Customers as Adversaries

This week, I tweeted about Rogers taking away the credit I had in my wireless account for the System Access Fee. A credit (For $6.95) that I was told I could have until the end of my contract.

The Rogers social media team responded to me, and I received a subsequent call from Delwin, of the Office of the President. I explained my situation to him, and he said that there was nothing in their notes, and that there was no code for the System Access Fee credit in the system anymore. Of course not.

I told him not to bother with anything else, I was going to let my contract expire and be done with this terrible company for good for my mobile phone. I explained to Delwin that it’s rather outrageous that they were willing to sacrifice $50 a month from a long time customer for the sake of $6.95 a month. He didn’t bother fighting, he knew it was a lost cause.

For full disclosure’s sake, my account is worth at least $80 a month, and I have received quite a few credits on my account already. Why? I fought tooth and nail for them because it’s not like Rogers would ever say a damn thing to me should prices for better plans be created.

I am sure many people share the number of credits I have, along with the stories of how they have had to fight for every single dollar in the account.

Thank you Rogers, and the other telecoms, for making sure you treat all of your customers as adversaries. You are profiting extraordinarily well from all the frustrations of consumers in this inexplicably monopolistic telecom industry in Canada, and the CRTC ensures that your profits for years to come will be safe.

Up yours, and then some.

Canada: Where Innovation Comes To Die

I hope you heard the news yesterday: the CRTC approved metered internet billing.

Aside from how outraged I am about that news, I’m going to say something rather bold: Rogers, Bell, and Telus are killing innovation in Canada.

Every single year, we are gouged to the bone by these three gigantic corporations by receiving less service for more money. They treat us poorly, and they know they can get away with it because we have no choice. They don’t need to improve a damn thing because we are stuck.

So let’s take a look at exactly why they are killing us:

Rogers

Rogers is made up of three business units: Rogers Wireless, Rogers Cable, and Rogers Media. As of the end of Q3 in 2010, the entire unit generated $2,545 million in profits. (Source – Adjusted Operating Profit minus PPE Expenditures) Here’s the breakdown:

Rogers Wireless: $1,879 million
Rogers Cable: $583 million
Rogers Media: $83 million

TOTAL: $2,545 million

Bell

Bell is, like Rogers, made up of three business units: Bell Wireline, Bell Wireless, and Bell Aliant. As of Q3 2010, they had earned $1,084 million in profits. (Source – EBITDA minus Capital Expenditures) Here’s the breakdown:

Bell Wireline: $513 million
Bell Wireless: $346 million
Bell Aliant: $225 million

TOTAL: $1,084 million

Telus

Telus has two business units: Telus Wireless and Telus Wireline. As of Q3 2010, they had earned $1,609 million in profits. (Source – EBITDA minus Capital Expenditures) Here is the breakdown:

Telus Wireless: $1,284 million
Telus Wireline: $325 million

TOTAL: $1,609 million

So what does this tell us? Within 9 months of the year, each company had already earned at least $1,000,000,000 in profits alone. When you go on the record to say that “the explosive growth in Internet traffic and the load it puts on networks mean flat-rate pricing was no longer viable” (Source) then I know you are just being a profiteering douche.

You have the resources and the capital, why would you not upgrade your networks instead of raising our prices? If you were increasing my speed and bandwidth while raising my prices, I wouldn’t really think too much of it. However, when all three of you lobby to raise prices because you can’t compete?

That’s monopolistic, and exactly the type of behaviour that kills innovation.

Welcome to Canada.

Scaling Back (Eating) Operations

One of the first things people learn about me is that I eat a lot. No really, I can consume enough to feed a small village within a day. It is both unhealthy and hilarious.

As of late, due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle I have chosen to lead, my body has been taking a hit. Love handles, a little belly, you name it. In a (losing) effort to bring my weight back into my average range, I have begun to scale back on the amount I eat.

Comparison (Universally applicable, I hope)

Before = two 12oz steaks, two scoops of mashed potatoes, and bread. No. Problem.
Now = one 10oz steak, one scoop of mashed potatoes, and some bread. Resist urge to eat more. Cause I will.

I have been doing this since about November, and only recently has my body begun to appreciate my efforts. It has stopped barking orders during dinner time, orders that sound like a drill sergeant during boot camp. Only it was a boot camp to get fat.

“Eat the rest of that plate, son, or you will be the laughing stock of this fat camp.”

No, good sir, I refuse.

Thankfully, my body has adjusted to eating a regular person’s portion. Maybe still larger than most would consider “regular,” but hey, it’s progress.

Next step: actually stick to a regular exercise plan, more than the pushups and sit-ups that I do in the morning. Easily doable.

Next-er step: use my new found strength (from exercising) to fight crime. Maybe plausible.

Touch Screen Gaming is Different

I play a lot of games. It should come as no surprise that a lot of the games I play are also for the iOS, especially considering that I used to run an iOS Game Review site.

