Sunday, August 16, 2009

For whom does Bell toll?

This was originally posted in my Facebook profile and I've decided to add it to this blog for posterity. The original date of this post was September 10, 2008 and below is a follow up on September 24, 2008, and June 2009.
September 10, 2008:

On Sunday my girlfriend upgraded her phone with her provider. I was curious to see when I would be eligible for mine and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had qualified for a $250 credit towards a new phone upgrade.

The next day, Monday, I stopped into my local Bell Mobility store (at the corner of Broadway and Fir) and was approached by a sales rep. Being an informed customer helps you bypass most of the BS sales people tend to tell you and gives you a pretty good indication of how good they are. Said sales rep was nice enough, seemed a bit young to be selling phones but gave me the sense that he was knowledgeable enough. He showed me the phones they had to offer, etc. I had already done my homework and narrowed down the phones I was most interested in. Once I was pretty sure which phone I wanted, the next thing was to talk about my plan.

Before we go any further, let me fill you in on the facts: my current contract with one number would end in Feb '09. I changed to a new plan to add a second line in June '07 as a loop hole (at their suggestion) to get a new phone cuz I wasn't eligible for one at that time -- that second line is considered another contract but I can pick which line to cancel come Feb '09.

Before I understood these facts here's how things progressed:

I inquired about deactivating my second line and after he confirmed with Customer Support Services (CSS), he told me that I'd have to pay $300 cuz it was the same thing as ending my contract and that it was best for me to "ride it out" until Feb '09. I then asked what would happen from today, since I was renewing my contract for another length of time, and what bearing it would have on my ability to cancel my 2nd line -- if any. He said, in that case, I'd have to wait until June '09. I stopped him: Excuse me? He retracted. I then said, "Well I don't want to cancel my contract, I'm just switching plans. They let me switch plans before without penalty. What gives?" He stumbled in his reiteration to me of what he said before but this time said that I could deactivate it any time after Feb '09. Point blank I said to him, "Well then don't say June cuz you're not making any sense." He says, "But it is June.." and I said, "You just said it was Feb '09" He then says, "Well, one of them is." Oooh. *One* of them is -- geezus dude, learn to communicate.

Anyways. So once that was figured out, I picked out my phone -- the HTC Touch Dual. Gives you the option of a touch screen with also a bottom slide out keyboard with the QWERTY keypad like they have on the Blackberry. He set it up for me and I even paid an extra $15 to have him transfer all my numbers over. When I was signing my new contract I noticed that there was one less feature on my new plan and asked about it. He told me it was a printing error but that I still had all of the same features, etc. Um. Ok. He seems to know what he's talking about. Fine.

I get home and start charging it up. Tried to check my voicemail but I got a busy tone. I chalked it up to the service not kicking in yet. I had to do some things around the house, so it was some time before I tried again. Still a busy signal. Weird. I decided that enough time had passed and something was up.

When I called tech support they told me that the reason I couldn't access my voicemail was because my phone was incompatible with the plan I had (called Fun 20 Clips) that offered unlimited internet, texting, tv clips, voicemail, caller id.

What. The. Fuck. I KNEW it. The technician on the phone told me that I'd have to bring it back to the store and get either the HTC Touch or the Samsung Instinct which would be comparable to the phone I currently had. He also told me that we should end the call so that the minutes used would be under 15 minutes and I would be eligible to return for a full refund under their Buyer's Remorse Policy. I said to him, "Oh it won't be ME who's going to feel 'remorse'..." He apologized and hoped I'd be able to get it sorted out, and then said again that we should end the call. Right, under 15...*click*.

I surfed their website that night to consider my next possibility. I had liked the Samsung Instinct but was leery of not having an actual keypad, which is why I picked the HTC Touch Dual in the first place. But, after some good reviews on reputable sites, I decided that phone would be my next choice. As a precaution, I also took it upon myself to clear the data off the phone -- I wasn't in a trusting mood by this point.

So that was my Monday.

On Tuesday, I headed back to the store with my new phone, the receipt, the contract, and my irritation. I was all set to demand that they not charge me a dime for needing to switch to the other phone cuz I was sure they were going to offer me something piddly like $20 off the Samsung cuz it was worth just over $80 more than the one I had just purchased.

I walked into the store and my buddy boy sales rep looks at me, undaunted and says, "Hey how's it going?". I put the phone, my receipt and the contract in front of him, looked him square and said, "Not good." I think I scared him. I said to him, "As it turns out, the phone you suggested isn't compatible with the plan I have. So I can't get my voice mail and I don't have unlimited use of texting, internet, etc."

