Bell wants me back

I switched to Rogers home phone on April 20. Bell called on April 26 — yes, less than a week later — asking me to return.

The telemarketer called during dinner and ignored hints it was a bad time to talk. He asked what it would take to win me back.

I said, “If you made this call before I left, I might have listened and might have stayed. It’s too late now.”

I switched because I could save a lot of money consolidating with Rogers. An added perk: When our phone rings, we can see the caller’s name on our TV screen. That’s cool.

Bell hates to lose customers and calls non-stop to win them back. This also happened when we switched our long-distance to Yak. Another benefit of going to Rogers: Long-distance minutes are included.

Bell has a sales culture gone wild. It puts its interests ahead of your interests. It doesn’t understand customer service, despite endless talk about improving it.

Some companies are making progress. Best Buy gives refunds on a product (a Sony game card) that was previously non-refundable. Canadian Tire wants to fix its refund policy too.

See the stories below and be thankful for firms that want to beef up customer service and not just pay lip service to it.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

46 thoughts on “Bell wants me back”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I recently travelled through the US and spent a month in Arizona. There’s nothing like the threat of losing one’s job to create great, fantastic customer service.

    I have never, truly, had such great customer satisfaction as I did during my stay in the US. I, who am passionately Canadian, who shops local, who supports my local rural community, have yet to find such service here.

    I don’t understand the thought process of companies that only respond to the shareholders and then wonder what happened to the consumers they thought would remain forever.

    It’s 2010, folks…listen to what the consumer says, and then heed what they say, don’t ignore it.

    And, just an FYI, I’m a life coach and a small business owner. If somebody doesn’t feel they’ve attained their goals within a three-month period of working together, I refund them the full amount.

    I guarantee my work and I stand behind that guarantee. It’s my word, my integrity, on the line so if I don’t do a good job with that person, I, at the very least, want to ensure they have a good “leaving” experience.

    Living la vida fearless, Jan

  2. My Bell story: Rogers internet people claimed I had a virus (an old one) in my router and suspended my account for a week. Virus protection with regular updates didn’t help me, I guess.

    So I ventured into a Bell store to inquire about their internet service. Same price, slightly different technology (phone vs. cable). I started the process, but decided against it when told it would take a week. By then I’d have Rogers back.

    So I walked out of the store with nothing in hand and not signing any agreement. Still, the Bell employee signed me up regardless!

    Over the next couple of years, I was charged for the internet service on a monthly basis. Each time I called Bell and had the charges reversed, with a promise that my account would be closed. In total, I think it was 13 calls.

    Not even sure I got all my money back. How bad can a company be?

    It did eventually end, as did my remaining service with them, home phone.

  3. Like JL, above, my account was “sent to collection.” But unlike JL, I was not told that this would happen — it was just Bell’s automatic next move in dealing with issues that they didn’t or couldn’t deal with.

    Mine, in part, was a cell phone that broke. They couldn’t fix it and just never bothered to facilitate getting the new one I wanted, despite it being available.

    Finally, I desperately needed service so I left — but only after giving Bell many helpful hints how they could obtain a phone for me and keep me as a customer.

    In scanning through the above posts, I recognize a lot of what happened to me last year. As a postscript to my tribulations with Bell, one agent promised that they would do better. This was a half-hearted attempt to keep me as a customer.

    Clearly, Bell hasn’t learned one tiny thing about customer support and loyalty and remains unrepentant to boot.

    In this context, I find Julie Smithers’ response above to be the epitome of disingenuous arrogance. I would suggest that the way for Bell customers to avoid these charges is — for starters — for Bell to provide halfway decent service and customer service.

    Or this: the only way to win with Bell is just not to play with them (adaptation of the conclusion of “War Games”).

    In that vein, Wind Mobile seems like a promising option.

  4. I was coming to the end of my Bell wireless contract and decided to switch to Rogers, mainly because my husband is with Rogers and we were going to bundle both cell phones into a family plan. Also, Bell didn’t have the phone I wanted.

    I called Bell 30 days before the end of my contract and gave my notice. I did not tell them I was planning on porting my number to Rogers, since frankly, I did not see why I had to give any reason for my cancellation.

