A Money Coach in Canada

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Usually I post something fun on Fridays. This is a bit different — a support for a really cool friend of mine, Stephanie who is having no fun at all with Telus.   I’m no “Olson on your side” but this story is abysmal.  Here she goes:

Steph’s Telus Boycott

11:05am Today
I have worked in customer service for many years and find it paramount to the retention of business that will allow a company to develop and flourish. Unfortunately, many organizations have become such large monopolies that they are able to disregard this important facet of business because they are in the financial position of being able to not rely on the individual consumer. I have learned recently that Telus is one such company, and this is my story of why I am boycotting them.

August, 2007:

I set up Telus internet and home phone at my old apartment. I do not want a contract as I know we are moving in December and I will be bundling all my services together elsewhere. I speak to a very nice gentleman who persuades me to stay at Telus. He offers me a free computer if I sign up for high speed internet for 3 years. As I do not need another desktop computer, I decline. I mention that I am currently looking at purchasing a laptop for work/school. He says that the deal would still be a good way to go because I can pay $300 to upgrade to a laptop. Well, I need internet anyway and $300 is a good deal for a laptop so I say that I will consider it. I am told: It is a top-of-the-line computer, runs Windows Vista, comes with Internet Explorer, the MS Office Package, all the memory I could ever need. Just a great machine, great deal. So I agree. I am instructed to go online to redeem my computer. Turns out, the computer is actually $399. Still, a good deal for a laptop so that’s okay. As I am going through the redeeming process, it offers me a memory upgrade that it says it “Highly Recommends” so I pay extra for that. Give my credit card details to pay for it and off we go.

September 2007

I receive my new computer. And my memory. Separately. I call Telus and am told that the memory has to be installed but that I am not to do it myself as if I open the cover, it will void my warranty. I must take it to a Lenovo certified dealer, of which there are few. In the meantime, I start up the computer. 15 minutes later, it turns on. It takes me several hours to open up the programs and look around the computer. It runs so slowly that it takes the better part of an hour just to open all the “start up programs” that Vista has. I keep trying to use it but it takes so long to do anything, I call Lenovo. I am told to get the memory installed and given a few settings to change to make it run faster. I change the settings, there is no difference. Spend my Saturday tracking a Lenovo dealer down, take in the computer, pay to have the memory put in and head home.

October through December, 2007

Continue to fight with computer as even though the extra 1 GB of memory I have had installed seems to make no difference to getting the computer to run. Now Internet Explorer has stopped working so I cannot get online. Also, the MS Office Package I was told about turns out to be a “free trial” and I will have to pay to keep it permanently. I continue to try the trouble shooting tips to get the computer to run.

January, 2008

We have moved into our new apartment and have our internet set up there. Once again, I contact Telus about the laptop. I inquire about the “free trial” of MS Office when I was told this was part of the package deal. I am told I must have just been given wrong information. There is nothing they can do. I also ask what to do about the computer because it is running so slowly that I can’t use it at all. I’m told to call Lenovo. Lenovo tells me that they can try to help me, but only if I pay for service.

February, 2008

I write a complaint letter to Telus regarding the computer through their website. I state clearly in the letter that I would like someone to call me back to discuss what is going on with the computer.

March, 2008

Having not heard back from Telus, I contact them by telephone. I get through to an agent after a long wait and explain the situation. I mention that I have already written in about this, and am told that they don’t really respond to feedback written in through the website. I go through the whole story again and am told, once again, that I should talk to Lenovo. I mention that I have already spent enough money and don’t intend to pay to ask questions to Lenovo. I am told by Telus that Lenovo will not charge me. I am told that he knows there are problems with these computers, but he doesn’t know how to help.

I contact Lenovo. Three times. I finally get an agent that seems to know what he is talking about. He says he is based in Atlanta and doesn’t know anything about Telus specifically, but that just he personally gets 10-20 calls PER DAY about this machine and the promotion. He says that I won’t be charged for service, but that Telus was also wrong in telling me that I am not allowed to put the memory in myself, so I wasted money there. He goes through some trouble shooting with me, but I say I have tried it all before and it is so slow that when I move the mouse I have to wait 5 minutes before it even moves on the screen. It is a useless paperweight. He finally says that he will level with me and says that Telus bought a load of these machines totally stripped down and they are not good machines. He said that they run windows Vista, but don’t hold enough memory to actually operate Vista so it will never operate properly. He said that I can downgrade to Windows XP, but that I will have to go out and purchase it. More money to spend. He also says that he will send me recovery CDs to see if that will help, but doesn’t think it will do very much. He said that my only real option is to downgrade to XP and keep increasing the memory as much as I can but that it will never run quickly, it’s just not a good machine. He says if it was him, he might just wash his hands of it.

