Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print [Rewritten & Updated]

Rogers iPhone

[This post is a rewritten version of an earlier July 28, 2008 post. I ‘purchased’ a 3G iPhone on August 13. In the mean time I spoke at length with two Rogers representatives on the telephone and spent a couple hours of quality time with "Jay" at the Rogers Store at Bay & King in Toronto. Click here for my prior summary of the Rogers 3G iPhone Rate Plan Offerings]

$199 and $299 Price ONLY on New Activations

I was  unpleasantly surprised when I ‘purchased’ my 16 GB 3G iPhone, that they charged me $324.99 instead of the $299 advertised price. The Rogers rep (Jay) told me that the $199 and $299 prices are available only to new Rogers customers. I had been a month to month Rogers subscriber since November 2001. The representative explained that I was getting a special deal given that I’m a high-value customer. I was told that ‘lesser value Rogers customers’ face up-to a $50 premium over the advertised $199/$299 prices.  I didn’t feel special!

30 Day Buyer’s Remorse Returns

Summary: iPhone purchasers can return an iPhone for a full refund and without having to pay the Early Cancellation Fees discussed below provided all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the iPhone is returned within 30 days of activation to the store where it was purchased;
  2. you have used less than 30 minutes of airtime (no more than 29 minutes);
  3. you provide your proof of purchase (receipt – contract); and
  4. the iPhone is undamaged and returned ‘like new’ with all pieces and original packaging.

Contract Provisions: The Buyer’s Remorse provision in my contract (printed out at the store – you’ll need a magnifying glass to read it) says:

Rogers may allow for the cancellation of your Service without an Early Cancellation Fee with the following conditions: 1) device is returned in complete and original condition to the store where it was purchased (if customer owned) hardware, this condition does not apply) and 2) cancellation is requested within 30 days from date of activation and 3) your account has incurred less than 30 minutes of airtime usage. You will be billed for all charges incurred up to the point of deactivation.

Warning: If you want to rely on this Buyer’s Remorse option while you are testing the phone, do not use the voice services of the phone. Twenty-nine minutes go by extremely fast. While testing I recommend letting all calls go to voicemail and call in to get your voicemail from a land line.

No Data Limits: There was originally to be a 150 KB data limit during the remorse period. As of May 16, 2008 Rogers changed the policy and there are now no data use limits (except for your dataplan limits). So, unlike the 29 minute voice restrictions, you have no similar arbitrary data limit that will limit your buyers remorse return rights.

Early Cancellation Fees ($125 Min – $500 Max)

Bottom line:  If the Buyers Remorse Return rights do not apply and you want to cancel your iPhone contract, you’ll be paying an Early Cancellation Fee (ECF) that at the  minimum will be $125 and at the maximum will be $500 .

Contract Provisions: Below are the mandatory 3 year contract Early Cancellation Fees provisions provided to me when I purchased my iPhone on August 13, 2008 (you’ll need a magnifying glass to read them):

3G iPhone Device Early Cancellation Fee:

And Early Cancellation Fee (ECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of your service agreement. The EFC is the greater of (i) $100 or (ii) $20 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of $400 (plus applicable taxes) and applies to each line in the plan that is terminated.

Data Plan Early Cancellation Fee:

In connection with your wireless data service, a Data Early Cancellation Fee (DECF) also applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of your plan’s commitment term (Data Term). The DEFC is the greater of (i) $25 or (ii) $5 per month remaining in the Data Term, to a maximum of $100 (plus applicable taxes) and applies in addition to the ECF for termination of your service agreement. If you subscribe to a plan combining both voice and data services, both the ECF and DECF apply.

Despite the foregoing I was told verbally that I could adjust my dataplan (I subscribed to the 6GB plan for $30 a month) up or down during the term without paying a DECF – just so long as I subscribe to a dataplan with the iPhone.

iPhone Bricked on Cancellation

[Nov 6, 2008 Update: As you can see from my post here, contrary to the assertions of Rogers representatives, the Rogers iPhone is not completely bricked without service.]
If you cancel the contract after the buyers remorse period, despite paying some $924 for the device ($324 up-front plus the $500 cancellation fee) your iPhone will be bricked. You will not be able to use the iPod Touch features of the iPhone. You won’t be able to use it as an iPod. You won’t be able to use it with another carrier or with AT&T in the U.S. unless you jailbreak/unlock it (see below).

You could, however, sell the iPhone to a third party who could activate on Rogers with or without committing to a three year contract.

Jailbreaking the iPhone after Cancellation

Jailbreaking/Unlocking the iPhone, of course, is an option that Rogers will point out breaches their terms of service. We can hope that the Canadian government might one-day soon follow the U.S. lead, and explicit permit consumers to unlock their mobile devices for personal use – despite Byzantine contractual provisions to the contrary.

