About a year ago the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) announced big changes to the way satellite and cable providers operate. Apparently this was in response to consumer complaints about the manner in which channels are bundled.
Over the years I’ve certainly cursed our provider for not giving me the power to pick what I want as opposed to what they think I should have. But I’m not naïve. Selling is the goal of any company wishing to succeed. What they’ve miscalculated is how much the marketplace, or indeed customers themselves, have changed.
Many people have turned their backs on traditional TV programming just as they’ve fled landline telephones. With options like Netflix, Shomi, Crave, Apple TV, streaming media, and the ability to watch network TV on smart phones, tablets, and laptops, the playing field has changed. They don’t see the value in traditional delivery methods. Nor do they feel any loyalty to the company.
So, today I spent a lot of time reviewing our provider’s website to see how they were complying with the ruling to provide a “skinny basic” package costing no more than $25 month. Companies were also instructed to offer ?pick-and-pay? options, give self-identified people with disabilities a thirty-day trial option, provide easy to understand billing that identifies prices, channel lists or bundles, and clarity around service calls. While enforcement begins September 2017, the basic cable package had to be in place March 1, 2016.
After studying the site and making a list of questions I called the 800 number. Ryan from Customer Service was the lucky guy to get my call. Son-of-a-gun if the listed packages weren’t in fact promotions exclusively for new sign-ups. But what about us?reliable, loyal billing-paying customers for fifteen years?I asked. You should talk to our Loyalty Department, I’m sure they can do something for you, he said.
Lucky Alexandra got the transferred call. It’s a little sad that in each case I had to direct them to pages on their websites so they could see what I was seeing. Before long Alexandra was trying to end the call and have me agree to what she was offering because they “didn’t want to take up anymore of my time.”
“I’ve got time,” I said.
Long, long story short, an hour and half later I was offered and accepted an eight dollar a month credit for two years plus a hundred dollar credit on a second HD receiver. I would pay the five dollars in tax, they’d cover the unit and provide free shipping. They’d also be willing to recommend a cheaper package that includes the type of channels we actually use if and when I call back with a list of our favourite channels. I’m not holding my breath on that, frankly, but will do it to see what happens. Or I can go with Netflix and the seven channels (not counting the French ones or the duplicates) in the skinny basic and call it a day. It’s not likely though. I’m not ready to cut the cord yet, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.