Thursday, September 3, 2009


The Bell Does Not Toll For Me

It was called Ma Bell in the old days. Not because its service was so great. It was just seen as a good investment for widows.
Today, people are wondering whether they should still have land lines from companies like Bell or go completely with their cell phones. Ma Bell lost her charms years ago.
Occasionally I wonder why Bell still survives when you consider how inept they are when there's trouble on the line or no dial tone at all.
I've just spent nearly two weeks without phone service at home despite the $6.95 I pay monthly for something called Wire Care Maintenance Plan. Since Bell started to charge horrendously for when its personnel had to come inside your house to repair the latest problem, I thought it would be a good idea to protect myself since I seem to be calling Bell several times a year. This way there's no squabble about where the problem is.
The latest problem began with a wind storm that ripped roofs off houses north of Toronto and dropped the neighbour's tree branch on his line. It sagged near the ground and I thought logically that was the reason we had no service too.
We phoned and when nothing happened, figured it was due to an overload of calls due to the storm.
Three days later, I called again. Oh yes, a woman assured me (from India I think), Bell did have a record of the original service call. So why did nothing happen? Seems they weren't too sure what the problem was. And they couldn't come for two days.
I have done you a favour by translating what was said in atrocious English. I had to ask her to repeat every sentence..
Nothing happened again. My son called for the second time after I called for the second time and was told that my trouble calls hadn't been completed.
Funny. Bell had the name, the address, the phone number, my cell phone etc. Wotinhell else did they need?
Nothing. happened. Again.
My wife called and got a nice man who spoke English and knew all about the previous calls and a serviceman would be coming the next day. My son waited and waited but he didn't show. So my son went out, the chap showed (was he watching around the corner?) but unfortunately for him, the cleaning lady was there.
He told my son later by cell phone that he fixed a problem inside the house, which had nothing to do with the storm. Now that seems strange.
Unfortunately we didn't have full service back. So we called again. We also found a battered service call sheet in the driveway from the first repairman, which was unintelligible. The next chap showed, of course a few days later, with a trainee. He says he fixed the problem permanently. (If I could get that in writing, I would cancel the repair insurance.)
I have too many shares of BCE, which is of course is Bell in the parental guise, and we are reassured that the stock price will go up because of all the cost cutting they are doing. That must include service personnel and people who actually can speak English in a rudimentary way.
At the cottage, where I have had continual problems, partially due to the repair chaps showing up on the day I said I would be in the city, the latest service men have given me their home phones because they want me to call them first and then they will book the call with Bell. Why? Because they're afraid that Bell is going to pay them per service call, so they want to build up a private inventory before that strikes.
Not having service for almost two weeks means no answering machine, which is vital when you're away a lot, and a lot of extra charges on our cell phones, especially for my son Mark who is visiting from China and whose cell phone is still hooked there.
I'm not a fan of Rogers cell phones but if this keeps up, I'll cancel Bell land lines, sell my BCE stock and not have one moment of nostalgia for the good old days of Ma Bell. It's a wonder in this day of computer voices, inept service from call centres on the other side of the world, and repairmen who never seem to be able to come at the right time, that Bell hasn't gone bust.
It seems "sorry wrong number" is now its way of life.

1 comment:

Toronto Sun Family said...

We empathize with you, John. Where did Bell go wrong? Outsourcing customer service calls to India, for starters. Why does a Canadian communications conglomerate expect its Canadian customers to talk to people who do not have fluent command of the English language? Calls to India, Bell's shoddy bookkeeping and a high speed shutdown problem - which was finally tracked to a technical problem at Bell's end - cost me hours of my time and no end to frustration before pulling the plug on Bell last month. In recent years, it has been less for more with Bell. Customer service has become a joke, while the rates go up. Fortunately, there are now alternatives to Bell.