This blog post is a little different than my usual posts. After yet another disappointing and frustrating experience with the customer service staff of my telephone/internet/television provider (Bell Canada), I sent the following letter:
November 2, 2012
President & Chief Executive Officer
BCE and Bell Canada
# Carrefour Alexander Graham Bell
Dear Mr. ####:
Re: My Experience with Bell Canada
As a customer with Bell Canada for over 20 years, it is with great disappointment that I must write this letter. I think it is important that you understand what the “Bell Customer Experience” has become, so that significant improvements can be made, and believe me when I tell you, there is much room for improvement. With this letter, I am not asking for special treatment, or even a response, as by the time you read this it is very likely that I will no longer even be a customer of Bell Canada. My request is simply this: Please read this letter. I have given you over 20 years of my time and money; therefore I trust my request for five minutes of your time is not unreasonable.
Over the course of my time as a Bell Canada customer, there has been frustration all along the way, yet I have remained loyal. Whether it be calling customer service and speaking with someone whose accent I struggle to understand, the fact that EVERY time I call Bell Canada with an issue, I must dedicate well over an hour of my time and in many cases speak to three or more representatives in order to resolve an issue, I have remained loyal. Telephone, internet, and satellite television, I have gone “all in” with the services offered by Bell Canada.
After stumbling upon some information that I could obtain a better deal through one of your competitors, and then calling them to verify that I was not reading that information incorrectly, I contacted Bell Canada on October 7, 2011. I explained that where I was currently paying over $240 per month for Bell Canada’s services, your competition was offering me the same services at $140 per month. As any reasonable person would, I called to ask what Bell Canada could do for me, and whether I should remain a Bell Canada customer. After nearly two hours of aggravation on the phone, and after speaking with four different representatives, we finally reached an agreement. We agreed that for the next 12 months, my monthly rate would be $136. No more. No less.
Over the course of the next 12 months, the price slowly started to creep up again, and as of my last bill, the charge was over $180. Not wanting to deal with the stress and anger that takes control of me every time I contact Bell Canada, I foolishly chose to just stay quiet and pay my bills throughout this 12 month period without raising a complaint.
On October 6, 2012, I woke up knowing it was once again time to reach out to Bell Canada to renegotiate my new rate for the coming 12 months. Before doing so however, I decided to visit my local Bell Store as I was very interested in switching to Fibe TV, and the big sign outside the store stating “FIBE TV IS HERE!!” was an encouraging indicator that I had come to the right place. So I went inside the store and got in line to speak with a Bell representative.
After waiting in line for half an hour, I finally reached the front. I explained that I was interested in finding out more about Fibe TV, and that if the price was right, I’d like to sign up for it. I was subsequently quoted a price which I suppose seemed reasonable, then advised the representative that I am an existing customer, and asked whether there were any discounts or promotions available. The response I received was shocking. I was told that he was unaware that I was an existing customer, and therefore the price he just gave me is not available to me. The price for existing customers is nearly THREE TIMES more expensive!! Not only that, as an existing customer, I cannot make this type of change through the Bell Store, I need to contact Customer Service and make the arrangements through them. I was essentially turned away. I questioned why Bell Canada is punishing existing customers, to which the representative replied “That’s just the way it is.”
Upon returning home that afternoon, I contacted Bell Canada as instructed to once again negotiate a new 12 month rate, and ask them about the possibility of switching to Fibe TV. Upon speaking with a Bell Canada representative, it quickly became obvious that it made absolutely no financial sense for me to switch to Fibe TV, as I would have ended up paying MORE money for LESS channels than I currently have. Why would any reasonable person agree to that? Putting the Fibe TV scam behind me and choosing to focus instead on maintaining my current services, I spent nearly two more hours of aggravation on the phone. After speaking with just three representatives this time, I was able to negotiate a new rate of $144 per month. I explained the concern I had about the increasing rates throughout the previous 12 month period, and was assured that no, we are agreeing on $144 per month for 12 months, therefore there will be no increases over the next year. I specifically asked when this new rate would take affect, and was told that this new rate is effective immediately, and would be reflected on my very next bill. You record all these telephone calls, so please, feel free to listen to the recording and verify this for yourself.
I assumed everything was fine, and that I could live the next 12 months of my life stress-free, not having to deal with Bell Canada. That was until yesterday, November 1st, just 26 days since I had reached a new agreement with Bell Canada, when I received my latest bill. Not only was the price not what we agreed on, it was actually HIGHER than what I had previously been paying. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want the aggravation, but I had no choice, I had to contact Bell Canada.
