How to navigate the cellphone maze

By Peter Nowak,

Today begins our week-long look at cellphones. Why so much attention to a seemingly innocuous gadget? Our senior producer Ian Johnson explains, but in a nutshell - we're on the cusp of a massive change. If you think the internet revolutionized our lives, recent moves by Google and Apple mean the mobile internet is finally starting to materialize - and it's going to change our world even more. Secondly, and more specific to Canada, with an upcoming auction of public airwaves our government is on the verge of deciding whether our cellphone industry is going to enjoy the status quo, or whether there's going to be a shakeup with new carriers entering the market.

We kicked off the series today with a story about how the industry has benefited from customers' confusion. Complex rate plans, service contracts with tons of fine print, and bewildering (and bewildered) customer service agents have all helped keep subscribers off balance and not really sure of what they paying. Josh Boulding, a 20-year-old Physics student at the University of Winnipeg, has come up with an innovative method of getting what he wants from customer service agents - keep calling them back until you get the answer you want, then record the call so you can "stick it to them." My tip if you're a Bell Canada customer - ask for a bilingual agent when you call, which assures you get somebody in Canada on the phone rather than an outsourced agent in a call centre in India.

We'd like to hear your tips for getting satisfaction from the phone companies. What kind of problems have you had, and how did you get them resolved? Or did you get them resolved?

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Michael L


Contract confusion is the sole reason why I stick to prepaid service. Aside from the mandatory 911 service fee, all of the costs and fees are clear. Most of them also have popular features such as call display and voice mail too.

Posted November 19, 2007 12:21 PM

Steve McGovern

There are many things to talk about on this subject, but one in particular stands out for me. As a Rogers customer, I would call their business office from time to time to discuss my account. They would always put me on the defensive by first asking for my full information profile, including date of birth. I would have to regurgitate this information, not only for the first person I talked to, but for any other department I was transferred to as well. I was made to feel I was jumping through hoops just to get to talk to someone. I felt they did this to make me feel vulnerable and to put me in a responsive submissive mode. I started refusing to provide this information and hanging up. I would ask for their personal information and, when they would not give it, I would hang up. When they asked why I objected to providing this information since they already had it on file, I said if they already have this information, I shouldn't have to provide it again to a stranger. I finally suggested a codeword or password to identify myself. It took three tries, but they finally agreed.

Posted November 19, 2007 12:21 PM



TIP to consumers: all cell companies have customer service and then there's customer retention services.
If you are not happy with your rates,fees, service and seem to be going nowhere with the agent. Request the number for customer retentions who have the authority to give you a better rate/deal.
Take the time to review your cell phone bills monthly and call if you have complaints over charges. It's worth the trouble.

Posted November 19, 2007 12:26 PM



I am usually the first one in line to complain about Bell Mobility's customer service. I have a dozen or so horror stories from both the telephone agent and in-person store agent sides. But the other day I called up to add a feature to my plan and the most amazing thing happened: I got a person that understood what I was saying, understood what I actually wanted, didn't try to sell me something I didn't need AND actually resolved my problem in a way that saved me money! Seriously! And the whole exchange took less than 10 minutes. I was blown away!
I almost called back to register a *compliment* with a supervisor, but then I realized that might jeopardize his job since, as everyone knows, it is Bell’s policy to only hire agents that will make customers angry.

Posted November 19, 2007 12:45 PM



Cell phone companies in Canada live in heaven especially compare to other countries!
I have a family plan (two phones) and on average, I pay $100-$120 per month.
I used to live in Australia and for almost the same feature (except for 125 text messages), I was paying $10 per month for two phones, including tax. Why am I paying too much here? Why should I pay access fee every month?
Is cell phone in Canada luxury? Why should Canadian pay too much?

Posted November 19, 2007 01:07 PM



You know the phones themselves are designed to get you hit with more fees... eg:

The last phone I got, an LG, (I forget the model) had a shortcut button called "Web". If I accidentally hit that button, the phone would connect itself to the web and once it started connecting you couldn't stop it unless you took the battery out.

Then at the end of the month you get slapped with a nickel for every kilobyte you accidentally downloaded. Once that added up to over $10.

Result of complaint...

"Sorry the charge is not administered by us and there is nothing we could do to reverse that charge."

Cop out.

Posted November 19, 2007 01:15 PM



Thank you for covering this story. I have been very frustrated with my cell phone provider and feel as though addressing this issue collectively through the media may be the only way to influence the way Canadian cell phone companies conduct business.

Recently, I was charged with an incoming call from Bell Sympatico. I had been on the phone with a toll free technical support number to address my internet problems. However, the technical support attendee insisted on ending the phone call and calling me back an hour later.

I was infuriated when I received my next Bell cell phone bill and I was charged for a 70 minute call from Bell Sympatico. To make matters worse, the bill statements from Bell do not display the incoming phone number and I had to debate about the origin of the call with the “customer support” representative for over 40 minutes.

Posted November 19, 2007 01:17 PM

Robert Labelle

After having been put through the mill by almost every service providers in Canada, I decided that I did not need them as much as I was led to believe. So, I cut out all contracts and went on payas you go service. Results, a 400% yearly savings with no sacrifice. Best buy OnStar service, which allows me to call from anywhere without those exhorbitant roaming charges. Recently, Rogers changed there pricing on pay as you go. I have to pay twice as much as I was presently paying, to suck me into buying more time. so, after much thought I finally realized that I did'nt need these guys and dumped them all. I am happy with my OnStar. And I did'nt miss a sale!

Posted November 19, 2007 01:17 PM


My wife and I resolved our problems with Telus by simply dumping them, and never returning. We have a Virgin pay-as-you-go plan and for a retired couple we LOVE IT! I'm going to be following this series closely because I agree that we are on the cusp of another information explosion via the portable phone. As a long time Apple user, I can't wait to get my hands on an iPhone BUT, I will not sign a contract that wrests an arm and a leg as payment. I think it is time to ensure that the CRTC creates a competitive and open market place in Canada for the benefit of the customers, the average Canadians. Currently, I still hear people complain about the cost of the cell phone service and all the ridiculous charges but then they shrug, smile sheepishly, and add...well it's a business expense and the company pays for it, tax deduction you know. How about the rest of us.

Posted November 19, 2007 01:30 PM

Jon Doe


I recently called FIDO to ask to restore - Private name / Visible phone number on others call display when I call them (for privacy reasons). The agent told me that although it was technically possible, it is their policy not to do this because of all the people who pay for Name Call display. I explained that I had this feature for the last 6 months no problem. Please. Long story short, I threatened to cancel, and they suddenly were able to help me!

This only works if you have no contract of course ;)

Posted November 19, 2007 01:50 PM



I called Fido and asked about what the system access fee was. The response was "for using and maintaining the network". So what is the rest of the monthly fee for? Just to take my money? I have a plan that is advertised to cost $25/month but ends up costing me $42/month not including airtime.
Another thing is that I pay long distance cell phone rates when I use my phone in Montreal (I live in Ottawa) even though I'm still on the Fido network. In the US all cell phones have the same rates throughout the states.

Posted November 19, 2007 01:52 PM

mark vivian


Over the summer I was called by an agent from Airsource wireless, a company selling Rogers contracts, in regards to a family plan. As I do a lot of long distance calling I asked about the long distance minutes in the plan, and, was told that I would receive 1000 minutes long distance monthly. I was suprised to find out, after agreeing to the contract, that these 1000 minutes were between the two phones in the plan only.

I was knowingly deceived by this salesperson who, not suprisingly, will not return my phone calls. This has lead me on a long futile battle with Rogers customer relations. After receiving the go ahead from Rogers to return my phone, and, even given the promise of receiving free shipping by way of shipping stickers being sent to me by mail; Rogers has finally told me that my only course of action is to cancel my contract for a $400 dollar fee as they accept no responsibility for the outsourcing companies that sell their contracts. The discrepancies in the answers to my problem from Rogers customer relations personnel is a testament to the fact that they have no official policy and it makes me wonder whether or not these people are actually trained.

I have also written two letters in this regard to the head of Rogers and I'm still waiting to get a reply after several months time.

I hope that the canadian government 'opens the airways' to add some much needed competition into this market.

Also beware of companies that sell Rogers contracts. I do not know of others because I have not dealt with them but my experience with AIRSOURCE WIRELESS has been terrible.

Posted November 19, 2007 01:54 PM



I hope CBC will get into future services, like internet access. The carriers have a chance to lock in customers for inclusive voice and data plans, yet they drag their heels and won't release plans and devices that support these features. Fido years ago offered an unlimited Internet plan, yet they pulled it when Rogers bought them. We're denying many useful present and future services and innovation. Not to mention basic access is way too expensive. Clearly, the artificial monopoly in Canada isn't working, and more competition should be brought in. I suspect a big problem for the carriers is the constant costs of always needing to upgrade to newer technology. The upcoming world wide compatible spectrum definition (like GSM but more compatible) might resolve this, I hope we do not have the technology segmenting we have today that makes cartels so easy. People should be able to choose from all models of phones, roam easily, and have the full gamut of personal convenience and business competitive features available.

Posted November 19, 2007 02:32 PM

Gishan Perera


Regards to System Access fees $6.95 per month.

I think this fees should not be charge to customers. why i say that is If the cell phone company's want to be competitive among the other service providers they have to spend there own money from the enough profits they make already from consumers. They should not to charge any fees like $6.95 or more each month and bill to customers for there equipment fees. Which not belong to us if we are paying for the system improvement fees this equipment's should be belong to us. then each month for this amount they should give us a shares options for the fees.

