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Rogers Requires Some Customers to Ring a Doorbell and Produce ID Before Entering Their Stores

Phillip Dampier September 8, 2022 Canada, Consumer News, Rogers 1 Comment

Rogers’ attitude towards loyal customers seems to be summed up by what people encounter when visiting some of their retail locations: a locked door.

Canada’s largest cable operator now requires customers visiting some of its store locations to ring a doorbell, produce a government-issued photo ID, remove any head coverings or masks, and wait to see if a store employee will unlock the front door.

“The safety of our team members and customers is of the utmost importance to us,” Rogers spokesperson Chloe Luciani-Girouard said in a statement to CBC Toronto. “Several measures have been put in place over the last few years to improve safety in the stores, including robust training, upgraded cameras, and enhanced door screening policy.”

Rogers quietly implemented the new security measures at a few store locations a few years ago but refuses to tell customers which of the growing number of  store locations are affected. Most find out when they encounter a locked door and wait for a security guard to size them up using security cameras.

Some customers are unimpressed with the policy:

Rogers stores already have security guards in place as a theft deterrent, but the company obviously feels that isn’t enough to keep would-be thieves from swiping valuable cell phones.

Spectrum Raising Broadcast TV and Equipment Fees in March

Phillip Dampier February 16, 2022 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News 4 Comments

Effective March 18, 2022 the cost of Spectrum’s “Broadcast TV Fee,” charged to cable television customers, will increase $3, reaching an unprecedented $21 a month, just to cover the carriage of local, over the air television stations. The Broadcast TV Fee was last raised to $17.99 in June 2021. The summer before that, the fee increased by nearly $3 a month as well. This means the average surcharge for local, over the air stations, is going up an average of $36 a year at Spectrum.

Equipment fees are also increasing by another $1 a month, to $9.99 per HD set-top cable box. Spectrum has been regularly increasing the cost of equipment rentals since its 2016 merger with Time Warner Cable. Charter Communications argued that one of the merger benefits was a promised reduction in the monthly cost of set-top equipment. Immediately after the merger deal was approved, the company charged $4.99 a month for each set-top box. But rates began rising almost immediately. In mid-2017, the rental price was raised to $5.99 a month, and in early 2018, it increased another $1 a month for $6.99. In 2020, the price went up another $1 to $7.99 a month, then yet another $1 to $8.99 a month in June 2021. This spring, the price rises another dollar to $9.99 a month.

FCC Approves Verizon’s Acquisition of TracFone

The Federal Communications Commission today approved Verizon’s acquisition of low-cost carrier TracFone Wireless, which will bring a familiar brand for prepaid wireless service under the wireless giant’s corporate umbrella.

Sources indicate there were enough votes in favor of the deal late last week for FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to distribute an approval order on Friday ahead of the formal vote.

The approval means Verizon will control the country’s largest wireless carrier for low income subscribers enrolled in the federal government’s Lifeline program, which offers substantial discounts on phones and service. About 1.7 million customers currently use TracFone under the Lifeline program, and Verizon committed to the FCC that it would continue participating in the program for at least the next seven years. The company also promised to maintain TracFone’s existing rate plans for at least three years and would continue to promote and educate consumers about Lifeline service.

A separate agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission commits Verizon to provide subsidized wireless service to low-income California residents for at least 20 years, and a free phone to qualified customers starting in late 2022.

“Verizon welcomes the FCC’s approval today of our TracFone acquisition,” said Kathy Grillo, Verizon SVP & DGC, public policy and government affairs, in a statement. The deal will provide customers with the best of both worlds: more choices, better services and new features thanks to Verizon’s investment and innovation. Customers will benefit with enhancements in devices, network performance and innovative products and services — as well as a continued commitment to Lifeline.”

TracFone was one of the country’s largest independent wireless brands. The company was formerly a unit of Mexico’s America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim.

Hulu Live TV Raising Prices to $69.99/Mo, But Subscribers Will Get Disney+ and ESPN+ Included

Phillip Dampier November 19, 2021 Competition, Consumer News, Hulu, Online Video No Comments

Hulu’s live streaming TV service, known as Hulu Live, will get more expensive starting Dec. 21, with a stiff $5/month rate increase, bringing the cost of the 75+ channel ad-supported streaming and live TV package to $69.99 a month. Customers opting for ad-free Hulu streaming + Live TV will pay $75.99. The rate increase applies equally to new and existing customers.

The Disney-controlled service hopes to boost the perceived value of its streaming and live TV package by bundling in Disney-owned ESPN+ and Disney+, which will boost subscriber numbers for both services. Subscribers may balk, however, if they do not perceive much value from the two additional services they are now forced to pay for as part of an ongoing subscription. Subscribers might rebel and drop Hulu Live in favor of another streaming provider, while maintaining more affordable Hulu streaming-only plans ($6.99/mo for ad-supported, $12.99 for commercial-free).

Current Hulu Live subscribers that also have active subscriptions directly with Disney+ and ESPN+ can convert those paid subscriptions to credit towards the new Hulu Live bundle package. Your e-mail address must be the same for both services. If not, you can contact customer service for assistance.

Although cord-cutting continues to accelerate, the potential savings from switching to less-costly online packages of live channels has diminished as service providers boost prices. Hulu last raised its Live TV pricing by $10 a month in December 2020. YouTube TV has also seen steep rate increases, although both providers would argue their growing packages of channels offer better value to subscribers. Some cable and satellite operators have used these rate increases to their advantage, offering “win-back” discount promotions to former subscribers to return, with limited success. Spectrum has seen some growth offering streaming cable TV packages that bundle local channels and popular cable networks over wireless devices, smart TVs, and Roku for about $30-35 a month.

Spectrum Drops Gigabit Install Fee to $19.99, Was $50-200

New customers in competitive service areas can pay less for gigabit service, but anyone can get the higher speed tier for a $19.99 “activation fee.”

Charter Communications has slashed its arbitrary installation and activation fee for Spectrum’s gigabit broadband service to $19.99 for new and upgrading customers.

For years, customers paid fees ranging from $49.99 to $199.99 just to sign up for gigabit internet speed. Ongoing service pricing ranges from a promotional price of $89.99 a month in competitive service areas to $134.99 a month for broadband-only service where competition is lacking or non-existent.

Real world speed tests show Spectrum Internet Gig performing at around 940 Mbps for downloads and just shy of 40 Mbps for uploads.

Current customers might be able to order the speed upgrade online through Spectrum’s customer service portal. No service call is required.

Some customers might need a new modem to take advantage of gigabit speed. Spectrum can swap out existing modems at their cable store locations or by mail.

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