Why not Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart Blues?

My posting, Bell Blues, has attracted great activity over the weekend. I’m responding to E.J. Wonder’s comment that it seems one-sided. Why not go after other companies with customer service problems?

First, I listen to readers. When I get many complaints, I know something’s wrong. Bell has always attracted a large volume of protests, along the lines of “I can’t believe this isn’t being fixed and why can’t I reach anyone?” But I’m finding the number going up, not down, despite management’s claims of consistent progress.

Second, I also respond to the “pain factor.” It’s not just the number of complaints, but the anguish behind them. When readers talk about hours and hours spent in fruitless pursuit of a resolution, that’s when I prick up my ears. I think smart companies empathize with those who take the time to complain. They’re happy for feedback that helps them get better. Also, smart companies offer something tangible (e.g. bill credits or gift certificates) to tell customers they appreciate the value of their time.

Third, I look to see if there’s a complaint resolution system in the company. Is there a single point of contact? Is there a complaint officer or internal ombudsman? Bell doesn’t have one, nor does Rogers or Telus. The only place to send an appeal is to the CRTC in Ottawa. But this regulatory agency doesn’t regulate many services that Bell provides (e.g. Internet, cell phones and long-distance). Its website is vast and often confusing.

So, that’s why I’m singing the Bell Blues and so are many readers. But check the comments here and you’ll find some positive ones.

I hope Bell does improve its service. If so, I’ll happily move on. There’s never a shortage of topics. And, let me say this isn’t a personal crusade. I have home phone service with Bell and have no complaints. (Rogers and Yak do the rest.)

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

23 thoughts on “Why not Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart Blues?”

  1. Hello Ellen and readers,

    My name is Kevin Crull and as you may have read in Ellen’s Toronto Star column on Saturday April 14, I am both available and eager to hear about any problems readers may have with any Bell product or service – and I will most certainly take quick action to correct those issues. My job at Bell is President of Bell Residential Services.

    I would also like to comment on some perceptions about Bell’s service. We are Canada’s biggest communications company, we deal with more than 6 million customer calls every month, and we resolve almost every customer issue quickly and effectively. It’s a credit to our employees that they can handle a big job so well, but even more impressive is that our team is consistently posting improvements across all customer service metrics.

    But I understand that hearing about that overall success and ongoing improvements in service is of little comfort to you if you’re someone with a service concern. That’s why I’m asking you to write me if you have problems, because we are here to fix them.

    I also know that if you ask to hear about service issues, you will. After Ellen asked readers to write to her about concerns they may have with Bell, she passed the few dozen complaints she received to us – and we have of course taken action to resolve all of them. Her Saturday column has driven a handful more directly to me, and again, we’ve moved forward on all and have resolved most of them already.

    While you’ll find that almost any service problem you might have can be solved with a call to 310-BELL or a visit to our Web site at bell.ca, write to me at kevin.crull@bell.ca and let me know if you are not satisfied with the resolution. Please include your account number, the name associated with the account, and details about your problem. You can trust that the Bell team and I will take action to set things right.

    Thank you,
    Kevin Crull

    P.S. I’ll also take the opportunity to mention the Bell Walk for Kids Help Phone, of which I serve as national chair. Scheduled for Sunday May 6, the Walk will take place in more than 50 communities across the country, and all money raised ($2.7 million last year) ensures Kids Help Phone’s professional counselors can be there to support kids in need of help. Please visit http://www.bellwalkforkidshelpphone.ca for more. Thanks.

  2. Hello Ellen and fellow readers,

    Maybe someone can explain to me why everyone is hell bent on picking apart and destroying one of the few remaining long standing and contributing Canadian companies? Does Bell have some customer problems, yes but tell me what company that has been around for over a 125 years, constantly providing to all customers equally high level of service at a reasonable price. I am not sure you will find one any where. Bell provides service to millions of customers whether in highly dense populated areas or rural areas were service is provided to less that a dozen customers for the same monthly fee. I do not see any competitors offering service outside of high density areas, why, there is no money in it for them. What if Bell stopped service to those customers because they want to help the bottom line and increase shareholders value what would the public say, what would “The Star” write? Let me guess, “Big Bad Bell Denys Service”, not that our competitors are interest or have any appetite to offer a competitive service but that Bell denied service.

    Oh, let’s not forget the CRTC who have consistently tied the Bell’s hands behind their backs so that competition (not just local but from across boarder) can have a fair shot at customers, what happened to “Free Enterprise” and fair competition. Not only does the CRTC regulate Bell on how much it can charge for service, keeping that gap so that there is no true competitive pricing but also dictate what new services can be offered and when. They wait for the competition to catch up before allowing Bell to release anything new. It’s interesting at that time “The Star” would elect to write about the competition beating Bell to the market when in fact the CRTC locked tight the starting gate for Bell. As for Customer service, the CRTC closely monitors Bell and have to report on all service outages and missed due dates etc. the competition seems to be allowed free rein in this department. If the CRTC wants competition why is that in any given area there is one Cable Service provider, never see any reference that monopoly per say, but yet everyone still refers to Bell and monopoly in the same sentence or thought process.

    And then you write that stock performance is flat because of customer service and that this drives take over talks. Performance is flat for many reasons in fact I would be suggest that all the Bell bashing, because they are the “King of Mountain” is a bigger reason why the stock flat. I would be willing to bet if the media focused on Bell’s strengths and successes and wrote about those stories that we would see dramatic increase in the stock price and perception of Bell.

    Let’s not forget all the different large and small competitors that entered the market when long distance was deregulated (Unitel, Call-Net, MCI, Sprint, AT&T, Allstream, Metronet etc.) where are they now, Bell is still standing and standing strong and Proud.

    Let’s not forget our recent competitors and all the positive things they did like negative billing, internet service and email that was down more than up, protection/privacy of customer data, secure networks etc. we didn’t read too much about those stories did we?

