Tag Archives: cell phone contracts

Updates: Bailouts, Cell Plans & Weed

Airline bailouts? After almost a year of mulling over any additional aid to the airlines, it appears there may be help for stranded passengers. The Federal Transportation minister (as we talked about a couple of months ago) stated that “it’s complicated” to get passengers a real refund and not just an IOU credit. Now it appears Ottawa has signaled that any financial aid would be contingent on airlines issuing actual refunds to passengers with cancelled flights. That’s great news – if Ottawa doesn’t change their mind again.

Update from February 8th: This was a Facebook Westjet ad today. Most common comment: Most looking forward to getting my money back/refunded!

Cell phone update: In November I suggested holding off on the $10 Shaw cell promotion. Their hickups hadn’t been ironed out and my prediction was that the offer was only temporary. Yup, turns out it was very temporary: Shaw cell plans are now $25 AND you need to be a Shaw customer with one of their high-end internet plans in order to get that rate. It went from a great deal to being OK if you factor in the amount of your internet costs. And if you ever move to Telus, your $25 deal is gone, too.

More weird vending machines: If you thought it was strange to have Bitcoin vending machines, here’s a new one: Colorado just rolled out their first two weed vending machines. With billions of dollars in sales, I guess it somehow makes sense. From edibles to various types of pot, insert your credit card 24-hours a day, make your selection and you’re good to go…and maybe hit the munchies vending machine as well…

Breaking Down the “Free” Phone Offers

Almost every add, from every cell carrier, comes with the promo line of getting a “free” phone. Well…not so much. What it actually comes with, if you read the fine print, is a two year locked in contract at a BIG price.

Not paying for a new phone up front has no connection to “free” over those two years. Plus, all those contracts come with BIG early termination penalties. I would never sign one of those. For me, it’s always critical to stay being a free agent!

My current carrier is FIDO. They are the 2nd tier small sister of Rodgers. Because they just sent me this “free” offer, I’ll use them as an example. All other 2nd tier carriers will be about the same. All first-tier carriers like Telus, Bell, and Rodgers will be similar, just more expensive.

My cost is $40 a month because it’s an old month-to-month plan. New customers who bring their own phone can get it at $45 a month right now. The current promotion is double the 1 gb date to 2 gb, which is plenty if you do not live on your phone with youtube or watching movies. It’s unlimited texts and talk.

You can get a $15 a month plan if you bring your own phone. It has a tiny amount of data (250mb) enough to check stocks, short google searches, the weather, or hockey scores a few times a day. It’s unlimited texts but no call minutes – so you’ll pay 50 cents a minute.

That’s the baseline: $15 to $45 for no contract plans. Now let’s add the so-called “free” phone. In FIDO’s case, their promotion is the new iPhone 11 Pro. Pay for it up front and its $1,200. To get that you must sign an XL plan at $105 or more per month for two years. Yes, it comes with extra data, but $105 vs. $45 is $60 x 24 months or $1,440 for the phone.

Do the math on any plans with any carrier and it’ll take you less than a minute to see if your free is actually free…it isn’t – anywhere from anybody. There’s no such thing! How much you want to pay is up to you and your wallet.

Last week, I bought a new (new for me) iPhone 7. It still has six months of warranty and I paid $300. THAT lets me stay a free agent for at least three more years. I saved $800 over a new one, it’s in mint condition and saves me $60 a month not having a contract. $800 up front and $60 for the next three years is a total saving of $3,000! THAT is how you win at the cell game.

Oh, and I’ve mentioned them before: I get mine out of Winnipeg from TB Cellutions. Here’s their link on eBay Canada again:


Aeroplan Sale & Cell Phone Sales

A new update on Aeroplan for the five million of us Canadians who are in the program. It turns out that your points won’t likely depreciate in value, and you won’t need to have them all cashed out next year.

