Is Bell’s customer service getting better?

That’s what the company wants you to believe. It’s put together a slick campaign online to show it’s committed to better service.

I like the extended call centre hours. Finally! What took so long? And I like the testimonials. But why do they come only from Bell employees? Where are the customers?

Bell talks about having 11,000 representatives right here. It’s trying to fight the perception that your calls always go overseas. But is it moving away from foreign call centres? Apparently so, according to Bell spokeswoman Julie Smithers. (See her response below.)

Let’s not forget Bad Bell. CBC Marketplace last night announced it was the winner of a contest for Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill.

Julie Smithers tried to smooth things over by refunding all the charges. But host Wendy Mesley asked, as I do all the time, what about the customers who don’t have the power of the media behind them?

So, here’s my question to Bell customers: Are things improving? How are you doing with technical support, hidden charges, billing errors and unwritten contracts? And when you call or email the company, are you getting quicker, better service?

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

82 thoughts on “Is Bell’s customer service getting better?”

  1. Bell has approximately 11,000 customer service representatives in 20 cities across Canada taking client calls.

    We also have thousands of field service technicians and in-store representatives trained and supported with new programs and technology to ensure they provide maximum service support as well.

    We’ve invested a lot in service as part of Bell’s new strategy, and we’re investing another $140 million in new service support programs this year as well.

    What about India outsourcing? A lot of Canadian companies have worked with outsource service suppliers in India and elsewhere.

    Bell has also used a variety of outsource services in India for years now, but we’re reducing the number of customer calls there, based on customer feedback and our new service strategy.

    Everything we’re doing going forward has to improve the customer experience or we won’t do it. That’s why you’re seeing changes.

    We’ve been quickly reducing direct customer service calls taken by India call centres. And today, the mix of what is handled there has shifted to specialized technical support.

    Customer service calls are still part of what we’re doing there, but declining pretty quickly. As you know, we reduced by 1 million calls in 2009 and we’ll reduce a lot further this year.

    The number of calls is already a fraction of what it was in the past.

  2. I recently purchased my first home. I decided upon Bell for my Telephone, Internet and TV. They talked about all the great disounts and savings I would get by choosing them.

    This was true for 3 months. Then my bill slowly started to rise. They were jacking up my prices and charging me fees I didn’t get before.

    I called in December to downgrade my TV to save money. Was I directed to a Canadian who knew what I was talking about or who understood English well enough to help me resolve my issues without hassle?

    NO. I was outsourced to India, where I was on the phone for an hour trying to get them to understand what exactly I wanted.

    After repeating myself over and over again, they said all was good and my bill would be lower and my channels downgraded.

    Two months later, my channels are gone but not the charge on my bill. So yet again. I am forced to call Bell CANADA and get India, who do not understand me or what I am asking, can’t direct me to anyone else and are giving me a headache with the background noise on their end that sounds like 10,000 people chatting at once.

    How many Canadians are fully capable to do this job but instead have to collect welfare or some sort of Government assistance to help raise their families?

    I am ashamed to still be with Bell Canada, who also had to
    install my satellite twice because they did not do it right the first time. And of course, an hour phone call to India was needed before I could get that fixed.

    The Government or someone needs to stand up to these companies who take hard working Canadians’ dollars and spend them in India. I am not being ignorant to other cultures. I am standing up for my own; the name on the
    sign says Bell Canada, not Bell India.

    After you deal with that, then return to treating the Canadians who pay their bills with the respect and professionalism we deserve.

  3. Your column on the subject of Bell Blues on your website gives some of us hope that maybe something can be done to help Bell customers.

    Responding to the same column, Mr. Kevin Crull stated that he is both available and eager to hear about any problems readers may have with any Bell product or service – and he will most certainly take quick action to correct those issues.

    While I look forward to seeing his quick actions to correct the issue I am facing since Dec. 21, 2009, here are a few simple suggestions (my learning through this experience!!!) that can help Bell deliver quality customer service:

    1) CATALOG PHONE CALLS BY CUSTOMER — if an issue is not resolved in a single call, agents responding to the follow-up calls from the customer simply keep echoing the same response instead of looking into the matter and trying to help the customer. This is because all Bell agents know that the system cannot link calls from the same customer.

    2) RANDOM FOLLOW-UP CALLS FOR QUALITY CONTROL — select a small sample of customers and call them back to find out if the issue was resolved to their satisfaction. Agents not delivering quality service need to be coached appropriately.

    3) PROVIDE AN ESCALATION POINT — If a customer needs to escalate an issue that the Bell call centre agent(s) cannot help with, who can he/she reach out to? Some competitors print complaint centre and/or CRTC phone numbers right on their monthly bill. Can you see the faith and confidence their customers enjoy?

    4) IT IS OK TO APOLOGIZE — Tiger Woods is sorry for his mistakes, Toyota apologized, why not Bell when they make a mistake?

    5) Remember the golden rule — THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

    I hope Mr Crull can use some of these ideas to save Bell’s rapidly shrinking market share, as per Canada Mobile Operator Forecast, 2009 – 2014:

  4. No improvement. They can’t even have a code on contract customers’ accounts to avoid price increases.

    2x during my 3 yr contract they boosted my price on my internet service, once for the modem and once for the service.

    Had to deal with the Executive Office, because my experience with their billing is BS. Needless to say the countdown is on to go to Eastlink. I will get my phone and internet with them for what I pay them for phone service alone.

    Bell needs to start dropping their prices and improve their service. Why are we still paying for touch tone service? Seriously everyone and their dog has touch tone service. We’ve been paying this “Service cost” for 20+yrs.

    They offered new phone packages with good pricing, but since moving to that, the price has gone up 2x. With nothing extra, but paying $5 more/month.

  5. In 2006, I received a bill from Bell Canada for my landline in the amount of $1,566 in long distance charges.

    I was shocked, to say the least, as my monthly bills had always been around $30-35. I rarely, if ever, made any long distance calls and thought this had to be some sort of billing error.

    First thing Monday morning after receiving the bill, I called the number on the bottom of the notice to resolve the issue, but they knew nothing about it and said I was in good standing (at the time I had actually overpaid by a few dollars) and they offered to reinstate my long distance privileges.

