By Chris Schweitzer
The Auburn City Council recently introduced an ordinance establishing Auburn Essential Services’ policy regarding return customers with multiple cancellations. Unfortunately, there was some misinformation communicated after the meeting and I’d like to use this forum to clear up any misperceptions or confusion.
It’s true that we’ve implemented a new policy about multiple cancellations. What’s not true is that this policy is for new customers. This policy – which aims to protect AES’ investment in the community – is for return customers. That is, those customers who leave AES within the first two years of service, and then come back.
AES doesn’t offer any marketing gimmicks—no introductory rates or special, promotional offers. Even more, we don’t require a contract. AES offers the same fair price every day. And that approach has been warmly embraced by the vast majority of our customers. However, our approach isn’t the standard in the industry. It’s common for other providers to use introductory, artificially low price offers in an effort to attract new customers. Some AES customers may choose to leave AES for those special rates—and we respect that choice. However, when those customers come back after the introductory rates expire, this policy will help to mitigate the impact that occurs when they stay with AES for only a few months, and then leave again for another introductory rate as a new customer of another carrier.
Here is why this is important: Upon connecting a customer, it takes AES about two years to recoup our capital investment costs in installation, material and equipment required for the advanced fiber optic connection. That’s because we’re laying down brand-new, dedicated fiber optics directly to homes and businesses. And because AES does not have contracts for first time customers – something the community requested when we first offered services in 2007 – new customers are not obligated to any duration of services. Therefore, AES cannot guarantee we will see minimum revenue to help pay off our initial investment to connect the customer. Yet, we believe the no-contract approach motivates us to be accountable to high levels of reliability and customer service with our customers.
As part of the new policy, if you are an AES customer who leaves and then comes back to AES, we will require you to sign an acknowledgement that if you choose to cancel your service for a second time – in a timeframe of less than two years – that you’ll pay a fee of $25 per month for each month under the two-year mark. The $25 rate is reflective of the real costs of connecting a subscriber to the AES fiber network. (NOTE: 1) Exceptions will be made in those cases where the cancellation is a result of moving out of the service area. 2) The original ordinance called out a lump sum of $600. An amendment will be introduced that simply prorates that lump sum to the flat rate per month recovery fee of $25.)
We believe this policy will reduce AES’ stranded investment that results from a subscriber’s frequent switching in favor of the limited time deal of the month. Ultimately, it will help AES maintain lower operating costs and, even more important, ensure we can keep rates lower for loyal AES customers. Contrary to most of the industry, we believe loyal customers should be rewarded, not discouraged.
Remember, AES is your community network, and this policy is one way we are protecting what has become a very valuable community asset to the people of Auburn. And should you have additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to post a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org