A recent episode of Marketplace on CBC featured cellphone customers who claimed to have Canada’s worst cellphone bills (you can watch it here). Cellphone customers had racked up thousands of dollars in charges either in air time, texting or, what appears to be fairly common, roaming charges while traveling abroad.
The typical phone horror story also involved a dispute with the phone company: the customer claims she was misinformed in the phone store and the phone company points to the contract, which says something else. The customer is in tears, the phone company sticks to its guns and it makes for great TV. Especially, when Wendy Mesley, the show’s host adds to the debate by saying those rapacious phone companies are charging 15 cents for a text that costs them a third of a cent to provide.
I’ve had my share of complaints with service providers and while I found myself sympathizing with most of the customers, it was hard to say the phone company was entirely at fault (except the lady who was incorrectly charged airtime and the phone company gave her the runaround). The hidden charges may be buried deep in the fine print but it is there and the client signed a contract agreeing to pay and the phone company is within its rights to demand payment.
I was secretly glad that we’ve ditched our pricey monthly plans and gone the pre-paid route. Our annual cell phone bills with an el cheapo plan from Speak Out Wireless available through 7-Eleven costs us less than $50 per year not including the price of a phone. Granted, not everyone can be a light cellphone user but everyone can easily find ways to cut down on their monthly bill.