My life with Bell

October 20 2007 by Ellen Roseman

If you read this blog, you know the most active area is Bell Blues. It keeps expanding with comments from disillusioned customers and employees.

Lately, I had my own Bell experience when my home phones stopped ringing. I called 310-BELL and yes, I ended up speaking to someone in India. (I asked where he was, just to be sure.) He said he’d send a technician to my house, but couldn’t give me a specific time. It could be any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the next day.

That’s wrong, I later found out from Bell. Customers can ask for, and get, a morning appointment or an afternoon appointment. There are three-hour windows for service. Bell even pulled my call to India to see what was said and promised that this CSR would get more coaching

Anyway, a couple of hours after my call, the technician was already at my house. No one was there, but he wanted to check the wires outside to look for the problem. After working all afternoon and into the evening, he fixed the wires and left us an invoice that said nothing. Absolutely no information. All he had written was a mysterious numerical code.

Since I subscribe to a bundle of Bell phone services that includes the wire care plan, I didn’t have to pay anything for the work (which would have cost $100 without it). But even if I didn’t pay, I still wanted to know what was done to my phones. Bell promised to do some coaching with the technician, too.

This week, I spoke to the Bell Pensioners Group , which had several hundred people at an annual meeting, keen to hear the latest news about pensions and privatization and taxable capital gains on BCE shares. I talked about investing, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about Bell’s customer service.

Here’s a response from someone in the pensioners’ group, who sent me an email the following day.

Just a quick note to a busy lady to say thanks for taking the time to speak to the Bell pensioners on Thursday afternoon. These are the folks who made the company what it used to be and solved the customer issues usually in person. We all understand the issues now, and I, for one, am glad that I am no longer part of the “problem” in customer service.

Keep up the interesting column. You likely gained a few more readers as well.

Here’s the best line I heard that day. After the pension expert’s speech, someone went to the microphone and asked a question that made everyone laugh: “Is Emily going to be retired when the new management comes in?”

Just think of it! Getting a real person to answer when you call the phone company. What a radical concept.

8 comments

  1. Ian W.

    Oct 23 2007

    LOL Loved the line about the retirement of “Emily”! Now, if only that would come to reality.

    Thank you for proving my point that sending calls to India yields to gross incompetence on their part. I know they (Bell) are working on it, but until customer service dramatically improves, the public should keep the pressure on by sending in their latest ‘Bell Hell’ experiences.

    Note to Ellen: Even if you did not have Bell’s wire care plan, you (and others) would NOT have been charged the $100. The wire care plan only applies to interior wiring. If the fault is outside wiring, Bell customers pay nothing.

  2. Cheryl

    Oct 23 2007

    I guess having the kind of contacts you do really pays off. But for everyone else, there’s a choice of either putting up with their screw ups and overcharges or biting the bullet and leaving.

  3. Bylo

    Oct 24 2007

    Add me to the list of disgruntled long-time Bell customers who are leaving in droves. Got rid of Bell Mobility last month. And no, it wasn’t a pleasant (or inexpensive) experience. Next up is Bell Sympatico when that contract ends. And after that my landline.

    Michael’s legacy will be that Bell has now overtaken Rogers for the distinction of being the most reviled communications utility in Canada.

    Re “Emily”, I suggest that OTPP give her to Michael as a parting gift when they retire him after the takeover closes. That would be more fitting than rewarding him with $millions that would be better spent to improve customer service.

  4. Chris

    Oct 24 2007

    Sure, make jokes about Emily but, of the thirty or so Bell Sympatico employees I’ve dealt with over the past couple of months, including Mark Langton and Kevin Crull, she, in my opinion, has been the best of the bunch.

  5. Cheryl

    Oct 24 2007

    Hi Ellen,

    Thanks for shedding some light. However most of us, 99% dare I say, would’ve booked a day off given the ‘appointment’ you were originally scheduled for. I wouldn’t have known who to call or confirm this information with, as I didn’t when I was a customer, nor would I have received service the same day or have ever experienced someone knowledgeable from the get go.

    I’m glad you got your problems fixed so quickly, which highlights my point: I have never or will I ever experience that level of service from Bell, that you would’ve been caught and have experienced the bottomless pit of ineptitude and frustration if you weren’t you and didn’t have your contacts, and would have most likely left, like most of your readers. From my experience, letters and calls to management go unanswered or conveniently disconnected, my bills were frequently wrong and overcharged, and getting someone to rectify these mistakes were very taxing and time consuming and still true to this day.

    As for ‘retraining’ it’s a matter of common sense and for the much lauded 125 years of history, shouldn’t they know better by now? Why is it that younger companies are more customer-centric than they are and have more credibility?!?!

    When I left, not only did Bell lose a very loyal customer, they’ve also lost my children as clients and also my grandchildren. And as my youngest grandchild says, “Bell sucks “.

  6. Recruiting Animal

    Oct 25 2007

    Ellen, I hate to say it but I hope you have more problems around the house because it’s fun to watch you become a “Mystery Shopper” and then write about it online.

  7. DUMB Bell

    Jun 24 2008

    Always choose the “French service” when calling Bell.

    Your call will stay in CANADA and NOT be directed to INDIA.

    The operator will more than likely be BILINGUAL and you WILL get the service YOU paid for.

    Vote for CANADIAN JOBS by choosing operators still working in CANADA and NOT in INDIA.

    More calls to Canadian operators mean more Canadian jobs.