I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

NOT Loving Cell Phone Companies...

This may seem like an odd topic for a supposed environmentally conscious blog, but bear with me as I will find a way, perhaps weakly, to link it up.  In the meantime I am frustrated and so will proceed to rant, possibly exaggerate, and make some ridiculous statements.  Perhaps you will find this amusing, perhaps not, but I know that I will feel better when I am finished.

My cell phone is a Blackberry Bold.  I am sure many would say that it is out of date, not "hip" enough, or whatever.  It is not relevant at this point.  I purchased it from Rogers a few years ago after I ran over my little, pink cell phone with my truck.  Multiple times.  It was an accident - honest.  Pink is not even remotely my favourite colour so I was not super upset about it and in the end I got a better, black phone although I had to pay for it. 

I have been part of a family plan with my parents and my brother since the beginning of my cell phone adventure.  Not because I am totally irresponsible, nor because I am too young, but because I never wanted a cell phone and it was given to me, as a surprise (thus the pink colour), to be used in emergencies.  In July a magical time came where I was freed from my contract with Rogers.  I decided it was time to shop around a little to see if I had a good monthly plan.

Lo and behold I found a better plan.  Since I am (or was) naive in the ways of cell phone companies I figured switching plans would be no problem.  I called Rogers to give them a chance to match the plan I found and was told that I did not have the authority to negotiate the terms of my own phone.  I assumed my brother had authority since he handles most everything to do with the phones so I called him and asked him to call Rogers and get them to give me authority.  My brother called Rogers and was told that he also did not have the authority to give me authority.  Apparently my Dad was the only one who could do that job. 

This is laughable as my Dad barely tolerates the cell phone and only uses it because it is a necessity right now, does not use a computer, and intensely dislikes bureaucracy of any kind.  So I called my Dad (on my parent's cellphone) who thought this was just fantastic as he actually had authority over something.  This does not happen every day as my brother and I are well into adulthood.  He laughed and said that I had just made his day.  Then proceeded to explain that my mom was at work and he was not going to call the cell phone company.  As I suspected my mom would have to sit through the prompts and deal with the people so my Dad could give the final word.

So now I have authority to deal with my own phone.  Yipee!  I call Rogers and tell them of the plan I found and ask if they can match it.  I say that if they cannot I will be moving my phone over to a new carrier.  The girl that spoke with me was friendly, polite and as helpful as she could be.  She came close to matching the offer, but not close enough.  She did not have the authority to do any better but the "retention" department is able to sweeten the pot to keep customers.  She advised that I would need to speak with them.  Except that I cannot speak with them since while I have the authority to negotiate my terms I do not have the authority to cancel my phone.  Aaaaaargh!  So back to Mom and Dad.

Since my Dad wants nothing to do with speaking to Rogers (other than a yes or no) my Mom, armed with the information for the plan I wanted them to match, calls Rogers.  It is now three days since my first phone call and happens to be a holiday Monday.  There is no one in the "retention" department.  So she phones back the next morning and spends nearly an hour on the phone with someone who completely confuses her, but comes up with a price that is close.  My Mom calls me very frustrated and says that she is now tempted to cancel her phone with Rogers.  I write down a phone number, and a reference number because she did not understand all of the terms that the person on the phone threw at her.  I am now supposed to phone back, get someone to explain to me the terms, and decide whether I want it or not.  But I have to call back during regular business hours.  I have not called Rogers back.  Partly because I have not been able to take the time to sit on hold during my work day and most recently because I lost the piece of paper with the phone number and reference number on it.  Today I decided "Screw it" I am going in to see the company with the plan I want and I am signing up.  Easy, right?  Of course not.

I went to the store closest to my house.  I explained that I have a phone with a Rogers plan.  It is not good enough and I want to switch.  I know what plan I want.  What do I have to do?  She says she does not know how to do a new plan without me getting a new phone.  I say that I do not need a new phone, it works fine, I just want a new plan.  She cannot help me as she has not been trained in how to do that.  I thank her and head over to the store second closest to my house.  I explain that I have a phone with a Rogers plan...you can guess the rest.  Friendly, polite girl in second store asks me if my phone is unlocked.  Unlocked?  This is a new cell phone term that I have not heard before.  The conversation proceeds something like this:

Me: "My contract is up.  Is that what you mean?  I haven't heard the term unlocked before"
Friendly, polite girl: "No.  I mean is your phone locked."
Me: Blank look. "What does that mean?"
Friendly, polite girl: "If you purchase your phone from a carrier they will often lock it so that you can't take it to a new carrier"
Me: "I don't know if it's locked.  How can I tell if it's locked?  How do I get it unlocked?"
Friendly, polite girl: "Usually you have to get a new phone when you switch plans".
Me: "I don't need a new phone.  This phone is fine.  I just want a new plan."

Apparently there is a store downtown that will unlock your phone.  For a fee of course.  Somewhere between $0 and $50.00.  WTF?  I just want a new plan.  How can this be so difficult?  I come home and my husband asks, "So do you have a new plan yet?".  I have to reply that no, I do not.  I explain the problem and he says well you can just get a new phone.  I DON'T WANT A NEW PHONE!  MY PHONE IS FINE.  I JUST WANT A NEW PLAN.  Yes, my phone is several years old and yet I don't care.  I am not a cell phone person.  I use it for the odd phone call, would like to use it more for texting (if I could get a new f#*%$ing plan), and use it to check my email.  As a side bonus it takes reasonable pictures in a pinch.  Here is my beef with the new cell phone thing and here is where this post will take on a mildy environmentally friendly twist.

It takes resources and energy to make a cell phone.  Yes, these cell phones can be recycled, but it takes resources and energy to facilitate that process as well.  Then someone has to make the new cell phone using more resources and energy.  Wouldn't it be more environmentally conscious to choose to use one cell phone for a longer period of time instead of changing your phone as often as you change your underwear??  Perhaps we can all take solace in the fact that at the end of the world when we all die a grisly death and the rigor mortis sets in we will have the latest technology tightly grasped in our hands.  "At least I got to experience the IPhone 20" <Insert last dying breath here>.  Or maybe there are phone company execs that sit in a room opposite other large company execs (you pick your favourite industry) and play games with models of trees, rivers, lakes and oceans.  I can see them using their high end credit cards as catapults, launching missiles of destruction across the board.  Ok, this last part was the ridiculous part.  But I think you get my drift.

If there is anyone out there reading this who can educate me in the ways of switching cell phone plans I would be much obliged.  Just as long as I can keep my old, reliable Blackberry Bold.

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