Big companies behaving badly

In my job, I hear terrible stories all day long. Luckily, I have an optimistic nature and often do get results, as in the case of an Enbridge Gas customer who was disconnected in error last week. See his story below.

But in some cases, companies are stubborn and won’t budge. Another story below is about a homeowner who wants a rotting telephone pole removed from his property. Bell Canada says its hands are tied.

Finally, there’s the tale of a new Sears washing machine that leaked all over the owner’s basement. The machine was replaced, but the dispute about damages has gone on and on. Meanwhile, Chase Card Services is gunning her for payments.

Once in a while, I do get some heart-warming stories. I posted a couple below about Moen, the faucet maker, and a local bicycle store. If you have any, please pass them along.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

29 thoughts on “Big companies behaving badly”

  1. I had a similar experience with Bell. In the middle of what I thought was a negotiation — albeit a fairly one-sided one — I got an order to pay from a credit agency. From Bell’s side, they acted as if they had nothing to do with it.

    And many companies are very allergic to putting anything in writing.

    This “customer service” is the epitome of passive aggressive tactics — behaviour that demonstrates a profound disdain for customers. Sears seems to win the prize for being unapologetic.

    I suppose this is something these people learn in business school. It appears to be common practice in these big companies.

  2. Bell, as always, will be ebola to us, avoided at all times. Sears must’ve hired the same brain dead exec Bell fired last year. Their dodgy service record doesn’t surprise me anymore.

    Last year, our brand new Whirlpool wouldn’t drain properly so I called it in. It took almost two months for those flunkies to show up and look at our machine! Yes two whole frickin months and they still couldn’t diagnose it and we’re in the GTA! Check out their excuses:

    — We don’t have a ticket open for you.
    — You can’t escalate as there’s no one above us.
    — You can contact the president, but I guarantee he won’t know how to fix your machine!
    — What’s the problem and your contact info for the 15th time.
    — Supervisor is sick or on vacation or in a meeting.
    — Technician has a flat tire and is stuck on the highway.
    — Technician is on a call in another town 5 hours up.
    — We’re out of vehicles.
    — Vehicle in for maintenance.
    — Vehicle been in an accident.
    — Manufacturer didn’t send in the parts yet or parts in reorder.
    — Technician got lost on the way there.
    — No one was home – my favourite.

    During that time I did laundry at my sisters, parents – inconvenienced my universe basically. When the guy did finally show up, he looked at it for an hour, couldn’t tell me what was wrong, and told me btw he had to come back next week because he didn’t have the parts. I just lost it and kicked him out.

    I went to Google and Youtubed the problem and there it was. It was a safety contact switch on the lid that was the problem. Everything defaults to off if it thinks the lid is open. I took it apart, cleaned the area and tightened it up and it worked perfectly.

    My lesson learned is that big retail outlets and appliance manufacturers are no longer trustworthy, and we’re feeling the corners being cut. By the time all of this makes it to a spreadsheet for their next shareholders meeting, they’ll be asking why the numbers are softening up.

    I guarantee that when we move to our much larger custom home, we won’t be going to Sears for anything. Period.

    I’ll add that I, a pregnant grade school science teacher at the time, fixed it in 2 hours. Something that “15 years of experience, continuous industry training blah blah” couldn’t do in two months. It makes me wonder aloud about the Sears appliance service industry, and what they’re really contributing or leeching from society.

  3. Bob> I spoke to a rep in India

    More likely you spoke with someone in Canada who has a foreign accent (see below.)

    TDW> Incidentally, TD Waterhouse does not have investor service centres in India.

    That makes sense because Waterhouse reps have to be licensed in Canada to sell stocks, mutual funds and other securities. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be outsourced overseas any time soon.

  4. Re “Big companies behaving badly”, why do otherwise reputable companies allow their marketing departments to try to deceive their customers?

    Here’s a case in point for TD’s Ms. Timmins attention. When I logged into WebBroker this morning I was greeted by this banner ad.

    To a casual observer it looks like TD is offering a GIC that pays a 3% interest rate. Not so. The fine print reveals that the 3% isn’t the annual rate, but rather the total rate over 3 years. That’s a measly 1% annual rate.

    A similar TD banner ad touts 8%. That seems too good to be true these days. And, as the fine print reveals, it is. That stunning 8% is the total return over the 5 year term of the GIC, or about 1.6% per year. (Considering that other financial institutions offer rates as high as 2.75% per year on 3-year GICs and 3.6% per year over 5 years, CDIC insured, one wonders for whom TD’s offer is a “deal” but I digress…)

    Why does TD feel that it’s acceptable to confuse its customers with “total” interest rates when everyone else routinely quotes annual interest rates?

  5. To HB with the flooded basement caused by Sears. Have you contacted your insurance company? I’d let them know and have them go after Sears. I’d hire a lawyer and let Sears know what the courts decide is fair. And then I’d give Ellen an update for the world to see. And then I’d call up that Sears guy and tell him how to do his retail job better.

  6. Thank you so much Ellen!

    After contacting you this morning, I already received an apology from that Future Shop’s store manager. He asked me to visit him to see what he can do. He said he was embarrassed when reading my case.

    While their customer service lady Jasmine never got back to me, it’s been around 2 weeks.

    We consumers really need people like you to protect us from these evil companies. Your presence gave me confidence to purchase large items again.

    You push these big companies to treat their customers in a fair and ethical manner.

    Thank you so much for being there!

  7. Dear MR,

    RE: Bell Technicians Trespassing.

    I have the same problem with Bell. I addressed it with the Federal Privacy office and a written agreement was brokered that Bell technicians would not trespass on my property.

    Didn’t work. Bell still trespassed and the technicians disconnected my Internet with another service provider. But they were forced to pay me my monthly internet fee, as per the Ombudsman’s decision.

    I lost a $6,000 account because Bell disconnected my internet when my phone was not working. Bell has also tampered with my telephone line several times previously because I wouldn’t let them on my property.

    The telephone pole is situated on my neighbour’s property, not mine, but she sends them to me. I do not have an easement either, according to my lawyer. Check with a lawyer to determine if you have a registered easement on your property.

    I am addressing the further trespassing issue with the Federal Privacy Commissioner. I am also writing to the Federal Minister in charge of telecommunications. I had a fence built (very costly)and installed a lock on the gate.

    I am concerned about my privacy being continuously violated and crime (theft). The Bell technicians are rude, unprofessional and arrogant.

    In fact, in the latest incident where Bell techs broke my internet, he shouted, “Which do you want, your phone or internet?”

    If the Minister hears from more people, then perhaps he will do something about Bell techs and their trespassing.

    Bell has enough funds to move the poles. It does not have more powers than the police and does need permission to enter your property. Deny them entry.

    When I first moved in, my backyard was like a Bell Canada work zone. I have no legal easement on my property.

    Try the complaints agency,

    Also, the CRTC:

    CRTC reports to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis.

    Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

    Bell is violating your right to privacy when they repeatedly trespass.

    It seems that you have exhausted your efforts trying to resolve this matter with Bell Executive Office, which is the same as in my situation.

    If you write to any or all of the above agencies, they will assist you.

    Raise awareness of the trespassing issue. I don’t believe that Bell techs would be trespassing on the Privacy Commissioner or Minister’s property, but it’s okay to to this to other Canadians.

    When did Bell techs have more powers than the police? No one informed me that the laws have changed about trespassing.


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