Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Apple and Rogers ... is data a new street drug?

Ok ... I don't like hate blogs. I have no desire to attack the company to which I pay a small fortune each month for my Internet, three wireless accounts and my digital cable services. And yet ... I am just about ill to see the prices they are suddenly charging for the iPhone.

The iPhone came out on a promotional price for about the same cost as the US prices. $199 for the 8GB unit and $299 for the 16GB unit. For those whose voice plans were under $30, there was an extra gouge, er, fee of $50 as a penalty. (For being a customer I suppose.)

I can live with all that ... my wife purchased one and my son got one at this promotional price. My wife got the $30 per month 6GB data plan, only about infinity less than what you get for that price in the US, but hey ... this is Rogers. My son got it without the data plan and racked up $50 in about 8 hours of light usage before I spent almost 3 hours on the phone with them before they found someone who knew how to disable the 3G network in the phone.

I could not get one, because I had upgraded to the Blackberry from hell last year and had to wait until September.

Well ... I traveled to the UK in the last week of September and didn't get back until the 28th. I didn't even think about the upgrade again until today. I almost missed a dental appointment (they called me 20 minutes into it to ask why I had missed, but I rushed over.) I later realized that this was because my Blackberry had reset the time again to one hour off ... so the alarm went off to taunt me while I was at the dentist. This was the third time something like that happened, the phone has other horrible quirks like radio going off and staying off ... that kind of thing. A junker.

I decided that enough was enough and I would finally go for my upgrade to the 16GB 3G as I also need a new iPod (mine is used as the music device for the car now.) Well ... I walked over to the local Rogers, which is 3 doors down from my dentist, and the fella called up my account and expressed surprise that the prices had just jumped by $100. I was stunned, because I had heard nothing of it.

I left the store steaming mad (like you get when you decide to spend money and someone stops you :-) and decided to call Rogers later to find out what was going on.

I just got off the phone with them after waiting a short 20 minutes (short for Rogers that is) ... and I am stunned at the avarice ... the price jumped $100 after the "promotional" price expired at the end of September. Interestingly, the fella at the store said "I haven't sold a phone for a few days and this is new" ... so who do we believe?

Anyway ... that's the price. We are now officially 50% more expensive than the price of the same upgrade at AT&T.

She also repeated the often used bullsh*t that my $35 rip-off, er, administration fee could not be waived. So I ran out of patience and politely (it's true) asked to speak to her manager. Five minutes later she returned to me with the good news that she could waive the fee. What a shock. I only pay them $350 plus every single fricken month.

And I get a wonderful $50 rebate (assuming I remember to send it in) off my phone charges later ... woopee. So I think about it and decide that a total price of $400 might be tolerable. I ask ... how much for the data plan? Remember, Rogers customers were being ripped off for, er, paying $30 per month for a lousy 6GB and that "promotion" has apparently run out.

The news was grim ... for $25 MB, I could get 500MB. !!!!!!! WTF????? That's the size of a single CD. Yes ... ONE CD ....

The price for 8GB (only 30% more than the 6GB offered during the promotion) is now ... wait for it ... $80 per month! GAK. I swallowed a bug. And choked on my vomit.

Sorry ... enhance your calm ...

The price of the phone rises 50% and the cheapest data plan price rises 1000% ...

Yes, the price of data has gone up by 10 TIMES.

Wow ..... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ... 10 TIMES ...

That's an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE in case anyone is interested.

Ok, I admit. I shouldn't blog when I am in shock.

By the way ... there was one cheaper data plan for $15 per month, I think it was enough to send 5 small images across the net ... I kid you not.

So ... maybe they are trying to align with the pay as you go data prices. After all ... this is pretty expensive, right? Well ... not so, Midas Muffler Breath. The pay as you go prices will take your beath quite literally away.

If you just use the data without a plan at all, the price is a nickel a kilobyte. So on the scale we have been using, that's 200 bytes per penny. Yes, 200 bytes ... or 0.0002MB per penny ... that's one person's really long name. And now we are at 1000000% ... yes, 4 orders of magnitude over the "promotional" price. That's actually quite a lot ...

Things are looking rather grim .... let's summarize these options:

"Promotional" price for 500MB at $30/6GB ... comes to $2.50 ... Not bad, although AT&T charges effectively 0 for high volume users so this is pretty high.

Current price for 500MB: $25 Hmmm ... that seem a bit stiff to anyone else?

Pay as you go price for 500MB: $25,000 Huh? Can this be right? $.05 per kilobyte times 1000 times 500 ... yup ... works out. If you look at images online for a few hours, you could end up buying Rogers a brand new car.

So ... what was I to do? I hung up of course. I couldn't even articulate my displeasure any more. Words utterly failed me.

Is there any industry in which it is legal to offer a promotional price that is 10 times cheaper than the real price? I don't think so. But I understand (from literature and television) that there is a thriving industry that regularly gets customers "hooked" on their product and then raises prices to exorbitant levels ...


jaylifoto | Wedding Photographer said...

Enjoyed your writing. Regarding data plans, why not get a Sidekick, which has the best keyboard? T-Mobile offers $30/month unlimited data.

Kim Letkeman said...

I'm in Canada, which leaves out T-Mobile. But in the end I caved and bought the iPod. No regrets. I posted a partial retraction of this article in the Jan 2009 section.