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New “Services” for Making Money on Cell Phones

Bell Mobility and It’s Cellular Services

Preface: Feel free to treat this as the rantings of an irate Bell Mobility Customer, however, also please note how easy it is to fall into the trap that I did.

I opened my Bell Mobility invoice for the month and saw $40 extra in charges on the actual bill! I was shocked to see the bill and wondered what might have possibly caused this, and it was not obvious what it was, but I finally found the culprit entry:

BLOOP BLOP* $40.00      (* not the actual name of the service)

Not knowing what that service actually was, I then called *611 on my wireless phone and navigated through the many different voice menus in the Bell system to finally reach a real human to ask, “What in the name of Herrod is BLOOP BLOP and give me my money back!”. I could tell by the tone of the person I was speaking to that as soon as the name BLOOP BLOP was mentioned the stone wall went up.

I asked if I could get this charge reversed, the answer I got was, No, we cannot do anything about it, you must call the service provider and cancel it with them. I asked how I could have signed up for this, and the tone I received implied that I must have signed up, and thus it was my own fault for doing this. The conversation disintegrated into a complete waste of time, where the Bell representative made it abundantly clear that it was not her problem, and it was not her job to help me out either (maybe my file also shows that I am imprisoned by a Bell Contract, who knows?).

I asked finally, if I could please have this service blocked from my bill in the future, and the answer I got back was, No sir, we can’t do that. This one sent me for a loop, because Bell is the billing agent here, so for them to stop the service from charging me is dead simple, but they chose not to do it. I thanked the agent for her time (in a terse or possibly rude way, I was not happy, and I do feel badly on how I dealt with the situation), and hung up.

I then called the BLOOP BLOP service number, got a hold of a service person there, who said yes I had signed up for the service, I pointed out that I most assuredly hadn’t, but she assured me that I had, and they had the logs to prove it. My guess is to sign up for this service works in a fashion like:

  1. You receive a text message on your phone about getting access to cool ring tones and wall paper for your phone and all you have to do is respond to this e-mail.
  2. If you don’t reply, the service should leave you alone, however, they most likely will resend the message again (and again, and again….).
  3. If your phone has a twitchy touch screen as mine does, I guess it can accidentally reply to the message (which has happened in the past), and maybe sign you up.
  4. I believe what happened to me was that I did answer the text message as it said the service was a free trial (OK yes, I am an idiot feel free to kick me when I’m down).
  5. Once the free trial is over, you are in it, and the only way to get out of it is to call a 1-800 number that you get from Bell, but by then you have already been stung with your first month’s service charges of $40.

I don’t even know what I got for those $40, as I have no fancy ring tones -or- wallpaper on my phone (which this service allegedly supplies to me). The $40 in charges consisted of 4 events that occurred from the service, have no idea what they were, but I don’t seem to have anything to show for them.

Am I happy with Bell right now,No, am I mad at myself,Yes. Will I be more careful in the future,most definitely, and I will look into never signing up for a contract with Bell ever again. I wonder what kind of deal Rogers might give me for my home phone?  Rogers actually told me once that I have been a good customer for 18 years and they appreciate my business, Bell Mobility I have been with for over 6 years, and I do not feel appreciated one scintilla.

Just goes to show that allegedly intelligent folks can get duped and fall for a simple “Buy now, pay later” scheme.

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Random Thoughts: Remembering 9/11

Many years ago, the world changed.

For those who had loved ones who died on that day, my thoughts are with you. My thoughts are also with the folks in the Armed Forces who are now in harm’s way because of that day.

From the Blogosphere

  • Michael James had a special guest post by his wife “The Wife”, about Splitting Book Orders to get Free Shipping, “The Wife”s reputation for Frugality borders on outright CHEAPness, so you should listen to her advice.
  • Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo laments the Financial Advisor Retirement Plan, and how easy it is to make money for yourself, but not your clients.
  • Larry MacDonald investigates the Cheapest Way to Invest? You could stuff your money in your mattress, that’s pretty cheap.
  • Ellen Roseman writes about Telecom Troubles Part II, my only trouble is that between my home phone and cell phone I am being GOUGED terribly. No service is worth what I am paying for this.

