I HATE BELL MOBILITY'S BUSINESS PRACTICES
In December of 2003, I was shopping at BestBuy and happened upon a "great deal" that I couldn't resist. For a three year plan with Bell Mobility, I got a free cell phone (LG), 3 months of free call display and caller ID, no system access fee for the life of the contract, and a $100 Best Buy gift certificate. Who knew that this was going to be such a deal with the devil. Sometimes a deal is just too good to be true. THE FIRST MISTAKE
Initially, I was receiving regular phone bills - itemized and correct detailing all of my usuage. After a few months I stopped receiving bills. Wanting to pay my cell phone bill I called the company, to no avail. You couldn't get through to a customer service representative without waiting on hold for more than an hour. Assuming that the bill would eventually come, I waited another month. Again I tried to call, and couldn't get through to a customer service rep. After another month, I called again, and this time the President of the Company left a message saying that Bell was having problems with its billing system and they were aware that customers were not getting their bill - THE PROBLEM WOULD BE FIXED SHORTLY. I did not receive a cellphone bill for over six months.
Like most people, I was aware that at some point I would have to pay back the 6 free months, so I saved the amount in my bank. Of course without a bill you cannot know whether you've went over your usuage or how much long distance and roaming charges were. Fortunately, I had not been using my cell phone that much and when the bill for 6 months worth of service came, I only had a little more to pay than I had planned. At the same time, I knew that there were going to be people out there who were getting a really bad surprise in the mail (overages, long distance, roaming).
THEN I noticed it on my bill. Bell Mobility had the audacity to charge me interest for being late for payment for 6 months. I couldn't believe it! How could I be charged interest on something, when I couldn't actually see or pay for my bill. I called customer service to complain and stated that I was not paying the interest, and the girl basically stated that it was a problem with Accounts, and there was nothing that she could do about it. Got the runaround for 2 hours, and basically everyone fed the same line. For a few dollars in interest, I figured I would let the matter lie, pay the bill and move on from there.THE SECOND MISTAKE
In December 2006, I got a notice from Bell Mobility, that I was a valued customer, and how they would like me to continue with my cell contract, and they would offer me a new free phone, unlimited call display and caller ID, and continue with the benefits of my contract if I remained with them. I put off the decision for a month, and looked around for another carrier. I had had previous dealings with Telus, and didn't even consider them. I had had a Fido before, and wasn't crazy about their coverage area. Finally Rogers was my last option, but I didn't want to pay $35 connection fee, and have to pay for caller ID, call display and the system access fee. Alas, with memories of the 2003 billing nightmare in my mind, I signed back up with Bell Mobility.
I went to Wireless Wave and bought a new cell phone. I purchased a Motorola e815 for $150 (which was supposed to be a great deal). I signed back up for a three year term, because with it I would get 3 years of free caller ID and call display. My other benefits from my old contract (which were no longer offered by Bell Mobility) like not paying the system access fee would also continue. I continued with my same plan, the Mobile 35. I would have 150 anytime minutes, and free evenings and weekends. For a three year agreement, my evenings would start at 6pm for 1 year. After that it would cost an additional $7.00 to have that feature. Thinking that it was a wise decision that is what I agreed to.THE THIRD MISTAKE
After signing up, the salesperson at the store suggested viewing and paying my bills with Bell online since it was easier and more convenient than going to the bank. I agreed, since I had been paying all the rest of my bills online for sometime. I went to Bell.ca and signed up for an account, and checked off that I wanted e-billing. When the first bill arrived, I noticed that I couldn't actually see my usuage or what I was actually being billed for in terms of long distance, overages or roaming fees. Figuring that that part of the bill took longer to upload to the site, I paid my bill.
After a few months of only getting a summary of my usuage and a total bill, I investigated the site a little further. It seems that with e-billing, you forego the paper bill and if you would like to pay the additional fees you can get an itemized bill.
So alas at that point, I had started a long distance relationship with someone, so my usuage on the phone had increased exponentially. The long distance was not a problem since he had purchased a Vonage phone and got a phone number local to my cell number. But alas, 150 anytime minutes do not go very far. So I had gotten a few 2-3 hundred dollar cell phone bills in the mail and decided that perhaps my cell phone ways were needing to change. I made a MUCH more concerted effort to reduce my talk time during the day, which greatly reduced the amount of my bill. A few months later, besides my Bell.ca Online account I noticed it had said "recommendations". I clicked on the link and beside it, it said basically for $6.95/month on top of my plan, I could call any one # unlimited times 20x a month. So basically, I could call my boyfriend 20x during the day in a one month period, and this would not result in a 30cent/minute overage charge. Any fool would have signed up for that! So yes, I did appreciate that coming to my attention.
