Sunday, December 11, 2011

Some rob you with the six gun, some rob you with the electronic statement

I hate to use this blog to vent my personal problems. No actually that's why I have a blog.

Many years ago after using pay as you go plans, I decided to get a dedicated cell phone with a number and all the gadgets. At that time there were 3 cell phone providers in Canada. As it was more or less six of one and half a dozen of the other (actually 3 of 1 and a quarter dozen..) I ended up with Bell. Up until now Bell has not been bad to me, they have not been particularly good to me either. Periodically Bell calls me and tells me that my contract has been extended. They never ask me if I want it extended and I never argue.

I also signed up for e billing. I hate filing phone statements and as they were automatically debiting my card and am going to lose any fight over the statement anyway (as I found out) so why use it. I had to chose a user name. The usual user names, my first initial and last name or vice versa weren't available so I chose another user name which I of course forgot.

About a year and a half ago I got an i phone. As I was still under contract with Bell, I picked it up at the Bell kiosk in the mall and got a new data plan which enabled me to surf the Internet with my phone. Of course they tell you that you get X number of free bytes of downloads but neither I nor the salesman actually know what that amounts to in the real world. I of course knew that the monthly cost they quoted was nowhere near what I was going to have to pay. When a cell phone company tells you your service is going to cost $X, it is about the same as the surgeon telling you he is only going to take an hour.

By September of 2010 I was so attached to my i phone that when I went to Europe I wanted to be able to use it. I phoned Bell on the #611 number explained that I was going to Europe and wanted to be able to use my phone and download data and the nice lady at the call centre sold me a package. Because my visit overlapped my billing period she said I would have to pay for two months which is a bit of a rip off but hey Bell are not the only people who do things like that. Off I went to Europe where I was able to use Google maps, phone home, receive texts and even almost got a call from the one patient who has managed to get my cell number (I recognized the number and didn't answer). When I went to Africa in June, I spent a couple of days in Belgium and just to check I tried to use my i Phone and got no service.

I continued to see these bills for Bell on my credit card statement and they were a little high but not excessively high so I just figured I must be downloading too much. I kept saying that I should really look at my statement but I had forgotten which of the alternate user names I used and the only way to find out was to log on to Bell's site which of course required my user name. I suppose I could have just called #611 but I really didn't feel like spending time on hold when I have more important things to do like blog, go on Facebook and watch Big Bang Theory re-runs.

Just last week, I tried to log on again and much to my surprise Bell had upgraded their website so that it was actually possible to find out what my user name and password were. I still didn't get around to checking until today. That was when I found out that I had been charged $60 a month for the past 14 months for service in Europe that I wasn't using (I promptly cancelled it on line). I promptly phoned #611 and after a surprisingly short wait (at 0900 on Sunday morning) I talked to a customer service rep who informed me that she could refund the past three months but that was all. She pointed out that I should have checked my statements, I pointed out that I had not asked for more than 2 months service and that if I had planned to relocate to Europe, I would have bought a cell phone there for considerably less than what it costs in Canada. I of course got nowhere. I told her that while I was under contract until 2012 or 2013, I would definitely not forget this and I would be using a different cell company assuming they haven't all amalgamated by then. She seemed unconcerned. Obviously not a shareholder.

So okay, I should have checked my statements. I might even have picked up on it earlier. But that logic is like saying, it was okay for me to burglarize your house because you didn't lock the door. Or say Bell through some glitch forgot to bill me for the past three months, do you think I would have gotten away with saying, "Sorry you should have checked your statements?"

I can of course afford this. My cell phone is paid for by my PC and so it is tax deductible. $700 isn't that much in the scheme of things. But $700 here , $700 there and you're talking real money.

Bell Canada's most recent profit was $2.1 Billion. I wonder how much of that profit was generated by people like me who didn't realize they were paying for services they hadn't asked for and weren't using.


Bleeding Heart said...

While I hate to say anything good about a large profitable corporation; after I complained through the website provided by the CRTC (Canada's FCC), someone from Bell phoned me, listened to my side of the story,investigated and refunded the full amount.

BH: 1
Large corporations: 267

But I'm on the scoresheet.

FancyScrubs said...

That is awesome that they refunded you the money. That's how companies should respond.

Bleeding Heart said...

But then when I checked my statement the following month they were still charging me for it. A phone call may or may not have fixed this. I should check my statement again.