    I didn’t care about that. I wanted to know why I had such a large bill that caused my long distance to be cut off in the first place.

    I spent hours each day that rolled into weeks on the phone being transferred from one customer service agent to the next, trying to figure out what was going on. Very frustrating as I had 2 teenagers, a full time job and other responsibilities, but dealing with Bell became my third job for a while.

    I finally got a supervisor on the phone who explained that what had happened was an autodialer was making these calls (I still don’t fully understand the whole scam but I will try to explain as best as I can).

    There had been an investigation on ‘GoldHawk” a few years earlier, prompted by other Bell Canada customers that had not been able to get any satisfactory answers and I should have been aware of the problem, according to this supervisor.

    At some point I had agreed (or inadvertently clicked on something while on the internet) to let this autodialer make all these calls, for which I would have to pay huge amounts of money and receive nothing.

    I don’t know anyone who would knowingly let this happen. Why would I agree to let some scammer make thousands of dollars in long distance calls and charge it to my phone? I wouldn’t.

    My best guess now is that one of those annoying pop up boxes appeared on screen and I tried to close it out but sometimes the X you click on isn’t the correct one and it actually opens another link and you become trapped in the cycle of trying to close all these links that keep popping up because you clicked on the wrong x.

    What strikes me as odd is my dial-up at the time was also a Bell Canada product.

    The supervisor finally agreed that since they knew I did not make the calls they would give me a better long distance rate to lower the bill, but they couldn’t completely wipe out the bill because they have to forward money to their client (the scammer that initiated the whole problem in the first place).

    I did not agree with that settlement. Why would they pay the scammer anyway?

    Even though Bell reduced its rate, it insists that I owe them a little over $600 and I refused to pay. I am a victim of a scam and I will not pay for services I did not ask for or receive.

    They have since sent it to collection. I have explained it to the collection agent but they don’t care and think I am some deadbeat who ran up a bill and refused to pay.

    So now about 6 or 7 times a week, I get calls from the collection agency, every weekend too, early Saturday or Sunday morning I can expect a wake-up call from them.

    I have tried writing to the vice-president at Bell. I have emailed their executive offices, but they are not budging.

    I have asked several times why Bell is not taking steps to protect their customers? Why don’t they send out emails or leaflets with the montly bills making their customers aware of the problem, with tips on how to protect yourself from these scammers?

    Here is my theory…Even though this is not initiated by Bell, they still make a profit from it. So in my opinion (and I have told them this) they are an accomplice, they allow it to continue and they profit from it.

    I have since switched to Rogers for my landline and couldn’t be happier. Every year. I get a thank you for being a valued customer card from Rogers, usually $10 from hmv or a free movie pass etc. Now that is a company that values it customers!

    I also switched my internet provider. I still have Bell tv but in the very near future I will be switching my provider as well. I will NEVER, EVER, deal with Bell Canada again….. EVER!

    If push comes to shove and I have to pay this bogus charge they will be getting it very very slowly in very small increments and they will need their change purse to deposit it at the bank.

  6. Bell has indeed come a long way with their customer service improvements. In my 20 years of dealing with Bell Customer Service, I have rarely had any issues that couldn’t be resolved by being clear about the problem and asking for the right resource.

    What amazes me is that people will spend an hour on the phone with someone who obviously can’t help them.

    Here’s some advice…politely tell the person that they are unable to clearly understand your issue, thank them for the attempt, and then hang up. This is the same approach everyone should use with bad service. It exists everywhere and at the end of the day some people are just unable to help you.

    Whether this is a retail store, customer support on the phone, sales at a certain company…it’s all the same. We are all human and there are some people we are unable to connect with. Just move on and find someone else who can help you.

  7. So, here’s my question to Bhell customers: Are things improving?

    The problem is that Bhell lost hundreds of thousands of customers for the reasons described in excruciating detail in Bhell Blues. Those customers aren’t coming back any time soon. Bhell needs more than just a slick new marketing campaign to stand any chance of attracting us back.

    In 2006, I received a bill from Bell Canada for my landline in the amount of $1,566 in long distance charges. I was shocked, to say the least, as my monthly bills had always been around $30-35…

    There’s a simple solution to this sort of problem. Bhell and the other telcos should let customers place a threshold on their accounts. For instance if you normally don’t spend more than $25/month on long distance you could set a threshold of, say $35, at which your LD is suspended. You’d then have to contact Bhell to resume service. That would stop scammers dead in their tracks without a monthly delay and without sending the customer into cardiac arrest when they get their bill.

    The EU is already doing this with data roaming charges. See e.g.

    Why not in Canada? Hint to any Bhell people who might be reading this: Such a feature across all Bhell services would clearly demonstrate a commitment to customers and quickly differentiate you from the competition.

  8. Is Bell getting better? Not at all, as my experience with them has been like that of Jen’s on the CBC Worst Cellphone Bill.

    Calls to them trying to fix the problems in Dec 2009 wasted many untold hours of my time during a holiday season. Luckily, I switched as their customer service people seem to have a reset button on my customer logs and records.

    Their slick website is just slick with lies. Why the need to toot their own horn about customer service from their own perspective? Is it because no customer is satisfied?

    I for one will never go back and don’t need the aggravation of Bell again.

  9. I’ve gone through hell and stayed there with Bell and can say that the slick campaign on improving customer service is a truck load of BS. How can Julie Smithers make all those claims about “always” reinforcing good customer service when there are thousands of people like me fighting with them day in and out to correct obvious mistakes on the bills?

    Keep in mind Bell have been this way for years and every year they make this silly little claim. They really have no credibility. I’m glad that CBC Marketplace mentioned the class action lawyer as I’m sure that someday someone with the time and money will take up his services.

    As for myself, I paid the huge cancellation fees 6 months into a 3 year plan and am now on a month to month service. It was taking up way too much of my time.

    Funny how Julie didn’t have a direct answer as to why the Jen’s and the Noreen’s of their world have wasted months trying to resolve this. Bravo CBC Marketplace!

