Thursday, August 21, 2008

Big Telcos Are Driving Me Crazy - How About You?

I am getting increasingly suspicious about how the Big Three Telco Internet Service Providers are dealing with the customer these days. I am a Rogers cell phone customer. Have been for years and I like the company. However, I just saw an ad for Rogers Internet Mobility Stick in the Globe and Mail today. It drove me crazy.

It promises a DSL Internet connection on a stick which is a good idea but the fine print…the devil in the detail is where the truth often lies…or at the very least misleads. Consider the advertised price of “starts at $30/month.” “Starts” there indeed! It sure does not end there. In the fine print at the bottom we see this offer is “subject to change without notice.” I will not be a customer so I will never know if this $30 price changed before I got to the store. Is it a loss leader…or perhaps a bait and switch? Not accusing. Just asking. Inquiring minds want to know.

Next we see some fees and charges that “…apply in addition to the Monthly Service Fee. Like the $6.95 monthly System Access Fee. That will be added in every month so why not be honest and say up front the service will Start at $36.95 a month? They take pains to explain this is a “non-governmental fee.” As if that is supposed to mean something. A “non-governmental fee” is a commercially based service charge, plain and simple. Why bring the government into it at all…even by implication, or should I say “non-implication?” God know we have enough non-government already, and we sure don’t need more non-government. BTW, if you want 911 services – add $.50 a month for more “non-government service” (sic).

Now we get into the really fine print. They say in the big print this Stick “gives you the fastest mobile browsing and downloads.” Great but what about uploads? I want to do some serious video uploads with my Sticky Mobile Internet Broadband service. Talk about being sticky. The very fine print says there will “overage data usage” charged extra and added to my monthly bill. What exactly does that phrase “overage data usage” mean? When do I know I am over using the data service? It is at Rogers’ discretion as to when and how much they decide to charge? How fair and clear is that? Could such a contract be void for uncertainty?

Next we have additional roaming charges. Well so much for being able to “Get Broadband Virtually Anywhere” as they promised in the advertisement. So I guess I can enjoy having the Stick “virtually anywhere” but then why do I have this feeling the company is sticking it to me with some serious and perhaps significant additional roaming costs, just because I use the product as promised? More price uncertainty.

Finally there is the “unsaid” that makes me wonder and mistrust even more. They brag about having the “Fastest wireless network download speeds within HSPA coverage.” What on earth is HSPA coverage? And why only measure download speeds. Do I get the same “fastest” upload speeds too? Since they are silent on this point and since the big Telcos already limit internet upload speeds now, my guess is no, I don’t get the same fast upload speeds from the Stick. I’ll bet I could technically get the same speed both directions but the providers don’t want me to have that level service, even though I am paying for it?

The Internet is interactive and evolving. The interactive aspect requires more bandwidth and speed to accommodate video uploads because that is where the Internet culture is evolving.

Don’t sell me a cell phone with video capacity and then limit its usefulness to me because you throttle the upload speed on my Internet connection. That is not what I bargained for in either instance. If you are allowed to do that in our contract, then I want out. Oh yes, according to the fine print that will trigger an Early Cancellation Fee on top of everything else won’t it? I’d text the cell phone providers a piece of my mind but they would only return a text message advertisement to me and charge me for privilege of receiving it.

Tell me again just how the open marketplace in the free enterprise system is supposed to improve my life because competition works best to serve those progressive ends. Telus, Bell and Rogers control 95% of the cell phone revenue market and I don’t know how much of the Internet market. That market place is not open enough and is sure ain’t free. matter how you look at it.

Now they want to take the usury of the cell phone corporate culture and apply it to the Internet making it look and cost like Cable and Pay television. It is time Canadians learned a lesson from Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association. If they want to charge me and force me to subscribe to Internet websites on a fee for service basis like Cable or Pay TV, then they will have to take my wireless mouse from my cold dead hand first.