Thoughts on the Canadian TV and Internet market.

DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE AND IS NOT REPRESENTATING THE OPINION OF MY EMPLOYER OR ANY RELATION TO IT. I HAVE DONE MY BEST TO MAINTAIN GENERAL POINTS OF VIEW AND HAVE MADE A STRONG EFFORT TO AVOID ANY SPECIFICS RELATING TO MY EMPLOYER OR OFFICIAL POSITIONS OF MY EMPLOYER. EVERYTHING SAID IN THIS POST IS SOLELY THE VIEW POINTS OF THE AUTHOR AND NOT THOSE OF HIS EMPLOYER

For this post I am deviating a bit from the general theme to talk about something I am faced with on a daily basis in my line of work and something that I think is worth understanding and talking about.

Working in the T.V/internet industry in the position that I work in I understand and hear that consumers in this country are not happy with the cost of service. In some cases they are getting outright angry over it and feel they are being robbed, ripped off etc. I could tell you all the cliché answers about demand, network investment, T.V. production cost etc. but ultimately it all falls on deaf ears all to often no matter how true and accurate those answers may be. Consumers in general, simply put, do not care about any of that and are getting tired of hearing the same old excuses, reasoning and story lines every time their bills go up.

Because so much of what goes on is not immediately visible to consumers, most do not see any additional benefit or value, only being billed more for the same. (That at least is the perception and for many perception is reality for those consumers, which is where my job comes in to help them understand the value and reasons for increasing cost.) When new channels are added it does not matter to so many because they did not ask for it or they do not watch them. When a new HD channel comes out it is not new to them because they had it in standard definition or they feel since they were paying for the channel anyway, why should they be paying more just because they have it in HD now. While consumers are using more internet every year, the access and user experience does not change much. How they access and what they are accessing does but from a consumer perspective the unseen invisible reality of just keeping the internet on from their view-point simply does not warrant an increase in cost because keeping it working is not an added value, but is exactly what they pay a bill for. This perception is understandable. The problem is as demand increases, ISP’s must continue to invest billions in their networks to support increasing demands. Breaking down the individual cost to each consumer and assessing rate changes to meet that demand on a individual basis is just not practical.

Costs continue to rise and I can’t help but wonder how high costs have to go to break the industry. Consumers will continue to cut back on how much they are buying or canceling services all together. This is most notable in the cable T.V. service side of things. When people cancel cable service, often enough it is not to change T.V. providers, but cutting the cord all together because the cost is just not worth it to them any more. Cancelling internet becomes a game of where can you get a promotional price and for how long. How high of a price will the market bear before there is a revolt. I hear you, I hear your frustrations every day. I understand your frustrations. Internet has rapidly become a near essential services such as water, electricity, and other such utilities and because of this people are frustrated with how much it costs. Like other utilities, inflation, maintenance and delivery cost are causing it to rise while their incomes are not going up nearly as fast and their buying power is diminishing. Those who work in the industry often take the brunt of such concerns and frustrations.

From my personal view-point, the single biggest contributor to this problem is promotions. When you first sign up for a service you get a discount for 3,6 or 12 months or what ever the promo term is for. When that is over your bill increases usually anywhere from 40-100% more than what you were paying on promo. When you have been used to paying low prices, then your bill goes up it is no wonder why you would want to cancel unless you get a discounted rate again. This leads to the classic promo hopper situation where you have a group of people who will just hop from provider to provider, always taking a promo and never paying full price. I do not blame them at all for doing this. While I fully understand the value of the service and the benefits, I also understands the desire to pay less for service ongoing rather than paying full price. I can also understand how consumers do not see the value in the higher rate when all to often they are offered promo rates for signing up, and discounts for keeping the services on after the promo is over. This has created a unrealistic perception of actual value.

