Published In The Great North Arrow, November 15, 2022: Bell - A Business Or A Bunch Of Buffoons?

- jim Young

“Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.” Alexander Graham Bell


Introduction

It seems I can’t even admit defeat without Bell messing up every step of the way. Alexander Graham Bell must be spinning in his grave knowing that his namesake company is making such mockery of his life-long work.


Despite outages and poor service that Bell Executives refuse to acknowledge, I kind of like Bell. I would rather give them the opportunity to “work things out” than jump ship.


Well, that’s part of it. There’s also “the devil you know factor” which comes into play. Switching all my Bell services to 2 or 3 new companies with the learning curve that goes along with it is not a simple undertaking. I would rather allow Bell the opportunity to:

1) recognize and admit their inability to provide the services for which they have been charging 

2) take action to correct the situation and actually provide those services. 


Sometimes however, one just gets tired of banging their head on a brick wall.


Part I

As one last attempt to complain about my ridiculously slow internet service, I could quickly see I was getting nowhere. I was on the phone with a Bell online technician Christine but had a difficult time hearing her as the phone was crackling. I pointed it out to Christine who shamelessly acknowledged without apology she was hearing the crackling as well. My call after all, was in regards to Bell Internet, not Bell Phone and clearly not her department and obviously not her concern.


The internet package I am subscribed to boasts internet speeds of up to 5 Mbps. For the past month I have been running speed tests:

Low: .04

High: 1.4

Overall Average: .89


I wonder if anyone gets 5 Mbps? Of course Bell’s “out” is they only advertise “up to”.


I use Ookla’s speed test as was recommended by several Bell techs. I once questioned why they didn’t use Bell’s speed test and was told Ookla was better. That seemed odd.


Christine however asked me to run Bell’s speed test so I asked her why, when all the other Bell tech’s asked me to run Ookla? Chrisitne told me Bell’s was better. But when I tried to run it, I received a connection error. Without even acknowledging the irony of it, Christine then asked me to run Ookla. After waiting a considerable time for it to connect, the result was .34 Mbps. It was not Christine’s shining moment.


Christine advised me that she couldn’t change my profile again because, while it might increase my internet speed a little, I would face more frequent disconnections. 


After several questions that Christine refused to answer, she finally acknowledged that I was in fact paying for a service that Bell wasn’t providing. At my request she started to check to see if there was any possible compensation for me. Unfortunately that’s when our phone connection was lost. (During a personal call shortly after, I had to call my friend 3 times due to interruptions that Bell’s executive office insists are not happening.)


Realising I was spending more downtime contacting Bell than I was actually doing what I like to do on the internet, I decided to raise a white flag and check out Bell Wireless which offers speeds “up to” 25 Mbps. This was just a week after a Bell online Technician had told me I had no other option to increase my speeds, never mentioning that Bell Wireless might be a viable alternative.


I researched Bell Wireless and learned all I could, but being a tad sceptical after all the false promises they have made in the past, I prepared a list of questions. Fool me once…


I logged onto Bell’s Chat service because I am hard of hearing and so I would have a transcript of our Chat. 


While talking to Bell’s computer, I provided my name and account number so the agent would have all the required information at his ready when he was done with the other 8 customers who were ahead of me.


Karthik introduced himself as a “residential services sales expert”. 


My first question was, “Is Bell Wireless available in my area?”


First Karthik wanted to know what Bell services I subscribd to.


I thought that question odd for 2 reasons.

  1. With my account number he should be able to see what Bell services I already had.

  2. Why did he need to know that just to determine if Bell Wireless was available in my area?


But I humoured him without comment.


THEN Karthik asked me for my account number which immediately suggested that, despite the unusually long wait times for his responses, he had not even read the available transcript.


Meanwhile, I kept getting booted out of the MyBell website but fortunately didn’t lose connection. A question on what to do if that happened remained unanswered.


Karthik displayed our address and asked me if it was correct.


I told Karthik it was not, but every time I requested it be corrected, my requests had been ignored. The town I live in, in Bell’s database, remains Wilson with PORT Loring’s postal code. (I live in Loring.)


Without an attempt to either correct this or answer any of my questions, Karthik recommended I call Bell’s Customer Service Department.


This self-proclaimed “residential services sales expert” now told me “as an online sales agent, we have limited access on this information”. 


I suggested it might have saved us both a half hour of our time if Karthick had started with that.


Part II


My subsequent phone call to Bell Customer Service went much better. Or so I thought.


Simon was refreshingly helpful. After answering all my questions Simon told me I could be connected to Bell Wireless in about 2 hours for a cost of only $17 more per month with “up to 25 Mbps” speeds which I could realistically expect to be between “10 and 15 Mbps”.


“Let’s do it,” I told Simon.


Then it began. Simon had made an error. I wouldn’t receive my new service for 3 days. I was okay with that because Simon assured me that connection still wouldn’t require a service technician to come to the house. My Bell Wireless would somehow magically just start to work in 3 days.


When I asked how the faster speeds were going to start flowing through our “copper” lines that are being “decommissioned” by Bell, Simon told me “it’s very technical” and admitted he didn’t really know the answer, but he assured me it would all come together.


When I received a confirmation email after our call ended, however, I learned that a technician was scheduled to arrive to install an antenna (that explained a lot) in 3 days which happens to be a day when we’ll be out of town. The appointment was rebooked and the 2 hour connection time for our new service quickly became over a week.


This buffoonery and more took up 3 hours of my time and left me feeling less than confident about what to expect. 


What else could go wrong? 


I want to continue my relationship with Bell but only time will tell if a divorce is imminent.


- 30 -


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