Help! Cell-phone advice in Whitehorse

15 Jun

So now that we have our little girl home, we’re trying to get back to “normal life” as much as possible.  One aspect of normal life is actually going out once in a while, like on Monday nights when we have Big Band practice.  I also committed to playing background music at a party in a few weeks, and I don’t know if Michael will be in or out of town at that time, so it might be necessary to have a babysitter.

We have a few babysitters we use that we really trust, so we’ve never worried too much before if we were going to be out of touch for a few hours, say at a Big Band gig.  But now that it’s a possibility that the babysitter would have to call 911, well, we want to stay reachable.  That means giving in to that little piece of technology we’ve been purposely avoiding for many years: the cell phone.

Now, I did have a cell phone once upon a time, but that was about 10 years ago, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty out of the cell phone technology loop these days.  I must’ve looked like a total moron this fall when a friend pulled out a Blackberry (or something equivalent — ’cause, seriously, I have no clue about these things) and started entering some text and my eyes practically bugged out when the device started finishing her words for her.  That’s not really such advanced programming, it totally makes sense, but I’d never thought of it or heard of it and I was momentarily dumbfounded.

All of which is my long-winded way of sending out a plea to those of you who are more up-to-date than I am to supply us with some much-needed advice.  I don’t think we’ll be using the phone a whole lot for day-to-day living; with me at work and Michael at home, we’re usually reachable by phone, anyway.  I don’t think we need fancy calenders or the ability to send text messages.  But maybe these things are inseparable these days?  I dunno.  Again, total cell phone ignoramus here.

The other thing I don’t know anything about, which is part and parcel of the problem, is what types of contracts there are, what types of cell phone plans.  My dad researched one offered by Bell while we were in Vancouver: I think it included 250 minutes for $40 a month and we could call anywhere in Canada on those minutes.  (Which would then make it tempting for us to do all our long-distance calling on that phone, which would mean we might use a lot more than just a few minutes a month.  Hmmm.)

Okay, so you see the level of not-knowingness I’m working from here.  Those of you who are in the know, please help!


9 Responses to “Help! Cell-phone advice in Whitehorse”

  1. Stacie June 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    Wow, it finished the words for her?!!? What is that some kind of technology from the future?!?! LOL

    Sorry, but as you can see, I am of no help! Good luck though, the info out there is overwhelming! 🙂

  2. Jamie June 15, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    Check out Telus. I’ve worked at Bell, but have had a Telus phone for the past year and a bit. I think they have much better customer service. They have a plan with something called the fave 5 which we are using while Phil is away, it’s unlimited calling (even long distance) to your five favorite numbers. We hardly ever use it, it was hard thinking up five numbers that we would use it to call on a regular basis. I don’t know if it would work overseas but definetly anywhere in Canada.

    Let me know if you want any other info about it!


  3. Craig June 16, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    Too funny.

    If Canada is anything like down here, then and only then, this information may be useful:

    1. Contracts suck – it’s just a way to lock you into their system for too long at too high a rate. Read into this statement the term “leverage” once you’re on a contract you have none.

    2. Technology – they don’t make good phones anymore, they only make gadgets for kids. Blackberry holds a deathgrip on the corporate market because they are robust and functional, I don’ think there is an equivalent anymore on the regular phone front. Nokia is globally dominant becauce they know engineering hard. If it flips, flops or snaps, it’s gonna break more easily than the phones that don’t. But you’ll have to sell out your designer intentions for that pink phone that would go so great with your little shoes with a bow to take this advise.

    3. Texting – seems irrelavant, but can be addicting – “ln” for “leaving now” (from work) is one of my most favoured. Because it’s coded with the time and the commute is fairly standard, it saves an unnecessary conversation. Your spouce will get all the info they need in two letters. A regular phone isn’t great for texting, but I don’t get the feeling you’ll be a huge user.

    4. Norris – should know all about this stuff, use your local Geek as a resource.


  4. IndyComp0T1 June 16, 2008 at 6:32 am #

    I could go on and on about cell phones, and cell phone carriers, having had about 8 handsets with 3 different providers over the last 9 years (I’m a TOTAL cell phone junkie).

    These days, you can probably get a phone for next to nothing (or even for $0), BUT the caveat is that you need to buy into a contract.

    Now, a word about contracts. THEY ARE EVIL. I hate them to death, and have avoided them like the plague for the last 9 years until about a month ago, when I got a Blackberry and had to switch to Rogers (EVIL EVIL people) from my beloved Fido to get a decent data plan. But I digress.,,

    If they offer service in your area, I strongly suggest that you go with Fido. They are now owned by the Evil Rogers Empire, but they more or less operate separately from Rogers. They actually DECENT month-to-month plans (i.e. NO CONTRACTS) and they have something that the others don’t provide anymore: PER-SECOND BILLING. Everyone else bills by the minute. I’ve been with Telus, Fido, and Rogers, and Fido has been my favorite by far.

    I hate Telus because when they bought ClearNET, they took away all of the good plans and features (and per-second billing). And they LOVE trying to force you into a contract. Plus their CSRs are patronizing. Fido CSRs are nice and helpful. Rogers CSRs are idiots and think they know everything. I haven’t even tried Bell, but I hate them so much for their phone and internet services that I refuse to give them one more penny of my money. Their CSRs are dumb-asses too. Besides, their cell network sucks.

