Can Bell’s customer service be fixed?

You don’t have to read all 200+ comments at Bell Bliues to know that the telecom giant has serious problems. I talk to disaffected customers every day and I’m always amazed at what can and does go wrong at Bell’s many divisions. Even when I send readers’ complaints to Bell’s senior management, they don’t always get resolved quickly. Some disputes end up with a collection agency — and then they degenerate into harassment and name calling.

So, what would you do to fix Bell’s customer service? Kevin Crull told me a few things that didn’t make it into my column today.

–He wants call centre staff to connect customers with a supervisor when they ask. If no is available, the customer will get called back by a supervisor. Right now, it’s hit and miss.

–He wants call centre staff to be more compassionate with customers. He started empathy training sessions in April, but hasn’t seen any impact so far.

–He wants a better interface between Bell’s legacy computer systems. Some Sympatico customers living in apartment buildings no longer have the suite numbers in their addresses after databases were merged. As a result, they’re no longer getting their mail regularly.

Do you have any suggestions for Bell Canada’s senior management team? If so, post them here.

Here’s mine: Cut the silly slogans that customer service staff must repeat endlessly. “How can we provide you with superb service today?” “Helping customers succeed is our mission.” This rhetoric is so far from reality that it makes people angry.

Meanwhile, if you want to contact Kevin Crull directly, send an email to

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

122 thoughts on “Can Bell’s customer service be fixed?”

  1. I would like to see, or should I say HEAR, English speaking CANADIANS born In CANADA.

    Some of theses Indian people you cannot understand them at all. And their ever so condenscendiing BS politeness makes me sick.

  2. My horror story started when I cancelled my Bell phone line and moved to a new place. I clearly instructed the agent to CANCEL my home phone line. But I would keep the internet using their so called “(free) Dry loop service” crab.

    On the day of switchover, the internet did not work. I called customer service and the guy said it was because there was no phone line installed.

    Okay I don’t mind if they fix it for the “Dry loop service” is free. He said the internet will be activated after several days. It did not happen.

    I called again and this time the agent did not know what went wrong. After being on the phone for hours, transferring me all over to different departments, they said it will be fixed after several days. It did not happen.

    Being so fed up, I called them again to cancel EVERYTHING to do with Bell including the TV. Two weeks later, I got a bill from them charging me $55 for a phone line installation, $28 for phone service and $0.75 for penalty for late payment. It was outrageous.

    I called and tried to keep really calm, telling them this horror story, and the agent said he will waive the extra fee. This time, I took the agent’s name, his ID, and I told him that I will escalate this matter to his bosses if they lie to me again.

    Keep my fingers crossed. I have been with Bell for over 20 years. This is how they treat a 20-year loyal customer.

  3. Previous incident…
    Approximately 7 years ago. Bell called my home offering what seemed a reasonable deal to bundle my internet with my telephone package. I already had a bell phone but I had cable internet. They offered Sympatico high speed at the time. I agreed and they arranged to visit my home the following Tuesday to install. Tuesday morning I called my cable provider and had my service disconnected. I waited for the Bell technician. The entire day passed and the Bell tech did not arrive. I received no telephone call to reschedule. The following day I called Bell.

    Bell: Sorry mam, there are no slots available in your city. The best we can do is send you a CD to install dial-up access and schedule installation of high-speed when a slot becomes available.

    Me: But I work from home and transport large files to my office over the internet. Sorry mam, that’s the best we can do. How long will it be until there is a slot available?

    Bell: We are anticipating approximately one month before upgrades are complete.

    I called my cable provider to learn there would be a $50.00 installation charge to reconnect my service. So I agreed to the dial-up access and waited for a slot. FOUR MONTHS later a slot became available!

    I moved from that location and Sympatico was not available in my new neighbourhood. Yippy, back to the cable provider I went.

    When digital telephone service became available I took my phone business there too. That’s when the telemarketers began to bombard me with offers to take my business back to Bell. I had a lot of fun listening to them scramble with offers and telling them I would never return to Bell and why.

