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Surprised, angry, betrayed. These emotions often come into play when customers think a long-time supplier is tilting the rules in its own favour.
Rogers Communications recently told customers with prepaid cellphone plans that it would confiscate balances above $ 150 if not used up by Dec. 31 of this year.
The change was relayed in a text message – not a letter or email – sent to Rogers and Fido prepaid customers.
“Starting at the end of 2018, our prepaid services will have a maximum allowed balance of $ 150. Any balance over $ 150 will no longer be available as of end 2018,” the text said.
“We will be in touch with more information on how you can use your balance soon, but in the meantime, you can continue to use your balance as normal.”
“I will not use up my balance on calls that I would not ordinarily make. And I cannot imagine why I would buy a new product from Rogers, whom I no longer trust.”
Under Rogers’ current policy, customers must deposit $ 100 a year to their prepaid accounts. The money is added to the remaining balance from previous years.
Frank Roelofsen has a substantial balance of $ 850, which will be hard to use up in one year since he uses his prepaid phone only for emergencies.
“I cannot see that simply erasing the unused value in my account, accumulated over the past 10 years in full compliance with Rogers’ own rules, is a legitimate business practice,” he told me.
“But I may be jumping the gun, since Rogers may come up with a fair compensation for my account balance.”
Spokesperson Samantha Grant said the $ 150 cap would help customers use the prepaid service in a better way without carrying or building up a large balance.
“Over the next year, we will be in touch with impacted customers to help them use any balance that’s above the cap in a way that’s right for them,” she said.
Both of the customers who contacted me couldn’t wait to hear what Rogers had to offer. So, I helped connect them right away.
Roelofsen was happy with the results.
“Thank you for arranging a conversation with your Rogers contact, who assured me that the current balance in my account that is above the new $ 150 cap will not be arbitrarily removed,” he said.
“If I find a suitable postpaid plan at Rogers, the remaining balance in my prepaid plan can be transferred to it.”
Recognizing that one year was not enough for him, Rogers extended the deadline to the end of 2019 and removed the $ 100 top-up normally required each year.
“All in all, it was a very professional conversation,” Roelofsen said.
“I have no problem with Rogers discontinuing their current plan as long as I can use up or obtain a refund for my past balance – and there is no impediment to shopping the market for my future pay-as-you-go plan.”
Maley spent a week negotiating with Rogers before reaching a satisfactory outcome. She was asked not to share the results with me.
However, I did hear she was given options to transfer her prepaid phone balance to other plans, such as cable TV.
She now has until Oct. 4, 2020, to use up the $ 150 maximum balance. And she doesn’t have to add $ 100 to her account each year, given her low phone usage.
While impressed with the problem-solving efforts of Rogers’ office of the president, Maley said she distrusts the company she has been with for the past 40 years.
“I am staying with my Pay As You Go plan for now, but I do not feel comfortable with Rogers and any of its support options.”
My advice: Don’t give up a credit balance accumulated over the years without a fight. Negotiate for everything you can get.
Rogers plans to introduce options to help prepaid clients reduce their balances. Be creative. Upgrade phones or other hardware. This is your money after all.
Ellen Roseman appears in Smart Money. You can reach her at email@example.com.