How to get the best long-distance rates from Bell

April 23 2012 by Ellen Roseman

Today’s guest post is from Bob Lepp, a consultant who examines your telecom and utility bills and finds ways to reduce your costs, either with the same supplier or by changing suppliers.

He’s saved almost $15,000 for his first 28 clients. He takes one third of the first year’s savings as his compensation. A similar service, Cut My Costs, takes 40 per cent of the first year’s savings.

Bob’s email address is 2thirds4u@gmail.com. Check out his views below.

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Look closely at your Bell phone bill every month. If you have bought an ‘Anytime Block of Time’, or any long distance, eliminate it right away.

Bell’s design hides what you bought and for how much, thus falsifying the savings. Let me explain.

1) You cannot determine what you bought. There is no size of the “block” you bought. It may be 100 or 1,500, the bill never tells you. The “per minute” rate is buried in the usage chart.

2) There’s no total plan price. There’s a block price, but you pay more. You will see “1 Network Charge $6.95”, the second plan component. When questioned, Bell says “Everyone pays that standard charge.” It is really just Bell-speak for “extra profit”.

3) Check the usage on every call. Date, time, place, number, duration, cost. But there’s no total of minutes used. That space is empty in the chart. Given the total, you’d divide it into the sum of Block plus Network for a minute rate. And that is why Bell does not add it up.

4) Check “Savings and/or Discounts” columns, you’ll see the old mileage-based rates, 10 cents close by, 79 cents to BC. These are rates no one should pay, but Bell chooses high rates for comparison. They need “savings” so badly they do it by the minute in the usage, then total up and state it FOUR times under “Usage-Summary”. But no “total minutes used” OR “unused” from your expensive plan.

5) Bell does NOT add in the plan and Network Charge as costs when calculating savings. Nope, they’re ignored. First, they charge an inflated .79 cent rate, now they leave out fees REQUIRED for the deal. EVERY invoice says savings were made. Every one. Because every plan is “free” of costs, according to Bell.

Bell forbids us from calculating savings, since if we did we’d cancel the plans immediately.

Why? Rates used for comparison are not applicable to anyone, unless that person failed to say: “I want your no-charge ‘no plan’ long distance plan”.

Smart customers making few calls remove ALL long distance plans, asking instead for the free one, charging ONLY for making calls.

No calls? Pay nothing. Make calls, pay 25 cents a minute anywhere in North America, not 79 cents. Bell charges $2.50, once for that entire month, regardless of minutes used. No ‘Network Charge’ applies.

Next month, start all over, make no calls, pay nothing. Florida for 5 months? No fees. The most you should pay Bell is 25 cents, plus $2.50 across all minutes that month. They won’t tell you that, unless asked.

We contacted Bell President George Cope at: executive.office@bell.ca, suggesting the formula needs correction. The bill should total the minutes purchased, total our usage, and suggest better plans based on usage.

The reply? Chris, employee MYCVAS, called with bad news. Nothing will change, the calculations are identical for everyone, ours is no different.

Would they fix the calculations? No, he said there’s nothing Bell can do, because “our systems are so old only 3 people can change them. Changes cost lots, millions, for even the smallest change.”

How can customers find out the true savings on their plans? Chris expects customers will call about an unclear or wrong bill. Then, a better plan is suggested.

Regular readers know you speak to Loyalty about cancelling and then they throw money to retain you. That’s their job and they’re rated on how many customers they retain with better deals.

Every Loyalty agent wants to keep customers after mentioning “cancel”. But Bell cannot automate the real savings suggestions onto the bill itself.

Call Bell today, question every charge, every line item, document each, what it covers, start date and end dates for contracts. Ask for lower fees. You are paying too much, you want to pay less.

They welcome your call and will give discounts just for asking. “I’d like to know I am paying the least before I decide to cancel” is a good opener.

Bottom line: No Bell LD package is good unless you can calculate your true minute cost easily. Then, get direct dial LD for 3 cents with Rapidtel Easyvoice.

Get off the Bell ‘regulated’ line. Go ‘unregulated’. Get basic Home Phone Lite for $14.95, INCLUDING Touch Tone and 911.

Get those missing bundle savings for TV and cellphone services that ‘regulated’ lines don’t get. (Get $5 off phone for TV, for cell, for internet, again for an LD plan over $5. It’s all there for the asking.)

Savings are for 12 months, so call back just before to renew your deal. Otherwise, your discounts end and you pay full fare.

9 comments

  1. Lynn

    Apr 23 2012

    Better yet, ditch Bell’s long distance service entirely and sign up with Yak or a similar provider. Pay only for the calls you make, at very low per-minute rate.

    After taking a close look at our respective elderly parents’ phone bills (and discovering the head-scratcher service charge), we signed both parties up with Yak and cancelled the long-distance portion of their Bell contract.

    That didn’t prevent Bell from calling my mother-in-law to confirm that it was indeed her wish, which only served to confuse and upset her. (Not the agent’s fault — they had no way of knowing they were dealing with elderly clients).

    We only wish we had taken the trouble to scrutinize their plans a few years earlier — it would have saved them hundreds of much needed dollars.

  2. Fred

    Apr 23 2012

    Better yet, cancel your Bell Telephone and switch to a competitor like Primus.