  10. I won’t deal with Bell or any other company that routes my inquiries to someone on the other side of the globe. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved over the years by simply boycotting companies for things that weren’t really necessities in the first place. If you treat me as a cow to be milked, I will no longer be your customer. I don’t expect to be treated like royalty, but I don’t expect to be treated with disdain either. Companies out there may not care that I’m not their customer, but if more people like me wake up and follow suit, they’ll soon be caring about it.

  11. Bell’s response to that Marketplace piece was just hilarious!

    At the end of the series, did you notice how she was struggling to answer the questions? Just be brutally honest and admit you were wrong. Which I think she did, at least until she started stirring all that brilliant bull$%&# about how “we spent this and that” on customer service or “we send directives all the time”. Ughh who are you kidding exactly? Obviously all of these efforts have been a complete failure in achieving a resolution.

    And what about the customer’s time and stress? These are things that you can’t put a monetary value on. And given my own experiences with Bell’s billing practices, I would strongly advise that customer to check her bill to ensure the promised credit actually shows up.

    I truly believe the customer with the $6,000 bill should receive a personal call from George Cope, who should apologize profusely for the way she was treated by Bell’s staff.

    Now that Bell’s media rep admitted on national television that the customer was lied to by Bell’s incredibly stupid staff at the store, I think a personal apology for a very senior executive should be the least they can do. Merely refunding her account because of bogus charges is tantamount to throwing a bone to a dog.

    It’s a good thing most of the customers shown on the show had their issues resolved. It’s unfortunate, though, that we need shows like Marketplace and journalists like Ellen to make it right. How many people are out there who are just suckered into these deals and pay exactly what they’re told? Far too many I’d reckon!

    We can also see that Virgin Mobile is complete garbage when it comes to customer service. Perhaps their acquisition by Bell only made the problem worse. All their catchy phrases and feel good ads about doing things differently than other wireless carriers is truly a load of crap. Nothing but deceptive marketing and hot air.

  12. just had a bad experience, I have 15 years of experience in networking, dsktops…my internet all of a sudden stopped working, got miss Rihana in India first of all please provide your family tree info, phone #….she kept insisting on the userid when I provided more info than I do to a bank rep. anyway she asked I unplug everything plug to another jack to which I politely replied why ? since it just stopped working, I asked do you know how to check the line status since no dsl light, or are u following a script she answered may be a problem with the line, I advised her I was using that same line to call her, assuming she knows the DSL is on a different path so you can talk but have bad speed on internet, she kept insisting I plug to another wall jack, since it was 1:30 am EST I refused, hung up, then waited few minutes, the DSL light came up no issues, could have been a maintenance at the CO…

    the lessons learned:

    robots on the line with no technical expertise when thousands of It grads can do the job here in Canada…

    no knowledge of Bell products, I had a similar issue with Bell TV, the switch was stolen and the rep was telling me can you press test switch ??? from the receiver, I asked him to google dish switch so he has at least a clue.

    cheap labor from my own experience translates into loss of income, business, perception that never changes, even tough Rogers sucks with local reps but that’s a different beat.

    whoever says improved service should take a pill he must be living on a different planet.

    Signed…a very disappointed customer of 15 + years who is shopping for an alternative

  13. Lessons learned from dealing with BELL:

    Consistently and carefully monitor monthly bills for 1) unwarranted fees and 2) increasing costs even when there’s a verbal ‘contract’. Be especially vigilant after you have initiated any change to service.

    In my experience, responses vary between ‘customer service’ reps. If you don’t get what you want with the first call, keep phoning until you find someone who CAN give you what you want.

    The reps have become quite aggressive about upselling services. Beware.

    Keep a record of your calls to BELL customer service. If you’re on a ‘contract’, keep the notes until the contract expires.

    I wish the “How can I provide you with excellent service”, and “Don`t worry” tags would be dropped from the scripts. Instead of empty phrases, I’d prefer effective solutions to my issue.

    The anger with BELL customer service arises from the gap between what we, as customers, expect and what we get. Lower expectations, be vigilant, and get on witb life. Nothing will change until there`s some strong competition in this field.

  14. 2 additional points:

    If the call centre rep isn’t responsive, call the Bell Canada Executive Office of Customer Relations. You may get a better response.

    If you rely on paperless billing, you may choose to print the paper bill so that you have a record. Information gets changed on the on-line account.

  15. I have been trying since last fall to do a very simple task…delete some old e-mail accounts. The service has been unavailable. Based on previous experience, I have no intention of picking up the phone on this issue.

    My telephone bill just went up another $2/month. My internet also increased recently. And as well, I am getting hit with “over bandwidth” charges. I don’t believe I have changed any internet habits in a way that would cause this.

    Right now, I am pricing Primus for both services, and ShawDirect for my satellite.

    I have had enough.

  16. I just recently changed my phone plan (long distance) over the phone with a representative, and I’m eager to see what the first bill is going to look like!

  17. Ellen, your columns as always are bitter sweet. Bitter because of the horror stories you tell us of the people getting “screwed over” every single day. Sweet, because you are always able to help out. When I saw this post, I couldn’t help myself from commenting.

    My troubles started when we moved to our new home in August of last year. We have home phone and internet with Bell, and have had it for a very very long time. We had issues with the line, where calls came in with static and the internet kept dropping. I dealt with them for months trying to resolve the problem. So many calls placed to India, I mean Bell Customer Service. Several service technicians and some very rude customer agents and still no solution to my problem. I almost gave up, until I decided to write to Ellen. The very next day, I get an email response from Ellen, stating someone from Bell’s Executive office would call, and they surely did. From there, I got a much nicer individual, who sent a technician to specifically address my issue. A great technician who vowed to get it fixed. It took a few visits, but now everything works great. He even called several weeks later to check and see if everything was working fine.

    Now I only wonder why I wasn’t given this kind of treatment before? I truly hope things are getting better, because I’m sure it would cross one company off Ellen’s Poor Customer Service list.

  18. I don’t think you’ve heard from a teenager yet, so I guess I’ll try to give you our bad experiences with Bell.

    Most of my friends have cell’s and iphones and have a shitty time with Bell. Our parents have gone on about the discipline and responsibility needed in order to have a phone, as they pay the bills.

    What happens at first is typical and we hear this every day. They freak out over the first bill, threaten to take the phone away and the same thing happens the next month and the next month. Like we don’t have anything to do with the high bills, as all of us are smart enough to sign on with text plans and buddy lists.