    We should remember that it was Bell during the Air France crash that ran to the aid of the stranded passengers with free cell phones so that they could call family and friends to let them know they were ok, this was no PR stunt, Bell wasn’t going to get any business from tourists, there was no big advertising campaign after this event, it was quiet, why Bell and Bell employees are proud to serve their Customers. Remember the ice storm and the impact to thousands of people both in Ontario and Quebec, Bell service continued and Bell made sure that service continued by powering local access points with portable generators to keep service alive, even though inconsiderate people keep on stealing the portable generators, did any write about that? And last because there are many many more stories that are positive in fact more than the negative, how about the millions of customers that never needed a service call since they were first installed, how many companies can boast about that type of service?

    In closing I would like say that Bell and Bell employees do not get up in the morning and come to work intent of making customers suffer, actual the opposite. I can assure that Bell employees come to work with the mindset of how they prevent a customer call and how if required they can help resolve a problem. I am a Bell employee, I am a shareholder and I am very Proud to state as such this is My Company and I can give you my personal guarantee as many of colleges can that they are focused on all aspects of Customer Service. Let’s not always bash Bell, sometimes technical problems do arise but it is not the intent of anyone to make sure customers feel the pain. If we keep this up eventually those few that may not like Bell will no longer have a truly Canadian icon to kick around. It will be a lot tougher to bash a foreign based owner that may not even reside in the country, see what kind of service you might get at that time.

    Despite the fact I am a Bell employee I write this letter based on my own personal views and opinions on what I have read in your papers over the last several months/years and how slanted they appear to be considering I never see any equal press for the negative things our competitors do to their customers, if so it seems to always be hidden.

    P.S. Might be worth someone investigating how much Bell service rates have gone up in the 125 year history vs. how much cable rates have gone up the 40 years they have been around?

    Thank you,

    Joe Pampena

  3. I like the fact that Mr. Crull has put out an email address above where you can send complaints to. That’s very nice but as a previous argument stated Bell is great at hiding behind email addresses. Will Mr Crull actually be taking your emails or will it be a bunch of secretaries processing the complaints? I don’t know the answer but I would love to be a fly on the wall in his office to see how it turns out.

    I have another question. Will Mr. Crull follow through on all complaints to see them get resolved and end it there or will he chase the issues all the way back to the actual cause? Will he have the guts to discover the problems and actually do something about them unlike so many Bell managers and presidents of the past? Will he dare breath to upper management that someone in their ranks may have made a bad decision even if that person is still an employee and this may result in them being a little embarrased? Or will he be yet another yes man around the big conference table agreeing that every idea put out by his superiors is the best thing since sliced bread?

    I for one miss the days when actual when Bell employees worked their way up through the company and they understood my concerns or my kudos. I miss the days at a semiar when I could discuss the limitations of the twisted copper pair with Bell Ontario President Dave Southwell. Now all I get are people with their Masters in Business staring at me like a deer caught in the headlights trying to sell me four hour MTTR DSL to feed all my routers at a competitive price. When I ask how they sell this sevice as it rides on a copper phone line with dial tone that is regulated by the CRTC to have a 24 hour repair time they just smile and say it’s not an issue. Where did the technically intelligent people in Bell go? All I see or talk to now are the used car salesen type as upper and middle management. I’m not saying that being business oriented is bad but somewhere up on the decision making echelons there should be someone with actual real life experience to throw in their two cents. With some of the decisions coming from BCE in the last few years this is something that seems to be lacking. CDMA vs. GSM anyone?

    The last thing I have to ask about is the decision to outsource many 611 calls to India. From a business side I can understand the temptation. Many companies have contracted out such divisions. My question is tat you first took the contract to another company, Minacs, who employed Canadian workers. Why now the shift the India? Please someone at Bell call someone at Dell. Let them explain how many customers they lost due to outsourcing to another continent. A customer in Cayuga or Emeryville does not want to call New Delhi to discuss stattic on their phone line. Trust me when I say the savings you have made short term will be nothing compared to what you will lose. This is especially true if the regular residential customers realize they have to call the other side of the world for help but someone who works for a company that spends enough money with Bell to be considered an “Enterprise” customer can call in directly to a Bell technician. Not even a bell service rep but a real technician. We all understand that when you spend a certain amount of money you will get certain bonuses but when I look at the $2500 a year I spend (sorry – that I used to spend) with you I wonder why I can’t atleast speak to someone in my own country? You show us commercials with beavers intending to show your Canadian roots? Maybe we could see a commercial of Frank and Gordon visiting the employees at your Indian call centre with an unscripted and unedited interview with the employees there. How proud are they to work for what used to be a great Canadian company? How much do they get paid for every trouble that gets resolved? Or do they get paid based on the number of calls they take, resolved or not? Does either of this equal out to atleast Candian minimum wage or is Bell going to start making money off the blood and sweat of another nations people, and they are people Mr. Crull, like the sweatshops have been doing for decades?

    Over the past few months I came to a decision. I decided to take my business to a Canadian company who respects the Canadian consumer and the Canadian employee. Goodbye Bell Canada. Now that is “keeping it simple”.

  4. First, as a former member of the Bell team, I understand how customers could feel frustrated by not getting things resolved. I regret to report that this seems to be done on purpose… Bell is getting rid of those staff who have a deep understanding of the ways things work there and replacing them with scripted, external agents who fill out webforms without caring or being trained to find out why things are happening. Nor is there any interest from management when motivated or attentive service, client care or order management reps notice recurring patterns that are causing incomplete orders (provisioning bugs, held orders, etc.), poor quality of service, billing faults, or even lost revenues, etc. There is value in the individual rep that can go beyond the webform and look deep into all aspects of the problem and the underlying business process… look at the original command line applications that provision services and use logic, rather than relying on inaccurate automated tools or scripted generic answers that don’t solve anything. It is depressing to refer the same client several times to the same escalation process only to have it fail to address the problem, or the actual source of the problem, time after time. Plus, the very short client care hours make it hard to get things fixed when you work 9-5, and are shorter than those of every other major competitor.