Inevitably anytime a customer calls into their providers retention departments they will be offered some kind of promo or discount on their service in an effort to avoid cancellation of the accounts because of the promo being offered by the other guy, or to alleviate their feelings of the serviced being over priced. This however, has the effect of re-enforcing the idea that the internet and T.V services is not worth the prices billed in the first place. What it does is sends a message to consumers that the services can be sold at a lower price to begin with. It drives un-healthy market realities for service providers who find themselves in a constant battle over regular vs promo pricing on services. This reality of how the market works in this country I believe is the single largest contributor to consumer churn and is also the most preventable type of churn in the industry. The problem is no one is willing to implement the solution (I will get to my proposed solution shortly) because the first one to do so will be handing over a huge advantage to their competitors who will likely milk it for all its worth thus perpetuating a cycle of unhealthy customer acquisition and loss and I believe in part contributes to higher prices in services, even if only to a small extent. While consumers may benefit to a degree, business can only benefit in the short-term. The cost of retaining customer in this way is inflated dramatically both in terms of marketing dollars (the cost of acquisition) and the hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost revenue via discounts and promotional rates to maintain customers with no guarantee of retaining business when the offer is over. Calculated risk maybe, but nonsensical from my perspective.

The solution for what I feel would be healthier competition is really quite simple. This industry could take a lesson or 2 from the cell phone industry. While I do realize the cell phone rates are quite expensive in Canada, the overall churn rates are quite a bit lower, while I have not confirmed this as fact, it is certainly my perception. When you sign up with a cell phone plan, you have a few choices. Pay full price for your phone on a month to month contract or get a discount on your phone for a service contract that is typically 2 years. What you do not get is promo rate on your service plan. You pay the full price on that from day 1 for as long as you have the plan. Rate increases are virtually un heard of, at least in my experience my rate has not changed till I choose to change plans. I tend to change providers when my contract is up, but only because I am shopping around for the best service plan on the market at the time. I do not expect a promo rate on my plan nor is one ever offered. If no other company has a better plan, then I stay where I am and either go month to month or re-sign with new phones with my current cell phone provider. I can trust and rely on my monthly bill to stay the same every month, year after year,  till I choose to make a change. Cell phone providers in Canada compete on the merits of the full, regular priced service rather than constant promo hopping discounting service. The result is cell phone provides must compete on network size, features, capacity, quality of service, customer service, hardware offerings etc…

When I talk to people in a professional or casual capacity, they almost never complain about their cell phone plan price, but almost always complain about their home internet and T.V. service rates. Why is this despite significantly higher internet rates and voice plan costs? I would argue that this is because when it comes to cell phones, people know what to expect and accept the regular prices because they are never, or at the least very rarely ever offered anything but regular pricing, while on home internet and T.V. services they are almost always offered a promo rate, and other discounts both when they start with the service or when they call to cancel the service.  How can the industry as a whole end this kind of churn, simply put, stop offering promo rates and focus on selling the product at an overall lower regular price. Offer discounted hardware for service contracts, charge full price from the start. Perhaps this way consumers can save a couple of bucks a month on each service while changing the way people think about the service. Think about what is being provided rather than how cheap can you get it. Perhaps then we will see less churn, healthier retention rates for all players in this game, happier customers and more realistic expectations for everyone involved. By doing this service providers will have to provide excellent high quality service consistently in order to maintain customers, rather than short-term discounts which all to often only delay the inevitable.

I know this is wishful thinking, however fellow consumers, perhaps you can do yourself a favor and just refuse to accept temp intro rates, only ever discuss regular rates and make a choice based on reg prices and included service and features. If you won’t pay full price for that product or service, perhaps you should consider if it is worth having at all?

P.S. Sorry if there are spelling or grammar errors in this one. I wrote this after being tired working late and likely missed some key grammar and spelling errors. Thanks for your understanding

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TRUDEAU’S “REAL CHANGE” IS NOT REAL CHANGE

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This past Monday October 19th Canadians across the country went to the polls to elect Canada’s next government. The results were a majority Liberal government with Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister elect, son of the previous Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. I think we all knew that the Conservative government under Stephen Harper was going to come to an end. What we were left wondering was would it be a Minority Liberal government or a Majority Liberal government.

There are just a few points of his overall platform I want to focus on rather than a detailed analysis of all that he has promised. The Parts of his policy that stand out to me are his foreign policy regarding Canada’s role in the middle east, Legalization of marijuana, Bill C51; Canada’s anti terror bill, Infrastructure investment and deficit promises, and Election reform.