    And it’s not our fault that the Bell screws up all the time, but it takes parents and anyone older than 19 to get it on the first try. It’s Bell who’s the jerks in every case as they lie and blame us for the high bills.

    The last time I got in trouble for this, I pulled out the contract and read it to my parents — and only then did they realize it’s not me. Bell sucks the big one royally.

  19. For starters, Bell can start by having all calls handled locally as opposed to out-sourcing calls to the Philippines. I refuse outright to deal with representatives in the Philippines. I hang up and redial until I get a representative locally.

    Customer Service with Bell is a complete and utter joke. I was on Bell’s new long-distance plan: 1500 minutes free long distance calls in Canada and the U.S. Received my bill last week and was being charged $19.95 for Canada Block of time. My bill amounted to $102.67. When I called Bell and asked how this mistake happened, the only response I was worthy of receiving, “There was a change made to your long-distance plan.” Of course, I was to blame where I had not made any changes. Short-of-the-long, I was told to pay the amount of $102.67 and a credit of $19.95 would appear on my next bill.

    Bell prices are 3x more than the competition. For basic phone line @ 24.95, plus Call Display at $8.95, plus $5.95 Net Work charge, and other charges including Touch-tone and 9-1-1, my monthly bill amounts to $50. I’m seriously considering moving my home phone to Rogers Classic Value Plan for $27.95, and this will complete the package, as I already have television and internet with Rogers.

    Bell is a joke.

  20. We watched the “worst service cell phone show” on CBC with my family and not a single thing has changed in the last 15 years. Bell is still so bad. It’s no wonder my grown children left their horrible service and made us switch to a better provider 9 years ago.

    That Bell person did a horrible job of answering any of Wendy Mesley’s questions. Just canned responses and never explaining why they’re still so bad.

    My girlfriends frequently bring up how badly they’re getting ripped off by Bell at the sorority meetings. Funny charges slipped in, late payment fees when they’ve received it on time, and many many hours wasted each and every single month trying to correct their bills with a person from a foreign country. Who can understand them? They certainly can’t understand us and never can address the issues at hand.

    For example, Bernice has a long distance Canada-wide plan, but is still billed individually. Rather than look at the issue, the foreign worker tries to sell her the same plan when she already has it and tells her it’ll save her money!

    So our new sorority agenda, besides arts and crafts for our grandchildren, is to switch our phone service immediately and tell Bell to “stick it.”

  21. I find myself in the odd position of having to compliment Bell on their customer service.

    Earlier this month, an agent called to offer me reduced pricing if I upgraded my internet service from Essential Plus to Performance.

    Having learned my lesson with past interactions with Bell, I made sure to write down all the details, get the agent’s name and employee ID, and re-confirm the details before allowing the order to go through.

    Then I got my bill…no special pricing, just the standard rate. Grrrr! So I called Bell billing and explained the whole story.

    They said there was nothing they could do and transferred me to Sympatico billing, where I re-explained the situation.

    This agent also said that there was nothing they could do, since there were no notes on the order. She then put me on hold for 20 minutes while she transferred the call to the “Loyalty Team”…after which the call was disconnected. I immediately called back and was told the business office was now closed. Grrrr!!!

    So you might be wondering where the compliment is going to come from in this story 😉

    I called back the next day and asked to be transferred to the Loyalty Department. After going through the whole story again, I was expecting more resistance.

    Imagine my surprise when the agent not only honoured the promised price, but dropped it another couple of dollars for the first year!

    P.S. @FM – If you have Essential Plus internet service, they’ve recently reduced the bandwidth limit from 20 Gb to 2 Gb. You have to call in and ask for the new lower price…and if 2 Gb isn’t enough, they offer $5 “insurance” that increases the limit to 40 Gb.

  22. To Salah: DSL lines go down from time to time – you just have to wait for it to come back.

    To everyone else: try Yak for long distance. Try a smaller ISP. You might even try Shaw on satellite for tv.

    I also wonder why we are supposed to pay extra for touch-tone since it is cheaper for the company. And all the system access fees are a con job. Let’s get onto the CRTC and complain about this stuff.

  23. @ Erick…thanks for the info. So what you are basically saying is they dropped the bandwidth, but kept charging existing customers the same amount?

    My bill shows $31.95 for Essential Plus, but then they charge me for usage over the 2 Gb?

    If I call someone, it won’t be Bell. It will be the competition.

  24. I saw Marketplace… it was a riot. But I think Ellen would have asked better questions. Julie Smithers did not mention steps such as Customer Kiosks and increased wages to increase service.

    Perhaps for benefit of the young people Ellen addresses in financial literacy, someone could put together a TEMPLATE
    for complaints to cell phone (and other) companies; logs, etc..

    Right now, I am looking for a template for TTC complaints.. due to a major error last night.

  25. I have been a Bell customer since May of last year and when I signed on with them I accepted the fact that I would have a 2 year contract only for my phone service (that is home phone).

    Well, in the last two weeks, we have been down with our satellite and no signal, so the first time we called Bell they told us that it would take 3 days to get a tech out to fix our problem. Then it would also cost us $75 dollars. I complained and got the $75 waived but still had to wait 4 days.

    Then a week later it happened again, so the problem had not been fixed. I called again and would have to wait another 3 days, but we would not have to pay $75. I was very upset and called back and talked to another representative, hoping to get someone who spoke clear English and wouldn’t tell me it was my fault that this was broken yet again.

    She then told me that she would have someone come the next day after I said I was going to switch companies. My husband takes the day off work expecting someone to come and nobody did. I found out there had never been a request put in, so I was extremely angry by this time and planned to follow through with my threat of going to a different provider.

    So I called and was told that I could not cancel my service, which was just tv and internet. I am honouring the fact that I had signed up for two years for my phone but now apparentlyIi have a contract for my satellite as well and they would charge me $300.

    Since when did we lose the right to change companies when we wanted and what if I could no longer afford this service? (No wonder people are in debt and have bad credit with companies doing this to us.)

    I went through 3 different representatives and a supervisor, who all told me I was a liar and was wrong and that there was nothing that the company would do for me. Finally very irate at this point, I went to a manager who tells me the only thing that he can do is that I have to have this service for 30 more days, then on my bill I will get the charge for more then $300. I would then have to call back and get him to remove this charge.

