As we reported yesterday Canadian Media Mogul Shaw Cable had what appeared to be an over one hour outage of their Cable TV service, and the outage seemed to cover the entire of Southern Alberta. That in itself would not bother me much, about the only program worth watching at 9:00am is Jerry Springer (that is a quote from my wife)!

However, Shaw Cable are no longer just a Cable company, like many other mega media companies they like to have their fingers in as many media pies as the government will allow them. As a result they offer ‘one-stop’ shopping for cable, Internet, and telephone service.

The major flaw in this ‘one-stop’ approach is when one service goes down, the others tend to follow suit. And that was the case yesterday, all of the services ceased to work. For at lease one Calgary family this went far beyond just regular annoyance. A medical emergency required a call to 911, someone was having  paralyzing chest pains, and it sounded like a heart attack.

Gwen (last name redacted) explained:

Sadly, none of the calls using three separate phones (one walk and talk wireless, one desk ((as displayed)), and one direct (wired to the wall the old fashioned way) wired phone. There was simply no service even on the direct-wired phone, which we had been told (guaranteed) at subscription, and was connected directly to the pre-existing phone lines and would never fail

The victim was left without any help, in excruciating pain, laying on the floor, helpless, expecting and waiting for death. Thank goodness for survival training. Unfortunately, the only available cell phone was in Calgary (at work with my husband), being used in the fashion that it was designed for… mobile.

The good news is that the victim survived, “doing ok”, exhausted and now resting.

Needless to say Gwen and her husband were less than pleased with the situation and wanted some answers from Shaw Cable. Shaw Cable on the other hand seem to be pulling off a stalling tactic. Again Gwen comments:

Shaw has been unavailable to speak with my husband and last night transferred him (he was in queue and being transferred for over an hour) through  the queue no less than four times, avoiding giving him an explanation. Finally he was advised that “one supervisor is in meeting and cannot be disturbed, and the other is on holidays”. He is still waiting for someone to return his inquiry.

What is interesting is the sequence (over several excruciating minutes) that service came back, Internet was first, TV second, and Phone was last.

Gwen and her husband have been bounced around the Shaw system. This is completely unacceptable, and in many ways unethical. The couple have contacted the CRTC (the Canadian version of the FCC) who have promised to investigate.

This was an unforgivable failure of a guaranteed service but as the gentleman at CRTC confirmed that is “how Shaw markets it”.

The family was smart with their dealings with the slippery eels at Shaw Cable, they made a point of logging each employees badge number that they talked to. That alone should make a few people kind of nervous.

I think this story should give everyone pause for thought when considering these ‘bundled’ packages. Shaw Cable deserve to be beaten senseless for the outage, but more importantly for dodging the issue. This family deserves an explanation. The good news is that the CRTC are not quite as bad as their toothless brethren in the FCC, so there is a chance that something will be done about the 911 issue.

BNN will be following this story closely.

Simon Barrett


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