Hanging Up The Phone On Bell Canada

Frustrated With Bell Canada Services

I was a customer of 17 years with Bell Canada. I joined Bell in the early 1990’s coming right from my Parents house to my first apartment. There wasn’t much choice back there as Bell was a Monopoly of Canada. Excited to have my first number. Upon joining Bell, you needed a considerable deposit as I had no credit rating or history. People were great on the phone. However, it took me to call back and remind them my probationary period was over to get my refunded deposit back. It was part of the rules.

I moved several times throughout my life disconnecting and connecting. Getting dinged a moving fee. At one point, I cancelled my phone all together. Reconnecting a year later with Bell to set up a brand new account again. I was able to prove I had been with Bell before to avoid the deposit process.

I came to realize that having Bell Sympatico and my home phone was the best option. I’ve not subscribed to Television for years as I don’t use it enough to justify the costs of it. I’m happy with Bell, as long as I don’t have to deal with customer service. Pay my bill on time, and open the many ads that are sent to me… only to recycle them.

Over the years, the customer service has been depleting. Language barriers are now a problem. Excessive long waits for someone to help you.

I entered a relationship where the person had TV, Cell Phone, and Internet Services… I became a joint responsible holder for this account as time progressed and the seriousness of my relationship took shape. Being travelers with our jobs. We both had cell phones. It wasn’t unusual for our bill to be $600 – $800 in any given month. The cost of convenience paid a heavy price. My Bell Canada bill nearly hit levels of my actual mortgage payment to my home.

Life happens and I lost my travelling job. The free cell phone I received came with a price. A CONTRACT! The contract could be bought out, but it’s cheaper to let the phone go through it’s set up cycle. I decided to put my phone away on the cheapest plan and tuck it into my sock drawer. Keeping up with the payments with Bell was harder and harder. Trying to reduce cellular for my partner who was travelling. Cutting off the TV wasn’t an option to the kids in the house. I felt trapped within the Bell Canada System.

I made a huge mistake in BUNDLING my Cell Phone, TV, and Internet together. The money you save, appears to be great… but bundling comes with a contract fee. Again a contract that is unbreakable unless you want to buy yourself out. Again waiting it out is cheaper!

My relationship hit the skids. My partner and I had made arrangements to transfer everything to my name. Including his brand new cell phone that was put on a contract a week before the break up. My name was on everything, relieving him of the obligation. This move turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I could have ever done.

There was confusion with Bell Canada on who owned the cell phones. I was receiving several bills, but all of it was mine. I thought I had been paying all my bills, but when I transferred everything to my name, it created a new account number. So here I think I am ahead of the game when in fact I was behind not realizing the two different bills weren’t the same. I figured one was different as changes were made. This wasn’t explained to me.

It became obvious that stuff needed to be cancelled as my partner took off. I didn’t need a TV connection anymore and I needed basic phone. Upon calling in, I needed to provide 30 days notice for each. Paying for another 30 days of something I didn’t need. How was I suppose to know my relationship collapsed so quickly.

I was unable to close my connection with Bell Canada due to the cell phone that was just put on a contract a week before break up. I was legally on the hook for 3 years over this phone. I could buy myself out… problem was… it wasn’t my phone, it was my partners. The guy had taken off to Alberta Canada. Phone records would indicate this but this is my responsibility.

The answer was simple and up until this point… I had been working fine with the Bell Canada Rules and Regulations. I had to simply switch the responsibility of the phone to my partners. It was done in Feb 2009. A request was made. My partner called in and assumed responsibility… so we thought… it didn’t actually happen… and when I got my bill a month later… the hole in the system which we fell into was apparent.

When calling into Bell Canada, the waiting period is obsessive… There’s a delay and there’s a day off work you need to schedule for it. On the phone for nearly 45 minutes going from a computer answering to waiting for the first representative. Only to get a rep that isn’t fluent in English. I like to give anyone a fighting chance and Bell Canada deems the person qualified… Upon trying to get answers… you are continually transferred from rep to rep… It’s not unusual to get 6 reps in the time you have been on the phone and no further ahead then when you call in.  Bell Canada claims my partner never called in… but how was it possible that the address changed from me to his when I had no idea where he was living In Alberta Ontario. A question that was never solved.

A second request was made to transfer…

A month passes again to find another bill… now I am in severe arrears as I was expecting my partner to be paying for it.  Failed to transfer again!

A Third request was made and depending who you speak with… the answers change every time. I was told after 3 months that the TV and Internet were cancelled that the new charges were for my TV SERVICE I am getting… or wait… the next rep says the BILL IS NOT MINE… or wait the next rep says You’ve never requested this… WHAT IS GOING ON????? Are they not reading the same screen?

Finally after the 4th Request… it was done….

On the fifth month I got another bill… and I cancelled my cell phone which had a contract finally end. I was so frustrated with Bell. Again the obsessive holding time and getting reps… I started crying on the phone with Bell Canada with a guy who spoke English. He wanted to help me but was bound by the rules of Bell Canada. Again… he was just as confused as notes are in place but he could see gaps and letting me know things… I told him I don’t know how to communicate with Bell because the language barriers are a problem.