    The day before my cancellation would go into effect, I went into a Rogers store and got a new phone and had them port my number.

    Fast forward a month later, when I received my Bell bill (I still have home phone and internet with them) and saw they were still charging me for my now-cancelled cell.

    They said that when they received the notice from Rogers that my number was being ported, that cancelled my previous cancellation request.

    Apparently, I was supposed to tell Bell when I was cancelling that I was going to port my number and if so, that wouldn’t have happened. I don’t think I need to tell Bell a damn thing when cancelling a service, or more accurately, choosing not to renew an expired contract.

    Bell refuses to give me a credit for the extra month they billed me after I cancelled my cell phone. I gave proper notice.

    Bell never contacted me to confirm that “uncancellation” when they found out from Rogers that I was switching.

    In my opinion, this is nothing more than an attempt by Bell to get an extra month’s worth of fees from me, since they’ve lost my cell phone contract anyway.

  5. Funny how things don’t seem to change.

    A few years ago my Dad discovered Bell was charging him roughly double the market rate for long distance. Surprised Bell hadn’t ensured long time customers like himself got market rates, he switched long distance providers.

    A while later, Bell contacted him and tried to convince him to return by only *matching* the new rate he was paying! Needless to say, my Dad declined.

    Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I too switched long distance providers, not finding a competitive rate with Bell. I subsequently get a call from Bell, again offering to *match* what I was now paying, if I returned. Too little too late.

    In fairness, I will say that I still have several Bell services and my recent interactions with Bell have mostly been positive. I sense Bell really is trying to improve their customer service culture, but they still have a way to go.

  6. It depends on how you negotiate with them. I just renewed my own home telephone with them. It’s a one year commitment but the price was too good to be true:

    $33, before tax, got me:
    – Basic line + 7 features
    – 1,500 minutes North America long distance included

    The $33 is after a $5 bundle discount for having the Internet with them. This is all inclusive and includes no other fees except tax.

    The best Rogers were willing to do for me is $33.95 for 2 calling features, 1,000 minutes North America long distance, and the network charge of $5.95 is separate! So that’s almost $40 for half the features and even with that they wanted a bundle! This price isn’t available if you only want a home telephone from them.

    If you talk to Bell before you cancel, they really do try to make you stay with them. And while I can complain about Bell’s customer service, the reliability of their telephone and Internet service has been solid.

  7. Attention Julie Smithers:

    Do you care to comment on all the other issues brought up on this page???? You just addressed the late payment charge increase.

    As well, would you also care to comment on the outsourcing issues too. You say Bell is pulling back on the outsourcing to India but you fail to mention that you are ramping up the outsourcing to Manila, Philippines. Rumour has it that Bell is going to start funneling Bell Mobility and Solo Mobile calls there starting very soon. Care to comment Ms. Smithers????

  8. Question for Julie Smithers:

    Regarding CS’s above concern: Can you explain to the readers of this blog why Bell TV cannot refund an erroneous charge on a client’s credit card?

  9. Just a note on CS’s “suspicion” that Bell hung up deliberately.

    There’s absolutely no question that this is regularly done as a strategy by the agents. This was confirmed to me by a Bell Store rep after I was hung up on two times in a row whilst trying to effect an account change over the phone.

    If the problem is too tough or the agent doesn’t want to deal with it they put you on hold and subsequently the line goes dead “by accident”.

    Of course if you question Bell about this they will say that this never happens. However, during the same process an agent asked for a SIN number for identification, something I was also told customer service never does.

    Are these lapses? I think not. Bell seems to be merely following the precepts of corporate philosophy: Bell does what greed dictates and lies through its teeth about its actions… with a bald face.

  10. I agree with all the disputes about Bell. I was a loyal customer for over 25 years and had a problem where my main phone with answering machine would not work in my kitchen, but only upstairs. This meant I would have to run upstairs to get my calls, instead of on our main floor!

    When I called Bell to have it fixed, they were going to charge me $100 because the problem was inside the house, not outside. However, the wires inside my house belong to Bell.

    So I called Shaw and they offered to fix it for free and I also will never ever go back to Bell. They call me and mail me a few times a month now. I hang up on them like they used to do to me!