He looks at me like a deer caught in head lights and says, "Uh, how do you know?" I look at him again and said, "Your tech support told me. I phoned them to ask why I was getting a busy signal when I called my voicemail and they said that's why." He then said, "Oh ok well, then we'll just add that feature back on. One sec." He goes to the back room where I know the store manager is sitting and then comes back and tells me they can add something called Fun 15. I asked what's in that one. He told me everything that I had before. I looked at him dead in the eyes and said, "Are. You. Sure. I'm not going to keep this phone or take on a feature, even at no cost, if I don't get EXACTLY the same features" He stops and says, "One second.." Goes to the back room again. Comes back out after 10 minutes and says, "Ok, so the plan that's similar to yours doesn't have unlimited internet [Geezus Murphy] so, because it was a mistake on our part [read: my part] and you've been inconvenienced [read: we screwed you a bit], we're willing to exchange for another phone that's similar, like the HTC Touch or the Samsung Instinct, at no extra cost." Aright, this guy just redeemed himself. I said, "Ok, I'll take the Samsung."

It dawned on me at that point that I should get him to help me transfer the numbers again (and he wasn't going to charge me again) so I also told him that I had cleared the data off the new phone and would need to head back to my apartment, that was 2 minutes away, to get my old phone. He said that was fine and that he's start programming my phone, etc until I got back. Good deal.

When I got back he looked like he was done fiddling with getting my info on the phone and was getting set to transfer the numbers over. After a few minutes he realized that the phone was so new, they didn’t have the proper drivers for the data transfer device to have the phones send data back and forth. After a bit of fiddling he told me *I* would have to Bluetooth each number from one phone to the other. Sigh. Fine. I got a break on the phone. Whatever, I just wanted to get it and go home.

At this point I had been without a phone for 20 hours.

I get home, started charging it, and tried to call my voicemail. No busy tone. It’s ringing, then tells me that I need to call the customer service number from a land line. Odd. Ok, maybe they haven’t activated it yet – sometimes it can take an hour. One hour passes, I try again -- same thing. I tried again a half hour later and still nothing. I decide to go back and at the very least ask to use their land line cuz no one I knew was around that had a phone I could use.

I walk into the store and another sales guy is there and I ask him if I could use their land line cuz my phone wasn’t working and obviously they need to talk to the account holder. The guy asks me what was happening and I told him. He told me, “Oh it sometimes takes a couple hours for it to kick in, depending how busy they are and how many have to be activated.” I said, “Ok…..” then he said, “Hang on, I’ll get your rep.”[Oh yippiee.]

Good ‘ol buddy boy sales rep comes out and tells me the same thing. He says he’ll make sure my phone is programmed properly but that there wasn’t any way for him to speed up the process. Either way, it’ll be active within a few hours. Fine.

2pm – same thing.

3pm – same thing again.

I’m at work by this point and hoping that I could find out what the hell is going on during my break. I ask my boss to use a landline cuz I couldn’t get my phone working. I get tech support and they tell me that my Samsung phone hasn’t been registered in the system and that the HTC Dual Touch is still on there.

[Insert every curse word in every language in the known universe here]

I said to the rep on the phone, “Dude, I hear you but -- and I apologize for my language –- the guy in the store is a fucking moron. I have been without a phone and access to my voicemail for over 24 hours now.” He asks me if I have my phone’s packaging box with me so that I could give him a number to register the phone. I didn’t cuz why the hell would I take it to work with me. He then says I can open the back of the phone and under the battery the number is there too. Ok, I try and try and try but the muthafuckah isn’t going to open for me. It’s freaking Fort Knox. My break has already been over for 3 mins and I tell the guy that I’ll need to call back when I can open it or have the box in front of me.

H-O-L-Y F-*-*-K.

During my lunch break I call my girlfriend to see if she was home and able to read the number off for me. She was out, and not sounding great but she chalked it up to having a crappy day at work so I kept the call short cuz she sounded like she was kind of out of it and preoccupied at the time. I had guys who were on lunch with me try to slide the cover off, with no luck.

I spent the rest of my shift stewing in anger about the whole ordeal and hoping that their CSS would be open 24 hours and knowing in advance that I’d have to disclose my official complaint with apologies for the language I was about to use about the sales rep at the store.

I get home and noticed that something didn’t seem right. My girlfriend was in bed and passed out but lights were on. She was out of it and I couldn't wake her at that point.

