Really Bell? Really?

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?

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Bell Sent Me A Cheque for $67.41

Thanks Bell

As Michael James pointed out a while ago Bell Had Made a Generous Offer for me to forgo  my settlement from the CRTC’s ordered rebate for Bell Customers however, I decided to keep the rebate money in hand and last week I received a nice cheque for $67.41. Evidently I could have received up to a $90 rebate, but I am quite pleased with the $67.41 cheque, and was glad I didn’t take Bell up on their offer. Bell will evidently upgrade their network with other moneys from this investigation, so their network may improve thanks to the CRTC ruling, but that remains to be seen.

Did I fall into the Found Money Trap? Well kind of, I did take my wife out to dinner with the money, since we hadn’t been out just the two of us for a while (remember I am not a Patron Saint of Finances, I sometimes give into the avarice that is found money sometimes too). Remember, as I tell my kids, Do as I say, NOT as I do.

RESP, RDSP, RRSP

Whoops! Wrong Bell!

Next Steps

Currently my Bell Home Phone bill is a ludicrous $68 a month, which given I barely make any long distance calls, but do use the ludicrously expensive features of:

  • Call Waiting
  • Call Display
  • Visual Call Waiting
  • Long Distance Block of Minutes

This seems prohibitively large in comparison to what the market says I should pay.

My next step is to talk to the Bell Customer Retention folks and see if they want to keep me as a customer, or whether they would like me to go over to Rogers to get their deal (which adds up to about 1/2 to 4/7 of what I currently pay).

Does anybody else know of good deals for existing Bell Customers, or are they only for new Bell Customers?

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Billing Costs Money too, ya know!

They are at it Again!

Yes another rant about Cell Phone costs, my apologies to those who think these are getting repetitive, but I do have a good twist on the story at the end.

I was unhappy to see that Bell Mobility has found yet another way to get under my financial skin, and it will most likely make all the tree-huggers happy, but not me.

I checked on line about my Bell Mobility balance would be (after the previous month’s shenanigans with extra charges, I am now sufficiently concerned that I check my on line bill balance quite often), for this month, and was again greeted, by yet another mystery charge for $2.00, which was not explained on line. The only way to be sure was going to wait until the paper copy of my Bell Mobility bill arrived, delivered by Canada Post.

Was this like the $2.80 “Touch Tone Phone” fee that I pay for my home phone (this fee is just a cash grab, as you can’t have a rotary dial phone any more, and you can’t dodge this fee (and the phone switch I connect to, won’t work with a rotary dial phone, it only works with a touch tone phone) but I digress)? Nope, and the irony of me finding out about it by Canada Post, was not lost on me.

$2 Paper Bill Fee

Two Dollar Coin
A Toonie For Your Thoughts

Now, since I receive my Cell Phone Bill from Bell Mobility via Canada Post, I must now pay $2.00 for this privilege. I found out about this by reading my paper bill, as  I couldn’t figure that out from the On Line bill that Bell puts up on their web site (I feel the irony of that is exquisite, but then again, I enjoy cold sores as well).

For you tree-huggers out there that think that Bell is being a Good Green Corporate Citizen, think again. A paperless bill saves them postage fees, and better still administrative overhead (i.e. employees), because the whole system is automated (in other words you get an e-mail (hopefully) informing you your bill is there) and thus there is no paperwork to be followed.

The added plus is, that if your e-mail gets eaten by the Spam Folder or worse your computer crashes (or it gets lost in an e-mail Tsunami), you can then be charged late fees for a bill you never really received (but then again you can’t prove you didn’t because the sender can simply say, “I sent it, it’s in my Outbox”). This can happen with paper bills as well, but a lot less likely.

Bravo Bell Mobility for creating more Shareholder value by adding more fees to your customers, you are starting to rival the banks in your ability to create new income streams.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a BCE stockholder, a Bank Stockholder and unfortunately a Bell customer, so I am very torn about this whole thing (i.e. part of me is delighted, and part of me is irate).

Welcome to the Paperless Society (a phrase I heard coined in 1979, so it has taken a while!).

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New “Services” for Making Money on Cell Phones

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.

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Happy Thanksgiving & BCE Youch that Smarts!

Happy Thanksgiving

To my American readers I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and wish you all the joy and happiness of this holiday season. It’s odd to read that the Thanksgiving weekend is actually a bigger traveling weekend than the Christmas weekend in the U.S., in Canada Thanksgiving is big, but not that big. Black Friday looms on the consumer horizon, with stores in Canada getting into the act!

BCE Not a Well Company

I should have known better but BCE announced atrocious numbers on Tuesday and the stock went into the tank on Wednesday, which is not a big surprise. The company is in limbo, with it’s “sale” still not confirmed yet they are laying off management like it’s the new national pastime (come to think of it, it just might be for 2008).

I have held the stock for some years as a Dividend asset, but now it doesn’t even seem to pay those any more, thanks to this misguided sale (at least last quarter) and now the company itself seems to be trying to follow in the footsteps of Nortel? (I really hope not, but then again, BCE has managed to make some very odd decisions in the past two years as well, so who knows).

TSX a Winner Otherwise

Other than BCE’s plummet, the TSX seems to be at leveling off, and it is trending neutral to positive, which is a good thing to see as well. A leveling off is a good thing, a positive trend is even better but a leveling off may mean most of the panic selling is over, but we shall see.

RSS Feed Issues

For my readers who read over my RSS feed, there have been issues the past few days, and I am not sure what exactly is causing it, but I ask for your patience and hopefully I can get to the root of this issue.

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