It goes without saying that cellular contracts are consumer unfriendly with their myriads of coercive clauses designed to lock customers into long term relationships. Every so often the byzantine array of rules they ask you to sign up for, however, reaches new heights of absurdity.
Case in point: This weekend I took my 18 year old son into the local Rogers outlet to buy him an iPhone. He had saved money from his summer job, and had decided that he wanted a replacement for the venerable Nokia N70 which I lent him last summer.
We chatted with a helpful rep, who, of course, was very eager to sell us an iPhone. I explained that we had an uncontracted SIM, and that we just wanted to buy an iPhone and sign up for a three year Rogers plan.
Imagine our surprise when we discovered that we weren’t eligible to buy the iPhone. Not until November 14, that is. You see, he explained that last year that although I bought a SIM from Rogers (cost, $25) and no contracted phone, the account itself is under a one year contract. That contract expires on November 14.
I protested, naturally. However, there wasn’t a thing that the rep could do. As he described it to me, if you don’t take the phone that is offered at the time the SIM is purchased, the account is still under a contract and the customer is not eligible for another offer to buy a Rogers phone for a full twelve months. The Rogers computer system wouldn’t even price the phone for us. We had to leave, and come back another time.
Why would they do this? Clearly some bean counting MBA deep in the bowels of the Rogers magnificent headquarters in Toronto has decided that it’s in the company’s interest to insure that every new SIM is activated with a phone from Rogers. It’s unclear why, since they pay a subsidy for those phones, but that’s the way it is.
There you have it. We were there, money in hand, and ready to sign up for one of Rogers’ onerous three year plans, and were turned away because they refused to sell the iPhone to us until November 14.
Doesn’t it remind you a little of a Soviet era bread line?