Protesting works

April 11 2007 by Ellen Roseman

Last weekend, we went to see the The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for best foreign film. My husband and I noticed several vertical lines on the screen, so we decided to complain. We and a few others who complained got free passes to another film. Those who didn’t got nothing. The theatre (Canada Square) knew the print was scratched, but couldn’t find a replacement.

Readers often tell me they decided to protest something after reading one of my columns.

I am sure you have already written about gift certificates with expiry dates on them. I just wanted to share that I was so ticked off when I was told my Blockbuster gift certificate was no longer valid that I sent a firm, not rude, e-mail of complaint – not really expecting much. They quickly e-mailed me back to say a new card was in the mail and, sure enough, I received it a few weeks later. Buoyed by my success, I tried the same thing with Dairy Queen, which also sent me a replacement gift certificate. Protesting works.

12 comments

  1. Ellen Roseman

    Apr 11 2007

    From a reader who has learned never to assume:

    You inspired me (indirectly) to send a summary letter to
    BelAir Insurance to inquire why I did not see multiple car discounts specifically listed on my policy detail summaries for the past 2-3 years.

    I wondered if they were trying to ignore my request, but lo and behold we have received two credits totaling $1,200.

    I think the lesson for your readers is that you cannot assume that the optional discounts are being managed accordingly.
    (We have our house insurance with them too.)

    That $1,200 will pay for my car policies and next year – and then some. But I will also be shopping for alternatives.

  2. Maxwell

    Apr 23 2007

    As a one-time employee in the retail industry, I find that the louder the customer screams, the more they get. I cannot begin to tell you how often the front-line staff were cut off at the knees by someone on an office somewhere who decided to make an exception to a policy that they came up with in the first place because a customer hollered.

    The result is that bad behaviour is rewarded, which in turn can lead to even more bad behaviour.

    I’m all for standing up for one’s rights as a consumer. I’ve done it as required and don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt about it. But when a firm will only acquiesce to those that create the loudest fuss, does that not have the potential to turn every customer contact into a struggle?

  3. Maxwell

    Apr 23 2007

    As a one-time employee in the retail industry, I find that the louder the customer screams, the more they get. I cannot begin to tell you how often the front-line staff were cut off at the knees by someone on an office somewhere who decided to make an exception to a policy that they came up with in the first place because a customer hollered.

    The result is that bad behaviour is rewarded, which in turn can lead to even more bad behaviour.

    I’m all for standing up for one’s rights as a consumer. I’ve done it as required and don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt about it. But when a firm will only acquiesce to those that create the loudest fuss, does that not have the potential to turn every customer contact into a struggle?

  4. Dieter Kirshbaum

    May 8 2007

    I follow your column on a regular basis and congratulate you on the results you get when you go to bat for a consumer.

    What puzzles me is that the companies who ignore a customer’s legitimate complaint will jump and take action only when they hear from you.

    Yes, I know, they want to try and avoid unfavourable publicity.

    Why is it that they can’t do the right thing in the first place? Is that too much common sense to expect from businesses these days?

  5. William

    Sep 17 2007

    I find that more and more businesses lately are not responsive to complaints at all. I think that they may be getting immune to constant criticism and are apt to dismiss legitimate complaints as just another “crazy individual trying to take advantage of the company”. I’ve heard this said before on different blogs.

    We Canadians need to be more willing to stand up to companies that treat us poorly. We’re far too complacent. The only thing that will get the attention of some of these firms is if they see a drop in their bottom line.

  6. Paul

    Oct 17 2007

    I am currently working at Bell Sympatico Known as BIMS (Bell internet Management Services). Recently, our boss had our work schedule changed on a stupid rotation that requires us to work 3 weeks at 1 pm till 9 pm, then 2 weeks at 8 am till 4 pm and another 2 weeks at 10 pm till 6 pm.

    I would like to know if it’s correct to have that type of work schedule, since we do have family, day care or other arrangements to pick up our children. We explained the situation and the response was either you take it or look for something else.

    My concern is that our boss decides whatever she wants and the only response is “Business Need”. So I don’t know if she knows what she is doing, but this is a way for us not to have time to look for something else other than Bell. Working this type of rotation, I think you cannot have a good life.

  7. May King

    Jan 17 2008

    This is about “common sense” that the majority of big business world does not have – EMBRACING THE MUTUAL RESPECT.

