I had a meeting the other day with a carrier to go over their new “bundled plans” and I was amazed to see the thoroughly complex way these plans were being presented.
To be fair, most of the plans are now including unlimited local minutes and quite surprisingly, unlimited SMS/MMS within Canada. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. These features alone are indeed useful, especially if you never have to make any LD calls or travel anywhere. However if you do like communicating outside of your home city, I’ve listed below the general plans that the carrier offers:
Option 1: The Diet Plan
This bundle includes 100 Canadian LD minutes and 1GB of domestic data. This might be acceptable for a very minimal user that watches their usage, however 1GB of domestic data doesn’t go far these days. To the carrier’s credit, they do give the option to pool the data together – another great step in the right direction. I’m a huge fan of pooling. Let’s say there is a user that uses more than 100 LD minutes, what does one do then?
Option 2: The Double-Edged Sword Plan
For a small increase, bundle 2 includes the option of either 500 LD minutes (within Canada and from Canada to the US) OR Unlimited Canadian LD minutes. Wait, what? Why either or? Now their customer just needs to determine which of their users makes calls to the US and whether they make enough calls to warrant the 500 minutes. Alternatively, if users use a ton of Canadian LD, they have no recourse but to bite the billing bullet if they call the US.
Disclaimer: This bundle also includes 3GB of domestic data, which is closer to where I’d want to see the data limit. You can also pool this data, but unfortunately it doesn’t pool with the previous bundle! Not only does it not pool with the previous bundle but the carrier requires it to be on a completely separate account. A separate account means a separate invoice. Maybe two invoices doesn’t bother you, or maybe it’s just doubled your workload, either way I don’t think the carrier cares. Additionally, these separate accounts mean that the data pool will now be cut in half. If there are users that don’t use any LD, but do use over 1GB of domestic data, they will likely need to be upgraded to take advantage of the bigger data pool. What about those users that use a ton of North American LD? Well, they have another bundle for that!
Option 3: The “I Feel Bloated and Confused” Plan
Bundle 3 is more money of course and also requires another additional account. Bundle 3 does include unlimited LD within Canada and from Canada to the US. Finally – an unlimited option for Canada to the US! It also includes 5GB of domestic data, which is nice, but might be a slight overkill and unnecessary for most users. There is also the option to forego the 5GB and choose 1GB of North American Data! Sounds pretty good right? While 1GB of North American data sounds great, we arrive back at the same issue: 1GB of data doesn’t go far these days. What makes this plan particularly horrifying is that now all of your data (domestic and US) is considered roaming data. This means that if a user doesn’t do any travelling but uses more than 1GB – they will be billed as if they were travelling. All the travel cost without the tan! This 1GB also does not pool, no matter how much we might want it to. Because the 1GB doesn’t pool, it means another new account! How many accounts are we up to now? Four?
Option 4: The Ferrari Plan
If you want the top-of-the-line bundle, be prepared to pay for it. The last bundle includes unlimited LD within Canada and from Canada to the US again, a fixed amount of SMS/MMS to Canada while Roaming in the US, a fixed amount of US voice roaming minutes and 1GB of North American Data again. Wait, why didn’t the North American data increase? Because the carrier assumes that no one is going to need more than 1GB if they’re travelling to the US. And no Bundle 4 doesn’t pool.
So those are the options. Now all a customer has to do is examine each and every one of their users and determine the following:
- Average usage and cost for the last few months for:
- Domestic data
- Roaming data
- Canadian LD
- LD from Canada to the US
- US roaming voice
- US roaming texts
- Compare all of the data listed above and deduce where upgrades to a more expensive bundle would be beneficial.
- Which bundle and additional plan options within that bundle make sense for each user.
- How many accounts they want to have when all is said and done.
- (And finally) whether or not they want to pool the data.
The end result is the client is going to choose the more expensive bundle just to be safe, and this is exactly what the carrier wants.
Doesn’t it seem like there should be an easier way? What about data plans that pool together on the same account regardless of size or bundle? What about Unlimited North American LD features sold separately so that users can add them as needed? What about North American roaming data that pools together with better options than a simple 1GB? Too good to be true? Hardly. The US has been offering these options for years now and it’s about time that Canadian carriers follow suit.
By Kevin Corlis.