    Or even better, subscribe to low cost voip telephone service–for roughly $5.00 per month you’ll get unlimited local calling within your city and pay 1-2 cents/min for NA long distance.

  3. Lynn

    Apr 23 2012

    Even better — buy an Ooma unit and say goodbye to all subscription services.

  4. Byron Malkus

    Apr 24 2012

    Folks, there’s absolutely no reason to pay a “consultant” a fee for reducing your phone bill costs. It’s really just a matter of calling up your provider and insisting you get a better rate.

    It’s a cut throat industry and if you are not tied to a contract, you don’t need to be a Philadelphia lawyer to get a better rate.

    If you don’t like the first offer (and trust me, even the first offer will be better than what you’re paying now), call back and there’s a good chance they will sweeten the deal, especially with unregulated services like wireless.

    Nope, there’s no reason to pay someone like Mr. Lepp any money to save you money. Just pick up the phone and do it yourself. Thousands of people do it every day. No “consultant” required!

  5. bylo

    Apr 25 2012

    Re “Home Phone Lite plan at $14.95 is a great deal and often unknown”, see [Home] Bell Home Phone – be sure you are not on the ‘legacy’ plans..NO MORE TOUCHTONE charge – RedFlagDeals.com Forums

    Re cellphone plans, the best plan is not to get a contracted plan, e.g. prepaid from SpeakOut or PetroCanada Mobility. RFD has several threads on this topic as well.

    It’s difficult to offer general advice because everyone’s needs are different and every carrier’s offerings are different.

    Bottom line: avoid contracts, buy your own phone, shop around for deals, especially prepaid for light/moderate users.

    And as always, it costs nothing to “haggle” before you commit or renew.

  6. Bob Lepp

    Apr 26 2012

    To anyone who also feels a consultant is not required — you are correct, no one requires me.

    Some people are so upset even THINKING about calling Bell they will not look at their bills, they simply pay them to get them off their desk.

    This was driven home last weekend. I called a friend (for decades) to chat about getting a new dentist, and she asked about the “Bell stuff” I was doing.

    I’d wondered why she did not respond to my email blast months ago to all my friends. She went on to say Bell gets her so upset she could not bring herself to call me for help.

    She knew she was being abused, even told me where, but she literally could not bring herself to call and resolve the problem of overcharging.

    Every time she called, they sold some change that was supposed to be cheaper and it was not. I looked at her bills. She had $25.90 for Unlimited Ontario, with one 13 minute call ALL MONTH, and the bill said she saved $9.86 after paying $2 a minute.

    Here’s a link to her bill:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx9_Evivp1YPOW4wSldYZGM1cTQ/edit?pli=1

    No one requires a consultant. That’s why I gave Ellen all my tricks for you to use. But, some people NEED a consultant, friend… anyone to call on their behalf.

    I have found that for the 30 people I have helped, absolutely none found sharing the savings with me a problem. They know how long it takes on the phone just to get through some days. And I help on any followup issue free, such as when Bell dishonours their own confirmation numbered emails.

    So, call Bell yourself and just ask for lower fees and you will get them. But if you cannot physically bring yourself to call, get a friend or relative to call for you.

    Simply make a quick call to 310-2355, identify your account and request “Please authorize my friend John Smith at 905 123-4567 to manage my account” and then John can call on your behalf. John can then alter any charges and do everything but cancel the account or service.

    If you have no friends or family, or you want to keep your affairs private from them, look for a paid person to help.

  7. Bob Lepp

    Apr 26 2012

    Bylo is correct about cell phones. Petro Canada and Speakout are the cheapest prepaid around. They resell Rogers network at less cost with more features.

    DO NOT EVER buy Rogers prepaid. They charge for every use of Call Answer, even though they advertise it “at no monthly charge.”

    You pay per cell minute for a caller to LEAVE a message, for you to PICK UP a message on cell OR landline, and you pay to program your greetings, etc.

    You cannot make ANY use of it without paying, yet Rogers misleads you into thinking it is free. All that is free is if you do not use it, you do not pay. So block it off.

    On PetroCan, if you use more than 80 minutes a month, go “monthly plan” and pay $20 for 200 minutes instead, since the same $20 gets 200 instead of 80 minutes.

    You can use iPhones and any phone that takes a full size sim card, so you need not buy a Petro phone. Their data plan is a steal at $10 a month, unlimited data for browsing. Or only $8 when added to a monthly plan.

    Unlimited incoming text is FREE, 10 cents out, or $5 unlimited out.
    Reduce your voice minutes by text and browsing for answers. Let calls go to voice mail after noting free caller display, and then pick up free from a landline.

    I sound like an employee. I am not, but I have moved many friends to it and they are saving a bundle.

    If you buy a minutes plan, you tend to use the minutes. Pay per minute instead and you find you can reduce minutes.

    DO NOT TAKE FREE HARDWARE OR A CONTRACT…. you pay through the nose. Go Prepaid. Reduce reliance on cell minutes, break the habit.

    Prepaid phones do not work in USA. Buy a Tracfone for USA.

    http://www.tracfone.com/

    Cheap phones, cheap minutes, great easy calling back to Canada at USA rates: $100 keeps you going for a year on the same number. Your friends call free local Canada numbers to reach you in USA.

    Check their site for details. Works great.

  8. Anna

    Nov 26 2012

    Hi

    My Home Phone Lite package is $26.95. How did you get $14.95??