Bell Canada Will Never Get My Business Again

by Tax Guy - Burlington Accountant on October 7, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post

Last Sunday the Financial Blogger wrote about a reader’s experience with Bell’s customer service. This prompted me to share my experience with Bell from 2000 to 2004 and why I will never do any form of business with Bell again.

Five years after the fact, I still get hot under the collar about these experiences!

When I moved to Ontario in 2000, I set up all of my services with Bell. I had my phone, television, and internet services through Bell and quickly began running into problems.

Problem 1 – The Sympatico Internet Debacle

My internet was initially on dial-up and I decided to change to their high-speed service. The changeover was seamless until I called for technical support. Apparently, they could no longer identify me as a Sympatico client and refused to help me with my service support issue. I was receiving the service and was getting billed but I could not get technical support.

Since I couldn’t get my technical support issues resolved, I decided to cancel my service and try another provider.

Since Bell couldn’t identify me as a customer they couldn’t cancel my service. The told me they could only accept my cancellation via fax or mail. Dutifully I faxed in the request … the service and billing continued.

I spent countless hours on the phone with Bell and sent several more faxes trying to cancel my service and now get my money back from them, but to no avail. Finally, after several months decided to take more drastic actions:

  1. I created and endless fax loop of about 5 pages taped together telling Bell to cancel my service. I stood at the fax machine and feed and re-feed this taped document into the fax as a continuous loop until the memory on my fax ran out … I did this until Bell’s fax would no longer answer.
  2. I then called my bank and asked them to return the automatic payments taken from my account. The bank processed the request for me three times over three months! The pre-authorized payments continued.

In disgust, I finally closed my bank account and opened a new one to stop the madness.

Three months later, I got a collection notice from Bell. I was furious and attached a letter explaining my experience and enclosed copies of the faxes and the collection notice to Mr. Michael Sabia (the CEO at the time).

I got a call from the presidents office a week later apologizing and telling me the whole issue was fixed. It was this time!

Problem 2 – The Phantom Bill Thief

I received a collection notice from Bell telling me my telephone service was past due (Sympatico was pre-authorized but the telephone service was not). I am not one to NOT pay a bill so I was a little confused. I looked at my bank account and realized that yes, I had not paid the bill in three months as Bell had claimed. So I paid the bill!

I also called Bell because I couldn’t find any phone bills in my personal records and didn’t recall ever receiving them in the mail. Bell assured me the bills were being sent.

A few weeks later, I received a phone bill from Bell. The problem was that it was dated four months old. Since I paid it, I just ignored it.

Next month, I received another bill … again four months old. I called Bell and they assured me my bills were being sent on time and blamed the post office for the late mail.

I called Canada Post … and based on the markings on the envelopes, these four month old bills had only been sent a few days earlier. I called Bell and the couldn’t have cared less – They said it does not matter if I receive a bill or not I have to pay for the service and and suggested someone was stealing my mail (how they came to that conclusion is beyond me). Now I fully agree I need to pay the bill whether I get the bill or not, but there was a problem with Bell sending the bill.

I coudn’t seem to get this issue resolved and decided to enrol in pre-authorized billing to make sure my bill was paid on time (despite my experience with Sympatico).

The four month delay in bills continued until I eventually cancelled my service.

Problem 3 – Bell Mobility Overpayment Nightmare

I had a cell phone through Bell Mobility that I had cancelled. Unfortunately, I didn’t delete Bell Mobility from my on-line bill payment profile and accidentally paid Bell in error … to the tune of about $250 (we have more than one cell phone!).

I called Bell Mobility and after navigating their painful IVR system, I managed to speak to a real live human being and explained my error. They assured me they would send me a refund immediately. The refund cheque never came.

Three weeks later, I spend more time on the phone with Bell explaining the issue and attempting to get my money back. They assured me they were sending the refund. Again, no refund came.

I made several more calls to Bell Mobility over the next several weeks before deciding to call the bank and ask that the bill payment be reversed. Unfortunately, I had waited too long and the bank could not call back the payment.

