Posts Tagged ‘Rogers’

One phone call, almost one thousand dollars saved.

Before my realization yesterday that I’d have a $15K hole in my budget, I decided to cut the cable in our house.

After we all had a long day on the weekend, the girls and I plunked ourselves on the sofa to watch some TV. Imagine our disappointment when there was nothing on.

Disappointed? Yes.

Surprised? Not at all. It seems this happens a lot, and we even have a PVR.

Sitting on the couch, I moaned about the price of cable, and my general lack of time. For the umpteenth time I crabbed “I’m cancelling our cable”. For the first time, I was met with two variations of “go right ahead”. There was a time last year when I struggled with this decision. Last year when I called Rogers, they reduced my rate a smidgen, but not a lot. Up until Monday, I was still paying $62 (including taxes) a month to watch bad tv. That’s more than $700 a year. A serious bit of coin in my books.

There are two TVs in our home. The one in the family room is a proper, 15-year-old Sony Trinitron. It’s the one that’s hooked up to cable. In my bedroom I have a $9.95 bargain from the thrift store, that’s not hooked up to cable, but my rabbit ears pick up CBC, CTV, CityTV and Global. Enough channels to lull me off to sleep when I’m laying in bed.

To ride the wave of my daughters discontent with TV, I called Rogers on Monday. When you call and tell them you want to cancel anything and they transfer you to their customer retention center. As soon as I told the nice lady I wanted to just cancel cable, she offered me basic cable at $18.98 (15.99 for basic cable, 2.99 digital service).

Although that was nice of her, I did complain a bit that I have to call and threaten to cancel for them to roll out their customer red carpet for me. “Why is that?” I asked. “We’re working on being more proactive to our customers in the future” she promised. I let her know that I was still frustrated. After a quick calculation, I said “even if Rogers hands me a $100 penalty for cancelling, I’d still save $600 a year by saying no to your offer”. It took her a minute, but she caught up with my math.

I politely grumbled a bit more…reminded her what my total bill was to Rogers, as a subscriber to just about every service they offer. Her lightbulb went off.

“If I could save you money on some of your other services, would you reconsider basic cable?” she asked. Naturally, she piqued my interest.

She went on to offer $10/month off my home phone, and a 30% discount ($15.30/month) off my internet service and modem rental. After some more speedy math at my end, I knew the whole deal would save me more than $800 a year. Guess who has basic cable now?  🙂

How do the savings shake down:

  • $183.60 per year saved on internet services and modem rental
  • $120 per year saved on home phone services
  • $548.76 per year saved on Cable TV
  • $110.80 saved on HST on all of the above…for a total savings of $963.16

The only frustrating part:  I didn’t call them sooner and tell them I wanted to cancel.

I would imagine that CableTV is a declining revenue source for Rogers. Customers with only one service with Rogers can watch Rogers Cable online. There are more and more affordable gadgets to allow me to show my computer screen on my TV. Why not do more of that?

The nice lady at Rogers customer retention did mention one thing that may concern some folks. She said that by August, the CRTC will make it impossible for folks like me to pick up local channels with their rabbit ears, without also paying for cable. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it’d be a shame for those who rely on those local channels and really can’t pay for basic cable.

In the days ahead, you’ll hear more about what I’ve cut from our budget and how the savings will help me shore up the gap in my new $15k deficit.


Wrapping up the mortgage renewal: learned something new

It only took 3 months from pursuit to paper signing, but I’ve switched the mortgage on my rental property from MCAP to CIBC.

Why’d it take so long? The CIBC’s promotion of their 3.99%, up to 2% cash back offer if you switched your mortgage to them turned their mortgage folks into one-armed paperhangers. While I think that accounted for some of the delay, most of it was their due diligence on me.

There were three distinct phases in this mortgage courtship.

Phase I: The Pursuit My CIBC branch is small. There are five staff in this branch. EACH of them calls me by first name, knows my preferences and provides outstanding customer service. Because the Branch Manager has bothered to get to know me a bit over the last couple of years, she knew I had a rental property and approached me when their mortgage promotion was launched. It didn’t make sense to move my mortgage for my primary residence, so we went after the rental, since it was almost due anyway.

I updated her file on my situation, and she sent in an application. It was approved in principle.

Phase 2: Fact Checking Once the mortgage office got to me, they requested some additional details from me. When I first became a CIBC client I was working for Government. They learned that I’d left that job and had a new gig for the last 18 months. What? You left Government? The cradle of security? This made them a bit nervous. Not only did I deliver every piece of paperwork they requested, I had to wait for my 2009 Notice of Assessment to arrive so they could verify that what I claimed I submitted for my tax return was actually the case, and that the CRA agreed with all details submitted.

They seemed happy with the Notice of Assessment. Then fact checking continued when they asked to send one of their appraisers to the property. I said it was valued at $200,000. Thankfully, their appraiser agreed with me exactly. So far, I’m golden.

