December 30, 2005

Short letters

Dear The Bay,

I went to one of your stores yesterday. Boy, was that a mistake. Your stores have become truly terrible. They are run-down, tastelessly and cheaply decorated, under-inventoried, snarkily staffed, and are losing -- rapidly -- any remaining relevance to the modern shopping world.

Oh, and while your place in history is guaranteed, I'm not sure that's where I would have looked for inspiration for your 2006 Turin Olympics clothing line. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the clothing is really ugly. I'm not sure I would have gone for the old-fashioned-but-not-retro look myself. And you could have been a bit more subtle with the HBC rainbow. You're badly out of touch, and there's no hiding it anymore.

cc. Jerry Zucker

Dear Roots,

Having seen what the Bay came up with, I can't believe you didn't win the latest bid to design Canada's Olympics clothing. Your designs were so good that they were taking the rest of the world by storm, so we promptly chose someone else to do our clothing.

Go figure. Hope to see you again in 2008.

Dear Hartman's,

Thank you for understanding the role you play in your city and community. Thank you for practicing incredible creativity to stay open throughout your extensive renovations. Thank you for moving your surface parking lot underground and for building affordable housing above your grocery store. And thank you for placing a piano and sitting area near your entrance. I'm sure you've noticed how well-used it is.

Dear Rogers,

Please stop telling me I have an affordable wireless plan and then charging me hundreds of dollars a month. Please educate your customer service staff. Please make it possible to look up your wireless plan online and understand exactly what it comprises. Please stop asking me for my phone number three times every time I call you. And, please ... please, please, please ... please get rid of the automated voice prompt system. It never knows what I want, and it doesn't recognize even commonly used swear words.

Dear Air Canada,

You keep saying you have to cut all these services in order to stay competitive in North America, but I recently flew Westjet for the first time, so now I know you're lying. How come they can still offer decent drink and snack service and personal live TV? At some point you're going to figure out that there are limits to what you can cut. The sky's the limit, indeed.

Dear Westjet,

I flew with you recently for the first time. Thank you for the humorous and good-natured flight attendants, the ample drink and snack service, and the personal live satellite TV on which I watched an NHL hockey game and the Daily Show live.

Dear Bank of Nova Scotia,

Wow. I mean, wow. I really don't know what to say. You guys really take the cake. Your persistence is truly gratifying. Ever since I got my ScotiaGold VISA card, you've been trying to get me to join the ScotiaStar preferred network. Ten times the points*, you gushed! Countless e-mails. Little reminders whenever I logged in for online banking. And, of course, a truly heart-warming plethora of pamphlets in all of my VISA statements. It's as though you make so much money that it doesn't matter how much paper you waste!

Your commitment to maximizing my rewards leaves me nearly speechless, but not quite: are you completely out of your minds? I ignored your multi-pronged entreaties for over a year. What on Earth made you think I wanted to hear anything more about it? It was the same freaking pamphlet over and over again! Were you hoping I would wake up one day and suddenly see the light -- "My life is incomplete without membership in the ScotiaStar Network!"

Admittedly, your coup de grace was the letter in one of my recent VISA statements telling me that you had taken the liberty of enrolling me in the ScotiaStar Network on my behalf. That's when I cancelled the points feature on my card. Bravo!

* At selected locations, naturally.

Posted by anatole at December 30, 2005 05:06 PM

Dude... Rogers is a nightmare. Leave them. Switch to Virgin Mobile.

Their pay as you go plan is great. My phone cost me $79, came with $10 of airtime, voicemail, caller-id, 3-way calling, text messaging capability, etc... with *no* monthly fee (not even the 911 charges that Rogers claims it can't get rid of) and the pre-paid minutes last 4 months before expiring. My calls cost me $0.25 per minute for the first 5 minutes each day, then $0.15 per minute for each after that.

Anyway... do the math... I don't think there is any way that Rogers is cheaper, even if you use your phone a lot. In fact, I don't use my phone much so for me it was cheaper to buy out of my Rogers contract and sign up with Virgin than to keep paying my Rogers monthly bill.
(Note that Virgin's month to month plan will always be more expensive than their newly introduced day to day plan... so avoid it. The minute to minute plan is cheaper than day to day unless you use your phone evenly over the month and consume > ~86 minutes a month.)

Oh... and Virgin's support voice menu is infinitely more entertaining... and, from what I remember, by-passable. Not to mention that it is immensely gratifying to call Rogers and tell them to piss off. That's worth the price of the phone right there.

Am I gushing? You bet. You would too after finding a Canadian wireless phone provider that isn't out to sodomize you. Repeatedly. With government approval.

Posted by: Amos Hayes at December 30, 2005 05:47 PM

Don't get me wrong, the worst customer-service experience I've had in my life was with Rogers, but I signed up with Rogers back in 2001 because they offered something no one else did at the time - busy/no answer transfer. I don't know if they're still the only game in town for it, but it's worth it for me to have it. And my monthly bill is still cheaper than a Bell landline.

Posted by: Alasdair at December 31, 2005 02:58 PM

The Bay should only sell underwear and PJs... has anyone ever bought anything else there? Then again, I am a Canadian heritage traitor and shop at Sears.

Posted by: Lana at January 3, 2006 01:43 PM