In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Oh Bell, why do we expect anything from you?

I had a very unfortunate experience last week when I contacted Bell Canada with a very simple request. This is the message I sent to escalate the problem with their customer relations department:

I’m writing because of an unfortunate experience I had when I called your office. My Father passed away and we’re contacting the utilities to have the accounts changed to my Mother’s name. I was told that the only way Bell could do this is with a driver’s licence number or a social insurance number. My Mother has no driver’s licence, and a social insurance number is such overkill for this purpose that Service Canada states that one’s SIN should only be provided when it is legally required, and they further strongly discourage private-sector organizations for asking for it when it is not legally necessary. Further, I feel your corporate attitude toward the privacy of customer data is a joke, and more reason I would not offer up my Mom’s SIN to Bell in particular.

Your rep told me that she could not make the change without the number. I didn’t yell or argue as I know the fault isn’t hers. It’s policy laid down by Bell. Consequently, the account remains in my father’s name.

I find it absolutely abhorrent that you’d ask for information as sensitive as one’s social insurance number exactly when someone is left vulnerable by the death of a spouse. I recall with amusement how you describe your commitment to customers, “Simply put, that’s our mission: To delight you with the products, services and customer support that we provide to you every day,” and I’m flabbergasted that you have the nerve to suggest you care about customers and the service you want to provide them.

I can also assure you that it’s not a pleasant thing to have Bell reminder my mother of her deceased husband every month when your bill arrives with his name on it, as it seems that this will continue to happen as long as she remains a Bell customer. Those memories should be hers to recall when she wants to … not for you to thrust upon her.

My parents came from a time when one was loyal to a business and in turn, the business was loyal it customers. I know that time has long past, but until this point, my Mom has told me that she would not switch her home phone service from Bell. Period. Like I said, “Until this point.” Your rep told me multiple times that changing the account holder or opening a new account required one of the two previously mentioned pieces of identification. The fact that she has had the same phone number with Bell for more than fifty years, and she’s being treated no differently than a new customer, has opened her eyes to this unfortunate change in business practices in general, and of Bell’s in particular.

Now that she realizes how your customers mean nothing to you beyond the money for which you can bill them, I’m beginning to research other home phone providers. It’s high-time too, as the first company I looked at seems to be significantly cheaper even including the discount I have to call you every six months to receive.

I expressed my displeasure on Twitter and the responses have been lacking. The first asked for the account information so they could provide information. The second offered to put me in touch with someone. Neither stated plainly that they would fix the problem, and without an assurance that we can fix this, I don’t need information or someone to talk to. It would be great if you could take ownership of the problem, you know?

I tell you what … if you insist on fumbling with what you call customer service to try to keep my mother as a customer, feel free to call … but don’t waste our time unless you’re going to live up to the commitment that you claim is more than just talk. Further, call me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx this week and save my Mother the reminder of this unfortunate incident. Call her with a pitch at the number associated with the account, and I can assure you that her decades-long time as your customer will end very quickly. Just so we understand each other, if you think $5 off for six months will delight me, save yourself the ‘effort’ and don’t call.

I expect nothing from them. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they didn’t call at all despite the conformation e‑mail message promising to contact me within 24 hours. Frankly, I shouldn’t even be nothing with them now that Mom’s on board with changing providers. Maybe I just want to see them fail. They certainly will fail because home phone service through our cable company is nearly $20 cheaper, every month. There’s no way Bell will meet that. We’ll see.

I did my best to search for an e‑mail address I could use for the above message. The downside is that I failed to find one. The upside is that I found how to escalate the problem rather than just sending it to same department that already stonewalled me. I much prefer to use e‑mail messages as I have a copy with the date and time. My concern was that the message might not even fit. Happily that wasn’t an issue. The web form allows 4000 characters, only 66 of which I didn’t use!

I told Mom we’d leave this in Bell’s lap this week and if all goes as we expect, I’ll be in touch with the cable company on Monday.


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  1. Brad

    Rick, if you get nowhere try this:

    Bell Canada Executive Office of Customer Relations

    1 – 866-317‑3382

    • Rick

      Thank you for that, Brad. Though if I use it, it’ll be to tell then why we left Bell, rather than how they might keep us. Giving them opportunity after opportunity to make things right when they have no clue how is absolutely exhausting. This is Customer Service 101 and they still seem to have no idea.

  2. Shawn

    well done

    • Rick

      Thank you, Shawn. And I think I’m starting to get a handle on why I’m pursuing this so vigorously. I can sum it up by saying, “You’re not going to treat my Mama that way!”

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