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Have you Spoken to Our Customer Retention Agent?

While I am enjoying a week off, I am going around attempting to clean up some loose threads in my life and one of these nagging issues, is getting my wife a better phone plan. She has been using a Telus pay per use plan, which has served her well, but Telus has realized that this plan doesn’t make them enough money, so they are changing it to make it less good.

I am constantly  disgusted by how existing customers for most service companies are treated like cockroaches, and I am even more annoyed by the fact that the “store” for the service company cannot do any “deals” for you either.

Yesterday we walked into the Telus store, and the nice young lady spewed the same deal that anybody who walked in off the street could get, if you want an iPhone 4S (yes the iPhone 5 is coming out soon, so there should be good deals on the 4S, at least that is what we thought). I was ticked off by this, since my wife has a “credit” with Telus of $180 (where credit does not mean real money, or even usable money) but there was no way to use this “credit” to make the deal any better. I tried a few ways to reflect my annoyance without being rude. Finally the young lady said those magic words:

“… maybe you should call our Customer Retention section on the phone to see if they can give you a better deal…”

I thanked the young lady and we left.

In that one sentence I learned a few things:

  • Telus does not seem to empower their sales people in the store to do much for their customers, other than make them feel nice, by smiling at them.
  • Deals are out there, but not in the store.
  • The best deal can be had only if you thread to leave Telus. This I got from having to talk to Customer Retention, not the regular on-line sales people. Thus, she must threaten to leave Telus before my wife can get a good deal.
iPhone 3G

No She Got an iPhone 4S at the end of it

My wife and I pieced together all the information needed to call Telus, to talk to their Customer Retention group, to get the best deal. My wife did most of the talking and managed to get a fantastic deal, where she got her “credit” back and a $100 more on top of that, so off we went to the Telus Store to execute this “great deal”.

Executing the “great deal” that is where all things went a little pear-shaped, because as I said, the folks in the store have no power, but they can actually derail deals quite nicely. My wife wandered into the store, gave all the details of the master plan, the “sales droid” at the store then attempted to execute the “great deal”, however she had to call in to “head office” to make it all work, and at that point the wheels fell off the engine.

Luckily my wife had all relevant information about the chap who gave her the “great deal”, however, whomever was on the other end of the phone with our “sales droid”, did not want to honour the “great deal”. An hour and a half later, it seems like Telus may have honoured the “great deal”, but we cannot be sure, until we see the first bill. I am needless to say less than impressed by all this flim-flammery that the Telus Customer retention group and the Telus Store have executed.

Is This The Best Deal?

My advice is whatever deal you might get over the phone, you will need to get the name of your rep and some kind of identifying number for them, to ensure you might have half a chance of getting your “great deal”. That seemed to be the only thing that might have salvaged my wife’s “great deal”.

Anybody else with a similar Cell Phone tom-foolery story out there ?

 

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Don’t Forget Your Points!

I have talked previously about how I use different customer retention or appreciation point systems (like PC Points, Aeroplan, etc.,), but I keep forgetting that I do actually have “back logs” in a few systems that I keep forgetting about.

Case in point would be Aeroplan: This past weekend I was arranging for a short trip and I realized I was going to have to rent a car for the day. I busily went through all the possible discounts I can get from being a CAA Member, or a PSAC member, or some wack-a-doodle coupons, but it then dawned on me that even though I didn’t have enough Aeroplan points to pay for my flight (even a short  haul Ottawa Toronto run), I did have enough points to rent a car for the day (thus saving about $60). Luckily I had this epiphany before I booked my car.

The danger I guess is that with any points system is you can either:

  1. Forget you are a member, that is the case usually with me and the Shoppers Drug Mart points system, and many Hotel points systems. All you have to do is either lose your membership card or take it out of your wallet, and  you can easily forget about it.
  2. Never check your balance, so you are unaware of what you can do with your points
  3. Keep saving for something bigger, but then fall into (1) and forget you have the points.
  4. The last one is diabolical, some systems “time out” your points after a period of time (Aeroplan is guilty of this, as are many of the Hotel Point systems).

I think an interesting web site or add-on to Mint (maybe) would be to keep track of points in your “finance” system. You’d then remember these points, since they are effectively unused assets. Is there such a system out there? I’d be willing to use it, if it was out there!

Question: Anybody else forgetting about their points, or are you a good “user” and spend the points as soon as you have enough to do anything with them?

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Bank Card Security (the saga continues)

About 4 years ago my wife’s bank card was fraudulently duplicated and used (to withdraw a significant amount of money from a non-branded “white” banking machine), and back then I wrote a post humbly apologizing to TD Bank (aptly named: TD Bank I Apologize)  saying, that while I dislike their service fees and many of their investment systems annoy me, I must say that their response to that fraud was very good. TD seems quite vigilant with their bank card security.

Yesterday, we saw that the bank security security system is getting even better at detecting frauds, but that fraud is also still going on (even with the new chip technologies, which is  supposed to stop this happening).

