Wayne's World ~ Unethical telephone charges, awesome job by CPR PDF Print
Local Content - Opinions
Written by Wayne Litke   
Monday, 14 May 2012 22:50

If the last two weeks are any indication of what summer will bring, we had better be prepared to be busy. Days fade to darkness at a record pace and weeks blend together with such speed that the the middle of the month suddenly pops up and I am still working on paying the previous month’s bills. That’s not true and the statement is my attempt to be entertaining. There have been times a bill was overlooked or buried under newspapers, so it should be clear this is not some cheesy attempt to finagle my way out of paying interest charges or late fees.
Speaking of fees, I keep forgetting to mention how SaskTel’s retroactive rate increase really irritates me. Last month, we received a letter dated April 10 that stated the CRTC had approved an increase to local service rates in high cost areas. The increase was apparently effective February 1 and the telephone company therefore felt it is acceptable to bill a $2.03 monthly charge back to Feb. 1, 2012.
I don’t have a problem with the cost of services going up in order to keep pace with inflation, but I have a real problem with paying a service charge on monthly bills that have already been paid. In their letter, SaskTel graciously explained, “The first rate increase will be applied to your bill beginning May 2, 2012, retroactive to the February 1 effective date.”
I ask, what allows a company or corporation to retroactively charge a fee to clients who pay their bill on time? If I am out in left field on this matter, please correct me because I don’t see this as being legitimate.
Consider this: as customers of SaskTel, we enter into an agreement to use their utility and in return agree to pay the going rate–a rate which the crown corporation dictates. SaskTel users pay the monthly service rate and if they want out of their service agreement they contact the service provider to terminate telephone service. That is a form of a consensual contract similar to agreeing to pay interest or service charges on a credit card.
As much as I totally disagree with the ridiculously high interest rates that come with unpaid credit card bills, I have yet to have one of the companies increase their service charges retroactively. In my opinion, credit cards are akin to legal loan sharking and they flaunt their product as the means to a more fulfilling lifestyle. In reality, the financial institutions backing credit cards are banking on people making more purchases on credit than they can pay back in a month. They entice people into using their product knowing that many will not be able to pay the full sum and will become victims of financial bondage. As greedy and unethical as these companies may be, they do not make rate increases retroactively.
I wonder how many residents would walk into their town office and scream if the council set a tax increase retroactive three months. I dare say the office employees would be locking the doors and taking the phones off the hook once residents realized what had happened. However, I suspect a retroactive rate increase of $2.03 (plus taxes) for a three-month period has not been sufficient to cause residents to lodge complaints with SaskTel.
I like having a Saskatchewan-owned telephone company and have always supported SaskTel. I also appreciate our subsidized rural rates, but I cannot quietly consent to a rate increase for three previous months. It sets the wrong precedent and is contrary to residents’ mutual service agreement with SaskTel.
On a positive note, I almost stopped my vehicle on the west CPR crossing at Maple Creek on the weekend and did a happy dance. The crossing which I have vehemently complained about was repaired May 11 and the outcome is breathtaking. The crossing is now smooth–so smooth that I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank Canadian Pacific Railway for repairing it. Therefore, on behalf of all residents of Maple Creek and visitors I say, “Thank you CPR on a job well done. It is truly appreciated.”

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