iPhone 3G in Canada: One Week Later

Thanks to Will for the video!

I got to my local Rogers (corporate owned) store way early, and was immediately nervous upon seeing tons of cars. They were filled with senior citizens -- strange iPhone demographic, I thought. When the doors to the mall opened at 7am, the seniors raced in. Near jog, no joke. I thought I'd end up behind a ton of angry, eager iPhone golden oldies, but a funny thing happened: they raced right on past Rogers. Turns out they jog/power walk/amble about there every morning. Who knew?

One week later, and how are things now? I just got my first bill (wow, that was faster than 3G!). $30/6GB data, $35 Mega My 5, $15 Visual Voice Mail Value Pack, $35 activation fee, plus crazy Canadian taxes. $124. (Plus the initial $299 for the 16GB handset...)

But what else is going on in my home and native land? Read on to find out!

Its been quite a ride (just check out all the coverage here). But the fun hasn't stopped for Canadians. Sure, some independent stores were refusing to process anything but new accounts for launch week, Rogers the 16GB units disappeared almost instantly -- at least after the Customer Central software came out of crash mode some time around noon, and just in time for iTunes' servers to go down. But sales were brisk all around. Rogers claims they very nearly sold out, moving "tens of thousands" of the iPhone 3G. And while confided to greater metropolitan areas, 3G speeds are proving to be decent. That's the good news.

The bad news? Not everyone was getting 3G from the outset -- or any network connection at all. I literally stood next to someone at a Rogers store who was getting zero connection, while I was blazing away on 3G. While some thought the Rogers cell network had gone down under a flood of new iPhone's eat up the bandwidth, the some are/some aren't nature of the problem makes the situation at launch unclear.

Also, the WiFi shenanigans continue, of course. While in line, the Rogers reps (who were all great, kept up their senses of humor through the outages, but were misinformed by HQ) were telling people if they didn't sign for iPhone plans, Rogers would charge for WiFi use. And it didn't end there. If the commenters here at TiPb are too be believed, people calling in to remove their data plans are still being told that if they have the data removed, they won't be able to use WiFi either:

called Fido tonight (owned by Rogers; also sells iPhones in Canada) and asked if I could get just voice, turn data off and was told yes. I asked, what if I want to use wifi when my data service is turned off? They said "you won't be able to. You will need to call us back and have us turn it back on." The rep looked things up, left and checked, and repeated this claim a total of three times.

Personally, I rocked an original iPhone 2G on Rogers for nearly a year with no data plan (EDGE settings removed to spare myself the usury-like $0.03/kb surcharge) and WiFi worked just splendidly, thank you.

But no one outside of Rogers/Fide can make any guarantees. Absent anything resembling communication from Rogers, and despite no rational explanation from technologists of how Rogers could, never mind if they would, prevent WiFi access (or even charge for it as some Rogers reps have maintained), customers remain concerned -- and less tech-savvy customers may just panic and end up getting bamboozled.

Using an iPhone in Canada? How's your experience going so far?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone 3G in Canada: One Week Later

16 Comments

Man i gotta say... this whole Rogers nonsense is complete garbage... What a GARBAGE company...!! Why on earth do they not offer unlimited data??? it doesn't EFFING MAKE SENSE! god i hate canadian companies... they are so all about the money and NOT about the customer it p!sses me off just thinking about it...
I am glad to be here in the US for that point, however i must say.. Message out to you Canadians... i am so sorry you have to go threw all that muss.. =( i wish Rogers was not such a horrible company that sucks....

Unfortunately because of the lack of competition for mobile companies in Canada, they really don't have to have lower price plans, which sucks for the consumers. Unlike the US where you have so many companies that they have to keep their prices low to attract the customers.

