Home > Contemplations > Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill Is Coming Back On CBC’s Marketplace – With Really Crappy Entries This Time!

Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill Is Coming Back On CBC’s Marketplace – With Really Crappy Entries This Time!

In 2010, the Canadian cellphone industry was looked into by CBC-TV’s Friday night show “Marketplace”. The show, which bills itself as a consumer watchdog, took entries from people across Canada looking for “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill”. The three finalists each had used their phones the way they did because they were each told one thing by a cell phone company and really another was true. As such, they each racked up huge bills and were trying to rectify the issue and each of the companies were not being very helpful about the situations. In my opinion, each of these people had a valid reason why they were victims of the cellular providers and shouldn’t have to pay their bills. To see the video of the episode (it may be Canada only) click here.

Well, this Friday, March 11 at 8pm in every locale across Canada (except Newfoundland where it will be on at 8:30pm) CBC’s Marketplace is doing a “sequel” to Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill and they are once again looking for the worst cellphone bill. You can see a preview to the episode here. On the same page I have linked for the preview (and in the video itself) of the show they mention a couple of details of two of the people who will be featured. I have copy/pasted it below:

Co-host Tom Harrington looks into some incredible cases, including a woman being asked to pay a cancellation fee even though she’s being deported, and an octogenarian war veteran who’s out of pocket because his minutes expired.


Co-Host Tom Harrington of Marketplace CBC Canada's Worst Cell Phone Bill

They call these two “incredible cases”? Really? I honestly hope there is more to the story for each of them because – and I may come off as cold-hearted for saying this – from my perspective it is completely the fault of the two people described as to their respective predicaments.

Let’s look at the first person mentioned. A lady who is being deported from the country and being asked to pay a cancellation fee: The only thing that the woman can use to argue against the cellular provider would be if she managed to sign the contract without any credit check in the first place and as such shouldn’t have been able to sign up. Other than that, I am going to assume that she wants to stop paying the contract because she will no longer be in Canada after she is deported from the country. I think it is also fair to assume that the cellular provider is not forcing her to cancel the contract she is in and would be more than happy to allow her to continue to pay her monthly fees. Heck, they’d probably be even happier if she used the phone wherever she is being deported to and still continued to pay her monthly fees complete with astronomical roaming charges. Aside from that, I have no sympathy for her at this point. It is not the carriers fault that she did something illegal or was in this country illegally. Why should she be allowed out of her cell contract because she is being deported?

I assume this man is Al Nelman featured in the preview for Canada's Worst Cellphone Bill The Sequel


Then there’s the second person mentioned – and here I am going to give all y’all a spoiler warning because his story already appeared in the Windsor Star, his name is Al Nelman and he’s with Virgin Mobile. Al’s plight is he is an “octogenarian war veteran who’s out of pocket because his minutes expired.” First off CBC Marketplace, that sentence contains a fallacy if I ever heard one. You are trying to appeal to our emotion by saying he is an octogenarian and saying he is a war hero. I completely agree we should all be thanking him every day and senior citizens in general are to be treated with respect, HOWEVER, it has no bearing on the situation here. Mr. Nelman keeps his cell phone with him for emergencies and has it on a pay-as-you-go plan which requires him to put money on it once a month or he loses all the money he has in the account built up from previous months. The issue he faces is that he missed his payment date and as such his money is gone from his account.

I understand he is living on a fixed income and I felt terrible for him about his predicament until I read his thoughts as described in the Windsor Star article. Virgin’s side of the story is that he can opt to have prepayments debited directly from his bank account and that when his account is about to expire they send him a text message reminder. Al Nelman’s response to that is that “no corporation is ever going to access his bank account, and he still doesn’t know what a text message is.

I am sorry he doesn’t know what a text message is, I really am. But if he wants the independence he clearly desires then he is going to have to pay the price for it – both literally and figuratively. He can mark the date on his calendar if this is a monthly thing. If he is getting monthly checks from the government or monthly direct deposits from the government then he can remember whenever the check comes in he should go out and put money into his pay-as-you-go account. Or, he could ask his family – assuming he has any around – to add him to their family plan. But to say “I forgot to pay and it isn’t my fault because I am over 80 and I refuse to learn one of the most basic features of my cell phone as well as don’t trust you evil corporations to be paid out of my bank account once a month”. I am sorry sir, but with all due respect, if that’s the stance you take then there is no reason (other than public relations because they are now in the paper and about to be on national television) for Virgin Mobile to give in to your demands and give you the money back. It stinks and its heartless but its true. The cost of independence is that we have to own up to our own mistakes. This is no one’s fault but your own.

