2008-08-30

Upgrading a Pay-as-You-Go Fido Account to an iPhone 3-Year Contract: Nontrivial

There's probably nothing too original at this point about someone blogging about problems buying a new phone from Fido, but, well, this particular problem, I haven't seen mentioned yet.

Walked up to a Fido booth tonight thinking I'd buy a new phone (not important which one for this story, but gee, I think you can take a guess). "In and out in 15 minutes", thought I. Ha. I've got to say though, the employees there, for all their trouble in getting things done, tried really hard and were so patient on the phone with the mothership (yes, the employees get put on hold for an hour too) that I really can't blame them at all.

I'm with Fido on a Pay-as-You-Go plan (prepaid airtime), and since I've been a customer for a while I have a bunch of rebate dollars (called FidoDollars) usable as credit towards new phones. Problem is, you can't walk into a Fido store and get your prepaid account converted to a 3-year contract while keeping the same phone number and already accumulated airtime credit. Can't be done, no matter how long the poor salespeople stay on hold with the customer service center trying to make it happen.

There are two main options available if you're already a Fido customer on Pay-as-You-Go, neither of them particularly appealing:

  • Buy the JesusPhone(TM) from the Fido store, have them activate it on a new phone number with a new account on a 3-year contract. You lose your existing phone number (well, it actually stays active on your old phone, but what use is that?) and get a new one. You can't use FidoDollars credit to help pay for the new phone, and you'll lose all your prepaid airtime when it expires. They have absolutely no way to use your FidoDollars or transfer your prepaid airtime credit.

  • Have the Fido store order a JesusPhone(TM) (by phone, which takes over 30 minutes for some reason) for you from the customer service center. You can keep your phone number and use your FidoDollars to help pay for the new phone, and also any unused prepaid airtime will be credited to your monthly bill. Perfect, except they'll start billing you your monthly contract BEFORE you receive the new phone, and as the sales girl explained, you'll then have to call customer service when you do get the new phone up and running and get them to credit a pro-rated portion of the month. Also, it takes ~10-12 days and you have to pay the 250$ charge cash on delivery when you receive the new phone. Finally, to pour MORE salt on that wound, it won't even work out of the box because you must then drive back to the Fido store and have them transfer the phone number from your old SIM to your new SIM. But the cherry on the sundae is reserved for the Fido employees: as I learned, they don't make any commission on this sale even after working for an hour and a half trying to sort it out and spending an hour on the phone, because it's ultimately completed as a phone order.

How nice. I went with the second option. I'm expecting a package, for which I have no tracking number, to show up in around 10 days, with cash-on-delivery. Sweet.

For the record, the Fido employees agreed this was completely ridiculous, they're just powerless to do anything about it.

I leave you with this piece of news, however: the voice plan I signed up for is a new plan just introduced this week (not yet advertised on their site), and it's fantastic: 17.50$ a month for 200 daytime minutes + unlimited evenings and weekends. I think this is the cheapest voice plan I've ever seen - add 30$ for 6GB of data and you're paying only 47.50$ + fees per month, which is actually really decent. Looking on their website, there's no plan anywhere even close to that cheap that offers unlimited evenings and weekends, so this is a really great deal, I suppose it's a time-limited promotional offer, but I've got it locked in for 3 years now.

2008-08-24

Wake-up Call for the Foodie

Or: I fail at omnivorism, apparently.

I know how much everyone hates blog memes that rely on propagating lists, but this one has merit as a device to instill humility in this foodie's psyche and renew my drive for exploration and experimentation. I'm talking, of course, about the Very Good Taste Omnivore's Hundred, a list of 100 foods that's making the rounds right now, billed as a collection of meals any self-respecting omnivore must have tried at least once.

Why am I calling this a wake-up call? Because I just went through the exercise and scored a rather pathetic 56%, forcing me to realize just how little I've really experienced. Try it yourself.

Here are the instructions from the original post:
* Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
* Bold all the items you've eaten.
* Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
* Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

I'm crossing out Whole insects, Fugu, and Roadkill, so I'm really aiming for a score out of 97. Oh, and the insects thing is probably negotiable after a couple of drinks. I did my counting on Google Spreadsheets, so the following should get automatically updated whenever I check off something new.



Update: ah of course, the iframe won't show up in RSS readers. You have to click to go to the real page.

Kimchi

I just want to post a pointer to Ron Eade's recent blog entry about making kimchi at home. A quick perusal of the instructions reveal it's a fairly involved multi-step process, but overall it still seems simpler than I'd ever imagined.


I buy my kimchi at 168 Market on Somerset, but they seem to only have a single variety and it's not quite as good as what they serve at, say, Seoul House. I've asked around and people seem to only be aware of 168 Market as a source, so perhaps I should try making my own someday - I'd just have to massively scale down the quantities from Mr Eade's typical batch size!

2008-08-13

What exactly are Dell and Costco selling here?


Just got a weird little something in the mailbox: a Costco marketing email drew my attention with a rather unusual-looking picture of some Dell machines. I clicked on to the website:

What's Costco Selling?

Hmm, that desktop image sure seems familiar, doesn't it?

dell2

Perfect match! Who wants a Dell XPS with OSX? Maybe this is the Creative-Commons-licensed version of Apple's famous desktop image? ;-)

2008-08-07

2008-08-03

Visa Desjardins' fraud detection

Visa Desjardins has, for the second time in as many months, deemed some of my account activity suspicious. Since they're on the hook, financially, for unauthorized transactions I can understand them having a certain bias towards prudence, but in both cases when I spoke to a CSR, the reason stated was quite vague ("this activity doesn't fit your account's pattern").

I would love to learn (out of personal interest, really, I'm not complaining!) about the decision rules or heuristics that apply here considering the two suspicious charges that were delayed this weekend.

The first is a 25$ renewal of my Flickr Pro account, charged by Yahoo. The CSR said that getting a charge from an online service provider was flagged. Never mind that I've got monthly credit-card charges from my ISP for Internet access, and from rsync.net for storage space, and that my account has, in the past, seen charges from a large gaggle of other online sellers.

The second is even more comical: it's a charge from a gas station in Kanata.


The green placemark is the Esso station where I always fill up, it's at the corner of Solandt and March in Kanata, right next to the office. It was closed this week, so I went to the Shell station instead (the red placemark) 1200 meters away. That got me flagged. Really.

2008-08-02

Good Sentences

From The Fishbowl:

In the news this morning, US Department of Homeland Security regulations allow them to confiscate laptops at the border, or duplicate any data, without any suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the laptop’s owner.

It’s a very timely move by the DHS. You never know when someone might invent a global, unregulated data network that could allow evildoers to entirely bypass such checkpoints, making them nothing more than a sham way for border police to rake through people’s private data and copy their mp3 collections.
[...]


The scary thing is I don't really see a way to defend against this. Even if you take the nuclear option and wipe everything, putting it online, and cross the border with a squeaky-clean laptop, there's still a chance your hardware gets confiscated. I wonder if travel insurance would cover seizure of hardware by foreign customs?