New “Services” for Making Money on Cell Phones

in BCE, Case Study, Consumer Advocacy, Rant, Technology, Telephone

Bell Mobility and It’s Cellular Services

Preface: Feel free to treat this as the rantings of an irate Bell Mobility Customer, however, also please note how easy it is to fall into the trap that I did.

I opened my Bell Mobility invoice for the month and saw $40 extra in charges on the actual bill! I was shocked to see the bill and wondered what might have possibly caused this, and it was not obvious what it was, but I finally found the culprit entry:

BLOOP BLOP* $40.00      (* not the actual name of the service)

Not knowing what that service actually was, I then called *611 on my wireless phone and navigated through the many different voice menus in the Bell system to finally reach a real human to ask, “What in the name of Herrod is BLOOP BLOP and give me my money back!”. I could tell by the tone of the person I was speaking to that as soon as the name BLOOP BLOP was mentioned the stone wall went up.

I asked if I could get this charge reversed, the answer I got was, No, we cannot do anything about it, you must call the service provider and cancel it with them. I asked how I could have signed up for this, and the tone I received implied that I must have signed up, and thus it was my own fault for doing this. The conversation disintegrated into a complete waste of time, where the Bell representative made it abundantly clear that it was not her problem, and it was not her job to help me out either (maybe my file also shows that I am imprisoned by a Bell Contract, who knows?).

I asked finally, if I could please have this service blocked from my bill in the future, and the answer I got back was, No sir, we can’t do that. This one sent me for a loop, because Bell is the billing agent here, so for them to stop the service from charging me is dead simple, but they chose not to do it. I thanked the agent for her time (in a terse or possibly rude way, I was not happy, and I do feel badly on how I dealt with the situation), and hung up.

I then called the BLOOP BLOP service number, got a hold of a service person there, who said yes I had signed up for the service, I pointed out that I most assuredly hadn’t, but she assured me that I had, and they had the logs to prove it. My guess is to sign up for this service works in a fashion like:

  1. You receive a text message on your phone about getting access to cool ring tones and wall paper for your phone and all you have to do is respond to this e-mail.
  2. If you don’t reply, the service should leave you alone, however, they most likely will resend the message again (and again, and again….).
  3. If your phone has a twitchy touch screen as mine does, I guess it can accidentally reply to the message (which has happened in the past), and maybe sign you up.
  4. I believe what happened to me was that I did answer the text message as it said the service was a free trial (OK yes, I am an idiot feel free to kick me when I’m down).
  5. Once the free trial is over, you are in it, and the only way to get out of it is to call a 1-800 number that you get from Bell, but by then you have already been stung with your first month’s service charges of $40.

I don’t even know what I got for those $40, as I have no fancy ring tones -or- wallpaper on my phone (which this service allegedly supplies to me). The $40 in charges consisted of 4 events that occurred from the service, have no idea what they were, but I don’t seem to have anything to show for them.

Am I happy with Bell right now,No, am I mad at myself,Yes. Will I be more careful in the future,most definitely, and I will look into never signing up for a contract with Bell ever again. I wonder what kind of deal Rogers might give me for my home phone?  Rogers actually told me once that I have been a good customer for 18 years and they appreciate my business, Bell Mobility I have been with for over 6 years, and I do not feel appreciated one scintilla.

Just goes to show that allegedly intelligent folks can get duped and fall for a simple “Buy now, pay later” scheme.

{ 11 comments }

  • Credit Cards Canada October 25, 2010, 1:30 PM

    This has been a big issues in the States wherein many companies especially ringtone companies have been charging unsuspecting customers with heavy charges.

    Bell or the service provider is not to blame here. It’s the business practices of these companies are that sorta illegal. All the offers begin with a free trial and they by default make you a subscriber of their service.
    These service has a subscription fee which is why you see a $40 charge. You don’t need to download to get charged. For a set subscription fee (per week or month), you can download certain amount of content.

    In the past (in the US), you had to call a 1-800 phone number to cancel the subscription but after million dollar suits were filed against these companies, they have included an option of sending “STOP” message to the same number which would opt you out of the service.
    I have used this feature with a couple of the companies that it has worked.

