Monday, January 16, 2012



What used to be the only phone company - and it acts as if it still is - is known to investors as BCE.
As I discovered years ago in a newly fashionable museum, the mystifying initials of BCE also stand for Before Common Era, as non-Christians, the PC folk and academics ditched the old dating system of AD, or Anno Domini, to mark exhibits that dated before the birth of Christ two thousand years ago. Using BCE instead of AD started small in the 1700s and has become very in.
The two meanings for BCE come together in my mind because the phone company operates as if it were a couple of thousand years old, at least in technological terms.
I am almost embarrassed to admit I'm still suffering with Bell because most logical people would have ditched it long ago.
Although now Bell has lost me, the final blow, or the telephone pole that broke the camel's back, having come with the latest bill. A petty sum but I hate being gouged even in petty ways!
Once again I'm embarrassed to confess I actually still pay some monthly bills and don't have them  automatically deducted from my bank account. The reason in Bell's case is I don't trust it to dip into my bank without scrutiny because lately bills have been as mystifying as the accents when I call the call centre located in India or beneath the polar ice or some place other than the best country in the world which needs such routine jobs.
When I pay via TD on line, I dutifully authorize the payment a few days earlier than the due date, as instructed, although I notice the bank can process the payment the same day when it wants. (Are the banks making money on this?)
 Lately there have been problems with Amex saying it got the money from TD late, and my cottage phone payment being credited to my home phone account.
By the time I straightened that one out, Bell said I owed nine cents for a cottage phone that is out of service. Not really a big deal.  Only nine cents. But Bell's computers charged a "regulated" late payment fee of thirty seven cents and then $2.20 for a late "unregulated" fine.
So the nine cents became $2.66, which my son Mark informs me - since my arithmetic isn't great - is 2,855 % in penalty.
It's not that long ago that such amounts when it came to fines or credit card charges were considered usurious and illegal as well as immoral.
And if Bell keeps doing it without us rebelling, BCE stock will be worth a lot more than the current record of around $42.
I don't know anyone who is happy with Bell service. I wrote on Dec. 30, 2010, about the screwing up of the "do not call" list, and also on Sept. 3, 2009 ( The Wrong Number of Bell ) when the staff's  incompetence left us without service for nearly two weeks.
Unfortunately for Bell, its bill arrived the same day as a brochure from Primus.  So I know that I don't have to pay $25.02 for basic service (Primus $9.59) or $6.95 for long distance (free with Primus) or $2.80 for touch tone (.40 with Primus.)
The one that really galls me is the $6.95 for "wire care maintenance" so a Bell worker will come inside your home without charge.  Since phones are so inexpensive, you just can throw away a phone that doesn't work, these days it has to be a line problem if there is no dial tone.  (Oh yes, at the cottage, I have to pay $2.95 monthlyfor a phone, even though it's my phone, or Bell won't give me the rural service.)
I'm not recommending Primus because I haven't done comparisons with other companies. All I know is it's obvious there are better deals out there, and there aren't penalties of 2,855 % when either the bank or I goof and are allegedly slow with payment.
I feel like I've just kicked an old lady down the stairs but Ma Bell hasn't been serving tea or any service  for years.

1 comment:

Toronto Sun Family said...

John, I saved a lot of money - and India anguish - by switching to Teksavvy for telephone and Internet service two years ago.