Tea and Ted

Table of Contents

tea set

Tea with TedBack to Top

On July 17, 2005, I left Canada to carry out academic research in the Middle East. When I returned from being away, on August 26, there was a message on my home phone from Rogers Wireless, indicating that they wanted to talk to me about my cell phone. It was late at night. I went to sleep. And I called Rogers as soon as I awoke the next day.

The Customer Service Representative who took my call reviewed my file and asked me whether I was aware that there were over $12,000 worth of charges on my account. As I had not yet had a chance to open my mail, including my Rogers Wireless bill, she explained to me that a phenomenal number of phone calls had been made to Pakistan, Russia, Libya, India, and the UK (as well as to local numbers in the Greater Toronto Area) between July 16 and August 16. I told her that I had been away and that someone had clearly stolen my cell phone, which I had left behind in Toronto. I was then informed that I was responsible for the total charges owing on a lost or stolen cell phone, right up until the moment that I reported it missing (which would have been that moment 10 seconds earlier in our phone conversation - 11 days after the calls had stopped).

And that's when my experience with Rogers Wireless began.


Over $12,000Back to Top

My August invoice, which I opened right after my phone call with
Rogers on August 27, 2005, was due on September 10. It indicated that I owed $12,237.60.


The amount that Rogers claimed I owed increased substantially on the next invoice because there had been two days worth of overseas calls that were carried over onto my next invoice. This contributed to bringing the tally over $13,000 - and the next invoice also included a 26.82% interest charge on what Rogers called a 'late payment'. I would call it a 'disputed' charge - and I further disputed Rogers' practice of charging interest on charges that were in dispute.

The over $14,000 worth of charges on my September invoice continued to appear on all subsequent invoices even past the point when Ted Rogers called me to tell me that he was prepared to zero the bill. On December 22 I received an invoice five days after Mr. Roger's personal and public apology for a total of $14,585.60. The machine that is Rogers Incorporated grinds away slowly and inexorably, and apparently accounts payable had not caught wind of Mr. Roger's intervention before they distributed the December invoice. With jarring irony, this astronomical charge appears on the invoice just above a note from
Rogers that says:


"Seasons Greetings From Rogers Wireless! Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season."


InvoiceBack to Top


Disputing the InvoiceBack to Top


I disputed my December, 2006 invoice as well.


My January,2006 invoice was also not correct. While the astronomical charges on MY cell phone account were zero'd, along with the late penalties that I was being charged, Rogers still insisted on charging me for a "family plan" that originally had been entered into to reduce the costs of communication between me and my son. But Rogers unilaterally frustrated the contract on my son's cell phone in September of 2005 when they shut off service to his phone because I wasn't making a "promise to pay" over $14,000 on MY cell phone. I had been arguing since the fall that I shouldn't be charged for services on my son's phone, nor should I be charged for Rogers' "family plan" as I now only had one working Rogers phone as a result of Rogers' breach of contract. I had to continue disputing those charges on a monthly basis until finally, in March, my invoice reflected reality.

Rogers unilaterally terminated wireless services to my son's cell phone, I contracted for cell phone services from one of Rogers' competitors on September 14, 2005 in order to ensure that my son would have a working phone for his daily trips on the Toronto Subway (and I sued Rogers for damages).

I still have a contract with Rogers for my own cell phone because, should I cancel my contract with Rogers, despite all Rogers has put me through, I would need to pay a cancellation penalty of $200 for the remaining year and a half of my contract and also pay a month's notice to cancel the contract.


Wearing Me DownBack to Top


Beginning on August 27, 2005, I started a daily, then weekly, and then monthly process of disputing those charges. As time went by, I was not only getting no relief, but things were escalating. I continued to receive astronomical monthly invoices. The figure Rogers claimed I owed kept getting larger as Rogers tacked a whopping late penalty onto bills they claimed were overdue - bills that I maintained were in dispute. Rogers began sending notes to the credit bureaus indicating that I had missed payment on a substantial charge and my credit rating took a hit.


As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and there appeared to be no relief in sight, my partner Harry Gefen, a journalist, decided to amplify his investigations on my behalf. Numerous Rogers' representatives he had managed to speak to in person or on the phone kept telling him things that just did not seem credible:

When Harry asked about the fraud detection protocols Rogers had in place, a Customer Service Representative (CSR) told Harry that Rogers only conducted random spot checks to see whether consumers were experiencing atypical call patterns; in response to a question about why Rogers was insisting on claiming its profit margin on the fraudulently incurred charges, another CSR assured Harry that Rogers made no profit at all on long distance phone calls.

