Really Bell? Really?

inBCE, Home Expenses

As most of you know I do tend to rant about bad customer service, or customer relations, and Bell has done it again. For the sake of full disclosure, I actually am a BCE share holder.

My latest phone bill arrived and it put me over the top in terms of costs, there is no way I should be paying $88 a month for a home phone, with a lousy long distance plan and visual call display (i.e. call display for calls and call waiting), so I decided it was time to be a good consumer advocate and phone bell about this.

First I went to a Bell Store and was told by a young gentleman (I use that term only as a courtesy) told me in no uncertain terms they did not deal with billing issues. This store sells home (wired) phones, and you can switch your service there, but you can’t talk about billing there. STRIKE ONE!!!

Then I called 310-Bell and got the run around, and when I asked to talk to the customer retention folks, I was on the line, on hold for 25 minutes, I finally hung up. STRIKE TWO!!!!!

I finally called and got a lady (I mean that in a complimentary way), who seemed to understand that as a customer service representative, she should treat the customer with a degree of politeness. I was taken aback for a moment by her positive tone and willingness to help (perhaps it was a clever ruse to trick me into some incidious contract trap), but no she genuinely seemed to understand why I was peeved by the whole situation.

To sum up:

  • I was paying $11.95 a month for a long distance plan that gave me 100 minutes “free” during off peak hours inside of Canada.
  • I was paying $24.95 for Call Display, Call Waiting Display and Call Waiting, on top of the existing $25 I was paying for phone service (don’t get me started on the Network Access Fee and Touch tone fees, or we will be here for a week).

I pointed out that I had gone to the Bell web site and these charges seemed a little high given there is a long distance package that costs $10.95 for 500 “free” minutes for all of North America (any time of the day), and a Visual Call Display package which was $11 or so. Did this rattle my agent? Nope, she agreed, did some juggling of numbers, and got me the cheaper packages. I did have to “amalgamate” my Bell Mobility and Bell phone bills, but that ended up saving me more money, so the call ended with me happier. I also got Visual Call Display for a lot less as well. OK Bell you got away with it this time

I am Happier, but not delighted by the fact that Bell treats existing customers like indentured servants not telling us about new, money saving ways to lower our bills. I have been overpaying for a long time, but I guess more fool me to not constantly phone up and ask for more?

Really Bell?


  • RajAugust 24, 2011, 7:45 PM

    After many years with Bell/Rogers (depending on who was giving me a better deal), I recently made the switch to Teksavvy for my home phone and internet, and am extremely pleased with the price and the customer service. Unlike with Bell, with Teksavvy it’s WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get), no hidden prices/fees, and customer serivce & technical support are knowledgeable and helpful.

    Just a satisfied customer!

  • JeremyAugust 20, 2011, 10:44 AM

    I’m saddened and disappointed that you have rewarded these terrible business practices by remaining a customer of theirs.

    This is becoming unfortunately common because it works.

    Please consider moving your business to a company that trays all of its customers fairly and equally. If you don’t, then you’re voting with your dollars to maintain these terrible practices.

  • Fernando MargueiratAugust 19, 2011, 10:12 PM

    Sorry for being rude. And I really don’t question your intelligence, I keep reading your blog.

    But whenever you throw Rogers or Bell in a conversation my blood starts boiling.

    You presents much cheaper alternatives, but that do not offer exactly what Bell offers you (except Teksavvy, I don’t know them that much to have an opinion). But Primus and I know that there are other companies out there that offer better services, as reliable as Rogers or Bell (they use their networks), far better customer service for half the price.

    You are willing to stay with Bell for a “cheaper” price? Cheaper than what they were charging you before, but still way above market average. You might have your business or emotional reasons to stay with them, but from what you described doesn’t sound like a good business decision to pay $70+/mth for something that you can get for less than $40.

  • CanadianInvestorAugust 19, 2011, 3:54 PM

    In the last few weeks I called Bell intending to cancel phone, Internet and satellite TV. Customer loyalty magically offered me the same rate for Internet as the National Capital Freenet, which is the cheapest possible rate I found searching online. I agreed to stay initially but when they erroneously cut off my phone service two weeks early, accused me of being the source of their confusion and wanted me to pay to have it reconnected temporarily, it made me too annoyed … so NCF has a new customer. Along the way I learned that one can have Internet without phone service, a so-called dry loop or dry copper DSL. Bye bye Bell.

  • Pre Workout SupplementsAugust 19, 2011, 1:00 PM

    Yeah, the customer service these days is terrible. That sounds like an AWFUL story though, for real for real. And yeah, they think they own you until you threaten to cancel. That’s what I do – I always threaten to cancel, and I start naming off competitors and how sexy they are!

