Friday, December 10, 2010

How I saved Christmas - The Shaw Fireplace

Christmas almost didn't happen this year. I bet you didn't know that but it's true and it was Shaw Cable that tried to take it away.
My sister called me a few weeks ago asking me about the Shaw Fireplace (or the Yule Log, as you may know it) and when it was going to be coming on. I hadn't seen anything yet so I told her to relax, that Christmas wasn't going to sneak past her somehow and that if she REALLY needed a hit she could turn on her own fireplace (but only during the day when D is at work. He is too cheap to pay for the gas to run it).

Fast forward one week, J calls again to tell me the fireplace is there, but it's $0.99 cents to watch it this year.Yeah right, I tell her, but as I'm flipping through the channels to prove her wrong low and behold there it is - The Shaw Fireplace, on pay per view. For $0.99 per day. Not for the whole season,  PER DAY! For full disclosure purposes, the proceeds are going to be matched by Shaw and donated to some (mystical) charity, however, no one tells me when I have to donate to a charity. I'm pretty sticky about who and when I donate to and I'm certainly not going to bullied into it by a corporation with the highest paid CEO in the city who can certainly afford the full donation out of his own pocket without taking away my sacred fake tv fireplace.

Moving on....I was pissed right off by this. You see, the yule log is quite a tradition in our family and we watch it all through December (even though yes, we all do have our own fireplaces - but they don't crackle like on TV!) so I emailed Shaw my displeasure and here is the exchange:

Re: Shaw Fireplace I was extremely disappointed to see that there is a charge this year to watch the Fireplace. We have had this on for many gatherings over the years and always look forward to its return but will not be subscribing to it this year.$0.99 for 24 hours of viewing? I don't think so! It will be cheaper to just go and buy the DVD. I understand the charitable angle, I really do, but I choose what charities I donate to throughout the year and don't appreciate being nickled and dimed to death (i.e. $0.05 for plastic bags, $1.00 donation at the grocery store, drug store, restaurant, $0.99 to watch the fireplace etc). Shaw is a huge company with huge profits - you don't need to take our money to make a donation, we are quite capable of making our own donations thank you very much.

On Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 8:50 AM, Shaw - eCare Account Support <> wrote:

Good morning Suzanne,

Thank you for your email dated November 29th. My name is [shaw guy] and I will be happy to address your concerns regarding our charitable donations.

I’m sorry to learn about your disappointment. You should be happy to know that we are still providing four, 30 minute showings of the Shaw Fireplace in Standard Definition and High Definition starting today (on The Frame channel, two during the day and at 6pm and 8pm daily) and going until the 10th of January. And from noon on the 24th to noon on the 26th the Shaw TV channel in your area will have the Shaw Fireplace showing around the clock.

In regards to the donations specifically, we are actually matching customer donations. This has proven historically to be a fantastic way to engage customers as opposed to simply making a donation that would otherwise go unnoticed. I know that you can appreciate this decision as you’ve also noted that you make charitable donations yourself.

We donate and raise millions of dollars for dozens of charities each year – we just raised a collective 2.6 million pounds of food through the Shaw community and our partners Campbell Canada and Safeway as a matter of fact. We were so delighted with the results (our initial goal was only 1 million pounds of food) that we have added an additional cash donation of $250,000. This is also separate from our annual Season of Warmth where we come together to help shelter and cloth the lesser fortunate in our local communities.

I’m sorry if you had the wrong impression and felt as though this was a cash grab. This is very far from it. I trust that knowing what I’ve told you know, you can come to appreciate our decision and agree with it. If not, I’m sure you can at least see that we’re trying to engage our Shaw customers as best we can. This is similar to when cell phone providers were offering their customers a chance to send a text message to make a charitable donation in response to the natural disasters in Haiti recently. We are doing our best and will continue to make both cash donations in the background, as well as other more public fundraising events and programs that engage the community. Thank you for your understanding.

Please let us know if you have any additional concerns, or feel free to contact us through our Live Chat. Simply go to We look forward to hearing from you.

Hi [shaw guy],
Thanks for the response.

Just to clarify, I in no way was seeing this a cash grab by Shaw, I completely understand  the charity angle and the matching of donations. I'm not against the donations to charity at all, what I am unhappy about is the fact that you are taking away a service unless I donate. If Shaw wants to make a donation, then just do it. If you want to make a big splash about it (which they clearly like to do) to try and look good in the public light, then go for it, but don't force your customers into it $0.99 a day. This is unlike the example you have used of donating to Haiti via text message - nothing was withheld from me if I chose not to make that donation whereas here I have to pay everytime I want to see it - charity or not it is still money out of my pocket and this year I do not have a choice to a) turn the fireplace channel on for free or b) decide for myself where I would like to spend my charitable $'s. I respect the note about the Frame channel, but seriously, who has time to care about tuning in during those 2 half hours in the evening (I work during the day) when there is news or better prime tv to watch. Do people even watch that channel? I had no idea it even existed until researching this issue (and I still won't be watching it). Will they be doing the same thing with the Christmas tree channel or will that not even air this year?