If the cellular service providers want to be competitive on the current markets that's up to them they shouldn't be changing the consumers for that. this is a total rip off from service providers.

Posted November 19, 2007 02:35 PM



In terms of residential (personal) cellular services it is up to the customer to make sure they're getting what they pay for and negotiate with their provider if they aren't satisfied with what they have. That's not necessarily what's RIGHT - it's the reality of being residential/individual customer number 986,742.

Most of the bigger companies could care less about a $100.00 a month customer because they have hundreds of us and have more important things to focus on - like $20,000 a month business customers that they actually make decent revenue from. They don't sit there and review all of the $100.00 bills to make sure they're correct - it's not worth the time or money because only 1 in 10 customers ACTUALLY reviews their bill and calls in to customer service. Break/fix for 1 customer is cheaper than detect and prevent for 10, right?

I personally always review my bill and quite frequently call into Rogers to make sure I have the best plan possible for our usage (family plan) - I, like K, call the retention people. I've been a Rogers customer for 10 years and I am very happy with the service/pricing I've received. My only complaint is the lack of "frequent user" plans for people who use 411 all the time - like Bell has.

Posted November 19, 2007 02:44 PM



Hey, want a cheap pay-as-you-go data rate? Buy a european prepaid SIM and stick it into an unlocked GSM phone; generally their foreign (data) roaming rates are cheaper than Rogers/FIDO charges their local prepaid customers! We need some competition in the GSM networks here, doing roundabout tricks like this is just silly.

Posted November 19, 2007 02:52 PM

S. Kaz


To Steve McGovern's post, how can you possibly think that you're reasonable in withholding your private info to the call center? This is done for your own safety.
Anyways I recently switched from Telus to Rogers because of a phone that was not supported by TELUS. Since I have switched about a month ago, I have made 6 different calls to different agents in order to straighten out my rate plan. One of those calls alone was 40 minutes. I was w/ Telus/Clearnet since 1999 and never had a problem. In fact, they exceeded my expectations time after time.

Posted November 19, 2007 02:54 PM



I am tied to my cellular phone. I am happy that we can now transfer numbers.

However, there needs to be additional competition to promote better plans, phones, and customer service. When I left Fido to go to Bell, the customer service agent did not ask why I wanted to leave Fido. If the agent had offered me something, I would have probably stayed.

Cellular providers, smarten-up or maybe our airwaves may be opened to competition!

Posted November 19, 2007 03:17 PM

Pat Fitzgibbon

Even though I have simplest type of 'phone, one that I just have to top-up every thirty days, I still find it a bit confusing. I wonder why the provider, Telus, has chosen a thirty day spread, which means that payment comes due on varying days, making things more confusing than neccessary. Moreover, if I pay earlier than the cut-off date the system adjusts my next payment to date the top-up is made. That means you lose the difference in the days remaining from your previous payment.
And the reason I have paid earlier, on occasion, is that I have forgotten to make top-up payments, three times, which wipes out any excess time I have remaining. I estimate those three oversights have cost me well over one hundred dollars.

Telus would argue that I could circumvent that problem by giving them permission to make automatic withdrawals from my account. But that requires me to do something more for their convenience than mine and it makes it more wearysome for me, should I decide to change my provider.

The part that galls me is that there are extremely simple ways of providing this service. I was in Uganda, not to long ago, and there were vending booths all over the place where one could purchase a top-up card, which you then slotted into the phone and it would, automatically, top-up. You just used the 'phone until that time expired and then went out and bought another card. Simple. (Incidentally, the 'phones also had interchangeable chips that allowed one to change from local to international calling.)

When I asked a Telus representative why one lost all accumulated time for missing a "due" payment, even by hours, there was a fifteen minute pause before the representative returned to tell me that it was because I was tying up a number that might otherwise be available to someone else.

I realy do believe the system is set up in an unnecessarily confusing manner.

Posted November 19, 2007 03:28 PM



We deal with Aliant Mobility ( a subsidiary of Bell ) mostly because they offer the best coverage in our area. However we are less than pleased with the service and pricing. Just recently Aliant decided to pre-bill (double) our regular monthly charges much to our surprise. Our bill was over $ 500.00 so I decided to take a closer look thinking it must be a mistake…after spending no less than 1 hour meticulously reviewing it I was able to convince myself it was mostly correct. I feel bad for the customer service reps that must explain these insanely complicated bills.
As a small business owner we rely on our cell phones to enable us to survive. When is the high cost of our regular bills ranging $300 to $ 400 too much?

Posted November 19, 2007 03:54 PM



PF: The Telus automatic top-up deal is much better than Bell's, which only auto-tops when the previous payment has expired. The only way to accumulate prepayment dollars with Bell is to remember to top-up on the expiration date - as you say if you do it early or miss it you lose the accumulation. However, Bell is better in having a 60 day expiration period. Last I looked, the best pre-pay deal (which I will look into when I have to replace my good little Nokia phone) is Virgin, which allows you to buy a $100 worth of time with a one-year expiration.

Since I rarely use the cell phone except when traveling, I'm accumulating a lot of top-up dollars and am becoming interested in linking its prepayment cycle to the Bell Hotspots wi-fi plan, so I can use my laptop instead. Enabling the Hotspots would cost about $15 every billing cycle, exhausting more than half the cell phone top-up and the pay/use would draw down the rest of it.

I have to say, I'm on prepay only because I don't use the cell - regular use would send me contract shopping.

Posted November 19, 2007 04:12 PM

Tom Pinkney

I solved the silly misleading advertising from Rogers by switching to a clear staightforward plan with President's Choice. It really is pay as you go ($.20 for each minute; no extra charges of any kind; lots of features such as voice mail and call display). Even then there is the matter that I must top up my funds before they expire every second month, or lose the funds. It costs me about half of what I used to pay for my wife and myself with Rogers.

Posted November 19, 2007 04:51 PM


I'm a former Customer Service rep for an American cellphone carrier and I've noticed that we have a lack of competition in Canada as a nation in whole.

In the United States, when a major carrier introduces a service plan that's a first of its kind, or something that will change the way people use cellphones, other carriers will freak out, but eventually combat with their own services similar to the first carrier offered. In Canada we see very little competition. For example, the prices for basic plans are a joke, in Ontario a basic 150 minute plan with 9PM nights and weekends costs $30 per MONTH. However here in Manitoba we DO have competition, and it shows that it's much different than the rest of Canada. You can get 250 minutes, nights and weekends at 6PM all for $10, that's insanely cheap compared to what the what the carriers are forcing others to pay in Ontario or BC. Even in 2003 when I purchased my cellphone, I was paying only $20/month for voice with 200 minutes and 8PM nights. 9PM start time for evenings is a rip off itself since it's a huge cash grab because most people don't make many calls after 9PM, myself I make a majority of my calls between 4-8PM on weekdays.

We have seen some changes though, data plans were so expensive that it was not affordable to a majority of the population, but we're seeing changes.. except from Rogers. Bell is now offering a $7 unlimited data plan for one of their PDA-based phones (HTC Touch), that is something that we have never seen in Canada in a few years, unlimited data for a PDA phone, I'm sure Telus will introduce a plan to combat this, but I can't see Rogers doing it, unless if they lose lots of sales to Bell/Telus, heck people are still paying $5-10 for a few megabytes of data for wap-based phones.

Posted November 19, 2007 05:08 PM

Matt Cannata


Here is what I don't get. I just bought a cell phone last week, and I was given a $300 credit towards it's purchase. If I cancel the contract now I will be charged $20 for each month remaining in my contract. That amounts to $720. How can they be allowed to charge me over twice as much as what they've given me? Don't you think that a more reasonable cancellation fee would be what I owe them for the phone? I've heard of a few countries where contract-phones are illegal (Finland up until two years ago, for instance). If the telecom companies gave us nothing up front, you would see a decrease in the price of phones AND rate plans as the industry became less-veiled. This would take away much of the legal mumbo-jumbo that people have found themselves in. Where's government regulation when you need it?

Posted November 19, 2007 05:27 PM

Colin McKay

Bell mobility is the worst for bad rates and bad customer service. My bill was never correct from day one of service, and ended up paying hundreds of dollars per bill. I would be charged for even calling bell customer service. The agents were not helpfull or courteous when it came to explaining my bill. Needless to say, i dropped the contract and took the $200.00 hit. Well worth for the long run savings. Been with Telus ever since, cant complain really, except for the high rates.

Posted November 19, 2007 05:37 PM



I am currently with Bell and I'm feed up with their "holier than thow" attitude. As for competition...there is none in Canada. All carriers do the same things just change the wording to confuse the consumer. The access fee should be banned! I've been all over the world and believe that Canadians are getting the shaft. Most other countries charge far less and provide better service. Bring on the competion, open our borders and let them duke it out...the consumer will benefit!

Posted November 19, 2007 06:06 PM

frank rizzo


all you have to do is look at what verizon offers south of the boarder, if we don't start getting something more like they have were just being ripped off, just like the price of our goods..... and i for one am sick and tired of it!!

Posted November 19, 2007 06:19 PM



A classic case of weak regulation. The CRTC spends the vast majority of its time - and our money - on such things as can-con and protection of minority languages. Unfortunately when it comes to regulating an uncompetitive market or protecting consumer interests, it prefers to do the absolute minimum that it can. The CRTC is at least 20 years behind the times and current high-tech users are paying the costs; it is high-time for a total overhaul of that organisation, its remit, and its staff.

