Changing the Deal

by Mr. Cheap

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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?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike

I’ve been using Rogers for quite a while and I have to admit that I’ve been pretty happy with them. I should try to get a better deal but so far, I haven’t. :)

We switched our phone to Bell a while back and I’ve been happy with them except for the price. My *intention* is to one day look around for a better phone price.

2 Traciatim

My family avoids Rogers like the plague, but are fairly satisfied with Bell (Aliant here in NB). Rogers has always tried to pull strange things on my family members, but Bell usually seems pretty straight forward for us. In the 3 homes (Mine, Sisters, Parents) we have 3 cell phones, 3 internet connections, 2 cable/satellite services, and 3 home phone services . . . Nothing with Rogers.

3 Christine

We use the 10 15 945 number before long-distance calls: who is ‘behind’ this method, does anyone know?

4 guinness416

Hey good post again, you should have a newspaper column. Are telecommunications companies the only ones who do this in your experience? I can’t remember being screwed around to such a colossal degree by other scummy industries like banks or gyms or health insurance companies over the years and EVERYONE has a telecom co story. As for my sob story, Bell reps have outright lied to me and “lose” records of conversations all too easily, and I can’t even forget about them as they continue to send me a bill for $0 every month. Never again.

Like everyone else I’ve been “thinking about” switching Primus for a while now, maybe we lazy old people should get together and hire some smart student to do the research for us!

5 Sods

I have been bamboozled by both “Big Blue” and “Robbing Red”. I sincerely think Rogers’ customer service has changed for the better in the last few years, but is still less than stellar. I have never been happy with Bell, except for sympatico which I had on dryloop for a few years. It seemed like it was always “The lesser of two evils” type decision.

I am now living in a small town (5k pop.) with a local Telecom that has installed Fibre Optic services. I now have neither of the big 2, and have HDTV, 20mbps internet, home phone, and $0.02 LD for $130 a month. Plus they wired my home with CAT5 for free, which our home builder wanted $1200 for, not including switch-plates and Hook-Up.

I have been Telecom Giant free for 63 Days now!

6 Quietrose

Telecommunication and cable companies are infamous for changing the deal! No doubt about it! In the States here, Comcast gives me nothing but heartache every 3-6 months when some promotion ends. I am constantly calling Comcast up and having to deal with the rate increase and I often sound like a broken record. Now, my DSL through AT&T is ending my retention promotional offer and is claiming that no similar offer currently exists.

As far as the long distance, I have faithfully used OneSuite.com for about 8 years. They have no contracts, no hidden fees, no connection service charges. And the rates are VERY low. I’d recommend them to anyone!

I agree with Mr. Cheap that it is downright despicable to call something “unlimited” and then place limits on it. That would be a hard company to trust right from the beginning!

7 Melanie Reformed Spender

I’ve been very happy with Primus. For one, their unlimited plan is actually unlimited and cheapers than most high-usage plans.

Bell Aliant has been horrible as a company, and I couldn’t begin to list my greivances with them. Unfortunately, they have a local phone service monopoly here (even Vonage doesn’t offer phone numbers in my area code) so I’m stuck with them for basic service. Everything else is with other companies, I’m happy to say.

8 Jerry Hung

Since you’re in Waterloo/519, I’d just say I’m very glad to be on TekSavvy, for Internet ($28+tax) and recently Landline ($22+tax). NO EXTRA FEES

I’ll gladly give money to companies who deserve them (and squeezed by Bell)

TekSavvy LD is 2.9 cents/min for N.A.
http://www.teksavvy.com/en/nhomephone2.asp?ID=7&mID=1

9 Jess

I pay $26 per month on high speed at eSuite.ca http://esuite.ca/

I PAY NOTHING for long distance and got UNLIMITED long distance in North America using MagicJack. I just pay $50 for the Unit and $60 for 5 years to register the phone number. http://magicjack.cyfocus.com

But I still have Bell and Rogers. I’ve got my phone line at Bell $30 and $50 at Fido’s deal which is Unlimited incoming, nights, and weekends, and incoming text.

TV is included in my Condo.

10 Adam St. John

I am another very happy customer of Teksavvy. They offer more for less, and I can confidently say that I will never switch back to Bell.

I have phoned in on two occasions to Teksavvy technical support and both times have had a wait time of less than 5 minutes. Each time, I was greeted by an actual technician who knew what they were doing rather than a disgruntled employee blindly following a solution flow chart.

11 Jim Jamiesers

I checked out the Rogers and Bell hate sites – I think we could spend time talking about how much they suck . The IhateBell site is done by some kid who can’t afford Home phone – absolute crap. Honestly – who is paying money for that domain name. The Ihaterogers site is a little better – seems like people really think they suck…..