I decided to try calling the CSS but only their repair department was open and couldn't activate the phone for me, only CSS could. On top of that, CSS closed at 9pm and I'd have to call when they open at 8am.

When my girlfriend finally got up she told me she was going to be sick. Later, when she was able to, she tells me she may have food poisoning and also tells me she tried to call me all night.

That did it.

I’ve snapped.

Up until I found out I had no phone registered and that my girlfriend couldn’t get a hold of me cuz of Mr. Fuktard's incompetence -– I was willing to let things go.

Not anymore. He’s getting one serious-ass complaint and I won’t relent until CSS can make me happy, some how, again.

This is also why I’m publishing this note. In the spirit of my inspiration, Stephen Colbert, I’m giving a Big fucking WAG OF THE FINGER and naming buddy boy who’s messed with my life for the past 36 hours – AND COUNTING.

Sales Rep: Kern Sidhu
Dealer Number: BC803
Bell Store Location: 124 - 1588 West Broadway

If any of you have the urge to walk into that particular store, request that you NOT be served by this Sales Rep.

It’s now almost 3 am and I have to wait 5 hours to get a hold of someone to fix this bullshit. By that time, I’ll have been without service for 41 hours.

But who are we kidding, it’s almost 3 am and I’m not going to be able to get my ass up that “early”…and so the time ticks.

I’ll post a follow up and hopefully you’ll hear from a more happy Jenn by then.


PS: My girlfriend has finally settled and is sleeping now. I think she'll be ok. She ate at Saffron Indian Cuisine in Burnaby on Kingsway -- in case you were wondering.

PSS: If you got to the end of this, congrats and thanks for letting me rant. Feel free to share it. I don't care.

PSSS: If any one of you happen to know this guy who I just named, seriously nothing against the guy, but look at the chain effect of his incompetency. Be upset with me if you want for calling him a douche or whatever, but I won't offer any apologies. He needs to get his shit together.


September 24, 2008:

After I posted the original note, a friend of mine, who also happens to be a lawyer who studies legislation on how to screw with corporations during his free time, messaged me on facebook and gave me some sound advice on how I could go about getting justified compensation. After doing some thinking, weighing my options on how to approach the call, at 5am I had to sleep.

The next morning I called CSS on my girlfriend's cell at around 10am. I got this guy and I think based on my own experiences of being on the other end of the phone, I just didn’t have the heart to rip into the guy. So I decided to take a different approach.

I started by telling him that I had a phone that needed to be activated. He asked me the basics and he soon realized that the phone I had wasn’t the one that was on their system. This gave me the opportunity to shed light on part of the horrible experience I had the day before. I only gave part of it cuz I was cognizant of the fact that if I was going to get anything out of this call, the agent on the other end would have to come to their own conclusion on how much they seriously screwed up.

After he learned that I had to go back and change phones cuz one wasn’t compatible with my plan, and then learned that the idiot at the store didn’t register my phone, he felt bad and told me I could file a complaint. So, I did. When I started to tell him the entire story, he realized how long I had been without a phone. I also mentioned about my sick girlfriend failing to reach me. He felt even worse and offered to give me free evenings after 6pm - a $10 feature for the duration of my contract (3 years). Hmm…$360 – not bad.

Once he had my phone registered, I asked about getting my voicemail messages. He paused. Then he told me that when douchebag at the store switched my phones, the first time, he (in essence) killed my voicemail service and everything was gone. I asked him to repeat what he just told me. He repeated again, much more reluctantly because he knew what was coming.

I flipped.

I told him that I was part of a family business that relied on my ability to receive messages (which was true), that I knew I had messages waiting for me (also true), and that I hadn’t been accessible for 48 hours. I also noted, loudly, that I had been on the phone with him for over an hour, using my girlfriend’s minutes trying to get this situation resolved.

It was at this point that the agent told me that I would be able to get more immediate resolution if I were to go back to the store and speak to the store manager directly. I responded, “Do you REALLY think that I want to even step into that store? For all I know, the store manager, who HIRED this idiot, is just as incompetent and hasn’t been nailed this hard in the head until now!”

Dude was clearly poopin’ his pants on the other end when he asked me to hold again and after 5 minutes he came back and told me that his supervisor was making a personal call to the store manager and the agent who had been so helpful in tampering with my phone features. He tried to reassure me that they would take appropriate action and work with the agent to ensure that this would not happen again. I said to him point blank, “Well I’m glad to hear that he has such a wonderful support system, but if you don’t mind me asking, is this not CUSTOMER support? Where is MY support and compensation in all of this? Fine, I understand that you have your own internal resources to improve quality of service. But really, how does THIS help ME right NOW?” He paused and said, “Well I can waive the $35 phone activation fee…” I responded, “Well considering that NOTHING was activated and I was without service for 48 hours – I should damn well hope so!” – “Yes, it’s off. We’ve credited your account.”