Posted November 19, 2007 06:24 PM



hi, i came from india, from a developing nation to a developed canada.i was using two mobile phones in india, but here i have to think twice to buy just one, first contracts for atleast year, then monthly commitments, then not much free sms services, what i think telecom companies here has a tie -ups on top level for their will see the facts when u study it thoroughly. as they are earing huge profits. they are giving services but at high rates.

Posted November 19, 2007 07:32 PM

steve carroll

what is with all the plans. Why not just have one price for the servies. Free local calls, so much for long distance, so much for data, TM, e-mail, etc.

The phone is one thing but once you get into the plans it becomes like reading a cheap take out menu in a hurry. Column A, B or C except on weekends then you can only pick Column E unless you are a wood dragon born while venus is in orion.....

gimme a break. give us all a break.

Posted November 19, 2007 08:07 PM

Joe Thompson


A great deal of problems people have with mobile phone carriers can be alleviated if people do not insist on having the latest greatest phone as soon as it comes out and rather keep the same phone for at least a few years. Mobile phones are expensive, and most people that want the latest phone cannot afford to shell out the $500 or they get suckered into thinking they are getting something for free so they sign 3 year service contracts, which is a huge mistake. These long term contracts are scams and allow the carriers to take advantage of their customers because of the huge penalties put in place when someone tries to quit. Your best bet is buying an unlocked phone (new or used).

The other big problem is that the public is just plain stupid and is willing to put up with the crap. Most people never stop to think that the monthly rates on mobile phone plans are exactly the same whether you sign a three year deal and get a free phone or whether you use your own unlocked phone. This should tell you that the carriers are severly overcharging for service because the price of the phone that they are 'giving away' is built into all of the prices regardless of whether you get a free phone or not (they have to recoup their purchase costs for the phone they purchased from the manufacturer).

Posted November 19, 2007 08:11 PM


We eventually gave up with the silly plans and just use a pay as you go scheme. Even that switch took several months to force through - the carrier insisted they were reviewing the benefits of the change. Of course it helps that we don't use the phone in restaraunts, when driving and other equally obnoxious phone use habits.

Posted November 19, 2007 08:24 PM

Richard Bourdeau

Bell Mobility. In its own wonderful universe Ma Bell decided I needed to pay more for services I would not use. This nice man called and offered me 1000 free minutes plus everything else I already had. My plan only offered 200 free minutes. Wow 800 more free minutes for just 80$ more per month! I pointed out that in three years I had never use may free minutes. Oh, came the answer, that does not matter now you will have 1000 free minutes. This went on for over five minutes. The nice person even tried to make me feel guilty for not buying what I did not need or want. Or maybe it was for not enriching Ma Bell?

Posted November 19, 2007 08:24 PM


As with most Canadian industries, there is little or no competition. We pay the highest rates in the world. This is in part due to the fact that the media (except for CBC, as usual) will not touch this issue. Why...because most of the media is owned by a few corporations...which just happen to own the cell phone companies. Ain't that special.

Posted November 19, 2007 09:44 PM

Jafar Ronaghi


I agree with most of coments made here by other people. I ported my # from telus to another provider shortly after my contract expired. Telus asked me to pay for full month (about $60), because I didnt give them 30 days notice. I dont remember to be told about this nor did I agree with it. It was a surprise for me. Telus is refusing to prove that I was told or agreed to it. I think its same as stealing money from ordinary people by a corporation. Same as banks do when they charge redicolous service fees.

Posted November 19, 2007 09:57 PM

Maryam Moghbeli


I've been a Fido pre-paid customer for about 3 years. Up until about a year ago, I was getting the $20 voucher, that would give me 150 minutes for one month, in other words 15 cents a minute. Then, just out of the blue, they eliminated that and instead introduced other pre-paid vouchers that now it costs me, a light user, 30 cents a minute. In other words, I had to either pay more or curtail my calling habits. Not being able to completely let go of my cell phone, out of spite, I decided to take the latter option and started using my cell phone less and less and whether you like it or not, in today's world, you either have to really be hard-headed and swim against the flow or just be realistic and just try to minimize the damage. So I gave up and swallowed my pride and decided to close my eyes and let them blackmail me.

And by the way, when I first called Fido, to inquire about their new pre-paid vouchers, the rep, told me that the deal I was getting was a promotion and I shouldn't have expected it to last forever. Except that this promotional deal had been there at least for two years, ever since I started with Fido. It's quite obvious that these people are taking us for what we are. Let's face it, we're suckers and they know it.

Posted November 19, 2007 10:21 PM


I spend a lot of time in Europe and simply love they way they do business there. In a restaurant, the price you see on the menu is exactly what will come out of your pocket, taxes and tips included. By law, the advertized prices are exactly what you pay. Regrettably, our governments here are not elected to help the public. They are bribed by corporations and become their accomplices in taking advantage of the general public.

Our mobile phone companies get away with murder. In Canada, when you buy 1.1 kg of meat, do you have to pay for 2 kgs? When you buy 20.1 litre of gas, do you have to pay for 21 litres? Of course not! Why is it that you have to pay for TWO FULL MINUTES of airtime when you only use 1 minute and one second? Why is it that the lawmakers of this country make this legal? Why is it that they allow misleading advertising and hidden charges? Why is it that the System Access Fee is still legal? Why is it that telephone companies are allowed to charge us for something they do NOT do, like NOT listing our telephone numbers? Can I charge my neighbour $20 a week for NOT shoveling his driveway during the winter months?

Posted November 19, 2007 10:27 PM



My cell phone bill is never correct! The level of customer service and honesty in the industry is ghastly. Consumers need to demand more from companies like Telus, Bell, and Rogers. Things need to change soon but where do we start?

Posted November 19, 2007 10:34 PM

Bret Landry

People in Canada pay some of the most exuberant cell phone fees of anywhere in the world. In fact, I recall reading an article about how Canada ranks at the bottom of developed nations in terms of cell phone usage per capita. My experience with Bell Aliant has been awful and I have heard countless stories of overcharging from many of my colleagues. From ridiculous activation fees, to system network fees, Canadian consumers are getting riped off. It isn't even possible to get unlimited data transfer on Blackberrys here! I encourage Canadian consumers to shop around for plans and not to discount some of the smaller companies offering service such as Primus and Presidents Choice; they have the best deals!

Posted November 19, 2007 11:07 PM



3 years ago I moved to Vancouver & signed-on to my first cell phone plan with Fido. A year into the plan, I had my "cell phone identity" stolen. Basically another individual contacted a Fido rep & changed the details on my account. This person had convinced the rep to change my billing address, & proceeded to rack up a $1300 bill under my account.

4 months followed of talking with Fido reps & supervisors; hours on the phone in tears explaining to these people but at the same time incredibly confused over what had happened. Every rep had a different story & no one wanted to help.

At the end of the four months, my bill had risen to over $3000. (Despite the fact that my complaint & account were under investigation, Fido continued to bill interest.) Each week during these 4 months, a rep would call my home line to tell me how much more money I owed Fido. & I would sit on the phone with them, patiently debating until the frustration just brought more tears.

On the Fido web site, I found a contact for Fido's Privacy Officer. I wrote a very detailed letter to her & received a response 3 days later. In 4 months, she was the first person who really listened to my story. Her department investigated & found Fido responsible for violating my right to privacy.

A few weeks later, a letter came from Fido claiming that "the issue" had been resolved & my account balance was restored to $0. No apology. I did not expect a peace offering. Just a simple "sorry".

Those 4 months of constant worry over thous&s of dollars, anxiety & fighting Fido will never be returned. All of the calls to "Customer CARE" only to run into brick walls.

Since when has The Customer been so wrong, & in general, treated so badly? Why has it taken our government so long to step in & act on behalf of its people?

If each person in Canada refused to sign these ridiculous agreements, the cell phone companies would have no choice but to lay out terms & plans that actually cater to the customer.

Posted November 19, 2007 11:10 PM



Three years ago I moved to Vancouver & signed-on to my first cell phone plan with Fido. A year into the plan, I had my "cell phone identity" stolen. Basically another individual contacted a Fido rep & changed the details on my account. This person had convinced the rep to change my billing address, & proceeded to rack up a $1300 bill under my account.

4 months followed of talking with Fido reps & supervisors; countless hours on the phone in tears trying explain to these people but at the same time incredibly confused over what had happened. Every rep had a different story & no one wanted to help.

At the end of the four months, my bill had risen to over $3000. (Despite the fact that my complaint & account were under investigation, Fido continued to bill interest.) Each week during these 4 months, a rep would call my home line to tell me how much more money I owed Fido. & I would sit on the phone with them, patiently debating until the frustration just brought more tears.

On the Fido web site, I found a contact for Fido's Privacy Officer. I wrote a very detailed letter to her & received a response 3 days later. In 4 months, she was the first person who really listened to my story. Her department investigated & found Fido responsible for violating my right to privacy.

A few weeks later, a letter came from Fido claiming that "the issue" had been resolved & my account balance was restored to $0. No apology. I did not expect a peace offering. Just a simple "sorry".

Those 4 months of constant worry over thous&s of dollars, anxiety & fighting Fido will never be returned. All of the calls to "Customer CARE" only to run into brick walls.

Since when has The Customer been so wrong, & in general, treated so badly? Why has it taken our government so long to step in & act on behalf of its people?

If each person in Canada refused to sign these ridiculous agreements, the cell phone companies might create terms & plans that actually cater to the customer.

