…Are a fucking joke. Evenings and weekends used to start at 5pm or 6pm depending on the carrier. Now they start at 9pm and you have to pay $7/month to start at 6pm or $9/month to start at 5pm. Extra minutes used to cost 10¢ but now cost 45¢. Not to mention that the cost of things like voicemail, call display, and text/multimedia messaging (or bundles thereof) have all steadily increased in price. Yet there are no offsets to the number of daytime minutes or included options in light of these price increases. So, based on this alone, I accuse the Canadian Telecommunications industry of collusion and price-fixing and the Government of Canada of turning a blind eye to the plight of Canadians.
Consider that, if the big three (Rogers, Bell, and Telus) were truly competing with one another and other market “competitors,” they’d be falling over each other to offer you the lowest rates, best-value option bundles, and latest hardware for low prices. Instead, all of their plans and pricing look conspicuously similar. All of their bundles exhibit subtle variation in price and features included. Additional minutes suspiciously cost the same across providers. Overall, we’ve seen prices continue to rise in an industry that welcomes “new competitors” who operate in only a handful of cities. Free market competition is by no means occurring and the steadily-expanding profit margins of the big three Canadian telecomms (who, incidentally, own four of the so-called competitors) are quite safe. It’s absolutely disgraceful and gouges subscribers for hundreds of dollars each year.
Here’s a backwards notion: price negotiation with a wireless provider isn’t possible up-front. You can’t call the company’s customer service department or visit one of their retail stores and settle on a price and what’s included. These employees are intentionally kept powerless from making any sort of concessions on price or options – strategically so – because otherwise the enormous profits would vanish. So, the only true way to negotiate a better rate or package, is by calling the company’s customer retention department. And that’s only available to you if you’re already a customer. Then there are more hoops to jump through and the telecomms are banking on your unwillingness to put in the time or energy. If you do decide to go this far, however, asking for a better price because you’ve been a good, long-term customer isn’t enough (they like that you’ve been paying this much for so long). You have to advance the conversation to the point of threatening to leave if you can’t reach an agreement. That’s bullshit and illustrates just how much these telecomms have Canadians over a barrel.
The nature of the problem is that these telecomms are greedy and know that they have you by the balls with their services contract. They’ll try to spin you a tale that mobile technology and infrastructure-upgrade costs are increasing, heavier network traffic requires new and added hardware to meet demand, and the poor little company is just trying to make ends meet (by passing the cost of doing business along to you, by the way); all the while they report tremendous year-after-year profits. It’s insulting to Canadians’ intelligence to be treated this way but, unfortunately, we accept these spoonfuls of shit as if they were ice cream. Has no one noticed that, with technological advancement, the price of goods and services actually decreases because faster and cheaper ways emerge to deliver them? Of course they have but why not pass along the savings to subscribers? Why not maintain rates and provide better and expanded service? Because they know they can make more money off of you for the same reason given above: it’s a painstaking exercise to get a better rate. And the Government of Canada won’t step in (despite the countless times it’s stated that cell phone rates are too high) because it likes big business and the amount of tax revenue it generates.
Which leaves Canadians standing between price-gouging telecomms and tax-collecting bureaucrats, each with a hand in our pockets and a smile on their faces.