Friday, October 10, 2008

Caught in a web of lies

The problem with not telling the truth, as every child eventually learns while growing up, is that it is very difficult to concoct a story that stands up to scrutiny. Apparently Telus has yet to learn this childhood lesson.

Yesterday (late afternoon, 9 October 2008), the Telus "Office of the President" and I were finally able to speak. I didn't catch the young lady's name; she has a lovely Quebecois accent and her exact name eluded me.

The conversation went on and on for perhaps 20 to 30 minutes. We covered a wide range of related issues.

On the bright side, she offered to send me a mailer package so that I could send back the now-useless 595U modem for a "full refund of the price paid". I asked for confirmation that the refund would include the sales tax and she confirmed that it would. She stated that all I would need to do is include a copy of the receipt.

Fine. Thank you. But this is the third or fourth time that Telus has made this offer and I've yet to see the mailer appear in my mail box. How complicated can it be to get this underway?

She offered to allow me to rush the modem back using my own mailer to save a few days and they would refund the postage, but since she had already explained that the entire process of account credit and refund would take them 5 or 6 weeks, I didn't see the point of rushing around at my end to save a day or two when they need a month and a half to issue a simple cheque. So we agreed that she would simply send me the mailer.

I asked her if she would include clear written instructions about the refund process in the mailer, and her reaction was revealing. She blurted out, "We can't do that." before realizing that she shouldn't have said that.

This little detail appears to confirm that Telus has a strict policy of not putting some things in writing.

The real reason I was asking for written instructions is that I wouldn't put it past these people to receive the modem and then deny the refund. For this reason it would be nice to see something in writing before I send them a $300 modem with no paperwork to back it up their promise of a full refund.

We then got into quite a lengthy discussion about the basic reason behind the service cancellation. She stated that Telus was simply withdrawing the "Connect 75 Unlimited" wireless data rate plan and that was that. She said that ALL "Connect 75 Unlimited" plans would be canceled. She stated that the level of use (or overuse or abuse) didn't have anything to do with it. She stated that there is no connection whatsoever to any purported secret usage cap.

But the letter they sent to me dated 12 August 2008 (after the date of 5 August 2008, that she inferred was the start of the campaign) did not refer to any service termination - which it could, should and would have (if it were that simple). That letter simply asked me to contact Telus about our usage pattern "to avoid possible suspension of service".

So the facts simply do not fit this latest version of the corporate story.

If they were simply trying to close out all the "Connect 75 Unlimited" clients, then they could have simply sent a letter, or printed such a 30-day notice (effective from the start of the next billing cycle) on the monthly bill, or include it in the same envelope on brightly-coloured paper. It would have been clean and neat and no need for complex lies. That fact that they didn't do that reveals the true nature of the cancellation campaign.

Their whole story falls to pieces under its own weight.

Furthermore (as if we needed more evidence), this new claim about the all-encompassing and blameless scope of the cancellation campaign is directly contradicted by the statement made by Telus PR flak Johannsson (see previous post HERE).

PR flak Johannsson wrote that Telus was just dealing with a few "abusers" and that most clients were not affected by the cancellation campaign. But the "Office of the President" lady said that the 0.1% mentioned by Johannsson actually represented the percentage of the total Telus client base that were under the "Conect 75 Unlimited" wireless data rate plan.

These two claims are contradictory. Unless Telus is going to stretch the story to now claim that ALL (!) "Connect 75 Unlimited" clients are abusers. Which would again reflect more on them than on their clients.

Furthermore (as if we needed even more evidence), the Telus response to my CCTS complaint claims, without being specific, that I violated the Terms of Service. So this also contradicts this new version of the story emerging from "The Office of the President".

None of it fits. Which indicates the difficulty of making up a story that fits with all the complex details of the real-world facts. As most people learn in their childhood...

I then pointed out that (in my case) Telus had screwed-up the service termination dates, and I had never actually been provided me with a clear 30-days notice as demanded in the Terms of Service. At first she denied this, but when presented with the facts she was forced to retreat to the position that they had been struggling to get in touch with me during early-August (and that this weak and misdirected effort somehow absolves them of the requirement to provide a minimum of 30-days notice).

She said that they had tried to call me at home several times and had "always" received a busy signal. Perhaps now that we're back to dial-up Internet access it would be partially true, but not in early August when we still enjoyed our wireless EV-DO access. The honest truth is that they must not have tried very hard.

UPDATE: I just double-checked. They do in fact have my correct primary e-mail address on file, and have had so for many months (long, long before this thing started). Me? Difficult to get in touch with? I don't think so... Perhaps the real issue is the strict verbal-only policy of Telus. That's not my fault. Next time send a letter, include the notice with the monthly bill, or e-mail me. But don't claim that our land-line was busy for a week straight and you therefore couldn't contact me....that's utter BS and everyone knows it.

And her retreat to this new claim indicates their de-facto admission that they realize that they did not actually provide me with proper notice.

It's really all quite stupid on their part. They had the perfect opportunity to send a written notice on that 12-August-2008 letter, or on the next monthly invoice (with the dates adjusted to match).

It seems perfectly clear to me that the official line from Telus is being constantly adapted to try to escape from their legal and ethical responsibilities. But they've wound themselves up into a tight web of lies that are all contradicted by the facts.

It'll be interesting to see how they struggle to escape from the regulators on this entire fiasco.

I would love to have an opportunity to bring all this in front of a Regulator and/or a Judge.

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