Last night I called Bell Canada Customer Service and explained the discrepancy in the bill. The first person I spoke with immediately agreed that an error was made, and that my new agreement was not reflected in this bill. Unfortunately there was nothing she could do to help me however, and said I needed to speak with another representative. After 10 minutes on hold, I was finally transferred to another representative. Upon speaking with this second representative, I was shocked to learn that the agreement I had reached with Bell Canada just 26 days earlier was no longer available to me. An error was apparently made by the Bell Canada representative I had spoken with on October 6th, therefore that agreement was null and void, and he could not or would not respect that agreement. He said the best he can do is offer me whatever promotions are currently available, but that there was no possible way of getting me the $144 rate that I had previously agreed to. I told him that was unacceptable. An agreement was reached on October 6th, you have the recorded telephone conversation and notes in my file that verify this, yet Bell Canada has chosen to back out of this agreement with no advance notice to me. I expressed my frustration, and do you know how the Bell Canada representative responded? He laughed.
I immediately asked to speak with his supervisor. Another 10 minutes were spent on hold before I was finally able to speak with the “Senior Manager”. She acknowledged that an error was made by Bell Canada, but that they cannot give me the $144 price that was previously agreed to. Instead, she claimed that the best she can do given the current promotions that are available is to give me a new price of $154 for the next 12 months. I told her that is unacceptable. I had an agreement with Bell Canada for $144, and that is all I am prepared to pay. She confirmed that she has notes to that effect in her file, yet maintained her position that $154 was the best she could do. She then proceeded to tell me that “Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what price we settle on, because we can increase your rates whenever we want.”
I once again expressed my frustration with the situation, and asked her if she is prepared to lose a 20+ year customer over $10 per month. Her reply was that while they certainly do not want to lose me as a customer, I am free to cancel my services whenever I want. She asked that I provide 30 days notice. I asked if I could speak with whoever is next on the chain of command, but was told she was as high as I could go. I told her she was wrong. After pressing the issue, she finally agreed to pass my complaint along to a “Senior Executive”, who she claims will call me at home this coming Saturday.
In the meantime I asked her what I should do with this current bill for $182. Her reply, “Pay it”. I told her that was unacceptable. At the very least, she could give me the $154 rate and issue a credit. She refused. After some back and forth, we did ultimately agree to change my account to $154, however she would issue no credit, and advised that it may take up to 2 months before this new rate becomes effective. Again, unacceptable. I made it very clear that my agreeing to $154 now in no way ties me down to a 12 month term. If Bell Canada can change their mind whenever they want, so can I. I asked if this $154 rate would apply for the full 12 months with no increases, to which she replied “Yes”, even though she had just moments ago told me it may not come into effect for another 2 months, thereby effectively minimizing my 12 month agreement to a 10 month agreement. I asked if she could email me confirmation of this, to which she replied “Yes, I will email you within the hour.” It has now been 15 hours, and I have yet to receive such confirmation, leaving me with no confidence whatsoever that my account has been revised.
Quite frankly Mr. ####, I cannot deal with this aggravation anymore. It’s just not worth it. It is clear to me that Bell Canada does not respect its customers, and after decades of essentially having a monopoly over these services, does not feel there is anything wrong with the way you do business. Luckily for me times have changed. Where I couldn’t necessarily say the same 20 years ago, I now have options. I can choose to stay with Bell Canada, or switch over to one of your competitors, who seem more than eager to offer me their services. For me, it’s not about whether I end up paying $144 or $154, the money is no longer important. It’s the principle. Do I stay with a company like Bell Canada and continue to support them, or do I look elsewhere and give someone else a chance?
With minimal effort, I have already found several options with competitors of yours that can give me the services I need at the same price or less than $144 per month. I don’t know why, but I feel that before I make the switch, I should at least hear what the “Senior Executive” has to say when/if he calls me on Saturday, even though I suspect it will be a very short conversation. I am not interested in hearing excuses or apologies, all I want to hear is that Bell Canada will stand behind the agreement they made with me on October 6th, and that effective that date, my monthly rate for the next 12 months is $144. I’m not asking for a further discount, or any other one time credits for the aggravation you have caused me, I only want you to stand behind what we agreed to. Failure to do so will make my next move an easy one, and in roughly 30 days from now, Bell Canada will be out of my life for good.
Thank you for reading this, and I truly hope this motivates you to open your eyes and investigate further what is really happening between Bell Canada and its customers.
Dave XXXXXXXAccount# XXXXXXX
UPDATE: November 5, 2012
To their credit, the Executive Customer Service Department did respond within 4 hours of me sending this letter, and after looking into the matter further, did end up giving me a slightly better monthly rate than even the $144 I had previously agreed to. While I am reasonably satisfied with the outcome, it is a shame it took this much effort to get this resolved. Thankfully I now have 12 months before I need to worry about it again. If you are experiencing similar frustrations, I strongly recommend you do the same, and go well over the heads of the useless customer service staff. It shouldn't be this way.