It seemed apparent that Rogers' efforts to extract payment from a consumer was leading them to be inventive with the truth. In order to get a less "interested" version of things, Harry realized that he might need to catch Rogers speaking to a different audience about their operations.

BingoBack to Top

Through his research, Harry found out that Rogers' Manager of Fraud and Security was going to be speaking to a specialized audience of fraud investigators at the Toronto Fraud Forum about the very topic in which my account was embroiled: cell phone theft and cell phone fraud.

He attended the conference and, while speaking to Rogers' Fraud Manager on the break following her presentation, it was explained to him that Rogers Wireless, since 1997, had had a computer generated program to detect atypical calls. The computer program would flag the unusual activity to Rogers’ Fraud Department. The Fraud Department had a protocol in place to immediately call the consumer about the atypical activity and inquire whether the consumer was responsible for the unusual call pattern. If the Fraud Department could not get a hold of the consumer the next step in the protocol was for the Fraud Department to shut off the consumers’ phone and wait until the consumer contacted Rogers to find out what was up.

This information resolved what I needed to know about my phone and who was responsible for the wildly atypical charges on my monthly invoice.

But the Fraud Manager didn’t stop there.

JackpotBack to Top

The Manager of Rogers’ Fraud Department went on to tell Harry Gefen a fascinating story about how Ted Rogers' own cell phone had been cloned by a group linked to Hezbollah.


Editorial Cartoon, Globe and Mail, December 19, 2005


It was this story that stimulated media interest in our experiences; and it appears as though it was the media storm around that story that provided us with some immediate relief in the form of a phone call from Ted Rogers himself.


Mr. Rogers apologized to me unreservedly, zero'd my bill, and offered to pay for our costs and the time that we had expended on investigating and battling his company for relief. Mr. Rogers went on to accept an invitation to my home to discuss with us some of the other newsworthy stories that we had uncovered in our investigations. He was, he said, determined to get to the root causes of the problem in order to improve service to his consumers.

That rendezvous, scheduled for February 6, 2006 was aborted by Mr. Rogers at the 11th hour. We had organized a time well in advance around Mr. Rogers' schedule. We had also indicated to Mr. Rogers that we considered the meeting to be private and would exclude the media and refrain from either recording or transmitting our conversation. Mr. Rogers responded favourably to these overtures.

On February 6, Mr. Rogers' scheduling assistant, followed by Rogers' Vice President of Corporate Communications, called us to tell us that Mr. Rogers wouldn't be coming and that if we still wanted to meet Mr. Rogers, we would need to come to Rogers' corporate head offices or talk to him on the phone.


We had intended, at that afternoon tea, to discuss our travails, to make recommendations for improved service, and to resolve the legal dispute that was scheduled for a pre-trial conference on March 1, 2006 at Toronto Small Claims Court - the full trial was scheduled for early September, 2006.


Rogers and Me and YouBack to Top


The following web site is dedicated to both laying out parts of my experiences with Rogers, posting recommendations for improved customer service at Rogers, and inviting other consumers to share their troubled experiences with Rogers and submit their own consumer recommendations.


Until Mr. Rogers takes up his commitment to come to my home for tea, this web site will be a forum for Rogers consumers to have tea without Ted.


As Mr. Rogers told us several times in his correspondence to us:

"I am keen to hear of your experience with our company and learn from it." (Ted Rogers, February 9, 2006)


Letter to Ted RogersBack to Top


Edward S. Rogers
President and Chief Executive Officer
Rogers Communications
10th Floor
333 Bloor Street East
, Ontario
M4W 1G9

Dear Mr. Rogers,                                                                     February 8, 2006

Thank you for the letter that you had couriered to my home yesterday. I too regret that you cancelled a rendezvous that had been organized long in advance, and around your schedule. You reiterate that you are keen to meet with us, though I must say that I am beginning to question whether that is true.

You gave my partner Harry Gefen your commitment that you would come over to our home in the New Year to meet with us in this setting. Let me explain why the prospect of the re-arrangement that you are now proposing - in which we displace ourselves and meet with you in your office or over the phone - is not palatable to me:


I have spent hundreds of hours since August 26 dealing with Rogers, trying to get relief from a problem which you have now fully acknowledged was mistakenly assigned to me.


I have spent hours on the phone with Rogers, a fair portion of it on hold, trying to communicate with a large array of anonymous customer service representatives (CSR's), very often simply trying to correct the 'misinformation' of the previous CSR who had sent me on wild goose chases for non-existent relief or resolution.


