SUNDAY, MAY 27/2001
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. We appreciate hearing from our subscribers regarding our service. We consider the tone that you have taken in your e-mail to be of an inappropriate nature. We have chosen to overlook your indiscretion to answer your question(s) at this time. If you choose to use profanity or generally have disregard for the personnel who are attempting to support you, your question(s) will not be answered. Sincerely, Lucy C.
To Rogers: Listen to me, you fuckers. I have sent you numerous e-mails with a promise for response, and I have yet to receive anything. Are you assholes doing this on purpose? I am fucking waiting for a proper response. Don't you dare for one second think that you can treat me like a child by cutting off "privileges" when I am paying you 100 dollars a month.
MONDAY, MAY 28/2001
To Bischof: Thank-you for your e-mail. We strive to provide you with the highest level of customer support, and hope we can be of assistance in addressing your questions. All your e-mails have been replied to, and most have been escalated to management. Please be patient.Sincerely, Dan M.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30/2001
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. We appreciate hearing from our subscribers regarding our service. We apologize if you have not gotten a response to your previous messages. Please be assured that someone will look into your concerns. We have re-escalated your e-mail to management. Sincerely, Darren P.
THURSDAY, MAY 31/2001
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. We appreciate hearing from our subscribers regarding our service. We completely understand your frustrations regarding the whole issue. As we have advised in our previous e-mails, the issue have been escalated to our manager. We are not in the business of ignoring or mistreating our customers. We consider you as an individual and you as a customer is (sic) very important to us.Sincerely, Lucy C.
To Rogers: Hello?! Anyone there?! I haven't heard back from anyone, except for Lucy, and she doesn't count. Does anyone work here? Can anyone actually put two sentences together that are not already written for them in a manual beside their desks? Can you perhaps address my issues? Are you passing my message to management again for the 30th time? Are there only the three of you in the whole of this company? I received a bill today that I just had to laugh at. I will pay half of it (the half pertaining to cable TV), but I will not pay for the Internet services.
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. We appreciate hearing from our subscribers regarding our service. We would like to apologize for the intermittent connection you experienced. We have been doing everything possible to rebuild the cable plant in the area to resolve the issue. As the work is being completed you should experience a more stable connection. As a result of your previous e-mails, the technicians have applied two weeks' worth of credit to your account. We are now adding another month of service at no charge as a goodwill gesture to a valued customer.Sincerely, Chris W.
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. The events that you have documented portray a real communication breakdown between Rogers@Home and you, the customer. Although your impression of the service may be biased (and rightly so), we are not in the business of ignoring or mistreating our customers. By stating that things are getting better, we acknowledge that we are not perfect. We believe that, together with you and your feedback, we can provide you with the Rogers@Home experience the way it was meant to be.Sincerely, Lucy C.
To Rogers: What whoever is reading this e-mail needs to do right now is pull up my history on your terminal so you can see what I'm talking about. Usually my husband makes the calls to your "tech support" people and says the same thing over and over and over and over again. We have been danced around like a couple of idiots by people telling us (with absolutely no knowledge or justification) that "the service will resume either tonight or at latest tomorrow," which is a bunch of crap. Address my issues!!
To Rogers: Hey! Is anyone going to respond?! Or am I being passed over again?! I thought that because we haven't had any service for two days, for sure there would be a response for me when it finally got going. I see that I'm wrong.
To Bischof: Thank you for e-mailing the Rogers@Home Electronic Support team. We appreciate hearing from our subscribers regarding our service. We apologize if no one from management has gotten back to you. We have re-escalated your message to management for follow-up. Unfortunately, there are still network issues ongoing in your area which may be causing you intermittent connection. Our engineers are working on the issue and we hope to have these problems resolved soon. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Sincerely, Darren P.
Rogers not Home
Rhea Bischof has seen the TV infomercial for Rogers@Home cable Internet service, the one where a smug guy in a suit compares Internet connections as "alternate realities." A family is shown in black and white with a dial-up connection, then in full colour with Rogers@Home. But when Bischof began complaining seven months ago about Rogers@Home's huge lack of connection, she started a long and unrewarding fight to get recognition of her problem from Rogers management, not to mention the cable service she was paying for.
Bischof bounds into the NOW office with a stack of e-mail correspondence between her and Rogers -- she doesn't look furious in person, just weary from sparring with the company and from her freelance design work. "I'm not the type of person who gets angry easily, but this has really ticked me off," she says.
After Bischof sent numerous long angry e-mails and received at least 16 automated responses personalized only by her case number, she finally scored a message from a manager who apologized for the intermittent connection. The manager, "Chris W.," added a month of free service to her existing credit of two free weeks of Rogers@Home.
"That's supposed to pacify me? I don't think so. It's a slap in the face to have a month's free service," says Bischof, who notes that new subscribers to Rogers@Home receive two free months among other extras. "If I sit in front of my computer 24 hours a day, I'm lucky if I may connect twice, and I'll get cut off after a couple of minutes."
Company rep Taanta Gupta says Rogers@Home has improved its attention to customer service, and that Bischof has not been ignored. "We should have moved faster on it," says Gupta about the technical failure Bischof experienced.
And the billing? "We've been quite generous to this customer," says Gupta.
But Chris Weisdorf (the similarity of this name to the aforementioned Rogers manager is a coincidence), president of the Residential Broadband Users' Association (RUBA), has seen the scenario before.
Weisdorf's group formed in 1998 as the Rogers@Home Users' Association after cable Internet experienced its first service "meltdown" in the GTA (followed by another in October/November 2000). Weisdorf says Bischof's experiences are typical among past Rogers customers but that service has improved in the last six to eight weeks. "There's been no public disclosure. At the very least, they should have a network status page (where subscribers can see statistics and real time updates published on the providers' Web servers)," says Weisdorf.
"They (Rogers) don't have a whole lot of control over their Internet service," he says. "Excite@Home provides almost every aspect of it, including IP addresses, mail servers (and others). Rogers deals with the wiring, (which is) the physical layer, and they provide customer service and support."
California-based Excite@Home is owned by AT&T and contracts out the @Home services to other large U.S. cable companies like Cox and Rogers, which also serves Canada. Weisdorf says that of a $40 cable Internet bill, Rogers will get 70 to 80 per cent, while U.S. cable companies generally give @Home a 50-5o cut.
"Rogers is just forwarding what (Excite)@Home says. If it's a network problem, @Home follows up. Meanwhile, Rogers says things will be better. They've been told (by Excite@Home) that it's being dealt with."
Weisdorf explains that Excite@Home controls the "higher" layers of the Internet packages -- the content that comes across the cable wires Rogers provides. He says it took him a year and a half to discover that Rogers doesn't do its own cable provisioning. Internet and e-mail accounts come from @Home in Cal-ifornia.
"If a subscriber's having problems with his or her account, they have to rely on somebody in California," says Weisdorf, who notes that even Rogers has publicly stated it is hoping to change this. "It's a lot easier to have your problems solved when you're dealing with one company than with a contractor."
But Gupta says Rogers plans to stay with Excite@Home as its "backbone services" provider but that Rogers wants to reclaim some management functions, like cable Internet provisioning.
Forty-eight hours after NOW spoke to Gupta, Bischof's service was restored by Rogers@Home cable technicians. And although her @Home service is now up and running, she hasn't let Rogers off the hook.
"I don't want anything huge," she says. "I want the money back for the service I didn't get that I paid for. I'd like a personal apology for the way we've been treated. I also want people to know this is the way they're going to be treated."