Changing the Deal

by Mr. Cheap

Bell and Rogers get a lot of bad press.  Ellen Roseman frequently posts problems customers have with both companies.  Some might argue that by virtue of their size, companies such as these will, by chance alone, have customers who accidentally get treated badly (unavoidable circumstances and all that).  That is, a small business with 400 customers can have, at most, 400 dissatisfied customers.  The majority of Canadians probably use Bell or Rogers, so they’ve got a lot more people to potentially tick off.  That being said, both companies seem to do a very good job of annoying customers.

I Hate Rogers and I Hate Bell are two sites that show the depths of customer dissatisfaction.  When people are making it a part time job to denounce your company, you know you’re generating a lot of ill will in the marketplace.

There are all sorts of things I dislike about both companies.  Bell lost me as a customer when no one showed up for a scheduled installation (and when I called them they’d lost all records of me and wanted to put me at the end of the queue and schedule an installation in 2 weeks, when I didn’t like this the rep flat out refused to let me speak to a manager).  Without fail the Bell sales reps have tried scummy tactics on my friends and I.  One called a friend and offered her a deal.  She asked if she could compare the numbers to what she was currently paying, and the rep told her that the offer was only good for that phone call (once they got off the phone it was no longer available).  She ran the numbers after the call, and what Bell was offering was a worse deal than she currently had.  One rep called me, and got my attention when, right off the bat, he said that Bell realized how badly they had messed up in the past and wanted to offer me a credit of $500 (to show they were serious about changing)  if I would reactivate my account with them.  After listening to his spiel, my final charge was going to be something like $64 dollars / month.  I asked the guy “so with my $500 credit, I won’t be paying anything for over 6 months?” to which he responded, “no, you’ll be paying every month, the $64 is after the credit has been applied”.  “Wait a second” protested Mr. Cheap, “that’s a discount, not a credit”.  After he apologized for “misspeaking” I told him scummy tricks like that are the reason I won’t do business with Bell and asked him to please take me off whatever list they have me on.

This shows, through my weakness of character, how these companies keep getting away with it.  We’re suckers for a good deal (myself more than anyone), and we should be saying “enough, no more from either of these companies”.  Instead, when they offer a good enough deal we get tempted to give them another chance and start listening again.  People complain about the poor service of airlines these days, but we’ve driven them to deliver this service by usually choosing the low-cost carrier (it has been more profitable for them to cut prices than maintain or expand services).

The one thing both companies do that drives me NUTS is changing the deal.  They quote you a price for service which is, without fail, a “promotion”.  People who live their lives caring about something other than managing their phone service plan inevitably have the promotion end, and their bill jacked up.  I’ve never had a problem getting them to put me on a new promotion, and getting them to retroactively adjust the bill, but it annoys me that they try to change the deal, hope the customer doesn’t notice (or care enough to argue it), and make you wait on hold and sort it out again every six months.  Thicken My Wallet once wisely wrote that the financial industry preys on inertia (perhaps it’s all large companies).  I imagine that they make large profits from customers who get sick of sorting it out repeatedly and just resign themselves to paying the high rate (as Bell and Rogers keep stealing customers from one another, then playing the same game).

I don’t expect a service price to be set in stone forever, but telecommunications has been getting CHEAPER to deliver, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a set price for service (or to adjust the price in line with inflation, instead of jumping it up 25% or so like they love to do).  I feel bad taking out my frustration on the call center reps (who have nothing to do with the company policies), but I think at it’s heart this is just bad business.  They’ve traded short term profits for becoming two of the most hated companies in Canada.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone with real affection for either company.

I’ve switched my long distance to Yak, and if things go well my phone and internet service may follow (I’m also *still* considering TekSavvy:  see what Thicken My Wallet means by preying on inertia, 6 months later and I’m still sitting on the fence!).  I know at 3.5 cents a minute in Canada and the US they certainly aren’t the cheapest, but I like their philosophy of no contracts, promotional pricing or hidden fees.  The one thing I don’t like is they call their high usage plan “unlimited”, which it’s actually 1500 minutes per month.  25 hours per month is a lot of time, but VERY far from unlimited (you’d go over it by talking an hour a day, which doesn’t seem crazy excessive to me).

How have your experiences been with Bell and Rogers?  What alternative companies do you prefer to either of them?

Be Sociable, Share!