FOREIGN POLICY

Justin Trudeau has promised to bring Canada’s troops home and remove them from combat missions in the middle east. He states he will bring our planes, and soldiers home and stop bombing raids and end combat operations. However he is not withdrawing from all military activity in the middle east. He will be leaving some there to aid in training forces there in combat related operations and roles.

While I am happy that he will withdraw our troops from combat, I do not believe this goes far enough when it comes to foreign interventionism. Our military should have no role other than defending our country. Our troops should NOT be involved in foreign conflict to any level or extent. We need to withdraw from all military involvement with anyone period. The only justifiable reason for military actions is in defense of our own nation.

The problem with foreign policy is that it changes with every election, nothing is written into law or the constitution. Because of this fluctuating positions on how much or litter we interfere in the affairs of other nations Justin Trudeau’s stances in the end is meaningless without meaningful reform that ensures it cannot be changed on the whims of the elite ruling class when it suits their purposes. While Justin Trudeau may pull our troops out of foreign combat today, he has not made any promises about what he will do in the future. This does not give any hope for real change and no matter what he does now regarding this it will be subject to change when it suits his purposes. In the end we still lose when it comes to foreign policy because we are subject to the whims of the government of the day on who we will invade or not invade.

LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

This is one of his campaign promises that we have not been given a time line on so we do not even know at this point if it will be fulfilled at all. While it is my hope that it does happen and he keeps his promise on this issue, I am skeptical as to how it will be done or if done right at all. We all know how much governments like their taxes and legal weed is a opportunity for millions more in taxes.

There are many examples of government monopolizing drug sales in this country, just look at our health care system. Ontario liquor sales are one more example of this. Only government stores were allowed to sell alcohol, and legislation in place prevents private breweries and stores from selling at a competitive rate. Will Justin’s idea of legal weed be the same?

One of the biggest problems with his plan to legalize marijuana is that there has been no mention of how he would deal with those who have been affected by this substance being illegal in the first place. Will he expunge all criminal records relating to marijuana possession, use, sale, etc…? Will he release all those in prison for marijuana related charges? will he drop all charges against people currently in our court system relating to marijuana? Will he make sure that all the current illegal pot dispensaries in Canada, most notably Vancouver and Victoria be made legal? If he fails to do any of these things then he is not really serious about legalizing marijuana. At least it will not be about repairing the damage done by making it illegal in the first place and will be more about scoring political points while proclaiming he has created “real change.”

When it comes to drug policy legalizing one drug is a good start regardless of the motives however more needs to be done. All drugs needs to be legalized along with all criminal records, sentences, charges etc should be expunged from all government and public record. once that is done we can take the hundreds of millions of dollars a year we spend on enforcement and put it to addiction recovery, public education and awareness. This needs to be treated as a public health issue, not a legal issue. Addiction is not criminal, it is sickness that needs to be treated.

BILL C51: THE ANTI TERRORIST BILL

The liberals it seems, have convinced many Canadians to forget or ignore that they voted in favor of this bill in parliament. Trudeau who proclaimed “real change” has been elected in-spite of the highly controversial bill that gives CSIS and other Canadian law enforcement agencies such as the RCMP vastly greater powers with little oversight to spy on Canadians. Things such as speaking out against the government of Canada can be taken as an act of terrorism or even sympathizing with terrorist and thus criminal. This bill will bring you security at the expense of your liberties. Rocco Galati, who is a well-respected constitutional lawyer has stated

“Bill C-51 “creates a modern-day Gestapo”.

He insisted that this is “no exaggeration”, noting that German and Italian versions of this bill were passed in the 1930s. And that’s why he’s planning a court challenge.

 “It takes all your private information and shares it with all government agencies, including foreign governments,” Galati said. “And for some Canadian citizens, that becomes an eventuality of torture or death when they’re travelling abroad.”

In addition, Galati noted that the bill arbitrarily restricts who can travel. According to him, it also criminalizes freedom of expression concerning how the government addresses terrorism.

“So words and thoughts become an act of terrorism under this bill,” he stated.