    Then last week, some lovely guy from India phoned me representing Bell Canada. His name was Pritam, he spelled it for me as he offered insurance that I would be able to contact him personally if I had a problem. He offered me the world to “come back to Bell”
    I wasn’t interested. He cut the price, still I wasn’t interested. He upped the services, still no interest. Eventually, he offered me Free phone for a year!!! That kind of caught my attention. Two and a half hours later this was the deal he offered.
    • Free phone for a year,
    • 1500 minutes of free long distance in Canada and the US, + calling card so I could call long distance from any cell phone or pay phone or land line.
    • Free internet for 3 months.
    • Free satalite TV for 3 months.
    • TV to include 3 recievers one recorder, 10 theme packs + the movie networks.
    • After three months my bill would be 98.00 / month
    • At the end of the year, when the phone was added in it would be $117.00/ month. Pretty good deal.
    Still I was concerned; I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with BELL. I said I would think about it he would have to call back the next evening.
    The next night I spent at least an hour on the phone telling the guy how bad Bell had been in the past and why I was still reluctant to go back to Bell.
    “Exactly,” stated the sales rep. “That is why Bell has lost so many customers and why we have learned the error of our ways.” He assured me that this could never happen again because Bell is really bending over backwards to win back their customers. I finally reluctantly agreed to give Bell one more try. I was told I wouldn’t be sorry. My set up was scheduled for today, Saturday Nov. 27, 2010. I promised to be home to meet the technician who would install the satellite, set up my wireless networking on all three computers and install some phone jacks. I repeated the day, date and time. It was great; I didn’t even have to worry about taking time from work to wait for them. I’m off on Saturdays.

    Before I hung up. Pritam informed me that Bell would even take care of contacting my current service provider to disconnect my service. In deed, today at about 2:00 pm. my telephone stopped working, my internet stopped working. My TV was fine as it isn’t with the same provider. I waited assuming the technician would show up at the door any minute. Nope! I waited some more. 5:00 pm came and went; no tech. I called Bell.
    “We are sorry mam, your installation is scheduled for November 30th. There is nothing we can do. That department is closed now.”
    Sure, it’s Saturday but my dogs could have gone to the park, I could have had my shopping done. I wasted the whole day waiting for BELL. And BTW, I haven’t scheduled Monday November 30th off of work to be home.
    I spoke with 5 people, every one with heavy East Indian accents. Let’s get this straight, I don’t have a problem with people who have an accent. I have a problem with customer service that is located so far away from the customer that there is nothing that can be done to serve the customer when things go wrong.
    Some guy in India tells me, he can not call a technician at home to get them to come in after hours, because the tech would be somewhere near me, not in India, and he (the guy in India) wouldn’t know where I am or who might work in this area. I went to the highest supervisor I could get to after hours on a Saturday night and he too was in India. Nice.
    I suggested that being Bell Canada, they might have access to a telephone book and they might want to call my former service provider to have my services reinstated as I wouldn’t be “Coming Back to Bell” after all.
    “Sorry mam, we cannot do that.” Of course, they couldn’t do that either; my former service provider isn’t in India. So I called them myself and explained the situation. Kudos to them for getting me hooked up again, right here in good old Ontario on a Saturday night. Chances are they will charge me an installation fee which Bell should pay. But it is a small price to avoid ending up a Bell customer.
    If Bell gave me phone, internet and all the Television channels in the world, free for life, they couldn’t get me back now or ever. They just don’t seem to get the fact that they are no longer the monopoly they once were. People don’t have to put up with the kind of service Bell offers. I’m thinking one day Bell will cease to exist, because they just cannot seem to adapt.

