On Co-operators, Aeroplan and Bell Internet

March 2 2009 by Ellen Roseman

What do these three companies have in common? They’re saying and doing things that make people angry. As a result, many complaints are coming my way.

Co-operators is introducing credit scores as a rating factor for its property insurance customers. This is controversial and cannot be used for car insurance in most provinces (except Quebec). Here’s a link to an online explanation from a Co-operators affiliate.

What makes customers nervous is this Q&A, suggesting their insurance premiums will rise if they don’t agree to a credit check:

What happens if I don’t want your organization to use or access my credit score?

If you do not allow us to access your credit score, we will respect your wishes. However, we will not be able to provide an accurate or competitive premium that reflects the risk we are insuring. As a result, you will not receive the best possible premium available. COSECO will not refuse to provide a quote or coverage if you withhold permission to check your credit score.

Then, there’s Aeroplan, which was the subject of a front-page Report on Business story last Saturday. Rupert Duschene, chief executive, said he was surprised that customers were not using their points, but using cash or credit cards, to pay for flights:

It’s counterintuitive. There hasn’t been a rush to redeem. There are airline seat sales on and people are hoarding the miles.

Some readers rushed to tell me why they thought Aeroplan members weren’t parting with their reward points.

Finally, there’s Bell and its 100 per cent increase for monthly modem rental fees. Some people were sending me their feedback the day they received their notification letters. Bell charges a rental fee even if you buy your own modem, I was told.

This recession is making people more vocal and quick to complain when it comes to consumer and financial issues. I guess that’s one bright spot.

Also below is a familiar complaint about Sears telling people they should have bought an extended warranty if their appliance breaks down in a couple of years — and a less familiar complaint about Nike shoe warranties.

31 comments

  1. Brian Francis

    Mar 2 2009

    Hi Ellen – This letter (below)to CU from the Superintendent of Insurance for Alberta states: “Recently, instances have come to my attention where insurance companies have refused to provide a premium quote for property insurance unless the person requesting the quote agrees to allow the insurance company access to the person’s credit report or score. In my opinion, a person’s credit report or score has nothing to do with a quotation of a premium or insurance coverage. I consider this type of pre-condition to fall within s. 509(1)(c) of Alberta’s Insurance Act. This subsection says no insurance company or insurance agent may engage in an unfair, coercive or deceptive act or practice.
    ………………………………………..

    Canadian Underwriter, January 2009
    Letter to the Editor
    Credit Scoring Requires Consent

    Without specific authorization outside of the insurance application process, automobile insurers in Alberta are not authorized to collect or use an applicant’s credit report regardless of whether the application is for compulsory or optional automobile insurance coverages.

    By Dennis Gartner, Superintendent Of Insurance, Alberta Finance

    In the October 2008 edition of Canadian Underwriter, Craig Harris wrote an article entitled “Risk it all on Credit” that included references to what is permissible in Alberta with respect to the use of an insurance applicant’s credit score.

    The purpose of this letter is to correct information within the article with respect to an insurance company’s collection and use of a person’s credit score when purchasing insurance in Alberta.

    The collection and use of personal information is governed by provincial and federal privacy legislation. My understanding is that this privacy legislation requires consent for any person to collect and use another person’s credit report or score.

    Currently, Alberta does not have a specific insurance regulation regarding the use of a person’s credit score in the purchase of insurance. However, with respect to automobile insurance, the “consent” on the approved automobile insurance application form was amended in 2006. The following sentence is now included in the “consent” provision. “If I apply for a premium payment plan, I authorize you to obtain and use my credit report.”

    As a result, without specific authorization outside of the insurance application process, automobile insurers are not authorized to collect or use an applicant’s credit report regardless of whether the application is for compulsory or optional automobile insurance coverages.

    Recently, instances have come to my attention where insurance companies have refused to provide a premium quote for property insurance unless the person requesting the quote agrees to allow the insurance company access to the person’s credit report or score. In my opinion, a person’s credit report or score has nothing to do with a quotation of a premium or insurance coverage. I consider this type of pre-condition to fall within s. 509(1)(c) of Alberta’s Insurance Act. This subsection says no insurance company or insurance agent may engage in an unfair, coercive or deceptive act or practice.

    In the near future, I will be issuing a bulletin to all insurance companies licensed in Alberta advising them of our position regarding insurance companies insisting on a person’s authorization to obtain that person’s credit report or score prior to quoting on insurance coverage.

