Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bell Canada kinda sucks

And the "kinda" is just because I'm feeling polite this morning.

On Monday, our phone line went out a couple of times, then developed a horrendous buzz, with intermittent crackling, that made it almost impossible to have a phone conversation. And you do realized what happens to dial-up internet access when you have interference on your phone line, don't you? That's right... it drops from a blazing (it is to laugh) max of 44000 BPS to at best a limping 9000 BPS or, even worse, a speed so slow your modem can't detect it. And to make matters worse, your modem hangs up constantly. So I effectively was without internet access for a few days. It's hard to believe this is 2008. At one point I was able to receive emails, albeit at a glacial pace, but not send them. Please 'splain to me why Gordon can get Crackberry access here, but we can't get anything better than dial-up, or a satellite service that everyone hates? (See Xplornet Sucks) Oh right, it's all about money. I forgot.

So why "days" without internet access, rather than hours or minutes? Because Bell took its own sweet time sending a repairman out here. I guess they figure everyone has a cell phone these days, so why rush? It's not like you NEED a phone, right? Well, BELL, because I can only get cell phone reception here IN THE COUNTRY if I'm lucky, and even then it's OUTSIDE, maybe standing on the septic field. And the weather turned cold this week, so I was not really enjoying having my phone conversations out in the bitter wind. But hey, what does Bell care if I freeze off my tender hiney in a cold spring breeze? And what does Bell care if I can't use my dial-up, since they don't care enough and are too cheap to bring high-speed out this far in rural Ontario?

It was quite the comedy act when Gordon called Bell Monday to request service (yes, I know BELL, you might have to look up "service" in the dictionary. It's a word you used to understand a few decades ago.) Of course when he dialed 611, he got the damn automated system. I listened for the longest time as he struggled to get a real human being. The machine was asking many questions, and Gordon was giving many answers: "Yes." "No." "Yes." "NO!" "Today." "NO!" "YES!" "555-2342!" "YESSSS!" I sensed some irritation on his part.

And on it went, for several minutes. In the background, I started helpfully shouting out response words for him to try: "Breast!" "Doughnut!" "Hawaiian vacation!" "Fire in the hole!!" "Bite me!" Things did not improve when Gordon started laughing into the receiver. Apparently automated answering systems don't get humour.

Finally I could tell that the system was asking the nature of his problem: "Noise on the line." Nope, machine couldn't understand that. Too much noise on the line! "Noise on the line!" Nada. "NOISE. ON. THE. LINE!" exclaimed Gordon. It was at this point, several minutes on, that an actual human being came on the phone. Goooordon broke the computer, Gooooordon broke the computer! La la la la laaa la!

I continued to listen to half the conversation. Gordon had to repeat everything he had just spent several minutes sharing with the automated system. Then the hard sell started. Gordon was starting to sound exasperated. "No. I DON'T want a service plan. YES, I understand you will charge me $72 if the problem is inside the house."

"Yes, I have unplugged and replugged the phones. Yes yes yes. Yes, the phone is plugged back in." At this point I chimed in helpfully from the kitchen, "JUST SEND THE DAMN REPAIRMAN!" But of course what Bell really wanted was to sell us a stupid service plan, which we did NOT want because of course the problem is almost never inside the house. They just want you to think it will be so that they can sell you a damn service plan. I am old enough to remember the days when Bell just came and repaired things, inside or out, without a big hassle, hard sell, and several minutes spent yammering at a computer. Of course we had rotary dial phones back then as well. I'm feeling all nostalgic... ah, rotary phones... ah, Bell, a company that offered decent customer service. Those were the days!

"Wednesday between 8 and 5?" My ears perked up. WHAT? I had to wait until WEDNESDAY, 48 hours on, for a repair?! Gordon covered the receiver with his hand and asked me, "Would you prefer between 8 and 12, or 12 and 5?"

"Well, I'd PREFER they fix the phone RIGHT NOW but how about between 8 and 12?" I loathe early-morning service calls but wanted my internet back, not to mention the ability to speak on the phone without getting a headache from the loud noises on the line.