Posted November 19, 2007 11:16 PM

Retired Former Insider

Dear Michael L.
About your comment regarding prepaid services. This is one of the biggest ripoffs by the pirate Canadian telephone companies; NO refund for services not actually used, they keep the money. Short expiry time, so many customers are likely NOT to use all the services they paid for, and finally, an exorbitant per minute charge. Poor people and students with low credit ratings are the ones most likely to use prepaid services, which means that the poorest and most vulnerable sector of our population is being ripped off the most.
Question; Where is the CRTC in this? Where is the Federal Government's Consumer Protection division? Where are the Provincial Governments' consumer protection officials? As someone who travels and has contacts in many many countries, I can state that our mobile telephone service is WORSE than in all other industrialized services, and in fact much worse and more expensive in several poor countries. This is a disgrace in the country that is trying to claim that Alexander Graham Bell was a Canadian [he was not], and keeps boasting about how important communications is for our big country. I was a Public Servant in Ottawa during Pierre Trudeau's time. The government took consumer protection seriously at that time. Not today. The same goes in Ontario when Bill Davis was Premier, compared to today. Our political leaders are in a power game, and caring for Canadian individuals is not a priority. Caring for their big money sources is. They all think you ordinary citizens are stupid. And this includes today's senior Public Servants, not just the politicians. [Servants??? This is a joke...!!!]

Posted November 20, 2007 07:39 AM



It is my firm belief that cell phone companies spend a lot of time coming up with new plans just to confuse us. But, when told that we are going with a competitior watch them wiggle. Furthermore, read the fine print and go with a pay as you go plan rather that a contract.

Posted November 20, 2007 07:40 AM

G Morris


Good for the CBC for getting onto this story. I do not understand why it has taken so long for this to be talked to about in the media. Cell phones are essential for many people these days (including me) and yet they are incredibly expensive and there is collusion in the industry around prices and plans. Really there is no cheap cell phone plans in Canada because they are all very similar .. and similarly expensive. The real question then is when will the federal government, and especially the federal opposition parties, do something about this. This is an issue that has plenty of political currency; especially with young urban high income workers like myself.

Posted November 20, 2007 08:25 AM


I think that the first problem is that dealers and agents do not take the time to personalize their clientele due to the large markets.

We are a cellphone provider in a small market and take that community approach with every phone we sell, taking into account the customer needs.

The most important part of any business is customer service and we graciously appreciate the business we are given and enjoy assisting our local people.

Posted November 20, 2007 08:37 AM


Like all other electronic gagets, toys, the industry markets the majority of cell phones towards the teenager and even their commercials intimate that "You are a looser." if you don't have the latest or greatest cell phone. Parents are the big loosers as they end up having to buy these expensive novelties for the kid and then have no control over the charges that are incurred. Try telling a teenager that they can only text so much, call at this time only, limit their calls. CELL PHONE companies are predators and the kids are the targets but the bill paying parents are the victims.

Posted November 20, 2007 08:56 AM



I am a Telus customer since more than 2 year. I am using my phone at work since a fwew months and I definately spend more time on the phone. It is the fifth time that I am phoning Telus and ask a CSR to assist me to find the right plan for me....Instead of finding the right plan, I am always ending up having a bigger phone bill at the end of every month...I pay 220$ per month with always fees for changing plan or over minutes...They are definately not able to assist me properly and I am mad to pay those huge bills...I don t mind to pay $100 or even $150 monthly but I want to make sure to not go over my plan every month... I will probably switch to Rogers...with the amount of advertising that we can see from Telus I know now where they spend their money...

Posted November 20, 2007 11:35 AM



I find it interesting that Rogers is the only major GSM network carrier in Canada. If I wanted to switch carriers (ie. CDMA network), I would have to buy another compatible handset.

Bell's CDMA phones are pretty useless if you want to use your phone abroad, and so I am kind of stuck with Rogers.

Posted November 20, 2007 11:37 AM



Cell phone companies need to get you into a contract because they need to pay for the $400 sexy phone they sold you for $99 to get you into the contract in the first place.

There is no competition and what little was there was reduced when Rogers bought Fido several years ago.

We need to open up the rules in this country to allow foreign ownership outright, not just 49%. The protectionsist attitude we have is holding back our standard of living. Not just cellphones, telephones, cable TV, book stores, auto dealerships, Liquor stores (Ontario anyway), banks and on and on. The high Cdn dollar has opened our eyes to the higher costs in Canada.....which are largely due to lack of competition. A choice between 2 or 3 vendors is not competition.
The benefits of opening up ownership far outweigh the costs. But, we are reluctant to upset what exists....such as the CRTC, Milk Board, Ownership rules etc etc.

Posted November 20, 2007 12:44 PM



It took me a long time, but I've weaned myself off heavy usage and switched to a pay-as-you-go plan, which saves me overall. As long as the Media owns the majority of the providers, there will be very little discourse and impetus for change. Way to go CBC for taking this on - I hope there's a section that ties in Cellphone Company Ownership so people can see what they're up against.

Posted November 20, 2007 12:49 PM

Justin Tiu


Lou's comments above (Posted November 19, 2007 10:27 PM) are absolutely spot on.

The Canadian wireless industry has flaws, some of which are not specific to itself. Taxation and government-derived (i.e., CRTC) fees are always after thoughts, consequently, there is little transparency to the pricing model, no matter which wireless carrier you do business with. As a result, pay-as-you-use plans are popular as they offer some semblance of cost certainty to the consumer.

First and foremost is the problem that this oligopoly is almost entirely void of competition. The main wireless players hold all the spectrum and they swallow up any vulnerable newcomers. Survival of the fittest. Law of the jungle. What this means is that consumers only have a handful of carrier choices. Moreover, turnover is curtailed by roping consumers into long-term contracts with shortsighted incentives (e.g., subsidized handset pricing, short term "unlimited" use schemes). If the government were to issue a study on the industry, they would say it's competitive and healthy-- and nothing is wrong.

Another challenge facing this industry is that consumers need to understand their individual wireless needs. Looking to the US is of no help as they play an entirely different game. Due to their population size, spending trends, etc., it is an industry rife with competition. Wireless all-you-can-eat plans simply do not scale properly in Canada. With that said, consumers need to carefully pick their wireless plan to correspond and satisfy their real-world wireless needs. There will always be some waste due to unused airtime, over-use and overage fees; however, the best approach is to pay as close as possible to what is needed or used. "Vote with your fee" as the saying goes because certain wireless carriers are more conducive to certain usage patterns.

Posted November 20, 2007 12:52 PM



A few years ago I came to the realization that I needed a cellphone. Why? I'm a single parent and I do not always work in the office. Make sense?

Anyways, I went shopping around for a plan and as I had all these pamphlets around and a comparison spreadsheet I came to the conclusion that all these plans had one thing in common. Hidden fees. I just couldn't bring myself to sign into one of these 'traps'. The problem than became, 'how do I afford a cell without a plan?'. I was a given an old cell phone by a friend but it was only good for Telus, so I bought the Pay as you go package for $60. This package gave me a $15 credit in the box & an additional $60 credit if I activated my account online. Of course I activated it online. I liked that my unused minutes rolled forward to the next month and things were going great with Telus. Over the next few months I noticed that my already very old cell would get hot, it needed to be replaced.

Earlier this year while at Superstore, my daughter pestered me to go to the electronics section so she could look at the games. While she's looking I come up on cellphones for under $100! I bought the $45 Audiovox and it works like a charm!

Upside, no contracts. No hidden fees. Internet access.

Downside, $.20/minute & per text. Not the newest phone on the block.

It's $15 for 75 minutes, expiry 30 days from purchase of $25 125 minutes, 60 days expiry. Leftover minutes get carried over. The only extra I have is $5/mth for web access, no biggie. I'm not even changing it when I add a phone for my daughter next year. Pay as you go, is the way to go as far as I'm concerned.

Posted November 20, 2007 01:10 PM


Another useless fee:

Rogers charges me a 911 fee every month that I believe is $0.50 or $0.99 per month. If you take any cell phone with no SIM card/services, note the "emergency call only" on the display and you are sill able to access the 911 service anywhere you have coverage.
I do have few use cell phone at home that I could give to people that require only this service and avoid them to pay a $10 minimum charge every month for a prepaid service for "Just in case of emergency".

Posted November 20, 2007 01:39 PM


I learned the hard way with a contract for 3 years. If you want to own a cell phone straight out. Buy it without a contract. Look for specials as they constantly change models. Cheaper han a plan.


Posted November 20, 2007 01:44 PM

Jeff Mesinchuk

First of all I would not call a cell phone innocuous. Anyone who has ever had a long call likely has felt the side of their head heat up. This is a result of the radiofrequency energy heating up the side of their head like a mini microwave oven. This is reason enough for me to keep my calls brief now.
Aside from that, I would suspect the cell phone companies cooperate more than compete (just like the wonderful oil companies) so that they can rake in the almighty dollars.
The one person who commented on how they target young people makes a good point. Would you want to pay Little Miss Popularity's bill? Poor parents. Rich cell company!

Posted November 20, 2007 02:00 PM



My complain about the cell contract or otherwise is the collusion of the providers and the CRTC to rob people of their hard earned money. It goes the same with cable companies. why can't we have these services open to competition? It has been way too long for all us to be paying more than we have to. And we should be able to chose any providers we want if we have all our cell unit open line. So this way we can travel with anywhere in the world. Rogers, Telus Bell and whoever stop robbing us!

