I recently axed all the features from my Rogers cell phone plan. No data plan (internet is a bit of a joke on this Sony Ericsson phone really), no voicemail, no caller ID, no evening and weekends, no texting plans or bundles or value packs or anything like that. Just me, the system access fee, and $25 a month for their cheapest student plan. Honestly the only thing I miss is the caller ID, but what perplexed me a bit was that I was still getting phone number IDs for people when they were texting me, but not from the same people who were calling. So people would call, it would show up as “Unknown” and then they’d text and let me know they called, and their number would show up at that point. I know that texting and phone calls are two different protocols, but aren’t we at the point that caller ID is just a standard way of doing things? So I called Rogers to ask them what the scoop was. The representative I talked to was a nice man named Kim. He said “Honestly, I don’t know – no one’s ever asked why numbers will show up on text messages but not the calls. Maybe it’s so that you can text people back.” I asked how this doesn’t apply to making phone calls (which they make money off of, obviously) and he had no answer for that. He then went on to point out that caller ID doesn’t work everywhere and cited the example of Thunder Bay not supporting it.. 15 years ago. It’s been a while. He then added that Alabama doesn’t support caller ID. Is Alabama’s allegedly antiquated phone system really what Rogers plans on standing behind on this issue?
From what I understand, no one charges for caller ID in the US. I understand there is more competition there, but perhaps they understand a couple simple things which go beyond competitiveness and reach towards basic business smarts and understanding of consumer behaviour:
- People use their cell phones more when they know someone has called them ($).
- People do not call people who show up as “Unknown” because it’s impossible and it means nothing. (Less usage = less $)
If you still don’t think Rogers is missing the mark on this one, consider that it is likely that Rogers is suppressing the phone number unless you pay a fee. Then imagine if your internet service provider (Shaw for me) decided they were going to hide the senders names from all the emails you receive unless you paid them $8 more a month to find out who was sending you email. In the year 2009, it is the exact same thing. Just because caller ID hasn’t been around forever doesn’t mean that people expect to pay for it in this day and age. We live in a world of connectivity, of identification as a basis for community, and they’re still trying to monetize something that actually encourages use of their system. How come we are expected to pay for that?
I understand that there is inherent value in caller ID, which is why Rogers charges for it. I know there is value because I have used it for free on Skype. And I also know I will have it for free from a cell phone provider in the future, whether its Rogers or another provider, because it makes business sense and because its just the way things should be done. I was just tipped off via Facebook that Virgin provides caller ID for free in Canada – thanks Ed. I don’t have a lot of attachment to Rogers as I have a very minimal plan, but I think they can do better so I’d like to give them a chance to do so.
How do you feel about being charged for caller ID? Do you think it should be a standard feature (like it is in the US) or do you feel like it’s still pretty cutting edge technology and is worth paying extra for? Leave a comment – I’d be interested in reading. Or if you feel like doing a post about it, leave a link in the comments area and I’ll check it out.