So the appointment was set, after far too much hassle. One should be able to call Bell for repairs to ITS phone line without being verbally strip-searched, interrogated and anally probed. I mean, HONESTLY! Hello, I am the CUSTOMER. Do you WANT my business? Do you really WONDER why we switched our long-distance to Primus?

I got dressed early yesterday and was all set for anything to happen from 8 am on. Of course, Bell Dude (a very nice guy, I might add. It's only the management that sucks at Bell; I always like the repair guys. Oh, why do I know this about repair guys? Because this is the third house we've lived in that has developed a loud buzz on the line, the third time we've had the service plan hard sell, and the third time the problem has been with BELL!!!!) shows up at 11:45 am, within the window but hell, I could have slept in a bit longer had I only known.

I could see him checking the boxes at either side of the end of our laneway. Then a pick-up truck stopped next to him. A guy got out and started chatting up Bell Dude; I figured he probably wasn't asking for a date; maybe it was his supervisor or something. Then our neighbour Steve showed up on his golf cart. Another 15 minutes of chatting ensued before Bell Dude finally drove up the laneway and rang the bell.

"Your neighbours are all asking me when they're going to get high-speed!" he told me. Not surprising; they are installing the lines for it a couple of kilometres down the road from us, but we have been told it will not reach our house. So close, and yet so far. I mentioned this to Bell Dude, who told me not to rush out and sign up for satellite just yet, as we may very well be able to get a signal (or whatever the technical term is). Apparently Bell is handing out modems for the locals to try out a week Friday. We'll see.

Turns out that the problems with our phone were mostly related to the installation of said high-speed lines going on down the street! What an insult... first Bell won't give us high-speed, then while providing it for everyone but us, they screw up our phone line so that we can't use our suckacious dial-up or have an intelligible conversation!

An hour later, Bell Dude, bless him, had fixed everything up. No charge, of course. My modem, while not connecting at its top rate of 44000 BPS, is at least chugging along at the respectable speed of 33,000 BPS. For this pleasure I waited two days and blew off a morning.

So I say to you, yes, Bell sucks (and this is just plain amusing.) Just like Air Canada sucks, and Xplornet sucks. Customer service is dead and buried in this country. Somebody bring me high-speed!!


  1. Anonymous11:36 am

    Oh poor Knatolee ... however when you do finally get something faster I will be alone in modem world. :(( You will force me to do something about it.

    I love your writing :)) ... even with such a sad subject.

  2. Anonymous11:38 am

    That's too funny. I just called Bell about loud buzzing on our line.

    My conversation with them went exactly like Gord's did - word for word. Well, except you'd have to substitute the "Hawaian vacation" laughter with muttered swear words that luckily couldn't be heard for the buzzing!

    Note for anyone else attempting this: yelling "GIVE. ME. A. LIVE. PERSON. FOR. GOD'S. SAKE!" loudly over the buzzing won't get you out of the automated system.

    Oh, and the buzzing means that you'll have to repeat everything into the automated system at least twice because it can't understand you through the noise. And eventually you'll get a live person who will ask you the same things again - at least twice because they also can't hear you.

    That, and they don't have a sense of humour, or common sense. Answering "ISN'T. IT. OBVIOUS?" to the question "What is the problem. I'm sorry, I can't hear you. What is the problem?" only confuses things.

  3. Bell Canada sucks so much, they give new meaning to the word "sucks." And your comment made me laugh out loud! :)))

  4. Anonymous2:31 pm

    I was with Bell for over 3 years, I had the Bell Expressvu satellite tv, the bill was over $81.44 a month with a 2 year contract which I only found out about the contract only after they installled everything. We don't watch tv anymore so I decided to cancel their services. When I was doing so they asked me why I was cancelling and was basically harassing me to stay with them for over 20 minutes. I have had previous problems with the service and wasn't getting some channels, when I called them they told me I had to pay for someone to come out and take a look.

    So anyhow, I cancelled the service on April 7 2010. I was told that they had to bill me until May 7, it would be my last bill and to pay the amount of around $51.33 because the billing date is April 19, so I had to pay from April 19-May 7. So I received the bill and paid $51.33. After that I kept receiving bills for the service for the next two months along with late payment fees. They cut off the service on May 7, but yet I receive bills for next 2 months?

