Monthly Archives: September 2012
This isn’t a post about Messenger, so feel free to skip this post if you’re browsing for Messenger support information or otherwise aren’t interested in yet another person’s rant about their wireless carrier.
In the beginning
It was 1998. I was 16 and just entering Grade 11. My birthday is in September and there was only one thing I wanted – a cell phone. So my loving parents excitedly took me to the mall on my birthday and they pointed to the Rogers and Bell stores (the only two main networks here at the time) standing side-by-side and asked which one I wanted to enter. I chose Rogers. Entering the store I quickly discovered the phone I had read about and wanted, a Motorola StarTAC. With my first contract (co)signed, I walked out, the happiest boy in the world.
At that time in high school, no one had a cell phone or even had a reason to have one. Text messaging was in its infancy and that particular StarTAC could only receive messages anyway. Some people thought I had “upgraded” my pager (I didn’t have a pager; it was actually the first Rio mp3 player). So generally I used the phone to call my mom on the way home from school and talk about my day. The plan cost just over $30, and I paid for it myself using the funds from my school library job.
Fast-forwarding through time, space, many retail phones and a few different plans (sans contracts), I ended up in 2009 with an ancient plan and an ancient phone. Android was just entering the market and I thought I would see if I could get an HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1) as well as upgrade to a more modern plan. The representative at Rogers I spoke to on the phone was more than happy to assist and casually offered to add several discounts for being such a loyal customer. I ended up with a bill totaling $47 a month for a standard three year contract and was quite pleased.
For my $47, that included 100 anytime minutes, 1000 minutes on the weekend and weekdays, the standard 2500 text messaging plan and 500MB of data. Usage-wise for the three years, I barely scratched any minutes, maybe 100 or so text messages, and usually ~100MB of data.
Unfortunately the Dream in Canada ended up being a problem for Rogers as they had promised Android upgrades which never came. After a campaign, they subsequently offered a free HTC Magic to Dream customers. So when the Dream’s battery decided to become nearly useless, I switched to the Magic at the beginning of last year. However with that choice my device problems began (see Magic Problems below for details on the issues if you’re curious).
This past week I was given a call by Rogers promotions, trying to sell me on a phone upgrade. The representative gave me what sounded like the same pricing presented on the web site, but I elected to wait as I needed to see where my plan would stand in terms of discounts and contract term.
Today I called Rogers myself. Initially a professional and friendly representative took my call, I told him some of my concerns and he explained that my three-year discounts were actually ending today (that information is not listed on the web site). He then explained that he would transfer me to another rep to discuss my options going forward.
If you’re not aware, for a good chunk of my life, I have been doing some sort of customer support in some fashion – from various internet startups to being a Microsoft MVP (helping people with their Messenger problems) for 13 years. I know from personal experience that customer service people get treated terribly and therefore I try to be as helpful, thorough and courteous as possible.
The rep answered and I started to explain to her my story. She interrupted me, and repeated me what points the previous rep had written in my file. I had casually stated to the previous rep that I knew I had other options available to me, like another network offering $29 plans currently advertised everywhere, and she then went on to tell me how bad that network was and how it couldn’t meet my needs.
After more conversation she asked me, “Well what are you expecting from us?” I replied, “Well what I’ve had for the past three years would be nice.” She then told me that was “impossible”, as that plan and offers were too old and there was no room for discounts or flexibility even for a customer of 14 years. After listening to some more typing, she said the best she could do was a $62 plan with half the data I have now including a whole $5 discount.
She then wanted to talk new phones. I indicated to her that the Galaxy S3 seemed like an upgrade that would hopefully last for a good three year term since both the Dream and Magic didn’t cut it, and told me the best she could do would be a “$62 plan compatible with an S3”. Hearing that, I asked if there was other plans that would be compatible with some other phone. She said they were all the same, unless you wanted a blackberry.
At this point she asked me why I wanted the S3. I tried to explain to her the specifics of the problems with my Magic and she interrupted me to tell me that she wasn’t interested in that, she wanted to know what features I wanted. Apparently my current problems and previous choices are not relevant to my decision? I continued to try to explain what I was thinking and again interrupted me to tell me that it wasn’t relevant to the conversation.
Next she went on to talk about the other phone options and with not wanting to dare interject, just listened. She finished by informing me that she could offer me a $67 plan with 6GB of data. I politely declined as I made it clear that I wanted to continue with what I had and with my low usage patterns, it made absolutely no logical sense to start paying for more of what I’ll never use.
At this point I felt dejected and she pushed more on the phone upgrade. I declined and she said she would note my account if I changed my mind. Disheartened, I went for a walk to clear my head and think about what just happened.
I’m turning 30 years old this coming Sunday and in all this time I don’t think I’ve suffered such poor customer service. There was no heated conversation and nothing specifically improper was said but I found it completely unacceptable that I was cut off repeatedly when I was trying to explain my situation and even more improper for her to attempt to up-sell when I made it clear that the purpose of my call was to try to maintain what I had, especially when other options are cheaper.
After a bit of reflection, my conclusion is that Rogers does not value me as a customer. Despite most certainly being a profitable customer (low usage on my plan, one call to customer service in three years) they have taken the position that you either pay more or don’t bother to be a customer.
