Please Telus if there’s any Hope for us, Telus Mobility

William Michael (Mike) Zintel
Woodinville WA

Wolfville, N.S.

August 21, 2014

Joe Natale, CEO, TELUS Corporation

555 Robson Street, 8th Floor
Vancouver, British Colombia
V6B 3K9

Cc: Someone Who Can Fix Things There
Cc: The Retail Staff in New Minas (thanks for trying)

Re: $73.14

Dear Sir:

I wish I wasn’t writing you now.

Our relationship clearly has to change. I have to leave the country and go back to work, and will not be able to continue to call you 2-3 times per week and then write blog posts hoping to get us back together again. Things don’t seem to be working out for us all that well. But we have a past, and I thought we were solid. Change is hard. At least for me.

I’m sending this as a paper letter, but if it proves in any way helpful, you can forward an online copy as a link:

If you lose that URL, the search phrase Does Telus give a shit?  is returning one of a series of blog posts that now include this letter, at least right now.

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve learned how to function without your wireless internet. But it would be more efficient for me to use the towers that you installed in a low density, reasonably remote area of Nova Scotia, as I have grown accustomed to over the last few years. But we’ve grown apart, it seems. And attractive young WiFi catches my eye more often. Perhaps we’d both be happier apart, as your organization seems hell-bent on ensuring.

I tell myself that I’m writing on behalf of folks who share my frustration, but haven’t time to write. I’m doing it for the people.


The truth is that trying to do business with your organization over the last five weeks has made me stark raving mad. And sometimes a bit angry.

I’m anything but the character one might expect to be writing a screed. I’m not the deadbeat your systems have labeled me. I’m familiar with the complexity of corporate systems, the reality of online fraud and abuse, and I’m aware that my business patterns are a bit of an outlier. I started my career building cellular data switching gear for Mobile Data International (in B.C.). I’ve been in software for 30 years, and for the last 8 I’ve been building and running some of the largest consumer paid and free internet services in the world. I’m usually on the screed reading side of customers I’ve made stark raving mad.

A few years ago, after getting the Deluxe Runaround from one of your (horrible) competitors for short term wireless internet service, your folks at the New Minas Nova Scotia retail store politely put in some time and effort to make this happen for me. For several years I’ve been not only been using your service, but speaking highly of your company and your service.

I want to reinforce that the retail folks consistently put a professional face on Telus and were as helpful as possible. You’ve got good folks there. Indeed all of the employees of Telus I interacted with were professional.

And yet useless. At the same time.

Unless of course I’m just not getting it and you want me so frustrated I just go away forever. In which case it’s working.

The details of the $73.14 affair follow, should you be interested. I know you’re likely busy, so here’s the summary: You didn’t use tell me I owned you $73.14, even though you had multiple good contact methods (and my credit card). You won’t let me pay you now. You won’t give me wireless internet.  You’re conflicted about how punitive you should be with my credit rating.

Personally I don’t care for complainers without constructive suggestions. Here’s a few:

  • Consider a program specifically for short term contracts.
  • Make a query available to billing that captures history across contracts. In my case, my CLV is actually pretty good, and payment history perfect, but billing saw only a single 5 week cancelled contract and assumed a bit too quickly I was a deadbeat. This kind of stuff is pretty easy with big data solutions these days. Put all of your logs and serialized DBs into Hadoop and press on.
  • Use all of the contact information provided when trying to collect payment. The previous two suggestions are, perhaps, OK, but your process on this one is actually incomprehensibly horrible. You sent me email to confirm (what I thought was) my final payment. But you never emailed to inform me that I owned you more. Nor did you call. You did mail a letter to the wrong address, which was returned (apparently).

Then you dropped me into the deadbeat bucket.

This is really the root problem here.

As it turns out, I would have just paid you. Probably by authorizing a charge on the credit card you have on file and used to make what I thought was my last payment.

  • This is perhaps a bit selfish, but maybe you could find my payment, credit my account, and make a note in it that I’m not a deadbeat.

I want to point out that your web site, your systems, the people I talk to all seem customer oriented. There are lots of ways to contact you. Folks seem to try. And yet I am hard pressed to understand what I could have done differently, or how I could have been more motivated to remain a customer. It’s possible that you just don’t want me as a customer and that everything is going according to plan, in which case I apologize for wasting more of your time.



In reverse order:



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Please Telus if this is Normal Telus Mobility

Aug 8, 2014, two weeks from my last conversation with Telus: At this point I’m starting to have trouble remembering what I even wanted in the first place.

