Friday, February 12, 2010

Bell Canada

Bell Canada Episode 1

Few corporations have a captive and helpless market like the phone company. It was worse once upon a time--for 100% of the market they had absolutely no choice in service providers. Now roughly 90% have choice, and Ma Bell is not wearing it well.

Bell Canada has put up a very effective firewall around it's management. First wall is customer care--they have no authority, their purpose is to pacify. Collections handles anything to do with financial, however they don't have the authority to correct mis-billings, they just do the collection. Their favorite ploy is to call you up if you are a day past due and claim that the current balance is... Only after you pay the "Current Balance" do you realize that you actually only owed much less, you hadn't received the bill for the "Current Balance", but you paid it because the person on the phone sounded serious.

Now, when you have a service issue it is quickly routed through a call center in Mumbai India. They go through their script no less than 3 times carefully converting your complaint to the most dumbed down form while keeping you on the phone for no less than 15 minutes. (I guess the call center is paid hourly rate for calls handled).

When you have residential service you are simply not a priority. Business customers, if you squalk, you may feel a little more important.

Now, living in rural Ontario (on a main road), we have had our share of phone issues. In this day where phones for a business are a necessity--not a privilage we lived through about 9 years of "NO PHONE SERVICE" for no less than 3 weeks per year. I made hundreds of irate phone calls to Bell Canada trying to get our phones back up and running at our busiest time of year.

As it turns out the reason for our service issues was that farmers would routinely cut the 40 year old phone lines in our area, they would get patched hundreds of times between the service center and our business and every time someone complained they would shuffle the lines. We would be good for a month until someone else complained about poor phone service, the tech would give them our line and we would get the poorer line. During the rainy season everyone on that branch would be dead shorted for weeks... that means every spring, no or poor service, and every fall, more problems with phone service. Once things dried up or froze... all was well again.

Only after 9 years, hundreds of complaints and frustration ad nausium did we finally get a tech that noticed that we had another, barely used, clean, fiber optic line running on our property that he could tap into. It was there all along.

We had to bury the new lines on our own (they refused), but for the last 2 years we have had functioning phone lines. I also had to pay extra to get business lines to get another line installed for the business. They refused to add another residential. We technically didn't need business lines since we don't subscribe to yellow page ads--we have a website that gets 140,000 visits a month. That is an entirely other story though.

Feel free to add your own stories in comments or send them by email!


Alistair Allen said...

Fighting back.
Always reply to English collection caller in French.In outraged tone shriek"Je suis Canadienne et je parle FRANCAISE!
If trapped into using English merely keep asking "what do you think I should do"then ask their full name and employee number.
Then ask to speak to their supervisor and complain that the collections person just advised you to kill yourself.
That should ensure the ejection of said personage out of the company compound gates and into the dung filled streets of Mombai.Happy begging!
Sneak into your neighbours house and use their phone to order state of the art line improvements right up to your property line.Dismiss the concern over cost just jubilantly reiterate that you just inherited a fortune and you want this done now!Price no object.
Then advise neighbour on tips per dealing with collections via Mumbai.

Lawrence Winterburn said...

Ross-- you need to co author this thing.... you are far too creative for just comments! Didn't you work in collections early on in your career?