You Pay Too Much For Your Phone Service

Thought that might get your attention. Let us face the fact that in Canada we pay a ludicrous amount of money for our telecommunication (i.e. Telephone, Internet and Cable) needs.

Where is my proof? Luckily our friends at the CRTC have compiled data on this very area in their¬†Communications Monitoring Report 2017: Canada’s Communications System: An Overview for Citizens, Consumers, and Creators . Their research is quite extensive. This report is quite extensive, but luckily they also have compiled some really nice infographics, for folks like me who don’t like to read really long reports.

Aren’t those numbers staggering to you? The average consumer pays $218.42 a month to stay in touch with the world (in 2015)?

More Canadians use a wireless phone, instead of a fixed line home phone. Not that surprising, given most of the folks I know under the age of 40, only have a Wireless phone number or don’t have a traditional Home Phone (i.e. Voice over IP or something similar).

Smart Phone
Smart Phones and Young Folks

Remember young folks are addicted to Smart Phones (most of them at least). According to Mobile World, the graphic on the left is true for 16-24 year olds.

In fact 71% of them can’t live without their Smart Phone? Wonder how much their bills cost? The data wasn’t that surprising to me given how my kids are attached to their phones.

How old are the cord cutters out there? That is mentioned as well:

Number of hours Canadians watched traditional television in 2014:

  • Children 2-11 years old: 20.6 hours
  • 18-34 years old: 20.6 hours
  • 65 + years old: 41.8 hours

Seems like traditional TV might be dying off in Canada too?

The big three of Telus, Bell and Rogers have little competition aside from trying to steal each others customers (Ask for the Customer Retention group if you call for a discount), they won’t be lowering these rates any time soon.


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.



Observations on Telemarketers

I had an exciting call yesterday from a telemarketer (from a local Ottawa number) asking if I could donate $100 to the “Federal Government.”. I politely said no (I suggested asking for the money two weeks after Christmas might not be an optimal strategy). The interesting part was the young man who spoke to me had an accent that suggested he was from Newfoundland. I almost commented, “Well done, my son! I know you didn’t vote for the Tories, and none of your family did, but if you can make money off them harassing me, good on ya!” but I decided I better not.

The interesting observation for me was that telemarketers, in general, didn’t call much between Christmas and New Year. However, since January 3rd, my house has been under full-court press regarding telemarketers calling all day long. Before someone remarks on getting on the alleged No Call list, save it for the Church, because I have told every one of these folks, “Don’t call me,” “Stop calling me!“, and finally, “This is bordering on harassment,” yet they do not go away. I checked my phone number with the Do Not Call list, and my number is registered, and it now expires from the list on 11-Jan-2017, but my guess is this is not going to do much good.

I get calls from Bell, Rogers, and the NAC more often than I get calls from my kids who are off at school. To file a complaint about the telemarketers, this is the complaint site link to click on how to do this, but if you have also ticked on a box saying to a supplier (like Bell or Rogers), “It is OK to call me about new deals“, I think you are out of luck in terms of complaining about their barrage of calls.

Before anyone says, “Why not call and complain about the Tories calling you?” read the following from the list of folks who are exempt from these rules:

The exemptions include telemarketing calls made by, or on behalf of:

  • Canadian registered charities;
  • Political parties, riding associations and candidates; and
  • Newspapers of general circulation for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions.

Telemarketing calls from organizations with whom you have an existing business relationship are also exempt. You are considered to have an existing business relationship with a telemarketer if you:

  • Purchased, leased, or rented a product or service in the last eighteen (18) months from the telemarketer;
  • Have a written contract with the telemarketer for a service that is still in effect or expired within the last eighteen (18) months; and/or
  • Asked a telemarketer about a product or service within the last six (6) months.

Telemarketers may also call you if you have provided express consent to be called. Express consent includes:

  • Your permission on a written form, electronic form, or an online form; or
  • Your verbal permission.

My phone is not my own, and neither is yours. Tonight I got home and had three more calls (two from folks asking if I had old clothing to donate). How nice.


Skype and Communications

Some of you may not have heard of Skype, but it actually is a fairly big player in the field of communications on devices (mostly PCs). It enables Video and Regular “phone calls” to other skype members (for free) or you can actually call “real” phones for a small fee.

My family has been using Skype to communicate when my kids are away at school, and it has saved all of us money on either:

  • Long distance charges on land line calls
  • Usage fees on cell phones
  • Fairly good video codecs, so as long as the Internet connection is OK, really nifty Video phone capabilities (which we enjoy seeing what our kids look like this week).

Do I think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread? It is a good use of technology, and the fact that it can be effectively a free service makes it better, but now with Microsoft buying Skype, (for $8.5 Billion all cash (that is a big packet of money, usually this kind of transaction is mostly in stock)) things may change (maybe not in the short term, but most likely in the long term).

My guess would be that Microsoft will integrate the tool into their product suite, which could be good, but they may attempt to make it a subscription service (i.e. pay monthly), which could make it not as attractive to cheap folks like me.

Students use this tool a great deal, but my guess would be if the tool becomes more “commercial” (i.e. it will cost money) they will simply find the next cheap communication tool out there, and use that.

Do you Skype? Is it saving you a lot of money? Are you worried about this purchased?


Bell Sent Me A Cheque for $67.41

Thanks Bell

As Michael James pointed out a while ago Bell Had Made a Generous Offer for me to forgo¬† my settlement from the CRTC’s ordered rebate for Bell Customers however, I decided to keep the rebate money in hand and last week I received a nice cheque for $67.41. Evidently I could have received up to a $90 rebate, but I am quite pleased with the $67.41 cheque, and was glad I didn’t take Bell up on their offer. Bell will evidently upgrade their network with other moneys from this investigation, so their network may improve thanks to the CRTC ruling, but that remains to be seen.

Did I fall into the Found Money Trap? Well kind of, I did take my wife out to dinner with the money, since we hadn’t been out just the two of us for a while (remember I am not a Patron Saint of Finances, I sometimes give into the avarice that is found money sometimes too). Remember, as I tell my kids, Do as I say, NOT as I do.


Whoops! Wrong Bell!

Next Steps

Currently my Bell Home Phone bill is a ludicrous $68 a month, which given I barely make any long distance calls, but do use the ludicrously expensive features of:

  • Call Waiting
  • Call Display
  • Visual Call Waiting
  • Long Distance Block of Minutes

This seems prohibitively large in comparison to what the market says I should pay.

My next step is to talk to the Bell Customer Retention folks and see if they want to keep me as a customer, or whether they would like me to go over to Rogers to get their deal (which adds up to about 1/2 to 4/7 of what I currently pay).

Does anybody else know of good deals for existing Bell Customers, or are they only for new Bell Customers?


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