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Local man outraged over getting nickel and dimed by EastLink


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Greenfield resident Lloyd Gibbs believes broadcast television companies such as EastLink are being greedy by imposing a new fee against the recommendation of the CRTC. Harry Sullivan Truro Daily News

GREENFIELD - Despite realizing billions of dollars in revenue last year, television broadcast companies are downloading a new fee onto customers against a CRTC recommendation.
And that has EastLink customer Lloyd Gibbs spitting mad over what he views as nothing short of corporate greed.
"I tell you, greed is killing this country," the Greenfield resident said. "As a consumer I'm tired of getting nickel and dimed by EastLink."
Included on his latest EastLink bill is a new cost referred to as the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF). The fund was imposed against broadcast companies by the commission as a way to improve the quality of local programming in smaller, non-metropolitan television markets across Canada.
But given that total revenues from the country's broadcasting services in 2008 totalled approximately $14 billion, an increase of 7.3 per cent over the previous year, the CRTC said there was no rationalization for broadcast companies to pass the LPIF on to their customers.
"In light of the performance levels of the BDU (broadcasting distribution undertakings) sector and the benefits accruing to BDUs as a result of other changes being made to the regulatory framework, the Commission is of the view that there is no justification for BDUs to pass along any increased costs relating to the LPIF ..." the commission said in its hearing report.
The fee imposed on the BDUs was initially set at one per cent but that has since increased to 1.5 per cent.
For Gibbs, that represents an additional fee of $1.09 per month. Some fees could be less or more, depending on individual service levels. While Gibbs acknowledges that is not a lot of extra money for each customer to absorb, his argument is with the fact the CRTC recommended against it being passed on at all.
"I care about the principle and the greed and I'm tired of these guys," he said. "They were told by the CRTC at the hearings not to pass this on to the consumer, it's not justified, that they should pay it directly out of their big profits."
A spokesperson from EastLink did not address the CRTC recommendation specifically, choosing instead to respond with an e-mailed statement.
"This is a new fee mandated by the CRTC and is therefore an additional charge," Joanne Elliott said. "Otherwise a reduction in the services we provide would have been required to offset this fee. We are a service company and choose not to reduce the services we provide to our customers."
Heavy sarcasm was evident in Gibbs's voice when he heard the EastLink response.
"A reduction in services?" he guffawed. "Their back's against the wall and they want to charge this so they can make more profit... Well, to me, it's all based on greed. I mean when the regulatory body tells you that, given their profits, there's no need of passing this small fee on to their customers, that tells you something."
After complaining to the company directly, Gibbs said he was eventually offered a five per cent "customer loyalty" discount on his bill, although he was told specifically it had nothing to do with the imposition of the LPIF fee.
And while not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, he said, the offer was hardly appeasing because of the principle involved regarding the LPIF charge and the fact that EastLink customers are being levied a fee he believes should not have been passed on.
After checking with satellite company Shaw Direct regarding its LPIF fee, Gibbs said he was informed that company bills a flat rate of $3 per month. Messages left with that company by the Truro Daily News were not returned by press time.
In addition to the LPIF fee, in May, EastLink also sent out a notice to customers informing them of a $1.50 increase to its monthly rates, "required to cover higher operational and maintenance costs" associated with maintaining digital service.

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