    What kind of service is this when they are treating their customers like people who are below them? They have lost me as a customer and I will never consider going back

  26. I am an ex employee of Hell mobility. My job expectation was to mislead, lie, cheat and ruthlessly sell sell sell people things, irrespective of their needs.

    I was told to lie and say “Ohh customer I just received a ‘pop up’ saying there is a new promotion and I can help you benefit from it.”

    If I protested with my manager that this amounted to lying and cheating, I was told I had a choice (several times, different managers). If we did not sell sell sell and meet our unreasonable targets, we were told in bimonthly meetings, we will be fired if we do not improve. So do whatever it takes or the company does not make money!!

    I personally witnessed hundreds and hundreds of people getting charged unfairly for things they did not use or were misled into believing that they absolutely needed, but I was advised not to open the “can of worms” and ignore the rectification if I could. This is pro company behavior and if not, you are targeted as anti company.

    Mobile browser could be stopped from our end but we were told to lieand say it could not. So even if you did not need it and pressed the button by mistake, we would charge you and keep charging you.

    Among a host of billing errors, defective handsets sold, rep errors, company errors, company policy, desperate or greedy sales reps lying and adding new lines with contracts without mentioning it was a whole new line with a term — just a few that come to mind.

    Managers were reluctant to adjust unfair charges because the company made less profit if money was refunded. It could affect big fat bonuses for anti company behavior, depending on the amounts adjusted for the year/period.

    All reps hated working as even employees were very poorly treated and harassed and constantly reminded they would be fired for anything, everything and nothing.

    Charges would often increase without informing and the ones who complained sometimes got it adjusted. Also, despite having bundles of minutes of long distance, often people still got charged at pay per use due to billing errors.

    Some people who looked at details would notice the difference and it would get it rectified, but others just paid and got cheated. For everyone that read and realized, who knows how many hundreds of thousands got ripped off.

    Many employees tried to genuinely help, but if the calls were monitored and they would be scared to help as it would not go down well.

    Crooked employees were given increments and higher raises than the honest ones.

    Now please spread the word with all your friends, relatives, strangers and anyone possible and shift to Primus for home line+internet for $39.95. and Wind for mobile. They seem fair for now and not half as unreasonable to deal with.

    I quit in disgust. Of several on my team, almost 40% of the employees were on stress leave or Short Term Disability from the extreme bullying and high handed cruel environment at the call centre. Attrition rate was 70% each year, from the horse’s mouth and that’s why most of the reps you speak to are fairly new and cannot help you, even if they wanted to, as they do not understand all the systems and end up screwing you more than trying to help you.

    Company hates negative publicity, so use Facebook, Twitter and whatever it takes to spread the word around. Only those who complained to Ellen Roseman, Better Business Bureau and went to small claims courts got treated fairly.

  27. LOL! At these rates you’re better off paying with your credit card and carrying the balance there!

    It’s just unbelievable how they’re penalizing people who are late paying the bill when it takes Bell MONTHS to apply credits to accounts.

  28. I was fed up with Bell Canada Reps and their lies and deals. So I cancelled after 7 months due to bad billing practices and service, after telling them off.

    I wrote my complaint and mailed it to head office with reference #, dates, quotes given to me and names. I received a letter back from Montreal, telling me they did everything right and they honoured their quote to me.

    They did not know what I was talking about when I told them the bundle quote I received when they signed me up. They said they had nothing on file for that price.

    First, they wanted to charge me $300 for cancellation, but they changed it to $150 for cancellation. Every month, my bill was different.

    Every month, I had to call Bell only to get outsourced service to India. Bad communication. They had no idea what they were talking about. I could not understand them.

    Each time I try to cancel my service, the Loyalty Department gets on after hours of being on hold. With satellite, they offer a really good deal but when the bill arrives, I get duped.

    My bill is supposed to be approx $74, bundle of 3, but first bill came to $188. I called to find out why.

    The reasons they gave me, when they kept me on the phone for 3 hours, were ridiculous. They charged me 2x for connection fee. The Loyalty Dept. waived the fees when he signed me up.

    I fought 4 months for a refund, next month same thing again and again. The satellite was crap. The signal always went down or I had no sound.

    The India rep told me to go outside and wiggle the satellite to get reception??? WHAT?

    With the movie channels for 7 months, I saw the same movies over and over like a broken record. They offered me 4 movie channels for $9.50 for 12 months. The bill at first was for $19.99, then all of a sudden it went up. When I complained, they credited my account.

    In my last several bills, I got overcharged anywhere from $8 to $35. Who is controlling this?

  29. After reading the post from “ex employee hell mobility.” just above.. I know it’s true.. I too know former Bell employees…

    Read my post on the $200 charge I got for buying a smart phone without a data plan.. in the Bell Blues section..

    I am sooooooooooo fed up with dealing with them on a monthly basis to clarify THEIR billing mistakes. This government is a joke to let them run amok the way they do.. It’s an embarassment to Canada.

    Read the –> Mad Bell customer — Do not buy a smart phone from them on a $40 plan!!! Beware!!!

    In the Bell Blues section…. You will see a $200 charge on your bill within a few months.. and they’ll give you an ultimatum to either pay the $200 or upgrade your plan… good business practice 🙂 I’m doing that to all my clients from now on… I’m gonna rip a bunch of people off and thumb my nose up at them when they complain — that’ll teach these clients of mine .. ha you better pay the fine or else! 🙂

  30. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything but complaints about the “Enterprise Level” Services provided by Bell either.

    Whether it be on analog phone services, PRI phone services, Fiber & Dedicated Internet Services or our newest project attempt of relocating our business’ data services to their co-location facility in Edmonton…. we have the same experiences:

    –Extremely poor to little communication from anyone on the projects

    –Project timelines that are never met and continue on well over 6 months after the due dates

    –No response to complaints

    –Incorrect billing adding up to well over $15K in the past year alone

    –And an entire team from Sales, Technical Support, Customer Service and Billing who refuse to help.

