Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rogers eases son’s pain with $1,500 compensation offer

Rogers eases son’s pain with $1,500 compensation offer

It’s the stuff of nightmares. Your father dies in February and you save two of his voicemail messages to use in a video celebrating his life.
Later, you get a telemarketing call from Rogers, offering to upgrade your wireless plan. The cost is $1 more a month.

You say yes, but you forget to ask about preserving your phone messages. Rogers fails to tell you the messages will be deleted during the upgrade.
You realize you have no other recordings of your father’s voice and you ask Rogers for compensation. But what is the right amount?
Chris Whelehan sent his complaint to five media outlets earlier this month. Since he works as a paralegal, he considered going to court. But he wanted to try other options first.
“I’ve contacted Rogers many times about this. They say they cannot retrieve the lost messages and they’re sorry,” he said.
“I asked for some type of compensation — none was freely offered — and they offered a $70 discount over a one-year period on my iPhone service.”
He declined the offer and said he’d be switching carriers. Nothing helped.
“Note that I’m a loyal and complete customer. Rogers gets about $350 of my money every month.
“This is a clear example of a large corporation having absolutely no heart.”
I often slam Rogers for its service, but I know the telecom giant can come through for people in a jam.
I sent his email to the office of the president, which raised the offer to $150. Whelehan felt it still wasn’t enough.
Then, I asked if he’d tried the ombudsman’s office. He didn’t know there was one or how to contact it.
Rogers was the first Canadian communications company to set up an ombudsman’s office in July 2009.
The mandate “is to provide an impartial and fair lens through which to view customer inquiries, investigating both sides of an issue and assisting the parties in reaching a fair and reasonable resolution,” said the 2010 report.
(It was published last May and is available at Rogers’ website.)
The first ombudsman, Don Moffatt, used customer complaints to rewrite many of Rogers’ policies. Of the 1,893 complaints he dealt with in 2010, more than seven in 10 were wireless-related, he said in his report.
Kim Walker took over the ombudsman’s job after Moffatt retired last year. She’s putting the finishing touches on the 2011 report to come out shortly.
Walker responded to Whelehan’s email right away, asking for consent to review his file. The ombudsman’s office is separate from customer service and the office of the president, though it’s in the same building.
“I can’t thank you enough for putting me in touch with Kim Walker,” Whelehan told me less than 24 hours later.
“She was very compassionate, as she was party to a similar situation some time ago that stuck with her and she felt the need to make this right on an urgent basis.
“They have offered — and I have accepted — a $1,500 credit to my account.”
Who says a large corporation doesn’t have a heart?
The Rogers ombudsman sympathized with a grieving son who wasn’t told the shocking consequences of accepting a telemarketing deal. And she raised the previous offer tenfold.
Rogers is smart to create a higher level of appeal. Now it needs to broadcast the message widely and help customers find the ombudsman without going to the media first.
Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her at eroseman@thestar.ca or www.ellenroseman.com 

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