  4. Can Bell’s customer service be fixed?
    Well If I read the stories here from 2007 to 2010, I will be very surprise.
    The only thing that keep me with Bell, is that I have an old contract with them with an unlimited download and that I have 4 TV receivers for the satellite TV. I alway have problem with the Internet speed until yesterday.In the weekend I had a problem with my internet, I call the service and for the first time, a woman answer my call and together we fix the problem issue with getting the internet service because of a phone filter that was old and to be change. Then I told her that I alway complain to bell before that my speed was always slow since I paid for fast internet (the 5 Mbps). I get max the 1.8 Mbps. She make some test and boost my internet. I finely get 2.8Mbps and she said that an technitien will come to my house and he did. When he came, he start to change the master box in the Bell entrance an install a new box that I will not need any filter anymore. He check the line, everything was fine. test the internet speed, and still at 2.8Mbps. Then he change my Modem/router, call the office for them to boost to 7 Mbps my internet speed and…. can you imagine? I saw 5.9Mbps/ 7 in the reading of I was the happy customer ever.
    Then the thecnitien left….and gest what? My speed when back to 2.5Mbps max and never reach 3Mbps 🙁 . My neighbor switch everything to videotron and I’m very tempted.

  5. I was considering switching to Bell…After repeated phone calls, I was told I would need a $400 security deposit because I had never had an account with Bell.

    Well, forget that. I have never been late on a bill with Cogeco in all the years I have had it and I’m not going to shell out $400 to switch.

    Besides all of this, I spoke to about 6 people (ridiculous in itself), just trying to see if I was going to switch…I spent about 2 hours in total on hold during these calls and only one out of the 6 agents was polite.

    I have never, in dealing with any company, experienced the outright rudeness that I encountered with Bell Canada reps. No wonder they are losing customers.

    Instead of putting all the money they do into marketing for new customers, Bell should put it into training the reps properly.

    The security deposit aside, I would not have switched just because of my experience(s) calling into Bell Canada.

  6. Here’s the BIG mistake I made: I switched to Bell from Rogers, hearing that Bell had better service for cellphones.

    I bought a Samsung Impact August 2010. Around October, everyone calling my cellphone started saying that everytime they called me they could here ”an echo” of themselves talking back.. it was so annoying to them to the point that they would hang up and text me instead. I then went to the Bell service store and they told me to sent it to repair, so I did, paying the 40$ deposit to send it. It came back about a week later, and everyone calling me were saying the same thing. ”I can here my voice talk back, this is so anoying??, why it is doing that?”…

    So I went back to the store, saw another person at the service centre and she explained to me that she couldnt do anything that if the repair centre didnt fix it then it wasnt a problem with the phone. She said it had to be a problem with the Network. Frustrated, I went home called up Bell and told them the situation, they transfered me a few times to different people and then to someone who checked the network towers near my neighbourhood and said nothing was wrong. I mean of course nothing had to be wrong with the towers I live in THE MIDDLE OF OTTAWA, of COURSE there HAS TO BE SERVICE. So again, I went back to the store told that same girl that I called and it couldnt be a problem with the phone. She sent it back to Repair and a week later it came back with the same problem.

    I told her I wanted a new phone that this was ridiculous that my brand new phone wasnt working properly. She said ” well the first month is when you should have came in and told us this” The thing is, I had NO CLUE it was doing this, I’m not the one hearing ”the echo”.
    So she started asking me a whole bunch of questions… ”Is it only with one friend? because it could be her sell phone?” (that wasnt the case) ”Is it only when your calling from a distance?” (that wasnt the case)…

    For which ever reason, I was calling from 30 minutes away or 5 min away it did it. Wether I was calling a cellphone of the same company or a different company or even a landline house phone, it did it again. Thats what I explained to her. She then said well, it is the Network because my brother has the same phone and it does the same thing. So I told her ”ok so what you’re telling me is that my phone is fine, and the Bell Network isnt working properly? Now why would you sell products when you know the network isnt working?” Her ovious response was ”I cannot help you” I asked to speak to the manager, she came out and praticaly gave me the same reason as the other girl did. Told me to call Samsung if I had any questions. (what a great service…)

