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Canadian service providers should service customers better.

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.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Mum July 26, 2007, 8:36 am

    Did you ask Rogers what they were offering in long distance rates? With Shaw, for about $170/month, we are getting internet service, telephone service with 1000 min/month of free long distance calls pretty well anywhere in the world and TV cable service. The service is excellent and we get immediate response if anything goes wrong.

  • MGU July 26, 2007, 9:03 am

    Hello Alec, You are right, of course, but I think providers should go one better. When new services are available at no additional cost, they should just be added to what the customer already has and an information message sent. Reductions in price should just appear on the next bill. Dad

  • Alec July 26, 2007, 10:39 am

    I agree with both of you. Mum – our bill is a little higher than yours, but not much. Satellite TV is $85ish, phone around $70, and internet $35. $190 total.

  • Greg July 26, 2007, 8:54 pm

    I only WISH Rogers would stop taking the initiative and calling me to offer discounts. Or more accurately– I wish their paid representatives from various telemarketing firms would stop calling.

    Even after we finally switched from their initial phone infrastructure (piggybacked or borrowed from the existing telephone lines which are probably owned by Bell or someone else they don't want to pay anymore) to the version carried on their cable infrastructure (after months of badgering) we continued to get calls.

    The most recent one… from a "Rogers" representative offering to give us a big discount on our phone, if we decide to sign up. After looking into the corner at my unsightly cable-phone box, I informed them that we already had said service. Not sure if they entered something into their calling database at that point in time, but the calling has stopped.

  • martin January 5, 2008, 11:22 am

    I'm not surprised to hear stories like that. Big monopolistic companies here in Canada never offer rebates to their loyal customers. If you want to pay less, you need to treat them to leave for another company.

    The good news is internet is starting to change things in a lot of ways for customers. Big monopolistic companies will have to adapt and start to treat their customers better if they don't want bankrupt because competition is starting to be very rough as the price is going down for many services.

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