Look, I know this wasn't your decision and in all honesty you could care less. Complaints don't make it any further than the front line -  I know that and I get it. It's just so annoying to be forced to participate in something if you want another product. If Shaw wanted to raise finds they could have made a "Fireplace DVD" and sold it locally with all proceeds going to charity - people would buy it. My family is all buying them this year rather than have to go the PPV route. And do you want to know the funniest thing? We all have fireplaces that we could use! Just thought you would like to know what a serious tradition the yule log is in our family.

Thanks for your time and Merry Christmas.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Shaw - eCare Account Support
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 10:40 AM
Subject: RE: eCare Email Submission
To: Suzanne Ferguson
Cc: Shaw - eCare Account Support

Hi again Suzanne,

Thank you for your honest response. I want to assure you that we do care, and that your opinions definitely make it past the front lines. In the last year we introduced a platform where the 10,000 plus employees at Shaw can discuss anything that’s on our mind. Whether we have a concern about our sick policies, a channel request or a customer concern that we’d like to share it’s all fair game. And everyone from the front line representatives to the highest people in senior management including our current CEO Brad Shaw or our president Peter Bissonette, etc, take part in this regularly.

We all participate in this forum and are strongly encouraged by our supervisors, managers and senior management to communicate our concerns without any fears of reprimand or rebuke. We very often escalate customer concerns because in one way or another we all are here to serve our valued customers and make them feel valued and loyal. Remember, we do not rely on contracts so it’s imperative that we keep customers happy. We are all Shaw customers, as well as partial owners through our stocks and investments so that is also kept in mind at all times.

Whenever there is a large change or announcement (or in this case, extreme customer dissatisfaction) we are all very vocal on the front lines and. Our superiors are very supportive and receptive to these concerns because we pass them on immediately. Without acknowledging our mistakes we are missing key opportunities to improve. And whenever there are situations that cause a large amount of customer dissatisfaction it’s something that’s recognized immediately. You can be sure that if something is bothering you, there are problem many other customers that are bothered by it and we are aware of it by the time you’ve contacted us.

I’ve done my best to touch base on your initial concerns in the first email. And I hope that this second email reminds you that we are a genuine company with caring employees. Although a large corporation of our size can seem cold and mechanical, I can assure you that we are very cognizant of our actions and never make a move without careful consideration. Everyone has a say at Shaw and that includes valued customers like yourself.

I would also like to thank you for your suggestion about selling a Shaw Fireplace DVD. That’s a very great idea and I shared it with a few colleagues that sit near me and they all agree. We’ll pass that suggestion along. I think our aim was to utilize our Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View services as it’d make a lot of sense. In my personal opinion, I think we should have continued to air the Shaw Fireplace 24/7 on TV. We could have chosen to include an occasional notice on the screen or in the Guide Information to advise customers that they can order the channel as well and make a donation that will be matched. I will propose these suggestions using the communication forum I had mentioned earlier. Although I believe it’s too late to make an impact this year, hopefully we’ll head in that direction next year.

Thanks again for your time, Suzanne. I hope this email helps to restore your faith in Shaw Cable.

[shaw guy]
E-Care Team
Shaw Communications Inc.
310-SHAW(7429) or
When sending a reply to us, please remember to include all previous correspondence! cid:image002.png@01CB7C15.31FAD270 cid:image003.png@01CB7C15.31FAD270 cid:image005.png@01CB7C15.31FAD270 

So I still wasn't pleased and there was no way I was going to tune in to this Frame channel in hopes that I would get my yule log fix, so I was just going to buy the yule log dvd.

But friends, if you have made it this far, you will be pleased to know that I have indeed saved Christmas! The Frame channel is now all yule log 24 hours a day at NO CHARGE! The PPV option is still there for you suckers who want to spend $0.99 a day to get the fake fire on your screen, but my cheap traditional ass will be watching it for free and playing the Fireplace Drinking Game for the next 4 weeks (every time the hand stokes the fire or puts in new logs you drink!)

So there you have it. Christmas is back on. Your welcome.


  1. It's free on telus tv...*snicker*

  2. US isn't cool enough to have Yule Log TV, so I'll stare at my space heater when I go back home next week!