    Frustrated, my parents came to the store, by that time the manager had left work. My father talked to the girl and wasnt buying all the non-sense she was saying asked to talk to the manager, and now the assistant manager came out. She said the exact same thing ” its the network” so my father said ”ok, I want that in writting and signed” she agreed pretty fast. She wrote a letter explaining that the phone had been sent twice to repair and had the same problem that it had to be the problem with ”the network and signed it”. Is that how they train the people at Bell these days? I have the proof of the Assistant manager saying that Bell has a network problem, wow Im impressed of how stupid these people are. So we left the store, came home and called Bell Costumer Service. They explained to me that it was ridiculous of what they what hearing and shipped a box for free by purolator to my house, for me to send back my phone to repair. Now thats what I call service. So right up to here is where I am. Its beginning of January, I just sent off my brandly new 6 month old phone for a 3rd time to repair and I am again, patiently waiting to get it back, FIXED I HOPE.

    Now, yesterday I went back to the Bell store with my friend for HER cellphone a Palm Pre. She bought her phone in July. She noticed a week later a chip on the phone but that didnt do anything to her phone so she didnt bother doing anything about it. 3 months later, her screen froze, she couldnt do anything on her phone so she went to the same Bell store as I was going dealt with that same GIRL and sent it to repair for the SCREEN. She told her that the chip didnt bother her that it had been there practically since she had the phone and that she didnt want it to be fixed. She only wanted the SCREEN to be fixed under the 1 year waranty that you automatically get with the phone. She hadnt taken the extended waranty for 7$/month, because she is a student, and it is expensive. The girl then sent to phone to repair.

    Meanwhile she gave her a loner phone the same one, and when my friend opened the phone THE LONER PHONE HAD THE SAME PROBLEM THE SCREEN WAS BROKEN. Still in the shopping mall, she went back to the store and said” what the hell is this?, youre giving me a loner phone that has the same probem as my phone that I just sent to repair?” the girl gave her another one.

    So the phone came back a week later from repair and it had been fixed. The screen was ok, and the chip was fixed. the repair centre said it was physical damage so she would be getting back her 40$ for shipping the phone out and on top of that had to pay for the repair 170$ +tax. That frustrated my friend because she clearly said she didnt want to get the chip fixed. The repair centre automatically associated the screen being frozen because of the chip. The only option they gave her was to buy a new phone 300$ of pay the cost of the repair for 170$ + tax. So my friend paid the repair.

    At home that night, my friend noticed her phone was not closing properly, her ”repaired” phone had came back with another problem.

    So she went back to the store, that same girl told her nothing could be fixed for free, that her 1 year warranty was voided because of the previous physical damage to it. My friend had no clue about this. So now her warranty was voided because of something she didnt want fixed. GREAT

    She came to see me at my house explained everything, and I told her to call Bell. The gentlement on the phone said that no her waranty would be voided and to go back to the store and call him from there so that he could speak to this girl and tell her its not voided. So I went back with her and OHH she was SOOOO happy to see me again(of course not). We called that guy from the store and with his employee number couldnt reach him? So that went down the drain. I asked the girl repeatedly why would my friends waranty be voided and not mentionned to her the first time? What she then said was, ”well Bell doesnt know their policies”(speaking of that gentlement on the phone). Who does she think she is??? She then went on to saying shed be working there 6 years and knew what she was doing and I mentioned that she problably needed another training.

    The assistant manager came out and tried to explain the same thing to us but I wasnt buying it. The manager then came out, and now they were 3 against us. My friend told them it was sad that they couldnt help her in any way, and seem to not care about her being a costumer after 6 years with Bell. The manager didnt even say a thing she just kept staring. And we left, nothing fixed.

  7. I am a Bell Mobility Technical Support employee and I would like to explain some things to you all, so that no one thinks it’s the employees not wanting to help the customers.

    As a human being, we all like to help those in need, out of our nature. However, it’s hard when the employees are not trained well and are told profit is their #1 priority, not customer service.

    No wonder in the internal communications, customer service is in the red, according to the quarterly reports, while profits are in green and blue (100-110%).

    With regards to repair process, Bell Mobility policies ensure that physical damage is to be cited to as many customers as possible, in order to avoid having to pay repair costs out of BM’s budget.

