I like to call this entry "The problem with incentives for new clients" or, the title I really like, "Why companies screw over the companies who've supported them for years".

In this particular instance I'm talking about Bell ExpressVu, my satellite provider. It's nice that, with more HD programming and that HD TV's are cheaper, that they're offering one year of free HD service and one year of free HD receiver rentals to new customers. That's fantastic.

But I've been with Bell for about 5 years now... faithful customer, never late, never getting a pirate card to rip them off... I've been a stellar customer. So when I phoned them to ask what I, as a loyal customer could get if I upgraded to their HD service, I was politely told they could "probably" swing 3 months of free programming for me.

Pardon? You "probably" can give me the equivalent of $30? So, the new guy can get the $10/mo of HD programming waived for a year and the (I think) $15/mo rental fee waived, working out to $300 (and probably with free installation) whereas I have to buy the second arm to upgrade my satellite, string more cable into the house to handle the HD signal, and pay $270 in rental fees for a year on top of that initial cost and effort, just for the pleasure of having been a good customer for 5 years?

Am I the only one who thinks this is retarded? If it wasn't for the time-shifting feature, which my wife claims she can't live without, I'd be getting SHAW's digital TV with the HD support and it would cost me less to switch than it does for me to continue being a good customer with a company I've been with for years.

The woman who offered me the $30 in waived fees should have just kicked me in the... you know. It probably would have felt better.