Last Wednesday, I went to pick up a CDMA phone from Bell after hearing all good about it and how fast it was. I had been using Bell for now over 5 years, primarily to surf the Internet. Sure it wasn't fast at 33.6, but atleast it was the next best economical thing until ADSL shows up.
Naturally when CDMA came along with a lower rental and a 5x claimed speed, it did raise my eye browse. But I had already invested 15,000/- on my current phone, which included paying the old owner his phone deposit of 7500 and another 7500 for the phone transfer.
Still, I was paying 600+ on rental alone and wasn't using the two lines that came with it that much. After waiting and rethinking for about two months and checking on ADSL, I decided to bite the bullet and go for CDMA, while disconnecting the old line.
Boy! was I in for a surprise as I left to the Bell head office It seemed as if I had committed the ultimate sin, by asking that they disconnect the old phone, while I buy another brand new phone from them. The very rude customer support lady told me "Your CDMA request will most probably be turned down!". I asked "why?, I checked if you were still giving out CDMA with internet with some one who works here.", to which she replied, "because we can't have you disconnect one for the other. We can't maintain multiple technologies. This phone has been in use since 1997 (the original customer used it then)."
I told her that I was switching because I didn't need a phone, all I want is a faster net connection, to which she replied, "When ever a new technology comes we can't have you switch". By now I was a bit annoyed and insisted that I wanted to disconnect. She told me that I needed to pay another 1,500 for disconnection and that I should pay another 1,500 (which I had paid for the current phone) for activating Internet on it. She also demanded I give a written letter stating a reason other than switching to CDMA.
She also asked me who had told me CDMA was faster. She said CDMA was much much slower than the regular phone, which I found quite amusing since it was a measure of desperation.
Instead of arguing and fighting over a couple of thousand rupees, I decided to pay it off, even though my human rights were violated. Paying at the counter took a good 20 minutes as the incompetent cashier tries to punch in my credit card number and verify it. I didn't say a thing and just smiled and waited patiently as she struggled, to what seems like her first week on the job. I guess we've all been there.
Once I had paid everything including my total pending bill + disconnecting charges, I asked the customer support lady if I could now pay and take a CDMA phone home. "No!. You must wait till your old phone is completely taken out of the premises", she replied. "But you advertise it as an off-the-shelf phone, how come I have to wait a couple of days and come back?", I asked. "Because your disconnecting your phone. Now if you were getting the new phone without disconnection, we could have given it to you!".
I had been patient, quiet and calm but when some one just wants to screw you because your already their customer - I had to loose a bit of control. While I didn't turn the place upside down with my kung-fu, I did have to make a loud scene unfortunately to get some attention.
By now everyone was looking and a kind gentleman approached me and wanted to talk to me. It turns out he too worked there. He told apologized for the inconvenience and said he would set off the disconnection charge. He also gave me a CDMA phone and told me that it will be activated in an hour. He even got someone to call me later that day as they activated the net connection, free of charge (so far). Finally he told me that indeed CDMA has become oversubscribed and that he can't guarantee the speeds I want. I told him from what I am hearing I don't see a sudden degrade but a slow and gradual one or perhaps only during certain times.
He offered me to try out CDMA, even though I paid for it and if I am unhappy, to transfer the paid amount to the fixed line. We both agreed to hold off on disconnection for another week.
I came home and got online using an OSI, I am not much fond of. The speeds were awesome, 15kB/sec - 20kB/sec. The next day (Thursday), I connected and it was a whole different story. Just as the Bell people had discouraged me, now the speed had come down from 15k to 3 -4k. Must be the bad weather I thought. I tried again on Friday morning and evening and it was still slow. Was it just me? or has other been lying. I checked today with a couple of other people who has CDMA. They've also noticed a sudden speed drop.
Was this coincidental? Did the network reach its ultimate capacity to suddenly drop speeds to modem speeds? Is this a conspiracy to keep me from disconnecting? Am I the cause for a slower CDMA network?
I could now feel the pain and suffering a divorce could bring; an experience I'd never want to go through again!