Wireless Nightmare: A Wind Mobile Review
Over the years it has become a national pastime for Canadians to complain about the high cost of wireless service in Canada.
The volume of complaints typically rises to a crescendo every six months or so after a research firm publishes a report which finds that Canada has some of the highest wireless rates in the world. The findings are then disputed by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), an industry advocacy group funded by the telco giants, who tell us that Canadian rates are quite reasonable especially considering our small population base and the enormous size of our country.
The good news for consumers in some of Canada’s largest cities is the competitive landscape appears to be changing. Thanks to the arrival of new wireless providers such as Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Videotron and Wind Mobile in the last thirteen months, Canadians in Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver are beginning to see lower wireless plan prices and more expansive wireless offerings.
The first new Canadian wireless company in years and perhaps the largest of the new providers is Wind Mobile. The company, which is controlled by an Egyptian Company Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E, began offering service in December of 2009 in Toronto and Calgary. Since that time Wind has rolled out
service in Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. By November of 2010, the company said it had close to 140,000 customers.
Wind Mobile offers three voice plans which range in price from $15 to $45 a month and three data plans which range in price from $25 to $35 a month. In the last several months, the company has also offered discounts on the first six months of existing plans along with other short term promotional plans.
For use with its voice plans, the company offers just over a dozen feature and smartphones ranging in price from $48 to $450. A data stick and SIM card is available for $100 and $25 respectively.
The company sells its products and services out of standalone Wind Mobile stores and through selected Blockbuster stores. Wind says these Blockbuster stores house a 150 square foot “store within a store” featuring Wind Mobile products, and staff that can to help with subscriptions and bills.
Picking Wind Mobile
Before Christmas my son asked whether he could have a wireless phone. After some discussion, my wife and I decided that it would be appropriate for him provided we could find a reasonably priced phone and plan.
I had no strong preference for providers. My wife has wireless service with Telus, my daughter has service through Virgin Mobile, a subsidiary of Bell Canada, and I have service with Fido, a subsidiary of Rogers Wireless. We are generally quite satisfied with the performance of each company although, like most Canadians, we grumble about the high cost.
Thanks to some cut-rate holiday promotions from the upstart wireless companies, I thought it would be an excellent time to check out their offerings and carry out a hands-on review of the service for Digital Home.
After Christmas, while investigating potential vendors and plans, I was alerted by a Digital Home reader of a new promotion from Wind Mobile which was cost effective and would be ideal for my son. The decision was made. My son would get a Wind Mobile phone with a voice and text plan and I would be able to assess the quality and performance of Canada’s first and perhaps largest upstart competitor.
The Nightmare Begins
On December 29th, I left my house with the goal of purchasing and activating a wireless phone from Wind Mobile.
In the intervening three weeks, I have been subjected to perhaps the worst retail customer experience I have ever encountered in my life.
My Wind Mobile odyssey which is detailed on subsequent pages includes: inordinately long wait times; faulty product; being lied to by Wind Mobile Staff; being patronized by Wind Mobile staff, being given false and misleading information by Wind Mobile staff; intransigence by Wind Mobile staff; and a refusal to grant me a refund.
The short Digital Home review is to avoid Wind Mobile. In compiling a list of pros and cons for Wind Mobile, which is detailed later in this article, I was unable to tally one pro and had to limit my cons to just six lengthy items.
On the subsequent pages, is a step by step account of my wireless nightmare, followed by an official public relations response from the company, followed by my summary.