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bell's hell

oh, i thought this was done already. i thought the blogs about bell canada were at an end. after all, since i'm no longer a customer, it stands to reason that there is nothing further that they could do to hurt/ annoy/ gouge me. ah, so much for reason.

the day before yesterday, i received a bill in the mail. this was not my "final bill", for services rendered, which has already been paid. this is a bill charging me for a disconnection fee ($25, which i think is asinine, but which i can probably come to terms with) and a fee for the early termination of my contract ($75).

that second charge had me scratching my head. early termination of contract? i certainly never signed a contract with bell and, even if i had, i would have looked at it carefully enough to determined that it included no provision that they leave my previous number active without telling me and then try to blame me (and charge me) for their mistake.

so, once again, since i obviously have far too much time on my hands, i call bell to get the matter sorted out. when i get through to someone, after the obligatory delay, i already have my back up. after getting me to enter my relevant information, they ask me for that same information once again when i'm connected to a live human. i'm curt with the woman who i speak to; nay, i am rude. i feel sorry, because this is bad behaviour on my part and i regret it. of course it doesn't matter, because she can't help me. she's in the collections department and i need to talk to customer service in order to get this resolved. she transfers me and the man to whom i am connected asks e to repeat the information i've already given twice since i picked up the phone. while i'm in the process of doing so, he disconnects me.

this could be a case of "accidents happen", but i will note that this is the second time that i've been disconnected when i've called bell to complain. i will also say that, at this point, i was not angry and rude, so this wasn't the cause of me getting disconnected.

i call back and am routed once more to the credit department, who once more cannot help me. the gentleman who transfers me actually sends me back to the introductory menu, where, as a non-customer, i am routed once again to the credit department. they finally transfer me to customer service. so what i've just written about has all been the process of getting to someone who can listen to my complaint.

listen, in fact, is all she does. she asks me once again for my relevant information and then explains coolly and without any soupcon of remorse that it would be impossible for her to make any changes in the account because this is standard treatment for all bell's customers. my argument that they should feel some moral obligation to waive the charges because my reason for leaving was their own incompetence and subsequent intransigence falls, as i might have predicted, on deaf ears.

my second line of argument should be more compelling. i have never heard tell of this contract whose terms i am violating. if there was a contract, shouldn't i have been given a copy? i could have received a copy at any time, if i had only asked. let me repeat that: if i had asked for a copy of the contract, the existence of which was unknown to me until wednesday, they would have sent me one. the woman brushes off the deranged logic of this statement as standard operating procedure. she says that the person who set up my service should have told me that i had a contract, but if he didn't, that's not bell's problem- it's just one in a long series of employee mistakes.

her next response is even more puzzling. apparently, it was the responsibility of my new service provider to tell me about the existence of my contract with bell. huh? apparently bell was under no obligation to inform me of the contract when it went into effect, but my new provider, should have told me about it when i ended my bell service. that's ludicrous and i tell her so, but she sticks to her guns.

so that is the end game. i am to pay bell a hundred dollars to end a contract they never told me about and never forwarded, a contract that i ended because of their malfeasance. what's most galling about this whole situation, actually, is their flat refusal at every point in this sad saga to take any responsibility for any portion of the mistake. while they were eventually forced to remove the charges from the line they left open, no one has ever admitted that the company made a mistake. every time i have called, i have been given different information and told, with no sense of corporate remorse, that the person to whom i had previously spoken had not done their job properly. as far as i can tell, no one is doing their job properly. and bell considers this to be standard customer service.

yesterday, when i went to get my mail, i found a strange little envelope with the ubiquitous new bell logo. it obviously wasn't a bill, so i opened it. enclosed was a letter from steve bickley, senior vice-president of residential services. mr. bickley wanted me to know that i was important to bell and that, if i wanted to come back to them, they would let me do so without charging me for reconnection.

my advice to mr. bickley, not that he'll ever hear it, is that he could have saved the postage, as well as the tree killed to make the card, if he had concentrated on establishing customer service that was prepared to deal with a problem without trying to blame the customer, other employees, or the competition. the best way to win customers is to make sure you don't give them reason to leave in the first place.