Saying that this is Virgin Mobile’s problem/fault and not Mr Nelman’s means that essentially no senior citizen – or any citizen really – should ever be responsible to make a payment on time.

I really, really hope there is more to both stories than what we already know about them and that these two people were not considered for Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill. I honestly don’t even think, with the information I currently have about them and their bills, that they deserve to even have been mentioned on the show.

  1. March 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm



    • March 16, 2011 at 12:07 am

      I’m going to assume that post you linked is a story of woe re: you & Virgin. I’m sorry to hear you had problems, I’ll read your post soontime but I hope it all works (worked?) out.

      • March 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

        VIRGIN MOBILE CANNOT KEEP IT’S PROMISES TO SERVE IT’S CUSTOMER PROPERLY EVEN. Imagine this weeks later after I had cancelled my cell phone they have yet even to send me in the mail a final bill statement of all things!


      • March 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

        Maybe you can get them to email you the bill if you need it so urgently. As long as they’re not charging you money on your bank account/credit card and have cancelled the service who cares when the bill comes in the mail?

  2. March 31, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Dan Levy :Maybe you can get them to email you the bill if you need it so urgently. As long as they’re not charging you money on your bank account/credit card and have cancelled the service who cares when the bill comes in the mail?

    Bell and Rogers have always been bad, but virgin is always just as bad too..

    VIRGIN MOBILE CANNOT KEEP IT’S PROMISES TO SERVE IT’S CUSTOMER PROPERLY EVEN. Virgin merely does its own thing. Imagine this weeks later after I had even cancelled my Virgin cell phone they have yet even to send me in the mail a final accurate bill statement of all things! Incompetent, pretentious, worst kind of services.. Virgin. They Virgin now cannot even email me an update balance statement for my review.. to insure they had cancelled the phone on the date that I had requested instead I do get another typical buck passing from their customer service number stating that this is a another department fault.. Virgin Mobile wants me to even next call back and talk to the Virgin accounting department, to the Virgin Billing department as well and now why do they bother even having a pretentious, useless and toothless Virgin customer relationship department for the customers to phone to? Why??? I do even get a different version of reality everytime I talk to another Virgin representaive.. and they ask me not to put it in writing but to phone them so why is that? they the bad employees they do want no record of it.. no writen record off the real customer abuse. Dream on and Virgin where is my updated balance statement that i had asked for still too?


    • April 2, 2011 at 1:20 am

      I get what you’re saying but you are just essentially repeating your previous statement without fully answering my question above. You are basically doing the exact same thing to me in this conversation as you claim Virgin Mobile is doing to you.

      I understand you requested a copy of the bill, I get it. But that wasn’t what I asked about in my previous comment. As I said in my previous comment (which you ironically copy/pasted into your own reply and then didn’t bother to fully address) who cares if Virgin isn’t sending you the final bill? Do you need it for tax purposes? You still never answered why you need that bill so badly – is it because you are a customer and are demanding it therefore you should get it?

      Have you tried going onto Virgin’s website and looking at your account online? It seems they give you full access to your E-Bill online at (English) http://www.virginmobile.ca/en/support/waystopay-viewyourbill.html (French) http://www.virginmobile.ca/fr/support/waystopay-viewyourbill.html They even have helpful instructions there to tell you what each aspect of the bill means.

      As an aside are you calling the English or French department? I see on your blog you said you went to school in Montreal which is why I assume you speak French.

      I also hate to say it but honestly if when you speak English it comes out the same as when you write it in terms of grammar and sentence structure (or lack thereof) then I think that is a major part of the problem. As it is I can barely understand what you’re writing and have to read it a few times each time you write a comment (same goes for what you wrote on your own blog about the situation). I am a native English speaker and have always scored extremely high any time my verbal skills have been tested so I am fairly certain the problem with me understand you isn’t on my end. If you are a fluent French speaker maybe you should speak to the French customer service reps.

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