what happened, and the conversation that took place, they lost me as a customer. Although I’ve yet to try seek out a new wireless provider, I still have essentially until the end of the year when my contract officially runs out. I’ll wait out my contract and just go elsewhere. Frankly, I don’t need a new phone right now, and this is quite the incentive to just be happy with my dependable old Blackberry. One thing for sure that I know is that I’m not the contract type, don’t like to be tied down or limited, and that my next wireless provider will offer me service without a contract.
Readers, are you happy with your wireless provider? How do you feel about “newbies” getting better deals than existing customers? What are your thoughts on the Canadian wireless monopoly?
Photo Credit (abennett96)