why does Rogers charge for caller ID?

I recently axed all the features from my Rogers cell phone plan. No data plan (internet is a bit of a joke on this Sony Ericsson phone really), no voicemail, no caller ID, no evening and weekends, no texting plans or bundles or value packs or anything like that. Just me, the system access fee, and $25 a month for their cheapest student plan. Honestly the only thing I miss is the caller ID, but what perplexed me a bit was that I was still getting phone number IDs for people when they were texting me, but not from the same people who were calling. So people would call, it would show up as “Unknown” and then they’d text and let me know they called, and their number would show up at that point. I know that texting and phone calls are two different protocols, but aren’t we at the point that caller ID is just a standard way of doing things? So I called Rogers to ask them what the scoop was. The representative I talked to was a nice man named Kim. He said “Honestly, I don’t know – no one’s ever asked why numbers will show up on text messages but not the calls. Maybe it’s so that you can text people back.” I asked how this doesn’t apply to making phone calls (which they make money off of, obviously) and he had no answer for that. He then went on to point out that caller ID doesn’t work everywhere and cited the example of Thunder Bay not supporting it.. 15 years ago. It’s been a while. He then added that Alabama doesn’t support caller ID. Is Alabama’s allegedly antiquated phone system really what Rogers plans on standing behind on this issue?
From what I understand, no one charges for caller ID in the US. I understand there is more competition there, but perhaps they understand a couple simple things which go beyond competitiveness and reach towards basic business smarts and understanding of consumer behaviour:

  1. People use their cell phones more when they know someone has called them ($).
  2. People do not call people who show up as “Unknown” because it’s impossible and it means nothing. (Less usage = less $)

If you still don’t think Rogers is missing the mark on this one, consider that it is likely that Rogers is suppressing the phone number unless you pay a fee. Then imagine if your internet service provider (Shaw for me) decided they were going to hide the senders names from all the emails you receive unless you paid them $8 more a month to find out who was sending you email. In the year 2009, it is the exact same thing. Just because caller ID hasn’t been around forever doesn’t mean that people expect to pay for it in this day and age. We live in a world of connectivity, of identification as a basis for community, and they’re still trying to monetize something that actually encourages use of their system. How come we are expected to pay for that?
I understand that there is inherent value in caller ID, which is why Rogers charges for it. I know there is value because I have used it for free on Skype. And I also know I will have it for free from a cell phone provider in the future, whether its Rogers or another provider, because it makes business sense and because its just the way things should be done. I was just tipped off via Facebook that Virgin provides caller ID for free in Canada – thanks Ed. I don’t have a lot of attachment to Rogers as I have a very minimal plan, but I think they can do better so I’d like to give them a chance to do so.
How do you feel about being charged for caller ID? Do you think it should be a standard feature (like it is in the US) or do you feel like it’s still pretty cutting edge technology and is worth paying extra for? Leave a comment – I’d be interested in reading. Or if you feel like doing a post about it, leave a link in the comments area and I’ll check it out.

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  1. The bastards! I’d switch off Rogers if I wasn’t in contract.
    How about this: Technically Text Messages and Data are the same thing, so why does one have to pay for Text Messaging AND Data?
    We really do have the worst cell providers in the world.

  2. Sounds like you are also deeply unsatisfied about the caller ID. Interesting point about the text and data. I had not considered that. So is the contract main reason that you’re with Rogers?

  3. Yes, the contract is the only thing keeping me there…. well…. that and the competition doesn’t seem much better.
    I don’t use my phone very much. I’m on a plan without Data, 100 daytime minutes a month, free evenings and weekends, caller id, voicemail, and text messages, and my bills are $49 a month.
    It’s too bad the ‘pay-as-you-go’ plans are so loaded with caveats, like minimum usage rates, and minute expiry. Also, you can’t use a really good phone on ‘Pay-as-you-go’.

  4. dude why are you with Rogers? Such a rip-off. Rogers and Fido are the same thing – Fido uses Rogers’ towers and system, but with Fido there’s no system access fee, which is what, $5 to $10 a month? more? It’s the same thing with better packages…
    I’d dump Rogers next chance you get.

  5. I think a lot of people get stuck in their contracts, like me, without realizing just how bad it would be. I’ll never take a ‘free phone’ again.

  6. Some good points! Certainly making caller id an included feature makes business sense. Can’t call someone back if you don’t know their number!
    Here’s something from AT&T’s wireless page I found on the topic:
    “Availability: Caller ID is provided, where available, from the local telephone company. Caller ID works in many of the cities where you may roam. However, these features may not be available in some locations. You may need to contact the local telephone company for more information.”
    Yeahhhhh that’s gonna happen. haha
    The cheapest plan I can find between AT&T and Verizon, two of the biggest carriers I can find in the US, start at $39.99/mo. So that might have something to do with it too.

