Category Archives: Business

BC Hydro’s Choice

BC Hydro’s newly appointed [July 2014] President and CEO Jessica McDonald,  BC Hydro’s Board of Directors [Appendix 1 below] and BC Hydro – a Crown Corporation – have chosen to become directly, personally involved in/with homelessness in Abbotsford.

They have chosen to pre-empt a question currently before the BC Courts – if not Jubilee, if not Gladys then where do the homeless go?

They have chosen to ignore questions raised by a BC Crown Corporation, an instrument of the BC Government and the citizens of BC, acting to pre-empt a matter currently before the BC Courts; not next year or at some indefinite point in the future but before the Courts NOW.

They have chosen to become involved directly with homelessness in Abbotsford and to pre-empt the question of the Charter Rights of homeless Canadians currently before the BC Courts, without a clear, demonstrable, imminent risk that required or demanded they act now and prevented them from waiting another month or two [or three] for the BC Courts to adjudicate the question of: Where do the homeless go?

In choosing to pre-empt the BC Courts on the question of the Charter Rights of Canadians  CEO Jessica McDonald, Stephen Bellringer [Chair of the board], Bill Adsit, W.J. Brad Bennett, O.B.C., Larry Blain, James M. Brown, James P. Hatton, Q.C., John Knappett, Tracey L. McVicar, Janine North, ICD.D, John Ritchie, Jack Weisgerber and the Crown Corporation  BC Hydro have, in addition to the disturbing precedent of a Crown Corporation usurping a matter before the Courts, taken on personal responsibility for answering the question Abbotsford City Council has never answered: Where do the Homeless Go?

Since, by their own choice and of their own free will, CEO Jessica McDonald, the Board, employees of BC Hydro and the Crown Corporation BC Hydro have chosen to become involved in homelessness in Abbotsford and pre-empt the BC Courts on the question of the Rights of Canadians and where are the homeless to go they have, as a consequence, made themselves responsible for – and to – the homeless in Abbotsford for answering where the homeless are to go………

“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.”
Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory

“A responsible choice is a choice that creates consequences that you are willing to assume responsibility for.”     Gary Zukav

……We [I, the homeless, citizens of Abbotsford] await the unveiling of BC Hydro’s plans for the relocation of the homeless from Gladys, and BC Hydro’s answer – and plans – to the thorny question of where the homeless are suppose to relocate to.

 

 

Appendix 1

BC Hydro Board of Directors: 

Stephen Bellringer, Chair of the board

Bill Adsit

W.J. Brad Bennett, O.B.C.

Larry Blain

James M. Brown

James P. Hatton, Q.C.

John Knappett

Tracey L. McVicar

Janine North, ICD.D

John Ritchie

Jack Weisgerber

Suing Ensuing

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 were 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.

Vote With Your Pocketbook

From the beginning of the ADBA’s ‘it is a good idea in someone else’s backyard’ reaction to Abbotsford Community Services proposal to use Housing First principles to begin to reduce the number of homeless on the streets of Abbotsford, people have spoken to me of not only no longer making the effort to shop downtown, but of not shopping downtown Abbotsford period.

They have also been urging family and friends to not shop downtown Abbotsford businesses; some have even spoken of publicly calling for a boycott of downtown businesses.

Given that the ADBA is using ‘bad for business’ as part of the rational for their NIMBYism there is….justice….involved in imposing a cost for their behaviour.

I did caution that they needed to remember that not all businesses or residents in downtown Abbotsford oppose the ACS housing proposal; pointing out that some have stated their opposition to the ADBA position while others have written thoughtful, compassionate letters in support of the housing ACS wants to build.

This past week several people speaking of calling for a boycott of downtown businesses responded that ‘you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette’ to justify harming the supportive businesses in their zeal to penalize those opposing this badly needed housing.

When I pointed out the ethical holes in that behaviour they stuck to ‘you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette’, challenging me to come up with a solution that would let people boycott the businesses that oppose the ACS proposal, but that would protect the businesses that support the ACS proposal..

Hmmmm. Interesting challenge, how do you go about separating wheat (those who support housing) from the chaff (the NIMBY faction)?

Two options came to mind as I considered how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The anti-housing downtown businesses have the petition to signify where they stand; clearly those who support housing need a poster, such as above, that they can display to signify their support of the ACS housing proposal.

Another option, although there is nothing preventing both options being used together, is for those who support the ACS housing proposal to email the editor at Abbotsford Today which would permit the posting of a list of downtown businesses who support the ACS housing proposal.

