They canceled my favorite cable networks — do they owe me?

By | August 22nd, 2013

David Jackson/Shutterstock
David Jackson/Shutterstock

When Rogers Cable removes two of Ed Kurys’s favorite channels from his cable package, he believes the company is violating his contract. But is it?

Question: I need your help with my cable company, Rogers. It recently removed BBC and Spike TV channels from my cable package.

One of the main reasons that I contracted with Rogers for cable many years ago was that it included the BBC, the only worthwhile news channel on TV today.

Isn’t this a violation of contract law? A valid contract consists of an offer, an acceptance and payment. In this case, when Rogers offered the cable package and I accepted and paid for the service, a valid contract was entered into between Rogers and me. Rogers has breached this contract when it arbitrarily removed the BBC from the package.

I’m trying to get Rogers to immediately reinstate BBC and Spike TV. As far as I’m concerned, they can keep the two channels that were added to replace these – I have no interest in them and am insulted that Rogers would think that they would be a satisfactory substitute for the two they have removed. — Ed Kurys, Kitchener, Canada

Answer: Actually, the Rogers terms of service, which is a classic adhesion contract, suggests it can pretty much do whatever it wants to with your cable package. Rogers is the largest cable company in Canada. Paragraph 26 of your agreement says it all: The company isn’t “responsible or liable to you for any software, content, products or services provided to you or accessible by you.” So, on paper at least, you have no rights.

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But in practice, you do. You’re an unhappy customer, which no self-respecting company wants to have. Even though it’s unlikely you can spin a legal argument, you should be able to craft a customer-service argument which makes Rogers see things your way.

In reviewing your correspondence with the company, it looks as if you took this complaint directly to the president of the company. You also mailed a paper letter. I would have started a little lower — maybe with an email sent through its “contact us” form.

It helps to know what your rights actually are. Your argument to Rogers — that it had breached a contract — didn’t really get you very far. But if you’d emphasized your loyalty to the company, and noted that you do have alternatives when it comes to entertainment, you might have had a more persuasive argument.

Of course, Rogers shouldn’t have dropped BBC from its lineup in the first place. Seems downright uncivilized, doesn’t it? I don’t care for the way in which cable is “bundled” either and I can’t believe customers have put up with the system for as long as they have. But that’s a whole ‘nother argument.

I contacted Rogers on your behalf. A representative called you the next day and offered you three years of BBC at no extra charge.

Should a cable company compensate customers when it drops a channel from a package?

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