Cell Mates

If I asked you to give me $120, and gave you around $2000 over the next two years to cover it off, you’d probably sign the deal right now, wouldn’t you?  For one cell company that offer wasn’t sweet enough, and it means in four more months, that offer could drop to $0.

About a month ago, my iPhone 5S (which I’ve had for around 20 months) decided to put on a little weight.  I noticed it slowly, as my screen started to bulge out every so slightly in the middle.  Over a week or so, the expansion got to the point where my case couldn’t hold it properly anymore.  If you’ve had this happen, you know what the problem was…

…the battery inside had expanded.

After the fiasco of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it was a “great” feeling to know I was now walking around with a cellular volcano in my pocket, ready to erupt at any time.  I did my due diligence and backed up the phone, then started looking at replacement options.  Maybe it was time for an upgrade?

A quick search on my cell carrier’s website showed they had an offer for an iPhone SE (which I liked, because it’s the same size as the 5S.  I don’t need to talk and text on a tablet I’d waddle around with in my pocket.)  They were also offering $100 off, meaning I’d be out $100 to finish my contract four months early, and another $100 to pay the initial startup fee.  $200 for a much better phone, AND I’d be locked in with the company for another two years.  I’d been happy with them to that point, so why not?


The issue: I could only get it if I signed on for an $80/month plan, and I was currently at $75/month.  I traveled down to Niagara’s Favourite Abandoned Mall© to see what we could do.

A quick chat with an employee said that because my current contract was set up as a “loyalty customer”, I’d have to call the company and speak with someone about keeping the plan.  With that in mind I went home, dissolved into a comfy seat and called customer service.

The conversation was quick, efficient, and the verbal equivalent of having a door slammed in my face.

I explained my situation to the CSR: My phone was about to explode, I’d been with them for eight years and never missed a bill payment, I wanted to upgrade and lock in for another two years, but I was $5/month short of the promo deal.  When I asked “what can you do for me?” I was met with a simple reply:

“You can add $5 worth of services to qualify.  I can go through them if you’d like?”

I responded and rephrased what I had said earlier, noting I was aware of the shortage, but was hoping they’d be willing to help me out, seeing as it would guarantee another two years of cash flow from my wallet.

“Unfortunately we can’t do that.  You can add $5 worth of services to qualify.”


I was extremely polite, said I’d look into it, and ended the call.

Firstly, I want to make clear that I am not “that” person.  I am not the customer who stands at the service desk yelling and swearing and holding my breath until I get my way.  I’ve eaten food orders that remotely resembled my request.  I’ve dealt with missing pieces for furniture builds through Frankensteining other ill-finished items around the house.  I understand people are human, mistakes happen, and life will go on.  These problems pale in comparison to what others breathing the oxygen on the planet are dealing with.

Henceforth, I have no problems with a company telling me what their policy is, and don’t think they NEED to do anything that goes against it.  It’s their company, it’s their policy, it’s their right.

However, it is MY right as a customer to take this experience and use it to guide my future decisions.  I know that CSR’s job was to continue to make the company money, and more if they could.  That’s how you stay in business.  The issue I will remember is that for the loss of $5/month to them (which works out to $120 over two years), they were willing to give up $200 up front (to end the first contract early and pick up the second phone) plus another $1800 over two years (for a $75/month contract over 24 months) because it was policy.

Waving off $2000 to save $120.

They don’t HAVE to do it.  Just like I don’t HAVE to stick with them when my contract is up.  Because the feeling I had after the conversation ended was simple: Eight years of good standing apparently doesn’t mean that much to them.  It’s a little harsh, but it’s how I felt.  Maybe I’ll look around and see if it means something to anyone else.

Feel free to recommend/dissuade choices for me…and yes, I’ve left out the identity of my current provider.  Every company gets good and bad reviews, and I don’t want to say my experience covers them as a whole.  I just hope they got the message.

Oh, right, the phone. I got the battery replaced for $50.  Let’s hope it doesn’t put on any weight.



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