An open letter to CWC

Feel free to send this to CWC.

After several months there has been, predictably, no response.
Dear Cable and Wireless Communications,

The Cable and Wireless Watch Web site has been running for over a year; I get on average twenty emails about it a day; the pledge is approaching six hundred signatories. So it is popular: as it is difficult for an individual to publicise their own site widely, the sheer volume of hits is surprising.

What is even more surprising is that you have made no attempt to answer any of the points made on these pages despite endless prompting from myself and others. I assume from this that the argument for unmetered local calls is unassailable. If it were not surely you would have tried to challenge some, if not all, of the points made?

In fact, the statement that unmetered calls will eventually be removed for 'commercial reasons' is revealing. Videotron presumably offered these calls for 'commercial reasons' so you are going to have problems explaining why the removal appears to benefit only you; even that benefit is open to question.

What is very clear from my correspondence is that there are a lot of intelligent people around. They know the difference between an 0645 and an 0500 call; they can project costs for themselves; they can see when an offer is trifling and when it has weight; they take the trouble to write letters and faxes and complain by phone and email; they can see right through marketing tricks; they remember when they don't get replies. They are educated: they don't like being patronised.

Given that, how are you going to announce that unmetered calls will go? The news has leaked out to some extent but you can't keep hiding for ever: sometime, somehow, it will have to be broken to those who have not seen, or cannot see, this site. And then the storm will really break.

It is gathering already: I have had countless emails from correspondents saying that my site made them angry, which is quite an achievement for something which is just a bit of light on a cathode ray tube. Word is spreading beyond the Internet: many people with Internet access have passed on what's happening to friends, relatives and neighbours.

Compromise would be a way out of this mess.

I think most people would be willing to accept, say, £15 or £20 per month for unmetered access to one local number, possibly with a second line thrown in as well. Videotron felt able to offer more than this for several years at less than half the price and attracted thousands of fiercely loyal customers; this type of offer would set you apart from BT and open meaningful Internet access to the less well off who, at the moment, are largely excluded. It would also give people a reason to change to cable; at the moment there seems little reason to do so.

I look forward to a constructive reply.

Alastair Scott
Text by Alastair Scott

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