Tuesday, July 8, 2014



I was one of the doubtful when the latest head of Rogers Cable talked about a better deal, a more competent relationship, with customers.
My experiences keep proving me right. Now I just had a wasted hour from hell lost in call centre gimmicks and got nowhere.
I wasn't surprised. After all, Rogers is hardly noted for its customer relations. Some of that is due to the basic nature of the cable business, I'm sure, others to the giant size of the company, but its corporate philosophy has developed rot holes.
Ironically, I live in that Royal York and Bloor neighbourhood where the first pay TV experiment in the world was conducted. Indeed, our first cable service came in over the old Telemeter lines.
And I kept bumping into Ted Rogers as he grew from running a FM station that few listened to until he became the owner of the Sun newspapers and seemed slightly puzzled that this Editor had so few checks on what he wrote. He surprised me favourably by never complaining about an editorial in which I blistered Rogers billing practices. (I would like to write that one again.)
My son Mark, who works and spends most of his time in China, arranged a giant TV as a gift, along with all the extra paraphernalia from Rogers to record programs when we have fled to the cottage. Wonderful, except there are often brief interruptions in the recorded programs even though we've taken the box back and have had servicemen come for three visits.
Despite our rocky relationship with Rogers, we decided to go to a "hub" for access to the Internet at the cottage. Mark was persuaded by a smart staffer at the Royal York and Bloor store who really knew her stuff. So he paid her $200 for the gadget,  arranged for me to pay the monthly charges, installed it at the cottage, used it for two days, and returned to China.
Then the bill arrived in his name. First there was that $2 paper invoice fee which is a ripoff that I thought Ottawa was going to ban because many of the people without computers to receive email bills are poorer seniors. (Oh yes, the fee rises to $2.26 because of HST. ) Then there was a partial monthly charge of $20 for this "rocket hub internet." Then there was a connection fee of $15 which was never mentioned before the sale. Add HST. And the total is $41.81.
But why should the son have to pay when I am using it? Especially when he did all the nuisance work in dealing with Rogers.
So I phoned and waited in an electronic queue. After a few minutes, the computer arranged for me to be called back. So 20 minutes later, I get a human, sort of.  I explained. The company was told to put the monthly hub charge on my bill which is already over $230.  Can't do it, the human said. We need your son's permission. But he's in China and won't be back for months. Doesn't matter, the automaton repeated. Over and over.
These aren't huge sums we're dealing with, but I believe dads don't stick sons with even small bills. And it's not exactly as if we're harming the son when his charge is erased. No deal, the Rogers clerk said, not even pretending to be helpful.
I asked for a supervisor. Put on hold to listen to music for 25 minute. The alleged human returns to say no supervisor available. Says call centres are down in the Maritimes and possibly the moon. Puts me on hold again. Music still atrocious. Hang up.
I have been lazy and not arranged to use the same satellite service I have at the cottage at my home too.  Guess this is the nudge, no make that the kick, that will lead eventually to my cable/satellite/cellphone bill being cut in half and Rogers being cast adrift.
The irony is that everyone knows that Rogers - and BCE for that matter - are becoming lousy investments. Their current business is changing radically as people abandon their landlines and change their viewing.
 Future generations will look back on us and companies like Rogers like we now look back at wringer washers and daily dairy deliveries and indeed at the first radio that would operate without a battery that Ted Rogers' father invented.
Now that really was an invention. These guys in 2014 are just piggybacking on other companies.


So Mark and I exchanged two emails on this subject. Then after I failed, Mark tried from the other side of the world in Dalian, China.  Used a Mac and then a PC and 20 minutes of coping with the perplexing Rogers system and in the end all he managed to do was get it charged to his card. And he with his two degrees actually works for a giant computer company.
 "I wish this could have been simpler," he lamented. So do I. And in the end, so does Rogers because this, of course, is the way to corporate failure.

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