My account was being forwarded to Collections now.

I finally resorted to BELL CANADA CORPORATE! I got a great guy on the phone. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough notes in the system for him to clearly see my point. I didn’t have the badge numbers of the critical people along the way. I wish I would have kept a folder on them. You need to start a notepad when dealing with Bell… I’ve come to realize that unless the operator makes notes, you are screwed.

The kicker of it for me was a simple line the CORPORATE QUOTED ME WAS THIS …It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure they get a rep that speaks english or communicates with you on a level you understand!

I explained to corporate that due to my time being trying to fix this up… I’ve been on hold for several hours and started timing it… One phone call I lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes dealing with this… the majority of time being on hold between reps or waiting for my first one. I waited 45 minutes one phone call for the first rep, only to tell me I had the wrong dept.

At the end… I became so frustrated with Bell Canada. I have realized that the company has ballooned to an enormous company where the people they hire are in foreign countries to save costs. The savings are probably outweighing the frustration and the people quitting from Bell Canada.

I resent more than anything lately is all the calls coming in from Bell Canada wanting to give me a cell phone for a contract exchange… or how about Internet services and ect… I am with Wightman where a person answers the phone. I can speak to a support agent or customer agent within a couple or so minutes of calling in. Even if I signed up for internet services with Bell… why would I want to go through the enormous scheduling system of being connected, and all the service fees associated with them that are in the fine print.

I should tell you… remember that Cell Phone that was tucked away… I asked the rep to put me on the cheapest plan… which they did… A 19.99 cheapy plan turns nearly into $35.00 each month. A cost of $840.00 over a two year period that my phone was tucked away. When I went to go cancel… I was told I wasn’t on the cheapest plan. I could have had a $9.99 EMERGENCY PLAN which would have only cost me $360.00 which would have saved me nearly $500.00 in the two year period.

In a 5 year period, I spent nearly $24,000 on BELL CANADA… not including the 12 years of services before that…

Bell Canada… ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…I know you probably secretly own services and other stuff which you are probably getting my money in others ways… YOU SHOULD KNOW… I am through with Bell Canada. Over my dead body will I ever subscribe to your services… and it would turn out each time I relay my story… I am not alone!

Eventually Bell Canada, your time will come and your entire operation will collapse when enough people say the sub-standard customer services, contracts, and more are no longer acceptable. I will be a happy man when I see that happen… it’s just a matter of time.

Michael

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2 Comments

  1. Jeff Marshall said,

    January 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Let me tell you a recent tale of woe. After no less than 32 years with Bell Canada, I recently terminated my service in favour of a cable carrier offering VOiP. Why did I do this?
    32 Years ago, Bell was a monopoly very highly controlled by the CRTC. They associated with other provincial carriers, as a monopoly, through the Stentnor Group. Back then, Bell was very well-behaved, had excellent customer service, had excellent technical service, and charged premium rates. But we had exceptional customer service.

    Fast forward 20 Years. It is now 2000. The internet is the craze, cell phones are the craze, satellite TV and the wonderful universe of 1000 channels are the craze. Bell has resisted deregulation for many years, and, finally, seeing the writing on the wall, used their holding company, BCE, to divest of a number of ‘unprofitable’ businesses. The Stetnor Alliance is broken up, and deregulation is underway. Bell has realigned their businesses into Bell Mobility, Sympatico, and Bell (phone service). They have restructured so one company cannot talk to the other, and customers now have to talk to three different entities. Being fledgling in the Internet business, Bell has a competency problem. But, Sympatico is a decent little service, somewhat behind in technology, but solid, with good customer service. So is Bell Mobility.

    Fast forward a couple more years. BCE has figured out how to acquire, at an arm’s length from Bell, a number of its competitors in the Internet business, in the Satellite TV Business, and, because it owns the infrastructure (telephone lines), is able to keep competitors out of the phone business. Enter VoIP. This new technology poses a threat to Bell’s consolidated position. What does it do? Well, rather than do what normal businesses do, COMPETE, it decides to ‘milk’ its subscriber base by cutting back customer service and outsourcing it, outsourcing its datacenters for billing and for internet support, and, generally, cutting all costs of operation to the bone, while ‘milking’ subscribers with sub-standard service on all its main product fronts (Mobility, Phone, and Satellite TV), while it takes the proceeds and goes on a drunken spending orgy to acquire the likes of CTV, CHUM Radio and TV, and other media, so that it has, once again, vertically integrated and created a new monopoloy – one that controls the CONTENT.

    And don’t think Bell has given up on its monopolistic attitude. Do some research, for example, and find out who is the REAL provider, for instance, in the mobility business – who provides the backbone for President’s Choice, and Virgin Mobile, by example? Yes, Bell. And you thought you had competitive options?

