The Geography of Phones

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Random shots from my travels this morning. You’ll see that, while few things grow on my property, you’ll get micro gardens in the rotted pilings of a breakwater. Also, while ducks continue to be camera shy, the jelly fish are pure diva.

I’m going to talk about phones today – because they’re on my mind at the moment. I signed up for a contract with Telus before I left the West Coast 2 years ago primarily because I could get a plan that gave me all the voice/text/data I needed regardless of my location in either the US or Canada. This is important when you spend so much time border hopping.

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That plan expired last week and, since I was perfectly happy with my phone, I arranged for the plan to continue without a contract and without me needing to change my equipment. The day before the two years were up my phone started overheating. Badly. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

As a result I had to contact them again, agree to aother contract, and have a new phone sent to me. sigh

Many people on this Island use American phones through US Cellular. They are much cheaper (on a pre-paid basis) than the Canadian options. Of course they have to buy an additional $5 Canada Calls option just so they can talk to the rest of us.

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The service is not great – call quality, access to cell signals, support are all less than satisfactory. Recently these phones can’t be used in Canada more than a couple of miles from the Maine Coast. It turns out that US tourists would drive up the Maine coast, access Canadian cell towers and get charged roaming fees. So now the Cell Towers in Canada won’t give them a signal. Even if they’ve paid for that access through US Cellular.

One of the downsides to using these American phones is that they have a Maine area code – even though they live here in Canada. This causes some issues. My friends use my phone to talk to Government Departments – US phones don’t get a response.

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It’s an even bigger issue when shopping online. You can imagine the system algorithms matching addresses with area codes and getting heartburn.

I’ve been helping a young friend shop for sneakers (“Basketball is Life”). He likes my computer. Recently I turned away long enough for him to create an account with his US phone number and Canadian address. Gack!

The website he was using went into Defcon 1 and started demanding everything from new email addresses and phone numbers to blood samples. He really wanted those shoes so I reluctantly attempted to satisfy this eBay/Amazon wannabe’s appetite for more information.

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My new phone rang at 11pm the other night. It was a call from the 3rd “support” person I’d dealt with at this smug startup asking for the same information I’d already provided. They wanted more of it – their risk partner had identified “data inconsistencies”. Apparently I was expected to react with terror to the word “data”.

I wanted sleep. I told them very politely what they could do with their sneakers, their business model, and their risk algorithm. I also named 5 sites we had already used to buy the endless supply of bball shoes this kid seems to need. I said I hoped their data would sleep soundly because I certainly intended to.

They’ve sent 5 more emails demanding more addresses and phone numbers. I’m busy putting apps on my new phone – I don’t have time for their bullsh*t. 🙂

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