  2. Pierre Legault

    Mar 4 2009

    I also have my sad story about the Bell modem rental.

    I had my old modem for more than five years and got away without any rental fee… But I made a move, wanting to lower my bills, and decided to change my speed bandwidth for a cheaper one. I would guess that they saw that I had a free ride, not being charged for the rental, or that it was included in the old pakage I had !?!?

    The end of the story is that I got billed $35 for punishment for lowering my speed, I got the $2 rental with a note that It will be raised to $3.95 (and this is still the same modem I had for 5 years, not a new one) and to top it off, they billed me another $79.95 for a Wireless Modem that I never received. (This one took me over 4 months of calls and arguments explaining my sad story with almost all of the people that work for Bell to finally get it out of my billing.)

    So if that is the NEW Bell…. I really could have stuck with the OLD BELL (you know, the one that was honest and uncomplicated).

  3. FM

    Mar 6 2009

    TO BM…you said:

    I have been a Bell Sympatico customer for years. In November, without notifying me, Bell raised my monthly charge from $50.51 to $55.76.

    Same here…I phoned and asked what was going on. If you go back three months, there was a notice on the top of your bill that said they were doing this.

    What I found out, is that package is REALLY not needed. There are MUCH cheaper packages available, but they will continue to gouge, if you don’t complain.

    Check your usage, and maximum bandwidth. I found out the maximum I was paying for wasn’t even available in my area!!

    I went to a package @ $37.95, and didn’t notice a single difference.

    On the modem increase issue, I think I will phone and demand a new modem. If the rental is doubling, then I think I should get a new modem.

    I am amazed what mentioning the word “Rogers” has gotten me when I phone!!

  4. FM

    Mar 6 2009

    To Pierre…you said:

    This one took me over 4 months of calls and arguments explaining my sad story with almost all of the people that work for Bell to finally get it out of my billing.

    I have had the same issue with Bell on several occasions. After three bills, and the issue hasn’t been resolved, I have asked Ellen for a contact in Bell. Thanks to Ellen, the respons is almost immediate, and the problems are corrected. Thanks Ellen!

    One more point. I found this information with my last problem with getting credits…maybe everybody knows this already. It applies if you have the One-Bill account.

    When Bell processes a credit, it is credited to your Bell/Sympatico/Expressvu account. If the credit is after the 15th of the month, the credit sits there, and isn’t transferred to your One-Bill until the 15th of the NEXT month.

    In my case, my One-Bill is the 12th of the month, so already you will be 2 billing cycles away from seeing your credit. Now add the fact that you are billed IN ADVANCE for such services as ExpressVu, and you won’t see your credit for another 30 days. My December bill was wrong, and I wont see my credit until I get my March 12 bill!!

    When asking for a credit, ask the representative to post the credit to your One-Bill account DIRECTLY. Not all reps will be able to do this, so you may have to ask for the supervisor to do this. Only way to get changes to the One-Bill in a timely manner.

  5. Bylo

    Mar 6 2009

    I don’t understand why people are so happy to get Bell to lower their Internet charges down to $38/month when there are several DSL ISPs in Ontario that charge even less.

    For instance, TekSavvy charges $30/month and Acanac charges $20/month on a 1-year contract. Granted you have to provide your own modem but you can buy one for ~$50.

    So at $4/month, what Bell charges for modem rental, you’re saving a further $4/month after one year. What’s more, all of these DSL wholesalers use the very same lines that Bell uses, so your line speed and reliability is no different than with Bell.

  6. jkm

    Mar 6 2009

    It is easy to handle BELL problems. Go to another provider who does not assume the customer is always wrong.

    I moved to PRIMUS and the rate is cheaper and I also received a whack of Aeroplan points and continue to get Aeroplan points. Remember when BELL gave Aeroplan points?

  7. FM

    Mar 6 2009

    Thanks Bylo and jkm.

    Only thing, is if you have e-mail accounts set up with Bell, you would have to change them. In my case, a royal pain, but if Bell continues to shaft customers, it may be my only option.

  8. Bylo

    Mar 6 2009

    » if you have e-mail accounts set up with Bell,
    » you would have to change them

    That is indeed a problem. It`s never a good idea to use the ISP`s e-mail address for general e-mail. You might want to get a free e-mail account from gmail (my preference) or hotmail or yahoo, etc. and start migrating your usage to it. Then in a few months, after everyone is sending you e-mail to that address, you can sever your connection with Bell and start enjoying cheaper Internet service.

