I want my CDMA! How my rights were violated.

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!


sittingnut said…
adsl or death!
Are you out of range of ADSL?
Too bad... ;D
Atleast you had connection on the same day as you took the phone - in my case I had to wait some 8 days before they enabled access only after my bugging then a few times by phone and emails. That was some 4 days after the initially promised date.

And yes, by some coincidence it was on the same Wednesday you took the phone I had got my first access. On the evening of that day and later past midnight it was mostly 15 - 20 kBytes /sec. Then after those two sessions,I accessed only during this Sunday - during 10:30am~11:45am at about 4-5 kB/sec then in the evening (around 6:30~08:00pm) it was lesser at about 3-4 kB/sec. Now just before midnight I found download of a 4.5 MB file at average 7 kBytes/sec.
Ooops sorry did not leave my name for the above post in english (which appears in tamil) - it is K. Sethu
Sumudu said…
I also having a Bell and wanted to swich to CDMA, bcoz of it's faster speed and low rental.

now I changed my mind..
geekaholic said…
Hi Sumudu, nice 2 c u here. I wont totally discourage anyone from going cdma and I still intend on d/c my other fixed line. Having this phone is still flexible specially if your going to a friends place with a notebook and want some netaccess along the way :) Its also got a better battery life (actually the fixed line has no battery life!), cli, IDD (i think), speaker phone, call regis etc.

When d/c, just remember, if you dont want to make a scene, then dont tell the truth!
twimalasuriya said…

The CDMA connection is slow for internet. I got one about 2 weeks ago. Eventhough the modem can go as fast as 234kbps, the maximum speen i have seen is much slower. And at times it slows down to a tricle
Anonymous said…
I am planning to come to Srilanka for two week. It is mandatory that I have a 24 hour internet connection. What connection would you people recomment.

a) Suntel CDMA
b) Lankabell CDMA

or something else. I need something wireless. I guess gsm gprs access is out of the question due to high costs.

Please do let me know.
geekaholic said…
Well if your just coming for two weeks then going for CDMA is pointless and expensive. The unit + connection itself will cost over 10,000 not to mention per minute costs.

Your best bet is to get GSM SIM card with GPRS/3G access. You only get charged for the data and though 2cts/kb is expensive it will be far cheaper than CDMA
Anonymous said…
I need a 24 hour connection.

I thought CDMA didn't have a per minute cost.


Am I wrong?
geekaholic said…
Yes your wrong. I couldn't even find internet packages for CDMA in the link you gave. Forget CDMA its too slow over here. Didn't you read my blog :) Doesn't matter if its Suntel, Bell or SLT.

Best option is to get ADSL 1,000 package if you can and have an SLT line. You get 1GB data transfer per month which should be ok for 2 weeks. But its not mobile.

GPRS/3G is the only way. You can get it on a prepaid card I think
Dear Bud..,
Excellent... If we are silent…. They are going to “Gonata Andanna…” ( I don’t know what is the correct word…” ;) ) So… the mistake done by them. Why they are going to overload the network. And customer care executives should understandable person + some techee.

Unknown said…
Lanka Bell is bullshit.

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