    I guess the rules haven’t been strictly applied in Canada yet. A company that follow these rules is Jamster which had plenty of legal trouble and finally cleaned their act.

    Reply
  • dj October 15, 2010, 3:49 PM

    BCE has been doing this for 30 years…an Mr Cope thinks he’s doing a good job

    Reply
  • Credit Cards October 15, 2010, 10:28 AM

    Good way to fool people. I guess you aren’t charged for the calls you make them to get rid of it. Here is you get any such service then you need to call on customer service desk to deactivate the service and again calling as customer service has a tag “Premium Charges Apply”

    Reply
  • David French October 15, 2010, 6:41 AM

    For comfort, try this one, “The case of the Disaappearing Discount”:
    My wife and I are standing in a store, casually ‘checking it out”. A Store Employee. whose demeanour suggested she was the Store Manager, approached us. “Everything in the store is 25% off this week-end. Our New Store Opening Special” On the strength of this, we selected three items. At the Cash Register, no discount was taken off. We explained we had been told by “that lady over there” there was a 25% discount. “NO! said the Cashier. Its 10%!” When we approached “that lady over there” she said “Did I say 25%. Sorry, its only 10%” Checking the bill, no 10%. “Oh.” said the Cashier,”Its in the ticketted price!” Whereupon we said we no longer wished to pursue the sale,”Please cancel the transaction”. They couldn’t do that, because the Visa Terminal wouldn’t allow it!! When we refused to accept the goods, they offered only a Store Credit and suggested we take it up with Visa. When we approached Visa, our Card Carrier refused any action “for 30 days, in case the store delivered the goods!!”; i.e. the card issuer refused to act to stop a sale which clearly had been secured by fraud! Its not only Bell!!
    The companies concerned? A branch of a small chain, “Brain Games” and TD Visa.

    Reply
  • BC_Doc October 15, 2010, 12:12 AM

    I think Bell should be given the “Bad Business Award.”

    I have three family cell phone lines with Bell. Due to consistent poor treatment by Bell, each of the three lines will be cancelled at the end of the contracts.

    One piece advice: do not set your Bell bill up for auto credit-card payment. Better to dispute the unpaid bill than to try and claim it back after overcharges have been billed against your credit card.

    There is a special place in Hell for the folks at Bell.

    Reply
  • Joe October 7, 2010, 9:32 PM

    That’s actually one of the biggest reasons I don’t like touch-screen phones. I like having more control over my phone and touch-screens seem too sensitive.

    Reply
  • Financial Cents October 7, 2010, 7:59 PM

    Damn BCM, sounds like a PITA (pain in the ass)!

    Sorry for the sufferring. Good rant though.

    Mark

    Reply
  • Echo October 7, 2010, 8:41 AM

    I have Bell ExpressVu satelite and I called them once complaining about an over charge on my bill. The agent offered me a 30 day free trial of the movie channel. I told her no, because I’ll forget to cancel it and they will charge me for it afterwards. She assured me they would cancel it after 30 days.

    Guess what? Not even 30 days later (on my next bill), I’m charged $29.99 for the supposed free movie channel previews. What the heck? Then they wouldn’t refund my credit card that I use for automatic payment, they said they “can’t” do that and I would get a refund on my next bill. Nope, wrong again!

    This is turning into a blog post rant of my own…but I feel your pain, no love for Bell here either.

    Reply
  • Michael James October 7, 2010, 8:24 AM

    The problem here is that you can’t tell Bell that you’re disputing the charge and that you’d like them to remove the charge from your bill. Let the company that supposedly provided you a service sue you for it. I’d like to know how much of the $40 Bell keeps in exchange for strong-arming their own customers into paying these bills. The crazy thing is that Bell enforces payment and doesn’t care if there was any real contract between you and the third party. This third party could just as easily be choosing people at random to charge $40 and Bell would still collect.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman October 7, 2010, 8:29 AM

      And that is precisely my concern about this whole thing, I think I may have signed up for this, but I can’t be sure.

      Reply

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