My wife and I were out shopping and as we checked out at Sobeys my wife attempted to pay for our groceries with her TD Bank card, she tried twice and got the message “Transaction Denied“, which was very disconcerting (since this is how things started 4 years ago), so I tried my card and it worked just fine (which meant we could also eat!). We rushed home to check out our on-line banking, but no transactions appeared that suggested any problems (and we were not over drafted, which was my other concern), so my wife decided to call the TD Help line.

The first thing that suggested something was very wrong was when my wife typed in her card number on the phone, the system took her directly to an Operator stating, “You must talk to a representative immediately“.

After a long conversation where my wife was asked about various transactions that had gone on with her card, she was told that her card had been “frozen” because of a suspicious transaction in New York State (where neither my wife nor I have been to in the past little while).  Since no transaction even showed up (so far) on the on-line banking, I am impressed by the alacrity of TD bank card security system in dealing with this fraud, however, I am now very concerned about my own cards.

As you know I replaced my TD Card because it was cracked (no not stolen, physically damaged) and inadvertently secured things a bit more (since I got a new card with a new number and such), however there was a story last week that in my area of Ottawa there have been hundreds of folks who have had their bank cards cracked and had moneys stolen from their bank accounts, so I believe I may be going and getting a new debit card myself (my own version of bank card security).

Question of the day: Have you had your credit card or bank card defrauded in the past little while?

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Air Canada Baggage Fees One Solution

On Sunday I lamented about the pending Air Canada’s new baggage fee on your first bag going to the U.S. or International, however, I think now (thanks to my daughter) come across an ingenious method for not having to pay baggage fees completely (if you are traveling to the U.S. that is).

First let me voice my absolute contempt for yet another cash grab by the Airline industry. Yet another “hidden” cost for traveling is another hideous piece of trickery by an industry that seems to want to have the same reputation as those chaps who try to trick you with a game of  “three card monty”. If I could figure out a way to somehow never have to pay these fees, I would, but I suspect even the method I will outline here, might get shut down quickly.

Methodology for Travelling with No Checked Baggage

First let us assume that you can carry two carry on bags, so you should be able to pack your “skimpies and smalls” easily enough, and if you are lucky, some toiletries, so that part of your ensemble should be taken care of. Either that or assume you can purchase your toiletries where you are going (if you are staying in a full service hotel, then you could get that for free, so you don’t need to pack things).

Next you need to start turning yourself into a checked bag:

  1. Put on a pair of underwear, to start, just to be hygienic
  2. Do you need a swimsuit? Put that on top of your underwear (or underneath if that is more comfortable)
  3. You will need a t-shirt or two, so put those on
  4. If you are going somewhere hot, layer two pairs of shorts
  5. For some places, you might actually be done, but we will continue on.
  6. You might need two dress shirts, so put those on (if one is a short sleeve shirt, maybe put that on first)
  7. Next trousers, one or two pairs is about all you could do, but who knows? Two pairs our slacks on now.
  8. Will you need a sports coat? That can go on top of all of that.
  9. Add a wind-breaker on top and voilà you are packed
Do you look like Bib the Michelin man? Yes, you do. You are also in trouble if you have to be strip searched, but maybe not. Will this work? I have no idea, but it does seem like an interesting (if not off the wall) solution to this expensive issue.
My wife has also pointed out that you can simply go to a full service resort, go down with your swimsuit and purchase any dress clothes you might need, and donate them before you leave (to the local Salvation Army). This is a little expensive given the fee is only $25 for the first bag.

 

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Buying Video Games Redux

I have previously written about a methodology on purchasing video games with The Library and Video Games, but I have added another part to the purchasing methodology.

The Ottawa public library offers Video Games for pretty much every gaming platform, so it is very useful for my family, as my son wants every game he sees, however, he doesn’t really, he simply does what all other six year old want, whatever is the latest thing they saw. Typically I will put a game on hold and once the game appears we get to test drive the game for a week to see if my son really likes the game. We have borrowed many games this way, and have only bought a handful of games at the end of the process, so we have saved a great deal of money not buying these games.

Other folks I know who have kids who are gamers use a methodology of buying games, but then trading them in if they are not used as much, which is better than letting the games sit in your basement, but is a little more expensive (in my estimation), but thanks to them I was able to hone my methodology.

My son took a liking to a specific game from the library, and this time, we decided we would buy it, but this time we went to a store that has “trade ins” and also sells games on consignment, and bought the game used, which was about 1/2 price, which is great too. The price was so nice I even bought the warranty on the used game (an extra $2 and if the game is scratched, it gets replaced for free), yes, maybe a mistake, but I felt so good about saving the money, I wasn’t thinking.

I guess the only other ways to make this a better methodology would be to:

  • Figure out a way to make a back up copy of the game from the Library, which is of course illegal and copyright infringement as well, so not a practical method.
  • Find a group of gamers and trade games between them? My guess is that kids do this already, but I don’t know enough gaming families to join into this.
  • Don’t buy any games (doing nothing is always a method).
Did I miss any?

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