The 38-channel universe

Everybody hates Rogers. Not me. Six weeks ago, I phoned and complained that my cable TV bill was getting too high. The helpful woman in customer service said she could do something about that. If I’d agree to a one-year contract, my rented PVR would be free for twelve months, a savings of $300. Since I had no intention of going anywhere else, it was an easy deal.

Of course, I immediately signed up for The Movie Network at $16.95 a month, but I was still ahead almost $100 a year, plus I had another eight channels of commercial-free movies. What’s wrong with that?

As a result of my recent bonanza, I was sanguine when I received a letter last week announcing a rate increase. I figured, hey, I’m still ahead of the game. What caught my eye was the fact that the form letter from Matthew Ariker, Senior Vice President, Customer Marketing, was dated January 23. I had received it on January 18. I thought, I guess delivery by Canada Post is improving.

In an attempt to mollify those who might be grumpy about higher rates, the letter pointed out, “We have recently added 38 new channels and 36% more content to On Demand, free with your Rogers subscription.” I assumed that the On Demand content was more pay-per-view movies, but what about those 38 new channels? As a guy who likes free, I wondered what they were.

For more details, said the letter, call a 1-800 number. The customer service associate didn’t know but she put me on hold twice – for 2-3 minutes each time – while she gamely consulted with colleagues only to report back that no one seemed to know anything about these 38 new channels.

Undaunted, I emailed Matthew Ariker with my query. On Tuesday I received a phone call from someone at Rogers in the Office of the President. I thought maybe there were several divisional presidents, so I blithely asked, “Which president?” “Nadir Mohammed,” she said, “There’s only one president.” I don’t know who was more surprised, my caller, or me, that this matter had been kicked upstairs all the way to the very top.

She had gathered some information from the programming department and explained to me that the 38 channels included some On Demand channels, some channels now in HD that were previously available, and some new channels. The exact mix and number depends on where you live and what package you have.

All in all, a good explanation. She said she’d email me the list so I could see my possibilities. That was Tuesday; I haven’t seen it yet. Doesn’t she know the deal Rogers has with Canada Post? If she’d given the list to Canada Post this past Tuesday, I would have received it last week.

UPDATE: The emailed list arrived Friday, January 27. I can get 20 of the 38 channels, but half of those 20 require additional payment. Among the half I’m able to view, I received some before; I can now get them in HD. Most of the “all new” channels are of little interest: Bollywood, children, real estate and shopping. The only one of the 38 with any potential is FX Canada, a movie channel.

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