12 Thicken My Wallet

Thanks for the link. I use both Bell and Rogers and they are equally medicore in their customer service. Let’s face it, we love cheap over value than we wonder why we get such crappy service having paid little for it. Both entice you with these crazy cheap deals and then try to upsell you afterwards. Of course, the cheap deals are loss leaders but they have you for a 3 year contract to beat you over the head with terrible sales tactics…

13 Jenny

Nice post.
I was *thinking* of switching from Rogers to Teksavvy, but ended up not doing it. I had the Express package with Rogers, and after phoning them, I discovered that I never came close to using the bandwidth allocated (I think it is 60GB). So I switched to the Express Lite. I have *only* 25GB, but I know I’ve never come close to it last year. This way, I am saving about $11/mo which is not negligable when you are under EI (I am on mat leave). I didn’t switch to Teksavvy, as they are not cable based, but use the Bell lines. If you are far from the central office (which I am), I wouldn’t be able to get a decent debit, hence my *choice* to stick with Rogers.
BTW, I’ve never had to complain about Rogers. I had a few reps that were lousy (they knew less than me in terms of network!!!), but the last one I had was super nice and very helpful.

14 NetWorthCanada

I have to say that I had an awful experience with Bell. After having the service for less than six months, my phone stopped working. The phone that made the call would ring, but the phone would never ring in my apartment. Of course, when calling Bell, which is a Canadian company, they have overseas call centres which are by and large very frustrating to deal with. The first time they sent someone out, of course they couldn’t make it in less than two weeks, and the guy couldn’t even fix it, I had to reschedule a second call. I stopped paying the bill when the phone stopped working. We thought he had fixed it by then, but since I unplugged my phone, the battery was dead. I signed that it was fixed. It wasn’t. By now, it was almost Christmas and I called again, they said they could send someone out on the 30th of December, and I said no, don’t do that, I won’t be home, send someone on the 2nd of January. “No, no, we send someone on 28″ I repeated myself. This happened at least three times on that same call, and when the call ended, I believed I had a technician coming between 8-12 on the 2nd. When we got back, there was a note on the front of my building that a techinician had showed up on the 28, no one was there and I needed to reschedule. I had enough and when I called back in January to cancel, and got the same overseas call centre, “You want tech support?” “No, just cancel the service.” “Tech support one more time?” It went on like that for almost 5 minutes. So finally, I got the phone disconnected and I also spoke with someone about the fact that I paid the bill as long as the phone worked, and I shouldn’t be forced to pay for a service that I wasn’t able to use. I don’t call for a taxi, have no one show up to drive me somewhere, and then get billed for it anyway. It shouldn’t work like that with phone companies. They told me that if I didn’t pay the bill, which was $200 at that point, it would go on my credit report. At that point, I tore a strip off of the person on the other end of the phone. I did pay the bill to preserve my credit rating, but I will NEVER use another Bell service of any kind. Ever.

Rogers on the other hand has been very pleasant to deal with. I have had one problem with their service since we started using them 2+ years ago. They sent a technician less than a week later, on a Saturday to fix the problem. I have found everyone at Rogers to be very polite and pleasant. They even credited my bill for almost $60 for something that was my fault, that I should have realized but didn’t.

15 ethan

In Vancouver, BC you can get a voip phone for $9.99 a month through
people line
http://www.peopleline.net/pstelco/index.htm
also there is comwave
http://www.comwave.net/CDN/iPhone/packages.htm

16 John

Comwave is a piece of crap. They are thieves. Avoid them.

17 Yousouf

I no longer use Bell or Rogers. Bad experience with them, and they are EXPENSIVE. Perhaps the most expensive on the planet. This is how I get my services.
Internet: I have used acanac, primus and distributel. I quit primus when they tried to cap the internet usage. I think customers left in droves, and they reverted back to unlimited, but by that time I was with distributel which has a better service anyway. Fast unlimited internet.
Once you have unlimited internet you can send Bell and Rogers to hell for the rest of the services. For a small investment (70$) you can get a phone system for your landline with several companies. I use clearpointel. Unlimited calls to 17 large towns in Canada along with all the trimmings like call display, voicemail, call forwarding, etc. For more than 3 years now I have not paid a single cent. It is all free. In a pinch you could use Magic Jack. You get unlimited calls throughout North America for only 30$ per YEAR.
I don’t watch TV. You can get all news, movies that you want with services like Netflix, Boxee. You are not forced to listen to the advertising and propaganda.
Of course it requires some savvy to implement these, but those of you who can’t you could pay some student to implement these for you.
But see that: I watch all the movies, TV shows, news I (and my whole family) want with zer0 $ monthly. I have a very fast unlimited internet at 50$ tax included. I have unlimited home phone for zero $ monthly.
I have unlimited province cell phone calling for 15$ monthly with Public mobile. I just added call display for 5$. So far I have never had any dropped calls.
My message is screw Bell and Rogers. Force them to decrease their prices or just leave them. As you can see they are being forced to get rid of their contracts. Keep encouraging the competition.

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