Rogers owes more than apology to customers after cross-country cellphone outage

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
October 10, 2013
File photo of a sign at the Rogers Communications headquarters building in Toronto
A woman walks by a sign at the Rogers Communications headquarters building in Toronto in this April 25, 2012 file photo. Rogers announced that it is dealing with a nation-wide interruption to voice and some texting service in a tweet that was sent out at 7:59 PM on October 9, 2013. "We are experiencing a wireless outage nationally, affecting voice and some SMS service. We apologize & are working to resolve it ASAP." REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS)

Many Canadians suffering under the thumb of the country's largest cellphone provider were without service after a cross-country outage last night, but at least the company still isn't sure what caused the blackout.

Rogers customers in Ontario and Quebec, and later other parts of the country, complained of lost cellphone and text messaging service in what the company later confirmed was a "service interruption" that affected customers across the country. It is not clear how many people were left without service, but Rogers has 10 million customers from coast to coast.

The company's website also crashed for a brief time Wednesday evening, which is both hilarious and inevitable when you have a country filled with angry customers demanding answers.

Of course, Rogers customers were not alone in their suffering. Glenn Rogers, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., who happens to have a Twitter account under the handle @Rogers, suffered the wrath of angry Canadians until service was restored late Wednesday night.

[ Related: Rogers CEO apologizing for major wireless outage ]

“There’s a lot of abuse,” Rogers told CP24 about the unfortunate coincidence. “It’s amazing what people will say to a company as opposed to an actual person. They’ll often say something and then be very apologetic when they find out there’s a person on the other side.”

The disruption, which also affected Fido customers, was cleared up shortly before midnight. Nadir Mohamed, President and CEO of Rogers Communications, says the company continues to investigation what caused the disruption.

"I recognize this service interruption was unacceptable for our customers. We worked as quickly as possible to restore service and it was gradually restored over the course of the evening. I sincerely apologize to all of our customers for this significant inconvenience and appreciate their understanding and patience," he said.

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As a peace offering, the company will credit affected postpaid customers for one day of service. A small pittance for those, increasingly reliant on cellphone service, missed business calls, social inquiries and the always-exciting announcements that they have won a cruise and need to follow just a few simple steps to claim their prize.

Customers should get more than credit for a free day. They should get an actual free day. As in, any calls or text messages sent on Friday should be entirely free, allowing those customers to go on a Ferris Bueller-style worry-free holiday where they can call parents in Winnipeg, friends in South Korea and strangers in Peru, all on the company dime.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. And if Rogers doesn't get right with their frustrated customers, they could end up missing them as well.

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