    Finally, I wish to correct Ellen’s assertion that no avenue of appeal exists at Bell if your problems are not resolved by regular customer care at 310-Bell. Clients of any Bell service can contact the executive office of customer relations toll-free at 1-866-317-3382, or write to them at executive.office@bell.ca. Other contact information can be found in the front of your Bell directory. Please remember to have the details of your problems, including any escalations you have done through the regular means. I also urge clients to be as kind as possible when speaking with representatives. While it saddens me to say this, some reps for personal or work-stress reasons respond very poorly to irate clients, and being abusive or rude doesn’t help anything. That said, I have heard of terrible things reps have said/done to clients and understand how upset they feel.

    Lastly, I would like to say that many client care agents do care about customers very much, and don’t want to see you have a raw deal. After all, you’re the client, right? We are simply prevented from doing so as our decision autonomy has been reduced considerably, and agents now answering calls may not even have any direct tie to Bell but work for some services company in Canada or overseas. There just isn’t the same pride then, nor the ability to listen to the stories of customers you meet and actually be able to provide them with advice on how to get your problem solved.

  5. I can understand a company like Dell outsourcing their call center to another country, after all they probably sell much of their product in other countries. But Bell is not a global competitor and receives most if not all of their revenue from Canada. So why on earth would they outsource Canadian jobs to another country. I think the backlash from this could be enormous.

    Every large company has their service issues and Bell is no exception, so therefore when things go wrong I am usually patient. If it happens over and over then I might act by trying another provider, but when it comes to selling out our own people when these people are the ones giving Bell their revenue then I draw the line. You can forget me as a custmer.

  6. Kevin at Bell responded within an hour that Saturday of your posting and I had a senior tech at my house at 8 am Monday. So they really did respond this time. You still have to ask, why did my simple problem take a year and a half to solve ?

    Part of the problem is Bell and Sympaticos outscourced call centres where people follow a script like robots. There seems to be no sysytem for follow up so everytime you call (like the 3 times the line disconnected) you get a diferent person and have to start over again. I hate to think how much it cost Bell to fix my situation when one tech visit would have done he job.

    I hope that Bell is learning from this. sd

  7. Elen said”
    “But I’m finding the number going up, not down, despite management’s claims of consistent progress.”

    This is correct. I Myself have had no less than 5 “trouble-tickets” open on ONE sole issue.

    Bell employee’s closed muliple trouble tickets off as fixed WITH OUT a fix and no-show-techs to boot.

    Bell “claims” on their corporate web site that issues are being resolved faster with less people being left behind.

    As someone who has had multiple trouble-tickets closed off as fixed with-out a fix (and no-show-techs), not once but twice in 2 years, I must be a statistical outlayer.

    Bells own forum shows other evidence of this same ploy:

    I am not alone, nor a statistical outlayer.

    From what I have been told by Bell employee’s “quality is measured by the employee time on the phone”. HOW is that a measure of quality with-out resolution?

    How does one measure quality in a 20-minute time-frame?

    This is a farce to end a call and a trouble-ticket to improve stats.

    As someone who actively partakes in their online help forum to help other users, i find this excact situation repeating intself time and time again.

    trouble tickets opened and closed at their sole discretion with-out a fix.

    I am calling their stats and the stats on their corporate web site a lie since i myself have been given numourous ticket numbers since they have all been closed off as fixed, while i was unable to connect to the net.

    I was even told by their suppoert to try and find a Bell van and offer them something to fix my line. Sorry but i don’t stalk bell employee’s. This was the dumbest reply i had to date.

    They are not improving, they are closing off trouble ticket numbers as they deem fit at their whim. I was once of the victems, not once but twice.

    How can they measure quality when “their measure of quality” itself puts their employee at risk of osing their job? 20-minutes or else!

    Bell has a lot to learn about quality.

    as a “valued customer”, i feel like i am just a cash-cow for their stock holders. There is NO consistent progress. Rather there are consistent lies.

    my 2-cents.

  8. I have more to say Mr. Crull.

    Mr. Kevin Crull, President of Bell Residential Services. When I cut through all the corporate BS you spewed, I see only more lies.

    -Can you show us how your “team is consistently posting improvements across all customer service metrics” keeping in mind that trouble tickets are closed off as fixed when not fixed and this serves to imporve your stats on the BCE web site?

    – How is dropping peoples contract to a 30-gig limit an improvement for the customer? I want to know.

    – How does increasing Ultra by 5$ to 55$ for “up to” 5-meg compare to to 10-meg videotron?

    – How is it that when i call and say my signal-to-noise ratio is 5 and dropping the rep on the other end says 5 is a great number?

    – How is it that when i call and say my percent relative occupancey is 97% and the rep on the other end says thats not a problem and clsoes off my trouble-ticket number? I want to know this Kevin.

    – you said “we resolve almost every customer issue quickly and effectively”.

    I call that a lie. though you may call me a statistical outlayer. Does your definition of effecientcey equate to closing off 5 trouble ticket numbers on one issue efficient (not once but twice)? You tell me.

    – Kevin said, “While you’ll find that almost any service problem you might have can be solved with a call to 310-BELL”.

    Oh really??? This problem resolution includes YOUR reps telling me “i am getting a run around and to track down a Bell van and offer to pay for a fix”. This is your definition of “my service problem you might have, can be solved with a call to 310-BELL”?? unh-hunh. tell me more Mr. Crull. I have been told much in my years with bell as a “valued customer”. More than you know, or can know since Bell record calls to prove I am being truthfull.

    Mr. Crull, As an active participant in your support forum (and one who is not satisfied with seeing the same old repeated problems with support providing NO support), I sure will mention that people contact you at kevin.crull@bell.ca (in addition to the exec office, since i have no faith in you). You can count on it. I was once in these peoples shoe’s and i feel the anger and frustration they have when they beg for help in your own forum.

