Archive for cellular

Update On That Angry Virgin Mobile Customer

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 15, 2009 by itnerd

As promised, I have an update on the customer who posted a comment asking for my for assistance with an issue that he was having with Virgin Mobile. I received an e-mail today form Jeremy at Virgin Mobile:

Hey guys –

Christopher, I just talked with Krista in Customer Care and she said  she’d talked with you and everything is sorted out.

I just really want to make sure that you’re happy and that everything it taken care of. Can you send me a quick email back to let me know if you’re good?


I’m just waiting to hear back from the customer to make sure that the issue is truly solved. But it looks promising so far.

Rogers Rolls Out HSPA+ In Five Cities…. You’ll Excuse Me If I Don’t Jump For Joy Upon Hearing This….

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 14, 2009 by itnerd

Rogers HSPA+ rollout which I’ve discussed previously has gone live in five cities in Canada:

“With Rogers 21 Mbps HSPA+ network, customers in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are the first in North America to experience the fastest world-class wireless speeds,” said John Boynton, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Rogers Wireless.

The only problem is, nothing that customers have in their hands now can take advantage of this speed. Rogers apparently thought of that too by bringing out a new “Rocket Stick” that does HSPA+:

The new 21 Mbps HSPA+ Rocket Mobile Internet Stick brings Canadians the freedom to enjoy mobile Web experiences at speeds that are as fast as those you would find at home or at the office. The HSPA+ Rocket Mobile Internet Stick features a USB connection to a laptop or a desktop PC, easy installation with no CD required for Windows or Mac Operating Systems, integrated antenna for maximized reception performance and data transmission and multi-colour LED indicating connection status.

Starting today, Canadians can pre-order the new HSPA+ Rocket Mobile Internet Stick for as low as $74.99 only from

Great. So they have one thing that does HSPA+. What about people who simply have 3G devices? I’m assuming that there must be backend upgrades of some sort which will mean that existing customers who have 3G devices may get better performance.  That’s not clear from the press release. Perhaps my “new best friends from Rogers” could be kind enough to fill in that blank for me.

In any case, while you have to give Rogers points for being the first North American cell carrier to have HSPA+, it really doesn’t mean much if Canadians are still paying way too much for wireless access.

Angry Virgin Mobile Customer Asks For My Help [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 13, 2009 by itnerd

I had a person by the name of “Christopher” post a really serious comment about Virgin Mobile to my blog in the last 24 hours. His charge:

“They are treating their Customers like Garbage, as is apparent by the amount of serious and similar complaints. My point is that this cannot be a coincidence. As an individual citizen it is very hard to get a company who freely bullies their Customers like this to refund me my balance or even treat me with respect. I honestly thought that Virgin Mobile was supposed to be different, now I realize the Marketing gaffe and hype was just that. In reality what they advertise and what Customers are being delivered are night and day.”

That’s a serious charge and I would encourage you to read the entire comment to see his full argument. The question is, does this have merit? “Christopher” does point to a website that seems to have similar complaints. So it would seem that his argument does have merit on the surface. I’d love to hear Virgin Mobile’s side of the story. They can contact me with their thoughts and I can put them in touch with “Christopher.” I’d also love to hear from Virgin Mobile Customers who have had similar experiences, or great experiences with this carrier. I think it would be interesting to know if this is truly a widespread problem or not.

UPDATE: I just had a representative from Virgin Mobile contact me via e-mail:

Hey IT Nerd –

How’s it going? My name is Jeremy and I work at Virgin Mobile Canada. I was just sent your blog post from yesterday with Christopher’s complaint.

If you could connect me with Christopher that would be awesome. Feel free to send him my email, or if you have any contact info for him send it to me and I’ll give him a shout. I’d need to get his full name, phone number, and other details so that I can loop in with our Customer Care team to find out all the details on Christopher’s situation.

We really do worry about our customers when things go wrong and do everything we can to make them happy. Nobody’s perfect, but if we’ve made a mistake we’ll say “sorry” and we’ll fix it. So I look forward to getting to the bottom of this and taking care of whatever has possibly gone wrong here.

Let me know if you need anything else from me to get rolling on this…


I have forwarded the original unedited complaint to them with “Christopher” carbon copied on that e-mail (The original complaint had “Christopher’s” phone number in it. I removed the phone number from the blog to protect his privacy). Hopefully this gets sorted out in short order. I’ll keep you updated as to what happens next.

