An online petition asking Cogeco to compensate all subscribers for a two-day e-mail outage has fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the company is relying on legalese to defend its position of no blanket reimbursement.
Following the major e-mail outage in August, Cogeco issued the following statement:
“As is standard practice in the telecommunications industry, Cogeco’s residential general terms and conditions state that Cogeco does not warrant uninterrupted use or operation of the services and will not be liable for any interruptions in service, loss of data or any delay or failure to perform.”
Cogeco’s customer service line was flooded with phone calls, but most residents got only a busy signal since the backlog of calls resulted in wait times of up to 30 minutes.
Glenda Lloyd, community relations manager for Cogeco Cable, said some Burlington residents experienced an e-mail outage from Sunday, Aug. 26 until Tuesday, Aug. 28 when the company had a problem with some of its hardware. Cogeco’s vendors have replacement hardware available at all times so it was delivered immediately.
Lloyd first said no businesses were affected, but later announced that some businesses were not able to use e-mail up until noon hour on Monday, Aug. 27.
She said the company is well aware that some residents rely on e-mail for home businesses.
The problem prevented residents from receiving e-mails but they were still able to send them.
“One of the reasons it took extra time is that we did extra testing to make sure no e-mails were lost,” Lloyd said.
Many subscribers pay for their Cogeco service through automatic chequing and expect to get the delivery they were promised.
Cogeco e-mail subscriber Karen Taylor believes the company should offer some kind of compensation.
“Absolutely, because they’re still getting paid for something that’s not working,” she said. “Just in good faith, especially with all the competition these days.”
Mary Edmondstone, who works through a Cogeco e-mail account both at home and her workplace, would like to see an improvement in communication.
“I wish they could give you a better sense of what is happening, instead of a message saying simply that there’s an issue in Burlington,” she said.
However Kimberly Calderbank. who also works in Burlington, said she understands things can go wrong.
“I had no access to e-mail for two days,” she said. “But I was able to make phone calls and create relationships in that sense.”
Cogeco internet users from the Windsor area to the Quebec border and Northern Ontario also couldn’t access Cogeco email accounts.
Cogeco told its customers the email problem had been resolved as of 9 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, August 28. However, a full day after the company posted that update, many of its customers were still unable to access their email accounts.
Louise St. Pierre, senior vice-president, residential services, issued an apology online later in the week. She said subscribers with questions should e-mail the company at Customer.Service@cogeco.com – including their phone number, name and address in the e-mail. Complaints will be dealt with on an individual basis.
The situation is the latest in a series of controversies Cogeco has been involved in. Subscribers were outraged when the popular news channel CNN was dropped from the regular Cogeco package.
Lloyd said in that case Cogeco sent out a letter and provided all subscribers with a special box which allowed them to get CNN, giving them several months to take advantage of the offer before it expired.
When the offer did expire, however, they were asked to pay an additional $4 a month for a converter or purchase it for $159.
Later the Canadian Radio-television and Tele-communications Commission (CRTC) ruled that TV companies must begin allowing their subscribers to pick cable packages based on channels they want, and drop content they don’t.
The impetus for the CRTC decision is to provide consumers greater flexibility in choosing the content they want to watch given the array of video platforms now available to them.
The Montreal-based company, which operates a cable and telecom system that spans southern Ontario and Quebec, reported a third-quarter profit of $53.2 million.
Rumors are widespread that Rogers Communications is planning to purchase Cogeco.