The re-purchase of Aeroplan was finalized yesterday. $450 million price and assuming the ($1.9 billion) points liability the (outstanding points IF they’re all claimed…and less than 70% will be, according to Consumer Report studies). But Air Canada received $622 million from TD and another $308 million for future points. CIBC also has a card that gives you Aeroplan miles, so they kicked in $200 million and another $92 million for future points. Right now, they’re still negotiating with Amex to continue with Aeroplan.

So Air Canada paid $450 million and received over $1.2 billion. As of the purchase date, they got the whole company AND made $772 yesterday. There’ll now be a lot of competition with PC Optimum and  Esso Extra points for your business. Those two are almost immediate gratification points. A month after I signed up for Esso Extra I had a free carwash already. Aeroplan miles are more dream rewards for the long term in hoping there’ll be enough points someday way down the road for a trip to Europe.

Right after last Wednesday’s segment, the Dow dropped 660 points and this time it wasn’t President Trump’s fault, but ours. It was started by Apple announcing that iPhone sales were way down. Yesterday, Samsung announced the same thing with a 22% drop in sales.

In the U.S., as we discussed last year, there are no more two or three-year locked-in plans with a so-called free phone. You need to pay for the phone and then get a month-to-month plan. It’s increased customer satisfaction with carriers a ton and reduces your cell bill by a lot. No more being locked in for two or three years and having the almost spit on you when it comes to customer service. However, if you need to buy your phone and can’t pretend it’s ‘free’ any longer, you’ll shop around more ,and will keep your old phone an extra year or two. That’s why Apple and Samsung stock has been way down, due to less sales volume. Apple was a trillion dollar company last fall – now they’re down 40% in stock values.

It’s also why Apple started discounting the price of their phones last month! If you can’t pretend it’s ‘free,’ a thousand dollar phone is quite the shock. You can also now get an Android for under $300 and apparently the Nokia 7-1 is really inexpensive and a great phone! That trend will continue with better phones at a much lower price, and the no-contract plans will come to Canada sometime soon – so don’t be stuck in a new two or three year contract. And avoid the big marketing starting soon on 5 G phones. It’s a much faster network – way faster than your home internet. But it’ll be three years before you’ll actually have the network to use it.

Update from first January segment to try some simply your life and get rid of 100 things:

I tried the Japanese method of decluttering where you hold something in your hands and if it doesn’t bring you joy, you throw it away. So far, I’ve thrown out all vegetables, my Amex bill, the scale and a mirror!

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

Four Ways to Keep Money in YOUR Pocket

A large part of our weekly tips involves keeping money in your pocket. So, today, here are four ways to do just that:

Are you interested in getting something done for cheap? These days, what do you actually get for five bucks? Well, there is a very cool new website called fiverr.com. For five dollars, there are a huge number of people who will do anything from critique your resume, to setting up and posting a You Tube video for someone’s birthday, or will build a one-page web site for you. The list of what’s available is endless, and there is also a section for you to post what you want done for five dollars, that someone can choose to take on. Check it out.

Cell phone two or three-year contracts are a really bad financial trap, that’s something we’ve talked about before. In the last quarter, 75% of Americans who got a new cell, or had their contract come up, did NOT sign for another contract, but went to a monthly plan. THAT is exciting, and a wave that will come to Canada with the new players now in the market. With no contract, you are not stuck for three years.

That is exactly why the I-phone is not the biggest seller, not even the 2nd biggest seller, because the only way to get one is to be locked into a contract! Many Blackberry and Google phones don’t handcuff you. Bet Apple isn’t that happy, either.

The reason the big companies want to hook you into a three year contract is that they are afraid. They are afraid that you’ll find a better deal, better service, or just afraid to compete in the marketplace. When the carriers have you hooked, it no longer matters that they’re not the best, cheapest, or whatever the issue, because you’re not going anywhere! I don’t use a cell much and loaded $100 on my pre-paid cell. It lasts me a year – that’s $8 a month!