    I myself have another beef, and I will address it soley to you on why Billing told me that as a Quebec user, i will not have an unlimited contract again “in order to provide compensation to the ontario maintenance and ontario competition” going on. While i do know for a fact people in QC have renewed with an unlimited contracts. Is this a form of discrimination at your discretion and direction? Expect the Email.

    You may find the phone support people “impressive”, but I and many others don’t. the service has degraded to the point of “why bother, just switch telco for all”.

    Mr. Crull, while my husband was having a heart attack while we were having bell problems and the hospital kept hanging up on us saying they couldn’t hear him, he called Bell to mention this, we have wire-care (i suggest you review the “quality recordings” you do have) and 611 telling him to play with the wires in the demarcation box to try and make it work while he was on his knee’s half dead.

    Tell me Mr. Crull, was this a normal reply by 611 for people who pay for wire-care? I WANT TO KNOW. The after he says he is having heart problems, they tell him a tech is being sent right over…. tech never showed (again).

    Mr Crull, How can you repair such terrible service and such an experiance?

    How can you restore my faith Mr. Crull?

    My husband is considering suing still for what happened and having no service and having insurance for this to boot then being told to fix it himself while he is saying he is having a heart attack and was on his knee’s (review your “quality recordings at 611”)

    Mr Crull, HOW is bell going to improve? Tell me. I want to know.



    Mr. Crull I call upon your resignation.

    You to me are bad management, and from the bottom up comes from the top, which is you.

    I call upo you to do the right thing and get out of the position you are in because you are not a leader.

    Or maybe you need a heart attack and 611 telling you to play with your own wires.

    I still have more to say…. grrrrr

  9. Kevin
    In the last few months I noticed my phone bill increased by about $10 and saw that I was being charged for a First Rate TM My Province long distance plan and a Network Charge of $4.50. I was never notified by your company that I would be automatically charged for this when I NEVER use Bell or NEVER will use Bell for my long distance as you are too expensive. If you look at my phone bills over the years I never used your company for long distance so why would I want to all of a sudden now?
    I usually check all my bills and because I had a newborn baby who was also sick I did not have time to do it, otherwise I would have noticed sooner and got these ridiculous charges taken off.
    When I called your customer service, the girl told me it would come off in the following month as I need to give 30days notice to cancel a long distance plan that I didn’t want or know about. She told me I would be getting a credit for $45 which I have yet to see.
    I just want you to know that in the future if you want to charge your customers for a new plan then call or write them an offer, if they want it they will tell you, not you automatically charging them for it and then hoping they won’t notice.


  10. Good afternoon, I was a Bell subcriber for telephone for 30 years and a Sympatico subscriber for over 10 years. As of Oct 31, I switched to Videotron. Lately I have been receiving calls about switching back for my phone and internet. I have 2 problems/concerns:

    1/ I receive calls from 800-866-2355. Is this a legitimate Bell number? Why, when your reps call, do they not leave a message – after all, you sell this call answer service? When he gave his spiel, he asked for my driver’s license or health card- I refused. In this age of identity theft, why would I give this info over the phone to a person I can’t call back?

    2/ When I asked for an email confirming our understanding, it was refused. I am concerned that this is a hoax.

    Please have somebody contact me by email or Phone 514-697-3628.
    Thank you and good luck.

  11. The only reason I don’t have more products like Internet with Bell is that I don’t trust them to get it right. It’s all about CSR handling time and outsourcing overseas.

  12. Kevin is truly a man of his word. I had emailed him regarding an issue and he got back to me within a couple of hours. At 9:30 on a Sunday morning no less. He’s certainly won my respect.

    It’s unfortunate that Bell’s customer service problems have escalated to the point that a company President has to don a firefighter’s helmet in an effort to put out the fires. If only more people in the company had the same sense of dedication, Bell wouldn’t be dealing with these sorts of issues. Alas, I have a feeling that having Kevin’s eye on the ball is going to make a difference.

  13. Dear Ellen,

    Below is a copy of a letter I submitted by post and by email to the customer service department of Canadian Tire. Canadian Tire has not bothered to respond; which is disappointing, as I once believed this store to be one Canadians could be proud of.

    Any input on how I should deal with this matter would be greatly appreciated.

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I have been a long term customer of the Canadian Tire chain of stores for over 25 years; however, I am saddened to state that my latest experience with your company may be my last!

    On Friday the 13th of July 2007, I called your service department at 3500 – 3 ROAD in Richmond BC, in regards to a faulty power window that I wished to have diagnosed on my 1999 Chevy Venture Van. The service Manager assured me that this was a procedure that their highly trained mechanics could handle. I also requested at that time for an intermittent ABS warning light to be checked and for the three rear sparkplugs to be replaced with sparkplugs that I would provide.

    I received a call from the service department around 2 pm explaining that the power window issue was the result of a faulty master control switch and that it would need replacing. I told the service manager that I would replace the control switch myself, as I am a research & development engineer by profession and very familiar with electronic switches. I made sure with him that the problem was with the master control switch and he said he was positive.

    I arrived at the store at 5:30 pm to pay my bill and pick up the vehicle. I questioned the bill at that time, as it was $274.06, which seemed a little high! The service manager explained that the 3 sparkplugs took over an hour to install incurring a cost of $106.80 in labour. I had previously installed the front three plugs myself in less than 10 minutes.

    Upon starting the vehicle I instantly observed an engine warning light that was not on before the work was carried out. I went back into the store to inquire, but the service manager had left for the day and I was asked to return the following Saturday morning.

    Meanwhile, I proceeded to install the master control switch, which I had purchased directly from GM for $172.05, “a procedure as simple as changing a light bulb” only to find that the window still did not work.

    As you can imagine, I was not happy with the diagnostic capabilities of Canadian Tire or the fact that they had installed 3 small spark plugs for $106.80 – not to mention that I now had an engine warning light staring me in the face.

