Are you getting the Internet speed you pay for?

October 28 2011 by Ellen Roseman

I got lots of feedback to a recent column about Rogers not delivering the speeds that Internet customers were paying for.

This happens to some people when they upgrade to a more expensive service.

Congestion occurs if you have lots of heavy Internet users in your area or outdated equipment. Service providers use this as an excuse to get out of delivering the high speeds you expect.

But if the network isn’t adequate to handle the demand, that’s a concern for users. The problem has been around for a long time, judging by this CBC Marketplace report, but it’s no better four years later.

There’s also the issue of throttling and “traffic shaping,” which should be carried out according to the rules. The Canadian Gamers Organization just learned that its complaint about Rogers unduly restricting access to online services will go to the CRTC’s enforcement division for further action. (See Open Media’s report.)

David T. lives in Waterloo, Ont. He feels trapped dealing with Rogers Internet because there’s no real competition. Bell offers slower DSL service, so there’s not much room for poor network management.

He contacted his local TV stations about the slow speeds, but found they had no interest in covering the story. Then, he realized they’re owned by Rogers and Bell.

It’s newsworthy, in his view, because many people in the Kitchener-Waterloo area are posting comments at Rogers’ own website and at DSL Reports.

Here’s what he said in a series of emails:

I thought if I could get local media to report on this issue — Rogers Extreme Plus and Ultimate subscribers getting 1 Mbps after 5 pm, every night for two weeks — people might just fight for better service and more competition.

There’s no agency that deals with extremely slow speeds or failure to deliver speeds. I feel the media are my only option.

This is getting surreal. It’s like this big elephant in the room that Rogers oversells bandwidth in crowded areas and does nothing for months.

If people were getting 2 per cent of their electricity, gas or water at night, they would not be quiet about it.

Rogers is so horrible and time-wasting to deal with, most people just don’t bother.

I guess there is nothing a cable internet subscriber can do to get even 20 per cent of his or her advertised speed at night from Rogers. Hell, I’d take a reliable 10 per cent at this point.

People don’t seem to grasp that if you’re on an uncongested node, your service is great, but if you are on a congested node like mine where they oversold, you’re screwed.

It should be regulated, much like a bank that must have a set reserve amount for all its loans and leverages. Rogers should be required to upgrade, then go on an adding blitz.

I referred David T. to Rogers a few times. He finally says his Internet speed is back to normal. Here are some other complaints I’ve received below. Please chime in with your own experiences.

Your car questions and complaints

October 9 2011 by Ellen Roseman

Did I last update this blog in August? Where did September go? Thanks for continuing to post your comments here and checking to see what others are writing.

Here’s a recent post about car leasing from Sarah, who asks about an ethical issue. I thought I’d bring it your attention and get your comments about it.

I leased a car and I’m at my end of lease. I had the inspector come to my house and watched him do the inspection.

Long story short, he was VERY lazy and missed something that I know is a major repair. (it’s a convertible and the top won’t go down! He was so lazy he didn’t even TRY IT!)

The leasing company told my husband not to mention it and only to repair this item if the inspector catches it.

Am I only responsible for the items he listed on his report? Or am I at risk of being billed for this after the fact, even though I was not told to fix it?

This is my first lease and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to pay the $1,500 to fix it if I don’t have to.

Kerry has a complaint about a car rental, where a large damage charge was added to her bill after she returned the vehicle. This is a cautionary tale.

Attached is a bill for repairs to a car I rented 14 MONTHS after it was returned. I returned the car during office hours and was issued a receipt after the normal check for gas levels, etc. I was shown no damage.

From Avis Budget Group:
With respect to the damage that occurred to the rental vehicle, our claim is based on the following:
— $498.00 (cost of repairs)
— $110.98 (loss of use)
— $100 (administration)
— $708.88 (Total).

Is it possible for car rental companies to make claims after so much time has elapsed? What can I do as a consumer to prevent this from happening again?

Karl has a story about taking his car to a few repair shops and getting wildly varying quotes for what was needed.

My Chevy Malibu was due for an oil change and an emissions test. The car has less than 60,000 kilometres on it.

I took it to a Chevrolet dealer that I’ve used many times, without any problem. Since their emission test machine was down, I told them to go ahead with an oil change, with the GM Good Wrench 20 point check. I would do the emission test somewhere else.

The shop called me to say that the steering shaft was bent. The cost to replace it, using used parts, would be about $400. I declined, as I hadn’t felt anything unusual with steering.

The oil change was done. The 20 point check came back with green scores. There was no printed record on either invoice about the steering shaft.

Two days later, I took the same car to another dealer for the emission test. This shop had been a GM Good Wrench, now changed to KIA.

The dealer called to say the emission test could not be done because the exhaust system was leaking. The cost to fix it would be $700 plus. I declined, as the car was comparatively new and not heavily driven. I didn’t get charged by KIA. The exhaust leak finding was printed on the zero charged invoice.

The same day, I took the same car to a garage recommended by a friend, not GM, not KIA, to do the emission test. One hour later, the emission test report came out with flying colours. No mention of any exhaust leak or bent steering shaft.

Finally, I can renew my licence plate.

Talking about complaints, I got more than my usual share when I wrote a column about rising car insurance rates and shrinking accident benefits in Ontario.

Many people said I didn’t go far enough in denouncing the government’s insurance changes imposed a year ago. Some complained about rising property insurance rates as well. Check out a sample of their comments below.

If you want to see what I’m writing elsewhere, you can find my Toronto Star columns (three a week) and blog posts (two a week) at Moneyville, which just celebrated its first anniversary. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Finally, you can come to my free financial literacy workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 5.30 to 9.30 p.m., at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education. Details below:

COEC 100 Financial Basics

Work on your budgeting skills, learn how to track your spending, understand how credit products are marketed, manage your debt, compare different saving and investing options, choose a financial adviser, and avoid common financial frauds. Participants will learn the need for financial literacy as an essential life skill, the importance of asking questions when dealing with financial products and financial advisers, and the ways to save money when they think they’re stretched to the limit.

Note: Prior to the workshop, you may enroll online or in person. On the day of the workshop, you may enroll in person at the workshop location (Heaslip House, 7th Floor, Peter Bronfman Learning Centre, 297 Victoria Street, Toronto).