Old Financial Technology Habits Die Hard

For the longest of time, I refused to deposit cheques in the ATM machine (after reading horror stories about stolen cheques and the like, from nefarious false fronts which steal cheques), but after a while, I started using this technology (usually because the lines for the tellers were so long). I have written previously about not wanting to use my home WiFi (and absolutely never use public WiFi) for on-line banking, just because I am that kind of paranoid guy, but now I find myself doing most of my on-line banking using my laptop which is connected via WiFi (but not public WiFi).

ATM Machine

Old Technology?

Image courtesy of cooldesign, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last night I caught myself in another one of my “still thinking like an old cranky guy” habits, and that was taking cheques with me to work, so that I could deposit them on the way home at the ATM machine at the bank. I dutifully went out of my way to stop at the bank, and deposited the cheques, but since TD has gone to a new ATM interface, it dawned on me, why wasn’t I just doing the “take a photo of the cheque” deposit method?

The TD ATM machine is simply photographing the cheque, and ‘parsing’ it (although they also keep the cheques, although I have no idea whether the darn things are archived or just shredded after a few days), the same methodology as if I was using my phone. Why didn’t I simply use my phone? My only explanation I can give is old habits die hard, and I keep forgetting about some features available from my bank.

I do still feel some paranoia, so I tend to photograph my cheques with WiFi turned off, and using my Cell Phone Providers network (which is marginally more secure), but I have to remember that the feature exists in the first place.


Happy End of 3 Year Cell Phone Contracts Day!

Today the CRTC rule about phone companies not being allowed to impose penalties for breaking contracts after 24 months becomes a reality! Today (June 3rd, 2015), the CRTC’s new rules come in to play:

The CRTC’s Wireless Code (the Code) comes into effect on December 2, 2013.

My iPhone

My Phone From Bell

The final portion is what comes into play today, and that is limiting penalties to any contract for only the first 24 months of the contract (after 24 months, no penalties can be imposed), and I quote:

For indeterminate contracts, The Code limits the early cancellation fee as follows:

  • the fee cannot be greater than the amount of your device subsidy
  • the fee must reduce each month, and reach $0 within 24 months.

This means lots of folks have their contracts “expire” today and they are free agents (i.e. they are free to negotiate as good a deal as possible for their next contract). Previously I have written about A Script for Customer Retention Deals and the like, so remember to try to bargain for the best deal possible. Remember asking for a better deal does not make you an Entitled Spoiled Consumer.

Will I be trading my iPhone 5.0 in? No, I haven’t reached 2 years on the contract yet, and it works just fine by me.


Cell Phone Contracts Two years (ONLY)

The CRTC made a good ruling for consumers (maybe not so good for the Wireless Companies, but if I wrote that I felt sorry for them, you’d know I was being incredibly sarcastic) ruling that Cell Phone contracts can only be Two Years in Length.

iPhone Blackberry

So now my wife’s iFruit is on only a 2 year contract? Nice!

To quote our friends at the CRTC:

Among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able to:

  • terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
  • cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
  • have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
  • return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service
  • accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., 2-year), and
  • receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.

The cap’ing of the max charges is a very nice touch too. Wonder if this works with roaming charges in other countries?

The good news is that if you want a new iFruit ShoeFone or a Crackberry 2001, the longest you’ll be saddled with that technological marvel will only be two years. Honestly that is about the lifespan of these miniature portable computers, so I think the CRTC is in the right with this ruling as well.

Here is a link to the CRTC’s Wireless Code, you should read that over carefully as well.

Anybody with a new Three Year contract should be doing a happy jig as well, given it is now only a two-year contract. Wonder if the Wireless folks will attempt to “recoup their losses” in these situations with new fees? It should make for an interesting few months, that is for sure.


No_Op Storefronts

Yesterday I was out Christmas shopping with my wife and I went into a Bell store to ask about whether I could get a better deal than the one that I can read on Bell.ca for one of the new iPhones, and I was told effectively, No. Now this has happened to me more than once, where I have walked into a Bell, Telus, or Rogers store and I get told that the folks who work in the store are not allowed (or cannot (or even worse will not)) try to make a better deal with an existing customer (which in the case of Bell Mobility, I am (I have been with them for more than 5 years, which I view as a very long-term client)). They can try to make deals for new customers, but not for existing customers.


Storefront Locations are of Little Value

Throughout my life I keep coming back to things I learned when I was a young programmer and one of the interesting assembly language commands I come back to is the NoOp (which meant no operation, or do nothing).

What is the point of a NoOp? Well in low-level programming there were needs to sometimes fill out programs or simply have the processor do nothing for a command to let things settle down (yes, settle down is a technical term). In my grammar NoOp became synonymous with Do Nothing.

The Storefronts for most of the major Telecomm companies in Canada have become NoOps : they are simply there for folks who don’t like doing things on-line (and for folks who don’t like calling the Bell Customer Service line). I can go in and buy something (that I could just as easily buy on-line) or I can talk to someone about a problem (which I can do over the phone).

This means that the only way I can get a better deal for an iPhone or any other Bell product will be to call their Customer Line, and then point out that my contract is up in 2 months and that Telus (and Rogers for that matter) are calling me to offer me better deals to have me use their services (i.e. Customer Retention).  I can’t even get a better deal going to a 3rd party such as the Future Shop or Wal-Mart, so it begs the question why are do these Mortar and Brick establishments exist?



Cell Phone Cameras, not just for Duck Faces

In the early days of Cell Phones, I ridiculed when I heard that they were including a Camera in Cell phones (who would use that, and what for, I believe was my arguments about the validity of melding these two technologies), however (as usual), I have been proven wrong and these two technologies are now permanently cemented together (much to the chagrin of Kodak and Polaroid, I would wager). The Cell Phone Camera has caused an explosion of media on the web with folks sharing and posting pictures of:

  • Food: what you are eating, where you are eating it, and who you are eating with, astoundingly interesting. Evidently that is the biggest use for Cell Phone cameras.
  • Billions of photos of our children taking pictures of themselves in bathroom mirrors, in various states of disrepair (and or dress), smiling in odd ways (or even the infamous duck face). This has forced the porn industry into rethinking itself yet again.
  • Very jerky videos of odd events as they occur.

A Bad Example, but you get the idea. This is a photo of my wife’s new iPhone!

And this really only scratches the surface of what the Cell Phone Camera has touched in our lives, however, it can actually do a useful thing as well (no, not supply blurry pictures for blogs) it can help us more easily catalog the valuables in our houses.

As I mentioned in Theft and Insurance having a valid home inventory which is up to date, with photos of your valuables is a very good thing to have, and with a Camera Phone you really have no excuse any more.

Some tips that could make this even better:

  • Create an account on one of the many picture archiving sites (preferably one that allows for PRIVATE Albums of photos), where you can upload your pictures to.
  • When you are taking your pictures, if your camera has a GPS capability, use it to tag the photo as well. Never hurts when your insurance company gets the photos, to say they were taken at your house.
  • Make sure you are using your camera in Highest Definition mode and download them in that format as well.
  • Add a detailed description of what the picture is of, and possibly the value of the object
  • Make sure the picture is clear as well (you can take many pictures, you only need 1 clear one).

With this, you now have an off site backed up archive of the valuables in your house, in case of a fire, or theft, and it didn’t really cost you too much either (upload your pictures using Wi-Fi as well, saves you high data charges by your cell phone company).

Give the insurance company as much information as you can, and you are more likely to get your claim dealt with in a quick and concise manner.



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