I had spent hours on the phone with Bell and was frustrated and again I wrote a letter to Mr. Sabia demanding my money back. I got a call from the president’s office and got my money back.

The Lesson Was Learned

I realized that Bell was awful to deal with and that the only way to get any sort of issue resolved was to write a letter to the CEO.

I eventually cancelled all the rest of my Bell services and sent a final letter to Bell asking them not to call or attempt to solicit business from me again. Success, I have never heard from them again!

About The Tax Guy...

Dean Paley CGA CFP is a Burlington accountant and financial planner who services individuals and business owners locally, nationally and internationally. Dean has appeared in the National Post, Toronto Star and Metro News.

To find out more, visit Dean's website Dean Paley CGA CFP or connect via Twitter @DeanPaleyCGACFP.

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{ 17 comments }

David February 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

I`m having similar problems with Bell Canada right now regarding payments for their satellite service. Payments were sent in the form of a personal cheque for December 2009 and January 2010 but they claim they never received them in spite of the fact that CIBC has proof that both cheques were cashed at their location by someone from Bell Canada both times. Now they want me to pay for February! Obviously this is not going to happen until they get these problems fixed. My patience with this lousy company is starting to run out. I`m even considering contacting the RCMP because I`ve got a feeling there`s more to this than just a simple computer malfunction. Someone at Bell Canada is stuffing their pockets with my money and I`m getting zero credit. Needless to say, I will NEVER deal with Bell Canada again.

Tax Guy February 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

@David: I would bypass the call center and write the CEO directly. Have them forget their error and ask for a years worth of service for free. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, take them to court.

Hannah March 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Ah, yes, the Evil Bell Mobility system and ‘Emily’ the automated voice that wastes your time, then disconnects you. It’s like a fortress designed to be customer-proof. How ironic that the phone company has the *worst* phone labyrinth in the world. Even their employees agreed with that statement when I finally reached real people to deal with ongoing billing problems with my spouse’s cell phone, which is in my name.

I had to call them every month on the billing date, to find out the balance owing; if I waited until the paper bill arrived, it was too late to pay the bill on time. Bell Mobility had placed a ‘spending cap’ on this account, which required 6 consecutive months of bills paid on time before the cell account could be combined with our home phone/internet bill at Bell Aliant here in the Maritimes. We would pay before the due date, but their processing was so slow that the amount was not credited to our account before it was overdue. It took over a year to get free of this miserable waste of time.

Aliant was the Maritimes’ regional phone company before being taken over by Bell. I must say that the Aliant part of Bell Aliant gives excellent service (local phone, internet, etc) and their call center can link to Bell Mobility, so now I call Bell Aliant even for cell phone issues, since the accounts are now combined. They transfer me to a real person at Bell, avoiding the horrible ‘Emily’ monster.

If it were not for the great staff at Aliant (many employed locally), we would have given up on the Bell pirates long ago. Although that would mean no cell, since Bell owns most of the towers.

Lam July 8, 2010 at 1:52 am

I don’t think there is anybody that deals with Bell that did not have a problem one way or other. I been having problems for years with Bell TV, everytime I have a problem it takes months and hours on the phone to solve a very simple matter. They better shape-up or in a few years a see them out of business.

Shirley July 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I have questioned Bell Canada about the Contribution fee that suddenly appeared on our satellite bill since Sept/09. I had not authorized any contribution and although it is only 83 cents/mo. + GST, I am astounded that anyone can force me into a “contribution” without my knowledge and approval. They said CRTC had started billing them for the LPIF and they were passing it on to the consumer. I called CRTC and the lady there said that fee has been charged to the satellite providers for about 20 years. I called back to Bell to get a supervisor to talk to me, but unable to do that. So I got the address to send a letter to regarding this matter. I hope I get better results than you people have been getting. It seems we consumers keep getting “taken” for whatever they can come up with. I think the more we let them know about our concerns, the more likely they might be to listen. I don’t where honest “customer service” has gone these days.

