Service too slow? Then just walk

August 28 2008 by Ellen Roseman

Have you done it? Left a store without buying because you were fed up?

There are many reasons why you might feel frustrated enough to walk out. The store staff ignore you. There aren’t enough cashiers. The customers ahead of you dawdle. The advertised specials are missing or mispriced.

A whopping 86 per cent of Canadians, according to a survey released by Maritz Canada, have left a store without buying something because they felt they had waited too long for service. A Globe and Mail story touched a nerve, attracting 181 comments.

Customers frustrated with long waits will go to the competition, said Maritz. They will rant about their experience and post comments online.

But they will stay longer if retailers offer music, refreshments, reading materials, an apology or a smile.

But things are different if you’ve already bought something and you have to fix a problem. You call or email a company (often dealing with its outsourced customer service department) and wait for a response.

You tell your story over and over again to each person who handles your calls or emails. You can’t walk out. You’re a captive customer, trapped in an indifferent and inferior system.

Welcome to my world. I hear from captive customers every hour of the workday. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more. But what can they do?

If you learn how to navigate the system, you can share your experience with others. That’s what Karl did here this week, printing email addresses for useful contacts at Bell Canada and its new owner, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Speaking of Bell, they have a new advertising campaign, “Today just got better,” which makes liberal use of words ending in “er” — faster, easier, gamer, worker, talker, texter, multi-tasker, music lover. You can read the corporate new release here.

Did anyone notice they’re using my initials?

Maybe it’s a backhanded compliment, considering how much flak I collect (and pass along) about Bell’s flagging service. If their new strategy is to deliver a better customer experience, then why not tip a hat in my direction with their ER campaign?


  1. Michael James

    Aug 28 2008

    With the name change from Bell Sympatico to Bell Internet, is Bell going to make their customers change email addresses?

    When I was using Sympatico, my email address ended with “”. For most people, changing email addreses is no big deal, but it was a problem for me when I left Bell (and it was the reason I took so long to leave).

    For others who need a stable email address, I’d recommend Gmail from Google (I have no affiliation with Google). It’s free, easy to use, and works intuitively.

  2. Lior

    Aug 28 2008


    You should have known before your trip that only quad band GSM phones would work on all the standardized frequencies worldwide. However, I don’t blame you for not knowing. I blame the staff at Rogers, be it the call center or at the store, for not double-checking the type of mobile you have and whether it is capable of being used in Chile.

    A quad-band phone will work in any country that has a GSM provider because it operates on all known frequencies. You can either roam on that carrier’s network or just get a temporary SIM card from the local carrier. Tri-band GSM phones, on the other hand, work in only about 60 countries.

  3. Lior

    Sep 1 2008


    Having an anti-virus should not interfere with Bell’s Internet service at all. That is, unless you use Sympatico’s own anti-virus program in tandem with the one you already have installed on your computer. Having two different anti-virus programs run at the same time is not a good idea. However, if you don’t want to use Sympatico’s anti-virus, you don’t have to.

    Setting up a DSL connection is fairly easy. That is why I fail to see why Bell’s technicians, after realizing the wrong hook up outside, couldn’t get your Internet service running. Even if your PC was the issue, it takes minutes to determine if it really what’s causing the inability to connect.

    Also, I advise people all the time that the “bundling” choice is not very wise. The reason is because you’re locked to a certain term, usually 2 years, with that provider. If you happen to find something better and you want to cancel, or if you move to a service area where one of your existing services is not available, Bell can charge you hefty Early Termination fees. In fact, the fee for breaking the agreement early with Bell Expressvu is about $200.

    And it’s not just Bell that’s doing it, it’s Rogers too. You’re far better off negotiating prices for your services individually instead of bundling them all to save 10% or 15% off the total cost. For example, I have cable and high-speed Internet with Rogers. I could have bundled and saved 10%. But what for? I negotiated a lower rate for my cable bill for one year. If I decide to leave, all I pay is the difference of the discount that was extended to me. The same thing with my Internet service. I signed up for Hi-Speed Express and I’m paying LESS than what I paid for the service back in 1998! And again, no bundling.

  4. John

    Oct 7 2010

    I’d like to know how Bell got away with those tv commercials during the olympics claiming to have Canada’s fastest network.

    That’s certainly not accurate here in the nation’s capitol.

    Last week we switched to Bell from Rogers (because we were grumpy with Rogers)

    First Bell told us their service was faster (6mbs download speed). Then when it came to installing Bell said “ooops it seems you are too far away from the station (7 km) to get that speed so we’ll give you our 2Mbs service and give you 60 gigs of download capacity instead.”

    Guess what, since Bell was installed the fastest download speed we’ve been able to get is 565kbs. Their tech guys in Texas say we won’t be able to get more than 700kbs.

    So yesterday we went back to Rogers Express Service with download speed of 10Mbs… That’s 18 times faster than Bell (in a major urban centre yet)

    How Bell got away with claiming the fastest network in the country is beyond me.