    We are at a loss on what to do. Our business relies heavily on the services that Bell has committed to providing us and when those services have unjustified interruptions and we are expected to continually make payments on billings that should never have been issued, our business suffers.

    The experience has gotten significantly worse over the last 3 years and is currently the worst it has been to date. We believe we are at the end and have only one course of action, which is to secure a new provider and proceed with legal action to include the billing errors and damages against our business.

    We would never recommend Bell for business services and would advise any business considering their services to have every detail documented and signed by all parties involved.

  31. Bell would have you believe that they’re about customer service. Customer service is a cover to get a buck or two out of you.

    As a Bell employee, I’m letting you know there’s more behind it. You see, when we take a call, we’re expected to sell to the customer (or prevent the customer from downgrading). We’re told that if we don’t sell, we’re not doing our jobs.

    Sure, there’s promotions that the customer may like. I enjoy giving people things for a discount and sometimes even for free. Lord knows they deserve it with what they put with. But the truth is: Bell wants MUCH more.

    Say I take 20 calls in a day, but I don’t sell anything. Even though I’ve helped every single one of those people out, I’m pulled aside and disciplined for not selling anything. So in truth, it doesn’t matter how many people we help, if we don’t sell, then we’re bad agents.

    We’re taught how to talk people out of downgrades, and heaven forbid we get a downgrade. A lot of the time, the agent avoids it because we get deductions from our paycheques due to the removal of programming.

    We’re compensated for our upgrades, for sure, but when the manager’s bonus is based off of ours, how are we supposed to go to work and help the customer properly if the whole time we’re sweating about how to squeeze an extra dollar out the person on the other end of the phone who’s probably already on a fixed income?

    We’re taught to “engage in conversation with the customer to create a feeling of comfort so you can position an upsell.” Engage in conversation….not purely out of being friendly, but to find out how much more we can make our managers, and ultimately, how much we can make Bell.

    A lot of people think we’re nothing but incompetent, greedy agents. In truth, we have to be because we could lose our jobs. The company does NOT care how many people we help, only how many people we sell to.

    Most of the time you’re calling a third party call centre, because Bell does NOT want to pay the normal wage they do to their internal employees. More often than not, you’re speaking to a person who makes just above minimum wage, who’s being watched closely by his/her superior to ensure that they can get a sale.

    Please don’t think of us agents as the bad guys. We’re exposed to extreme pressure every day (based on sales) that makes most of us exhausted.

    I once thought it was a great opportunity, but I now see that when people call in, they’re basically calling a sort of stockbroker’s office. Just watch the movie Boiler Room, since that’s exactly what it’s like. Thanks for listening.

  32. This is to inform that Bell is cheating the customers for overcharging on mobile phone bills.

    I was billed for $1,113.14 for the month of March 2010. I have got long distance phone line with Startek for last three years and I have been charged more than $500 by Bell. I have got only basic cell phone with Bell and it cost me $35.70 every month, even though I have land line and cell line for long distance through Startek and Telus never charged me for long distance.

    If the company is making losses, that does not mean the innocent customers should be charged. If this is the way innocent customers are cheated, then this company should reported and charges should be laid.

    I had a TV connection contract with them and they started charging me @35 per month. At the end of the contract, they were charging me $55 per month. After three years, I cancelled the contract and they offered me free TV connection and I said I don’t want your connection as I know how you cheat the customers.

    Bell is the worst reputed company for cheating the customers. I was told all incoming calls are free and they charged $600 for that and I have contract with long distance with Startek. I have three year contract with Bell, which will be completed in May 2010 for mobile local calls and I have already told them I don’t want to extend the contract, as I am not interested with your service.

    Bell is worst company I have seen my life that cheats the customers. If you visit the website bell cheating the customers, you can see how innocent customers are cheated.

    I was offered to take off $142 instead of from my cell phone bill, but I have contract with Startek for long distance, so why should I pay? The long distance charge for phone is 3 cents per minute for Startek and Bell is charging 30cents per minute, or ten times more.

    Even in future, if the customers call from space, it would be less than what Bell is charging.

    I was told about a $5 discount as I had got bundle package. But Bell never gave the discount for the bundle package.

  33. I have been with Bell for a number of years. They seem to have expanded the internet customer service once again to Central America.

    I always make sure I ask the location of the Bell customer service internet/sales associate. I guess the offshore internet/sales associates will increase Bell’s profitability because of offshore cheap labour, while sacrificing good customer service.

    Way to go, Bell!

  34. I am a Bell insider. That’s all I am going to say. Has Bell’s customer service improved? No.

    When I have an unhappy customer, I do my best to figure out how to help them. Do I do this with Bell’s assistance and support? Do they want me to bring customer service issues up and try and resolve them? The short answer is absolutely not.

    In fact, bringing customer issues up to managers is very likely to result in being blacklisted yourself. I’m not kidding.

    Asking a manager if – pretty please with jam on top – they will PLEASE take a customer’s phone call and if they can’t help, pls pass it along up the chain – is tantamount to asking to be slapped in the face.

    Your LOYALTY to the company is questioned. Your sales skills are questioned, ‘why aren’t you simply handling this and telling the customer that this is a FINAL decision’.

    I cannot tell you how frustrated and angry we are at the sales level. Standing up for a customer is career suicide. We try, we make nice. We try to help the customer position their ‘case’. All to no avail.

    We regularly get memos (like after the CBC broadcast) telling us, in point form, what to say to customers who comment on Bell’s customer service. Yes, we are supposed to say how Bell is investing so much money, etc.

    By the way, the call centre location? At least one of them is…. drum roll, mon… Jamaica. Nothing against the folks who are Jamaican, but they have access to hardly any information to pass to the customer. They are effectively hog-tied.

    Bell is a disgrace. They genuinely need to go bankrupt and wipe the slate clean. No other way to clean it up that I can see. It’s honest to God that bad.

  35. I emailed the Star’s contact addy with today’s Bell experience and in response Ellen emailed me, told me I was the third of the day so far, and shared with me this site and her columns.


    Bell sucks…this is pretty much what everyone says, but you really don’t know how bad things are until you read account after account after account of everyone having the exact same problems.

