Bad cellphone reception, $585 cancellation fees plague Montreal woman

A Montreal woman says Fido charged her $585 in cancellation fees after months of spotty service forced her to give up on her new iPhone 5s — until CBC Montreal Investigates intervened.

CBC Montreal investigation prompts Fido to fix problem

Montrealer Maureen Deery was asked to pay $585 in cancellation fees to get out of her contract when solutions to her spotty reception problems didn't work.

A Montreal woman says Fido charged her $585 in cancellation fees after months of spotty service forced her to give up on her new iPhone 5s — until CBC Montreal Investigates intervened.

Maureen Deery said she can't function without good cell phone coverage. Deery does not have the use of her right arm due to nerve damage, and she walks with a cane.

"I have physio. I have doctors' appointments. I have acupuncture. I need people to be getting in touch with me, and I need to be getting in touch with them," she said.

"I can't have a phone that's going in and out, I can't have the issues of dropped calls."

However, that's exactly what's been happening since she renewed a contract with Fido in April and got herself a new iPhone 5s.

Malfunctioning phone

Deery showed CBC several screenshots of the phone malfunctioning, from an unsent text message on June 15 to various examples of failed Internet connection. In the pictures, her phone also frequently had only two to three bars of reception out of a possible five.

- Aaron Lazarus, Rogers Communications

On one occasion, when CBC called her from a landline, her connection cut in and out. When CBC visited her Côte St-Luc apartment, Deery's phone showed only two bars. A phone with a competing provider displayed a full five bars.

Deery said she never had these difficulties with her previous device, an iPhone 4s, for which she'd also had a subscription with Fido. She said the new model exhibited the problems whether she was at home or elsewhere.

She said she first flagged Apple about the issues and was told to go check with Fido.

She said Fido tried fixing it remotely.

"They said, 'We're sending a message to your phone. Shut your phone down completely. Restart your phone in a few minutes,'" Deery said.

"Nothing happened. There was still the same problem."

Deery then returned to Apple, and the manufacturer replaced her phone with a second iPhone 5s, but the issues remained.

By mid-June, Deery decided she was done with trying to have the issue resolved and returned to Fido, asking to cancel the contract. She also asked the company to unlock her old Iphone 4s and allow her to move to another provider with her phone number unchanged.

The company agreed to cancel the contract, but told her it would cost $585 in fees.

That's when she got in touch with CBC.

'Sorry,' says Fido

The telecom giant acted quickly following an initial email and phone call from CBC Montreal Investigates. 
Aaron Lazarus of Rogers Communications, Fido's parent company, said it's fixing the issue with Maureen Deery.

Deery heard from the office of Fido Solutions' president and was told in writing that her old phone would be unlocked and her contract cancelled without any fees.

"We do want everybody to have the best possible customer experience," Aaron Lazarus, the director of public affairs for Rogers Communications, Fido's parent company, told CBC Montreal Investigates. 

"In this case, obviously that didn't happen right away the way that it should have and we're making sure that that is corrected." 

'Surprising' example of bad customer service: expert

Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst and journalist, said it was bizarre the situation with Deery got this far out of hand. 
Carmi Levy says Canadian phone carriers have mostly improved their customer service over the last few years.

"It surprises me that in 2015, with so much access to social media, that this kind of thing still happens," Levy said.

Levy said customers generally used to accept whatever their carriers told them – but not anymore. 

"Today, if you're not happy, you pull out your smart phone […], you go on to Twitter or Facebook or any other social media service and complain, and before you know it you have an audience,"  he said.

"Carriers know this. They've sharpened their pencils. They're much better at supporting their customers," Levy said.

"But obviously in some cases people fall through the cracks."

CBC Montreal Investigates

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Raffy Boudjikanian is a national reporter with CBC in Edmonton. He has also worked in Calgary and Montreal for the public broadcaster.


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