  7. Wow, I’ve never heard of no caller ID on mobiles, I have the option in the menu but turning it off still shows me the caller, I just pay £25 monthly for 1250 texts/minutes and 1GB decent internet access, all the rest is included as standard (voicemail, custom redirect…), also 40,000 skype minutes and 1GB msn/slingbox/mobiletv each. Shame on Rogers.

  8. Hi,
    I would assume that I made the same mistake as most people I speak with in “assuming” that one of our largest carriers is also keeping up with the times in being “competitive”, however it was a sorry assumption on my part!
    I too would opt out of the Canadian carriers if I were able to sign on with one of the American ones, as they offer a much broader range of products, and at more competitive rates.
    Guess it all comes down to what we are willing to put up with, and as Canadians, we continue to earn our reputation…
    Then, there is a new kid on the block, “Virgin Mobile”, maybe I should give them a call…

  9. Caller ID has been around since the 80s….a quarter century. Telecom devices now have caller id as default. It take more effort to turn it off then it is to leave it alone.
    Yet we are still billed for it because of these greedy corps.
    You made an interesting point about disclosure. And it make me wonder…emails have id, texts have id, internet has addresses…yet telecom does not we have to pay for that information even though it comes though by default, meaning they are restricting it. You can’t even buy telecom equipment without it…period. There is no cost for this technology….it’s about as cheap as mp3 players…a couple cents…so paying $8 month for a caller id bundle is extortion…and maybe its time legal action or a complaint with the crtc be proposed.
    Don’t understand why text messages (150 characters average) cost 15cents while 1 meg of data costs 3cents (about 7000 text messages)

  10. Rogers is obviously restricting the caller ID in order to charge you, I don’t believe they would have a significant amount of additional costs in showing the caller ID or not. I have lived in other countries, some of the so called third world, and all things considered Canada has the worst mobile companies. It actually made me angry to see Rogers Financial Statements disclosure for the year 2009, they were showing off their increase in profits, sure they will have their profits increasing while other industries are struggling, they just rip off their clients, and it appears that competition doesn’t exist, and is someone regulating these companies? It appears they do whatever they want with their customers.

  11. I totally agree with you. I think we’re the only ones paying for the Caller ID. I have visited Asia few years ago, and all the cell phones came with unlimited texting, caller ID, and voice mail for $20/month. Our top three greedy companies, Rogers, Bell, and Telus is dominating our current market;therefore, totally screwing the balance.

  12. Canadians pay more for cell phone service than anywhere in the world. Here’s a really good explanation of text messages from slashdot —
    The marginal cost of a SMS is 0.
    They do have a little cost/opportunity. As a matter of fact SMS messages are sent on the control channel. Initially SMS were implemented in the GSM standard as a control system, just like the ICMP protocol of the IP stack. Then NOKIA though to implement a actual instant message function using SMS. The Contol channel is the channel that your mobile listens to in order to receive calls. So for receiving a SMS a control signal is sent. Since bandwidht is somehow limited on these channels it could happen that in a situation of massive usage of texting the control channel gets saturated and normal voice protocol initiation is disrupted. To prevent this carriers nowadays apply a kind of QoS delaying SMSs until there is no risk of congestion. So we can state that the marginal cost is 0 and the cost/opportunity is also 0
    Another story is for the MMSs. Their cost/opportunity is even lower since they run almost enterely on GPRS thus using most bandwidht on normal data channels. Thus a MMS with pictures sounds and maybe video SHOULD cost less than a SMS.
    There’s also a great comparison of text message data cost vs. writing everything down on paper and hand delivering it via the USPS –
    TCP/IP: $1
    TCP/SMS: $61,356,851.20
    TCP/USPS: $307,072.00 (Bits written out on paper)
    So getting a SMS delivered is bit for bit 200x more expensive than getting a message hand delivered to your doorstep anywhere in the United States.
    Now, for the caller id thing – Rogers actually has to actively block Caller ID to take away getting a phone number when someone calls. It should really be against the law to do this. If you have no contract with Rogers, I would mention that you want to cancel your contract – they will send you to customer retention…
    Here’s a decent post on it: http://cellphoneforums.net/rogers/t215714-rogers-retention-plans.html

  13. I just got off the phone with rogers on a 30 minute call about caller id…..there BRUTAL i have 4 cell phones with them…cable tv/internet/home phone and a 25+ year customer…my daughters new cell phone was cheaper for me to get a separate new 30 day plan for her then to add her to our existing…so we went that route…they cannot offer any call display discounts because its a new account???? I freaked with the amount of services i have with them etc. they could not put call display on her phone!!! They have to join the year 2012…call display was a novelty in the 90’s now its just a given……rogers is a scam and needs to be legally dealt with by paying customers complaining constantly…this is a huge scam in this time and age and needs to stop…hnce i’m moving my daughters plan to bell(no better scammers) at least call display is included and only for a 1.89 mor a month on her plan….shop around people….

