On Saturday I took advantage of Rogers 30 day moneyback guarantee and returned the Rogers Portable Internet WIMAX modem I wrote about last week. The reason for returning it boiled down to value. I purchased it hoping to be able to use it for occasional travel. If you make a couple of trips per month in Canada, then spending a few dollars with Rogers for a guaranteed internet connection sounded like a great deal. However, the service was so weather affected that I was really only able to get acceptable performance from it for a couple of hours over the Thanksgiving weekend. $49.95 per month for that level of service was hard for me to justify, given how often I expected to use it.
The process of purchasing and returning this unit, by the way, was one of the more surreal customer service experiences I've dealt with in some time. It began when I spotted a great looking deal on the Shop Rogers website. Rogers was apparently offering a full year of service on their Rogers High Speed Portable Internet service (not the cheesy 256K service) for $19.95 per month, and had waived the $29.95 installation fee. Printing the offer, I made a trip to my local Rogers store, only to discover that the offer was apparently not available through the store. The rep, a terrific young guy named Patrick, spent 45 minutes talking with different people at Rogers. When he had made no progress and I needed to leave, he suggested I simply buy the modem, call the customer line myself, and if I was dissatisfied I could then return the modem on the 30 day moneyback guarantee.
So I did.
Later that day I telephoned and spoke with a young woman named Sarah. It turned out, in fact, that the ShopRogers site was misleading. Very misleading! The page for the High Speed Rogers Portable Internet service asked you to "Click here to view our special introductory offer", which took you to a page offering "Pay $19.95 for 12 months", which then took you to a page offering portable internet for $49.95 per month less a $5 promotional offer. You can see for yourself below.
I expected that Sarah would simply honour the offer made on the site. After all, anything less would be false advertising, would it not? Sarah, however, offered me a $100 discount. When I objected, noting that the site offered a $30 x 12 month discount for High Speed Rogers Portable Internet, plus an additional $29.95, or $389.95, she then offered $150. I asked to speak with her supervisor. Perhaps the supervisor had the authority to honour Rogers offer.
This is where we entered the twilight zone.
The supervisor began by informing me that since I hadn't accepted Sarah's offer, it was now "off the table". When I tried to show her the offer on the internet, she explained that she didn't need to look at the web site because she already knew all the offers. After arguing with me for 10 minutes about the offer, she finally looked at the web site, and acknowledged that there was a misleading offer there. After speaking with her for a further 10 minutes, she offered one month of free service, a $49.95 value and stonewalled on any further compensation. The supervisor, instead of fixing the situation, had only made it worse.
Wondering if I could get any satisfaction from ShopRogers, I called their line and spoke with a young lady there. She immediately saw the problem, and offered to submit a trouble ticket to the ShopRogers website, in order to ensure that others weren't similarly mislead. She also offered a $49 credit on the modem, and an additional month of service.
It was a very frustrating and weird experience. Never have I seen the "it's off the table" tactic used against consumers. Nor have I have ever seen a company as unwilling to honour a published offer as Rogers was. Moreover, as of five minutes ago, the web site still hasn't been fixed so they're still pulling the same bait and switch tactic on anyone else looking to buy Rogers Portable Internet.
As for me, I have the $99 price of the modem back in hand, and I'm glad I didn't commit to 12 months of service at even $19.95. It simply wasn't worth it for the amount of use I intended to make of it.