It was time to put the pressure on, “I hope you understand, in the last 20 years as a consumer, I have NEVER had such deplorable service. This entire situation is inexcusable. I am so livid – I honestly don’t know WHY I should continue being your customer.” To which he responded, “Well I don’t know what else you want – there’s nothing more I can do.” So I said, “Well if there’s nothing YOU can do, let me speak to your supervisor.”

I think he was relieved to get me off the phone. While I was waiting for the supervisor, I decided my next course of action. I knew there wouldn’t be much more I’d be able to get out of them, but I wanted at least one more break.

The supervisor comes on the line and tells me that a formal complaint has been forwarded to their Director of Operations and repeats that they have given me a free feature and credited me for the activation fee. I repeated again the gravity of the situation, how it affected my personal and professional life, and how dissatisfied I was. He asked me if I had any other concerns – bingo.

I said to him, “Well you tell me, I don’t trust all that I have been told about this phone that I now have and what features I can and can’t use. Because, as far as that agent was concerned, I could use everything. So can you confirm that for me?” He reviewed the plan I had and told me that I wouldn’t be able to use the Instant Messaging or the GPS feature because they were subscription services.

I got exasperated again, “Oh c’mon! Who is this idiot? Are you kidding me?! He told me I could use all of that!” He calmly said, “I’m sorry, you were mislead. You can use those services, but at an additional cost.” So I said, “You don’t think, after the crap I’ve been through, that I shouldn’t be given those features?” He said no.

Alright, time to negotiate:

Me: “Well then give me a year for the GPS service.”
Supervisor: “Well we have a current promotion that will give offer one month free for the GPS service worth $8. Would you like that?”
Me: “I want a year.”
Supervisor: "We can't do that."
Me: “You’re not willing to give me a year?”
Supervisor: “We’ve already given you a free feature for the duration of your contract. I can take that back and give you one year of free GPS if you want.”
Me: “No. How about 6 months of GPS?”
Supervisor: "Sorry, again, we can't do that"
Me: “Really. You can’t afford 6 months?”
Supervisor: “Would you like the free 1 month?”
Me: “2 months.”
Supervisor: “1 month.”
Me: "Seriously? You can’t afford $16?”
He sounded visibly annoyed and I could hear his teeth grinding when he said, “ONE. Month.”
Ok, Ok, free is free – so I said, “Fine. One month.”

So the call ended pretty much after that.

A little while later I tried to use the GPS and it wasn’t working. ARGH. I wasn’t even going to wait and I called CSS back….again.

This time I got a woman. She got the basic info out of me and asked how she could help. I told her that I had just been through a whole episode with CSS not too long ago and that I was supposed to get GPS service but it wasn’t working. She asked if I could hold for a minute while she looked into the situation.

After 5 minutes, she came back and her demeanor changed from “you’re just another customer” to “holy fuck, ok I need to not piss you off because I just read your file” – she said, “Ms Jay, I sincerely apologize for the delay in your GPS service. Normally, we would send you through to our technical support to resolve the issue. However, I am going to contact them personally to help you resolve this issue as soon as possible.” My response, “Oh. Well thank you. I appreciate that. I’ll hold.” Her reply, “Thank you very much. Please realize this may take a bit of time but I will let you know if there will be any extensive delay.” I said, “Not a problem. Thank you.”

Wow. I had to chuckle to myself. Having worked in a few different customer support positions before, I know there’s some kind of note or alert on my account that says something like, “Customer has been screwed over – put on your kid gloves.”

She comes back on the line and tells me that there was a mistake in how the promotion was applied to my account. She noted that because it was normally a $10 feature and they had only deducted $8 from my plan, it did not activate properly. She then quickly added that she was deducting an additional $2 and it would allow the service to activate, at no extra cost to me.


So let’s do some math:

What I would've paid

GPS NAV - $288.00
Free after 6pm - $360.00
Phone - $229.95
Activation - $35.00

Total $912.95

What I'm paying instead

GPS NAV - $278.00
Free after 6pm - $0.00
Phone - $149.95
Activation $0.00

Total $427.95

That's a savings of $485.

Pretty good, I’d say.


June 2009 Update:

Remember in my first post when I was told that one of my contracts would be finished in June 2009? Yeah he messed that up too. It's actually June 2010.

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