My advice: dont pay them a red cent. After all, you dont expect to back to them in this lifetime, do you?
Murgie said…
I have just finished writing a letter to Mr Bickley after having received the same ridiculous card and found your comments while trying to find an exact snail mail address for the man. For what it's worth, I had a similar problem about contract cancellation. The fact is that they can check their files to see if you agreed to a contract and, if you didn't they cannot charge you for its cancellation. I did not agreed to a contract and so wasn't charged a cancellation fee BUT, without the contract my monthly payment for the previous year would have been higher and the difference was virtually the same amount as the cancellation fee. This may not be your situation though, so it might be worth your while to make one more phone call!
flora_mundi said…
thanks for the tip! i imagine the mr. bickley is getting a lot of mail like this, if my experience (and yours) is anything to go on.
XRail said…
I had the same charges when I left Bell for Rogers. I did not negotiate in the least. I simply told them that under no circumstance was I going to pay a disconnect fee, period! I sent my last payment to them less that dis-connection fee. I haven't heard anything since (about 6 mo). Couldn't serve my needs and now he wants us back and is dangling a carrot as our reward. BS and never again!
John said…
How could Mr. Bickley, or anyone "senior" at Bell Canada really, POSSIBLY be receiving volumes of letters (much less troubling themselves sufficiently to read or respond to same), when Bell Canada, as with almost all large corporations in Canada, is so very careful to insulate these executives from any real-world reaction by keeping their email addresses so well shielded? In this manner, they enjoy the opportunity to spew out their horrid, cynical, generic direct-mail marketing letters without suffering the pangs of conscience that just might befall them if they actually knew how very poorly such missives are generally received by their customers and the general public. This country desperately needs a massive telecommunications law overhaul and the CRTC needs a new mandate and an entirely transformative revamp (with teeth!).
Frozen_Ian said…
For anyone wanting to get in touch with Mr. Bickley, the following information appears to be current (at time of writing: 05/11/09). Probably if he gets inundated with complaints they'll change it - LOL!

Phone: 416-353-3576
SummerChick said…
Did someone find Mr Bickley's snail mail address? I would also like to write a letter. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
I have experienced all the same difficulties as the others have mentioned. I had been a customer for 18 plus years. Bells customer service had went to pot. I too have been told I have contracts I NEVER signed or was notified of when I first became a customer.I did have a cell phone contract that I honoured even though I could not get adequate service when at my house because it was out of range. I BATTLED AND STRUGGLED WITH THIS FOR TWO TO THREE YEARS before deciding to take my business elsewhere. I am presently sending Mr Bickley all of the cards and letters back and asking to be removed from their mailing list. (PROBABLY WONT DO ANY GOOD0OD)I switched to Rogers and have been treated as a customer should. If you are considering BELL beware and think hard. I would RUN in the other direction. They add fictious fees and send numerous 'FINAL' bills. YOU ARE constantly HARASSED by their credit department and lied to by the service reps to get you off the phone and they can pass the buck on to the next employee. I have asked for the persons name and or employee number whith all my dealings. NOT THAT IT HAS DONE ANY GOOD. I too found this post trying to find a mailing address for Mr Bickley. GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND BEWARE
kmcintosh said… almost a year later, this is still happening. I found this post in my search of Mr Bickley too. I have encountered this mystery early termination fee but in my case it is $150. Not only is this ridiculous as we would NEVER have signed on under those terms (afterall, I get why cell phones have contracts b/c they are subsidizing the hardware but home phone service?), but in the end, our monthly rates turned out to be MORE expensive than the Rogers plan we were on. When my wife complained after their first bill, they told her she was mistaken about the quoted rates and that they told us about all the extra monthly charges. Bell essentially has told me that I am stupid...that I knowingly chose a more expensive carrier ($15/mo to be precise) and committed to some unknown term where I had none before. Since I have been a Bell Mobility and Bell Internet customer for 18 years straight, I thought that perhaps threatening to cancel ALL my business with bell might help my situation...after all, we are talking about them forgiving a one time $150 charge to keep about $200 per MONTH in my other business. I was shut down by both customer service and the supervisor.

I am now seeking a new carrier for my cell and internet service and once I have that lined up, Bell can kiss my loyal ass good-bye! If they would just take better care of their existing customers, they would not have to spend millions trying to get them back after pissing them off for the last time.

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