Lately, I have been playing a lot of FIFA 11. I’ve been playing the English Premier League as Arsenal and have been completely obliterating everyone in my way. The game itself is really fun, save for a few headache inducing moments, and I genuinely enjoy playing 2-3 matches during my commute.

However, the game causes me pain. Literally.

The game is controlled through a virtual joystick and buttons. This causes my hand to contort into a weird angle and gives me a lot of wrist pain, which is amplified by the fact that I am pretty sure I have carpal tunnel in these bad boys.

This post isn’t a complaint about my pain, rather a request: iOS game designers, or even touch screen game designers in general, please find more fitting ways to control your games on a touch screen device. A non-tactile joystick can become extremely aggravating, mentally and physically, with prolonged usage. It can be non-responsive, it can go the wrong direction, and I often find myself just letting go to let it re-orient itself. It’s difficult to make a sports game without a joystick, I know, but I am sure there is a way.

Touch screen gaming is different from handheld consoles, so let’s try to break convention here and build a more exciting control scheme, shall we?

(If someone wants to recommend sports games to me that use a great way to control the players, please do so in the comments!)

The TTC: Crappy For Other Reasons!

We all heard the news yesterday: the TTC is asking to raise fares once again. Now, if you’re a regular rider like myself, I am sure the news comes as a bit of a kick in the face, considering how high they already are.

However, I have to tell you right now: my crappy rides to and from work are not because of the TTC drivers, or the unions, or their management. I have had some really bad rides simply because people are just so rude.

Here are some really common examples:

  • People getting up after to rush out of the bus/RT/subway/streetcar when there are people standing in front of them.
  • People standing by doors obstructing other people from getting in, so they can rush off at the next stop.
  • People leaning on poles.
  • People rushing onto the vehicle, disregarding any lines that were there ages before them.
  • People taking more than one seat because their backpacks need seating.

Really guys? We’re going to act like this now? We are a society of people, not a pack of wild animals. Rushing onto or off of a public transit vehicle will not let you move any faster than the rest of us. Leaning on poles that other people need to hold onto is just plain rude. Giving your backpack a seat over someone else is even worse. And you know what, you sat down the entire ride, you can wait another 30 seconds for us to file out before you get up, thank you very much.

It is experiences like this that infuriate me about riding the TTC. I know, I know, it’s inefficient public transit that isn’t exactly the most reliable in the world so we end up having some really crappy experiences. But at the end of the day, do you really want to make it worse for everyone else by being a complete ass?

So people, please, in the midst of this cold winter and fare hike requests, remember: it’s PUBLIC transit. Do your best to make everyone else’s ride much more pleasant, and we’ll all benefit from that sort of behaviour.

Why I Love Teletoon at Night

One of my favourite channels to watch is Teletoon. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of cartoons and that I watch Futurama almost religiously, and Teletoon does a great job of letting me get my Futurama fix on a daily basis.

Recently, Teletoon did a bit of changing with their “Teletoon at Night” program. They added Fearless Fred to their roster, added a bunch of new shows, and are doing their best to promote not-so-well-known cartoons!

I LOVE what they are doing with Teletoon at night. The simple addition of Fred to do some really basic voiceovers and segues between shows is great: he’s personable and he’s witty, and he can even take a boring message about parental discretion and add a bit of good natured humour to it.

It’s difficult for me to explain exactly why I love it all, but I will do my best: Teletoon has managed to create a great atmosphere for not-so-kid-friendly cartoon shows, and they have fun while doing it.

It seems simple enough to do, but it’s a pretty fine line to walk. I hope more people tune into Teletoon at Night and Fred at Night because they are such a treat to watch.

Thanks Teletoon, you make watching cartoons easy!

Here Comes 2011

Welp, here comes the close of 2010, and it seemed to have passed by rather quickly. Only feels like yesterday that we were ushering in the new year and saying “Here’s to 2010!”

Whoops.

Anyhoo, with the new year comes new opportunities, new friends, and most importantly, new goals. I’m using my blog as a launching pad for what I want to accomplish in the new year, and I will be doing a monthly update just to make sure I stay on track and I am accountable for my own words.

