Recently I contacted Shaw’s online chat support to inquire about why my bill for cable, internet, and phone is going up in September 2013 from $146 to $157 (plus tax) without a clear understanding of what, if any, additional service I could expect for the higher cost. Unsurprisingly, I will receive no benefit from this price increase. This is the same as in April 2013 when my bill went from $137 to $146. For those keeping score, that’s a 14.6% increase in 6 months.
My suggestion to Shaw is that they empower their front-line support employees to actually resolve customer complaints instead of requiring the employee to “talk to their supervisor” who – incidentally – isn’t around. Shaw’s frontline employees should be accountable for the decisions they make when resolving customer complaints and understand the ramifications. When I was speaking to the online rep, I asked if the reason for my bill going up was due to increased operating costs and channel fees. Miraculously, that was exactly the reason but I couldn’t get details when I pressed for them. However, I was invited to look at Shaw’s annual report for a breakdown of operating expenses. What exemplary customer service. I was then told I’d hear from a supervisor within 24-48 hours; this ended up being 5 days. When I spoke with the supervisor from Shaw, I got a series of excuses instead of possible options that I may be interested in. Shaw certainly wants to go out of its way to retain my business.
I would also like to suggest to Shaw that they provide employees with the true reason behind price increases. The oft-repeated reason is that I have a grandfathered package at the lower rate and Shaw wants to close the gap to its current rates. Not to worry, though, I’d be paying less than a new customer and would actually be “saving money.” I’m still sorting out the logic in that argument. Attempts were also made to justify the increase due to “inflation” (inflation in Canada is 1.2% as of June 2013 not 15%), “all prices are going up” (not like this they’re not), and “this is so we can be competitive” (is Shaw competing to be the highest price?). All hollow and empty excuses in my opinion. One other bogus attempt was made to explain it as the cost of infrastructure improvements. Shaw’s revenue in 2012 was $1.3 billion and they still made $250 million in net income. Sorry, it looks like Shaw’s already paid for those improvements – I’m sure I’ll find it under the operating expenses line in the annual report. Why not just be honest and tell me that Shaw needs to maintain a decent profit margin to satisfy shareholders who require a rising share price and healthy dividends? It sucks but it’s at least the truth.
In general, Shaw – like many cable/satellite providers – has an antiquated service delivery model and it’s no wonder subscribers are abandoning their television services in favour of online options. I’m certainly considering it: we just signed up for Netflix and there’s a surprising amount of content on there for $8/month. Combined with other content available online, I’m wondering why I need cable anymore. And, as everyone figures this out, Shaw will have to come to terms with the fact that no amount of price increases will be able to turn around faltering profits.