But this is my issue with that situation. I have had phone carriers before. And when they notice that there is a way to save you money on your phonebill they call you and let you know of a promotion or plan. Telus called to let me know of a few long distance packages when they saw that my long distance had soared through the roof. And this was within one month of that bill. Bell Mobility on the other hand, waited several months, before letting me know of the option (about 1500$ later). I am not stating that Bell Mobility is responsible for my overages, cause that is 100% my responsibility. But I do think in the world of customer service that monitoring your customer's bills and notifying them of options that would save them money in a timely fashion is not unreasonable.
Furthermore, Bell Mobility is a cellphone provider. In my case, the service they are providing me is phone useage. Though my bill may be over the internet, I think their policy should be to notify me of these options over the phone. If I had not noticed the link on the webpage, I may still be paying a lot of overages, to call one local phone number. It does not make sense to me to have all of your communication through a webpage or email. A lot of information is conveyed through these pages, and is often missed because people are not necessarily taking in all of the information, or they know exactly what they are looking for and do not read the additional information.THE FOURTH MISTAKE
Bell Mobility offers CDMA technology (as does Telus Mobility). Not being a techno geek, this really made zero factor into making my decision to purchase a cellphone. Quite frankly, I didn't even know that there were different kinds of cell phone technology. I knew the difference between analog and digital - but that was about it. Having travelled quite a bit to Alaska (AK) in the past year, I noticed that my Bell phone ONLY worked in Anchorage, AK. My phone worked NO PLACE ELSE. My boyfriend does not live in Anchorage, so alas my cellphone was useless out there. I should be thankful, it did save me long distance and roaming fees! I should have looked into my needs better, because a GSM phone made much more sense given my travelling to the States, and the ability to swap in a US SIM card and save long distance fees and actually have useage in the States.THE FIFTH MISTAKE
I received a Motorola Razr this past Christmas. Unfortunately it was a GSM phone, and could not be supported by Bell Mobility. After humming and hawing, I decided that I had had enough with Bell Mobility, and would switch my carrier to Rogers Wireless when I got home from the States.
I remembered that when I had signed up, that if I wanted to cancel my contract early it would cost $200. Figuring that was worth having Bell Mobility out of my life forever - I called customer service to discuss the option. The girl on the phone stated that it would be much cheaper if I could find someone else to take over my contract - basically it would cost me nothing. Bell Mobility's new cancelling policy is as follows: Cancellation Fee: The fee payable by you if your service is terminated before the expiry of your Term of 12, 24 or 36 months. The Cancellation Fee is the greater of (i) $100 or (ii) $20 per month remaining in the Term upon termination, to a maximum of $400. The Cancellation Fee may vary depending on promotional offers.
I had 23 months left on my contract, so basically, to cancel my contract would cost $400.
Having already signed up with Rogers, I decided that I would try that option for a month, but decrease my plan to the lowest one offered by Bell Mobility - as I would no longer be using that phone. After having switched my plan to a 20$/month plan . . . I stated, "so all of my other benefits still apply?"
Customer service rep states "Oh . . . ah . . . no. Since you decreased your plan, you basically start over again."
I state "so now I have to pay for the $8.95/month system access fee?"
"ah yeah. Oooopps, he he, I guess I should have told you that before switching it over."
"So can you just switch me back, because quite frankly, my current plan is only $40/month with all the extras included. Now with this plan, its gonna be $30/month, without caller ID, call display, only 50 minutes talk time, and 1000 evening and weekend minutes."
"Ah no, sorry, you can't switch it back, now that we've entered a new agreement."
Not wanting to completely freak out on the twit on the other end of the line, I just said fine, and could not WAIT to offload the phone on someone else. I figured that my phone a motorola e815, with memory card to play Mp3's, 3 chargers (car and house), and basically every bell and whistle you can get for it, would make it somewhat of an attractive offer for free.
Then my brother said to me "ya know, you should have just kept your plan and paid the extra for the first few months, because that was a pretty good deal that someone would want. I mean most people would love to inherit a plan where they aren't paying the system access fee, and get free caller ID and call display."
And he was right. By reducing my plan, I had basically removed any and all of the benefits that went with the remaining 2 year agreement.
Unfortunately, it was my mother who inherited my plan. I almost feel guilty about that, because I know that she is really just inheriting the misery I have experienced with Bell Mobility. Knowing that her needs do suit a Bell Mobility CDMA phone, it's somewhat ok.
I am now a Roger's customer. Have been for one month now. Got my first bill ontime. I can swap in my CellOne SIM card when I'm in the States. I really do like the GSM phone. It works better for my lifestyle.