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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ted Rogers, chief executive of Canadian cable and telecom giant Rogers Communications, was named to a prestigious lifetime achievement award on Thursday, but some of his customers weren't cheering.
Rogers was named recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 Ontario Lifetime Achievement Award and will be presented with it at a banquet in October.
Rogers is well-regarded in corporate Canada as a savvy and shrewd executive. But recently, the CEO of the company that owns Canada's biggest wireless-phone carrier has been receiving little praise from customers.
Behind the discontent are the prices Rogers plans to charge when it rolls out Apple's 3G iPhone on July 11. The plans Rogers is offering -- ranging from C$60 to C$115 a month before any taxes or additional service fees are included -- are being called egregious.
An anti-Rogers protest website called www.ruinediphone.com that had about 300 electronic signatures last Friday now has more than 30,000.
"Two thumbs up on not caring about your customers," wrote one complainer. "Keep up the greed!"
A common complaint centers on how expensive the plans are compared with rates being offered by AT&T in the United States and the fact that there is no unlimited data plan available.
"At one point I was excited for the iPhone, but after seeing these rates I realize it is something the common consumer will never be able to afford," another protester wrote on the website. "It should be re-named the aPhone for 'affluent'."
A third stated: "I want an iPhone. However, I do not want to have to sign away my first-born child in order to get it."
Ruinediphone.com plans to sent a printed copy of the thousands of complaints to Rogers' headquarters on the iPhone's launch day.
Rogers is the only carrier in Canada that uses the GSM wireless technology that the iPhone requires.
Canadians have long bemoaned high wireless service plan costs, blaming lack of competition. BCE and Telus Corp are the country's only national carriers aside from Rogers.
Rogers shares were down 56 Canadian cents at C$38.39 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway