Shaw, the Corporation

If you are a lower mainland Shaw Cable customer you may have noticed a quite vague notification of a $5 [plus HST] bill increase coming in June. It is followed by a great deal of vague advertising fluff indicating that something awesome was about to happen, but no actual details in order to get a sense of whether this is just a money grab by Shaw or if it’s an actual cost increase with value for money.

Below is the vague PR nonsense on the Shaw bills and a very frustrating Twitter DM exchange I just had with someone at Shaw trying to get actual details. It was typical big corporation slipperiness and dodginess. If this is frustrating for you, there’s a comparably affordable Telus bundle you can threaten to switch to when you call Shaw.

Enjoy, but don’t forget your barf bag.

Here is what may be on your Shaw bill this month:

Your monthly services rate will be increased by $5 (plus tax) effective June 1, 2012. The power of the Shaw Exo network brings you the best in entertainment and the fastest internet speeds in Canada. With Personal TV you enjoy more sports with TSN, Sportsnet and Sportsnet One and top specialty networks like the Food Network, History and HGTV – plus they are all available in HD at no extra cost! Visit SHAW.CA to learn more.

If you’re like me, you’ll ask “Where’s the beef?” because this is largely advertising fluff meant to make customers feel happy that big Shaw is looking out for their entertainment life.

So I tweeted to Shaw last night about getting some actual concrete, tangible details. This began a frustrating attempt to dodge their dodging to get a straight answer or even a link to some facts.

Do you sense a desire to not really say what the $5 actually provides?

Are there general improvements that are just too difficult to explain, or is there a lack of willingness to tell customers specifically what they’ll now be paying for?

Did it take an unreasonably long time for me to get some kind of acknowledgement that there are more details than the vague ad fluff, but that it’s too complicated to share that?

Have you noticed how corporations and other bureaucracies often sound like they’re trying to be helpful, while at the same time not really saying anything?

Note that in the end, they will not commit to proactively telling customers what the $5 will get them. They’ll broadly advertise improvements and if customers contact them they’ll tell customers “things,” but there is no real commitment to explain just what the $5 will do for people individually.

Shawhelp 9:57am

Thanks. Looking at your bill, the explanation is there. The EXO information is the increase. The network improvements. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:02am

there are no details of that very vague, broad, general advertising paragraph. are there new channels/faster internet for the $5?

Shawhelp 10:04am

The rate adjustment allows us to improve our infrastructure to bring you more channels and faster internet speeds. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:07am

ok, which will be my new channels for $5 more? how fast will my internet now be for my $5 more?

Shawhelp 10:15am

As we complete the upgrades we’ll be able to improve on our lineup. Your internet speeds have already been raised. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:20am

so why not tell customers the details of what has already happened & in the future. how exactly has the internet speed increased?

Shawhelp 10:24am

Not all changes impact customers the same way when we do rate adjustments. This adjustment is for network improvements. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:26am

ok, so why not send customers actual useful, clear details, with specifics, instead of vague advertising fluff?

Shawhelp 10:29am

Unfortunately we can’t customize every bill. I will definitely pass along your suggestion. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:31am

i’m not asking for that. i’m asking for some detailed explanation for all customers with specific plans for the $5, not ad fluff.

Shawhelp 10:37am

As I mentioned, the change impacts customers differently. Most changes are not immediate. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:44am

so there is no detailed information you can give to all customers about even the range of expected improvements?

Shawhelp 10:46am

As it indicates in the bill, it helps us improve our network to bring you more content and a superior experience. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 10:51am

so, would you say you’re unable or unwilling to provide more details so people can evaluate the value for that $5 increase?

Shawhelp 10:53am

As there is no quantitative aspect to the change at this time it makes it difficult to answer that. I was able to (1/2)

Shawhelp 10:53am

provide a quantitative change to your account to improve your internet speeds based on our new packaging from EXO. ^AB(2/2)

Shawhelp 10:54am

As we go forward, we hope to add more channels and better speeds as a result of the network upgrades we can perform (1/2)

Shawhelp 10:54am

because of this rate adjustment. ^AB (2/2)

To: Shawhelp 10:59am

ty, so when you can provide the quantitative info on new channels and speeds, will you be providing that to each customer?

Shawhelp 11:01am

Yes, we always do our best to announce new channel launches and new packages via our website, twitter and facebook. ^AB

To: Shawhelp 11:41am

ok, so when will you provide each customer infor on what new channels and increased internet speed they each will have received?

Shawhelp 11:59am

We will put the info out about channel launches when we have it and also work to inform all customers who contact us. ^AB

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and in a limited capacity in Facebook, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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