April, 2008

I contact Telus again. I tell them about my conversation with Lenovo and that I want to send the computer back and get my money back. I am told that Lenovo shouldn’t have “sold out” Telus like that and they will be in contact with Lenovo. I don’t know how this is a resolution to my problem. For at least the tenth time, I explain all the problems with the computer. I am told I will be transferred to a manager. After 18 minutes on hold, I go to a manager. I go through the whole thing again, thinking he will provide me some resolution but he does not. Instead, he says he will refer to the “Escalation Team” and they will help me. So why did I have to go through him at all? I give him my work hours, my home and cell numbers and when to call and am guaranteed a call back in 24 hours.

2 days later (April 16th)

I am left a message on my home phone during my work hours from a manager in the Escalation Department named Al. He says he is calling to resolve my issue and gives me a number to call him back on. I call him back on that number but am put through to a voicemail for someone named Natalie in the same department, who I have never spoken to. I leave a message, again mentioning what times and numbers I can be reached at. A couple of days later, I get another message while I’m at work, on my home phone. I continue to call the number I have left and not once does a person answer, just gives me Natalie’s voicemail.
April 18th

I finally call the regular Telus number and speak to an agent named Jan. I say that I need to talk to someone in the Escalation Department and only have this one number, can she give me another one. She says no. She asks for my account number, which I don’t have and say I only want a phone number. She asks me for my SIN. I say that I do not give this over the phone and that she doesn’t need it for what I am asking for. She tells me she can’t help me unless I give her my SIN number. I say I will give something else, she says no. I tell her it is illegal to insist on someone providing their SIN, she says she knows this but it is my own fault for not knowing my account number with Telus by heart. I ask for her manager, she refuses. She says she won’t put me to a manager unless I giver her my SIN. I refuse, she hangs up on me.
I call back and speak to another agent, Jessica. I say I don’t want to tell my story, I just want to talk to a manager to make a complaint against the poor service. She tries to explain why they ask for ID, but I understand all that and had offered other verification information. Information that I feel wasn’t even necessary for what I was asking for. She is really reluctant, but finally agrees to look for a manager. I am put on hold for 19 minutes.
A manager, Kevin, comes on the phone. I try to make a complaint about Jan, he says he has no idea who she is. Apparently Telus has so many employees that there is no way they can possibly take a complaint about poor service, so it goes unnoticed. He also has no phone number to give me for the Escalation Team, but says he will email Al and Al’s manager, Richard. He says he is so surprised to hear I am having problems, that he has never heard of anyone having any problems with these computers. Strange, since I’ve been told otherwise.
Another two days later, I get a message from Al but once again I can only call and leave a message from the mysterious Natalie.

April 23rd, 2008

Hallelujah! I get ahold of Natalie! She actually answers the phone! She says she will look for Al, he is not around but will call me back. I say I have never actually spoken to Al, so can she help me. She says she will (reluctantly) but has to close up what she is doing and will call me back in 5 minutes. 20 minutes later, after no phone call, I phone back to give her a number to reach me on as I have to go elsewhere within my office. After half an hour, she calls me on the wrong number and leaves a message saying Al will be back and will call me “any second” or I can call her back. I call 15 times over the next hour, and get only voicemail. Al never calls me at all.

April 24th

I call again, I speak to Natalie after trying 10 times to get through. She says she will put me through to Al. Al comes on the phone and once again, I go through the whole story. He says he will start looking into it. This was passed onto him weeks ago, but NOW he will start to look into it. To my shock, he actually calls me back that afternoon. He begins the conversation, “You are not going to like what I have for you…” and continues to tell me they will do nothing for me. It took 3 agents, 2 managers and over 30 calls to the Escalation Team and then Al to tell me they wouldn’t do anything. The computer problems? Lenovo’s fault, Telus won’t take any responsibility. The wait times and no call backs? They are busy. The poor service? It sucks, but there is nothing they can do. He will credit me with one month’s free internet, valued at $30.
He also mentions that one of the reasons it took so long for him to do anything was because he has 17 other customers with similar complaints that he is dealing with and that “he’s not gonna lie”, they deal with this problem a lot. Funny, because Kevin told him I am the first person with this problem.
What about my $399 for the computer that doesn’t do anything? What about the money I paid to upgrade the RAM? Install the RAM?
I say I want out of my contract, they can at least let me do that so I never have to deal with Telus again. He says they can, but it will cost me a cancellation fee of $480. I ask that they waive it, he says no. He says the only credit I will be given is the $30. The reason? “It is a lot less than $480”. Well done, Telus. I say that I will not be paying this, AND I expect the money back that I have paid into this computer so far so if he won’t help me I will have to go to the Better Business Bureau. This is after, of course, I ask if he has a manager and he gives me a snarky, “Not here” and tells me that it doesn’t matter how high on the food chain I go, no one at Telus will help me. He refuses to give me another number. I ask to be put through to cancel my account at what they ironically call their “Retention and Loyalty” team. I am on hold for 15 minutes. Michael answers, I am cut off and hung up on before I can say anything. No one calls me back, or has called me since. Loyalty and Retention, my ass.

