May 24 2012 by Ellen Roseman
When Bruce Sturdy signed up for a Rogers wireless account for his laptop computer, he didn’t know how much data he would need.
“I’m in my 50s and I didn’t know a megabyte from a hole in the ground,” he says. “My account included 500 MB, which I assumed would be plenty.
“I also assumed that Rogers would notify me if I went over my limit and there would be a nominal fee.”
Everything went well for the first two months. But when Sturdy tried to check his usage, the Rogers website said the information was unavailable.
“I watched a moderate amount of videos over that time,” he says, “and the only indication I had there was a problem was a little blinking mail light last month that said my usage was well over the 500 MB.
“I cancelled my account and received a bill from Rogers for $1,500! I was 6 GB over and Rogers was charging me $240 per GB!”
He asked for help, since no one had mentioned the astronomical overage fee to him when he signed up. The average charge for Rogers’ plans is $10 per GB.
“Doesn’t Rogers have a legal obligation to tell me how much data I have been using while I’m using it?” he asked.
I thought he had a good case, so I sent his complaint to the Rogers’ office of the president. There, he did get some help — but not enough. He also got some bad news about his next bill.
Rogers said my bill was going to be reduced from $1,500 to around $800, but I would be billed ANOTHER $1,000 in the next billing cycle. Luckily, I could be enrolled in a variable rate plan so that $1,000 would be covered by the plan rate.
What apparently happened was when I found out that my account was over, I went on MyRogers and picked a variable rate plan. Unfortunately, I picked a plan not even Warren Buffett could afford!
I picked a Canada-US roaming plan that listed a charge of 25 cents a MB for overage. Not being great at math, I didn’t realize I was really paying $250 a GB.
I asked the Rogers fellow why $250 a GB wasn’t listed on the plan page and his weak defence was that measuring by MB was the industry standard. I suspect it was because no sane person would ever pay $250 a GB.
What really bothers me is that I enrolled in this plan because I WAS PROMPTED BY THE ROGERS SOFTWARE. When I checked my account, I got a popup saying my account was over and would I like to change to this, and beneath the roaming plan was listed.
I assumed that Rogers was trying to help me by giving me a variable rate plan, so I signed on without giving it much thought. As it turns out, the popup was really about filling Rogers coffers and I will be suffering for it for some time to come.
In my view, telecom companies must make an effort to educate customers. What is an MB or a GB? Describe it in familar terms, such as the number of TV programs you can watch. People need help choosing the right plan.
Luckily, Rogers has a higher level of appeal. I went to Kim Walker, the Rogers Ombudsman, whom I interviewed and wrote about recently. She jumped at the chance to help Sturdy.
“He followed all the right steps and his issues are quite obviously not resolved,” Walker said.
When I heard from Sturdy again, he was thrilled.
Wow, Ellen, you made the pit bull rollover, it’s unbelievable!
It was only two short weeks ago that a Rogers rep was calling me at 6:30 a.m. to “remind” me my bill was coming due in two weeks!
Now the Ombudsman has zeroed my entire bill! Not only that, she apologized profusely because no one contacted me when my overage began.
She said it was a complete breakdown in communication. She also wondered aloud why the fellow in the President’s office had decided I still owed $900, even though an obvious mistake had been made.
Going forward I will be on a graduated Rogers plan that I should have been on in the first place.
I can’t thank you enough, Ellen. You are a real miracle worker and this is a tremendous load off my shoulders.
I’ve learned my lesson. In the future, I will read every plan I sign on to CAREFULLY before I click.
What a difference a fresh pair of eyes makes in reviewing a complaint.
Rogers was smart to appoint an ombudsman two years ago and to choose a replacement who came from the front lines.
Now if only Bell could do the same thing.
SAVE THE DATE: I’m doing my Financial Basics Workshop on Tuesday, June 19, 5.30 to 9.30 p.m. at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, 297 Victoria St., 7th floor, Peter Bronfman Room. You don’t need to register, but you can just show up. You’ll get a great workbook to take home with you.