Why “Pick And Pay” Is A #Fail For Canadian Consumers

Starting today, the CRTC has mandated that cable companies on top of offering you a “skinny bundle”, offer you the ability to “pick and pay” for only the channels that you want rather than being forced into a bundle of channels that you may or may not want.

It sounds good on the surface, but it’s really a #Fail for Canadian consumers, and the root of that failure is the CRTC. I say that because the core issue is that Canadians are paying way too much for their telco services.And on top of the fact that Canadian Telcos found ways to keep people from picking the “skinny bundle”, the CRTC made the startling comment that the point of the “skinny bundle” wasn’t to save consumers money. Instead, it was to give consumers choice. That in itself is a very illogical statement.

Fast forward to today and the launch of “pick and pay” where you can pick the channels you want and pay anywhere from $4 a month to as high as $20 or more for some speciality channels. The good news is that you can pick the channels that you want. The bad news is that it won’t save you money. The CBC has this example:

“Am I allowed to laugh?” said Gilda Spitz when asked for her reaction to the prices for the new line-up of stand-alone channels offered by Rogers. Most cost $4 or $7 each.

As of Thursday, TV providers must offer individual pick and pay specialty channels plus ones grouped in theme packs that customers can add to their TV plans.

Spitz, who lives in Toronto, had signed up her 88-year-old mother for a basic $24.99 TV package with Rogers. But her mother, Liza Eshanou, only wanted to watch two all-news networks not included — CNN and CP24.

So, Spitz was paying $15 extra per month for two theme packs that included those networks. When Rogers launched pick and pay on Wednesday, she hoped for a better deal

But she didn’t get it.

Turns out, to add CNN and CP24 individually, Spitz would pay $14 a month instead of $15. That’s only a $1 savings, and her mother would lose a handful of extra channels included in the theme packs.

“That’s ludicrous; that’s ridiculous,” said Spitz.

I agree. That’s just ludicrous. What Rogers and the other telcos have done is constructed a system that ensures that they make the same amount of money from you regardless of whether you choose the channels that you want, or you pick a bundle. That’s because the CRTC by its own admission doesn’t regulate prices:

The CRTC is not expressing concern over channel prices. Although it mandated a basic TV package priced at $25 or less, the commission told CBC News it doesn’t regulate retail rates.

“Prices for certain channels may be higher for this reason,” said spokeswoman Céline Legault in an email.

Of course the fact that the CRTC is made up of people who used to work for telcos like Bell, Rogers, Telus and the like might have something to do with that, and the fact that they don’t get that what Canadians want is their telco services at a fair price. And at present, they are getting anything but that. Thus further illustrating that the CRTC needs to be deep sixed for a government body that will actually protect consumers in Canada when it comes to their telco services, rather than being the foxes guarding the henhouse.


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