    The MONOPOLY BUSINESS who have been senselessly greedy such as IBM, BELL in the past, has been driving consumers to bankruptcy. Today, the FREELY COMPETITIVE BUSINESS is driving the national economy to bankruptcy, which will lead to the unavoidable national unemployment or consumers’ bankruptcy.

    Being leader of any field does not mean to have the power to lead people to bankruptcy. As a leader, this person needs to have a very logical mind (common sense) and a compassionate heart in order to EMBRACE THE MUTUAL RESPECT and to LEAD PEOPLE to live a better and better life everyday – HEALTHY (free of STRESS) and HAPPY (again, free of STRESS).

    Solution: back to the basic: EDUCATION – the difference between NEED/WANT, RIGHT/PRIVILEGE and RESPONSIBILITY/RESPECT. The first demand SHALL BE PROVIDED and EDUCATED by the authority figure such as parents, and leaders. The second demand MUST EARN from our own hard work: study well, honesty, and volunteering to help others unconditionally for HUMANITY, NOT for FAME and/or MONEY.

    Thank you for your precious time to educate us – consumers. I am looking forward to registering your financial course offering in the U of T soon.

  8. Kamal

    Jan 17 2008

    Yes, it was also surprising for me to dind that TD customer service calls are/were answered from India.

    Recently I had an issue with TD Visa and when I called customer service rep had NO idea about my account status and/or understanding of the issue which originally TD had called me and I called back to find the details…

    I called back and talked to Supervisor/Manager and she promsied to look into this service related issue and I BET any money it got no where.. Well as TD earned/gained in Retail banking by good cust. service soon you will know/learn that they lost customers. Next time if I have to call TD and find it frustrating to talk/explain the issue that would be the I will MOVE my account. Gues what I have already started the process by opening another account and it would be just matter of closing/cancelling and/or moving automated withdrawals and BYe BYE to TD…

  9. Patricia

    Apr 12 2008

    A few days ago, I saw an ad for Virgin Mobile in the NOW weekly newspaper. It advertised several phones, and gave the prices for purchasing them with a contract or with prepaid service. I was interested in a Samsung m300 phone, which was advertised as $79 if you opted for prepaid service.

    I went to the Yorkdale Virgin Mobile store yesterday to buy a Samsung m300 phone. The clerk told me the $79 price was a temporary sale, which had ended 2 days earlier; it was now $99. I believed him and I paid $99 for the phone, which he activated for me and arranged for me to port my old Telus number over to. When I got home, I spent over an hour entering all the names from my old Telus phone into my new Virgin phone.

    Today, I was reading the current issue of NOW, and there, on page 27, was the identical ad I’d seen in the previous issue. This current ad still shows the $79 price, with no mention of “sale price” or having to buy online. I called Virgin Mobile’s Customer Care department about this, & the rep said that the $79 was a sale price & for online purchases only.

    I had the ad right in front of me and I told the rep that nowhere in the ad did it mention anything about it being a “temporary sale price” or that it only applied to online purchases from http://www.virginmobile.ca. She just repeated that it was a “temporary sale price” and for online purchases only. She added that their phones are sold in other stores, like Wal-Mart, Future Shop, etc., and that those retailers can charge whatever they like for the phones; it could be more, or it could be less.

    I pointed out to her that I bought the phone from Virgin’s OWN Mini-Store, so surely Virgin would have to sell the phone at the price listed in its OWN ads. Besides, the fine print at the bottom of the ad says “Retailers may sell for less”. It doesn’t say they “may sell for more”.

    The rep just repeated what she’d said before, and told me that if I was unhappy, I could return the phone to where I’d bought it and then buy another phone at the cheaper price from their website. As you can imagine, this would be a monumental hassle, what with the hour-long trip up to Yorkdale & back, purging the numbers from the phone, getting a new phone, activating it and putting the numbers into it.

    How can Virgin Mobile’s OWN stores (which are listed in the ad itself) charge $20 more than the price listed in its current ads and then make up stories about the advertised price being a “temporary sale price that’s expired”, or only applying to online sales? I’d expect that sort of sneakiness from Rogers or Bell, but not from a company like Virgin that claims to be straight-up and honest.