(source:http://www.straight.com/news/465916/lawyer-rocco-galati-says-bill-c-51-creates-modern-day-gestapo-canada)

This is apparently the kind of “real change” Trudeau campaigned on. Support of this bill is not real change. While he states he will amend the bill, it would be stupidity on our parts to believe for a minute he would amend it to benefit us. It is not that far fetched to believe that he will amend the bill to benefit him and his supporters.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND DEFICIT

Justin Trudeau has stated that he will not run a balanced budget while in office but rather borrow more and more money to “invest” in infrastructure to create jobs for Canadians now. Like most politicians he believes that the government creates jobs and has no problem paying for it with my children’s and grandchildren’s labor, racking up more and more debt that will never be repaid.

Governments love “economic stimulus” through infrastructure spending because all building projects come to and end and create temp jobs. This works well in government’s favor because they can keep promising more and more money every 4 years in a constant repetitive cycle. By doing so it makes them look good like they are doing something for us (while getting themselves more votes) while at the same time maintaining control by convincing the masses that without them the jobs would not exist. Like brainless zombies the people keep voting for this over and over again thinking they are doing something good.

It is not the governments jobs to create jobs. That is the free markets job, something we don’t have and desperately need. I am not convinced that this is a good idea. Infrastructure is needed to support growing demand, but throwing money at it that we don’t have for the sake of “job creation” off the backs of hardworking Canadians is wrong.

But of course the more people work the more money government gets via taxation. So they stand to benefit from this scheme. While yes some people may get jobs which they need, surely there is a better way  to improve our economy that does not involve borrowing billions from our futures to pay for things now. One method I would suggest is getting the government out of the business of economic stimulus and allowing the market to flourish without government controlling every aspect of business and economic stimulus.

ELECTION REFORM

The Liberals have stated in their platform the following

“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.

This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”

Considering Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have 55% of the seats with 39.5% of the votes proportional representation would not benefit him. I am skeptical that such a change would be implemented. Had such a system been in place during this election he would have 140 instead of 185 seats, and be in a minority government situation. Clearly first past the post has tremendous benefits to him, giving him all the power in parliament.

Mandatory voting would be worse than first past the post. To legally compel or force anyone to vote in the first place violates the non-aggression principle. It is bad enough that the government already knows who is voting and who is not. While working on Meghan Porters campaign I was given a list of every registered voter in the riding. Not just names but addresses as well. When you vote your name is checked against this list. I did not open it or even look at it. I don’t think it is any of my business who you are or where you live, even while running for office.

All the ideas presented in his electoral reform platform I do believe are better than the first past the post system we have now, with the exception of mandatory voting. I have yet to see a government in this country make a legislative decision that did not benefit them in some way and so I am not holding my breath for reform. At least not for any reform that benefits the people.

Real change needs to happen, but if you voted liberal expecting that they would be the ones to bring real change, then you will be disappointed. Real change cannot and will not happen till the people of Canada take the time to really understand the issues and demand freedom and Liberty. They must work past the rhetoric and see the truth that is there before them. You can refuse to open your eyes and see truth but you cannot avoid the penalty of the abyss your refuse to see. Real change comes when you embrace liberty, freedom and peace, not when you vote for the status quo. In the end it does not matter which flavor of pop you choose. you can vote for Coke, Diet coke, Pepsi, or diet Pepsi they are all just as bad for you. If you truly want real change, the Liberal party is not the one for you. None of the status quo parties are. Its all pop, slightly different flavors of the same poison.

All Public Mass Shooters Are Innocent!!

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The recent mass shooting in south Carolina at a church saw 9 people die by the latest report that I have seen. This is a tragic event that could have been avoided. Naturally the cry of more gun control comes from our political leaders making this into a political issue. They want us to believe that if we just got tougher on who we allow to have guns this whole thing could have been avoided. Our politicians will play on your emotions and fears to manipulate you in to giving up your freedom all for the sake of being in a safer society.

This is complete nonsense and plays on your emotions and fears and fails to address the real problem of mass violence and criminal activity that plagues america and Canada alike. 41 people a day are murdered in America. On one day 9 die by a gun.  This is just talking about murder rates only, the violent crimes per day are statistically much higher.

