The Cellphone Contract Renewal: A Tragic Story of Confusion
Scene: Beau’s 2-year cellphone contract has just expired. He wants to upgrade to one of the top devices, so he calls his telecommunications company to see what kind of deal they have for a new 2-year contract with an awesome new phone.
Lucifer: Hi, thank you for calling today, my name is Lucifer, how can I help you?
Beau: I’m sorry, your name is really Lucifer? What an interesting name!
Lucifer: Yes, my parents were very religious…it means “bringer of light”!
Beau: I’m on Wikipedia right now and it says “See also: Satan” but that’s a conversation for another day…I’m calling because my contract is up and I’d like to check out my options for renewing and getting a new phone.
Lucifer: I can certainly help you with that, Beau, let’s have a look at your current plan. I see that you have unlimited Canada-wide calling and texting, plus 2GB of Data, for $60/month. That’s a really great plan!
Beau: Thanks! So I’d like to keep that plan and get a new Samsung Galaxy S7. I see on your website that it’s only $199! So I renew for 2 years, pay the $199 and we’re done, right?
Lucifer: Whoa, Beau, not so fast. This isn’t like walking into McDonald’s and buying a McDouble. There are many unnecessarily complicated rules to follow and conditions to meet before we can give you your new phone and renew your contract.
Beau: Ok, like what?
Lucifer: First of all, your $60 plan is not a share everything plan. In order to get the new phone, you have to choose one of our new share everything plans. The lowest priced plan that is closest to yours is our $80 plan with 1GB of data.
Beau: So you’re saying that to get the phone I want from you, I have to pay $20 more per month for half of the data I had before? Why can’t I just keep my existing plan?
Lucifer: Beau, you have to understand that as one of the largest telecommunications companies in Canada, we have to maintain a high level of evil. The $60 plan that you were offered years ago was only offered to you because we needed more time to come up with the ultimate evil plan.
Please allow me to explain further. While you were kept at bay with your $60 plan, we colluded with the other big companies to fix prices for no good reason. We decided an $80 minimum for virtually no data was the best way to really stick it to Canadian consumers. The council of evil agreed and we shook on it so there’s no backsies.
Beau: This is nuts. How can you charge so much for so little? Aren’t you afraid I’m just going to go to one of the smaller telecommunications companies that has unlimited everything for $40/month? That sounds pretty good to me right now.
Lucifer: Ha! Don’t try to fool me, Beau. As you very well know, we have planted spies in all groups of friends around the country. We have made sure you have a friend with a phone from a small carrier who constantly complains about how slow the data is and that the phone service is terrible. If you want to pay less for inferior service and a free phone from 1995, then I’m not going to stop you. GO AHEAD – RUIN YOUR LIFE!
Beau: Wait, are you saying that my friend Susan works for your company? She does complain about how bad her service is all the time and she has this weird tattoo that I always thought looked like your company logo…ok, this is crazy! Ok, what if I bought the phone myself and brought it in – could I keep my plan?
Lucifer: Yes, but the phone would cost you $899. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. It costs only $250 to make your Galaxy S7. We all got together at the evil telecommunications company meeting and decided to set the retail prices so high so that you would realize that paying $700 less for a phone is way better than the extra $20/month you have to pay us for two years.
Beau: Well, $700 savings is much better than 24 x $20 extra = $480. But I’m still not getting my 2GB data. How much is your 2GB plan?
Lucifer: The next step up is 2.5GB and it is $90/month.
Beau: That’s 24 x $30 extra = $720. I should just buy my own phone then and keep my $60 plan.
Lucifer: Sure if you want to spend $899 upfront to save only $20, go ahead. Wait, no, I’ve been told to tell you there is fine print that says you still can’t keep your old plan with a new phone because the phone is too new to support the old plan. Yes, just confirmed now, this rule was just created today. This is company policy and there’s nothing that the company can do to override the policy created by the company. Especially new policies. There is a 30 day waiting period before anyone is even allowed to talk about considering changing a policy.
Beau: COME ON! I’ve been a customer for 15 years! You must be able to do something to let me keep my old plan and bring in a phone or at least keep my old plan, sign a 2-year contract, and get my phone for $199. I want to speak to the loyalty and retention department!
Lucifer: Ah, yes, I see you’ve Googled “renegotiate cellphone contract”. Sure, I can transfer you to loyalty. Retention is a separate place. Please stand by…
Loyalty: Hi, this is the loyalty department. There is no possible way for Lucifer to have provided me with any information about why you’re calling so please proceed to waste your time telling me exactly what you told him in detail.
BEAU EXPLAINS SITUATION AGAIN
Loyalty: Ok, I understand your situation. The loyalty department was created to make consumers think we care about loyalty. Please stand by while I mumble nonsense to myself for 5 minutes without putting you on hold so you can hear little bits of what I’m saying and wonder why it’s taking so long.
5 MINUTES LATER
Loyalty: Now that you’re extremely frustrated from waiting for no reason while I pretended to type and talk to someone, I can tell you that we value your dedication to our company and we don’t want to lose you so I can offer you our 2.5GB plan for $95 and give you a Samsung Galaxy S7 for $199.
Beau: What is happening here?! That offer is $5 more per month than what Lucifer offered me. I thought loyalty was supposed to offer me a better deal?
Loyalty: I’m sorry that’s all I’m authorized to do. I can transfer you to the Retention department. It’s another department we invented and staffed with people who we probably should have fired years ago but they frighten us.
Beau: Ok, fine.
Retention: Hello, this is the retention department! As you have now realized, our company departments are extremely disconnected, so please proceed to repeat your situation in detail, yet again, while trying not to get angry about being on the phone for 40 minutes.
BEAU EXPLAINS SITUATION AGAIN
Retention: I see. I know that you think being a customer for 15 years is a lot, and it is, but according to company policy, we can only start offering you a discount after 16 years. No, wait, that’s not company policy, that’s just how I’m feeling today.
Beau: I’m so tired of this. I just want a new phone and my old plan. Why do I keep getting transferred to places and get less help?
Retention: Perhaps no one ever explained this to you Beau but we are not your friends. Very much like banks, we are only in business to make money. Sure, we create these fake departments to make you think that we care if people come or go, but really, we don’t. We have the networks and the deals with the phone manufacturers. We are in control and you will pay whatever we want you to pay, like Apple Computer in the 1980s. We can’t put this in our marketing, because that’s not good business, but once you’re a customer, we do whatever we can to make this process extremely difficult for you. From made up policies to rules that can be broken by some and not others, we have perfected this nonsense.
Beau: Ok, I’m going to hang up now.
Beau’s spirit is broken, but he still needs a new phone. Does he dare call the company back and hope for a better deal? Does he wait until he sees a random promotion? Is it really worth it to buy a phone outright when they become obsolete so fast and can be easily dropped and broken?
WHAT WILL BEAU DO NEXT?
TO BE CONTINUED…