A reasonable person would just accept that:

  • Telus told me that I was paid in full.
  • They later changed their mind and decided that I owed then $73.14.
  • After not telling me that I owed them $73.14, they decided to take me to a collection agency. They didn’t do it. Nobody knows why. The company seems divided between those who think they did, and those who think they didn’t. Those who think they did also think I need to fix my credit rating with, well, I don’t understand who – exactly -before I can have any wireless internet.

Oh yeah, that was it – wireless internet.

  • After refusing to accept any form of payment except a wire transfer for $73.14 from someone with bad credit like me, I sent a moneygram to Telus Mobility for $73.14, putting my account number in the comments field, as I was instructed to do.
  • They lost it. Probably.
  • Two weeks ago, they started “an investigation”. Or more accurately, they scheduled a investigation, which hasn’t actually started yet. Apparently they are way behind locating lost payments. I need not worry, they will get to it.

… is just normal.

Perhaps it is normal.


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Please Telus if you Give a Shit Telus Mobility

Does Telus Give a Shit?

Jul 24, 2014: Tried to reactivate in the store; a week had passed since I wired Telus $73.14. The person on the phone, talking to the polite human talking to me, said I’d have to call Equi-somebody to get my credit straightened around. They refused to talk directly to me and referred me to customer service. I called and was told they hadn’t received payment but would start an investigation. I should call back in a week.

At this point the questions are no longer “am I paid up?” or “will I get wireless internet?” The hope of having a stable, sane and mature relationship with Telus is becoming a distant dream. We’re locked into a co-dependent abusive spouse nightmare pattern now. Indeed I should get out – but as I jump from hurdle to hurdle, always thinking that my wireless internet is just one trip to town and maybe a half dozen phone calls away – I encounter people who tell me their stories aabout busive relationships with Telus. And I begin to wonder: “Does Telus give a shit?”

This isn’t easy to answer. The people in retail stores clearly give a shit. And the people on the phone are polite. Almost too polite. The politeness confuses me – maybe they give a shit. But clearly no company that gives a shit would put me thought this. And what about they guy who wouldn’t speak directly to me. Does he give a shit?

I understand why I might think Telus doesn’t give a shit when perhaps they do. Their collections dept has to deal with a stack of deadbeats and cheats. Each case takes time and has some probability of success. Folks who need jobs are measured on this. They are not measured on new sign-ups or customer satisfaction.

From their POV, I pay for 2 months of service / year, cancelled without paying in full, and live in America. I’m not even worth taking to a collection agency, let alone giving wireless internet.

Yet somehow I am left with the feeling that they just don’t give a shit.

The sad irony here is that this is Canada, where the nanny state prides itself on protecting the little guy from himself and from the big guys. Here a two person roofing crew is subjected to a silly level of harassment while a spectrum license shields you from the kind of competition that might make you give a shit.


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Please Telus How to Buy Internet from You

Aug 19, 2013: After (another wonderful) summer in Nova Scotia, I cancelled my Telus Mobility month by month wireless internet contract. Paid off the bill – in full per what I was told – via the credit card Telus had on the account. Received email from Telus confirming payment and cancellation.

A year goes by: No phone calls, mail or email from Telus.

Not one.

Jul 16, 2014: Tried to reactivate service in the store. Was told (politely) that my previous bill was unpaid and I had been taken to a collection agency. I would have to pay up before I could have any internet.

Jul 16, 2014: Called Telus. The unpaid bill is for “Aug”. Contrary to what they told me last year at cancelation-time, I had only paid for Jul.

Jul 17, 2014: Called the collection agency. They’ve never heard of me.

Jul 17, 2014: Called Telus. Apparently, they meant to take me to a collection agency, but didn’t. They don’t know why. Tried to pay up with the same credit card they had charged at cancel last year. Can’t do it – US credit cards need to be “registered in the system”, which I was no longer now that my account was in written off state.

Telus suggested I wire them the money. More than “suggested”,  they helpfully pointed out that they could take me to a collection agency at any time.

Jul 18, 2014: Wired Telus $73.14.

Jul 19, 2014: Tried to reactivate in the store. Was told (politely)  that sometimes it takes months for a bad actor like myself to be allowed to do business again with the Telus.

Jul 21, 2014: Called Telus. They hadn’t received the payment. I asked if this was normal given that wired money should be fast. I was told that in the case of someone taken to collection, this could take 10 days. After I explained that the payment was to Telus directly,  I learned that they may have the payment, but it can take upward to 5 business days to credit it to my account. After Thur of this week, we would – collectively – know if the payment was received or lost.

