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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Two Nines of service: a Telus promise! 

My click-through rate on online ads is somewhere around zero: maybe one every couple of months (but hey, advertisers, keep spending the ad dollars on the Internet: it's the easiest way you can get impressions from me!) at best. But then a Telus ad made a promise so absurdly underachieving I couldn't believe it: If they drop 1% of your calls, they'll give you a small credit on your bill.

Now, I know a small amount about reliability and performance in stuff like computer networks, where something like five nines of service (99.999% uptime) is considered a hard but achievable metric. Terrestrial phone services use "five nines" as a basic standard of availability (and routinely hit it: when's the last time you picked up a phone and didn't get a dial tone?). This isn't quite the same as Telus' pathetic promise (they are implicitly promising better than 99% network availability), but the Telus promise isn't even trying. My wife and I both have mobile phones on the same (non-Telus) network, and I can't recall the last time either phone dropped a call or even had no signal.

This "promise" is so bad it actually makes me doubt the quality of Telus' network in a way I had never contemplated before. It's as if my favourite restaurant suddenly put up ads saying "guaranteed rat-free!"

They compound their bizarre marketing mistake with a pathetically mincing promise of compensation: if they DO drop 1% of their calls over a year, they'll...credit you a minute for each dropped call, to a maximum of 100 minutes. Woo! They're offering me a miniscule discount on a service whose marginal cost of provision is practically zero! I'm as happy as a little girl! It's as if my favourite restaurant put up ads saying "rat-free food, or 10% off your bill!"

So here's to Telus, for the least brilliant promotion since . . . hm. I couldn't google a worse one. Suggestions in the comments?

On top of what you said, I am guessing that you would have a hard time "convincing" them that a call had been dropped. Is a dropped call provable? I have to admit I have not done any research to see if it is actually possible to identify a dropped call other than verbalizing that you had a dropped call, but that isn't really identifying it.

If that is the only way to tell, then wouldn't it be easy enough to call in 100 times a month and get that many minutes in credits? As you have expressed, pretty weak on Telus' part.....again.
In fairness to Telus (I have to be fair, because right now I'm sure several of my friends who do or did work there are pretty cheesed at me), they do have a simple metric for a dropped call: if you call someone, then call them back within a minute and talk for at least 30 seconds, Telus counts that as a drop.

This makes it even easier to cheat on your call-drop stats, but who cares? Their billing is probably flexible enough that you could get a hundred extra minutes a year by threatening to switch carriers.
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