Skip to main content

if it's customer abuse, it's gotta be bell


ooh, i can barely contain my giggles. i have finally settled (somewhat) my year and a half long battle with bell canada over the fact that they left my previous phone line connected for three months after i moved, tried to strong-arm me into paying for their mistake, accused me of breaching a contract when i left for another provider and insisted that the onus had been on me to request a copy of said contract, although they had never informed me of its existence. i can't get back the hours of my life i wasted on the phone being subject to verbal abuse while i tried to get this cleared up. it is some minor comfort to know that at least i am not alone. witness this tale of horror from someone who merely tried to contact bell with a billing question.

of course, if you've followed news in canada lately, you'll be aware that i'm not alone at all. in fact, it looks like this sort of behaviour is actually part of bell's customer service strategy, at least if you take the word of the 10,000 people who've complained about their telemarketing practices. you'll note in the article that the crtc- probably third behind bell canada and wal-mart on the list of organisations i'd like to see blasted into outer space- basically dispensed with the complaints by giving bell a slap on the wrist compared to the fines it's doled out for lesser offenses to smaller companies. (although it claims to be driven purely by the volume and content of complaints, the crtc has a history of establishing precedent by hammering on the little guys who can't afford to fight back. but that's another story.) apparently, the crtc don't take it very seriously that the principal abuser of the country's "do not call" list is the corporation they entrusted to maintain it in the first place.

through all this, i continue to get the most melancholy, heartfelt form letters signed in the name of vice-president steve bickley, mourning our long-standing past relationship and promising me, as abusers often do, that everything will be well again if i just come back. and, while i haven't been cursed at by any of them, i do receive calls from telemarkters on a somewhat frequent basis (although it does seem that their efforts are flagging), attempting to woo me on bell's behalf. honestly, the whole nightmare has grown so bizarre that i actually look forward to these calls, these opportunities to explain calmly that not only am i never returning to bell, but i am encouraging everyone i know to leave them for greener pastures. i get a sadistic sort of amusement from the fact that bell has provided no script or tips whatsoever to their telemarketers to deal with customers who left not for financial reasons, but because they were just so aggravated by bell's miserable customer service that anything looked good by comparison. with at least 10,000 complaints on the books, one would hope that mr. bickley has his little elves working on a cheat sheet for that.

personally, i think that if bell wants to impress people with its customer service and responsible actions, it should start by not calling people who don't want to be called, not wasting paper by sending out form letters and by keeping track of those who have left out of anger and frustration, rather than because they were offered a better deal somewhere else. i also think that, given bell's increasingly dodgy record on all counts, that the crtc should be keeping them on a lot shorter leash than what we've seen.

rather get trapped in the horror of addressing the crtc directly, you can request that bell be subject to higher scrutiny by reaching out to industry minister tony clement. his contact information is pretty comprehensive (no cell number, though). you might want to remind him that his government is already dragging their feet on long-promised telecommunications reform and that letting bell operate at a lower standard than smaller competitors is a step in the wrong direction.

if any of you are in the same boat as me, getting unrequited love notes from steve bickley and you're ready to let him know that it's never going to happen between you, you could always try contacting him directly:

phone: 416-446-3234
e-mail: steven.bickley@bell.ca

whatever part of this seamy corporate thuggery you object to, the one thing that i encourage you to do is object loudly, consistently, articulately and politely. bell has been able to get away with a lot of things because they are big compared to you, the individual. but when stories of thousands of irate customers (and would-be customers) start surfacing, the time has come to call their bluff.

[note :: the graphic that accompanies this piece was something i found originally in an article from the montreal gazette. the article, which is itself an interesting piece on bell canada and includes (in the comments) reactions from current and former bell customers.]

Comments

LILYisatig3r said…
Alright, so I'm not 100% in the same boat as you are.. but I'm a neighboring boat in the US.

I am about ready to pick up a bazooka and blow T-Mobile to smithereens. Back in October, my friend signed up an internet account under my name & social (totally different issue, anyway..). Well most cell phone companies here require you return the product within 14 days if you wish to cancel without penalty. Remember that, without penalty..

Well she returns it about 12 days after purchase, was told everything was canceled and she didn't have to pay a dime! Dandy, eh? Well a month later, I receive a bill stating I owe $60 bucks. I'm like, thanks but no thanks, I call in and explain the situation. I'm told, it'll be fine, we'll take care of it. Absolutely lovely!

Another two weeks roll by, I get ANOTHER letter, this time with a total of $100 or so. I'm saying to myself, alright, this makes sense how? So I call, AGAIN, and I'm finally told they don't have proof of the return we did in-store. My friend has a copy of the receipt, so I'm like hey, go in and tell them whats up please. I'm told over the phone with T-Mobile's customer service that as long as she brings the receipt in to the store within a month, they'll credit everything. So we go in, the guy calls into customer service himself (the customer service rep at the store), says we're good, and we leave thinking everything is peachy.

ANOTHER two weeks, and I get another. damn. bill. Let's summarize this part. It's now almost February, and I've had to call in about fifteen times, talk to five million different people, and the most recent bill I've gotten is a collection letter stating I'd better pay the last $15 bucks or else. So I call in.... again... for the upteenth time, and say, "Take this shit off, or I swear to God..."

Now I'm normally a nice person. Really nice. But when I've had to do this multiple times, a human being can only handle being bugged constantly for so long.

In other words, after this huge novel... I feel your pain. 100%. Let's go blow 'em up together.
flora_mundi said…
i'm with you! break it all down and start over!

as long as you're here, why not read more?

eat the cup 2018, part seven :: oh, lionheart

it all seemed so magical: england's fresh-faced youngsters marching all the way through to a semi-final for the first time since 1990. everywhere, the delirious chants of "it's coming home". and then, deep into added time, the sad realization: it's not coming home. oh england, my lionheart.

now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…

dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

the war is over

i assumed that the live coverage of last weekend's "march for our lives" would be hard to watch, and in some ways, it was. however, i did not expect that it would feel so joyful and empowering as well. 
the idea that "joyful" can be used in the description of a rally around the subject of violence and death seems bizarre, and certainly many of the speeches were anything but. however, it was difficult not to watch things unfold on saturday and not have the feeling that there is a spirit of positive change. young people, younger than the much-discussed millennial demographic, are taking it to the powers that be and those powers be shakin' in their shoes.

it's hardly surprising that cheeto benito ran off to golf for the weekend rather than stay and face the music of arianna grande and common; after all, he spends every weekend on a taxpayer-funded golf holiday. nor is it surprising that congress's most vocal critics of gun reform apparently spent the …