These options would provide information to permit citizens to impose negative economic consequences on those downtown businesses opposing housing for the homeless and permitting citizens to shop those downtown businesses who support reducing the numbers of homeless on the streets of Abbotsford.

These options would also shine a light into the black hole of the ADBA, revealing just which businesses/businessmen are responsible for the ADBA NIMBY stance. Information that may prove quite enlightening.

Was I Mistaken?

I didn’t consider the use of chicken manure by the City of Abbotsford against the homeless as a challenge to see who could behave in the most ignorant, moronic and unenlightened way.

Unfortunately, others apparently felt challenged to further Abbotsford’s growing international reputation for heartless, impious and unethical behaviour.

I had hoped the position and behaviour of the ADBA [Abbotsford Downtown Business Association] would prove to be an isolated incident.

But there, blasting out over the airwaves [and internet] was the report about the vandals who acted to support the ADBA and their opposition to Abbotsford Community Services [ACS] plan to provide first stage housing for 20 of the homeless on the streets of Abbotsford.

I am sure that these cretins would claim they support the proposal to build first stage housing for 20, housing desperately needed to begin to reduce the number of homeless on the streets of Abbotsford.

What the actions of said cretins actually did is evoke sympathy and support for the ADBA; cast supporters of the proposed first stage housing as thugs and vandals and, worst of all, change the focus of the discussion away from the need for first stage housing, what first stage housing is [it is NOT a shelter] and the behaviour of the ADBA.

Ah yes, the ADBA. An organization that has for years moaned about how the homeless negatively affect business. And when Abbotsford Community Services brings forward a plan [funded by the province, not the city] to build first stage housing and begin reducing the number of homeless on Abbotsford streets the ADBA reaction is of course NO, don’t reduce the homeless we [the ADBA] have been moaning about for years,

A reaction that, while it seems irrational is not unexpected.

After all, the proposal does not involve any ‘getting’ [grants, lower taxes, etc.] by the ADBA. Just because the proposed first stage housing is of benefit to the citizens of Abbotsford and the citizens of Abbotsford have given years of benefits to the ADBA is no reason the ADBA………should give a thought to the needs of citizens and community, rather than mercenary egocentrism.

So currently we have the ADBA and their’ Not In the ADBA’ petition versus a petition of support from those who support the building of first stage housing.

I have declined signing any petition because ‘Petition Wars’ should be one more (bad) reality program, not the way to make important decisions that will have far reaching and long term consequences for our community, province or country.

I propose that the citizens of Abbotsford take leadership in stopping our national obsession with racing to the bottom and/or seeing how low we can stoop and instead champion a new standard – striving for excellence.

Specifically that the citizens of Abbotsford ignore the rhetoric and fear mongering, set aside any preconceived Ideas and seek out the facts, then use the facts to make up their minds.

That those who support, or oppose, this first stage housing project set out the facts and evidence that their support or opposition are based on, providing the citizens of Abbotsford the facts and evidence to be able to arrive at an informed opinion on the project.

Truth Hiding in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

“What does having the fastest Internet in Canada mean to you?”

That’s the question asked in Shaw’s latest advertising campaign to lure customers to purchase (or upgrade) their Internet services from Shaw. The image that goes with this question is of someone downloading their ‘favourite program’ while they rush out to talk the cabdriver, rush back to collect the laptop and rush out and into the cab.

The question posed and the images create an impression of impressive speed for Shaw Internet services.

What Truth lies in the Question?

The fact that you are paying for the fastest Internet in Canada does not mean you are getting the speed you are paying for. That is why contracts for internet services have within their wording the proviso ‘up to’ however megabytes per second you are paying for. Should you test the actual speed of your internet services you will almost assuredly find that, as speed tests of the actual speeds versus ‘up to’ speeds have demonstrated, you are not getting the speed you are paying for. Hence the need for the ‘up to” proviso to protect the service provider from refunds or price adjustments.

The images of the show being downloaded in the time it takes to rush out to the cab and back falls under both ‘up to’ and more importantly the excuse “it is them not us”. For most of us it doesn’t really matter what our download speed is, the limiting factor is what the download speed of the site you are downloading from (uploading to) is.

Except for a very few sites, the download and upload speeds are such that paying for higher or highest speeds is a waste of money.

Does paying for the highest internet speed mean you can download a show in the time shown in Shaw’s internet commercial? No, but should you contact Shaw to complain  “it is the downloader, not Shaw” that prevents you achieving downloading a program in the time promised (an implied promise) in the Shaw commercial.

