Out From Under

Last week, I was a few months into a one-year agreement with Rogers for my home cable internet connection when they sent me some mail telling me they were going to raise the prices after March. The letter said, in part:

“At Rogers, our number on priority is to bring you the best in information, entertainment and communications. That is why we continue to invest in next generation technology, providing you with leading products, services and networks. We do this to ensure that you get the most value for your money.”

That’s right, they’re ensuring I get the most value for my money by charging me more money.

I begged off, as you might imagine, though my first call to Rogers resulted in threats to charge me an “Early Termination Fee” and then send me to collections. But after doing some research, it turns out that the magic words there are “material change”; this is a material change to our contract, and hence the contract is null and void. Magic words, according to the Consumer Protection Act. Not quite as magic as they are in Quebec or the United States, but magic enough for me to convince the Rogers rep I spoke to that the contract would be ended “as if it never existed”, rather than have me suffer their ridiculous surcharge.

While I’m not a lawyer, it doesn’t appear to be a settled matter if arbitrarily raised prices actually constitute a “material change”. But the facts on the ground, including the letter notifying me of the change, strongly implies that somebody at Rogers thinks you could make that case and they have no interest whatsoever in finding out for sure. So they just waived the ETF and let me go, and presumably we’re both happier for it.

The letter also said:

“However, over the past year there has been an increase in the cost of providing you with our services, due in part to the many enhancements that we have launched.”

… and this is the sort of disingenuous nonsense that we have to put up with in Canada from companies that claim that we have plenty of actual real competition in the telecommunications field honest cross our hearts. Despite having no problems telling people, surprise, you’re going to pay us an extra $60 per year whether you want to or not, for nothing. And Bell did about the same thing, raising their prices by about the same amount, at about the same time! What a coincidence! No collusion here, it’s all totally believable that this is just one big coincidence.

It’s nice that these ostensible competitors can put their differences aside long enough to coordinate raising their customers’ prices and buy billion-dollar sports franchises together, I guess. Unless you happen to be a Canadian consumer, in which case it’s the same ongoing disaster it’s been for years.

I’m moving everything over to Wind Mobile and TekSavvy, and if you’re a Canadian who cares about the intersection between market competition and technology, you should too.

4 Comments

  1. Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Glad you’re among those Canadians who can actually make the switch away from Bell/Rogers. NOTE: many, many of us can’t due to not living in the “right” place. “From coast to coast to coast” my ass.

  2. Alex Rootham
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    No iPhone eh?

  3. mhoye
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Life is full of tradeoffs.

  4. Posted January 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I hear ya. I’ve been on TekSavvy for a few months now, and just switched to Wind last week. Both have been great so far, I haven’t missed a single thing about Rogers.