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Bell Canada Will Never Get My Business Again

Last Sunday the Financial Blogger [1] 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!