Ana July 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Ontario did not previously require Internet Service Providers, including Bell, to charge provincial sales tax on Internet access services. Similarly, toll free services purchased for business use were exempt from the provincial sales taxes in both Ontario and British Columbia. As of July 1, these services are subject to the full HST in both Ontario and British Columbia.

My monthly charges:
1 Modem Lease – $3.95
1 Bell Ultra Internet Service – $56.00
sub-total – $59.95
GST – $3.00
PST – $0.32
Total after taxes $63.27

Ana July 15, 2010 at 12:03 am

Can anybody give me a clear indication of how Bell Canada calculates the tax on Telephone Services?

My monthly charges:
1 residence line – $21.02 (increased by $2)
1 non-published listing – $2.00
1 call display – $8.95
1 emergency 911 – $0.19
1 touch-tone service – $2.80
sub-total – $34.96

Usage (depends on the month)
total before taxes in this example: – $3.12

I made calls to the same Burlington number repeatedly — within days of one another — the call type indicates that some of these calls were “Q: Provincial tax only”…? Don’t understand how this can vary.

sub-total before taxes – $38.08
GST – $1.89
PST – $3.08
Total after taxes – $43.05

Bell Services – $98.03
GST – $4.89
PST – $3.40
Amount due – $106.32

Ana July 15, 2010 at 12:07 am

I’m trying to post these expenses into Quickbooks, and it is a nightmare because although you can override the tax amount, QB want to ‘re-calculate’ based on the standard rates. I made a mistake and paid Bell Canada when I meant to pay Rogers Wireless, and now I have to create the splits in QB to show that I effectively paid several months worth of bills at once. But since the tax is not calculated at a standard rate, I’m having nothing but trouble. Any suggestions?

Tax Guy July 15, 2010 at 4:21 am

Ana,
I haven’t used QB. Is there not a panel to change the rates? If not you might have to make a journal entry to fix it.

Ana July 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hi,
Part of me being a dummy is I’m not good at describing what it is that I don’t know! I suspect I’m not the only dummy out there w/ this prob.
In any case, thank you for your reply, and I think I’ve got it to work (however painful). QB is a pain b/c in order to enter any tax at all for an expense, you must first select the rate of tax (i.e. 5% GST + 8% PST). However, on the BELL invoice, certain calls are PST exempt (no explanation why), therefore you have to manually override the tax entries, eventually it works but b/c the system always goes back to default when you click recalculate, you sometimes have to do it several times when you are dealing with different splits. It’s tiresome and I had hoped to find a forum w/ some advice for a better solution — but you are the only one who has kindly responded and you are not familiar with QB. Much appreciated anyway. 🙂

Ana July 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

p.s. I agree with your BELL comments. I tried to switch once to PRIMUS and found them worse, so went back to BELL. If you have a reliable landline provider (not VOIP), and internet provider, I’d certainly like to know who you are using! Feel free to email me direct. Thanks!

Ana July 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

How to deal with Prepaid BELL:
1. Click ‘Accnt’. Ctrl+N to create new account called: Prepaid Expenses.

2. Click ‘Reg’. Select bank account. Click OK.

3. Enter the date that you deposited the funds, and Payee information (i.e. BELL). Account will be Prepaid Expenses. Enter amount of payment (i.e. $396). Click Record.

4. Now you are going to record the “expired expense amount for the appropriate period”. Click ‘Bill’ to Enter Bills. Vendor (BELL), Date (as appropriate), Amount Due $0.00 (IMPORTANT), Ref. No. (deduct expired exp — or whatever). Account (Expense, i.e. Internet, Telephone), Tax code (override amounts as necessary), Net Amt of expense (that has expired), AND ANOTHER LINE ITEM for Account: Prepaid Expenses, Zero Tax, Net Amt of expense equal to total of Expense(s) above but NEGATIVE amt. Save & Close.

You debit all accounts necessary (positive numbers) and credit all accounts necessary (negative numbers). The amount of the check is zero because the debits equal the credits.