You could also sell your jail-broken Rogers iPhone to an American where it is explicitly legal to unlock the iPhone for use on their AT&T network.

Third Party Transfers Without Early Cancellation Fee

If you can find someone to take your iPhone and commit to a three year contract (or whatever current contract Rogers makes available to iPhone customers at the time of the transfer), there will be no ECF payable.

The upside is obvious, no cancellation fee. The downside is, who would take up a used iPhone under a full 3 year contract – with a non-replaceable battery that is loosing its charge over time? The only benefit to the transferee is whatever discounted price you agree on for the iPhone itself. It may work out to your benefit to pay the transferee, say $100, to take the iPhone to avoid the cancellation fee.

Warning: Transferring the iPhone will result in your loosing your phone number.

iPhone and Rogers Bundles

The iPhone and data plan can be purchased as part of a Rogers bundle. You can, for example, purchase Rogers Internet, Rogers cable and Rogers mobile etc. under one bundled bill. If you receive percentage discounts off the regular stand-alone fees for each of these the bundle discounts will apply to monthly iPhone fees as well.

Current iPhone Shortages and Aug 31 Deadline

If you want to take advantage of the current Rogers $30 – 6 GB dataplan offer, which ends on August 31, 2008, you’ll need to have purchased the iPhone, signed the contract and activated it on or before August 31. I mention this because there is currently a shortage of iPhones across the country. If you wait until the last minute and their are no iPhones available (or the model or colour you want is not available) at the end of August, Rogers will not extend the plan beyond August 31st until the unit you want is available. If you want in, start your planning/searching now.

Note: The Rogers representative told me this won’t happen because they have sourced enough units to satisfy demand to the end of August. We’ll see.

Upgrading to Future 32 Gig iPhone

apple app store iphone

Upgrades WITHIN the First Year (if no Full Retail iPhone Available): When the inevitable 32 Gig iPhone comes out, if Rogers does not make it available as a purchasable item at full retail, if you want it, you’ll have to: 1) cancel your current iPhone contract (paying the full $500 Early Cancellation Fees), 2) pay for the new iPhone; and 3) sign up for a new three year contract. Eek!

Upgrades WITHIN the First Year (if iPhones Available for Purchase at Retail): The foregoing would not be the case if Rogers makes the 32 Gig model available for purchase at full retail price. If they do and you purchase the new unit at the full retail price, you’ll be able to port your current 3 year plan to the new iPhone without having to pay Early Cancellation Fees and you’ll still have the old iPhone that you can sell to another person that could activate it on a month-to month plan.

Note The Rogers rep, Jay, at the King and Bay Rogers store says he believes Rogers will be selling iPhones at full retail before the end of 2008. We’ll see.

Upgrades AFTER the First Year: Rogers permits only one upgrade in a 12 month period. The 12 month clock starts ticking from the date the iPhone is activated. The various Rogers representatives could not tell me what the upgrade fee will be because the fees will vary depending on a host of factors including the price of the new hardware; the length of the new replacement contract; whether Rogers considers you a high value customer at the time etc.; and the phase the moon is in (that last point was a joke 🙂 ).

Data Roaming in Canada

As you can read in my original post, if Canadians roam to the U.S. and abroad there are hefty roaming fees on the iPhone data plan.

So, remember to shut off your 3g radios when travelling abroad!).

Happily there are no data roaming fees when Rogers customers wander around in Canada. So long as you are in Canada and you can get a signal, you can use your iPhone dataplan from anywhere in the country at no extra cost.

365 Day Warranty

If your iPhone dies or malfunctions and Rogers determines it wasn’t your fault (you weren’t jail-breaking, you didn’t drop it on concrete or drop it in the toilet), Rogers provides a 365 day warranty.

Warning: Unfortunately, if you are responsible for breakage, or if the unit malfunctions after the first 365 days, the warranty doesn’t apply, you will not get a free replacement unit but you are still responsible for your 3 year contract!! I went round and round with Jay (the Rogers rep) on this point. Since you cannot currently purchase a replacement iPhone to use with your contract, you will have to cancel your contract (and pay the ECF – see above) if you want out of your contract after you break your iPhone.

As mentioned above, Jay (the Rogers rep) believes there will be iPhones available for purchase by the end of 2008. If this is true than this is not such a problem. But Rogers has not committed to that. You could also, of course, transfer your three year contract to another phone that isn’t an iPhone.

Moving SIM Between Phones

I confirmed that the SIM in the iPhone will work with any other GSM phone. So, for example, if you are travelling with you iPhone and the battery runs out, you can move the SIM from the iPhone into any other GSM phone and your voice service will work with the other phone. This is important because there is no user swappable battery in the iPhone.