Readers:  anyone know someone at Telus who can get Stephanie outta there without the $480 cancellation?

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. he Competition Act was amended in March 1999 to provide a whole new regime, under section 74.11, for dealing with misleading and deceptive advertising practices. The Competition Bureau implemented this new civil regime to, in its own words, “address most instances of misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices.”
    Previously, the provisions of the Competition Act for the Competition Bureau to deal with false or misleading advertising were criminal in nature. While the offence of “making a false or misleading representation” remains intact, the important addition of a mens rea requirement means a prosecutor must now establish that the representation at issue was made “knowingly or recklessly”. However, the criminal provisions still remain as a basis for private plaintiffs to found a civil action in the courts for breach of a statutory provision, pursuant to section 36 of the Competition Act.

    The new regime provides a civil basis for the Bureau to initiate proceedings in respect of misleading advertising, which is now “reviewable conduct” under the “deceptive marketing practices” provisions of the legislation. The new civil regime under the Act should provide a means to expedite consideration of, and relief from, misleading advertising practices.

    Commissioner of Competition Appointed
    Pursuant to the Act, the Commissioner of Competition has been appointed to act as the gatekeeper for pursuing relief against deceptive advertising practices. Under the new statutory regime, only the Commissioner may take carriage of proceedings against misleading advertisers. The Commissioner may obtain a range of relief, including temporary injunctive relief, on an expedited basis.

    The misleading advertising “reviewable conduct” provisions also prohibit specific activities. They include:

    representations that are false or misleading in a material respect;

    representations regarding the performance, efficacy or length of life of a product that are not based on adequate and proper testing; and

    misleading representations about warranties or guarantees.

    The guidelines set out by the Competition Bureau for prosecutions under the criminal regime make it clear that, for proceedings to be taken against an advertiser on the criminal track, there must be “clear and compelling” evidence suggesting that the accused knowingly or recklessly made a false or misleading representation to the public, and that a prosecution would be in the public interest. The deceptive marketing practices under the civil regime do not require the Commissioner to show that the representations were made knowingly or recklessly. Whether or not the Commissioner decides to pursue a complaint on the criminal or civil track, a private plaintiff is still entitled to pursue a private civil claim against an advertiser, if there is a breach of the criminal offence provisions in the Act.

    Complaint Procedures
    Under the new civil regime, a complaint must be lodged with the Commissioner of Competition in order to engage the process. A complaint may be lodged by:

    (a) calling the Competition Bureau at its toll-free telephone number (1-800-348-5358); or
    (b) registering a complaint over the Internet (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca) by completing a confidential complaint/enquiry form.


    Apr 25, 2008
  2. Mistake #1 was not raising hell when the price was $399 instead of $300 as promised.

    Mistake #2 was trying to get service from the incumbent monopoly.

    Bell sucks hell out East and I’d rather not have anything to do with them if I have the chance. But I’m a loyal Telus Mobility customer (going back to the ClearNET days), because they’re the “scrappy underdog” in Ontario.

    I’d like to think the opposite may work for you out West. :p


    Apr 26, 2008
  3. Wow, reading this took years off MY life, never mind Stephanie’s. What a disgrace. She should forward this whole pathetic tale to Ellen Roseman, who seems to have the capacity to work miracles. My Bell tales are somewhat similar. I think I’m giving up phone and email and moving to smoke signals.


    Apr 26, 2008
  4. Stephanie

    Thanks for posting my ordeal Nancy!
    Funny that you mention “Olson on Your side” because when I was speaking to my mom the other day, she said I should call him. And someone else in one of the Vancouver newspapers.
    An old friend who has a lot of family working at Telus wrote to me and said she was passing my number on to see if there was anything they could do to help.
    I am going to be switching to Shaw so I can bundle my phone, internet and TV like I intended to in the first place.
    I will keep checking back in case anyone else has any other ideas, thanks for the feedback!