Posted November 20, 2007 02:07 PM



If I could get a Euopean or American style anytime, anywhere in Canada package for under $30 a month, even with restricted minutes, I'd do it.

I have a prepaid phone that I use in an emergency and a landline to do all my long distance calling from. I'm hoping someone like Virgin comes in and shakes up the contract scene with something that has affordable long distance.

Posted November 20, 2007 02:14 PM



I think we need much greater opportunity to buy cell phones off the shelf at any retail store, as consumers do in Europe and other countries. You have to dish out more up front for the phone, but at least you can then decide which carrier to go with. This can prevent them from forcing you into long term contracts. Currently almost every phone is purchased through the carrier, at a discount, however we are locked into contracts so that they can recover the cost of the phone. If you buy the phone through the carrier at a discount, then it makes sense that they lock their phones. If you buy the phone through the carrier at the regular price, then they should give you a monthly plan and an unlocked phone. If you buy the phone in a retail store, not through the carrier, then you should have the right to get a plan with the carrier of your choice. Of course, in order for this to work we need CRTC regulations and the same technology across the board. GSM has become the world standard, therefore I think it's time Bell and Telus switch. With GSM you can simply pop in a chip to activate the phone. If you switch carriers, you get a new chip and switch it with the old one. You can't do this with CDMA technology. We need a marketplace where the consumer has more control over the choices they make and we need the CRTC to force such a marketplace into existence. The CRTC must also force the carriers to become more transparent and stop cheating consumers with their deliberate practices of confusion and lying.

Posted November 20, 2007 02:41 PM

Paul Klimstra


"If you take any cell phone with no SIM card/services, note the "emergency call only" on the display and you are sill able to access the 911 service anywhere you have coverage."

The 911 charge isn't for access to the service, it's for funding the service itself. Every person with a phone (mobile or land line) pays the salaries of the dispatchers and the upkeep of infrastructure with this charge.

Posted November 20, 2007 03:28 PM



I used to have a pre-paid fido phone. I would get 200 minutes for $30 which were valid for 60 days. I never used all my minutes, so it cost me $15 a month plus GST. Fido then "improved" their rates, and suddenly it was costing me $60 to $80 a month for less minutes than I used before. When I complained to Fido, they refused to give me a list of calls I made to prove that it should have cost me that much. I even threatened to leave. They would do nothing about it. So the day we were able to port our number, I switched to Virgin, and got a free motorola razor (was a one day deal if you switched to virgin from another company), and now have a $20 a month plan which includes 200 any time minutes. great deal. avoid the large evil companies!!!

Posted November 20, 2007 03:35 PM



I still use inexpensive plans which I signed for in 2000-2001 when we had four competing cellular carriers and big telcos were not allowed to bundle their terrestrial and cellular services. There is hardly any competition today. Cellular number portability was introduced recently, so a customer which switches from Bell to Telus could retain his cellphone number; however, he has to buy a new phone as the two biggest carriers mutually agreed not to provision each other former phones. There is no technical reason for that, as both Bell and Telus use the same CDMA system and have an agreement to carry each other traffic. A customer who lives in rural Alberta can use Bell cellphone and be serviced by the local Telus Mobility infrastructure, but if he wants to switch to Telus, the service rep will likely tell him that “Bell phones do not work on the Telus network”.

Posted November 20, 2007 03:59 PM



Last week I went over my alloted four megabytes of data per month from Bell by 500 kilobytes. This will cost me $10 extra on my phone bill. Also last week, Bell announced that for one, and only one, of their new phones, unlimited data plans are $7 per month. And I'm being charged $10 extra for one megabytes.

This is the equivalent to Honda drivers paying 10 cents a litre at the pump, while everyone else continues to pay around a dollar and up. If that were to ever happen, there would be outrage. Yet hardly anyone complains when Bell does this, even right after dropping the prices on older data phones to get customers to sign three-year contracts right ahead of the release of the unlimited deal.

Posted November 20, 2007 05:46 PM



I took a look at your interactive page in which you compare the average yearly cost of basic cell phone service in different countries. I must point out that you need to take into consideration if the plan included a free or discounted phone, or if you had to first buy the phone at full price in a store. Since you can buy the phone you want in other countries and then choose the cell provider later on, you might get a cheaper plan since they don't have to recover the cost of the unit. What really bugs me is that plans here in Canada are the same cost, no matter if you supply the phone or the provider does. This should be illegal. In general, we should be allowed to buy the phones we want (unlocked) and then choose the provider we want. If you buy a TV or a radio nobody is forcing you to watch or listen to a specific broadcaster. The cell phone industry should be an open system too. If we have the freedom to jump from one provider to another at a moments notice, then the providers will do more to make customers happy. The CRTC needs to get involved here and create legislation to monitor the industry and set out specific rules. There need to be two levels of plans. One for people who get a phone from the provider, and a second (cheaper) one for people who supply their own phones.

Posted November 20, 2007 06:15 PM



I had the unfortunate experience of having incurred "Roaming" charges. As a Rogers customer using a family plan, we went to mexico for 2 weeks and used our phones to communicate with each other. Upon my return to canada I expected some charges to appear on the bill for usage. Say 75 dollars per phone would have been reasonable. I was chocked when 360$ per phone appeared on the bill. Combine that with the 150$ per month and the bill was close to 900 dollars.
I called customer care and explained to them that I was unable to pay for that in one month and tried to set up a 6 month payment plan to avoid having the service cut off. They refused! They only agreed to 3 months. My service got cut off. I switched to pay-as you go and never run a bill of more than 40 dollars a month with my regular usage. How could 2 weeks in mexico of less than regular use cause such an outrageous bill?
Lesson learned!
We now buy pay as you go sim cards from Telcel in mexico and switch our sim cards when we return to canada.

Posted November 20, 2007 06:16 PM


Here's a tip for those of you looking for prepaid service. Check out Petro Canada Mobility. They use Rogers as their backbone. You can get a phone for as little as $60. The cheapest prepaid card is $20. The rate is 20 cents per minute and the validity period is 180 days. They have other cards as well. One is $100 and lasts for 365 days. Personally, I think it should be illegal for cards to expire, especially since you "prepaid", as in "paid before using". But, 180 days is at least fair in some way.

Posted November 20, 2007 06:39 PM

J. Harvey


On a recent trip to the Philippines, we bought a GSM phone (Nokia 1110i, brand new) for under $40. We then chose a pay-as-go carrier (Buddy) and got a SIM card and pay-as-you account all set-up for another $1.45. And the initial set-up even included some airtime. Airtime (anywhere in country) and SMS Texting were extremely cheap - about $0.02 per minute or per SMS Text.

Back to Canada: Surcharges amount to false advertising. If they advertise "$25/month", then $25 plus government taxes only it shall be. Is there a lawsuit yet?

The plans are so convoluted that even the reps get confused. The company's own websites don't get the details the same as the contract language.

Note: This posting made from my desktop PC via the Telus EV-DO network.

Posted November 20, 2007 06:51 PM



Canadian phone companies are suffering from declining revenues in their traditional businesses of wireline services. Wireless has become their primary revenue/earnings growth engines. The phone companies' objective is to have steady and predictable profitability. They can set whatever pricing plans the market will bear and do not want to intentionally get into a pricing war, which degrades earnings and share prices. Also, carriers need locked in contracts for predictability purposes. They can't have users jumping back and forth between networks looking for the best deals. Just look what happened in the airline industry where pricing wars can take the bottom out of the market.

Posted November 20, 2007 07:13 PM

Doug Rutherford


Hmmm. I wonder what people are complaining about. Most of the other commenters live in areas where there is competition.

1. We have two wireless providers here, both owned by Bell Canada (we also have four broadband internet providers, all owned by Bell, too).

2. The rates for all of the providers are the same. Our phone plan with pretty minimal use costs $120-$130 / month with four phones.

3. Someone earlier mentioned an up to $10 charge for accidentally accessing the Internet. Here, the download rate is $51.20 / MB without a contract.

Things might improve if there was some impetus for competition with Bell. For example, Rogers might consider it if there were the possibility of replacing land line telephones with cable or cable television as an additional revenue source. Sadly, the only cable outlet in the region was bought out three months ago: by a Bell subsidiary.

Posted November 20, 2007 08:01 PM

Judy L

I got family in Israel and the Czech rep. they are paying only for calls they are making . they are not paying for calls they are receiving. Here in Canada, your paying for both. ripoff.

Posted November 20, 2007 09:17 PM


I have a family plan with Rogers. Me and my wife have two separate numbers and mostly use the service for just being in touch with each other. Every month there is an error in our bills, and surprisingly none of these errors are in our favour, but in contrary they all are benefiting Rogers company. Every month we have to pay $85 to have this service and a lot of times we experience call drop or no signal in the middle of the city. Price plans are designed somehow that if we just want to carry the phone, and not even use it it will cost us $50.00 a month. Which part of the world phone companies do this to their customers? Every time I call Rogers they give me a different answer regarding the errors in my bills. I am tired of this but just 10 months ago signed a 4 year contract with Rogers. I hope an American company like Verizon shows up here and give these Canadian companies some lessons. My friend in the U.S. pays much less than what we pay in Canada and has a much better service and plan. How these monopolies will be stopped?

