The Consumer Complaints Blog

Fighting the trained monkey in modern society.

September 27, 2005

Cell Phones. Are They Highway Robbery?

Filed under: Musings — Editor @ 2:28 am


There was an interesting article recently in the paper about how the government is unwilling to make Canadian wireless companies release phone numbers in order to allow consumers the choice of switching carriers.

So lets tackle the wireless cell phone (mobile for our UK friends) companies in Canada and North America as a whole. The phone number issue is a good place to start.

This issue is particularly irksome because it is already available in the US. Yes that’s correct. In America you can take your phone number and move between providers. Sounds a lot more fair than in Canada doesn’t it?

So why is this important you ask? What’s the big deal? If you don’t like your company just move to another one and get a new number. On the surface that does sound good but let’s take into account a small business owner. Changing a cell phone number can be a decision which can cost thousands of dollars. Not only would they need to reprint business cards and stationary, but they also stand to lose future income from past clients that know the old number. Imagine the hassle / embarrassment of calling up all your past clients to tell them of your new cell phone number. The worst part is that these corporations could release the numbers and have the technology to do it.

But lets leave that issue. The cell phone companies have been having a ball with us for years. The phone number issue is just salt in the wound.

Here is an issue that, for some reason, gets no attention at all in North America. In fact, only recently has Fido (owned by Rogers) begun offering free incoming calls.

What’s that you say? Who has free incoming calls? Well, lets start with Europe. Incoming calls are free, and have been for years, in most if not all European countries. Even Eastern Europe. That’s right. Non first world countries have free incoming calls. In fact, and you’ll like this, even pay-as-you-go customers have free incoming calls.

Now we’ll move on to Asia. Yup. That’s right. Free incoming calls. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find developed countries outside of North America that have to pay for incoming calls.

So think about that for a moment. Why are North Americans being treated like total idiots? The answer is really simple. Because we let them treat us like this. Every time I travel, it’s fun to tell people about how our incoming calls are not free whenever the subject comes up. I find that most people get a puzzled look on their face because they can’t comprehend the notion.

Add to this the fact that if you choose pay-as-you-go, you are told that you have bought and paid for minutes. Then if you don’t use them, they just disappear into thin air. Wait a minute, did I buy those minutes or rent them? They told me I bought them. What’s going on?

In case you’re wondering, in the US you can find companies that roll over your minutes. Same as in the UK and Europe. So once again we’re left bent over and shafted.

The issue is not how badly we’re getting ripped off. That’s pretty much become par for the course with corporations. Here are the more important questions: Why do these things get no coverage in the media? Why don’t our politicians do something about it? Why is there so little choice in the Canadian cell phone market? Is it the consumer that benefits from this?

We as consumers have to become active in our own lives. Don’t let government and corporations force feed you. We should not be satisfied until there’s a plethora of choices, and good one at that. We are in an agreement with government. As citizens, we fund to keep our country a place worth living in. They in turn agree to protect our rights so we don’t get trampled on. Or revolt. As a society, we are keeping up our end of the deal. Government?

Society exists for the people not the corporation. Generating money is not the sole purpose of humanity.

2 Responses to “Cell Phones. Are They Highway Robbery?”

  1. Jason Says:

    Hi.. interesting article and one that I agree with 100%. Having recently moved to Canada from the UK (and under the impression that prices in Canada are almost half of UK.. so I was told) I find it disgusting how the corporations are able to have their way with the consumers here. More disappointingly, Canadians I guess are too good to force them to mend their pricing structures. Being charged for incoming calls, paying so many overhead charges, and still not having the reliability of a good network coverage – I think is appalling. At the risk of digressing from the topic, the banking industry too here is in a similar state. I never had to pay fee to my bank to keep my current (chequing here) account running!

    Are the Canadians aware of all this? or do they need being jolted harder? Cheers, Jason

  2. Editor Says:

    Hi Jason,
    Thanks for posting. I agree with you about the banking system. I’m planning on doing an article on it soon. I’ve just been wrapped up starting an online store and haven’t had the time. In the meantime, check out PC Banking from Loblaws. Not perfect but mostly free.

    As to whether Canadians know about this or not, I can’t say. There is a great degree of ignorance here but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. The truth is that modern developed societies like to think that they are above corruption and pettiness but clearly something is not right. I could write pages on this topic of ignorance, “sheepism” and political deceit but I’ll keep it short.

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