    I returned to the store on Saturday at 8:00 am and asked for a refund for the inaccurate window diagnostic and for the engine warning light to be investigated.

    I was surprised by the lack of courtesy I was shown by your service department and at how unprofessionally they were handling my complaint. I was told that they were not responsible for the engine warning light as it may be related to something that happened as I started the vehicle in the Canadian Tire parking lot! And that the wower window issue was the result of a faulty master control switch but since I installed the new one, I must have somehow caused some other problem.

    I tried to return the GM replacement part but GM will not refund any electrical components once they have been previously installed. I asked GM to check my original master control switch for any defects; it was tested and found to be in good working order.

    I am now out of pocket for a grand total of $446.11 and all I have to show is a window that still does not work! 3 sparkplugs installed! One engine warning light!

    I can assure you that unless I am reimbursed for what has turned out to be the worst ever experience of incompetence and poor workmanship, along with the worst customer service that I have ever had the misfortune to experience, I shall tell everyone I know and email everyone I don’t know, a copy of this letter along with a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. I feel that I have been lied to and stolen from all at the same time!

    I do hope that this is just an isolated incident and that your customer service department provides a far better standard of customer service than your No 3 road Richmond store did to me!

  14. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow. I am one of those people who goes to work everyday at 310-BELL and am proud of the fact that every customer, former customer, or potential customer is treated like they are the most important person in the world at that moment. I make sure that they know that I (and Bell) really do appreciate the fact that they are our customer and that I am genuinely interested in resolving any issue they have while I have them on the phone. I refuse to put people on hold unless I have to call through to OCC or DMS or anywhere necessary to speed up the resolution of their issues. I enjoy going into work everyday and hope to be able to do so for many more years. The customers I speak with on a daily basis are generally satisfied with their Bell services too… and then…

    What I have noticed in recent months is a dramatic increase in the number of frustrated customers. Customers who have had to call into Bell numerous times in a row before being able to reach someone who was able to understand their issue or request. The number one complaint that I used to get was Bell’s use of Emily to sort their calls. Now, 9 out of 10 of the complaints revolve around rude treatment by a previous rep (most often from repair or billing), inability to communicate with the representative (language barriers) and having to be transferred numerous times to get through to the right person.

    This is the year of the customer, yet I have spoken with more frustrated customers this year than any in the past.
    I am thrilled that Mr. Krull has taken ownership, but he isn’t the only one. More often than not, I believe that Bell Canada employees take ownership of every call. Those of us who have been there long enough know when to trust the system and when we must cheat the system to speed up a resolution. When we tell you someone will call you back, we believe it. The process for call backs is much more efficient than only a year ago, yet is now becoming overused for requests from vendor partners that are unable to provide first call resolution, either because of a lack of access to tools, a lack of knowledge (which I find hard to believe considering the resources available), a lack of skills (possible), or perhaps just laziness.

    There are soooo many ways to improve customer service. Not always is spending 85 cents an hour for a repair/credit services/assignment/billing representative going to save the company money in the long run. How many customers are we losing because they can’t get resolution? How much of this is because they are not able to get their point accross to our customer service reps in India? I’m not trying to bash the overseas vendors, but there is a reason people’s number one reaction when they reach me is “Holy mackerel, you speak English? Are you really in Canada?”

    I am now and have always been a True Blue Bell guy and will be forever because I know the people that work here really do care for the customer. Every company in the world has customers who are mistreated or have service issues… the ones that can resolve them on the first call are the ones that are recommended to their family and friends, and their family and friends, and their family and friends… get it? Make sure the vendors are capable of understanding and resolving the customer’s concerns, or go elsewhere (like our customers will do with us).

    Or better yet… stay in Canada. You get what you pay for.

    In July of this year(07)I was in Corpus Christi, Texas. I was billed $1,000 for calls made on a Bell Card that should not have exceeded $400. I have Bell’s “First rate TM 24hour” option that allows me to phone in Canada for 10 cents a minute and to phone to the United States for 20 cents per minute. Using the card with its code I can call long distance from any phone for 30 cents per minute. At a pay phone I can use the card to call locally for 75 cents per call if I have no coins.

    My problem developed when I used the card in United States. I maintain that Bell has not adequately warned customers of the dangers of using their card in the United States. Some calls I made in the United States with my card were charged at $5 and up per minute. Other calls I made in the US were billed at the regular 30 cents per minute rate. It appears that Bell cannot guarantee consistent billing of Bell card calls in the US.
    I relayed my bill problems in September to Kevin Crull, Bell’s new Residential President and to Ellen Roseman of “On Your Side” column in the Toronto Star. Kevin Crull had a women call and tell me I was responsible to pay it all (for their problems?). She also tried to get me to assume the US billings directly to keep my Bell account current. I have paid subsequent Bell monthly bills. I have paid the $1000 overage charge down to $437. Bell has rewarded me by cutting my long distance service. I cannot go to another provider because I understand Bell will not transfer my number until paid. I will now have to go to small claims court to get this settled.

  16. I have a terrible story to share with you. I have been a loyal BC Tel/Telus customer for over 10 years, with not a single late bill. I have also been a loyal Shaw Cable Internet Subscriber for almost as long.

    When Telus began to offer their DSL Internet service at a lower price in 1996, I was offered a trial of their service to see if it was as reliable for a slightly lower price. I was given a DSL modem and tried for several days to get a signal, trying all the tricks from technical support, but I was never actually connected to their network before sending back the entire hardware package. I made sure to ask as I sent back the box back to Calgary: “So, I send this back and I won’t be charged for this, right?” They explained that there would be a charge on my next bill for the cost of the modem, with a full refund next to it, but no future charges were pending, and I took them at their word.

    I have since moved twice. Each time I called to switch my service to a new address, I was asked, “Are you happy with your services as they are?” I would reply yes in all cases. Even when I received a periodic call about my happiness with my services, I would always say yes, refusing to add any additional cost to my family of five’s tight budget.