Upset Customer from Toronto

Posted November 20, 2007 09:38 PM


Two events have occurred that have sensitized me to cell phone charges.
a) one daughter is in university and we got her a cell phone plan. Problem is she calls her boyfriend and she is charged not only when she calls him but when he calls her. No family plan here. Very expensive charges add up per month.
b) we are interested in getting an iPhone. Other countries such as France, the UK and Germany have them now. But there have been some incredible articles on the web estimating the cost that a Canadian would incur for various amounts of text messaging, etc. And compared to these other countries, Canadians would pay an incredible amount from Rogers, the only available carrier in the country. The feeling is that Rogers is not moving to offering the iPhone because the rate difference between us and other countries would start a revolution!

Posted November 20, 2007 10:14 PM



I have been working in China for the past 7 months on a Coop term and I am going back to Canada at the end of the year. Mobile service is absolutely great here. You are billed on a consumption basis, similar to pay as you go back in Canada. There are contracts available but very few people choose to use them, I don’t know about hidden fees but the one person I know who is on a contract never complains that his bill is higher than the advertised price.
Handsets and carriers are independent of each other; you buy your phone and SIM card separately. GSM is what everyone I know uses although there is a CDMA network as well.
Getting phone service here is a pleasant experience. Getting a SIM card took 10 minutes, 2 of which were standing in line and 5 of which were spent choosing my number. You can buy more then one SIM card which is great because I travel often between two different cities so I have a local card for each, I don’t have to spend by balance on either card within a certain time and I don’t have to add money every month if I don’t need to. Could you imagine being able to do that in Canada?
On the topic of confusing and dishonest pricing in Canada look at Fido’s price for mobile TV, it is $15 per month. Rogers is also $15 per month but they split their price into two different “fees” a $9/ month service fee and a $6/ transport fee. Look at their sites for yourself.

Posted November 21, 2007 12:14 AM



Equally bad experience with Citiphone,a cellphone service through Rogers as well as Telus. Citiphone has very poor signal and the phone is useless. The contract is for 3 years. The conditions include ' even if the service or signals are poor the Citiphone is not liable'.

Telus made six mistakes ( almost similar ) when I insisted that I need a written communication from them which I could refer to. The customer service representative said there is" no postal address" I could use to contact Telus. When asked about thepostal adress on the statement, she said it is not staffed and the 'machine automatically opens the payments '. Later I wrote to the Telus customer services contact address printed in the telephone book.

Posted November 21, 2007 12:27 AM



Equally bad experience with Citiphone,a cellphone service through Rogers as well as Telus. Citiphone has very poor signal and the phone is useless. The contract is for 3 years. The conditions include ' even if the service or signals are poor the Citiphone is not liable'.

Telus made six mistakes ( almost similar ) when I insisted that I need a written communication from them which I could refer to. The customer service representative said there is" no postal address" I could use to contact Telus. When asked about thepostal adress on the statement, she said it is not staffed and the 'machine automatically opens the payments '. Later I wrote to the Telus customer services contact address printed in the telephone book.

Posted November 21, 2007 12:27 AM

Leo Whiteway

starting a cell contract on the telephone is the best thing for the cell provider as they then can say you agreed to anything and you cannot prove otherwise. It is also the worst for you. From my experience, the online help are all liars and I think the companies are condoning this.
My advise to you all is to do all your contracting in a cell store and only complete the deal if you have a signed and witnessed contract that you can use when they try hoodwink you which they almost certainly will try. Take someone not related to you along when you go to the cell store. I also take a mini-recorder and have that as backup. It all helps.
I have dropped from the contract cell and gone to pay and talk so I am free of their contracts.

Posted November 21, 2007 12:46 AM

Canadian in Thailand


An interesting and informative thread. Pleased that CBC is taking up the issue but, unfortunately, we are too far down the confusing path we are on to ever go back to something simpler and more efficient.

Three bits of anecdotal information that are relevant.

A. The real cost of mobile phone service and international calling is cheap, very cheap. In Liberia not too long ago I purchased a $100 pre-paid chip for my unlocked, purchased in Europe, phone. I made about an hour's worth of calls from Liberia to Canada, US, UK, etc. The total cost averaged 10 cents a minute. I don't think that the service provider was subsidizing me and was probably even making a decent profit at that lw rate.

B. In Thailand now, I have bought a SIM card with its number. Interestingly, the cost of the chip varies with the assigned number - a simple easy to remember number can cost 10 times more than a difficult number. In any case, nothing is more than about 40 dollars. Having popped the chip into my unlocked phone, I now need only purchase scratch cards at any convenience store which give a series of numbers to punch into the phone and top up my available time. Calls to Canada and US are about 25 cents a minute.

C Unlocking a phone is easy and quick - if you know what you are doing. Any phone kiosk in Thailand will do it for you in an instant. In Canada/US, unlocking is considered by dealers as something akin to brain surgery - and equally expensive.

I am afraid that mobile service in Canada, as in the US, is doomed to continue as an expensive frustrating experience. Those who are fortunate enough to live in places like Liberia or Thailand (by no means comparable countries) will have ease, convenience and low prices.

And, incidentally, this applies to many other of the frustrations of North American life - air travel, product deliveries, medical care, etc, etc.

Posted November 21, 2007 02:34 AM



"This is a result of the radiofrequency energy heating up the side of their head like a mini microwave oven. This is reason enough for me to keep my calls brief now. "

This is not true at all. You read too many conspiracy theories.

Posted November 21, 2007 09:06 AM



Something needs to be done, and needs to be done right away. I am employee number 3 in Canada for an American company, the company, besides 3 employees has no presence here, and therefore no business cell plans. As a business person, who is on the road, I need a blackberry and a long distance plan, the options are absolutely a rip off. I pay $200 per month to Rogers, and I try the most not to use the phone, because I will easily go over my minutes or my data allotments. The lack of options is definitely making Canadian business less competitive. I work with a team and I get a lot of very short calls, such as "Where are you now?", "Did you get here yet?", each one of these 5 second calls cost me a full minute, and it eats up minutes real fast. My fear of going over my minutes, is impacting the professional level of service that I provide. But the options are not there, I am imprisoned to using Rogers and they Know it. The other big cell phone companies equipment is not suitable for international travel. I am an extremely unhappy Rogers client, who feels ripped off, but has no options. I hope my government can do something about it.

Posted November 21, 2007 09:22 AM

Carol Birch

I have read with great interest all the articles on cellphones, rates, jammers and guess what?? I am getting confused!! The feedback is great, I am reading all the comments in hopes that I can find an answer to my problem. Trying to decide whether to renew another contract with Bell Mobility or go the "pay as you go" way. You still require a server so I am not too sure if this way is cheaper and less confusing and confining than a contract! To renew my old contract it will tie me in for 3 years, and my husband has a phone but on a seperate contract. Can't get them on the same contract, so I am told, as one is relatively new and the other(mine) is up for renewal.My service so far this last 3 years with Bell has been great, no problems. What to do..What to do...

Posted November 21, 2007 08:08 PM

Jared Carter


I, like alot of people have felt the pain of dealing with cell phone carriers and trying to get out of contracts and I don't like signing 3 year deals. I've found a website that allows you to post your cell contract for free. It's, and on there you can post your cell contract and someone else who needs a contract can get your old contract. I avoided termination fees by transfering it on, and was able to get in to a cell contract that better fit my needs. I think its a great free service and more people should take advantage of it.

Posted November 21, 2007 08:16 PM



Ontario does have lower rates. They are called Employee or Company plans. My Telus plan is $17.30 (plus hidden fees it's $25 total) for 200 mins before 6pm and unlimited after. I also get voicemail. They gave this to me as I am a member of PetroCanada.

When I asked why the cancellation fee was so high I was told it was to protect the company from people who sign up and change their mind. They can't reuse the phone (or don't get it back) and also the cost to put me on the network. So I took a 2 year contract and chose a phone that was still $0. People want more but don't realise there's a cost to be greedy.

Posted November 22, 2007 04:59 AM

Sub Standard Wireless Service


Is outrageous cell phone cost in Canada the only sub-standard product/service we Canadians tolerate in the name of national pride? Can you imagine paying for AT&T’s services in Canada? Oh that is just the end of the world!
When was the last time any true CANADIAN products/services recognized by anyone but another Canadian? Let’s see, hmmm…Netherland has a world class bank, Finland has a top cell phone maker, South Korea has big players from heavy industry to consumer electronics. Even the Middle East is investing their massive oil money in something else other than oil. When others pull ahead, we are content with our oil sand profits with no plan for the future. We went ga-ga since the government decides to hand out $200.00 per tax payer per year. Guess what? That is less than 3 months worth of cell phone bill for Rogers, tax not included.

Posted November 22, 2007 10:51 AM



Hey guys, shopping is everything. there is a small but very well tested company based in Montreal with locations in GTA that offers, yes, offers wireless service at a great price. And talking about monthly subscription, THEY ARE NOT CHARGING ANY ANTENNA FEES or this kind of crap.As a good example, for the basic monthly connection they are charging $9.95 +tx. and they are including 100 minutes anytime. Of course, they are offering programs for heavy users. And on top of this, their cellphones are unlocked. And the good part, you are covered anywhere (roaming) without any aditional service tax. And so much other goodies... The name of this company is DCI Telecom and you can check all the information on their website. I'm using their services since some time ago and no flaws.

Posted November 22, 2007 04:29 PM

Judy Roman

I have recently purchased my first cell phone ever. Held out as long as possible. Would never do a contract and found that the overly complex plans were so irritating I would walk out. Got the same feeling as when talking to car salesmen!
Anyway, went with Virgin, simple, easy, straight forward and friendly. So far, so good!