    I’m completely Happy with Shaw’s service and the Shaw guy fixed the line problem in under 40 minutes LOL ……kath

  11. Is Shaw in Toronto? I would switch to them in a heartbeat.

    Whenever we live in Calgary, we sign up with Shaw for cable and TV. We have used their phone service, as well. Shaw really is the best telecommunications company in Canada.

    I’ve had accounts with Bell (shudder), Videotron, Rogers, MTS, AGT, and Telus, and those providers don’t come close to giving the hassle-free service that we’ve experienced with Shaw.

  12. In his book, Debt of Honour, Tom Clancy hinged one subplot on the notion, “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen”. Bell seems to have taken a lesson from this book. Customers, perhaps, need to learn from this as well.

    Bell may maintain a voice record of all customer service calls but, as Ellen points out, this is of no benefit to customers in the event of a dispute. Even notes to your file — they do take them on occasion — may not help you. This has been my experience.

    Interactions with Bell must be regarded as essentially adversarial — agreements to your benefit will be hard won and denied if at all possible as a matter of policy — disguised, perhaps, as isolated accidental misunderstandings.

    Doing business over the phone makes this easy for them. Any records are ephemeral or controlled by them.

    Better, try email (Bell and Fido etc. resist this strenuously) and (I haven’t tried this yet) ask for contracts electronically PDF so that you can confirm the salient points of the “deal”.

    Anything that you can do to have a shared written record that confirms your agreement is helpful.

    Also, you can try to take control of the official record: send them your summary of the terms of the negotiated agreement. (Of course, I suspect that any Bell agent worth his/her salt will say that they cannot send/receive attachments.)

    If all this effort and stress seems too much… of course, it is. Until Bell becomes the kind of company that you can rely on to make a deal as if sealed by a handshake, we should all simply take our business elsewhere.

  13. Mark,

    You nailed it. You have perfectly described what it’s like to deal with Bell. I especially love the Tom Clancy comment. Bell should adopt that as their new slogan. Heh.

  14. I have been with Bell home phone for about 10 years. My monthly bill was around $65, including several features and $20 unlimited North American anytime long distance. 10 years later that same $65 plan is now $82, from small $2-3 increases over the years.

    We have everything else with Rogers, and looked into the Rogers home phone. It doesnt use the internet and you can use your own phones and jacks in your house. To get a similar plan, with 1500 minutes not unlimited, with taxes was $45. So we switched.

    A week later Bell phones me and I see their name/number on the tv. I say hello, and no answer at their end. I say hello a few more times, still nothing. So i hang up. Next day, same thing, they call and say nothing. Third day the Indian actually says hello. They want to know why i switched and if they can get me back. I say their tiny increases to existing customers has risen my bill to $82 bucks a month for home phone and i can get rogers at $45. So they say if i switch back, they will give me my old plan at $39 a month and free long distance forever!

    I told them that if they want to keep their existing customers, call each one of them now and offer them this deal. Too little, too late.

  15. Bell customer service is just as bad today as it was a few years ago. I switched my tv service from Bell ExpressVu (I had been a customer for 10 years) to Telus. Both my name and my husband’s name were given as authorized persons on the billing.

    A few days after cancelling with Bell, a representative called to inquire about the cancellation. However, she said she could only speak with my husband about it. I informed her politely that I was also an authorized person on the account (something she acknowledged was true) and that in fact the cancellation was my decision. She kept repeating that she would only speak to my husband. Well, suffice it to say that I stuck with Telus tv.

    I called Bell Mobility today as my Rogers wireless contract is about to expire. I explained the plan I have with Rogers and asked Bell if they could give me a better deal. The guy said straight away that Bell would be more expensive.

    I was taken aback, since I was a potential customer calling to ask for a reason to switch to Bell. He said Bell has no problem getting customers. The person was rude, arrogant and made no attempt to convince me to sign up with Bell Mobility. He couldn’t get off the phone fast enough.

    That was the last chance I will ever give Bell to be my service provider for any service. And I will let anyone and everyone know of my experience. Such arrogance in a service-oriented industry and in today’s economy is utter fallacy. It may not hurt their bottom line or ROI in the short term, but it definitely will have an effect in the long term, especially with the power of social media.

    Thanks for giving an opportunity to vent!

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