It is clear that the US has a violent crime issues that need to be addressed. However Guns are not the problem. In essentially every mass public shooting one thing is in common. We don’t know how much this applies to other violent crimes because only gun crime gets reported on national news on a regular basis. From watching the news you might think that is the only way violent crime happens.

You can read in my post Drug Induced Insanity that it is clear that the side effects of  prescriptions psychiatric drugs that violence is a clear side effect of these drugs. I had also listed several other cases of mass public violence induced by people on drugs. Gun crime is not the only way mental health patients on drugs commit acts of severe violence. We just don’t hear about all the acts of sever public violence induced by big pharma drug culture because it would contradict the message we are force-fed by the media. The message is guns are bad and must be taken out of our society.

If guns kill people and not Big Pharma as we are constantly told to believe, why are there not so much more deaths related to guns? Why is it every time  a cop kills someone the victim is blamed? Police shoot and kill several hundred people a year yet we never blame the gun when the cop shoots to kill innocents, or military guns kill innocents. Usually we blame the victim for not complying with cops order. Where is the call for more gun control when police brutality kills innocent victims?  Rather when a cop is killed in the line of duty he is hailed as a hero. No one stops to evaluate whether the one who killed the cops was acting in defense of his rights. The actions of the dead cop are not talked about or questioned. It’s almost as if our media holds up police on some golden altar of perfection and they can do no wrong.

These people are not killing people because they have a gun. They are killing people because they have been drugged into submission and there minds are being destroyed and warped. There emotions and inhibitions are being destroyed to the point that they lose all self-control and will power of their own. They go to their counseling sessions to “talk about their feelings and how they imagine working them out” All the while on mind control drugs where they are subjected to this discussion which lead to carrying out their heinous crimes. Psychiatrist and big pharma are just as guilty of killing these innocents as the people themselves. I would even go so far as to say that the perpetrators are not even capable of understanding what they are doing because they have had their minds and thoughts chemically manipulated to the point where they no longer have control over their own actions. I know because the same thing happened to me. I to acted out in violence and nearly killed my brother when I was 14. But here is the thing. I did not use a gun. I used a knife, was arrested and prosecuted for doing so. No one ever asked about the drugs I was on. No one thought to analyze if the drugs had somehow influenced my behavior. I was pressured into assuming all guilt for the crime and pleading guilty in court. I was sentenced. I was kept on the drugs. That was not my first nor was it my last violent outburst either.  I was not guilty of that crime. I was not in control of my behavior or mind. The drugs were. The doctors were. Big Pharma was. I nearly killed a member of my own family because of these lethal and dangerous drugs. These victims of big pharma killed others innocents because of these drugs.

It is time to end the war on Guns. Guns are not the problem. Drugs and psycho manipulations of the vulnerable are the problem! It is Big Pharma who is committing mass crime by inflicting this on the masses and caused innocent to die at the hands of mind altering, mind manipulating drugs and it must stop!! It is big Pharma that is guilty of the killing of innocent at the end of a gun barrel. It is Big pharma that must be brought to justice to answer for the deaths of so many innocents. It is big pharma that must be charged with the murder of these people and every other victim of mass public shootings including the shooters themselves. As we all know, drugs cannot be used as a defense in court, thus big pharma escapes any scrutiny and responsibility for its crimes against humanity and will continue to cause people to kill and murder innocents while their (big pharma’s) victims take all the blame. We pat our selves on the back by appearing to do something and and say to ourselves justice is served and good job. In the mean time some other poor victim is planning his next crime with a gun only for the same old story to resurface and the cycle continue. What will they do when all the guns are gone and mass murders are still happening? I guess we will just move on to the next weapon of choice.

I am so tired of hearing about this and big pharma’s roll being ignored by the mass media. If they wont talk about it then I will. It disgusts me. It sickens me. It its revolting to me. Its time for the masses to rise up against big pharma. Stop buying into their drugs. Stop letting our children be manipulated and poisoned by them. Stop voting for any candidate that does not support ceasing all government ties to big pharma. Stop the senseless murder of our families by Drug lords that are using mental health patients to carry out their heinous and evil crimes!