5. View running total: click ‘Reg’. Select Prepaid Expenses. Click OK. The register should show you the initial payment (BELL, Increase by $396 Amt), CHQ: Bank Account. The next entry will be the amount that has expired (BELL, Decrease by $____ Amt), BILL: Accounts Payable [possible split], and the balance.

robert beckett October 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

I had many problems dealing with Bell service as well. I asked for a one year contract only, in spite of the pressure for a two-year. Mea Culpa: I did not read the contract when the service rep had me sign it. It had the two-year box checked. Whoops! I did not find this out until I decided to cancel Bell after a year of aggravation. During this period, I called several times every month about loss of service or billing “mistakes”. I could accept the loss of satellite service because it was rare and occured only during a storm. The billing issues were endless, however, and while the reps were always pleasant and polite, new “mistakes” popped up every month, each requiring dealing with waits and transfers. I first cancelled my telephone and internet account, believing them to be separate from my satellite service. Although I did not sign a contract, I was told I owed them $150 to disconnect after using it for a year. They informed me that I had “bundled” them part way into my other contract. What I asked for was a single bill for all three, since I found it easier to pay one bill than two or three. They obliged, but neglected to tell me that having one paper bill didn’t just save paper, but contractually obligated me. Well, isn’t that convenient for them now! In February of 2010 I called three times about cancellation anyway and they assured me that it was done. Four months later I was still getting bills. I called again and demanded to speak to someone who knew what was going on. After four transfers and several waits I finally talked to someone. He explained that I had not “really” cancelled. Do you have no record of my calls, I asked. Oh yes, we do, said the rep. Then how does that make sense? He explained that I neglected to request a cancellation number, and no cancellation proceeds without it. I told him I had no idea about this, and that no one offered any number. Ah, well, he said, then would you like one now? He gives it too me and informs me I have to give them a month’s notice. Well, I did that, didn’t I, several months ago! No, he assures me. For all they know, I was still using thier service. Don’t you keep records? I asked. So he checks: indeed ZERO traffic since the first time I called in February. Yes, he said, but you didn’t have a cancellation approval number so I will have to charge you anyway. By the time all the dust settled on this, I paid for 6 months of service that I did not use (having gotten another provider since before my first call to cancel). I had to pay the $150 cancellation fee. They still call me to this day to ask me to “come back to Bell”. I won’t go into the similar problems I had in cancelling my satellite account. Suffice it to say that by the time it was all done (well it seems it may be done) it cost me over $700 to get rid of Bell. And it may not be over, no, it may not be over. I still have thier satellite equipment sitting in my livingroom waiting for the boxes Bell is sending me so I can return it all… and I lost one of thier darn remotes… One thing I do know: no matter how much they charge you, you had better pay or your credit reating will be ruined, even if it is just a lousy $10 bucks.

George H. Clarke December 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

It looks as if the only resolve to an ongoing issue I am having will be to contact the CEO of bell. Do you have this address so I can write to him today?
Thanks
George

Tax Guy December 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

I don’t have the address or name any longer. Google Bell Canada Head Quarters and key managers.

Catchxxii07 January 17, 2011 at 2:49 am

I’ve had nothing but problems with bell mobility. I’ve spent hours on the phone with them, spoken to at least 15 different reps and out of those 15 only one has been even remotely helpful. I had some major billing issues with them resulting in over $2500 EXTRA in payments. When they say they send out bills or notifications about suspending services, they’re full of s**t. I’ve only been with bell mobility since feb ’10 and I hve never been more annoyed with a company than I am with them.
Maybe someone will be able to help me, now
my bill has two different “amount due” amounts… One is my lovely monthly bill of $82.22 an the other is Over in the blue box on the left hand side that says “amount due: -$568.54” anyone know why it shows up as a negative? It seems to be tracking how much I’ve paid in monthly charges (minus the $2500 snafu)… But I don’t remember it always being negative..

exbell customer November 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm

do not get any services from bell as I swear they have spies how funny it is that the minute you get you bill out of the mailbox your services are disconnected Not allowed time go pay it

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