I’ve been a Bell home phone user forever. With two multi-day power outages in the last decade, and multiple 8-12 hour outages with loss of cell reception in the last year, the sheer reliability of plain old telephone service (POTS) is a feature I like and am willing to pay for over digital IP options. Plus the quality — I can’t stand talking on my cellphone and will call people back if I’m at home (or at my desk at work) and they try my mobile.
However, Bell is expensive, and has a ridiculous notion of inflation. For a service that has not really required any capital investment on their part or high marginal costs, the rate has gone up by about triple that of CPI over the last decade, and with a 7% increase this year on our bill, it was one straw that made me want to cancel. They’re also more expensive than their competitors (like Teksavvy), but we know Bell — as much as I may hate having to call their telemarketing department, the service just works and we can rely on it to continue to work. That should be the case for a POTS reseller as well, but we were willing to pay a few dollars more per month to stick with Bell. Yet the gap was significant at around $10-20 per month, so we used the old trick of calling to complain and got a discount to bring it closer. A $10/mo discount for 12 months was a small price for Bell to pay to keep us happy and loyal, and make the price a little more fair. And when that would expire we’d call back and renew it, often missing out on a month in-between without a discount.
This has been the routine for years now. It’s tiring and I keep asking if they can just put a permanent reduction in the rate to make it competitive, but the constant threat to cancel with discount is just their mechanism. It’s how they do business, so that’s the game plan we follow. Yet this year when I called in, they wouldn’t give it to me. They would give me a “great” rate on internet and TV if I switched everything over to them, but that’s not happening (Bell: you burned too hard on UBB to try to pretend you have an affordable unlimited service now). As a phone-only customer, I could take my business elsewhere: they didn’t want it.
What really set me off though was the incredibly awful and shady accounting practice they had for the end of the discount. Rather than immediately seeing that the 12-month discount had expired, they continued to put it on my bill, and charge me the reduced rate. Then in a later month they retroactively took it back and hit me with a massive one-time bill. Likewise, on the first bill with the new, 7% higher (in a year when inflation is less than a percent) rate, they retroactively applied it to the previous month. That is needlessly infuriating. In essence, it’s a billing error. I shudder to think of the damage that could be done with such practices for someone living closer to the edge in their budget, with multiple services with Bell, opening their bill one day to see a (one-time) double payment required.
I finally had enough of it and have switched. I tried Teksavvy first — great prices and I love them for internet — but they wouldn’t take my money. For whatever reason, Teksavvy has put in a “stop sale” on home phone service. Even though it’s still advertised on their website, they won’t take me as a phone customer. Primus would however, so off I go (though they are a touch pricier than Teksavvy’s unobtainable teaser pricing).