Friday, 9 September 2011

WINDMobile - I'm leaving

I tried to email them from their webpage. It doesn't work. No surprise there I called them. The person at the other end (after the usual "two minute" wait that always takes much longer) doesn't know who I am from call display, yet I am calling 611 from the phone they supplied.

For several months recently, their web page - and their phone system - has been rejecting my credit cards. It never accepted Amex (of course) but usually if VISA was rejected Mastercard would work. Now even that has stopped. They think it may be because the address record they have for me differs from the one the credit card company has. Of course, the fact that I pay for many other things by credit card on line - and on sites in more than one country I might add (all three cards work faultlessly on sites in the UK and US as well as Canada) does not influence them. Besides, there is only one address. The only possible glitch might be that since I live in a town house some people put the unit number first, ahead of the street address, others afterwards. Every other system seems to cope with that. Not WINDmobile's, apparently. They have been aware of the problem for months - but they just blame the customer. So much easier than coding a web page properly.

They also once had the temerity to insist over the phone that I visit one of their booths in mall and pay by cash! As though my credit was no good!

I was really pleased when WIND came to Canada - and cheered when they won the case about "foreign ownership". Something to do with Egyptian banks. I don't care. I wanted an outbreak of real competition in a market dominated by three players (Telus, Rogers and Bell) and their surrogates - all those other names like FIDO conceal the fact that they are owned by one of the big three. WIND doesn't want a three year contract. Or any contract come to that. It rates are really competitive. You can change your plan for a $20 fee anytime you want to, if your calling pattern changes.

But then there are the inevitable glitches a new entrant to the market is bound to trip up on. In Greater Vancouver, WIND home coverage does not extend to Delta. If I go shopping in Tsawwassen, I get a text message welcoming me to the US - and the roaming charge that goes with that. Oddly, when I first went to San Francisco, my phone worked. It didn't in New York. But everyone recognizes that there will be slip ups, and they were simply helping me to defeat the risk that my phone would get snitched and used to run up a huge bill with overseas calls. Quite a common problem apparently. And easily prevented by putting a password on your phone if you think that is a good idea. Depends if you like to actually answer calls, I think.

Recently my data bill at WIND has risen - because more and more people are protecting their wifi networks, which cuts down on the opportunity for causal use of the laptop away from home. But also because using the smart phone is an easy way to locate a Car2GO. Just not a cheap way. I was seriously thinking about their latest unlimited voice, text and data for $29 a month offer (for 12 months then rises to $45). But if they cannot make it easy to pay my bill - and refuse to accept any responsibility for the problem they are well aware of - then why would I stay with them?

In any relationship based on buying a service, the customer who has a choice to switch service providers needs to feel wanted. It costs eight times more to win a new customer than retain an existing one. And existing customers are reluctant to make a fuss and put up with the inconvenience of switching. But there is a limit and I just passed mine. I am now researching the competition.

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