Cell phone distress

People like to ask me what my biggest grief is with travelling to and from Canada, and I always have the same response. CANADIAN CELL PHONE SERVICES SUCK! That’s right, Mom. I used the word “suck.” In my blog. For the entire world to see. Because it’s true. And one should always be truthful when communicating with the masses.

Or, at least 12 readers. Anyway.

Everything that U.S. cell phone carriers are, Canadian cell phone carriers are not. I knew early on that I would have to make an adjustment to my cell phone usage. In the U.S., I was a Verizon customer. And, I loved Verizon. I paid $45/month and received 700 minutes (shared with my folks who are not as chatty), unlimited texts to Verizon customers, 500 texts to everyone else, unlimited calls day and night to Verizon customers (awesome, because all my friends/family minus two are VZ customers), and unlimited calls on nights and weekends to everyone else. Essentially, I talked and texted as much as I wanted without worrying that my bill would be anything other than $45/month.

It was great. Then, Husband added me to his Canadian Fido plan. Here is what my base package included:

$25 – 100 anytime minutes/unlimited nights, weekends/unlimited texts (to CAN phones only)
$12 – Unlimited incoming calls
$10 – Caller ID, call forward, voice mail

So, I say to Husband, what you’re telling me is that we’re paying $47 for me to be able to say “Yes, I own a cell phone, but, no, I can’t actually ever use it?”

Oh, you can use it, he said. Just have everyone call you. But, they can only call you when your phone is in a certain area.


Dear, Americans, remember way back when everyone’s cell had a local calling area that it had to remain in without being charged extra when you made calls? You probably don’t remember that because most U.S. cell carriers have always allowed you to call anywhere in the U.S. from anywhere in the U.S. at your base price. Hooray for nationwide coverage! That is NOT the case in Canada. My phone has a miniscule area that I must stay within. A small, tiny, miniscule area. And if I make a call when I’m not in that 600 sq. ft. area, I am charged extra. Per minute.

Fantastic. Early on, Husband adapted to his cell phone’s limitations because, well, that’s what was available, and, as a bonus, he’s more than happy to have people call him versus actually calling them. I abhorred the idea of not being able to pick up my phone to call people. Talk about caveman-ish.

However, I agreed that, yes, I could in fact survive, if I must, by using Skype to call family and friends in the States. He agreed (OK, offered) to purchase me an Ohio number that would then forward to my Canadian cell, costing my family and friends nothing more than their cell phone minutes to reach me. And, I agreed to not use my phone when I drove out of my little box. Turns out I can’t use my cell phone when I’m driving in Ontario anyway. That’s another story, which you can find here.

But what about text messages? How was I to survive without texts and what good was texting if I only had unlimited incoming texts? So, we added on a texting bundle.

$10 – (250) International and U.S. text messaging

Which brings my cell phone bill up to $55 ($63ish tax-in), if you’re counting. Awesome! Now I can continue to rapid fire texts to my family and friends. And, conveniently, I would be able to use my Canadian phone to text people in Canada when I was stateside.

Or, so I thought.

Yesterday, we opened our cell phone bill for December. It was $20 higher than usual. Attributed mostly to text messages I had sent from my phone when I was in Ohio over the holidays.


Husband told me that I needed to call Fido the next day and have a firm conversation. Firm! Thinking back to all the conversations I’d had with Verizon employees, I figured all would be well. I’d say I’d been told that I could use my Canadian phone to text from the States, the customer rep would say, Oh, sorry about that, and credit my account. That’s what the Verizon reps do. Oh, I miss those Verizon reps.

I called at 8:05 a.m. and spoke with Amanda. After looking at my account, Amanda told me that the charges are fair and accurate and that it is my responsibility as the customer to do the research to understand all of the different bundling packages available as there are far too many packages available for the representatives to describe in detail. That was not her job. That is what the Web site is for. And that if I was travelling to the U.S. I should’ve known to call and add on a plan specific to the U.S.

Me (in my head): &@#!$?!!?

I told her that the gentleman I spoke with in late June told me that I would be able to use the phone in Canada AND in the US to send text messages. That was the reason why I agreed to the bundle. She said she would look for that phone conversation, and she put me on hold. She came back four minutes later to say that the prior conversation occurred too long ago and was no longer accessible but that the notes on my account indicated I clearly understood that my plan’s texts went only to the U.S. and not vice versa. Therefore, she would not be crediting my account, as I was the one in error. Have a nice day.

Me (in my head): Are you kidding me?
Me (out loud): So, you’re telling me I should’ve known better than to use my phone when I was in the U.S. even though your fellow rep told me I could use the phone when I was in the U.S. and not be charged. And now I have all these charges plus the ones I’ll receive next month because I just visited the states?
Amanda: Yes. You should’ve checked into all the different packages we have. You should’ve called before travelling to add on another package.
Me: Of course I should’ve.
Amanda: Can I help you with anything else today?

Me (in my head): &@#!$?!!?

Oh, I miss Verizon. I miss the competitive wireless market that Canada is without. In the U.S., you can’t watch a TV show without seeing ads for multiple carriers. In Canada, carriers don’t need to advertise because, well, you need a cell phone, and you have minimal choice, so you’ll like what’s offered to you.

I also miss customer service that actually values the customer.


On a positive note, if you want to call me, it’s free. Free for me. Free for you. We both win, yes?


3 thoughts on “Cell phone distress

  1. Lara says:

    Yet another reason to love the US

  2. Mom says:

    Canada is different 😉

  3. gigi says:

    Oh Jill, we feel your pain. What we need is to have Verizon move up to Canada. Rogers and Bell’s public relations have an odour and their sub par service as well.

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