Consumer Information

The Fleecing of Internet Users In Canada

As you may or may not already know, the days of the unlimited internet died in Canada this month.

Gone are the days where one wouldn’t need to worry about limits and extra charges because Shaw and Primus have decided to go the way of Bell and Rogers. They have decided to use caps and extra fees.

When I had originally joined Bell Sympatico years back I had a relatively inexpensive plan and unlimited internet for years.

The speed of the connection was o.k but this was prior to the higher resolution videos on Youtube, the site I frequent the most, and eventually I wanted to upgrade to a faster connection.

Unfortunately when I was offered the faster connection, at a cheaper price, I was introduced to capping. I was limited to a 60 gigabite amount with optional extra gigabites for a few dollars more.

I was not informed that I would have my uploads and downloads limited to 60 gigabites so I was disappointed. But I had never surpassed 40 gigabites anyway, so I managed it.

A year or two back Bell contacted me once more. They were offering a faster connection and more discounts. But this time I scrutinized the offer and found out they were going to reduce my uploads and downloads to 40 gigabites.

Yes, they were going to take $10 off my bill. But I would then need to pay $5 of it back to get extra gigabites to cover the higher amount of transfers I was now at because of chatting and the 720p videos on Youtube.

I of course explained the situation and the salesperson concured that it wasn’t in my best interest to take this offer.

If I had taken the offer I wouldn’t have able to try Netflix. I wouldn’t have had the chance to view many of the 1080p videos on Youtube, which can add up quite quickly.

To save broadband I view most of the videos at 480p. But since the introduction of widescreen video it still adds up. And I would find it impossible to limit my usage to 25 gig cap that is currently being offered to some Bell customers so I wont be changing my plan soon.

Unfortunately for us Canadians, it appears that we are doomed to have the most expensive Internet fees in the world, as determined by Harvard in eary 2010.

Our infrastructure is aging, resulting in additional expendatures, and WIMAX will not be possible until 2012, well after the Analog to Digital transition of Canadian television networks.

Then there’s the issue that WIMAX could be controled by many of the major players like Bell and Rogers, who own some of the television networks.

Are they going to offer competitive rates with WIMAX or play monopoly to pad their stock value ?

Will they play the illegal download card as an excuse to cap WIMAX transfers and/or whine about their landline expeditures ?

I don’t know but i’m sure we’re going to need to fight at least one of these issues to try to keep our prices from skyrocketing.

So much for the promises of inexpensive access.

Cloud Film/TV Distribution

Six major film and television studios have partnered to bring a new technology to the market, allowing users to view television episodes and film on multiple devices with the ability to share this programming with six friends or relatives.

Ultraviolet is the industry’s response to a reduction of sales of DVDs and Blu-rays in the United States in 2010, down 3% to 18.8 billion.

Starting this summer, they’re hoping to transition from DVDs to this more flexible online distribution to take advantage of the booming digital downloads and streaming sales and rentals. And they have 46 retailers and device manufacturers on board, including Best Buy, Comcast, Samsung, and Toshiba.

There are two major hold outs at the moment though : Apple and Disney.

Apple had its own service but they are expecting to sign on because they allow Netflix already on some onf their devices.

Disney, on the other hand, has their own plans, for a similar technology called KeyChest, which is partly owned by Steve Jobs.

According to Mitch Singer of Sony, Ultraviolet will be fully implemented by 2011, allowing people to view material on cell phones, tablets, video game consoles and computers. And by 2012 they expect to have Ultraviolet software built into portable devices.

Warning for Android Users

Do not download software from China ! They may be infected with a virus and these are the known infected titles :

  • Monkey Jump 2
  • Sex Positions
  • President vs. Aliens
  • City Defense
  • Baseball Superstars 2010

Always download aps from Android Market.

Interesting Move by Quebec Government

Appearently it is the Quebecan provincial government’s opinion that the recession can be counteracted by higher sales taxes.

Today the provincial sales taxes in Quebec went up 1% to 8.5%. And another 1% hike is scheduled on New Years Day 2012.

I guess they got this brilliant idea from the provincial governments of Ontario, BC and Nova Scotia, who all hiked and/or extended their taxes in July.

In my opinion these additional taxes hinder our recovery.

They burden smaller retailers, who will probably consider this the last nail in their coffin, and force larger retailers to cut expendatures and staff.

It is obviously counterproductive.

Song Previews & Royalties

SOCAN is again back in court, attempting to obtain royalties for those 30 second previews online retailers use on their sites.

Three years after the Copyright Board rulled that fair dealing applies because consumers use these previews as research, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers have taken the case to Surpreme Court.

The Federal Court of Appeal has concured with the Copyright Board last May. But SOCAN insists that these previews be subjected to royalties because they would want the definition of the term research limited to format settings.

So SOCAN want online retailers to pay royalties so their customers have the priviledge to preview the music they’re selling, even when no actual sale occurs.

Where exactly does SOCAN think the funds would come from ?

The recording artists, composers, lyricists and music publishers they represent are already legally entitled to royalties from the sale of recordings, so the previews work in the favor. And online retailers are in no way obliged to offer previews, which results in expendatures for maintenance and bandwidth.

You would think SOCAN would appreciate the value of promotion but they seem to be quite insistant on this counterproductive, counterintuitive cash grab.

SOCAN obviously want to nickle and dime legal music download services, whose previews are used regularily by consumers. After all, the legal music download services can pass those extra expendatures on to their customers, right ?

But of course SOCAN would rather emphesize the benefits that would allegedly result from this scheme. You know, how artists and composers would get royalties when in reality the majority of funds would be forwarded to the music publishers they represent.

Ontario’s Eco Fees Confuse Consumers

If you’re an ONtario resident and you’re confused as to why you’re paying for eco-fees, then you’re no alone.

According to a December 23rd, 2003 article in the Ottawa Citizen, people are still getting sticker shock, having believed these fees were discontinued in October.

The problem is that the government actually said they would be discontinueing the expansion of these fees, which means some items are still being subjected to these fees, some under different programs.

For example, tires are still being subjected to eco fees under the Ontario Tire Stewardship program and electronics like televisions are subject to eco fees via a program operated by the Ontario Electronics Stewardship.

What the Government of Ontario refrained from implementing was a second phase of eco fees, on fluorescent tubes and bulbs, aerosols, portable fire extinguishers, mercury-containing devices, and corrosives, such as acidic cleaning products, drain openers, pool and spa chemicals, masonry products and paint remover.

The remaining first phase results in eco fees on :

* Household paints and coatings and their containers
* Solvents, such as thinners for paint, lacquer and contact cement, paint strippers and degreasers, and their containers
* Used oil filters
* Oil containers of 30 litres or less
* Single-use, dry cell batteries
* Automotive antifreeze (engine coolant) and related containers
* Pressured containers, such as propane tanks and cylinders
* Fertilizers and their containers
* Pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides and insecticides, and their containers

Additional information on the eco fees can be found at makethedrop.ca and stewardshipontario.ca.