Wireless cards for laptops are a great convenience. It means you can literally get on the internet anywhere, anytime. They’re reasonably inexpensive – on the surface. But be careful and watch the traps: A caller on the Clark Howard show had a $62,000 data bill. What did he do? He downloaded the movie Wally, for 35 minutes while vacationing with his kids in Mexico. The cell phone company who sold him the plan reduced it to $17,000. Isn’t that a deal? A $17,000 bill so his kids could watch a movie download.

The internet access is charged by megabyte, not by minute, if you do not have an unlimited use plan. Even then, check that you are not paying roaming charges when you are out of your home area. You’ll have to ask, because it’s not something they’ll volunteer to tell you when purchasing the plan.

An equally expensive story was that of a U.S. visitor using his Blackberry internet for 16 minutes at the Toronto airport and getting a $5,000 bill! Be careful and ask first!

Two University professors recently did a study that showed we spend more at Costco than we intended. Gee, we needed a study for that? Yes, it’s hard to get out of Costco for under $100. The way I do it, is to NEVER take a cart. When my arms get full, I stop buying more stuff, or change my priorities. No wonder that the average Costco store does $134 million in volume a year! But the good news is that their mark-up is always 14%, and Costco, on things like televisions, doubles the warranty period from one to two years. I recently bought my LCD using my Amex card, which also doubles the warranty. So I may have just turned a one-year warranty into four years. I’m not sure if the double Costco warranty doubles again with my Amex – and I hope I don’t have to find out.

Some Updates and Insights For Your Wallet

Every Wednesday we spend a few minutes looking out for your wallet. Today, I wanted to share a few updates, and some consumer stories that we should all be aware of.

You and I know that money certainly does talk. Unfortunately, for most of us, it just says goodbye.

Since May last year, we’ve talked about waiting before getting stuck with another three year cell phone contract. I hope you listened, as a new national cell phone provider called Wind is now blowing across the country, a few cities a month. Their unlimited plans are $45 and not the rip-off system access fee. Hang in there for a while longer, because competition will keep driving prices down, and your wallet will thank you. Last year, I told you that I got rid of my $35 plan for a pay as you go package. I just loaded $100 on my phone, so my cost per month is now under $9!

Do you want to volunteer to get robbed? I didn’t think so – but let me explain:
All kinds of new and really popular applications for iPhones, Facebook, and the likes let you share with people where you are. But thieves also love it. All they need to do is see where you are, and it’ll tell them exactly how much time they have to rob your home. There’s a great web site to explain it to you called: pleaserobme.com
Two of these programs are Four Square and Bright Kite. It’ll notify people that you’ve just checked in to Safeway Rutland, for instance. That’ll mean you’ll be away from home for, what? An hour or so? If you’ve just checked in to the Coast Hotel in Vancouver, they’ve got a day, at least.

On Facebook, it’s even simpler. What’s greater and more current than posting some pictures while you’re on holidays? It may seem like a great idea, but thieves know you’re in Mexico and certainly not at home. Never post your pictures until you get back.
With a bunch of Provinces and Federal Budget last week, I found a great quote that certainly applies today: “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.”—That came from Cicero, a Roman philosopher in 43 BC. You’d think in over 2,000 years we’d have learned something? Apparently not…

A quick update on Arizona: For over two years now, I’ve been saying I want to buy an investment property in Phoenix. I also keep saying wait a little longer, and then longer, and then wait some more. Well, I can now say: wait a little longer. According to Moody’s Economy.com the Phoenix market may drop another 23% in 2010. Not to mention rental rates are plummeting as well. So it’s another year of hurry up and wait.

Just because the U.S. media has moved on to new and sexier stories, doesn’t mean the foreclosure problems in the US are solved, or even getting much better: In a four day foreclosure auction in Detroit last month, there were 9,000 homes on the auction block. But get this: 80% of them didn’t even get an opening minimum bid of $500! Yes, you could have purchased over 7,000 homes for $500 each! Sure, it’s Detroit. But that’s depressing to think about.