  • SchultzterAugust 19, 2011, 1:15 AM

    I know how you feel, I’m going through something similar with Rogers. You’d think that a customer calling the customer service number would get service. But I’ve gotten anything but!

    Every time I call about my issue the agent always says they’re making notes. But the next time I call back the agent can’t seem to figure out what I’m talking about. They’ll often tell me what the last agent promised me is impossible – the system doesn’t allow it!

    If I have to escalate my issue any further I think they’re going to have to dig up Ted Rogers so I can talk to him!!!

  • KennethAugust 18, 2011, 11:43 AM

    Yes, I encountered the same problems with Bell. I voted to go with VOIP. I was so cheap that I didn’t even think Vonage was cheap enough. I went with Now I’m down to about $8 a month with all the features you want included. It’s pay as you go. Vonage makes money because you’ll rarely use up all the $20 worth of phone time you pay them a month. You do need a bit of know how, but once set up, the service is solid, which is my experience. Disclosure: I’m not associated in any way with I’m just happy that I switch from Bell. Going from $80 a month to $8 a month was a worthwhile endeavour.

  • KathyAugust 17, 2011, 11:03 PM

    I was curious, and dug out my SaskTel bill. Usually I hear how much we pay more in SK for things…..but $88 seems way high. Then again, we don’t have a long distance plan like yours. Our is:
    $21.54 for residential phone line
    $7.80 for 2 features — call display, name display
    $1.95 system admin fee for our straight rate north america long distance (5 cents per minute). With taxes and the calls out to BC, we’re anywhere from $35 to $55.

  • mortgage money blogAugust 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

    Yeah the big 3 like to nickel and dime you for everything. Some new providers like TekSavvy are very welcome and gaining momentum. The big 3 will have to step it up in the future to stay competitive.

  • krantcentsAugust 16, 2011, 10:23 AM

    Your story leaves the impression that these companies make it so complicated to get the right price. I think they do this on purpose.

    • bigcajunmanAugust 16, 2011, 10:37 AM

      Yes, all service based industries seem to have learned that if you can create an infinitely complex labyrinth that the customer must navigate many folks will give up and simply pay their bills (and grumble a lot).

      However, I think this is changing, and now it is becoming a sick game, where folks jump around from service to service simply to get a good price, but the service agencies haven’t figured it out yet.

  • Fernando MargueiratAugust 16, 2011, 8:34 AM

    After reading your blog for a while, I thought you were a smart man. But after reading this post, I have some doubts. I don’t know where in Canada you live, but if you are in one of the big cities, paying $88 is too much of a ripoff. I pay $84.57, tax included. That includes unlimited long distance (US & Canada), all add-on services (call display, call waiting, call forwards, 3 way conference, etc.) AND 5Mb internet with no caps. I’m not on top of my bill and call companies to negotiate rates every quarter. I had this plan for at least 6 years and don’t remember when was the last time I had to call them for any technical problem. It was at least 4 years ago.

    • bigcajunmanAugust 16, 2011, 8:40 AM

      Thanks for reading (I think), but my bill is now much lower. I realize there are MUCH cheaper ways to have a phone:
      1) Not have a home phone, just use my cell phone
      2) Use Vonage or other VoIP programs
      3) Use TekSavvy which is much cheaper

      I choose to stay with Bell for now, if I can get a cheaper price.

      As for questioning my intelligence, you really haven’t been reading for that long, or the point would be moot.

  • YvesAugust 16, 2011, 7:57 AM

    I have been with Bell for long time and their customer service is way better. I never wait more than 5 minutes anymore when I call. I had trouble with land lines and I switch to Fibe and the service was really good, in fact better than other ISPs I tried.

    To Paully
    Yes you have to call or check online to see best deals… like any other company!! My bank don’t lower my fees until I tell then I want to quit. My insurance company offer me best deals only when I shop around to select another insurer.

    Not a Bell employee but I also own shares.

  • PaullyAugust 16, 2011, 6:04 AM

    It has been my experience that contrary to conventional good business sense, Bell reserves it’s worst rates for loyal customers and the best rates for dis-loyal ones. I have found that it helps to call Bell annually and ask about cancelling your service. They will then transfer you to the “Loyalty” Department, who will typically give you a better rate than you have been previously paying as a long-term loyal client. It makes no sense to me why they seem to treat whiners and switchers better than loyal customers, but they often do. To be fair, I have heard that the other telecom and cable companies suffer from the same problem. Either way, I call and threaten to cancel regularly now, and my rate is better for the effort.


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