Mr. Mirko Bilsic-fix Bell Canada

Our latest column from William Thomas

I’m sure Mr. Bilsic, as the Chief Executive Officer of Bell Canada you believe everything is dandy. You have an annual income of three billion dollars, consistent dividend growth and strong capital reserves. You and your board of directors must be spilling Champagne on each other every time you meet. But here’s a bit of a different perspective of your company from a Bell customer and a very unhappy one at that.

On Wednesday, February 26th I called 1 800 310 Bell to arrange for my Bell services to be moved from my current residence to a new home six minutes away. A male Bell rep from Vancouver had me on the line for over an hour arranging for what I thought was a simple request-switch internet, phone and TV from one address to another. An hour later I’m still yelling the call letters of my new address into the phone. Language was a real problem. He arranged for a noon-to-five internet/phone hook up on the Friday, same time for the TV hook up on Sunday.

And then…he unplugged me. I was two and a half days without phone and internet in the midst of two house closings, lawyers, large cheques and movers. A dozen desperate calls to countless Bell employees pleading them to restore my communications could not reverse the error. If there’d been any glitch in the real estate deals, I would not have known about it and likely lost a substantial deposit.

So early Friday I get the “Where are you?” call. The noon-to-five guy showed up at 9:15 a.m. I rush to the house, give him full access while making trips back and forth between houses. “Don’t leave.” He worked on the internet for four hours and…left. Nothing worked. Back to 310-BELL many times, many different support staff and nobody can figure out what he did or why it’s not working.

The next day, Saturday, February 29th another internet guy spends four hours fixing what the first guy didn’t finish and I have internet. Until his truck fades slowly down the street and out of shouting range. Back on 310-BELL and I’m begging for emergency help and damned if they didn’t send over Pete, who lives in Port Colborne. Within ten minutes I have internet and phone.

Until the next morning when I don’t. “Hello–310-BELL?” A guy from the Philippines explains that I have to unplug everything, then replug the small modem, wait five minutes, plug in the big modem and I have internet…as long as I do the “unplug/plug routine” every morning. Although my phone line is working, my fax line is “iffy” and I’m on a deadline to file a column.

Meanwhile, the Sunday TV hookup by Francis out of Fort Erie actually works and that night I celebrate by watching 60 Minutes. Also, I heard a consistent dial tone on my phone for the first time in five days and I got a little weepy. unfortunately, Francis leaves me with a crappy remote which has dead batteries and a frozen volume button.

On Wednesday, one week since I began the process I have no internet and the plug/unplug system no longer works. That Friday’s noon-to-five guy just doesn’t show up, I’m now begging Eric, my Bell “case manager” to get somebody to fix the internet but he puts me off until Sunday.

I pull the “emergency card” and Eric says he’ll call me back in 20 minutes but he doesn’t. On the Sunday a guy shows up and says the modems are old and replaces them with new ones. And I have the internet. Until the next morning when I have to go back to “unplug/plug routine” for two days. That’s when Pete returns and spots the problem between the internet and it’s connection to my laptop. But I have internet.

So I damn near break my back repositioning moving boxes so the second TV guy has room to run a line through the garage. The next thing I see is him on a ladder. He didn’t go through the garage, he went through the roof. At about the same time as I did.

At one point one of my case managers said “Have you talked to…” I lost it! “I have talked to everybody in this %*@# company except Alexander Graham Bell!” Long silence. “And you don’t know who that is, do you?” His reply: “No sir. I don’t know the gentleman.” Pity, because he’s got a great story about communicating with two tin cans and a piece of string…back when Bell was efficient.

That’s when the fax machine died. After an hour on the phone with two tech guys at Beatties, the office people determine the machine is fine but the Bell line is shot. As I’m writing this it’s noon on Thursday, March 12 and the phone guy just left after replacing my fax line. So after seventeen days, five case managers, a dozen phone staff, nine Bell employees or contractors to the house and probably a total of eight to ten hours on hold with Bell–I’m touching wood with crossed fingers–my communications nightmare might be over! (In fairness, Mirko, your employees are excellent at apologizing!)

Mr. Bilsic, despite the billions Bell is raking in…it, is also broke. The largest communications company in Canada is maddeningly dysfunctional and systemically incompetent. You need to fix it.

Readers should send their Bell stories to:
Mr. Mirko Bilsic, CEO Bell Canada
Central Office, 1050 Beaverton Hill
Montreal, Quebec H3B B5B

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