London Ontario Canada

July 7, 2011

Telephone Should Be An Essential Service

On Monday July 4th my phone, internet and cable were disconnected. I listed them in order of importance. My phone is connected to the intercom five floors below. I cannot buzz anyone up, nor can I call for an EMS if there is an emergency. This leads me to think a phone should be an essential service.

Cutting off the phone is also a dumb plan because now I cannot even talk to Rogers if I did in fact want to make everything right with them.

I lost my services primarily because I cannot afford them. I allowed to reduce them to make them more affordable. My services also went up about $70, making catching up a lot harder to do. Rogers. Do you know them? If you deal with them I strongly advise you to shop around for another service. Any other service. If you are a lawyer type, I strongly suggest you pay attention. I am sure there is a class action lawsuit in there somewhere. I’ll sign up.

Rogers has a strange way of billing their packages. My last package was basic phone with 1 feature, ultra highspeed internet (more for the 80gb cap than the speed) and VIP cable because it includes The Leafs channel and The Golf Channel. That package, with a 30% discount for 3 years given after the last time I tried to leave, cost about $125 a month. (If you are with Rogers and have been for a few years, call and make like you want to reduce or give up services or whatever works to suggest you might be bailing, and they will offer you 30% off. Maybe just calling and saying you know about the 30% will work)

That $124 is for the package.

Here’s how Rogers gets evil and perhaps illegal. At some point Rogers decides to take away your package. You still keep all your options, even the ones you didn’t want but took because they were in the package, but pay for them individually. That is how my bill went up $70 a month. This can almost be accepted if they told you as soon as it happened. I know they can because they can tell me daily what my bandwidth usage is and send a pop-up message on-screen to tell me when I hit 75%. The worst part is that one cannot reduce services (like drop cable) for a few months so as to catch up with the bill. The debt grows faster and options for making it manageable are only available when you have a zero balance. Something in that business model is not right.

I have lived here for over 13 years and this is the 1st time I have been cut-off, but not the first time I have been in debt to Rogers. This debt is a few hundred dollars less than the last time I came close to a total shutdown. In fact, I should still have services but I missed a step. Based on years of experience I thought I knew they system. First they would call (maybe mail something but I don’t read Rogers mail because it is always just advertising. I got bills online) and a recorded message would say to call Rogers. When that call is made, that starts the clock. If you ignore that call (a few times a day) eventually you will get a notice hand delivered saying to pay up by a certain date (often days after notice is given) or be disconnected. This is where you would call Rogers and make arrangements to pay down your bill. You promise to pay specific amounts on specific days. Usually it is more than you can afforded and sooner than you can manage it, but at least it’s a final option. I missed the notice step or they stopped doing that.

I did get a visit from Rogers on Monday. I was heading out, the phone rang indicating someone was buzzing up. I answered and the voice said Rogers. I suspected it was the notice and said “I’ll be right down” and was answered with an “ok”. As usual I took the stairs down and when I got to the lobby there was nobody there. Nobody was outside and I saw no signs of a Rogers van. I went back in and the elevator was on my floor. Did he go up? I called the elevator and waited. When it arrived there were four people aboard. Three I recognized. There was a guy with a clip board. I made eye contact and got a blank stare back so up I went. Nobody upstairs so that was likely him. No waiting required, I took the elevator down again to meet the same results as the first time. Nobody and no sighting of a service van.

Perhaps I should have spoken to the man with the clip board upon first sighting. In my defence he didn’t look like a Rogers guy. He wore worn shorts and an untucked, unkempt short-sleeved shirt and the paper on the clip board did not have a Rogers logo…or any logo for that matter. I waited around a bit and still no sighting so I went to the store as I originally intended before he buzzed. I figured I’d get home and find the final notice in my mail slot or stuck on my door. Sometimes the just stick them up by the buzzer panel. I suspect with the intentions of embarrassing you in front of your neighbours. There was no notice anywhere to be found. What was to be found was no phone, internet or cable.

I have since gone to my neighbours and called Distributel. I have heard good things about them and intended to call them next time my Rogers bill was at a zero balance. Odds are I wouldn’t though, because I would be complacent. I am telling you now not to be. Switch away from Rogers asap. If not just to save money, then to send a message that their gouging won’t be tolerated. The bandwidth caps alone should be enough to sway you. They charge $5 for each gig over the cap. Do they credit you if you are under? Of course not.

With Distributel I will be getting highspeed broadband (through cable not phone) internet with unlimited bandwidth and a phone service with all the features for under $70 including HST. There is no contract and no hidden charges. $57.40 plus HST and that is all.

What will I be missing? Cable. Distributel does not do cable and I am facing North so cannot use any dish services. I can watch movies and TV shows online, just not “live” and Netflix is only $7.99 a month. I will miss watching Leafs games. I’ll miss watching them a lot. That is about the only bad hit in all of this. I know I can pay to watch them stream but it wouldn’t be the same as the familiar telecasts I grew up with. I’ll figure something out by October 7. If I switched my ISP I could have retained my phone number, but since I was out of service I have to get a new one. I also have a new email. That makes for a lot of changes to logins and contacts, a lot of which I will forget about. I guess if I forget to tell someone my new addy or phone # they’ll track me down. I can look at is as way of cleaning out unused services or people long moved on.

This is a blessing in disguise, so I tell myself and my son repeatedly as we live out the next couple of weeks awaiting Distributel’s equipment and technician (they Rogers technicians, oddly enough). It is a kind of house arrest with all services taken. With the flick of a switch life changes, but I’ll write about that later.


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