    They sent me a letter stating they disconnected my services following my request, but they haven't received the payment of my last invoice, and they wanted to remind me that their invoices are payable upon receipt. I paid the last bill of $51.33. When I called, lady told me the billing cycle will eventually fix itself, lol. When I called second time they supposidly fixed the problem. I received another bill for $1.44 which makes no sense, I paid it hoping it was the last, (showed on the bill that I paid the $51.33, they finally got the payment)!

    Now, they sent me 2 empty boxes with instructions on how to send back the receivers/boxes/cards/remotes etc. I sent back the 2 receivers along with remote controls and the cards as they requested. Sent them on May 11, same day I received the boxes, sent with Canada Post, still have the tracking numbers and paper from Bell that is stamped by Canada Post as proof of shipment (as requested to be done by Bell Canada). I have checked the tracking numbers on and it states that both packages were received on May 17, there's a signature and everything. So, I just received couple days ago after months later, a letter and bill from Bell stating I haven't return the receivers, the bill is around $98.23 (not sure if that is for one receiver or two, won't be surprised if I can another bill lol). I called Bell and told them the problem and told them I have proof the packages were shipped and received, she put me on hold for 10 minutes, then told me that another department was going to fix it and she gave me a confirmation number.

    So now I'm waiting to see what else they're going to pull out of their sleeve. I have been a more than perfect customer to them for the over 3 years I have been with them, never a late payment, never a problem, and this is what I get! I know this isn't over, I can feel it!

    Bell Sucks! I still have Bell Aliant internet which also sucks, I will be switching to another provider when one comes available where I live. Thanks for listening!

  5. Vent away! I feel your pain. We now have a Rogers Rocket Hub for our internet, which is fast, reliable, and the same price as the USELESS Xplornet. I'm just glad we've avoid having to get Bell Internet!

  6. Bell's FOUR step escalation process suggests we contact the Senior vice president of customer service M. James Myers for top level escalation. His email address is here for all of your convenience. . I suspect it's a bogus email address because I've not received any response to THIS email.
    Dear Mr. Myers,

    My mother has been without phone service at 905 877 **** for three full days. She is 72. This is dangerous. We, and countless other seniors’ families RELY on phone service as a necessary link with essential services. I shudder to think what might happen if she were to fall, hurt herself or fall ill without any way to contact emergency services.

    I am writing as I sit on hold (It’s been 20 minutes now on and off) for the THIRD day in a row with your abysmal customer service department.
    I have called three times. My mother has called at least twice from neighbour’s homes and we have had three communications via email. Each time we have been promised a tech and each time no one has come. Today your computer says someone was at my mother’s home at 9am yesterday. I can assure you no one was. At 72 she is home full time and believe me, she’s been on the lookout for the technician.

    I’ve spoken with three first line support techs, three repair department people, three supervisors and nothing has happened each day same story, we’ll get someone to you tomorrow. It was unacceptably slow on the first day it is negligent on day three. It is for this very reason that I personally left Bell and went to Rogers for all my communication needs. I am very close to counselling her to do the same thing.

    In my last conversation with the final supervisor who has put me on hold for now 25 minutes I told him I’d just stay on the phone and chat with him until someone showed up at my mother’s door. There was no response. He hit the hold button and I’ve been listening to the same 45 seconds of music loop for 25 minutes.

    Do you not have a check back in rule? I’d be delighted to give you his name and employee number as stated in your 4 step escalation instructions but HE WOULD NOT GIVE THEM TO ME.

    Are you TRYING to drive yourselves out of business?

    A friend of mine recently moved and was given 6 months FREE local phone service, internet and satellite Television. I wonder if you’d be willing to extend this offer to customers who have been with you for well over 45 years and who are left to languish unserviced and on hold with a looped muzak track for now THIRTY MINUTES.

    This letter will be posted on as many blogs as I can find until this problem is resolved and suitable recompense is proposed.

  7. Bell's FOUR step escalation process suggests we contact the Senior vice president of customer service M. James Myers for top level escalation. His email address is here for all of your convenience. .

    Do let's spam his arse.


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!