Are the basics of the Cogeco cable offering changing without full disclosure to their clients?

By Walter Byj; Correspondent

BURLINGTON, ON.  June 3, 2013.  Don’t wake sleeping dogs; you heard that one.

Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs is an old marketing maxim.

 These were some of the thoughts that came to mind after reading a recent letter I got from Cogeco, my cable TV provider.   I was being advised that as a part of Cogeco improving my TV package, I would no longer receive the American time shift stations, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX and PBS. They would now be available as part of the Time Shifting Theme Pack, which I could add at an additional cost. 

Time shift refers to being able to watch the stations in a different time zone. Currently Cogeco uses Seattle for the time shift channels.  As Seattle is three hours difference, a show that we watch here at 8:00 pm EST  we could watch again at 11pm our time or 8:00 pm Seattle time. That way if you miss a show, you can catch it 3 hours later.

If you use PVR,  you can copy it for later viewing. 

Was this a hidden price increase?  Or do I receive less for the same price?  Or maybe I was overreacting.  I decided to get the opinions of other Cogeco subscribers and have a more complete picture.

For some – cutting the cable is seen as an option. Are there real options to the sky-rocketing prices for communications services?

Matthew and his wife were reviewing their current package to determine if they were getting value for their dollar. Considering that they were watching less TV and subscribed to Netflix, they decided to cut back on their current selection of channels.  Janet found they were reaching their cable cost limits and would be reviewing their current package.

Vic in Grimsby said he and his brother-in-law were quite upset with this change. He utilized the time shift station often and now they would be gone.  He asked “if they are going to take away five stations from me, why don’t they give me five in their place that I would watch”. 

It was beginning to sound like a un-popular move.  Surely Cogeco has some strong reason for this change.

After a few phone calls, I was finally put in touch with a spokesperson from the corporate head office in Montreal.  It was explained to me that they did receive calls from customers stating that they did not want the above listed channels. Really.

Does this mean that when we have a channel and want to maintain it that we have to call with our approval?  Or does it mean that the people who called were hoping for other channels in lieu of the time shift channels?  Cogeco takes great pride in their customer service and the representative advised that people should call the customer service department and express their feelings. Apparently some customers are already calling in regard to the time shift channels being removed and this is an issue that Cogeco is now reviewing.

This does not mean that the time shift channels will remain, it only means that if enough anger is expressed, then perhaps they will be left untouched. The onus is on you.   With many customers on preauthorized payments and many companies not sending out monthly bills, we tend to lose touch with what we are paying today versus a year ago. 

When Vic called to express his disappointment over potentially losing the time shift channels, the customer service agent was able to offer him a somewhat satisfactory solution.  However, during the conversation, it was discovered that he was paying a rental fee for a digital box that he had bought when he purchased the TV. Needless to say, that fee is no longer being applied and a credit is forthcoming. Have you reviewed your bill recently?

There was a time when TV signals were free.  All you needed was an antenna on your roof or at the side of your house.  True, the channels were limited, but life was still good. Will the consistent rising cost of internet, phone and cable result in people looking for alternatives?

There are two HD antennas on my street. Is this a trend or isolated to just a few?

And there is talk of YouTube or somebody like that setting up a service that would let me pay for the shows I want.  No bundles – I just go to the web site and key in what I want – and that’s what I get.

Has cable TV reached its best before date?

The discontinuation of the American time shift stations is due to take place on June 18th.  That date was not set out in the letter they sent.

If you currently get those channels and will not miss them or are willing to pay more to retain them, then you need not do anything.  If, however, you are upset with their removal, then call Cogeco and let them know what you think.

They do listen.


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