I got iPhone 3G in Victoria from a private retailer who at first refused to sell to me because I was an existing customer. After calling Rogers Corporate and getting them on my side, I forced the a**holes to sell it to me :) If you get told that they won't sell to you, tell them you will report them to Rogers, and that they can be sanctioned for such a policy. I understand the private retailers make more money for new contracts then they do for renewals, but it should essentially be illegal for them to discriminate against existing, playing customers.
My rep. was also clueless when I asked him about them charging for WiFi access. If they try to charge for this, I'll cancel my account, and fast.
As for Rogers being a bad company: I'll stand alone and say that they aren't that bad. If you want to be angry at any organization, it should be the Canadian government and the CRTC; they're the ones who allowed Rogers to have the monopoly that they do, and they're the ones who don't properly enforce the existing regulations that would prevent Rogers from gouging consumers as they do.
As well, in my experience, Rogers customer service has helped me out a few times with billing issues, and I was surprised with how reasonable they can be if you're just polite and play slightly dumb.
In closing, yes, Rogers does charge inflated fees; but, they are just doing what any corporation would do in their position (what they are required to do by law): increase shareholder value. By locking people in to a 3 year contract, they are ensuring their business model will continue a while longer into the future, after the spectrum auction (happening soon). They know that after a new company comes in to the country--offering actual competition--that they will be forced to change their pricing, and that they will loose subscribers (new and existing) by the droves.
Given this situation, their actions are wholly reasonable and understandable given the fascist-capitalist environment in which they operate.

Yeah...I gotta admit that after reading all the about the facts of iphone, like second most expensive in world, lack of flash, expensive plan, etc.
I'm thinking of returning it and either waiting for an unlocked version, or just pick up a blackberry phone or something..gotta look into the market some more..

LOL to the poster who said that other stores cannot refuse to sell to you if your an existing customer, I would say tell that to Rogers. In my case after the screwed up on the 11th in which they added, a data plan etc was supposed to receive an Iphone. Instead I was sent a Sony ericson Z310!. Now I call to get an Iphone sent to me and get told NO!, you must send the other phone back first because your account is no longer eligible for an upgrade!. So I am made to pay for there mistake or so I thought at first.
At this point I am very upset but, I get a Manager who says, he will create a new account just to get an Iphone to me this week and will cancel the new account but, keep the phone once I get it. Well I call today just to see, if this has been done and guess what NOPE!. Yes lied to again by Rogers!. So today I spend hour on the phone only to find our that Rogers now has a waiting list for upgrade customers, and "ONLY NEW CUSTOMERS ARE GETTING PHONES THAT COME IN STOCK". Yup if you order from online or call for an upgrade, you won't get it for minimum 10days!.
Oh I am told than well you could try searching the various stores for one. I ask if they have stock and get the reply not likely. Heck even if they did I cannot get the phone because they still have not logged that I returned the piece of crap sony even though they have had now going on 48hrs.
I can say this, the day there is another cell provider other than bell and Rogers I will be switching and taking my money elsewhere.

I also am waiting to get my iPhone. I was waiting impatiently for one year, and ordered mine on launch day as quickly as I could (through a promotion at my company). Well, one week later, still no iPhone. I'm told it's because I'm an existing customer. So they've probably run out of stock, and I'll have to wait till August to get one. They better have one before the August 31 deadline for the 6GB Data Plan expires!
So just like the previous comment, I'll be patient and wait for my iPhone, whenever that will come. But when the day comes that another company surfaces on the market with the iPhone, I will be delighted to call Fido to cancel my account because of how they've treated me as a long-time customer.

If you access WiFi on your own connection or at a public place, I think it would be impossible for the phone provider to keep track of that and charge you. Only the government does taht kind of spying. Also what would you be charged for? Rodgers isn't paying for the WiFi.

I avoided launch day. On the following tuesday I went into a Rogers store and they had no stock and could not say when they would have any. Particularly the 16g model. Particularly the white one. I went home and phoned Rogers and they took my order and on Thursday morning my (16g white) phone arrived. I connected it to my mac, clicked a few times and it was done. Painless (well, except the price of it all). I am a new customer (previously with Telus). The phone is amazing. Rogers service so far has been great.
I actually appreciate Rogers saying the data plan is 6 gb and not "unlimited" with a hard cap which is disingenuous.

@Richard I did tell it to Rogers, and the guy I spoke to put me on hold while he went and checked out the complaint. He came back and told me that if you're eligible for an upgrade, then no Rogers outlet can refuse to sell you the iPhone. He said that this is written into the agreements that all the retailers sign. He said he would put a note on my file, and told me to check back with them if the retailer still refused to sell to me after calling them back and forcing their hand.
I called the retailer back, and at first the manager argued with me, telling me that his store had "nothing to do with Rogers" and that he could make his own rules. He was so sure of himself that he passed me on to the "regional manager" for the area who "just happened to be in the store". When this guy got on the line I told him I wanted to complain about the policy, and he immediately said: "no, no this isn't our policy. I don't know what this manager is talking about. If you're eligible for an upgrade, come on in and we'll sell it to you."
When I went in to the store, no one apologized to me or anything, but they did sell me the phone :-)
@Richard your situation is unfortunate, and Rogers should be doing something to correct your situation. If they have indeed reversed their policy in this area, then I feel lucky to have gotten in under the wire when it wasn't their policy.
I absolutely agree with the others that as soon as there is another company to sign up with, I will bail on Rogers. BUT, I would suggest that those who have these issues with Rogers remain calm and polite on the line with these poor, clueless people who answer the phones and deal with you. Getting angry and demanding things is not going to get you an iPhone sooner; all it does is increase both your stress and the person on the other end of the line who has to deal with your impatience.
If you hate Rogers that bad, stop dealing with them. If you want the iPhone badly enough to deal with them, don't make the situation worse by being stupid and impatient with people who have no control over the policies set by corporate.

