Rogers recently wrote its customers a letter, rationalizing another fee increase to their cable bills this year. In late winter 2009, they increased basic cable and other cable fees by over 5%. So after tomorrow's increase, your cable bill will have gone up by over 6.5% this year alone, just in case you hadn't noticed.
Dear Customer, [Rogers wrote]
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has established a new fund to which cable TV and satellite companies are required to contribute [get out the hankies]. The Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF) will subsidize TV stations in markets of less than 1 million people [the nerve, eh].
Starting on your first bill after August 31, 2009, you will see a new line on your invoice called CRTC LPIF fee [we'll teach the CRTC], and a corresponding charge of 1.5% of your recurring TV monthly service fee [ouch -- that's the sound of your bank account being dinged]. The 1.5% fee that is collected goes directly to the CRTC's Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF) [defining an acronym twice? who does that?]. Rogers Cable receives no financial benefit [hahahaha to suckers who believe that -- they're forcing you to pay their fees] from the LPIF fee [no, the benefit is for passing it along]. All other aspects of your service will remain the same [stay tuned for another increase in less than a year though].
If you would like more information on the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF) [man, they're really padding their text] please visit www.crtc.gc.ca [that should teach the CRTC].
Sincerely [sincerely?, you're kidding, right],
Rogers Cable Communications Inc. [The Pres is too busy to sign this, even by machine]
So this is what I wrote the President back, except you can only e-mail the President's Office through a website form after going through steps 1 and 2. Since I skipped steps 1 and 2, I doubt Rogers will read what I wrote. (Update: boy was I wrong. Rogers replied!) But you can!
This is not a complaint, it's an observation, which I'll be blogging as well. This year you increased the cable fees by over 5%, and after the CRTC decision, you are again increasing your fees by 1.5%, claiming that the latest increase is due to the CRTC's Local Programming Improvement Fund, when, in fact, you were supposed to pay the LPIF fee yourself and not pass it on to your customers. The recession has resulted in inflation so low, it's almost become deflation; therefore your costs are highly unlikely to have increased by 3.5% (5% minus 1.5%), never mind over 5% -- unless you made bad decisions on the stock market and are expecting your customers to make up for your bad. Your more than 6.5% increase in one year is outright greedy and insulting to Canadians who're struggling with the recession. But is in line with past Rogers behaviour.
However, consumers will have an alternative in less than 2 years when Canada joins the US and becomes digital. For less than the cost of 3 months of cable, people will be able to install an outdoor antenna and get all their channels in HD, Canadian and American, plus some channels not available on cable, as I've recently discovered. If the networks are smart, they'll put their cable channels on the digital sub-channels, and we'll finally be rid of high television fees. After all the cable channels are as rife with ads as the network channels are, even though originally they weren't supposed to run ads. I can now get my Canadian and US channels in HD over the air, and so have cancelled my HD terminal box rental in direct response to your passing along the LPIF fee. I will be sharing this info on my blog and Twitter. If you had not tried to gouge us with the LPIF fee after your sharp fee increase last March, I would not have cancelled my HD terminal box rental. But you angered me enough to act. The question you have to ask yourself is will there be enough apartment dwellers in 2011, the ones who have no choice as they cannot get television through antennas, to offset the homeowners who'll discover the benefits of antenna over cable -- better picture and insanely cheaper -- as well as the increasing numbers who know how to get Internet TV and will no longer need cable. Or perhaps you have, and these very high increases are a pre-emptive strike against the lower revenues of tomorrow.