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Rogers Introduces New Billing Plans…. Why Am I Not Impressed?


I got an e-mail from “my new best friends from Rogers” detailing their new billing plans:

We wanted to give you a heads up about some changes we’re making to our billing plans for new wireless customers. We’re making these changes in response to customer feedback and to provide customers with additional value.

These new plans come into effect on Oct. 5 for new customers. Existing customers can choose if they want to remain on their existing plans or take advantage of the new ones.

There are three main changes:

1) New customers (or existing customers who choose to migrate to the new billing plans) will benefit from three services that will now be included in their plans: Call Forwarding, Call Manager and WhoCalled.

2) The total price that customers on new plans will pay will be about the same. The exact amount of this difference varies depending on where customers live based on government charges in their area. In return, new and eligible customers will receive $11 worth of services with Call Forwarding, Call Manager and WhoCalled included in the total price of their bills.

3) Customers on the new rate plan will not see a System Access Fee on their bills. They will see a Government Regulatory Recovery Fee. This fee will vary based on government fees where customers live. This fee doesn’t represent new charges, but we’re indicating the total costs that go to government in order to make our bills easier to understand.

The three additional features included in new plans are:

Call Forwarding $3 value: Forward your calls to another phone and never miss a call again
WhoCalled™ $3 value: Always know when someone has attempted to call you
Call Manager $5 value (for Shared/Pooled Plans): Provides complete flexibility in setting up control over how the phone is used

Okay. So you’re likely asking, what in the world is the “Government Regulatory Recovery Fee?” According to this page on the Rogers website, here’s why this fee exists:

The Government Regulatory Recovery Fee ranges from $2.46-$3.46/line/month (varies by province and plan selected). It is applied to help fund fees, costs and other amounts related to federal, provincial and/or municipal mandates, programs and requirements such as provincial 911 fees, spectrum acquisition, licensing charges, and contribution charges to help subsidize telephone service in rural and remote areas. It may include costs incurred in prior years that are still being fully recovered. It is not a tax or charge the government requires Rogers to collect. The fee and the components used to calculate the fee are subject to change as the fees/costs of government mandates/programs change.

You can read the rest of this to get the full details. The net result is that Rogers customers will pay less as the current “System Access Fee” of $6.95 if they opt into the new plans. One has to wonder why they are doing this now. Could it be that Rogers has finally got a clue? Or could it be that competition is coming to this market shortly? Or perhaps they figured that they can’t charge consumers for bogus fees without having the government come down on them sooner or later? Oh wait, the answer is in the e-mail that was sent to me:

This fee doesn’t represent new charges, but we’re indicating the total costs that go to government in order to make our bills easier to understand.

Okay. You’ll excuse me if I’m not entirely convinced by that. But whatever. I’m just the skeptical type. Especially when I see this National Post story with one little detail that “my new best friends at Rogers” forgot to tell me:

As part of the new billing scheme, basic voice plans will see a modest bounce in price as Rogers shifts some of the value lost in the system access fee into the cost of subscribers’ plans. A $25-a-month plan will now cost $30, for example, he said.

In my mind, this all but confirms that the much hated System Access Fee is a cash grab. Not only that, Rogers plans on making up the revenue that they lose by not charging the System Access fee by tacking on a price increase to their voice plans.

How craptastic!

I challenge Bell and Telus to not be like Rogers and drop the System Access fee. And I mean actually drop it rather than build it in someplace else. That would prove that you’re doing something for the good of the Canadian wireless consumer. Go ahead! I double dare you!

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