    Fast forward to January 25, 2008. My wife, who has the responsibility of managing our finances, was wondering why our bill is so expensive every month. She scrutinized the $30 of “other services” on page 1 of our bill and asked me, “do we get Internet service from Telus or Shaw?” I said “Shaw, of course. We don’t even have the equipment to get DSL cable. Are we being charged for it?”

    Yes, we are, it turns out. Since June of 1996, in fact. My wife, feeling foolish for not noticing, called customer service to rectify the situation. The first customer service representative explained that they would charge us an additional $120 to cancel the rest of our “contract” and no refund of any kind would be issued, since it was noted on our account that we always reported satisfaction with our service. My wife called 3 more times to make sense of this and despite talking to some CSRs with a less smug attitude, found they were not willing to help in any way. This is likely due to a note left on the account by the first CSR. They all sounded more apologetic at the beginning of the call and would soon change their tune. Not one of them would escalate the call to a floor manager.

    I used to work at a call centre for Sprint USA mobile customers, and of all companies, this one has the worst customer service satisfaction. But I took my job very seriously and honestly tried to help everyone, never assuming fraud and understanding my powers completely. I knew when it was time to escalate a call to a floor manager, or when there was an error on the company’s part and the customer was owed a large sum of money.

    Based on my wife’s experience, it sounds like things are worse. This situation could almost be called “slamming” my account, where someone charged the account with a service that was not agreed to. I’m about to make my own call now. Wish me luck. If I can’t get satisfaction, maybe you’ll hear about this in the news.

  17. I just cancelled my account with Sympatico due to unresolved speed issues.

    I have been a very satisfied customer over the last 10 years, with the exception of the last few years since Bell outsourced to India. I am appalled at how easily they take away the trust of Bell customers.

    Have you been offered an upgrade when you can’t even get connected to the internet? What if you refused and found out when you got your bill that the agent upgraded you anyway? What’s up with that, Mr. Crull?

    I found all access music, personal vault, gamesmania and pc care had all been added to my bill without my permission. I don’t even know what these items are or what they do. Do these people get paid for fraudulent sales? Should they be selling anything when a customer cannot connect to the internet? I think not.

    As a CSR, I take many calls about this and the customers are demanding an answer. Why are the India techs allowed to commit fraud on a customer’s account? Isn’t that against the law? It certainly goes against everything I bellieve in. I give my customers 100%, even though I get treated like crap on every call.

    Have you taken any calls, Mr Crull? Maybe you should come to the Call Centres and listen to some of the calls we have to take. I take great pride in offering a product that meets the needs of the customer and fully educating the customer on the product and the billing. I am getting really tired of the fraudulent activity that is happening on customers’ accounts.

    India is even calling customers after 11 p.m. One lady cancelled because of this. Another received a call at 3 a.m and man, was he ever irate when I got his call. I am tired of being bashed due to this type of activity from India.

    I don’t have all the answers to the questions the customers have about WHY this was added to their account. Can you help with this? Can you get the coaches out there to teach these reps that an honest sale is better than a fraudulent sale? An honest sale is a product that has been sold with 100% education on the product.

    Please help out us honest reps by catching up with all the dishonest reps. These extra products are not free with any service. There is always a time when one has to pay and customers are being misinformed about these products. Thanks for listening and hopefully we will see less fraudulent activities in the future.

  18. Hi again. This is new posting in addition to my Nov. 22, 2007 posting. I am still trying to get resolution for the long distance problem mentioned previously.

    Now I have a new and fearful problem. My wife’s pension fund (Ontario Teachers Pension Plan) is in the process of buying the whole damn company, borrowing heavily to pay for its big takeover. Help! Please warn any teachers you know about this to see if it can be stopped.

  19. Bell Canada Employees being dishonest to customers.

    Attention: Kevin Crull, Bell Canada (He doesn’t have a posted e-mail address – big surprise).


    My wife and I have had great difficulty dealing with Bell Canada front line employees. They seem to believe it is their right to not answer the questions asked of them about our issue.

    I signed up for Bell ExpressVu a little over one year ago. When I spoke with the agent by phone, I selected my programming. I stated then that I did not want the NFL ticket, as I was only interested in the regional games (Detroit Lions). The salesperson said I would get the Detroit Lion NFL games and I did not need the NFL ticket.

    After two to three weeks into the NFL season, I realized I wasn’t getting the games. The Bell agent apologized that wrong information was given to me and said she would credit my account the cost of the NFL ticket and I would get Detroit Lions games.

    I was surprised this year when I was charged for the NFL ticket. I called Bell to try to rectify this situation, even telling the Bell employees to cancel this programming. I tried to have this issue dealt with on Sept. 30 by telephone. The agent said she would reverse the $47.25 charge (cancel the NFL ticket – I was fine with this).

    When I asked how much to reduce my monthly payment to reflect this $47.25, I was hung up on. I called back and spoke with Dennis (he tried really hard to help and figured out that my $47.25 charge with tax would be a reduction of $53.86), but I still wanted to talk to a supervisor about the fact that I was rudely hung up on.

    Dennis passed me to his supervisor Holly, who was very argumentative and not helpful. She informed me that, contrary to what the previous two operators had stated, I would have to pay for the full NFL ticket (I have never asked or agreed to this programming).

    I explained to Holly that when I started with Bell ExpressVu there was an error in the programming. Holly stated that they auto-renew this NFL ticket charge every year. (I never agreed to this charge in the first place, nor was I ever given this information.

    All help would be appreciated in dealing with this issue. I do not understand how, when I first signed up with Bell ExpressVu, that your mistake is going to cost me the price of the NFL ticket year after year. Please contact this writer at your earliest convenience.