Canadian Cell Phone Compaines Come Up With Code Of Conduct….Whatever…

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 1, 2009 by itnerd

From there “big deal” department comes this announcement from The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association that they’ve decided to adopt a code of conduct:

“This new Code will ensure that customers have the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions,” said Bernard Lord, CWTA President & CEO. “It also safeguards their rights as customers and assures that their concerns are addressed.”

As for the “where’s the teeth” part of this:

Not only will the new Code safeguard the rights of consumers, but it will also serve as another resource available in the complaint resolution process by Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). Unlike other jurisdictions that have developed wireless carrier conduct guidelines, such as in the US where the code is strictly voluntary, the Canadian Code will be backstopped by the third-party, independent CCTS.

“The CCTS was consulted during the comprehensive process of developing this new Code of Conduct,” said Mr. Lord. “And of course, it was the Government of Canada’s foresight in requesting the creation of the CCTS that will give the code its teeth in giving Canadian consumers confidence that wireless carriers will adhere to these high standards of service and transparency.”

Carriers that have signed on for this include Bell, Rogers, Telus, Videotron, MTS Allstream and Wind Mobile.

So, why am I so “meh” about this announcement? Simple. The customer service and the clarity of contracts for any Canadian cell phone providers not named Wind Mobile (as they aren’t in business yet) quite frankly sucks. While there is a complaints resolution process that is part of this, I really don’t think that this will do anything to change that. Perhaps the fact that I have come to expect so little from a cell phone provider is clouding my view of this? If Canadian cell phone companies want me to have a better opinion of them, here’s what I would suggest they do:

  1. They should actually have quality customer service rather than the lame excuse for customer service that these companies have now. After all, I have had very few positive customer service experiences with these companies and a whole lot of negative ones. I don’t have to single out any one company as they are all like that. That needs to change in a hurry.
  2. Get rid of bogus fees like the $6.95 System Access Fee that many of these cell phone companies love to charge and love to claim that it’s a government fee (which it is not).
  3. Lower the rates that they charge as Canada has some of the highest cell phone rates in the world. After all, if more people can afford to have a cell phone because cell phone companies aren’t going out of their way to gouge consumers, then they’ll have more customers which will increase their average revenue per user. Seems really simple to me.

None of that will happen of course because these companies really only care about lining their pockets with cash and not with providing a service at a fair price with customer service that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out every time you deal with them.

So, take this announcement and ignore it. It really doesn’t mean anything and it’s business as usual with Canadian cell phone companies. Of course they’re free to prove me wrong, but I’m betting that it’s not going to happen.

Once Again, A Study Says That Canadians Have Some Of The Highest Cell Phone Rates In The Western World… Shock, Not!

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 11, 2009 by itnerd

As if to underscore the need for competition in the cell phone space in Canada, this study appeared on The Globe And Mail website today. According to the OECD, Canadians pay some of the highest mobile phone rates in the Western world:

Those classed as medium users (making 780 calls, and sending or receiving 600 text messages and eight video messages per year) spent $500.63 (U.S.) per year on their cellphone packages on average. That’s third highest amongst OECD member countries, just behind Spain and well behind the United States, where users spent $635.85 per year.

Users in the Netherlands, Austria, and Scandinavian countries, by contrast, each spent less than $200 per year on average.

Hmmm….. I’ve heard this song and dance before.

This comes as no shock to Canadian cell phone users as I always hear about how expensive it is to have a cell phone from friends, customers, and associates. No wonder everybody I talk to is just waiting for competition to arrive in this market so that they can either switch over to a carrier that will bill them less, or they will force their existing carrier to give them a better deal. I’ve deliberately not agreed to a two or three year deal with Rogers on the phones that my wife and I own so that I can see what deals are available when competition finally arrives.

Of course, it would be nice if the existing cell phone carriers would recognize that this is a situation that needs to change and do something about it proactively. But I wasn’t born yesterday. They have to be forced to do so by having competition in the marketplace. Too bad that has to be the case as I really think that the first cell phone carrier that cuts their rates and got rid of the System Access Fee on their mainstream brands (rather than on their discount brands) for their existing customers would get a lot of positive press and be able to keep their customers from defecting to the competition.

Somehow, I don’t see that happening though. Which may be too bad for them.

Fired Globalive Employee Leaks Phone And Pricing Details…But Globalive Says They’re Fake….Something Is Fishy Here….

