Industry Canada’s flawed “Which Cell Plan? A Calculator” project actually cost $1.4 million

cellphone-calcAbout a week ago it was discovered that Industry Canada had worked on a rate plan calculator that according to the official description was “an interactive tool to help you better understand the Canadian cellphone marketplace… The calculator sill suggest examples of Canadian personal cell plans which may match your needs. It has information on monthly, prepaid, network and share plans.”

However, this project was eventually trashed due to “technical reasons”. We believe this is the real reason as we showed a slideshow of how the “Which Cell Plan? A calculator” actually worked. It was missing major parts such as data plans.

We first heard news that this had an estimated cost of only $60,000, but have found out that this was only for the Decima Research focus groups that took place in Halifax, Vancouver and Montreal. The more realistic dollar value that was spent was closer to $1.4 million.

The CBC is reporting that “about 60 per cent of the cost went toward services within Industry Canada, the ministry overseeing the project, and staff time for product and IT development. The remaining costs were for research, design and other services from outside contractors, as well as administrative costs”.

We previously heard Bernard Lord, President & CEO of the CWTA say the calculator was “flawed since it did not take into account data plans, bundle discounts and hardware subsidies offered by carriers”… in addition, “the minister made the right decision, to not continue to dump good taxpayer money into a tool that was ineffective”.

Today, Michel Cimpaye, a spokesman for Industry Canada said “even at this cost technical limitations prevented us from building a tool that captures the full spectrum of products and offers available to consumers in the cellphone marketplace. Through this project, the Office of Consumer Affairs has developed a greater understanding of consumer needs in the cellphone marketplace. In addition, possible future products would benefit from the work done on this project.”

Perhaps we’ll see a new government project soon. I’m not a fan of losing any money or having my taxes go to waste, thankfully it was only at $1.4 million over a 3-year period. It could have been way worse.