Apparently what’s been forgotten with this stance is like most Canadian households, this isn’t the only Rogers account. In fact we have Rogers cable television, cable internet and another cell phone (my sister’s account, which I manage for her). These other services cost more and are even easier to switch to better and cheaper alternatives. You can guess what my first action after my birthday will be.
I’m not looking for a free lunch. However I do expect some sort of acknowledgement of long-term loyalty and proper customer service from a corporate company which I’ve been paying for such a long time.
At this point I do wish my 16-year old self would’ve chose Bell.
So what makes the HTC Magic, the last device Rogers gave to me, terrible? If you’re interested, let me share with you some of the issues – all of these are out-of-box with a hardware reset, nothing additional downloaded or installed and a freshly formatted MicroSD card.
The Magic (like the Dream) likes to randomly reboot. Unlike the Dream however, the Magic rarely completes a full reboot on the first attempt. It gets past the Rogers logo, then the HTC logo, then the Android interface begins to load and it reboots again. And again. And again. In fact it will continue this loop until you take the battery out and start all over. Unfortunately sometimes you have to repeat this pull-out battery process several times as it will continue to cycle again.
Although randomly triggered at times, you can guarantee after several minutes of usage of Google Maps (the version out of the box), the device will start to become very very very slow. I define slow as in taking several minutes to respond to any sort of touch or button press. Turning the device off and back on does not help, the only way to get back to normal operating speed is to take the battery out and start all over. Of course the previously mentioned reboot cycle comes into play and it takes several more pull-out battery attempts.
A handoff is when you move from cell to cell in the network. On the Magic, there seems to be an issue with handoffs as calls and data connections regularly get dropped just from walking down the street. Note: this happens everywhere, even driving down the 401 (as a passenger). The reception bars hit zero for a good ten seconds and then jump back as presumably the phone connects to another cell.
Sadly, the only usable decently-performing music application I’ve found is the basic one that came with the phone. Sadly the Magic itself does not come with a headphone jack, so a dongle is required. I have a few of these (including the one that came in the box) and they all suffer from the same problem – when you’re walking, biking or otherwise moving, the dongle creeps out of the MiniUSB socket which instantly stops the music. It’s been a long time I went for a walk with music playing where I didn’t have to reach down into my pocket and hit the Play button at least several times.
Locked but not
If the device is busy (for example, playing Music) and you turn the screen off to lock the device, but then touch the screen afterwards, the screen usually comes back on – unlocked. I suspect this occurs because the operating system is too slow in receiving the button message and hasn’t had an opportunity to lock the device. After continually finding the phone pocket dialing (among other functions) on its own in my pocket, I generally check it each time to make sure it truly is locked before pocketing it.
Unlike my Dream’s marvelous hardware keyboard, the Magic included the software keyboard from Android 2.1. It can work all right, but is quite a frustrating experience. For a period I used Swype, which worked slightly better for input. Unfortunately Swype stopped being supported on the Magic and as a limited-time beta, stopped working. More recently I purchased SwiftKey, mainly because of its intelligence in understanding what I’m trying to type, despite being three or four words behind (due to the poor performance). Corrections can be a real challenge however.
I’m not big on most “apps”, but I would like to make use of the latest Google Maps or have a nice music player. Unfortunately Android 2.1 is no longer generally supported and there’s no hope of an official software upgrade.
I do realize anyone reading this far is probably preparing their “just root the phone” or “install this ROM and it will help negate some of your problems”. Obviously I’ve been avoiding this as I foolishly figured I would keep my Rogers “support”. Additionally, you have to bypass a mandatory E911 update that if not installed, disables your data, making the process more unusual. However, if I’m going to be using another network, that might be a moot point.
The latest Skype beta released today, among other changes, now supports signing in with your .NET Passport Windows Live ID Microsoft account, then linking it to your Skype account which then signs into the Messenger service. You can also just sign in without linking an existing Skype account.
It also seems they’ve also taken upon the styling of Office 2013 with an all white colour scheme and the client offers to tell your Messenger contacts to download Skype with a big ‘Send download message’ button,“Hey, we’re not contacts on Skype yet. Go to skype.com and you can download it now for free.” Not exactly what I would expect from professional software.
On the instant messaging side, only basic text seems to be supported. Display pictures (albeit not animated ones) are displayed properly and some Microsoft account profile information is transferred (like your contacts’ birthday, although with the wrong year – I’m apparently 107 years old). As expected MPOP is supported, so it won’t sign you out on Messenger or other locations. However if you use both Messenger and Skype clients now, you probably would not want to sign in to both unless you don’t value your personal sanity.
When I tried logging in without linking a Skype account, I was assigned a new Skype ID in the format of “live:beginningofemail”, so my firstname.lastname@example.org Live ID Microsoft account became live:test1557 which was callable and messageable from others using earlier Skype versions.
Reliability of the Messenger side seems pretty poor (understandable in its beta state) as I only got it to work once and it has refused to sign into Messenger since. Although I have yet to find a way to unlink accounts, it seems if you just sign into Skype using only your normal Skype credentials, the Messenger portion is ignored.