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on May 19, 2009 by itnerd

A “fired Globalive employee” has posted sometimes blurry but still useful pictures of their launch details on Howard Forums. Not only will they have cool phones at launch time, but their rates are actually affordable. No just by Canadian standards, but by ANY standard (seeing as Canada has some of the highest wireless phone rates in the world). I then remembered that Globalive has a site where they post details about their upcoming service and found this posting that says that what’s posted on Howard Forms is fake:

Today there is a document posted on Howardforums that claims to be a Globalive Wireless presentation to clarify the situation that is not our document. There is a lot of speculation in the blogosphere about our plans and rates but this false document certainly takes it to the next level – and certainly shows a lot of enthusiasm out there!!

The reality is, we have yet to make any decisions with respect to our final offerings.

It gets better. Check out this part:

That being said, what do you think about the plans being discussed on Howardforums:

Here’s what I think since you asked:

  1. Launch details get “leaked”, then Globalive denies that they are accurate but solicits feedback anyway. My first thought is that this is a marketing tactic designed to allow Globealive to tweak everything perfectly so that they have an offering that really gets customers to defect from incumbent wireless telcos. If that’s what they’re doing, it’s an interesting marketing tactic.
  2. Let’s assume that something in the neighborhood to what’s posted on Howard Forums is what Globalive goes with. This will be huge for the Canadian wireless landscape. The plans are amazing.  Once consumers get a look at these prices, Rogers, Bell and Telus will have a hard time holding onto customers.
  3. SIM cards will allegedly only work in Globalive handsets. So that implies that I can’t bring my own unlocked handset to Globalive. That’s really craptastic.

Perhaps Canadian wireless users would like to comment on the posting with their thoughts. Plus I’d love to get a comment from Globalive as well.

Smartphones Escaped Unharmed In Pwn2Own Contest

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 25, 2009 by itnerd

Seeing that every major browser got hacked in this contest, it was kind of surprising to read that all 5 smartphone platforms escaped without being hacked. So the stuff on your Blackberry, iPhone, Symbian OS phone, Windows Mobile Phone and Android phones is totally safe…. At least until next year:

Even though there were no winners last week, Forslof said TippingPoint is planning to include a mobile component in next year’s PWN2OWN contest, which is held at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, each March. “Where there is an opportunity, our [security] community finds a way,” she said. “I am expecting, absolutely, that the research community will find ways around the limitations of mobile.

Lovely. What’s even better is that the iPhone might have been hacked, if the prize money was better:

Even though none of the phones was hacked, one could have fallen if a researcher had wanted to part with the vulnerability, Forslof maintained. “There was an exploit at the show that could have broken the iPhone,” said. “But the researcher said that the $10,000 wasn’t enough to part with that level of vulnerability.”

I guess they need to up the prize money to account for the greedy.

Expect to see phones get hacked next year. I’m calling it now.

Wife Buires Husband With Cell Phone And Leaves Him Voice Mail… Huh?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 22, 2008 by itnerd

According to this New York Post report, Marian Seltzer buried her late husband with his cellphone fully charged. Now, three years later, she still pays his Verizon bill monthly and leaves him frequent voicemails. She’s also put his cell phone number on his gravestone so others can call him. When asked why, this was her response:

“Some people talk to God; I talk to my deceased husband.”

Okay then.

She also doesn’t check his voice mail because she doesn’t have the PIN. Besides according to her:

“I wouldn’t feel right doing it. It’s a private thing.”

Okay then.

I guess I should also mention that his kids call him with the latest sports news as well. So this is a family affair.

I won’t pass judgement as people have to deal with their grief in their own way. But I really don’t get this. Perhaps someone would be kind to explain it to me by leaving a comment below.

New Canadian Cell Company Wants To Hear From You!

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 4, 2008 by itnerd

Here’s a refreshing change from the usual idiots suspects in the Canadian cell phone marketplace. Globalive who hopes to launch a new national cell phone service next year has set up a website so that they can hear from you the consumer about what their new service should be like.

Wow. A cell company who (appears to) care about their potential customers. Perhaps they looked at the issues that Rogers (the iPhone), Bell (incoming text messaging charges) and Telus (incoming text messaging charges and screwing over their EVDO users by yanking their unlimited plans) have gotten themselves into and decided not to be like them. If so, that’s a great change from what Canadians are used to.

So far I am impressed. Hopefully these guys do something that nobody else has been able to do. Force Rogers, Bell, and Telus into a position where they have to compete. At the very least, there’s another option out there for consumers.

Good luck to Globalive!