    The extended warranty ($7/month) works only for 2 repairs / replacements and then you are no longer eligible.

    The store employees are not trained on the repair portion well at all and usually refer to Technical Support for these matters.

    My advice with regards to repair is DON’T GO TO THE STORE FOR REPAIR ISSUES. The employees there don’t know much about the phone technically.

    If it’s a software issue, they will call Technical Support from the same phone number you would call them on, and you have to pay a deposit at the store.

    If you call Technical Support, ask them to send you a box with a shipping label and you will NOT pay anything for a deposit or shipping (unless the phone is determined to have a physical damage from negligence).

    If the phone is not repaired after 3-4 times, you have the right to a replacement and also the right to speak to Innovations — an internal department that deals with very technical aspects of phones.

    Bell Mobility employees would never tell you anything about this because they are instructed not to. Palm Pre are the worse phones ever with repair.

    If anyone has any concerns or questions or wants advice on a problem with Bell Mobility … email me at

    Also check out my blog

    Thanks and keep up the great work, Ellen.

    A Bell Support employee

  8. I cancelled my Bell package in April, since I was moving. This week, I received a $350 bill from Bell. I called them up and they told me they reactivated my TV services in July.

    I found if funny at first and figured it was a simple problem to resolve. I am no longer using those services, so just cancel the $350. I don’t live there any more since April.

    The rep said: “I’m sorry, sir, but you have to pay since the TV was reactivated. If you want to cancel the TV service, please call our Bell TV reps.”

    That’s what I did in April! They cancelled internet, phone and TV. Then in July, it’s magically reactivated.

    I should not have to pay for their mistake but they keep transferring me to every department that exists.

    Paying for a TV service that I cancelled almost 7 months ago is unacceptable but they insist I have to pay.

  9. Just FYI to all those complaining about “accents” — “people who are NOT in their country, that is Canada, and hence unable to help them” — “lack of English” — etc.

    Bell Canada outsources very little to India, if any, at this point. Most of their outsourced call centres are in Philippines (English) or Tunisia (French).

    Their call centres in cities such as Toronto or Montreal are filled with multi-ethnicities, as Bell is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate.

    Which means that you if you speak to someone who has an accent, it could be that he is from the Montreal or Toronto call centre as well. There are Arabs, Africans, Chinese, South Asians — all kinds that work in these call centres.

    Sure, they may have an accent, but that does not mean that they are not in Canada. Perhaps they are really trying to be helpful and perhaps they just can’t be more helpful due to policies or inabilities to do certain things.

    In any case, rest assured that they are not all in India, as most of you seem to be thinking.

  10. I’m a recent former employee for customer service at a company that was recently take over by Bell. I have 7-8 years of experience in the customer service industry and worked for this company for nearly 2 years. (roughly 6 months in the company was acquired.)

    As a customer service rep, I was quickly promoted to their retention department for my professionalism, my attention to detail and the praise I continued to recieve from customers for simply treating them with dignity and trying to genuinely help. Even if there’s bad news, theres a polite and professional way to convey that, and so few people in these call centers know how they themselves would appreciate being dealt with. With regularity, representatives would bring me escalated calls,with more and more upset customers, most of whom I could calm down and make arrangements with. Understandably, there were always some who could not be satisfied which I can definitely relate with.

    The point of posting this is that under the previous branding, I was promoted, praised and rewarded for being someone who treated their customers with respect. Under the new branding, an entirely different tone was set.

    I was terminated at the beginning of the third quarter for reasons that are shabby at best. I had recent attendance issues for medical reasons, (inside of two months I had wisdom tooth removal and passed a kidney stone.) and had the attention of management for missing work, despite their not being able to reprimand me as I had full and thorough documentation to support my medical claims. Being they were unable to punish me for being sick, they went fishing for the first bs reason they could find, and they did. No warning, no infraction, one strike, 3 hours and you’re out of a job you’ve worked for 2 years. All the praise and late nights and thankless getting shouted at, to be marched out the door for a silly oversight in which the company had suffered no loss, and had my full disclosure and co-operation. Agents now on the phones are so afraid of making such an oversight and getting fired for silliness that no one is acting outside of policy lines, even if its warranted. The rules apply to the little guy, but not to the giant. They make a mistake, and you get a “sincere apology” and a “we’re looking into that”, you made a mistake and they ceremoniously fire me in a breath putting me in the awful position I’m in this winter.

