Disputing a phone or cable bill during normal times can be challenging enough. During a pandemic, Brenda Patton says she found it overwhelming.
“I called you out of frustration,” Patton told Global News, a year after initially cancelling her mother’s cable television and telephone service with Rogers.
Patton’s mother, Gladys Meffen, lives in a long-term care home in Shelburne, Ont. The 91-year-old suffers from dementia and was moved into the home after a fall in 2019 in which she broke her hip and wrist.
In February of 2020, Patton called Rogers to cancel her mother’s service. She says Meffen was no longer watching TV in her room and she was in no condition to get up on her own to answer her phone.
But because of the pandemic, Patton says she was not permitted to enter the home to retrieve the Rogers equipment. The telecommunications company was also not able to go into the facility.
Meffen was still billed for the unreturned equipment.
In April, with Meffen confined to her room at the height of the pandemic and still being billed for equipment that no one could retrieve to return, Patton called Rogers back and asked that the television be turned back on.
In July, according to a phone call with a Rogers representative, Patton acknowledged the television was working to play music. Later, Patton said she became aware that the television service was not working because it had not been reconnected properly. She asked that her mother not be billed for services she was not able to access.
When Patton was allowed to visit in the fall, she retrieved the Rogers equipment and shipped it back to the company
However, as of February this year, her mother’s cable and phone bill account had ballooned to $1,183.58.
Patton says she was shocked when, after the second wave of pandemic restrictions lifted, she was finally able to visit to find the Rogers bills piling up in the room.
“We found out that they got the equipment back last August and were still billing her,” said Patton.
Patton and her husband sought resolution from Rogers.
An advisor with the company’s office of the president agreed to reduce the bill by 50 per cent after an investigation.
“We have now exhausted all options for resolution of your complaint,” the letter read.
But Patton and her husband Gary believed 91-year-old Meffen shouldn’t pay anything, arguing she had not received the services promised.
“We need somebody who can fight for us,” Gary said in an interview.
When Global News contacted Rogers the company immediately launched another investigation. Within two days, Rogers responded by eliminating Meffen’s bill entirely.
“We want to be there for our customers when they need us most,” said Eric Agius, Rogers chief customer officer in a written statement.
Agius contacted Brenda personally to offer support and “my commitment that we will use this experience to take any necessary steps to improve our customer experience.’
Brenda said she told Agius that she was disappointed in how the company handled her case. But she says she was delighted to receive not one, but two apologies from Rogers: from a head office representative and Agius directly.
She also thanked Global News for putting her case to the company.
“It took a whole year to get to this. I couldn’t do it on my own. It took you just over 24 hours.”