    We’ve been at our current home for 5 years. I have to inspect the bill with a fine-tooth comb because if I don’t, I’ll miss the blatant overcharging. We’ve battled with Bell on 3 separate occasions for suddenly receiving bills that went from $150-ish (bundled service, phone, internet, tv) to up to $600 in “erroneous” charges. I use quotes because I don’t believe anything on my bill is actually a mistake. I think Bell is perpetrating a huge fraud here.

    First issue was that suddenly we were receiving a MAGAZINE in the MAIL monthly, a useless, glossy waste of paper that was basically a big advertisement for the services we are ALREADY purchasing. I checked the bill…they were charging us $2/mo for this advertising. I can’t even imagine the amount of money they must have pulled in monthly just by quietly charging customers an additional $2/mo, a charge most people would never notice.

    Now I also know that in order to get a paper bill, the customer is charged $1. If you don’t want to pay the dollar, you can cancel your paper bill and just receive an ebill, which will cost you more than $1 to print up at home on your printer. So they win that one.

    Second, third and fourth issues were horrible billing problems that started when our contract was up and we changed our channel lineup. We insisted on pricing that matched new customer pricing because I am not going to be PENALIZED MONETARILY for being a loyal customer. Bell agreed on the phone but then the bill came and it took us about 6 months to finally receive correct billing, but not before spending 3 ENTIRE DAYS on the phone. Major pain in the ass, but at least we solved it.

    During that time we were “disconnected” a couple of times, and once it seemed like we were actually hung up on, but I couldn’t believe that. I should have.

    Today, while trying to get service in order to troubleshoot our spotty connection, we were denied transfer to Canadian call centres, we were repeatedly told to make sure everything was plugged in, etc. We’re not in IT, but we more than know our way around computers and setting up networks — please don’t ask me if my computer is on.

    We were told by one “technician” that the problem is our home’s wiring. Using an extension of longer than 6 ft for DSL results in poor performance. That’s all fine and good, but I suspect our whole house is wired with extension phone wiring, which means we need to get it rewired with 4 new jacks. The cost being a total of $264. It’s possible our wiring has begun to degrade.

    I asked how much it would cost to sign up for WireCare for the minimum duration, which we were told is 1 year. That’s $84 ($6.95/mo) — sounds good, let’s do it. We got a runaround; we asked for management and were promptly hung up on. Went through the ENTIRE schpiel 3 times (via at least 7 separate reps), and were hung up on EACH TIME. We had to give up, husband had to go to work and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.

    At around 6:30, Bell called ME. It was an educated, Canadian techie who wanted to help me troubleshoot and get my best connection. No scripts, just talking. A service technician is supposed to come to our home tomorrow between 5-9 pm to check our wiring and let us know the score.

    What we want is simple. We want the cost of the technician’s visit waived; if we must rewire, we want to purchase a year’s worth of WireCare and then have the house rewired afterward. If any of this is denied, we WILL be dumping Bell’s phone and internet service.

    Now we wait to see if a technician even shows up (doubtful).

    Also, even when our bill is “correct,” it’s never the same amount twice. I don’t understand how that can be when the costs aren’t variable, as they are with other utilities.

  36. oday, at 5pm exactly, the technician (who was so nice and friendly and wonderful) showed up, looked around, and suggested that the best solution for us right now was for him to provide us with a dedicated dsl jack.

    The jack has been installed in the corner, not 3ft from where Bell’s wiring enters our home. The internet, she works perfectly. No charge to us; he told us nothing he did today would be charged, and Ellen, I think I have you to thank for all of this. (I don’t know if you contacted Bell on our behalf or not, but you have our gratitude and appreciation just for making this venue available!)

    As for rewiring our house…it’s not necessary because the modem has its own connection and our phones work just fine, but it is something that needs doing at some point, and we’ll take care of that later. After I buy Wirecare. 🙂

    I’m still not completely happy because of the way we were personally treated by Bell staff yesterday. Today I’m going to enjoy myself, but tomorrow I’m going to ask for an apology.

  37. Bell customer service is hands down the worst I have ever experienced of any industry in any era. Completely and utterly disorganized, no follow up, charges up the ying yang despite verbal agreements otherwise with their reps.

    I would paste my 3-page complaint letter but will spare readers the sad tale of my mere $100 of ludicrous charges when others have lost thousands at no fault of their own. By the way, the complaint letter has gotten no response.

    Stay, far, far, far, far, far, far away from this ignoble company called Bell.

  38. Here are the facts. Their customer service still remains in Barbados, while they are trying to move some of it back to Canada.

    For the most part, it is still service by people who seriously have no knowledge of Canada or the company or the service. Their techs are rude, their processes are the worst in the industry, and the ability to solve or champion virtually any basic problem is an embarrassment to their name.

    It comes down to dollars and BELL is willing to pretend that customer service is a primary business focus while it clearly is not and the rest is a smoke show.

    Their middle management is the worst I’ve every seen, mostly because they are relatively junior. Most people leave management within 3-5 years, leaving junior management to try and run a broken company. Speaking from experience, first hand.

    Run far and fast, customers!

  39. i asked to go from fibe 16 to fibe 12 internet but they put me to the slowest internet available and then i had to battle them for a week to have it put back up. even though it was their mistake. You cant get anywhere with them. They’re passive aggressive bastards and i hope they burn in hell! (oh, and the same thing happenend when i tried to remove phone services. They removed my voicemail! which is the one i wanted! That also took a week to fix, even though they can do it instantly they just don’t. I finally broke down and told them i needed voicemail and that my dad was in the hospital and oh gee they did it in UNDER 10 seconds. Wow that was really worth the 20 phone calls. bell. I HATE YOU BELL.

  40. Bell TV (ExpressVu) — horrible, horrible customer service nightmare!!!

    My PVR stopped working July 7, 2010, and I lost EVERYTHING on the hard drive.

    It’s now July 23, and after 3 hours, 20 minutes total on the phone, most of it on hold, and notwithstanding the fact that on July 21 I was PROMISED a new PVR today between 8.30 and noon, it’s now 3 pm and still NO ONE has shown up!

    Shame, shame, on you, Bell!

  41. It’s amazing how many ways Bell can cheat its customers and get away with it.

    Our family doesn’t go more than one or two months without Bell changing the terms on our bundle, invariably tacking on additional charges — and when we call to inquire, customer reps lie about it, saying the new charges were part of our package all along when they demonstrably weren’t. (Do they think we don’t print out copies of our old bills?)