    I’m currently waiting for EI, as I applied despite knowing Bell would make things difficult, wnhich they have. Ironically, I spend my days trying to get in touch with service Canada to discuss the status of my claim, despite it being almost a 3 month old claim to date(and no , no one is answering the phone, I get as many as two messages that state “we cannot take your call due to high volume.”). I am now hemmoraging cash, accruing debt and am becoming something of a statistic with respect to the bleak ecnomy. Only my friends and loved ones have been my saving grace. Literally family friends and a food bank have kept me fed housed and sane. The government and giant corporations have been no help. Though you won’t catch me occupying anything, I’ll be fervently searching for work and hoping someone at can answer the phone some time this month.

    I have a crazy idea, why don’t they take my highly professional, polite and helpful self and get me answering the phones I’m trying to have answered over at service Canada? Im fluently bliingual and a great employee. If the world made sense I could get that job answering the phones and not sitting on enough casual time to blog about my aggravating experience working for Canada’s telecom behemoth.

    So don’t feel too left out, not only is Bell brutal to it’s customers, it’s not terribly kind to it’s employees either.

    God help us all,

  11. I’m a little late to this party, but have been on the phone for about 4 hours with Bell across 5 different calls. 2 hang ups, over 10 pages of faxes (3 of which are the same that I faxed back completed 2 days ago and were lost).

    I was finally told the business account I need to take over for an apartment building purchase (for intercom use) is in arrears from the previous owner and I must pay for their arrears to take over the existing line.

    In addition, I was told today that it is my duty to take their “Assumption of Contractual Obligations” over to the seller of the apartment building and have them sign off on the same agreement I am signing off on.

    I have no idea how to contact the sellers. The real estate agents/brokers and lawyers deal with that. I am not hiring a lawyer to take over a phone line.

    I cancelled that transfer today and my home line as well. Cell is next in mid-contract, a $200 dollar break-up fee, well worth it. I’ll take my cottage line off Bell as well, if possible. I am done with this company.

    For the record, I would conservatively state I have spent in excess of $20,000 with this company.

    Peaceout, hello TekSavy, Koodoo, and whoever else.

  12. I cancelled everything: 4 cells, satellite, home and cottage phone, internet (2).

    It’s been 3 years and to this day I never ever want a Bell logo to pass through my front door.

    I have just called them because I’ve been getting wrong mail for 4 years from the previous owner. And you know what? Bell’s customer service people have the same attitude. They deserve everything they get when their stocks slide.


  13. Someone should publish a book based on Bell customer service experiences. It would be very thick and a bestseller indeed.

    Hey, let’s stop blaming the sevice personnel or the personnel altogether. For onc, try going after the greedy corporate pigs who run this billion dollar ripoff scam that is called Bell world.

  14. I have a problem with Bell Aliant. For three days now, I have been having nothing but webmail passwords, only lasting for about an hour. Then, they will not work any more.

    And try and get someone to help me in those three days. All I am getting is voice mail lip service. I never get a human voice to take care of my issue.

    I guess it’s time to go to another carrier, as I received a flyer from Explornet. Must give them a call.

  15. From my past and ongoing “great offers” with Bell Canada and their “customer service” and “billing” practices, explaining my experiences with this “business” are many and would take its own publication to exorcise me, so I will be brief. How about FUBAR and SNAFU?

    I agree with a comment one poster made, Bell customer relations has become a joke. Bell Canada running a national mental health program, yeah right! Now that’s a good joke.

    Not recommended, avoid with all caution and beware, or go tell Bell (or let Bell tell you) how you feel. I guess when you eventually see things their way, well then, you’re OK.

    Let’s all give a hearty Nelson to Bell Canada! HA! HA!

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