Triggered was how I felt-to say the least- this past Monday when one of my Twitter followers retweeted this Spectator Index tweet to my timeline. I was vexed from within because if I think about the amount I’ve had to shell out every month to cover my phone bills here, and my corresponding usage, it doesn’t make sense at all that I pay that much. To think that a year ago in Nigeria, I was paying 2.2USD per GB for its 12USD equivalent in Canada now.
Honestly, my current phone plan right now na how them take get me for this Canada. In English- Getting a phone in Canada has been one of the ways I’ve been roped into paying monthly for something I don’t fully optimize and didn’t do my research on before committing to it.
Now to the genesis of this matter. It began when I arrived Ontario early last year, I was living with my hosts (who I wrote about here and here) and I was also job hunting. Because of my job applications, I had to quickly get a local phone line with data to add on my CV so potential employers could reach me for job opportunities. I remember that I had read a few articles about the expensive phone plans in Canada, but I didn’t remember the details of it. When I mentioned this fear to my hosts, they told me all the plans are the same, and I should just choose one. I have now come to know that while they were correct about the big phone companies having similar phone plans, there are smaller, prepaid, bring-your-phone plans that are by far cheaper and have more flexible monthly plans. Any-who, I followed them to the store, as a JJC in this Canada, and ended up committing to a two year, post-paid plan contract plan with a fixed monthly fee of $120 plus taxes. That’s roughly NGN 34,000 every month. The funny thing with this fixed plan is, if I incur any costs outside the plan- like calling outside Canada or leaving a message on a local landline, I receive additional charges on top of my fixed plan. Also, the sales person at the store on the day I was purchasing the phone really profiled me mehn. I went into the store, planning to use my Naija phone to activate a Canadian sim card, but after the sales person told me about this $0 brand new Samsung phone, I quickly agreed to the plan. When my full contract arrived a couple of weeks later, was when I realized say, awoof dey run belle true true. The beautiful Samsung phone technically wasn’t sold to me free of charge. There actually is a device fee that is tied to my two year contract that slowly reduces every month when I pay my monthly bills on time. If at any point during this 2 year contract period, I decided to opt out, I have to pay the outstanding device balance on the phone separate from my monthly phone bill.
It’s only now that I’ve had time to check out other phone companies and phone plans that I realize I didn’t even get the best contract, post paid plan. A friend’s brother has a similar plan like I do and he pays $75 monthly. He was able to get the plan because his friend who has a decent credit history purchased the phone on his behalf. Whereas, I had a non-existent credit history when I first arrived and even had to pay a separate security deposit amount before the phone line was given to me. In terms of optimization, this $120 plan is a huge reminder of something that I pay for, but hardly use. This plan is applicable only within Canada and I don’t know enough people here to call regularly. I cannot call the US, Nigeria or anywhere else for that matter free of charge, so all my family and friends I call via Skype or Whats App. Though the plan comes with a 5GB data plan, my landlord currently provides unlimited WiFi in my rental and there’s unlimited WiFi at school as well. So, at the end of every month, I barely use my 5GB plan. In fact sometimes, out of annoyance, I’ll turn off my WiFi and stream Netflix movies on my phone to use up some of the data… Loooooooooool… Imagine my current problem now?
So if like me, you are considering purchasing a phone line when you arrive Canada, my recommendation is you ask around and research several phone companies before picking up a line. A lot of these companies charge for add-on services, and you will hear things like paying extra for calls you receive outside your province of residence, or paying extra to leave a voice message on an out-of-province phone. Please don’t end up like me, counting down to the middle of 2020 for my contract expiration date, and more freedom then to choose a phone plan that actually works for my lifestyle here.