    Apr 26, 2008
  5. Simon

    Stephanie: While I sympathize with your plight, I wonder what you expected? “Gift offers” like these are rarely worth the money and are frequently, as you’ve discovered, simply a way of offloading merchandise that wouldn’t sell otherwise. After all, if Telus couldn’t make a profit on it, they wouldn’t do it.

    I hope you’re successful in getting out of your contract but perhaps your story can at least serve as a warning to others: negotiate the best discount you can and don’t be swayed by worthless gifts.

    As an aside (and to be fair to Telus), Windows Vista is widely acknowledged to be a dog, and is frustrating to use even on much better computers even though it’s what’s normally included with them these days. That’s not really their fault. I bet that if you replaced Vista on that laptop with a no-cost, GNU/Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) it’d run like a dream. Email, web browsing, word processing, the works. I’m using a desktop machine from 2002 with a similar set of software and it’s perfectly adequate despite its age.


    Apr 27, 2008
  6. Simon

    What a coincidence, Squawkfox recently wrote a nice blog post on this very subject:



    Apr 27, 2008
  7. Nancy,

    Thanks for sharing your friends story – it sounds extremely painful and disappointing, and not the kind of experience we would like to see our products found delivering.

    I’ve left my email, and would like to get your friend some help.



    Apr 29, 2008
  8. @Mark – hey, thanks for that. I’ve passed your e-mail on to Stephanie. I think her real issue is with telus, but if you can help on the computer front, that may take some of the sting away.


    Apr 29, 2008
  9. S007

    Your experience sounds painful, but I think the start of it is some misinformation from the person you chatted to @telus when you were signing up. I don’t think these people are trained on computer hardware so I’m not surprised with some of the information you were told.
    I too signed up for this deal and paid extra for the laptop and memory. I am pretty skilled in computers so I knew that I was getting a lower powered machine and that it would run like a three legged dog on Vista. Vista is a [email protected] when it comes to how fast it runs…even on high powered machines it is a dog. I don’t blame telus for putting on Vista as it is really the only mass option these days for a operating system…unless you go MAC! I got my machine and installed the extra RAM (very easy and this does not void your warranty) and turned it on. Vista takes a long time to set up when you first turn a system on so I let it do its thing. After the config, I found it pretty slow (too slow for me, but it did surf and email ok)…so I went to a PC dealer and bought a copy of XP SP2.
    I removed vista, installed XP and now the laptop RUNS LIKE A DREAM and I’m very happy with it. You may want to look at doing this. I’m doing all the normal stuff…surfing, email, photos, music, MS office apps and dabble in Photoshop CS2. Now that I’m running XP, I’m much happier and the laptop works great.
    Sorry to hear about your friends woes, but I definatly recommend taking Vista off and putting on XP (or some free OS …..).


    Apr 29, 2008
  10. Eddie Stone


    My friend sent this to me, cause he has had some trouble with Telus too. But i have to say, it sounds like the problem you’re having is with the computer, right? Sure, Telus may have not been the easiest to deal with, but let’s be honest – the computer that you received is not a Telus brand computer. I’ve had lots of issues with Lenovo in the past, and I have to say that I am very dissatisfied with their products. I agree with you that action needs to be taken, but I think Lenovo should be brought to court. Telus is just the ISP. If the computer worked fine, then you wouldn’t have any problems with Telus. I say we should come up with a way to deal with Lenovo, cause these guys are the worst with customer service and just pass the buck to everyone else but them. I think they know how crappy their product is, but they don’t want to deal with it. It’s really a shame, and I’m very sorry to hear about what you’ve gone through.



    May 01, 2008
  11. Try contacting the CRTC. I did this after a huge problem I had with Rogers over home phone service. I got a reply from the CRTC stating that this was usually beyond their control, but because I had lodged a complaint with the CRTC AND I told Rogers I had done so, I very quickly received a phone call from some VP at Rogers who was able to finally fix my problem. I wouldn’t hesitate to mention that your story has been posted on a Canadian financial blog, that you are considering contacting Olsen on Your Side and/or Ellen Roseman. Put it in writing too… then you have a record. Sometimes a web search will help you pull up emails for Telus corporate people. And good luck Stephanie! What a terrible ordeal you have gone through!


    May 04, 2008


  1. Drinkin’ Guinness in the 416 | At this rate, I’ll be a driver by 40

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