Reaction to the Cellphone Cost Calculator Story

My column on the decision to kill the cellphone cost calculator generated considerable reaction: 

  • The Liberal party issued a press release criticizing the decision and arguing that it placed the wireless industry ahead of consumers. 
  • The CBC covered the story, including comments from the CWTA, PIAC, and Bell (it should be noted that Bell indicates that it did not meet with officials specifically on the cellphone calculator but rather left the issue to the CWTA).
  • Catherine Middleton points out the FCC is asking questions about similar consumer disclosures and cost comparisons.
  • Readers have pointed to two other private comparison sites – and

Update: The CWTA has just released a new code of conduct that promises that customers will be better informed when making purchases.


  1. are those forums or facts
    The problem with those Cell forums is that there are many Bell, Telus, Rogers (and all their resellers) employee’s working those forums and making reviews.

    One needs to only look at how employee’s beefed up the presence of the plans of the samsung apple-eater phone, which turned out to be a dud and people were stuck in multi-year contracts with high termination fee’s.

    I haven’t looked in depth at these forums listed, but the first one I looked at had “reviews”. After the Samusung instinct scandal, people should have a very critical eye with forums and who exactly are working the forums disguised as regular people, who turn out to be resellers and employee’s.

    I even wonder how many people were/are even aware of the samsung instinct scandal?

  2. Actually, not sure, I’ve never heard of the Instinct scandal, and a short time on the google doesn’t enlighten me. You don’t need to tell me about it, but I suspect the “scandal” was much smaller than you seem to make it. (Because Google never lies, of course.)

  3. @stacey
    “Google never lies, of course”

    It was all very well documented in Bell Canada’s own forum. They deleted the forum this past summer (As Ellen Roseman of the Toronto Star also noticed).

    People were very ticked off. There were many posts and topics on it.

    In a nutshell Bell was selling people services they didn’t need.

    Bell supplied defective firmware (something like that) on the smart phone and the thing kept crashing and not performing per their ads. Apparently some of the functions didn’t even work.

    If people followed Bells direction to fix it (which the directions never did fix a thing) they had to of course back up all the data on their cell. Bell then sold these people a back-up plan for a fee to fix the defective phone they were selling people.

    There was a lot written up on it. A heck of a lot.

    Then they spiked the forum with some guy who they said would be providing all the answers. The guy provided nothing except some words that did nothing and a manager Emailed people (this can be seen in the samsung forum since someone posted the Email) saying the forum guy was indeed a plant to try a calm people down.

    People paid hundreds and were in multi-year contracts and stuck with a phone that didn’t do waht it was supposed to do.

    They weren’t let out of their contracts. Bell even had the guts to charge people extra to upgrade their phone to one that performs as advertised.

    Once guy made videos of all his dealings with Bell and the “manager” who called to fix his cell for him.

    Then Bell banned everyone who voiced their concerns about being ripped of.

    Then they created a facebook thing

    They created a petition with hundreds of signatures

    They ranted in Samsungs forum

    Most of it was posted directly in Bell forum, so most is gone now when they deleted it.

    This is just one link and this doesn’t even cover a tiny bit of it. There were so many things. Functions locked out, having to buy the back-up service because of their defective locked-out firmware, having to buy access to MSN-Email because Bell locked out gmail, locked out Google maps and such so people had to buy bells mapping software.

    Bell then refused to reply to anyone about it.

    This lasted a long long time (a year or so). Probably still to this day with that phone.

    Also jump over to the samsung forum to see the complains and links to vid’s (some are missing on that website)

    I think the complaints start rolling in around Nov/Dec, 08 so you will have to go back to that time. Work from that date forward.

    It was the most disturbing thing I have seen to date from a cell provider. It was the biggest consumer travisty I have seen to date.

    I’m not sure but from what I read they had got a lawyer to help them. But I have no clue what happened with that.

    After all the complaints Bell still sold this phone in its defective & locked out state. People just didn’t know this “apple eater smart phone” was all hype that didn’t perform.

    I’m surprised there wasn’t a class action. But as people said they have no money to do that type of thing.

    Months later, Bell then dropped the price of this hundreds of dollars phone with 3-yr contract to something like 19$. I guess they figured since the cat was out of the bag, some lawyer involved they should just give it away for almost free But with a multi-year contract.

    I never seen that many mad smart phone users till that Bell-samsung incident with defective Bell firmware.

    I think Bell blamed samsung and moved on (though Samsungs in the states didn’t have these problems, or AT&T addressed them with firmware updates). Bell-Samsung users were left to rot.

    Like I said most everything was in Bells forum, which they deleted for obvious reasons. But some forums still have a lot of the basic info.

    You should find all the info on the Bell executive office ignoring everyone who wrote them as well.

    I could probably find the whole thing some place with contacts and a date by date blow of events if I cared too…

    Trust me it happened. It was defective. People were ignored. People were charged more. People were banned. People were silenced. People were blown off. The list of defects was known before it even went on sale. Continued after Mr. Roseman of the Toronto star got involved and thought it was fixed and just went on and on for months.

    It was amazing, and this is no exaggeration.

    You should have seen peoples reaction when the forum plant told the people this is what it is with 1st generation users (something like that). Bell locked down that topic fast.

    This was sold as the apple eater smartphone. People were lucky (and its not a joke) when a simple phone call wasn’t cut off because this phone would just turn off on its own. Never mind the smartphone functions that just didn’t work or had to be paid for because its true money-making purpose was hidden.

