Dealing with Bell and fighting through wireless hell

Our latest column from William Thomas

I did not bite on Bell’s initial offer of their new fiber optics service when they introduced it to my neighbourhood a few years ago. Way too expensive. But recently I heard about a $100 per month offer and called Richard, the local Bell salesman. After he consulted with three Bell ‘experts,’ he said it wasn’t possible. “You’re in a black hole.” But Richard, I argued, the optics line goes over and above my driveway and all my neighbours are plugged in and if I cut that line they’ll all be switching over to my new system, Black Screen/Bad Optics. Richard said he’d get back to me me, which he never has.

I kept calling until I got a slick Toronto salesman who laughed at Richard’s “black hole” theory. Not only was I eligible for Fibe 300, he could have it installed first thing Monday morning. $100? Yeah, sure. Done!

The installation takes most of the day, but by five o’clock my house is wired to the future – WiFi, phone and fax lines and not one, but two TVs receiving Bell’s “Good Package” of channels. When I told “Slick” in Toronto what programming I’d been getting with Shaw, he scoffed: “Way more, way better with Bell.” Oddly, when I asked the installation guy questions about channels he hesitated, guessed and then finally admitted he doesn’t own a television!!!

A bit of a give-away right there because by noon the next day everything crashed. First the televisions went dead. Then I was on the phone with a Bell troubleshooter trying to get the TVs working when the phones went silent. And when I went out to my office to email Bell repair, my computer was down as well. Bit of a give-away #2 – their email address is “NoReply-BellService.”

So as a proud, one-day member of Bill’s Fibe 300 Club, I find myself three doors down asking a handyman in a neighbour’s cottage if I can borrow his cell phone to call Bell!?! And just before I used up all his power, it works! Angelo, a troubleshooter in Toronto gets my phones and computers running again and promises to have a repairman come out the next morning to fix the TVs. Because I can’t call him personally, I ask Angelo to call me back in the morning so I don’t have to keep repeating my problems to new techies, but no. He cannot call out. He’s a Bell Telephone employee using a phone that only works one way. Plus, he can’t accept calls. That’s a little like a car salesman who doesn’t own a driver’s licence. I remind him back in 1876 that would have been a real big problem for Alexander Graham Bell who would have had to use sign language to summon his assistant Thomas Watson! I can tell by Angelo’s response, he’s not real familiar with Alexander Graham Bell.

The next day I keep a portable phone in my pocket between “8:00 am and noon” so I don’t miss the repairman’s call. Bingo! At 11:05 am the phone rings and … it’s Bell’s customer service asking me how I like my new fiber optics system?!? I lay a three-minute rant on the poor bugger but in fairness, if you deleted all the swear works it would only have been a 20-second missive. And in those 20 seconds … you had to see this one coming … I missed the call from the repairman who does not have a callback number. I quickly hit *69 and get the ubiquitous and useless 1-866 number that connects me to Donna in the Philippines. “How can I help you today,

Mr. Thomas?” I refer Donna to Customer Service Potty Mouth Rant at NoGDReply Bell Service …

So now, I’m dealing with a Bell Telephone repairman who does not have call messaging on his phone! Alexander Graham Bell: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Watson: “Leave a message, Al. I’m on another call.”

But Installation Guy Number Two does show up and fixes everything Installation Guy Number One screwed up. He asks me how I like HBO and Crave TV. Ah, I didn’t get that in the Good Package! Oh, he says, I thought they gave those channels free to everyone who signs on.

My next four days are spent talking to troubleshooters all over the world about how their “Not So Good Package” is not nearly as good as my Shaw dish was. Donna in Manila can’t help me, but her boss Vince takes over and … never calls me back. Bob in New Brunswick is very nice, but his hands are tied … probably with a tangle of telephone lines. I can never get hold of Slick or even Angela in Toronto, but finally a fine gentleman by the name of Anthony who takes my situation seriously and solves all my problems. I wound up not with Bell’s “Good Package,” but their “Better Package” … man, can these people use a writer … at a discount.

So yeah, I’m now a happy Bell customer because in the end I got that fantastic $100 fiber optics deal for only $160 a month. And look at all the nice people I met along the way. And I’m going to be even happier if and when I even figure how to access HBO and Crave TV.

Alexander Graham Bell: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Watson: “Ah, Al, I gotta real bad feeling about this one. Why don’t we work on that wireless radio wave thingy that Marconi was gasbagging about?”

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