Posted November 22, 2007 10:00 PM


I had Fido paperless bills until it turned "BILLESS" in July/August 2007. When I logged on to the Fido site, 75% of the time was not working. When I logged on, no bills were produced. They continued to debit my account for the monthly charge. When I asked for the missing bills, they charged me $2 for each bill. I had spoken to at least half a dozen agents but none understood. I must have wasted 3 hours in total over a period of 2 months but the paper bills were never reinstated. Finally I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. The call was transferred back from an overseas call centre to Montreal. Even then, it took them 2 months to reinstate my paper bill.

I am environmentally concerned but when Fido had technical problem in generating electronic bills, I say "Let's chop more trees".

Posted November 23, 2007 12:44 AM


I own a small business in Edmonton. I signed up for a plan with 10 phones for my staff and contractors. The rep told me that 10 phones would qualify me for a business plan that would include monthly monitoring of my usage to make sure I'm always on the best possible plan. He also promised me 3 months of unlimited minutes in order to guage my usage and choose the correct plan.

I think you all know what happened next. It's the same thing everyone else is getting. I was billed $.20 per minute for all 10 phones that first 3 months on top of the $600/month plan, and when I inquired about the promise of unlimited minutes for the first 3 months the rep told me it was a Rogers mistake and I had to call customer service. Rogers customer service told me it was the rep's mistake.

Eventually the Rep made a second promise to make up for the mistake. He would give me the next 3 months of unlimited usage if I paid the first three months in full. This was rediculous but I didn't want to waste any more time so I agreed.

I think you all know what happened next, the same kind of tricks everyone is getting from Rogers. They billed me $.20 per minute again for all 3 months, now totalling six months of outrageous billing. When I inquired about it I got the same run around and then the rep quit shortly after.

The new rep who took his place promised to resolve the situation for me but I had to pay the outstanding bill in full or all my phones would be cut off, but not to worry because she would take care of everything.

You all know what happened next of course, the same thing everyone else has been getting from the cell phone dealers. Eventually she quit and the lady who took her place made the same promise. The story goes on and on...

I paid over $12,000 in unnecessary overages before meeting my savior at Rogers customer service. Whenever I have a problem now I just send her an email and she takes care of it.

Posted November 24, 2007 12:38 AM



Another Cell Phone rip-off I love is the system access or roaming fees when you travel. Making a call in Washington state or and other North American location sometimes will result in $4-$5 a minute charges, plus Long Distance. So then you call and you are told it's out their hands that its the amounts charged by them by the foriegn provider.

So then (Rogers) offers that next time you should by a pre-paid plan for travel, $60 for I think 400 minutes. But the existence of this plan proves their lie, the above described charges can't all be from the other networks, b/c think about it even if the access fee was only $1 a min it would be then costing Rogers $400+ long distance charges for something they are offering you for $60.00. I doubt they are that generous!

The plan's are bogus too b/c they run for the billing cycle only so if you were to be traveling during a period that covered 2 cycles then you'ld need to buy two plans.

Cell phone users in the states generally get unlimited LD across the whole country, and some even to Canada. I have read that the I-phone is not in Canada (legally at least) based on the fact that Apple cannot find a company with remotely reasonable Data-package plans.

Posted November 24, 2007 04:01 PM

Marthe Lépine

I am semi-retired, so maybe I may not really need a cell phone anyway, even if I am self-employed and need to keep in touch with some customers. However, I solved my cell phone problems a couple of years ago: ever since the prepaid cards (at 3 minutes for $1) started to have an expiry date, I put my cell phone in my desk drawer, where it remains, unused, to this day... If someone needs to reach me badly, they can leave a voice mail message on my regular phone. All I have to do is take my messages regularly, and voila! There is no need to be constantly availablell

Posted November 25, 2007 08:02 PM

Jay Harris

I used my phone mainly for text messaging, and make less than 30 mins of calls per month.

I was with Rogers and took their cheapest (advertised) voice plan available & an unlimited text message package with call display.

All in all, to send about 200 text messages per month was costing me in excess of $54 per month. After of their access and 911 fees.

I've since switched to a Telus Pay & Talk service, which costs me only $10 per month plus a $0.25 911 fee per month for unlimited text, picture and video messaging. It also includes free call display. A savings of $43.75 per month.

Posted November 25, 2007 10:10 PM


OK...lets clear the air....there is no such thing as "roaming" and LD charges in NORTH AMERICA.all US and Canadian carriers are charging each other 0.024(less than 2.5) cents a minute, and your carrier charges you whatever it wants.profit is NOT an ugly word.
Verizon, in the US has a north america plan, 450 anytime minute, 1000 nite & W/E, and 1000 mobile to mobile, for 60 bucks a month, and you can use those minutes ANYWHERE in USA and Canada, no additional charges.

Posted November 26, 2007 05:47 PM



One thing that I have not read on here that people should be aware of is the fact that we no longer get billed for per second use. The phone companies have switched to per minute billing. So when I call and get an answering machine, you guessed it, one minute for 10 seconds. A great cash cow. With Virgin now offering service in Canada, I strongly recommend people take a few minutes to look them over. It is well worth your time. No more BELL, Telus or Rogers.

Posted November 27, 2007 02:16 AM



It takes all of one trip outside Canada to see how much Canadians are being hosed on a daily basis. System access fees, prepaid airtime expiring, bank fees, hidden charges everywhere, fees, subtle taxes, where does it end?

My cell phone in spain had about 15 euros left on it when I left the country. I kept the SIM card, returned to spain 1 year later and still had 15 euros left on it.

Also, I have heard its illegal everywhere in the world to sell "locked Phones". Or the type telus and bell use, the internal sim card phones. which makes the phone useless if you leave the company. another scam.

buy a phone from telus, end your service after 3 years, obtain a useless phone unless you go back to telus.

why cant Canada get direct pricing? why cant companies legally show us how much a product is. including gst? and hidden charges?

these are small reasons why im planning on leaving here for good. best country in the world? maybe years ago, certainly not anymore.

Posted November 28, 2007 07:42 PM

Conan Purves


Let me just add my name and comments to the long list of outraged Canadians at the exorbitant, monopolized prices and pathetic service we receive. In the States, all plans come with voicemail and caller ID. Here, the companies actually spend money to restrict caller ID in order to make it a paid extra service. The data is in the calls anyways. It's absolutely disgusting and I am extremely excited about this coming auction. I hope Telus, Rogers and Bell get hit hard by a wave of competition.

Posted November 28, 2007 08:24 PM

Scott Doran

I purchased the new Telus Mic phone Blackberry, not only one but 5 phones for my construction company and 2 phones for my ailing parents who live in Victoria B.C.
The ststem worked very well while I resided in Ontario, I could Mic my parents and Mic my employee's. The system worked very well, the blackberry is my primary link to clients and is crucial for me to make a living. Telus seemed to have an edge in B.C. so I left Bell and changed to Telus.
I was told and backed up by literature supplied that I would have service at my new home in B.C. but when we moved there was no service. I could not mic my ailing parents now only 30 min away wheras 4000 km from Ont I was able to recieve their calls. In Jan, 2007 I started my epic adventue to make the system work and dozens of calls later no one would listen. I had to stop using the sytstem and an agreement to return most of the blackberrys to them was reached. I was to keep one phone and billing for that phone was to be maintained, the billing on the remainder of the usless phones was to be suspended. I sent all equipment back and the billing never was adjusted. A swictch to Rogers was made when Telus gave me a further runaround. They at this date still send me bills but the time wasted by me to rectify is parslizing and I ignore them. I may plan to start sending them bills for my time and loss of business, this has cost me tens of thousands in lost work and they are resposible.
scott Doran

Posted November 28, 2007 10:22 PM


I am a Canadian living abroad and I have experienced using cell phones in both countries. Canada needs to let foreign investment into Canada. We have left the 80s a long time ago, no need for protectionism. Let foreign players such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, AT&T to stir things up. Enough with the monopoly!

Posted November 29, 2007 04:50 AM



My $35.00 family plan turned into 100's of dollars and being seniors we didn't know how to use text messageing until recently yet we were charged for text messageing and basically told we were liars when I told them I didn't know how to use it.
I will switch to pay as you go as soon as I can and sign on with the first company that tells the truth.

Posted November 29, 2007 02:01 PM

Amy in BC

We bought a cheapo phone from Virgin and buy $25 increments of time as we go. We use the phone seldom, as a means to get a hold of hubby in the city and as an emergency line should he need an emergency phone on his ride home. Not sure why other people feel the need to stay connected to a cell 24/7 but to each their own.

I personally like being unreachable :)

Posted November 29, 2007 11:57 PM


How I get what i want from cell phone service providers is to ask lots of questions I've written down. I record the answers given by the Customer service person. I will call at another time ask my questions again with another Customer service person and write down those answers. This way I can benefit from different understandings and ways people communicate the packages and the added services. I then compare by calculating my needs and my budget. When they slip up and say something that would benefit me, I hold them to it.

Posted December 2, 2007 10:53 PM



In the summer of 2006, I started a plan with Solo which, at the time (they've changed since), didn't require you to sign a contract and didn't require you to pay system access fees or pay for text messaging. I was told the first bill would be slightly higher because I entered in the middle of a billing period.

