I got tipped off by Tim Querengesser over at the News that the rates for using 1X data services off-plan are pretty high.
Sure enough, I just chatted with a CSR at Bell Mobility and if you’re a standard cell phone handset user and you hop on the 1X network without a data plan, Bell will charge you $51 per MB.
The off-plan rate is dependent on the device you’re using. For example, my Treo off-plan would set me back a mere $15 per MB. (I’m currently on a plan with Bell that reduces that cost to 40¢).
But the kicker is the fact that nowhere does Bell advertise these rates. I searched their web site and couldn’t come up with any information regarding off-plan 1X data rates. Worse, it took the CSR I talked to a full 15 minutes to dig up the information himself!
He even commented on the relatively high volume of calls he gets from customers with unexpected $600 cell phones bills.
Bell needs to act more responsibly in regards to informing its customers about these sorts of surprise costs. In my opinion, a mobile device should be blocked from 1X data access until it is signed onto a plan. Not only to protect consumers from mind-numbing bills, but consider if a child got hold of a 1X device unbeknownst to his or her parents and hit the web, imagine what content and personalities they could access.
UPDATE: I should note that, despite Bell’s nefarious rate policy, the company’s telephone CSRs have always been gracious enough to backdate any data charges within a billing period for me. So if you’ve been playing with 1X for a while but you’re not on a plan, call *611 right away and talk to a CSR. They’ll sort you out with a plan make sure you don’t get dinged (too badly).