    This is a very obvious case of false advertising. I’ve reported it to the Advertising Standards Council. Has anyone else encountered this situation?

  10. Laura

    Oct 13 2009

    Direct Energy maintenance plans – renew each 12 months.

    I find it insulting that I do not get an option to renew at the prescribed time, but when I try to cancel I have to pay for the remaining months in a completely unused contract year.

    I escalated to the manager who “couldn’t” (read – declined to) do anything for me.

    So it was perfectly logical and acceptable for them to double bill me for 4 months when I upgraded plans and not make adjustments for several months; but not so logical for them to cancel something they auto-renewed without notification?

    I would never have renewed a heating plan at the end of April when I knew we would be replacing our furnace and AC in the Autumn.

    Gotta LOVE customer service……….NOT!

  11. Angie Cheesman

    Dec 9 2009

    If you are in an accident, you should “always” check to see if your accident falls under the “fault determination rules!”  These rules are not interpretive!  The Insurance Industry MUST act in accordance with them.  But they don’t.  And no one is doing a damn thing about it.  They send you a “final position” letter stating that you are 50 or 100% at fault under rule (10.4 for example) and you believe them.  Heck, they’re supposed to be acting on your behalf and you have the expectation that an “accident investigation” was done.  They don’t give a poop!  50-50 means they can raise both parties rates, and we all know how this affects our rates!Â
    Â
    In my case the, they completely “disregarded” the fault rules which, by the way, are mandated by the Federal Government.  Well, I’m fighting back.  My Insurance Company, _______, were deceptive in their actions and therefore acted in “bad faith.”  I can sue them for up to 1 million dollars and I damn well will!  I’ll win as well.  I documented everything.Â
    Â
    People make mistakes.  We all do.  But how many times can the Insurance Industry make the same “mistake” before it is perceived as “intentional?”  This is called acting in “bad faith.”  They can be investigated by the FSCO, fined for bad practice and sued by the insured party.Â
    Â
    Whoever said there is power in numbers was correct!  If 300 people ban together to have their accidents “reassessed” for fault determination and the outcome is different, we now have a case.  I will be the first to do this! There was NO grey area in my case.  They were so wrong in their assessment, so blatant in their negligence and arrogant enough to think they could get away with it.  Why?  Because they HAVE been able to do it!Â
    Â
    I’m in touch with several people now whom I believe were erroneously assessed with fault, either full or in part.  As a result their insurance rates skyrocketed!  They were FORCED to stop driving, as I was.  Five hundred dollars a month could mean financial ruin to a sole provider with three children!  I will forward his case later.
    Â
    Time and time again I hear horror stories of corruption within this industry.  Certain individuals have fought and won their cases.  A small victory for them, but at what cost?  And who is there to protect the rest of these people who don’t have the money or knowledge to fight?  I am.  That’s who.
    Â
    I propose we send a letter to our Government demanding they reassess our cases.  If the fault finding is different from any other similar cases dating back to 1990, we proceed with a class action law suit against these Insurance Companies.  If the FSCO refuses to get involved, we include them in our law suit!  I propose we all commit $100.00/month towards this law suit.  It won’t be difficult to find a firm to take our $30,000.00/month to represent us either.  I also suggest we get several Consumer Advocate Organizations to back us in our attempt to equal the playing field.
    Â
    I enlisted several independent adjusters to assess “my” accident.  All were of the same opinion and concurred that I was o% at fault with this accident!  We can involve the media to expose this widespread corruption and we may be able to find other “stronger” cases to aide us.
    Â
    If you feel you were abused by the Insurance Industry after you were involved in an accident, please contact me.  If you had to “fight” your insurance company to reverse fault in your accident, contact me.  If you feel you were FORCED to accept fault, and have, for an accident which was NOT your fault, contact me.  TOGETHER we can fight this injustice!Â
    Â
    Regards,
    Â
    Angie Cheesman
    angiecheesman@hotmail.com
     

  12. cheryl brown

    Oct 24 2011

    Hi, my car accident was in 2007. I felt ripped off, but more importantly, the lawyer’s office refused to give me the medical papers of my injuries.

    Secondly, the FMEP cannot help as my ex has evaded financial disclosure for 8 years, leaving the family penniless. Legal Aid is not helping and my friend is on disability.

    Any direction on how to advocate for this dismal position, which has used her cash and credit when together?

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