Yesterday I went shopping for a high definition PVR. I've been an ExpressVu customer since 2001, which means that I've probably spent $8,500 with them over that period of time. At the time I bought my ExpressVu system, the only option for high definition was ExpressVu. Today, however, I've got the option of going with Rogers as well. I called Rogers and asked them what incentive they could offer to switch. They offered $1200 in rental credits — basically two years of free rental for two of their top of the line high definition PVR's.
Now, we have an aversion to cable in our family. It stems back to a string of quality issues we experience with TCI in the 1990's while living in Seattle. As a result, we haven't been cable subscribers for a decade now. With Rogers offer in hand I chatted with my wife who said "I really don't want to go with cable. Can you find out what Bell will offer?".
So I called Bell. I ended up with a new high definition PVR, and about $600 worth of credits, rather than Rogers' $1200, but Mrs. Saunders was happy. Good enough.
This story really isn't about Bell ExpressVu, however. It's about our Bell phoneline. The first Bell customer service rep I spoke with in my quest to find a PVR immediately brought up our home phone service account and then proceeded to inform me that I was paying them too much. I ended up getting a couple of extra features for a couple of dollars less, she switched us to an unlimited long distance plan for $25/month that should save us $35/month, and then "bundled" our ExpressVu with the phoneline for another $5/month saving. This random encounter probably chopped close to $45 per month out of our bill.
Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for the savings that this efficient and kind lady brought to my attention. But why were they only offered when I called in? Today customer loyalty is such a fleeting thing that you would think that Bell would go out of their way to offer me savings. Not so. Lest you think otherwise, Rogers isn't any better. Getting the best value from your cellular phone means making regular calls to Rogers to find out what promotions are running, and what new packages are being offered.
It's a burden on the consumer that both companies capitalize on to maximize their profits. Their model is to offer steep "win-back" incentives to bring lost customers back into the fold, rather than trying to build customer loyalty through great service.
In Canada's cozy telecom oligopoly, it's the way we do business. In a more competitive environment, they would both be working harder to keep existing customers satisfied.