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Customers may turn their back on SaskTel services over email subscription fee


SaskTel customers aren't just bemoaning the idea of paying for email accounts, they're threatening to switch providers over it.

"Everything seems to be going further and further and further up and there's just this almost aloof type of attitude of saying, 'Well, we'll just pass it on to the customer,'" Harry Ohrn said.

Ohrn has been a SaskTel customer for roughly 40 years. It didn't take long for him to reconsider that arrangement when he received an email on Wednesday from the company saying free sasktel dot net email addresses will cost $1.95 per month starting in April.

"Oh, this is making us think about leaving big time. Not only leaving our email but just to completely switch over to a satellite service," he said.

Ohrn, 68, has been retired for roughly eight years. His main concern isn't just how integrated his Sasktel (dot) net email account is in his life, but how many people his age aren't as tech savvy, and may not realize they're being charged for a service that has been free since it was introduced.

"They're in a situation I believe, where they're almost trapped because if they're not that computer literate, and they can't easily switch over to another account like Yahoo or Gmail, then they're stuck paying that extra couple bucks a month," Ohrn said.

Mike Scherban has been a SaskTel customer for roughly 10 years and never imagined a day the company would want money for an email account.

With an email address being mandatory to access any online account or subscription service, switching over his Netflix, Amazon and dozens of other business or investment accounts will be a laborious process.

"You have to change your banking information. You have to change your two-factor authentication sites like Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, you have to change your credit card information. I have 10 years worth of websites that send me emails that I would have to change," Scherban said.

However, paying into what SaskTel wants is conflicting him just as much as his daughter and wife using the other two accounts makes the task of switching over to Gmail undesirable.

"I think that SaskTel is aware that people will have to do that. So a lot of people are just going to pay the fees," he said.

SaskTel's power over its customers is another gripe of Ohrn's. He feels Scherban is caught in the same situation as thousands of others. With SaskTel reporting a net income of $104.4 million and operating revenues of $1.3 billion in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, he feels the province isn't concerned given how much money it makes.

"They have their own board, they have their own directors, they have their own president," Ohrn said. "They can pretty much do as they choose and the government's not going to interfere."

With many customers offered up to 10 free email accounts as part of SaskTel's previous promotions, Ohrn wonders how many of his retired friends on fixed incomes will be charged for multiple accounts they've never used.

"Two bucks a month is $24 a year," he said. "And for somebody who's living on $1,500 a month, you know that 24 bucks is perhaps even a Christmas present for a grandchild."

SaskTel declined an interview with CTV News and opted to send a statement about the new subscription fee.

"SaskTel does not take this decision lightly so we are providing customers with advance notice and some helpful information to help customers make the transition to an alternate email platform," the statement said. Top Stories

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