  20. Attention, Kevin W. Crull, Bell’s president of residential services:

    I have been using Bell’s phone service for 50 years and Sympatico for the past 2-3 years and l thought you might be interested in knowing what l have had to endure over the past week. Quite frankly, it boggles the mind!

    From what l’ve heard from neighbours, and negative comments online, you must know what is going on, and won’t or cannot do anything about it.

    Nov. 7th: I telephoned Tech support about slow speeds of 1.48 to 2.4 Mbps on my existing high speed internet service. The woman in India appeared knowledgeable and ensured me that the problem would be resolved Nov. 12th. A new contract was not discussed.

    Nov. 8th: I received a follow-up email from the woman l spoke with in India outlining details of the offer-contract she said l had selected and agreed to the previous day. Cost of the high speed service was $49.95 a month, with a cancellation fee of $100. Prior to my initial call, l was paying $47.95 per month.

    Nov. 9th: I replied to her email, stating in no uncertain terms that l did not agree to a new contract. l was simply trying to find a resolution to the consistently slow slow speeds l’ve experienced for the past 6 months.

    Nov. 9th: Another email! This time it was from Rajesh in India stating that l had confirmed the Performance Plan at a cost of $49.95, with a cancellation fee of $200.

    Nov. 10th: My response, once again, was to advise Rajesh that l did not agree to changes in my existing contract.

    Nov. 10th: Spoke with a lady at Sympatico’s Canadian office and when l explained to her what was going on, she agreed to remove the unwanted *new* contract from my file. She was very helpful and l thought at the time, it’s finally over!………. It wasn’t!

    Nov. 11th: I received a call from Bell, asking when it would be convenient for a technician to come to my house about my new contract. By the time l got off the phone, l was almost frothing at the mouth!

    Nov. 11th: Called the Canadian business office once again and was assured by the pleasant woman l spoke with that the problem would be taken care of.

    Nov 12th: Received an email from Krishnan in India, apologizing for the delay and informing me that my account has been registered with your DSL High speed product in no contract terms for a price plan of $52.95 per month.

    After 8 contacts with Bell/Sympatico, this is what l came away with:

    A price of $49.95 and cancellation fee of $100 from the voice contact in India.

    A price of $49.95 and cancellation fee of $200 from Rajesh in India.

    A price of $52.95 and no cancellation fee from Krishnan in India.

    As mentioned, before my initial phone call l was paying $47.95 per month.

    It’s clear to me, Mr. Crull, that there is a serious communication problem between the various departments within your organization. Also, I’m concerned about the slow speeds that l and many other high speed customers are paying for and not receiving.

    If the CRTC rules in favour of the other ISPs on the throttling issue, Sympatico’s customer base
    may well be in trouble.

    Your soon to be ex-customer.


  21. I apologize for the length of this letter, but it is the actions of your company that has caused this ordeal to be so exhaustive. I am writing this letter to seek justice for the mental anguish which your company has brought upon my life. Your company currently owes me money and I want it back.

    In September of 2006, I moved and had my services transferred. At that time I asked one of your representatives if I needed to change any information, as I pay all my bills through the Royal Bank, telephone banking. I was told that all information will be transferred and that I would be keeping the same account number.

    With each passing month, I received a bill from your company and made payments through telephone banking. Around June 2007, I noticed how it seemed like I was always paying your company, yet my bills did not seem to accurately reflect my payments. It wasn’t until July of that year when I made payments of over $300 without it appearing on my account that I began to notice a serious error by your company.

    Through MY OWN investigations, without any help from your company, I tracked all my payments and realized I had overpaid by $750 in 2007 alone. Your representatives were rude and actually accused me of not paying my bill when in fact I had overpaid by a great amount. They would not listen to my explanations and the sheer lack of proper English speaking employees caused me to be exhausted and mentally fragile during and following each confrontation, often coming to tears.

    With help form the Royal Bank’s investigations, I finally got your company to admit they erred in processing my payments and in fact owed me money! By now, we are in August 2007 and the $750 had been applied to my account, leaving me with a refund of approximately $281.

    After arranging for a move in my services once again, as I was moving to a new apartment, I was asked by one of your representatives if I preferred my refund to be applied to my new phone number OR if I would prefer a refund cheque. I agreed to the refund cheque and said absolutely not to apply any of this refund to my new phone number.

    I was further told that my cheque would be mailed out on the next billing date and sent to my office and that I should receive it around the first week of September. Ironically thiws conversation was with a very nice woman who spoke clear English. I shouldn’t have been shocked when by Sept. 10 I still had not received my refund cheque.

    I called your company to inquire about my refund cheque and now ironically had to deal with a very barely spoken English person that they had transferred part of my refund to my current bill and that I was now only going to receive approximately $140. I was also told that a refund cheque would not arrive for another 2 weeks!!

    I cannot explain how this new information has stressed me completely. It is unacceptable for your company to illegally take MY MONEY and use it to pay a bill I have not even received in the mail yet and have no proof of what my bill amounts to! I think your company will hold MY MONEY until my next bill and withdraw from there to pay it just like you have done now. THIS IS UNNACCEPTABLE!

    Do Bell employees have personal accounts that they put payments into? Where does this money go? How dare YOU determine what to do with my money after you have already agreed to send me a cheque?

  22. Office of President
    Bell Mobility

    Subject: Extreme Frustration with New Bell Phone & Request for replacement with another brand – Bell Mobility Phone

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am writing this letter as my last option after my endless number of visits to your Bell store located in Shopper’s World Brampton and my discussion with your customer service for endless number of times.

    I have been a loyal customer of Bell Canada since over 10 years, when I moved first to Canada. I have my cell phone, my wife’s cell phone, my home phone and my home Internet with Bell.

    I completed my 3 years contract with Bell Mobility on Dec, 31st 2009, with two phones on the account. I did not have any trouble with any of the phones in the last contract and I was happy to renew with Bell for another 3 years contract.

    I also updated to a data plan on both phones. I bought a Nokia N-97 from you on Dec. 31st for myself and I-Phone 3GS for my wife.

