Earlier this month, the unspoken practice of signing up for a cheaper cellphone plan from the Big 3 in Saskatchewan or Manitoba hit the limelight, when journalist Peter Nowak shared details of grey market sellers offering Koodo’s $48/5GB plan to those outside the region.
As we mentioned at the time, veteran members of online communities such as RedFlagDeals or Howard Forums have been using ‘creative ways’ to sign up for cheaper Prairie plans for a while now, despite not living in the region.
In an interview with CBC News, TELUS spokesman Shawn Hall said the company is “looking into the practice” of people like ‘Tony’ advertising sales of the plan. He also explained why Koodo prices are cheaper in the Prairies, as the lower pricing “reflects that Koodo is a new entrant without the same market and network advantages the provincial incumbent enjoys.” In other words, competition from local carriers MTS and SaskTel.
Hall also warned customers jumping on these ‘deals’ that require your personal information to open accounts means there’s “the possibility of fraud,” something similarly echoed by president of Ottawa-based Wall Communications, Gerry Wall:
“You’re giving up on one hand in terms of security. You’re taking a chance,” said Wall, who calls ads like Tony’s a “grey market.”
Wall says the tiny number of people signing up for these plans won’t affect the bottom line of the Big 3, saying “If I’m Rogers or Bell, am I going to be worried about these types of resellers? Not now because I think it’s a very, very limited take up.”
In a phone interview with the CBC, Tony said his method of signing people up does not require the changing of addresses, as “that would be fraud”.
Tony did refer to his service as a “grey area,” and also said “But [cellphone companies] are screwing us over too,” adding “They’re stealing money from us because it shouldn’t be this expensive.” He said he’s signed up people from coast-to-coast and did not mention any numbers, only to say “it’s a lot.”
Tony similarly reached out to iPhoneinCanada.ca to explain his method does not require changing addresses as a method to obtain these region-specific plans.
Last October, members on Howard Forums brought up concerns over the practice of signing up for regional plans, noting a Koodo representative said over the phone the member’s plan was subject to an audit.
It will be interesting if TELUS actually tries to stop this practice, or if it’s not worth their time given the ‘small number’ of people who will actually go through with this to get access to the $48/5GB plan.
Anyone out there subscribed to one of these plans, while living outside Saskatchewan or Manitoba?