Shaw Suspends Internet Overage Charges

by Jordan Richardson on February 9, 2011

With the CRTC and the government playing hot potato with usage-based billing, some of Canada’s telecommunications companies are taking matters into their own hands – for now.

Shaw Communications has announced the suspension of its overage charges. This means that customers who go over Shaw’s usage caps won’t be dinged the extra charges. This is a response to customer backlash over the recent ruling by the CRTC to enforce usage-based billing across the board and to allow Canada’s telecom giants the right to impose what is effectively an end to unlimited service plans in the country.

Now it’s granted that Shaw doesn’t sell broadband to other companies, so the CRTC’s decision over usage-based billing and wholesalers doesn’t exactly apply to them specifically. But they are riding a wave here and Shaw president Peter Bissonnette seems to want to get a new message out.

“We were just in the process of starting to educate customers about the fact there is usage and there are different tiers of services we have,” he said Tuesday. “It was clear there was a storm fire out there and maybe it was time to stand back and see is there another creative way of providing what our customers want, but also what our shareholders want as well. It was getting quite confusing.”

The plan for Shaw is to “listen to the customers.” This may seem like a novel idea in today’s industry, but Shaw’s intentions appear to be good. The company is gearing up to hold what are being dubbed “customer discussion sessions” that involve ideas and conversation with some “senior Shaw leaders.” Online feedback will also be a part of the dialogue, as Shaw hopes to gather input from customers before heading forward with a billing plan.

“This is also about relationships,” Bissonnette said. “We really pride ourselves on having really positive relationships with customers and we want that to continue.”

Shaw claims that only about 10 percent of its user base comprise “heavy internet users,” with the rest of the customers generally staying within the confines of their respective service plans. These so-called heavy users are often customers operating businesses or frequent downloaders, although the recent CRTC public relations campaign appears to paint them akin to water-wasters. In any event, Shaw’s decision to converse with its entire user base is a step in the right direction.

“Right now anything that says (usage based billing) is not going to be a good thing; it’s almost taken on a pejorative context of its own,” Bissonnette said. “To the extent we don’t have to do that, or there’s some other way of doing it that doesn’t have the same kind of implications, is what we want to do. We know that downloading video is a fact of life, so how can we provide for that?”

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Shaw Introduces Customer Consultation Details —
August 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

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JC February 9, 2011 at 6:59 am

Sounds like a good time to have a Netflix marathon. =)

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