    If there is no Fido service up in Whitehorse or if their coverage area sucks (which it might – seems to be south-eastern-Canada-friendly), you can try to avoid the contract with a pay-as-you-go plan. The only crappy thing about these is that their per-minute rates are RIDICULOUS. The lower the monthly pay-as-you-go rate, the more you pay per-minute. See if you can get a plan that lets you roll over any unused minutes from one month to the next. I don’t know if the concept even exists in Canada, but it’s worth looking into. Virgin Mobile may have such a plan.

    Hope this helps!

  5. Geof Harries June 16, 2008 at 8:43 am #

    You only have two choices in Whitehorse: Latitude or Bell. I’ve chosen Latitude for the past year and a bit simply because of the good customer service. Costs are practically the same for both companies.

  6. Marianne June 17, 2008 at 5:25 am #

    If Virgin Mobile is available in your area, you shoudl seriously consider their pay-as-you-go approach. If you buy $100 worth of minutes in a chunk, then they do not expire for 365 days — making it less than $10 a month for a year of service. Obviously, this works only if you don;t need mor eminutes (I think the rate is 30cents a minute). I got my cell phone labour day weekend, and I haven’t even come close to using up the minutes yet — I seldom use the phone, but I wanted one when we were heading into the last months of my pregnancy, especially since at the school I work at the main office closes at 3:30 so my husband wasn’t able to reach me at work by phone after that. We bought their simplest phone, which was around $70. (It has no camera, but otherwise pretty much anything else you could want).

  7. Dad June 17, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    Fawny, the call for cell phone assistance might sound like a good idea, but experience kind of tells me that anyone south of 60, no matter how well they mean, will be hard pressed to contribute objective facts, unless they do research instead of simply offering opinions.

    The fact, for starters, is that Northern Canada is in a state of communications development only slightly ahead of Mali (I think…. I’ve never been to Mali, but I have been north of 60, and I know what it sounds like talking to you on a “normal” fon. I can only hope a mobile would be an improvement over that).

    Therefore, for starters, any provider who does not have service in the North can be ruled out right up front, and this cuts the field down to almost none. So whatever wonderful plans the rest of the country may enjoy, forget them.

    The major providers have “net coverage maps” in the internet which show where they have coverage. Depending on whether or not Michael would want to take a mobile on trips, some research might be advisable into those maps. Even the best (in terms of coverage) from my research, will only cover the major metropolises of the North – meaning anything less than Fort Liard in size might as well be on the far side of Pluto – only use for a cell phone there would be to smack it at a swarm of blackflies.

    Even if Michael does NOT plan to take it on out-of-town trips, it might not be a bad idea to have it available for hikes or dogsled rides around Whitehorse, so the coverage area around Whitehorse itself is also a fact to consider. Because, as you know, even a few km out of Whitehorse you can break a leg and freeze to death pretty quickly on a balmy -40 late summer afternoon. While a cell phone is no replacement for a brain, it can nonetheless provide a margin of safety and peace of mind.

    As to text messages, in the 99% of the world NOT populated by Canadians, I doubt you can get a cell phone that can NOT send or receive text messages. I personally don’t use them a whole lot, but if I am driving and I need a phone number or an address, I can just tell the office “SMS it to me” and when I am ready for my next pee stop I can check it out. In areas of spotty coverage, an SMS can get information through where voice fails.

    As to contracts / no contracts – all the hatred of mobile phone companies won’t do you any good if you want to use mobile phones. That’s just a fact. In the end, all of the majors are probably kissing cousins of one another anyway – owning each other’s stock and grinning from ear to ear when someone switches from one to the next, because they own stock in all of them. That applies to airlines as well, by the way. Sure, “no contract” as a general principle is attractive, but then again, the 96% of the world not populated by Canadians or Americans has never experienced anything like having to pay for INCOMING calls. If I had to live with such an obscene billing system, I’d probably go for a plan which gives me enough time that I don’t have to worry about my friends calling me on the cell phone, because I would hate my friends having to feel guilty like they are robbing my bank account because they are calling me. This might not be the cheapest overall solution, but owing a car ain’t the cheapest form of transportation either. It just has a certain convenience.

    Love Dad

  8. Stephany22 August 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm #

    I am a bit confused about Help! Cell-phone advice in Whitehorse « Fawnahareo’s Place but before making comments about it I will make more research first then come back. thx be back later

  9. purplehaze August 15, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I came across your post while doing my own similar type research here in Whitehorse. I’ve been to all the cell phone places, collected up all the pamphlets, surveyed my friends and co-workers and although I’m really tempted to get an iphone – just ’cause it is cool – I really don’t need anything so expensive or extensive. I have a younger teen daughter who is just starting to get the social pull to go “hang out” with her friends, so would like a quick and easy way to communicate for rides and changes in plans. What I have decided on, which also seems like it would suit your purposes of emergency contact for the babysitter etc… is the Solo plan. They are affiliated with Bell and sell out of Cell Phone Central on Black Street across from the Fruit Stand. The best deal seems like you sign on for a 2 year contract and the plans start at $15.00/month, which would give you 50 minutes of local minutes and 50 text messages per month. There is a $20./month plan that gives the same as above but unlimited evenings and weekend minutes, then there is the $25./month that has 100 minutes, unlimited text and unlimited evenings/weekends. It would be expensive to go over the minutes. I checked out the phones and they have several to choose from – priced from free to about $50.00 and a Blackberry( which would cost more per month b/c you have to add on a bunch of stuff for that). Good luck and happy texting!

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