Here’s my list of goals:

  1. Blog more. I have not been consistent with my blog and it seems to have fallen by the wayside, but I want to establish a bigger presence in the Toronto blogging scene, just to say that I have. I want to continue reading up on technology and marketing and video games and making sure that I give my commentary on each. It may not be read, but at least it helps me organize my thoughts.
    TASK: Blog at least once a week for the next 52 weeks. Bonus points for more than once a week.
  2. Attend more events. I skipped out on too many events this year; laziness and a lack of money really held me back from attending more events and meeting more of the great people we have in Toronto. Going to change that this year.
    TASK: Go to at least 80% of major Toronto social events this year, no excuses.
  3. Become more active. I have not visited the gym since April of 2010, and it is really starting to affect me in a negative way. Going to sign up for the YMCA again and get my metropass and start doing morning gym runs again. It’s going to be difficult to go to the gym so early, but whatever, gotta do what you gotta do.
    TASK: Go to the gym three times a week. At least.
  4. Travel. Since I graduated from school, I haven’t had the opportunity to really go to different places outside of North America, so I want to take this year as an opportunity to do some light traveling when I can.
    TASK: Leave the continent at least once this year. Bonus points for doing it as cheaply as possible!
  5. Develop a new skill. This year, I spent an inordinate amount of time cooking random things and not really trying to learn, so I’m going to spend a bit of time and money to dedicate myself to a specific skill. I’m thinking of learning the piano. Also, I want to continue developing my cooking so that I can cook without a recipe.
    TASK: Learn a new skill and be proficient at it by the year’s end.
  6. Be awesome at work. Having recently started at TWG, I have loved every single minute of my time there. However, I don’t want to disappoint the awesome guys and gals there, so I’m making it a mission to do everything in my power to kick inordinate amounts of ass for the next year. Profitable? Going to make it rain money.
    TASK: Achieve all business goals.

There we go, six rather large tasks for me to complete for 2011. Like I said, I will check in once a month to talk about progress and difficulties that I may have, it will keep me accountable for all of my goals!

Want to join in? Let me know! Maybe we can make a support group if there are enough people!

Happy new year everyone!

What I’ve Gone and Done

So it’s been a little more than two weeks since I made my last post, telling everyone what sort of jobs I was looking for. Well, I’m happy to (finally) announce that I found and joined, what is literally, my dream job.

I have joined The Working Group!

The Working Group

I am leading the charge for PostageApp, our in-house product that allows web apps of all flavours to send transactional or event-driven emails. It’s been around for a while, but the fully featured, end-to-end product will be released in the near future and I am going to make sure that the launch is going to be a great success.

I get to do everything I mentioned in my “what am I looking for” post, and I get to work with an amazing team of really smart people. What more could a guy ask for?

Always happy to expand on my role a little if you have questions, and I am always happy to go for coffee, so if you want to reach me, shoot me an email at my new work address!

In addition, if you are running a web app (social networking sites, social gaming sites, e-commerce sites, anything that sends emails to users on a regular basis) or know someone who does, I would love to hear from you! We’re getting tons and tons of feedback for the app, and I want to make sure I speak to as many people as possible, so please send me an email.

Huge thank you to everyone who helped me out during my job search, you helped me find opportunities, kept my spirits up, and introduced me to all the right people. You’re the best.

Feel free to ask questions or leave comments!

The Working Group

What I’m Looking For

For the past month, everyone who has heard about my situation has asked me the same question: “What sort of job are you looking for?”

My answer, for the past month, has been the same: “I’m not entirely sure, I’d like to do marketing, and I want to be challenged and have interesting work to do. Having fun, and being involved in social media would be a bonus.”

Incredibly focused, I am, eh?

Well, after speaking with a lot of people and discovering a lot of different opportunities, I think I’ve nailed down exactly what I want to do, or at least the various aspect I want to be involved in.

I want to be involved in marketing, project management, and business development. I want to help a business grow, in more ways than one, and hopefully be given the creative control that I yearn for. Specifically, I love to cultivate communities, create awesome campaigns, and forge relationships and strategic partnerships with other businesses, among other things. I want to be challenged on a daily basis, because I want to kick serious amounts of ass day in and day out.

Now that I am able to focus on exactly what type of job I am looking for, I think this job search might get a little easier on myself. Have a job in mind that you think I would be a good fit for? Let me know!

Game Companies, Please Reverse The Trend

I just learned that Ubisoft’s stock plummeted yesterday after releasing their financial results. Why? Apparently, substantial losses and title delays. Oh, and they mentioned that they were restructuring to give more support for their AAA titles and franchises.

Game companies: please stop focusing on your best franchises and releasing them year over year with minor tweaks.

I understand, once you have an established franchise, it is significantly cheaper to continue to develop for that franchise and you will gain more and more sales as the franchise continues. It gives you the revenue to continue making awesome games, understood.

But it is an incredibly short-sighted way of approaching the business.

Let me explain. In the case of Ubisoft, they are pulling resources away from new properties that may or may not become a hit. For a business, it is a good business decision to cut the assets that are not making money or may not make as much money as other assets you may have. But for a gaming company, not continuously building a bigger and better pipeline of different titles is a good way of shooting yourself in the foot. Yeah, you can easily make a killing by continuing to develop your franchises and churning out mediocre game year after year.

But will we want it after its 6th iteration?

Please game companies, buck the trend and go back to developing awesome titles that do not already have established franchises. It might suck for your bottom line in the short term, but in the long term you’re going to enjoy the fact that your titles will be diverse and one failure does not determine the financial health of your company.