By James Breckenridge. To sue Shaw or not to sue Shaw that is the question … although, admittedly, at this point the question is rather moot.
The discussion about homelessness and housing that resulted from the ACS housing proposal, made it clear that citizens do not appreciate how many barriers exist for anyone trying to move off the streets and into housing and just how difficult it is overcome those barriers.
It is also clear that there is no understanding of just how hard it is to remain housed once one succeeds in finding housing. Especially if one lives on a fixed or low income where your budget has your money spent before you ever get it, months in advance.
Where an unexpected and unavoidable expense presents, at best, a severe financial challenge or begins the death spiral down into homelessness on the streets of Abbotsford once more.
A budget where all monies received are committed to covering expenses such as rent, insurance, phone etcetera; a budget without any ability to set aside some money for emergencies; an emergency that requires you to spend money means something, or several some things, does not get paid.
Which pushes you out onto the slippery slope that leads back to the streets and homelessness; a slide I have witnessed many suffer. It is a prospect, a threat, you are forced to live and deal with; a prospect that weighs on your mind and grinds away at you; a prospect that, even if you manage you finances with skill, puts you through periods of economic strain, poverty and mental stress and distress.
A major automobile expense ripples through my finances with all the subtlety of a tsunami. Couple that with one of the twice a year financial landmines of severely reduced cash flow caused by the interaction of bi-weekly pay periods and monthly payments and you are staring down the double barrels of increased arrears and homelessness.
The money, robbed from money budgeted to pay the Shaw bill, to pay the automotive expense leaves you scrambling to squeeze money from anywhere in your budget you can to keep internet access.
The severe reduction of cash flow from one of the twice a year landmines means there is no extra cash to be found to appease Shaw and one is faced with the reality that service charges of $85 out of a budget of $100, means you are only going to sink deeper into a financial quagmire and it is time to stop digging.
The introductory low rate of $30 available if you switch service providers permits you to not only pay off what you owe, but will present an opportunity for fiscal wiggle room.
Budget less reduced rate [$100 – $30 = $70] leaves money to catch up, to pay off the amount owing..
So to Shaw’s on-line chat, where you find out you must phone in if you want to disconnect your Shaw service – giving Shaw an opportunity to retain you as a customer. So it is off to the mall to locate a pay phone [car repairs and the looming financial crunch of a month of reduced cash flow have resulted in the loss of phone service – the internet being judged a more vital connection] and speak with Shaw’s customer retention people.
Where I was offered a package that would result in a lower cost, a cost that would let me pay off the balance owing without changing providers and, as the package rate was to be ongoing, it would provide future financial wiggle room and/or the opportunity to add a specialty channel package (Space, BBC).
Even better, the package included phone service.
Unfortunately I would need to pay for connection etc so I would have to do without a phone a while longer. The agent asked me to hold while checking to see if they could include the phone connection.
YES! A day and time [6 – 8 PM on the day of the homeless count] was arranged for the phone to be hooked up and a number chosen.
With phone included in the cost the budgeted phone cost could pay off the amount owed and allow for setting aside some money each month so the next emergency would not automatically threaten a return to homelessness.
I went to bed that night with……well, dreams of sugarplums dancing in my head and a profound feeling of relief.
The next day I go to use the internet and there is no internet. After nearly an hour online at the Library to access Shaw’s chat I find out that Shaw has decided to renege on the agreement I reached with their representative and am directed once more to phone Shaw’s customer – so called – service.
Where it takes about an hour for Shaw to confirm ‘No Deal For You’ and give me [figuratively] the bums rush out the door – don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
No mention or suggestion of working something out so I could keep Shaw as my service provider. Just a threat about the account being sent to a collection agency if it was not paid off in a month and a transfer to Accounts Receivable where a reasonable person said they would make a note on the account after I explained about tight cash flow and set out what I could budget to pay the balance off over the next three months.
24 hours. Talk about a mood swing, about triggering depression, anxiety, panic, catastrophizing…..
Not only was I left with major challenges to my mental wellness to clean up – I was left Vexed and Vexed I remain.
Being vexed is what had me requesting, just before i was threatened with a collection agency and drop kicked to Accounts Receivable, for a name and address to send a letter outlining what had happened and my thoughts on the matter; a request that was met with direction to the link on the Shaw website to send an email.
I did not ask about emailing, I asked about an address for a letter as this is not a matter that you send off an email about; it is a matter that demands a written letter sent via Post.
Fortunately years as an accountant, in business and management have made me familiar and comfortable with forms. So I have no problem stopping by the courthouse to pick up the documentation to file a claim to sue Shaw in small claims court.
I did as I was instructed, phoning and speaking with an authorized agent of Shaw who made me an offer which I accepted. Offer + Acceptance = Contract.
As customers Shaw does not permit us to say: sorry this is not a deal that should have been made. Try this and they will take every penny out of your hide if necessary
I may not know where or to whom to send a letter about this matter, but I rather expect that I will find serving Shaw with the papers for a small claims court action far more satisfying than a letter – and far more conducive to my mental wellness.