    Now, let me tell you the story of what happened when I decided, finally, to leave Bell. My local cable provider has been working heavily in our area to upgrade its infrastructure, so it can provide improved cable service, VOD, Local and Long Distance Phone Service, and Internet Service. They are not associated with Bell, although I suspect they have to lease internet backbone trunks from Bell.

    They have been offering me deals for months, to switch my landline phone, and internet, and consolidate with my cable account. In the meantime, I have been reluctant to leave Bell, as I have a historic fondness for them. Nevertheless, I could no longer stomach the sub-standard Internet Service they were providing me through Sympatico, and they had arbitrarily increased my Internet subscription rate twice in the last two years (over 15% increase), which wiped out any economic savings from being ‘bundled’ with Bell. That, and an e-mail service that was impossible to use, and an Internet Provider who was absolutely dis-interested in helping me with my technical issues, really killed the value proposition.

    Enter the competition – they offer me a consolidated land phone service, internet service and cable service. Their offer was not terribly outstanding, but I had had a much better customer service record with the cable provider over a 10 year relationship, and it was obvious that they were investing in service and technology.

    I couldn’t even get Bell to look at a bad exterior wire, which was causing all sorts of static on my landline – they insisted the problem was inside, and would charge for service calls. This, notwithstanding all my interior wiring had been upgraded and installed by professionals. Bell would not consider the possibility that the casing on their exterior wire was cracked, and letting in moisture, and causing the static on my line. The problem was mine, and they would help, at a cost.

    I resign myself to make the switch. In November, I order the switch to be made, effective end of January. The cable provider takes on the job of notifying Bell, and my service is to be disconnected on January 28.

    Did Bell react to try and save the account? No. Not until I called to terminate my Internet account. When I called to order disconnection, I was asked a multitude of questions, including the ‘why’ I was disconnecting. I was then told I was being transferred to an agent who would process my disconnection order. I waited ten minutes on the line, and then was faced with a new agent who asked me all the same information over again, including the reasons.

    He would not process my disconnection order. Rather, he aggressively tried to ‘terrorize’ me with the prospect of reduced reliability (remember, internet transmission is primarily sent after the first few hops by the National Fibre Optic Backbone – Bell infrastructure) of phone service. When I explained the decision was made, he then tried to ‘bribe’ me with a highly reduced rate for Internet (“you are on an old package – our new packages are significantly cheaper”). When questioned as to why Bell had not communicated with me to offer me the more economical service in the first instance, his reply was that my claim was ridiculous – Bell sends me mail regularly to apprise me of these offers, and it was up to me to contact them to review the account.

    In the ‘old’ days, Bell considered me a Preferred Customer, and, up until 2002, I regularly received calls from a Marketing Rep, who had all my usage statistics and would recommend cost-saving services. That had long ended, and the only offers I had received from Bell were useless offers for ‘new subscriptions’. I asked when the new services had come into effect, and whether Bell was prepared to credit me, or rebate, the difference. That question yielded no response, rather, a change of subject and moved back to ‘terror’. When terror yielded no wavering on my part, the switch came back to bribery, and an offer was made to eliminate Long Distance charges for 1500 minutes a month, anywhere in North America. (I had been paying $10 a month for at least 7 years for the benefit of 1000 minutes cross-Canada). Again, the question about rebating the past period, and again, a switch back to ‘terror’ about the inefficiency of Cable, and the quality of Bell’s new Fibre Optic system. (not in MY neighbourhood, for now and for the foreseeable future – I still have leaky old copper exterior wires causing interference on my phone line, and bumping my DSL service off line).

    The Agent would not process my cancellation order, until I finally said, “Look, if I had thought the relationship was worth salvaging, I would have called the Customer Loyalty Centre ages ago. My order is placed with the cable company, and it is effective January 28. Please cancel my service.”

    As a final stab, he indicated that my contract called for 30 days’ notice. That means I will continue to pay for my Bell Sympatico service, for 22 days’ beyond the date that my Phone Line, and DSL service will be terminated. The agent had no answer for how Sympatico would plan to offer me its service until the termination date. That ultimately means, 22 extra days of revenue to Bell, with no cost of service at all.

    Bell, it took 32 years to lose me. How long do you think it will take to get me back? My annual Bell combined-services bill was in the order of $2400 (internet, phone, mobility). Right now, all you have left is my Mobility Service, which gets you about 1/2 of that. With 13 million land line subscribers, you probably don’t care. You certainly didn’t care about giving me value for my money. How many customers will you have to lose, before you DO start caring?

    Please feel free to syndicate this blog anywhere you want. The more people know, the better choices they will make with the information.

    By the way, I am sending a copy of this blog to the Bell Executive Offices in Montreal. Maybe it will help them to direct their accountants to stop squeezing every penny out of their recurring revenue, to satisfy BCE shareholders, and to start providing satisfactory allocations to customer service.

    The company should follow the wisdom of its CEO, Stephane Boisvert. The following is an article he wrote on customer retention:
    http://www.bell.ca/enterprise/EntNews_newsletter_September_2009_3.page


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