My first bill was slightly higher... $55. My second bill was somewhat higher... $125. When I looked at my bill, I found out that these daily horoscope and joke-of-the-day text messages I was receiving were 35 cents a piece. In a fury, I phoned customer service, who, of course, couldn't help me because they spoke no comprehensible English. I'm an immigrant and I've heard my share of accents both from family and at the university I now attend and nothing compares to the atrocious attempt at English I got from customer service. When I pressed her for an answer as to why I was being charged for text messages even though it was advertised as being free, she told me "third party.. not our responsibility". Since I never signed up for any third party text messages, I wanted to know how to cancel it I got the same "third party... not our responsibility" response. When I bluntly told her to make it her responsibility, she told me to reply to a text with "*STOP", which "may work but may not. I don't know".

By the time the ordeal was over, I had been forced to pay $180 in text messages that I never signed up for. I promptly cancelled my plan and have vowed not to return to cell phones until the cellphone market is actually user-friendly.

Posted December 3, 2007 10:57 PM



I worked for a cell phone company here in the okanagan at one of their call centres. The customer service reps that you speak to when you call in are barely trained. The work atmosphere is horrible, I ended up quitting after 3 months. The company we represented was a US Cell Phone company and the rates were much better than here in Canada, at least half the cost. It is a high pressure job that forces you to make sales. I was even threatened by my supervisor that he would fire me if I didn't push harder for the sales. Most of the time I didn't have the answers I needed for the customer, and when I asked my supervisor for help he shrugged me off, so I was left with nothing to say to the customer. Other times when a customer would call in with a legitimate complaint of overbilling, and a credit was absolelutly in order, my supervisor would downright ignore me and refused to authorize the credit. I had to go back to the customer with my head hung, I apologized profusively but of course he was not satisfied and I felt horrible because my hands were tied. This was the same experience most of my co-workers experienced. The only advice I can give to the customer would be to check over your bill often and when it is incorrect call in and if you do not get anywhere with the first rep, tell them you would like to cancel your phone, then they will try to retain you as a customer or put you through to their retention department who will do just about anything to keep you. I had to do this with my carrier because both of my phones stopped working so they actually sent me out 2 new free phones, the only thing that ticked me was that they resigned a 3 year agreement without my knowledge!!! Looks like I have another battle on my hands.

Posted December 12, 2007 02:22 PM



Like Anno, I just received a bill (Dec 2007) from Rogers with $35 extra tacked on for "Premium Services". Sixteen messages (for jokes, horoscopes, etc) had been sent to me, at a cost of $32! None of which I wanted.
When I called Rogers, the representative very promptly credited my account with this amount, plus the taxes, and apologized. She even gave me the name and text number of the company sending me these messages, so that I could text them back with the message "STOP ALL". This was all new to me, but I appreciate Roger's response.
Perhaps this un-requested and un-ethical use of the text system, and the complaints of their clients, is getting through to Rogers after all.

Posted December 12, 2007 04:48 PM

Ben D.


Here's a good one. I went to a Bell Mobility store at a local mall to purchase a Blackberry, only to be told they would be 'out of stock' for a week. When I asked for the address of another local Bell Mobility store, the salesdroid got all pissy with me and refused to give me a straight answer. As I was leaving the mall, I noticed a 'Wireless Way' kiosk had a Bell Mobility logo, so I asked if they could help me. Not only did they have the phone I wanted, they were even able to honour a loyalty offer from Bell. At this little kiosk I was treated with respect and like a valued customer. Needless to say I'll be encouraging all of my friends and colleagues to avoid Bell Mobility stores in the future.

Posted January 22, 2008 10:13 AM



The best thing you can do is know your rights. Unlike many here, I have been fortunate to have a good experience with Telus and renewed. However, shortly afterwards I found Bell had a plan that better suited my needs, so I canceled my renewal within 10 days and was back on my old plan, now just waiting for my current contract to expire.

Do your research too, especially when looking at a feature of specific interest. This really cannot be stressed enough. There was a story of someone in Alberta who used his cell as a modem and it cost him $85,000. However, if you read the small print, it says you cannot use your mobile as a modem without incurring extra fees. The small print on cell plans is not that scary, and will help you understand more clearly what your conditions are. If you are still unsure, there are plenty of web forums ( is my fav) with very informed cell geeks who can help you answer your questions, in many cases more accurately than the actual CS reps can.

When you do go in to make your purchase, try and know EXACTLY what you wish to purchase. Cellular salespeople are some of the most scrupulous people this side of car salespeople. And call their CS line afterwards to make sure it was set up properly.

Posted February 24, 2008 05:18 PM


Recently, my Telus Mobility bills were a LOT higher than usual, without any justifiable reason. My typical bill of app. $100/month jumped to $400, and I wanted to know why.

Unfortunately, any Telus customer knows that the bills don't reveal a list of incoming or outgoing calls, but merely bill you for a block of airtime (mine was 16 hours). The company claims that detailed billing information can be viewed online (it cannot, I found the same information that was listed on my paper invoice). They have also indicated to me that they will send me detailed bills for a fee of $5 per phone, per month.

What is a consumer supposed to do? I am not about to pay for anything unless they can prove that I used the services. However, simply refusing to pay them anything will wreak havoc on my credit rating. I know people who have had similar problems with Telus billing, and when they threatened to cancel their service plans, Telus immediately sent them to collections.

I feel trapped.

Posted March 12, 2008 04:40 PM



does anyone known if you can switch a sym card
from a Rogers phone(active) to a MTS phone(Not active) ?

Posted November 18, 2008 08:11 PM


If it looks like it will fit,try it.

Posted December 1, 2008 04:26 AM




does anyone known if you can switch a sym card
from a Rogers phone(active) to a MTS phone(Not active) ?

Try it,if it looks like it will fit.

Posted December 1, 2008 04:28 AM



Hi, Many of you are right in satating that Bell Mobility products and customer service is the worst. I recently ran into trouble when I lost my phone and then tried different services at the Bell but to tell you many of their employee don't know or don't care about you or the trouble their custmer is going through, the one who is contributing to their salaries and when the companies run into trouble just like, GM and Ford at the momnent they then run to seek bail out but don't put effort to correct their business style/ethics. One can search online to find out how poor these all companies are doing in the customer care and service and one they run into financial trouble then they should not be help, period. They are simply responsible for the kind of business they were doing.

Posted December 19, 2008 10:35 PM


Mentally abused by a cell phone service
Been involved with Aliant, they tricked me into a plan that was totally incorrect, and now Telus mobility is playing the same game. I feel sorry for you out there that work for these companies, one of these days these phone companies are gonna go poof and you will be out of jobs. So if I were you I would consider looking for other work. This is really bad and I would be ashamed working for a cell phone company today. I am glad that people are coming forth, we should all stop paying our bills, there is no way that millions of people are going to go to the collection agency, just imagine, the phone companies would go bankrupt. The need to stop abusing their customers, leave us alone and let us pay for only what we thought we were paying for in the first place.

Posted March 18, 2009 06:55 PM



Despite the creation of the CCTS & oversight by Industry Canada's Competition Bureau, the fact remains that Canada's wireless services are still stuck in the medieval ages compared to other countries in the world. Admittedly, Canada's wireless penetration rate is lower than other countries, but while that argument may support the local telco's apathy towards competition, it's also their own making, for failing to encourage growth means they never re-coup returns on the existing infrastructure!

The big 3 companies in BC are: Telus, Bell & Rogers. Note, I dont bother mentioning Virgin Mobile, Koodo, Solo or Fido, because they are what can be considered a 'vanity' brand. A subsidy of the parent company, with products that supposedly encourage competition. The reality is they're structured to split the market into two distinct categories, namely 'basic' users, and 'heavy' users!
None of the other countries I've ever lived in have the nerve to charge for Caller ID, yet here in Canada its considered normal. I dont pay for it on my landline though, so why am I paying to have it unblocked on my wireless services? Thats $5/$6/$7 depending on the provider, for every line, every month! Ridiculous! If you're sharp enough, and re-negotiate your renewal well, you might even be able to get it for free for the next 3 years..
3 Year contracts are quite unique to Canada too.. Technology actually advances within 18months on average, so why can't cellular providers tailor my package to accommodate a 2 year upgrade cycle?? Oh wait, i forgot to mention that typical 2 year contracts INCLUDE a free (high-end!) phone in other parts of the world, but here in Canada I'll be paying in $150-$300 for a mid-range handset that's already 18months old on a 3 yr term!
Wireless services are designed to improve communication amongst the masses, to mobilize your office, streamline your day and make your life more manageable. None of this seems possible in the Wireless Canada that I see before me

Posted July 7, 2009 09:51 PM



I am a Rogers Pay as You Go customer, and I am absolutely incensed by my monthly bill.

Yes, I could sign a contract, but I find the 3 year lock-in, the greedy cancellation fees and the confusing contractual terms a total turn-off.

There is a way, with regulation, for the cell phone companies to turn a decent profit, and not absolutely gouge customers. Yes, I understand that I am being idealistic in a capitalist economy. Same goes for banks, insurance firms, etc.

However, short of calling it a day and moving to North Korea, I am waiting for October 09 for Globalive and Public Mobile to kick in, and hopefully provide some much needed competition and pricing relief.

While I am not entirely optimistic about the future of wireless in Canada, I will at least wait out the month and see what happens.

Posted September 10, 2009 09:49 PM



I believe that the CRTC (maybe it was Industry Canada) did prepare a 'how to understand Cellphone Service offerings' for Public use to help reduce the confusion a year or two ago.

I think that the publication of this information was blocked by lobbyists working for Bell Canada and Rogers because the Telecomm companies benefit from this confusion.

Can the CBC resurect this effort and publish the information that the CRTC was not allowed to because of the actions of these lobbyists?

Posted December 11, 2009 01:18 PM

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