    I’ve struggled for three years to get Bell to send me a written contract with terms of service. Numerous employees have promised to do this, but nothing has ever come through.

    The reason? Obvious. The company doesn’t want to put anything in writing that it would have to abide with.

    A year ago, I started taking detailed notes of every phone call I’ve had with Bell reps — their promises, their apologies, their name and i.d. numbers. I wish I’d done this sooner.

    I wish that someone would launch a class action lawsuit against Bell for fraud. I’d join in a heartbeat. I have over a year of evidence of their lies.

    I don’t care if I make a cent out of it, but if Bell would have to pay for its lies, it might change its operational policies.

    Unfortunately, we live in a small town where we don’t have many other options apart from Bell. So they have us over a barrel that way. But for every time they cheat us, I’d like to post a message so that their lies should be exposed.

  42. My message to Bell insiders and employees who wish the rest of us well:

    Instead of posting your complaints about the company, it would be more effective to leak copies of the ‘memos’ and other material that you receive after TV programs such as CBC Marketplace, revealing how the company coaches its employees to lie to customers.

    A concerted effort to release hard (or at least embarassing) evidence of malfeasance and spin-doctoring is what’s needed to turn around a company that is obviously corrupt to the bone.

  43. It’s been just over a month and half that I got all Bell services. Based on bell chat, I signed a contract that promised me total $127 + taxes.

    I have received three bills (of course all separately because Bell billing systems can’t figure out a way to combine all bills) so far and somehow I am ending up paying close to $460 + taxes.

    I am still scratching my head trying to understand the bill. E-mails back forth with customer service are taking me nowhere.

    I am giving it another week or I am sending notes to all top executives of Bell. I am sure one of them will care about small customer and I’ll get the response.

  44. I work for a company that is Bell’s customer for the Internet. I will start by saying that I am an IT professional, not an average home Internet user.

    Recently, after many years of good service, we started to have problems with our Internet connection. I called the technical support three times and I can tell that everything is wrong with it.

    Every time I called, the call was answered in India and the quality of the support was below any acceptable level.

    First, English is not my mother’s tongue. I need to talk to someone who can express in English properly. The heavy accent of the support, doubled by the high speed of his speech, made the dialogue almost impossible.

    To make the things even worse, the quality of the reception was extremely low. High noise, low volume, although when I was originally answered by the automated system I could hear it very well.

    Finally, the professional level of the support was 0. Although we have an ADSL router – not a modem – and a static IP address, the support insisted to talk about a modem and the IP acquired by my workstation – my PC is connected to a local network, which is connected to the Internet through a local router, connected itself to the Bell’s ADSL router.

    I couldn’t make the guy understand this basic networking architecture for a company – and, now, more and more present in our homes.

    But, there is a simple solution to bypass India, which was provided to me by a former employee of Bell. Instead of choosing “English” for the communication language, choose “French”. So, the call will be routed to the call centre in Montreal.

    Then, just apologize for the mistake and continue to speak with that support as they are bilingual and good English speakers. And, of course, better professionals.

    I am even more frustrated by the fact that it is extremely difficult to give my feedback to a high positioned Canadian employee of Bell. This proves – once more – that they don’t give a rat’s a$$ about the customers and their opinions.

    Pheeeeewwwwwww. I don’t have enough words to express how fast I would get rid of Bell’s service. I’ve already started to research other options in Ontario. Of course, one of my first questions would be “where is your call centre located?”

  45. We switched everything at home from Bell to Videotron a while back except for the 2 cell phones. My contract finally ended with Bell on August 1rst and I switched to another provider on August 4th. I have yet to pay my July invoice as it charges me until August 11th and I was no longer a customer of Bell since August 4th. I have been called and called and rudely almost threatned for payment which I refuse until I get a corrected invoice. I am now finally getting responses via email but the invoice they decided to send me not only does not credit the time on my July invoice they have the nerve to charge me for services until September!!! I am sure I will have late charges billed to my invoice too which obviously I will refuse to pay as this is all their billing errors. I will never go back to Bell the service has never improved and I’ve had my cell phone with them since 2000 and in the past had other services with them. They forget they are no longer a monopoly.

  46. Bell has the worse customer service I’ve ever came across!! You get put on hold for 20 minutes before you get to hear a human voice and when you finally do they are very rude!

    I hate Bell to pieces. I suggest to stick with another phone company instead of Bell.

  47. TekSavvy

    TechSupport and Billing in Chatham, Ontario. $29.99 (5megabit speed / 200 Gig Monthly limit), or $39.99 for (5megabite speed / Unlimited).

    I switched to them 3 years ago after Bell lied and ditched the unlimited contract we were grandfathered into. Been happy ever since.

    Check their 3 year trend for customer ratings on the link above. The lowest they got in any category rated was 89% on installation. Everything else is 90% or higher.

  48. BELLLL SUCKSSSS….. I HATE BELL CUSTOMER SERVICE… I hate Bell with passion….please don’t go with Bell if you are planning to. You will experience a hell there.. every month’s bill will have something or the other for you to worry about.

  49. I have had nothing but problems with Bell. I am fed up with technical support that I can’t understand, can’t solve my problem or actually create another.

    I was paying for the ‘Performance’ internet package that was supposed to deliver up to 7MB of download speed. I felt that the speed was extremely slow and had 3 technical visits from from 3 different technicians over the past couple of years, each tech said that my connection was fine and my speed was “optimum”.

    Just last week I finally found out that since I am 4.7KM from the main frame, it’s impossible for me to receive more than 2MB !!!! I called Bell, explained the issue and I received a credit for over $300. What burns me is the fact that I was paying for 2 and a half years for a service that was impossible for Bell to provide. Why did’nt Bell correct the problem earlier?….. The simple answer is, the billing department doesn’t talk to the technical department. Total incompetance and a horrible lack of customer care. If I didn’t find out from a neighbour on my block suffering from the same problem, Bell would still be overcharging me. I wonder how many other customers are being overcharged without their knowledge?

    I’m switching to Videotron for my TV, Internet AND phone service…..

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