Thursday, December 29, 2011

iCaved for an iPhone

My cell phone contract was due for renewal in January. My wife's has been expired for a year or two, but she had been waiting for mine to expire in case we could get some kind of deal.

She had been wanting a smart phone for a while. I had one for 3 years, and HTC Touch Diamond, that I've been cursing at for 2 years. I swore I'd never get another touch-screen phone. They're fun for anything but using as a phone. As a phone, they're slow and awkward. Or at least mine was. Probably because it was using an older Windows Mobile as the operating system.

I looked around at some Android options. The touch-screen/keypad combos. I was leaning heavily to those that were free with a contract. Nothing really stood out with my carrier, Telus.

I've always thought that Apple products were overpriced, so the iPhone wasn't even a consideration. At first. But I have an iPod Nano that I won years ago, and I use iTunes to sync my music. If I had an iPhone, I could use it for my music, and as a phone, and to run some apps that I couldn't find on the Android. But it was a touch-screen only phone. And it was by Apple. And it wasn't free.

The upgrade price for a 16GB iPhone 4S was $160, and if I got one, I'd have to get my wife the same. It only made sense to not have to learn two phones to do stuff. I could go for the 4 or the 3GS which were cheaper and also free, but considering the phone would have to last at least 3 years for us, it didn't make sense to get the older technology. I suppose the 4S will be at least two versions old by the end of a 3 year contract.

I Tweeted questions out on the net to see what owners of iPhones had to say about their phone. What they liked and disliked about it. What the battery life was like. Everyone liked their phone and didn't really have anything negative to say about them.

After a little debate with my wife over pros and cons, we decided that we'd get the iPhone 4S. It wasn't free, but it did do everything we wanted it to do and that's imporant when you're "stuck" with it for 3 years. She has always leaned toward a Blackberry because many of her friends have or had one, but I don't think it mattered too much since I was paying for them. :)

I did a little web researching and found that the 3 big carriers, Telus, Rogers, and Bell all offer pretty much the same things at the same prices. Whatever happened to competition?

My wife called up Telus last Friday to see what kind of deal we could get to stay with them, over switching to the competition. We've been with Telus since they were ClearNet (14-15 years?) and we've never really had much trouble with them.

As soon as she explained to the rep why she was calling, she was transferred to someone who could make it happen. Without any trouble at all, she got them to throw in Call Display, Free Evenings and Weekends (after 6pm instead of 9pm), and waive the $25 activation fee. Plus, without any hassle, she got them to add that to my account as well to save me a call. She then called the Telus store at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre to make sure they had a white and a black iPhone 4S in stock. They did, and they put them aside for us.

We stopped by there later that evening and I have to say it was a very pleasant experience.

We were greeted almost immediately when we arrived. My wife explained why we were there and the rep went to find the person my wife spoke with on the phone, Mohamed. Minutes later, he came out from the back with both phones on-hand and escorted us to a quieter area at the back of the store to assist us.

While we were talking with him, my wife asked about the $50 accessory credit that the store offered for new phone purchases. He explained that it was only for new customers, but suggested that we could always call Telus and see if they'd offer us a similar credit. While he processed the paper work, my wife called them on her cell phone. Oddly enough, she spent more time on hold with this particular call than she did when she called from home.

While she was on hold, Mohamed explained the AppleCare Protection Plan. It was around $80, per phone, but gave us coverage for 2 years and a one-time replacement if the screen got broken. That was my biggest fear with the iPhone. I had dropped my old HTC two or three times in the past, and it survived, but the iPhone is glass. We agreed to buy the two plans and after the fact, Mohamed said he'd knock 20% off each one of those as well. Who discounts something after you agree to buy it? :)

My wife finally got through to someone on the phone and Telus said they couldn't give us an additional credit for the "accessories" since we already got credited for some things. Not a huge deal because Mohamed had already said he'd discount accessories 20% for us which was better than nothing.

In the end, we got the two phones, two AppleCare plans and two Otterbox cases. And he also put two additional reusable Telus shopping bags into our bag for fun. All in all, a very enjoyable experience. Mohamed wasn't pushy. It never once felt like he was trying to sell us something we didn't want. He was friendly and joked with our daughter while we waited. Above all, he was patient with us, answering every question we had, and didn't seem to mind waiting while my wife was on the phone with Telus to try and get us the accessory credit. He even spent time showing us the basics of using our new phones.

Yeh, we spent way more than we had originally planned, and it is touch-screen only, which I swore I'd never buy, but after a few days of playing with this phone and the 57 apps I've installed on it :) I'd have to say that it is worth it. The touch-screen does take a little getting used to, but it works way better than my old HTC Touch Diamond.

Kudos to Telus and their store reps, in particular Mohamed.

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