29 days into my love affair with an unlocked Treo and I have discovered why it’s nice not to be married to any one cell phone carrier. I made the leap into wireless, thinking that Fido’s unlimited data plan offered a net; they’ve since pulled the plan, though existing subscribers are grandfathered in — for now. One of Fido’s customer service reps told me today that Fido is planning to scrap its unlimited plan altogether once it migrates to the Rogers network as of September 15th.

I’ve written to Fido, asking them to make good on the access plan I counted on when I bought my Treo. If nice Mark of Fido customer service had the story right, then other Fido customers may want to start whining, barking or growling to make sure they keep the unlimited data plan that they have now.

I’ll be sure to post news of Fido’s response. I’m hoping for a happy outcome but failing that will post details on what’s available in terms of alternative data plans with other Canadian carriers (suggestions more than welcome).

Here’s my letter; contact information included for the benefit of other would-be letter writers:

August 27, 2005

Formal Complaints
800 Rue de la Gaucheterie
Suite 400
Montreal, PQ
H5A 1K3

fax: 514.937.2554

To the Formal Complaints department:

I am writing to request that you switch me to your unlimited data plan at a rate of $50 per month. I received a verbal commitment from one of your representatives that this plan would be available, and ask you to make good on that commitment.

On July 30 I purchased an unlocked Treo 650 while in the United States, at a cost of $600 US. I purchased this Treo after extensive research on different pda/phone options, and went to the trouble to purchase an unlocked phone during a US visit so that I could stick with Fido. I wanted to stay with Fido because I wanted to keep my Fido number, and because of your unlimited data plan. I know the easiest option would have been to buy your hiptop, but I had had the opportunity to review a hiptop for an article I wrote last winter, and while I was very impressed by it, my experience had convinced me it wasn’t the right device for my needs.

I returned to Vancouver after purchasing the Treo and immediately called to activate my data plan. The Fido representative I spoke with suggested that I start with the 5MB/$25 plan and see whether that met my needs, advising that I could always upgrade to the unlimited plan if my usage warranted it, and that I should simply call after reviewing my first bill on the wireless plan, since that would catch my usage halfway into a monthlong cycle, before I racked up major overages.

I received my first bill on this plan yesterday, and since I had a little over $36 in excess data charges, called today to upgrade to the unlimited plan. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that the plan was no longer available. I spoke with two people in your customer relations department, one of whom had little interest in trying to help me get grandfathered into the unlimited plan (as I understand you have done for people already on the plan – I suppose they were lucky enough to be advised to start with the unlimited plan and work down). Then I was very fortunate to speak with a terrific representative named Mark, who took some time to investigate the possibilities before advising me that the only thing he could do was to reverse that initial $36 in overages.

While I certainly appreciate Mark’s efforts to accommodate me on this first bill, that doesn’t begin to address the cost that I have incurred thanks to your precipitous change in data plans. I did a lot of research (six months!) before making my purchase, and would not have invested in a Treo if it were not for Fido’s unlimited data plan. (I wouldn’t have purchased a hiptop, either; I think I probably would have waited for the implementation of the CRTC decision allowing people to move their cell phone numbers to new carriers, anticipating new phone/pda and data options at that time.)

Thanks to your unannounced change in plans, I am now out-of-pocket some $720 Canadian for this device, not to mention the time I have invested in reorganizing all of my workflow in order to make the most of the Treo. (If you think I’m being dramatic, you can get a sense of how much time I’ve put into this transition by visiting http://alexandrasaamuel.com/categories/treo/).

Mark mentioned that your upcoming transition to the Rogers system may result in the elimination of your unlimited data plan, which makes me all the more anxious to resolve this situation. At this point the only acceptable resolution is for you to either grandfather me into your unlimited data plan, or for you to waive any excess data charges for at least the next twenty-four months – the minimum amount of time I would expect to use a device that represents such a significant investment.

Since I have been tracking my Treo adventures on my blog, and since some of my fellow bloggers will be interested in the future of your unlimited data plan, I am posting a copy of this letter on my blog at http://alexandrasaamuel.com/archive/fido-complaint/

Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.