Phase 3:  Final, surprise hurdle After the appraiser weighed in, the mortgage office was happy – mostly. They’re still nervous nelly that my current employment situation has been in place for 18 months. For them, anything less than two years is risky. Who leaves Government? They’re baffled. The Branch Manager calls me in. She verifies my credit is excellent, anything I’ve told them has panned out exactly as I’ve claimed, and I even have a new tenant agreement signed with first and last in the bank. Because I made a job change, they want a guarantee that their first year’s mortgage payments are there. In other words, they wanted a $12,000 GIC.

I gotta tell you, this is a new one for me. But frankly, I get their hesitation. I’m single, I earn a good living, but I have a big, FAT mortgage on my principle residence, and they’re giving me a mortgage on a rental (risk) property. The Branch Manager says “do you have $12,000?” I say “no, I don’t. Is this a deal breaker?” She lets me know she’s trying to get them to waive it, but they’re being sticky.

She tells me if I take it out of a savings account for the GIC, she’ll reimburse any lost interest. Then she asks “what about a line of credit?” Naturally I remind her she can see my line of credit on her screen, because it’s with her bank, but I’m trying to get rid of it, not jack it up by 12K. She gives me her assurance that I will get my 12K back (with any interest paid, and any interest accrued on the GIC) once that two year mark comes and goes, which is December 1, 2010.

I gotta tell you, I had to think about it for a minute. I moaned out loud something like “there goes my spreadsheet”. She chuckled, knowing me a bit and said “I can give you the interest calculations month by month if you want to make your spreadsheet happier.” So, I’ve loaned myself $12K and put a $12K GIC in my name, just to make the mortgage office happy. The CIBC will pay me back my interest on the loan.

On the bright side, since the approval took so long, my mortgage penalty won’t be just over $800 as expected, but $200 instead. The net gain of $2600 in cash back will go a long way toward reducing that line of credit for June. The added 12K deficit in the line-of-credit is balanced out by the 12K GIC.

Once December comes, and we reverse this 12K plus interest in and out deal, I would imagine the CIBC will not hesitate to work with me on any future banking need. In fact, as I was leaving after signing some papers yesterday, I mentioned to the Branch Manager that I’d chat with her next week about the month-to-month interest charges for the 12K on the line-of-credit. She said “it’s only 3% or so” and I said “oh no it isn’t, it’s 7.25%!” She looked at her computer again and said “wow, you’re exactly right…we gotta get your interest rate reduced.”

Yeah, that’d be awesome.  Wish I’d of thought of that!

Oh, and following up from yesterday, I called Rogers and adjusted my cable package slightly. I’m now paying less than I did before their increase. All is well here.

Should have got a pre-nup with Rogers!

A number of weeks ago, in an effort to continue to whittle down my expenses, I gave the nice folks at Rogers a call. Every communication service you can think of I have with Rogers.

They were kind and offered me a 10% discount across the board (with one exception) on my services. That was nice of them, don’t you think? All I did was pick up the phone, and they cut my expenses. Wow. Wish I could do that with my mortgage!

The only catch in this arrangement was I had to agree to maintain my services for another three years.

After pondering for a moment, I agreed. I’m not going to switch to Bell Canada.  We parted ways about four years ago after being together for twenty-odd years, and they didn’t really value my business it seemed. So I left. I don’t have a super-deluxe cable package, but I don’t have basic cable either. “What’s the harm?”  I thought to myself. I’m not moving. I’ll still need a phone and the internet. Giving up cable tv with the girls at home would be a hostile act. Hey, I like my HGTV too.

Fast forward to yesterday. Rogers sends a polite flyer in the mail reminding me of the wonderful services I have. How great their HD service is (I don’t have an HD TV). How provocative the programming! As I was eating my lunch, I wondered what the purpose of this flyer was. It wasn’t just unaddressed mail, it had my name on it. Eventually, I turned it over. Ah, here’s the message!

Apparently, Rogers, the mega communications company who pays their executives hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses, has taken on extra costs for programming. Specifically, they note their “costs went up 10% more than last year – one of the largest increases ever.”  They go on to say they will “absorb” most of those costs, and some packages will “only increase by 5%.”

Of course, my package is on the list to increase by 5%. Last month it went down by 10%. This month they took away 5%. Oh, and they have me locked into whatever rate they want to charge for 2 years and 11 months?

You can bet I’ll be giving them a call today. I’m not very sympathetic to a big corporation whining about their 10% increase for cable service. My house insurance is up 20%, my medical expenses have almost doubled. Groceries are more expensive. I pay more to turn my lights on and do business at home during peak hours. Thank goodness I don’t drive so I don’t have to pay the new car licensing tax imposed by the City of Toronto.

Why not even try and pull the wool over my eyes and give me a little more than a month after they talked me into a three year marriage? Should have demanded a pre-nup!