To be continued …



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A&E’s Statement re: Phil Robertson Suspension, Rough Draft

As a joint venture between Disney and the Hearst Corporation, A+E Network’s core mission is to incubate diverse content in an era of rapidly fragmenting audiences. We exist both as a firewall between Disney’s highly curated family brands and as a pipeline of material that might become valuable in a world where the Kardashians are a sought after brand.

As hard as this is to believe.

This is why we put the duck clowns on the air.

It came as a great surprise to us, despite having edited out many of hours of video content that in retrospect was a clue, that Phil Robertson lives what he says he believes. Once GLAAD got in the picture, our options were limited. GLAAD, an organization that honed its PR skills spreading the lie that AIDs was as much danger to heterosexuals as it was homosexuals, explained that they had moved beyond mere “education”. And that we could choose between Nancy or Phil. Unless we delayed. In which case they’d just have us both.


On a stick.

A shitstick.

More terrified than glad, but confident that celebrities would rather publicly castrate themselves than face living normal lives, we suspended Phil. The play was simple: Take a week off. Make a statement about how your views “have evolved”. Express regret that someone, somewhere, entirely out of their and your control may have taken offense to something. Somehow. Easy. Everyone wins.

But the duck clown didn’t get it. The duck family didn’t get it. What do you expect from southern christian hunting duck clowns.

So now we have to grovel to the duck clowns, to the wonderful and gracious GLAAD, to Cracker Barrel, and to all those rednecks on Clownbook. 

Thanks for nothing.


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Smart Liberals, Dumb Conservatives

I just finished up a 3 year tech project in the private sector. For the last year I’ve been accountable for all development on the project.

Compared to

  • The system does more. Much more.
  • We built it for less money. A lot less money.
  • It worked at larger scale out of the gate.
  • It worked out of the gate.
  • It continues to work.
  • It didn’t ship with a mountain of design and implementation debt.
  • We changed our plans when we got feedback that we got it wrong.
  • We didn’t lie about it.

These are not exceptional accomplishments for the private sector. In fact the vast majority of projects of this size work. The ones that have value continue to exist and grow. The ones that don’t disappear and the resources are reallocated (except, perhaps, in the case of chatroulette and twitter).

Yet we are told that we should allow the federal government to run all healthcare because they will do it faster, cheaper and with better quality.

To doubt this is evidence that you are lacking compassion, basic intelligence, watch too much FOX and are probably a racist.


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Terrorist Anarchist Hostage Taker Teabaggers Defeated – Adults in Charge Again (was: Loose Money and a House of Cards)

Washington is finally working together, to keep the country moving.

Obama has reduced the deficit.

We can borrow more money. A lot more money.

Borrow from who?

The mechanism of federal government borrowing is to sell treasury bills. The buyer of a bill loans the government their money, for a period of time, and gets their principal and interest back in the future. The value to purchaser is that the US government is the most secure investment in the world, as judged by historical economic and political stability, growth and aggregate wealth of the country.

Except it hasn’t been working like that for a while now.

Every month, the Unites States of America issues treasury bills that nobody wants to buy (at the offered interest). So the Unites States of America buys them, using money that it creates from thin air.

This interesting innovation in monetary policy allows the government to avoid doing what used to be considered normal, to offer treasury bills at an interest rate people want to buy them at. The economic principal is that market bond rates reflect real risk, and place a backstop on excessive borrowing.

Interest rates, for banks and government are effectively zero. Like they have been in zero growth Japan for the last 20 years.

Why do they do this?

Because we now owe so much money that if when interest rates rise, the interest payments will balloon to a significant amount of the tax collected, requiring cuts in spending or massive tax increases.

This graph shows the difference between what the federal government collects in taxes, and what it pays out, adjusted for a hypothetical 2%, 4% and 6% increase in treasury bill interest rates, starting in 2006:


This graph shows the same effect on the total federal debt:


Debt is only “free” if rates stay at zero.

No big deal. We’re America and we can just keep doing whatever these geniuses are doing because we’re America and the geniuses are doing it again.

Normally loose money like this is inflationary: it causes wages and prices to rise (with no increase in the underlying value of labor or goods),  and the value of the dollar to fall relative to other currencies. The latter is certainly happening, and is reflected in the price of gas.

But traditional inflation is not happening. What is happening is all this “extra” money is chasing one asset bubble after another. Tech, housing, gold, now stocks. Each new bubble creates new winners and losers in what has effectively become a rigged casino. The house (banks) take a vig and always win. The super rich and the insiders clean out the middle class and the poor get poorer.

Hope and change.

Ironic, eh?

This doesn’t end well.


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