“What does having the fastest Internet in Canada mean to you?”

For all but a select few it means you have bought a ‘mirage’ and are paying too much for your internet.

For me “What does having the fastest Internet in Canada mean to you?” means that the Federal Government needs to stop paying lip service to competition and bring meaningful competition into the markets where monopolies, or effective monopolies, exist (Cable, newspapers, wireless, banking, internet services, TV and radio ownership, news and information programming, etc) .

It is well past time the Federal Conservatives remembered that they are in Ottawa to serve the best interests of ALL Canadians and not just the interests of the wealthy and big business.

Unfortunately for the future of Canada and Canadians. putting the best interests of Canada and Canadians as a whole above the interests of the wealthy, business and those special interest groups they favour, is not part of the Conservative’s Ideology. And as we all are well aware, if it is not part of the Conservative’s Ideology it cannot be Reality and therefore does not exist in the Conservative Universe.

No Customers = No Business

It likely bodes ill for the future of print media that often the biggest laugh is not found of the comic pages but among what passes for ‘news’ or ‘reporting’ these days.

Take for example this recent  ‘news report’ from the business pages of The Province:

Rogers Communications Inc. had a weaker quarterly profit and flat revenue due to competition in its wireless and cable divisions, but the Toronto company said Tuesday it has started to see the benefits of cost cutting, including 650 jobs this year. Rogers said its second-quarter net income declined 2.4 per cent to $400 million, or 75 cents per share, off from $410 million a year ago, or 74 cents per share.

One hopes that even at a time when getting government subsidies, government bailouts, favourable labour laws, market protection, restrictions on competition etc is what passes for good management at Canadian businesses, even Rogers competitors would not waste resources to lure Rogers customers away from Rogers when Rogers is doing such a magnificent job of driving Rogers customers to other providers.

Given the fact that managing at Canadian wireless and cable companies is based on maintaining government policies that allow them to charge customers usury rate levels exceeding those paid by customers elsewhere in the world, it is an extremely remote possibility that Rogers fellow beneficiaries of largesse from the federal Conservative government are capable of actual competition and raiding Rogers for customers.

Aside: Yes, it would be very beneficial to Canadians if the federal Conservative Party were to realize/remember that they have a duty of care to all Canadians, not just the bank account of the Conservative Party and Canadian Businesses filling those coffers. But then if Prime Minister Harper were to deny Banks in Canada the right/ability to bleed Canadians to cover excessive salaries and the hundreds of millions of dollars lost through bad management, Harper would not be able to run around the world lecturing world leaders on how wonderful a leader he is and the solidness of Canadian Banks because he is such a magnificent leader.

In this case, the lack of ability of Rogers fellow corporations in the wireless and cable business is a benefit to shareholders as it prevents them wasting resources on uneccessary expenditures.

Competent management would tell you that when dealing with Rogers in terms of customers one need to follow the axiom from The Art of War – “When your enemy is in the process of destroying himself, stay out of his way.”

Although in the case of Rogers it would be more appropriate to apply Woodrow Wilson’s  “Never … murder a man who is committing suicide” .

No competitor could be anywhere near as successful at getting Rogers Customers to switch to another provider as Rogers itself. Rogers might well want to consider that the time to act to retain customers is before Rogers drives them to change to another, any other, provider. Requiring customers to speak to ‘Retention’ after Rogers treatment of customers drives them into changing providers is adding salt to the wound – not to mention pointless.

Rogers customer problem is not that it ticks some customers off and they change providers. That happens to some degree with all providers.

Rogers problem is threefold.

First that their behaviour drives customers to the point of anger that “I don’t care if it costs $1500.00, its worth twice that not to have to deal with those @@%&###”

Secondly that while other providers may have customers switch to another provider, those customers will (and have) returned to the provider they dropped. Rogers provokes customers to the point that “I will never, NEVER, deal with Rogers again” with the customers sticking to their vow to never deal with Rogers again.

Thirdly, when people make enquires of others as to what provider to use the growing pool of Never, Ever Rogers ex-customers  is telling them just that: “Never, Ever Rogers” and providing them with horror stories of the way Rogers treats those it allows to give Rogers their hard earned cash, nickel and dimeing them to death and them *BLEEPing* all over them.

The question Rogers must answer is whether they have the ability to change their policies of customer alienation before they reach the tipping point where they cannot stop their customer base from continuing to erode. Which would see Rogers continually shrinking as customers go ABR (Anywhere But Rogers) until the ABR customers service Rogers into the corporate dustbin.