12 November 2013 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Have you noticed that the world has gone crazy with rewards? There are rewards for buying at certain retail stores, credit card usage, Hotels, Air flights and on and on. The concept behind this is simple: “Use us or buy from us and we will give you something back” OR it is a form of a minor “Thank You”. Simple concept and for those who offer rewards it works. There are also discounts for multiple purchases, high volume purchases, large purchases, frequent purchasing, etc. In the U.S. you can get monthly reward cheques for good driving. In Business, employees can be rewarded for good performance by getting bonuses, salary increases, promotions, bigger commissions, days off, trips, etc. All of this aside from the original concept is a way of recognizing loyalty and saying thank you. For the most part it is a great idea for some recipients.

Why can this not be applied to other areas? I have 2 areas in particular that could learn something from this concept. The first is Banks. The Canadian Banks are some of the most profitable organizations in the world. Why do they not share this profit with their loyal customers? Fees continue to increase and service keeps deteriorating. For some who have dealt with these Banks for as long as 50 years and never was late on a loan payment, always had some money saved up, open kids accounts and followed all the rules, should they not be entitled to rewards? Recently the Banks have started to take away from seniors the only reward that was available, the “no service charge account”. Do the Banks not recognize that it was these people trying to save money that made them as large as they are today? I say the Banks should start rewarding their loyal customers but not with travel points or other such useless rewards but based on track record and longevity, rewards should be cold hard cash in the accounts or at the very least better interest rates.

The Utility companies, and there are many, could also learn something about reward programs. How many years have we been paying for utilities? For most of our adult lives is the answer. Is there any difference between those of us that have faithfully paid our utilities on time all the time and those people who are constantly late? The penalties for a late payment are the same whether you miss a payment or many payments. Shouldn’t one’s track record over decades be considered before hammering down the penalty? Just asking.

My fury today is with Hydro One. After years of expenditures on a real time system, the system still does not work. This past summer I was back on estimating my usage and of course when everything is all said and done (almost 4 months later), they were over estimating. I am even more p___ off that we were pushed into upgrading appliances and being more energy efficient in our homes so that we would pay less for Electricity but that has not happened because rates are going up faster than we can conserve energy. More importantly, we were pushed into believing if we use electricity in off peak times there would be a savings so we change our habits and routines to get the reward.(I wrote about these changes 2 years ago)  Now Hydro decides to penalize the off peak users with higher increased rates than on peak usage. This is no different than the Banks setting us up for increase fees and service charges when ATMs were introduced. The banks said it was free at the time. What is with our Hydro explanations on our monthly bills? The actual Hydro usage is approximately 40% of our total bill. The rest of the bill of 60% is made up of add on charges like Regulatory charges, debt retirement charges, the dreaded HST and the largest amount is Delivery charges which is a catch all for other charges we do not know about. What is going on? Is it just me that is confused, frustrated and feeling the pinch?

I know nothing will change short of a miracle but it really does not seem fair. In today’s world of rewards and recognition, the Utility Companies and others could learn something about rewarding or taking better care of the majority of customers who follow the rules whether they like it or not.

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