    Too bad they deleted it all. Was something to see.

  4. stacey,

    One of the best parts was this little factoid from that story above (which caused many many people grief)

    People complained to Bell World and Bell and some returned their supposedly “smartphones”. But others were stuck because Bell had a no-return policy of a max of 15-minutes of use (currently at 30-minutes, changed in 2009).

    So anyone who used their “smartphone” to actually call Bell and complain negated the return policy!

    Keep checking google (avoid American samsung places since they didn`t have these issues), you should find more little factoids of what happened and what Bell did to resolve the issues 😉

    People also put up youtube vids with a couple of the defects. So look there as well (Avoid the American vids).

  5. FOI for the Cellphone Cost Calculator source code
    Once the source code is released, there will (probably) be some person or group (perhaps) who will maintain, update and develop the data and the code.

    Has anyone asked for it?

  6. tackling review bias
    you are right. relying on user reviews can be dangerous. as the owner of one of these review sites we are doing several things to combat abuse and remain unbiased. we of course filter for spam and abuse from certain IPs, require users to confirm a valid email address…but…we also allow the community to rate what they feel are the most helpful. this typically floats more objective reviews to the top. we also provide alternative “expert” reviews which are reviews performed by well known critics. some people trust those scores more then others.

  7. tackling review bias
    you are right. relying on user reviews can be dangerous. as the owner of one of these review sites we are doing several things to combat abuse and remain unbiased. we of course filter for spam and abuse from certain IPs, require users to confirm a valid email address…but…we also allow the community to rate what they feel are the most helpful. this typically floats more objective reviews to the top. we also provide alternative “expert” reviews which are reviews performed by well known critics. some people trust those scores more then others.

  8. @brandon,

    It’s cool you took the time to read & reply.

    I;m going to rant here with some facts (it’s not directed at you)

    Bell is now hyping up the Palm-Pre “smartphone” that just hit the Canadian Market. I have no doubts there are many things hidden even with this and Bell’s non-learning experience with the Bell-Samsung and they way they treated the people they left to rot and gouge.

    So far in all the reviews I have seen by “critics”, they make *zero* mention of how the palm pre constantly crashed and/or takes snapshots to upload to palm. Uploading w/o your knowledge your GPS co-ordinates.

    Does Bell provide an opt-out for the Pre from sending your info, location snapshot of what apps you have running and so forth?

    No. Bell doesn’t even make people aware this is happening and nor do the “critics”.

    As with every other cell/smartphone they sell (and this is confirmed history) they never provide updates to keep the thing functioning as it should. Instead they tell people who call in, “Well it’s a year old now its old and you need to change phone”. Instead of telling the truth of the matter, they don’t want to provide updates/firmware updates to keep it functioning because this way they get to sell you a new phone and contract.

    The rant isn’t directed at you… I just ranted because what Bell does to people for the almighty dollar is disgusting.

    I haven’t seen a critic really be critical or even a critic really look hard at what these phones do and what you don’t know they do.


    Forums where employee’s have the run of the playground isn’t good enough. It’s all hype, even with the critics.

    Bell is now being careful not to say the Pre is the “apple eater”.

    Buyer beware. Even with that CCTS/CWTA load of baloney I bet people will still be locked in.

    How many cells come with free GPS in the states? How many of these same phone with American advertising is hyped here and which the GPS functions are locked out by Bell (who rides the American advertising wave)?

    There is a lot of dirty work to be done. This CWTA/CCTS “code of conduct” thing better hold for contract termination when people find out their Palm Pre is sending where they are to Palm (and no one telling them), or when they find out their GPS with whatever smartphone they have, as advertised, doesn’t exist in Canada because it’s locked out.

    k hrm. 🙂 Not directed at you Brandon. But this is the reality of whats happening. Forums and critics don’t cut it or show whats happening.

  9. Libs
    It’s great to hear that the Liberals are scouring Internet blogs looking for cheap political points rather than having to discover them themselves.

    As for the calculator… I have contacted the office responsible and added my voice to those requesting the project either be completed, or put into the public domain.

  10. Code of Conduct?
    A corporate Code of Conduct has absolutely NO STANDING in the courts.

    Nothing but more oligopoly FUD.

    Similar to the faux competition these ID10ts create with “different” brands of carriers. FIDO, etc.

  11. Glimpse of online cellphone calculator?
    Don’t know if it’s real, but someone has posted a slide show showing screen shots of the work in progress.

  12. Cellphone Provider a Lemon?
    Feeling ripped off with Cellphone, IPhone, PDAs, BLACKBERRY? Don’t get mad get even. Contact the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) CCTS is an independent agency with a mandate to receive, to facilitate the resolution of and if necessary resolve eligible consumer and small business complaints relating to certain retail telecommunications services. Complaints are what put the lemon law in place for the auto industry. I’ve somebody close using SOLO and due to financial hardship have fallen behind in payments and was not allowed to adjust the contract to a lower more affordable one as originally told was allowed to suiting their needs and was suspended. The consumer is now being billed for months not allowed to be used with late interest charges. I also recall a friend without a phone for weeks on a contract they were paying for on monthly bases because it wasn’t operational and needed repair and after searching I’ve found endless problem and complaint of other providers as well. Interested in hearing feedback on resolutions being SOLO, Bell, Telus, Rodgers, Fido, KOODO, Virgin, etc.