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Random Thoughts: Canada Week

With Canada Day (July 1st) falling on a Wednesday and the 4th of July falling on a Saturday it makes for odd holiday patterns for both Canada and the U.S.A., my guess would be a lot of folks in Canada are taking Thursday and Friday off and making for a Mega-Long weekend.

To my American brother(s) and sisters I wish you a Happy 4th!

In the Financial Blogosphere

In the blogs this week some very interesting views of important issues in Personal Finance and Investing:

  • Michael James and I both spoke about Whether I can Blow $5M but Michael James offers concrete Advice For Wealthy Athletes.
  • Preet at Wheredoesallmymoneygo points out the TSX had a Rockin Year so far, and remember to watch him on the W Channel’s Ultimate Expert Challenge as well!
  • The Four Pillars are taking a run at the always popular topic in Canada Tax Deductible Mortgage/Debt, always informative he runs down the hows and ifs on this topic.
  • Loonies and Sense had Good Timing For Once, but even then ran into issues with the strike in the GTA (how high can you pile garbage?).
  • In the Tech area, Techcrunch mentions two words that may revolutionize your phones: Google Voice, read this and start thinking about how you might use it, I already have signed up on the waiting list.
  • Ellen Roseman continues her discussions about saving energy in Tanks and No Tanks.
  • Larry MacDonald gave us an Update: One Minute Portfolio another lazy man’s investing tool (I appreciate folks who make my life simpler).

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Good Friday: Some Random Thoughts

Given this is a short week, here is a short list of some of the great financial posts of the week.

Good Friday Financial Thoughts

  1. The Canadian Capitalist had a guest writer who wrote about Bucking the Conventional Wisdom about Fixed Rate Mortgages. Is it time to lock in?
  2. Wise Bread hosted the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights: Saving Money edition, I am not mentioned in it, but it is a good read none the less.
  3. Larry MacDonald points us to an Investment Personality Test and outlines his results as well.
  4. Michael James (a math geek himself) points out you should Beware of Geeks Bearing Formulas , ok it’s not just him it’s Warren Buffett as well.

 

Enjoy the Festival of Easter!

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If GM Goes Down, then What?

No Soup for you GM!

The new U.S. president is now playing hard ball with GM, and telling them to shape up or he will let them go under. This is an interesting tactic (that maybe should have been used with the Financial folks, but that is many trillions of dollars under the bridge already), which could spell 3 million more people on the unemployment line if threats of letting GM go down, transpire.

Will this happen? Nope, but it is an interesting sabre rattling tactic by the new regime in Washington. I could be wrong, but in a better optics move the GM Chairman stepped down, which shows change is coming in some fashion, but what kind of change? The bad optics is Mr. Wagoner is taking with him a compensation package of about $23 Million, where did THAT money come from?

Skype Your iPhone

That one surprises me, I thought Apple would keep the iPhone VoIP free for a while to appease their Big Phone company clients, but Skype announced yesterday a VoIP client for the iPhone. Right now it will only work on the Wi-Fi side of things, however this does mean the iPhone users will be able to save money by not using their precious talk minutes, or Big Phone Company data network minutes either, they will use their Skype client instead.

I suspect this is yet another step towards a ubiquitous network, and it should be interesting to see what new technology brings it all together (remember VoIP is about 10 years old already).

Stock Market Roller Coaster Continues

Back down the hill we go, with stock prices continuing to be quite volatile, it should be interesting to see where the prices go again this week, with talk of bail outs being cut and such. Stay tuned the very bumpy ride looks to be continuing for a good while longer.

Eating out and Drinking Out More

Marginally, up about 0.1% in January (according to Stats Canada), which is another interesting view. Why are we eating and drinking out more, even though we are in a financial crisis? To boost our spirits (pardon the pun)? We deserve a night out? Interesting statistic, but that means the food and beverage business will continue to be hiring folks and keeping them employed, which is a good thing. A new pub is opened near our house, and it does seem very busy (the Senior Citizens bus there on St. Patty’s day at 1:00 PM was a nice touch), maybe it’s time to do some investigative reporting.

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