I have spent hours at the Rogers outlet that is on the ground floor of Corporate Head Offices (10 floors down from your own office) trying for weeks and months to sort out the now notorious error arising from Rogers' attribution to me of responsibility for over $14,000 worth of calls that I never made. I have also returned multiple times to that outlet to sort out the mess arising from the fact that Rogers cut my 12 year old son's cell phone off a full 8 days before my invoice was even due because I was not making a 'promise to pay' that sum. The signage on the door of that outlet reads "The Experience Starts Here." My own experience with Rogers since August 26 - which has been a hellish one - has given that phrase a whole new meaning for me.


In order to dispute Rogers' claim that I owed the total charges made on my stolen phone (the right to dispute charges being contractually ensured) I spent hours on the phone trying to get a single CSR to disaggregate disputed from undisputed charges so that I could pay off the undisputed charges and keep my account in good standing. After several fruitless months spent in this exercise, it was finally suggested by the litigation clerk assigned to my case - eventually the only person at the corporation who was tasked to respond to me - that I displace myself and head over to corporate head offices and dispute, in her presence, every individual call made on my stolen cell phone. I was told that weekends and evenings would be made available to me for that use of my time.


As you know, there is no reception at Rogers for the ordinary consumer to deal face to face with a real human being. In the place of a reception, there are two security officers in the lobby of corporate head offices who work for the security company that Rogers has hired - I can only assume for the purpose of ensuring that contact between the ordinary consumer and the corporation is kept at the greatest possible distance.


Although Rogers corporate head offices on Bloor Street is the location specified on the contract for delivery of legal documents, I have spent hours in that lobby trying to get a representative of the corporation to descend from the 9th floor legal department to simply receive documents related to my dispute with Rogers.


At one point this fall I was told by the litigation clerk assigned to my account that she would not come down and collect my response to Rogers' "offer of settlement" (entailing my payment to Rogers of $2,000). She claimed that I was "harassing" her by making a personal delivery of this document.


I have spent hours in Small Claims Court filing documents and making legal arguments to have Rogers remove my personal data identifiers from the court record.


I have, in other words, already displaced myself many times over to Rogers' corporate head offices and to other venues across the city of Toronto. I have to say here that I have resented mightily the implication that I have endless hours at my disposal to resolve a dispute not of my making, and that I should find no trouble at all in changing my routines to accommodate the corporation's needs and demands. At virtually every turn I was frustrated in my very basic wish to get a hold of a real human being who could relieve me from the black hole of seemingly infinite disruptions that Rogers was arbitrarily prepared to visit upon me.


Rogers contributed directly to the problem that occasioned such a disruption of my life by failing to follow its own protocol to mitigate losses resulting from a stolen cell phone and to zero the charges on my account accordingly. This you have acknowledged both personally to us and, through your communications department, to the public at large.


In light of the many times that I have accommodated my time and my routines to Rogers' center of gravity, it does not sit at all right with me that I am now being asked to do so yet again. At one point on Monday afternoon, your Vice President of Communications, Jan Innes contacted us regarding the cancellation of your commitment to rendezvous with us in our home with a request that we come to your offices instead. When we told her that we could not simply drop what we had already organized, in part because we had the care of our son to attend to, she suggested that we simply bring him along to your offices. I find this presumption about our readiness to accommodate our lives to Rogers' needs to be an apt reflection of the cavalier disregard with which your corporation has treated us from the outset.

And I have to say, in light of the wall of intransigence that I met from Rogers right up until the very moment that my experience appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail, the impression is strong that Rogers grants the rare privilege to meet an accountable human being at the corporation only when it finds itself hauled into the court of public opinion.


We live seven minutes from Rogers head offices - walking. You committed yourself to coming to our home to meet with us. We have been extraordinarily generous and flexible in accommodating your schedule. You had our assurance (gratuitously offered I might add) that we would protect your privacy interests by excluding the media from the meeting, despite their multiple requests to be present. We also made clear to you that we regarded the meeting to be sufficiently private that we would neither record nor transmit any of what transpired in our home during that now aborted meeting.


In light of the hundreds of hours of disruption and many times that I have displaced myself to Rogers head offices in an attempt to resolve matters reasonably, peaceably and expeditiously - all to absolutely no avail until the media intervened - I believe that the brief displacement from your routine inherent in meeting your commitment to come to our home asks very little of you.


And, frankly, I resent deeply the implication that your time, and the comfort and convenience of your domain, is so vastly more important than my own.


Yours Sincerely,


Susan G. Drummond