    With a lot of disappointment, I have to say that since the first day I bought my Nokia N-97, I have had only problems with this phone. Here are details of my ordeal:

    Problem 1: From the very first day, Nokia N-97 would not charge properly and I would need to recharge it after every 2 hours (I am not a very heavy user). My wife was very happy with her I-Phone and therefore I called your customer service (within first 7 days) to see if I can get I-phone instead. Rep told me I cannot as I have exceeded 30 minutes cap, but I can go to the store and get a new N-97. I took this to your store right away and after numerous visits they agreed to change it and give me replacement phone on Jan. 26th, 2010, just a few days before my 30-day exchange privilege expires.

    Problem 2: New phone I got did not have memory and I was not able to save my contacts, pictures, etc. This problem was very visible; therefore when I visited your store again on Jan. 27th, they agreed to replace it. However, they did not have Nokia N-97 in stock.

    I visited many Bell stores in Brampton and Mississauga to find stock, as your store told me that if by any chance 30 days expires and I could not find a store with stock, they would not be able to provide me with a replacement. Even though I found stock in some of your Bell stores, they told me that they couldn’t exchange this for me as I bought my phone from a franchisee and they are corporate stores.

    I was very surprised to hear this difference as I bought my phone through your customer service and they sent me to Shopper’s World store for pick up. I did not know the difference between corporate store and Franchisee store till that date, even though I am with Bell Mobility for many years, as for me all stores were the same.

    I tried to call Bell customer service many time to get help, but they say only store can resolve this issue. I was so upset with their response that I told them the real test of your customer service is when a problem arises, and since you are unable to resolve the problem, maybe I should not call you in the future. But I was left on my own both by customer service and my store to find a store that can replace my phone.

    After four days of my hard work visiting many Bell stores, this phone was finally replaced on Jan. 30th by a store that is owned by the same Franchisee.

    Problem 3: New phone worked fine until last month, when it suddenly went dead. I visited Bell store again and your rep sent it to repairs again and did not provide me with loaner phone. When I kept on asking for a few days, he replied that I understand you have to go through a lot of hassle, but to give you a loaner phone I will have to charge you $25 and I do not want to charge you due to all the ordeal you have gone through since day one.

    I asked him to try to get it waived and rep advised me that he wanted to waive the charge, but his manager overruled him. I was without any phone for a week. Then I found my old Bell phone in my basement (which still works) and I started using that Phone.

    Problem 4: Two weeks later, I received a call from Bell to pick up the phone as it came back repaired. I went to the store only to find out that they received only the phone, but they did not get the battery back. They told me that I would have to wait another 2 weeks for the battery to come back.

    Problem 5: Two weeks later, I visited the store to find out phone and battery were repaired and back. I took the phone home, but in the evening it was dead again. I visited the store next day to advise them of the same.

    Problem 6: Store rep was frustrated now as well and provided me a battery from stock. I took that home and the battery was dead again. I tried to recharge it and this time battery would charge for some time and phone would turn on for a while and then go dead again.

    I kept on testing the phone for a week, as I was tired going back and forth to the store. However, phone would not charge for more than an hour and this is when I am not using mobile Internet/data /text (even though I am making my full monthly payment for all the services).

    Problem 7: After one week of trial when phone still did not work properly, I went back to the store and they sent it to repairs again. I am back to my old Samsung phone with no data facilities, even though I am making full payment.

    I am completely fed up with this phone and the problem is still going on. I have spent endless number of hours and visits to your store to have it resolved. I have kept my patience throughout, but now I feel I am just paying for the service month after month without much use of the phone.

    Since I became customer, I have brought many of my new immigrant friends to Bell. However, I am very much disappointed, surprised and unhappy with the whole experience since the purchase this time.

    I would request you to kindly replace my phone, as it appears they have already tried all the possible fixing. Hopefully after replacement, phone could eventually be used and my visits and calls to your customer service will stop.

    I look forward to your help as I already stopped calling customer service when they were not able to help me at step 2, and the store was unable to help me after over 25 visits. I already tried 3 Nokia N-97 with same results; I am completely disappointed with this phone and would appreciate the replacement of my phone with a phone of another make and model.

    I am sure you can resolve this issue for me promptly and won’t let a long-term customer take all his business away from Bell.

  23. This summer, I bought three spa lights. One of them worked, the other two did not. They were both in their original packaging.

    I bought them at the Leduc, Alberta location. I took them back to the Wetaskiwin, Alberta location. There, after telling me they were “foreign” items, they would not return them.

    I explained that they were defective and that Canadian Tire policy was that they would take them back. She checked, and yes, they did have a five year warranty on them, and yes, that was CTC policy, but she would not take them back.

    After 15 minutes of looking through various binders, she told me she had to call her manager (Tiffany). After being paged multiple times, Tiffany, after 15 minutes, finally showed up.

    Again, she said they would not return them because they were “foreign” items, and again I told her that Canadian Tire policy was to take them back. This complete lack of customer service, and out and out disregard for CTC policy, is appalling

    I have now been waiting 20 minutes. Tiffany then spent another five minutes looking through the same binders. She told me that she had to call the Leduc location. This is now 25 minutes later.

    She told me that it would be another 20 minutes while she called the Leduc location.
    I am shocked.

    I do realize that the Wetaskiwin location is poorly organized and under-staffed but this is dreadful. They never have flyer items out, and always have to get them out of the back, while you wait and wait. It does get very frustrating.

    In the past month, I have spent well over $1,000 at this Canadian Tire. I will be returning everything that I have bought. Co-op and Home Hardware sell the same products.

    What can be done to remedy this lack of customer service, and out and out disregard for CTC policy, by its own staff?

    I have been a loyal customer for over 30 years. It is a shame that one person, who refused to follow CTC policy, has ruined this. I am so sad that Tiffany has upset me so much that I no longer want to deal with Canadian Tire.

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