Here is my experience of buying iPhone WITHOUT data plan:

  1. Friday, July 11, ~9am. Called Fido and after waiting about 20 min got through and asked to upgrade to iPhone 16GB with my existing voice plan ($20/month) where I had no contract. The Fido rep asked me to upgrade to the $35/month voice plan. I agreed since didn't want to argue but I new that it's because they have this as a condition (they sell the iPhone for $50 more - $349 instead of $299 and with $30+ voice plan they will rebate $50).
  2. I didn't order a data plan and specifically asked Fido to DISABLE data for my account so I'm not charged accidentally. Fido rep did just that, no questions asked. And he confirmed that I can still use Wi-Fi on iPhone without data plan for free.
  3. Wednesday, July 16. The iPhone arrived and I activated it without any problems. As soon as I "unbricked" the phone it immediately found and connected (after entering a password) to my home Wi-Fi network. I browsed internet, used GPS etc. Then I disconnected from Wi-Fi and tried to connect via 3G. As promised, iPhone refused to connect due to disabled data.
  4. In a few days I called Fido again and asked to downgrade to my original $20/month voice plan. After arguing for 5-10 minutes on various topics (i.e. why would anyone want iPhone without a data plan? ;-), why would anyone want to downgrade to $20/month voice etc.) he did the downgrade. Of course the $50, which I mentioned above I would forfeit but it's a small price to pay.

Conclusion: getting iPhone (Fido) 3G on $20/month voice plan without data is doable. Your mileage may vary.

I order the 16Go on Monday 14th [$35/month voice plan, no data plan]. I'm still waiting to get the phone. I just called fido, they told me they don't have any iphone in stock and they don't know when they going to get some.
I really hope I going to get it this week, but I'm not confident about that.

OK I get the iPhone and they tell me because of my credit I have to put down a $200 deposit??? OK sure (bell never did that with my Blackberry) so I got the $30 data and $45 voice and $20 extras thing. 7 days later after the phone comes out they cut it off. WTF!!! so I wait on hold for 30min and the Rogers rep says you have reached your $200 limit and they canceled my service... Why? Because the first bill is Pro-rated and that comes to $209. I have had the figgen phone for 9 days!!!! I gave them such shit and the turned it back on and they asked me for $9... 9 fucking dollars!!! My clients can't get a hold of me for $9?
Roger's policy's stink and I want to go back to bell.

Personally I am VERY happy rogers got the iPhone. they may be charging an arm and a leg for the data packages but everything about them is so much better than any other phone company in Canada. I have been with both telus and bell and both times they f*cked up my plans and even after i called them to fix it, and at the end of the month my bill was the same! It freakin pissed me off. As soon as my plan was up i moved straight to rogers and haven't had a problem since. I got the iPhone and absolutely love it. I have not yet found anything major i would change. It is absolutely amazing

Hi,
Do the fido and Rogers Data blocks work?
they keep telling me that Iphone can still somehow override those blocks. Is that true?

I used Iphone3G with Rogers for 13 months
4 days ago, when I was updating firmware to 3.1.2, my phone crash ans loop in recovery mode.
Rogers said, WE DO NOT COVER FOR SOFTWARE ISSUES
WTF??? It was you who send a SMS to update the OS and now you said that you are not responsible?
bottom line they want to buy a new phone with 3 year contract again !!!!
I prefer to pay 420$ and cancel my service (120$ a month)
ROGERS is definetely one of the worst companies in Canada
DO NOT GO WITH ROGERS

My customer service rep said " one second sir I am going to put you on hold"
then I heard her say to someone else... "how do I put someone on hold??"
??
??
??