    BTW I forgot to mention another important advantage of ISPs like TekSavvy. All of their technical support and customer service is provided in Canada by people who truly care and are competent.

  9. mike

    Mar 7 2009

    I am HOARDING my airmiles because air Canada has jacked up the points required to take our dream flight by 50%

  10. jkm

    Mar 7 2009

    Mike, Please tell me what reward that was that doubled the required points.

  11. MFS

    Mar 12 2009

    Hi Ellen,

    I recently made the tragic mistake of purchasing the Samsung Instinct from Bell Mobility.

    On the Bell.ca site, it is described as a smartphone. In actual use, the phone is anything but. There is no way to sync contacts or any other data with a PC/MAC.

    I ordered the phone from Bell on Jan. 27/09, activated on Feb. 09/09, deactivated Feb. 11/09, and returned to Bell Feb. 22/09. After activation, I spent 22 minutes on phone with Bell ‘customer’ service to resolve issues.

    On March 4, I received the same phone from Bell. I was surprised and contacted Bell to clarify why the phone was returned to me. A Bell ‘Client Relations’ Supervisor informed me that I had used the phone a total 41 minutes, and thus the phone cannot be returned to Bell.

    Was told to contact Executive offices to issue complaint, but that nothing can be done to satisfy my request that Bell take back their ‘Dumb-phone’.

    Without the ability to sync and carry important data, this phone is useless as a PDA/PCS, Smartphone. It may represent Bell’s failed attempt to get on the cutting edge of mobile technology, but why should a 16-year customer have to endure such crappy service from the company that was once regarded as a stalwart of customer satisfaction?

    Your forum revealed to me that many more Instinct customers are significantly dissatisfied with this product and Bell. As a result, I will be discontinuing all my services with Bell, due to this nitpicking around minutes.

    I maintained a business account with Bell Mobility for 4 phones and have always been a great paying customer, but I can’t tolerate this at a time when everyone deserves to feel appreciated for their commitment. Bell is not committed to the paying customer.

  12. Mike

    Mar 16 2009

    There seems to be a great deal of misinformation out there about the Co-operators and credit scores and I want to highlight a particular point.

    In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I used to be employed as staff in a Co-operator’s agency. I do not currently work in financial services, but I remain a client as I generally like how the company operates–particularly how they proactively disclose information to clients in advance (such as the pursuit of credit scores), unlike most of their competitors.

    If a client does not want Co-operators to use their credit score as a rating factor on property insurance, the worst rating will NOT automatically be assigned, as incorrectly stated in several comments on this page. Rather, the premium will be calculated according to traditional and already exisiting rating factors.

    A Co-op client could potentially save money without their credit score being used as a rating factor if they have a low score because its inclusion would probably result in a higher premium.

  13. CommieCowboy

    Apr 25 2009

    “When Bell processes a credit, it is credited to your Bell/Sympatico/Expressvu account. If the credit is after the 15th of the month, the credit sits there, and isn’t transferred to your One-Bill until the 15th of the NEXT month.

    In my case, my One-Bill is the 12th of the month, so already you will be 2 billing cycles away from seeing your credit. Now add the fact that you are billed IN ADVANCE for such services as ExpressVu, and you won’t see your credit for another 30 days. My December bill was wrong, and I wont see my credit until I get my March 12 bill!!

    When asking for a credit, ask the representative to post the credit to your One-Bill account DIRECTLY. Not all reps will be able to do this, so you may have to ask for the supervisor to do this. Only way to get changes to the One-Bill in a timely manner.”

    Actually, it’s even more arcane than that. Your One Bill has a billing date at which it is sent out, but the raw data that makes up the One Bill comes from the legacy billing systems of Bell’s various lines of business, each of which has its own billing cycle indicated in the relevant subsection of your One Bill. Let’s say your One Bill is sent out on April 19, but the billing cycle for home phone begins April 12. If a rep were to make a change to your phone package or apply a credit in the legacy billing system, that change / credit would need to clear the system a couple of business days before April 12 in order to be reflected on the April 12 bill. Should this change occur on April 14, for instance, it will not appear until the May 19 One Bill, forcing you to make sense of some potentially convoluted back-dating in the “Other Charges and Credits” section. Ya, I used to be a 310 rep.