Friday, July 4, 2008

My Fido Was a Dog, So I Picked a BlackBerry!

With all due apologies to our family Dog, my Fido phone really was one. I've been having a variety of issues with my phone and with their customer service for quite a while.

The worst was that I never knew when I would have service. I couldn't be sure I could make a call on my cell from anywhere, including from either of my houses, because one moment I would have 4 bars and the next it would drop to zero. I'd often make a call 4 or 5 times (each time getting out one or 2 sentences) before the connection would finally work and I could talk for several minutes. There were lots of times I either wouldn't use the phone because it was such a pain or I would cut my calls short. That meant I often wasn't using all my minutes in a month (and there's no way to roll minutes over).

At the same time I was also facing seriously escalating costs when I made calls on the cell while at our rural home. You see, every call I make when I'm there is long distance (even the ones to my Hubby when I drive into town and I call to check if we need milk or spackle or whatever). We had a few outrageous cell bills, so I tried to rework my plan by playing with the long distance and other options. My bills went up from the previous average, but it did seem to wipe out most of the $200 bills that were popping up when we spent time at the house. But I couldn't seem to improve the service, even by adding the Rogers network to the Fido one and having to make the same call over and over was really running up the long distance minutes.

Then, I fell a little bit behind on the bill because we've had a few months with less than average income. I did talk to Fido and arranged to pay the balance (less than $250) in 3 payments, each one 2 weeks apart. I made the first payment and the day before the 2nd payment was due my phone seemed to stop working. I'd try to call a person and I'd hear a recording saying my call would be recorded for security purposes.

Since I wasn't calling a business, I'd hang up, thinking there was something wrong with the phone (or that I'd gone insane and was dialling wrong repeatedly). Finally, I let it ring through and got the Wicked Witch of the West who demanded all kinds of personal information from me before she'd actually talk to me and explain why I'd reached her.

I blew up when she demanded my SIN number. I'm not even sure how they'd have it, since I don't use it except where you're legally required to (for government agencies and employers). Finally, she decided I was myself after about 3 security questions (Hello, I'm trying to make a call on my own phone and you can't be sure of my identity?) and told me my phone service had been suspended for non-payment.

I explained the agreement to her in words of one syllable and she finally conceded that, yes, I'd done that but the person I'd talked to hadn't done something or other to prevent the suspension. Then she started harassing me for the payment, which I was just about to make.

All in all, she was so rude and condescending that I'm surprised I didn't have a stroke from the increase in my blood pressure. She told me everything at least 3 times and acted like everything was my fault. She 'graciously' (okay, sarcasm) reconnected me and said as a one-time favour to me they wouldn't charge me to do so! But she made it clear that she didn't believe I was really going to pay and that they'd cut me off again if I didn't dot my i's and cross my t's. ("We'll get you and your little Fido too, cackle, cackle")

Once I got off the phone with her and made the call I needed to make, I made the payment just as I'd intended to all along. At that point I really didn't want to. Frankly, I wanted to throw the phone off the top of a building and then drive over it, but I restrained myself. Instead, I started looking at other cell phone companies.

Good thing too! The next day my phone service was suspended again! I must admit the gentleman I spoke with that day was much nicer than the Wicked Witch. He said she had taken off the suspension but hadn't changed the date when service would be suspended, so it had reset the next day. I can't say I was overly surprised that the Wicked Witch had "missed" that step. At least this guy fixed it, was polite, apologized and took off the reconnection charge without telling me that fixing their own mistake was somehow a favour to me.

But that solidified my decision to switch cell providers. Bell had an offer of a free BlackBerry and I was very interested because we also don't have internet service at our rural location (as I've only mentioned about a zillion times). If I could get my emails and browse the web from my phone that would save me a 20 minute drive (and gas) each way to the hotspot in town. The $64,000 question was, would the phone work there? Neither Bell Customer Service or Tech Support could answer that, so I got the phone number for the closest Bell location (figuring they would know better about the local service conditions). The manager there told me if it didn't work well that there's a thing called a Wilson amp that boosts the signal, but I needn't have worried.

The girl I actually did the deal with at the store told me a family member of hers lives right by my place and that the phone would work fine without having to drop $200 or more on the Wilson amp. So I'm now the proud owner of a new BlackBerry! I have free calling to 5 people anywhere in Canada, so I picked all the numbers I call or get calls from the most (which should take care of the problem with calling Hubby no matter where we are). The plan I got costs about the same as the plan I had from Fido, but gives me unlimited data and web browsing and caller ID (none of which I had previously).

I am SO happy! Plus, I can actually post directly from my BlackBerry when I'm at the house!

Shabbat Shalom and a Happy July 4th to all my American readers!

1 comment:

Dolly Iris said...

Having worked for many phone companies in call centers I'm not surprised at what a witch she was. They do have to verify accounts that way but not in an evil manner. Its not her job to doubt you or make you feel bad either. I'm shocked at FIDO. I never worked for them, only American companies.

I do however know how they got your SIN number. The same thing happened to me with Telus a few years back. The guy demanded I verify it for him and when I refused he started reading it out to me. I argued that I never gave them my SIN but he stated I must have because it was on my account.

Then I worked for another American company, this time for a cell phone company. I ran credit and activated phones. What happens is even if you don't give us your SIN it comes up in the credit check. The rep then takes it from the credit check and uses it to run the credit more accurately and then its put onto your account. The reps are not even instructed to tell you. We would ask for an SSN and if the customer was resistant we would have access to it anyways and put it in the account and then usually ask for a password for future verification. Awful isn't it?