  14. I recently experienced the same thing with Rogers and was absolutely furious.

    A bit of background on me. I work in telco and once worked in the Rogers billing department and know that this has always been a bit of a gouge, what perplexes me is the outrageous cost they now ask for. It is cost recovery against other “losing” services, pure and simple. There is no real cost to the carrier to offer 10 digits of data when delivering the call. This is clear on text messages.

    I went back to Rogers last Friday because their rural network really is second to none for us cottage owners. I am on a 75$ plan with 10$ Canadian long distance on a 3 year term. Everything was great, I ordered my phone online, got a call from fraud to verify all my information before processing the order “which is cool” and the phone came preconfigured and ready to go a couple days later. Then things went downhill.

    After a while I noticed the same behavior no calling number. To clarify it will show you the number for anyone on the rogers network, it only masks it for people that are on any other carrier, makes things even more confusing.
    I initially tried to click on the cool link “my account” on my smartphone to purchase callerID. It is nowhere to be found. So I then attempted to login to http://www.rogers.com and go to myrogers. Again no way to add it! No mention of a cost. While on myrogers I also found that the link to remove your pre auth payment is broken.
    So I called. 8.95$ for caller id!

    Absolutely totally ridiculous. It is critical to have the ability to see who called on any business phone and most people paying 85$ a month for a phone use it for business. They know this and it is a very poor business decision to not include such a basic function of the phone.

    I immediately said “transfer me to the save queue I am canceling unless you add it immediately”.
    First transfer, miss xfer to another queue, rep was nice and transfered me with an apology.
    Second transfer, explained my situation rep had weaker english than I would expect for call center but said she would add caller id, she then said she would put me on hold.
    Third transfer, she blind xfered me to another tech without telling me.
    This last rep made a couple critical customer service mistakes.

    I explained I work on wireless and VOIP a living and used to be a billing rep at Rogers and know that CallerID costs them nothing and would not pay 9$ a month for something free.
    He proceeded to lecture me about “well sir there is a real cost to callerid” after I told him I knew “and do” more about the backend than he does. After which he warned me at length about how this wouldnt extend beyond my contract and I replied “yes it will or I will cancel as soon as it is done”.

    So in summary, do your homework, be educated and call them.
    Most other carriers offer the same for free.
    Have their webpages open on your screen.
    CallerID costs the company nothing.
    CallerID is required for basic use of the phone.
    If they refuse push harder. the service costs them nothing, keeping you as a customer is much cheaper than getting a new one in such a tight market.

    Rogers was the first company to invest in GSM way before the other ones, they did invest heavily in their services long before the “others” were forced to wake up with the advent of the IPhone. Apple forced them by not offering CDMA based Iphones, Because they have been chasing rogers ever since chances are you will get better speeds, better coverage and a more reliable network on Rogers. They also used to pay their billing teams very well and we were treated extremely well when I was there. I take my experience as a one off but I highly recommend to all of you to fight this charge, its a gouge and its totally not fair.
    On a 40$ plan they expect you to pay an additional 25% for calling number? I dont think so.

  15. Only problem with that is that only applies to landline to landline or wireless to wireless calls cause they have to use switching stations to negotiate the link to a mixed line call eg. Wireless – landline vice-versa so ofcorce it has a cost when you consider the maintenance required to keep things working

  16. The option in the menu is for sending your id to the person your calling & I assume its pulling from your address book

  17. Problem is that the one being used by cell phones uses a different encryption standard than what landlines use so it requires extra hardware to handle calls from the other phone line type

  18. Actually Rogers(known @ the time as cantell wireless) ran on amps then around the time cantell was bought by att they moved to TDMA(precursor to cdma) around that time fido got the 1st licence for the GSM frequency then not to long after att decided to part ways with their TDMA network they would adopt GSM. So long story short att & fido heavily invested in GSM in Canada.

    problem is in order to make calls to a landline number they have to have the appropriate switching hardware. Which requires more maintenance then what the old manual switchboard system required

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