Archive for Bell

Bell Is Going For The Killshot Against Rogers By Rolling Out Fibre To The Premises As Fast As It Can

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 2, 2018 by itnerd

If you’re Rogers you have to scared right now. I say that because Bell is stepping up its rollout of their Fiber To The Premises offering. First there was Toronto. Then in late April, Oshawa which is just east of Toronto got some Fibre love from Bell. Today, Clarington which is east of Oshawa is apparently the next on the list to get Fiber To The Premise.

It’s clear that Bell is being hyper aggressive here, and frankly I don’t blame them. They have a superior offering versus what Rogers can serve up. So why not take that advantage and run with it as hard as they can? As long as they don’t screw up, and to be clear, that could happen with Bell given their multiple faux pas over the last few months, they could run up a massive lead against Rogers. This activity from Bell as of late says to me that when it comes to residential Internet access, Bell has Rogers in its sighs and is going for the killshot.

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Judge Says Bell Can’t Promise A Price And Change It Later

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

Bell has taken some serious hits lately on the customer service front. Including having the highest amount of complaints to the CCTS so far this year. Well, here’s another hit. A Bell customer took Bell to court over their pricing strategy and won in epic fashion. Here’s the details from the CBC:

In a judgment issued last month in a Toronto small claims court, Deputy Judge William C. De Lucia said that Bell’s attempt to impose new terms after a verbal contract guaranteeing a monthly price for 24 months had been struck was “high-handed, arbitrary and unacceptable.”

It all started in November 2016, when David Ramsay called a Bell customer service representative to inquire about TV and internet services.

The sales agent told Ramsay he could get Bell’s Fibe TV and internet services “for $112.90 a month for 24 months” and then said he’d get an “email confirmation of everything that was just discussed.”

But when the email arrived, it said prices were actually “subject to change” and that Bell was planning to increase its price for internet service by $5, two months later.

“I was stunned and appalled to find these buried terms in an email,” says Ramsay. “I had a contract, and this ain’t that contract.”

Ramsay called Bell to say the emailed contract was different from the verbal contract he’d made on the phone.

I’ve heard this from other Bell customers and this is one reason why I have not switched from Rogers to them. This business practice really rubs people the wrong way.

Here’s what ultimately led to this epic win:

In a move that was pivotal to his legal case, he requested a transcript of the call in which the customer service rep promised him a fixed price for two years.

All contact centers be it sales, customer service or technical support record your calls and keep them for anywhere from six months to two years. And they have to tell you that before you talk to someone live. I know this because I help contact centers set up these recording systems and design the policies for them. You have a right in Canada to get a copy of the recording or the transcript. Usually through the privacy office of the company.

There were two other things that I should mention about this case:

  1. Bell tried to pay off this guy before the case got to court and get him to sign a hush agreement. He refused. And good for him for doing so.
  2. The customer complained to the CCTS before going to court. They closed his case. But when this judgement against Bell surfaced, the CCTS changed its tune and said that they will look at falling in line with this judgement and look into previous complaints of a similar nature.

This underscores the fact that while Bell is the worst when it comes to this sort of thing, the telco industry in Canada needs a serious shakeup due to the fact that Canadians don’t get the best value from any of the “big 3” telcos. It’s high time that one of the “big 3” simply just offer Canadians the best deal possible right up front. No tricks. No gotchas. No fine print. The other two would fall in line instantly if they did that. If that doesn’t happen, I say that the Canadian Government needs to step in and clean up the business practices of the telco industry. Because, clearly the “big 3” are unwilling to do so on their own.

CCTS Mid Year Report Is Out…. Surprise! Bell Is The Most Complained About Telco In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on April 10, 2018 by itnerd

In a sure sign that Canadian telcos are frustrating and infuriating their customers, The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) published their mid year report and noted that complaints are way up. And by that I mean a 73% increase over this time last year. And what are people complaining about? Here’s the number one issue:

The most frequently-raised issue in complaints remains the non-disclosure or inaccurate information about the terms under which a service is being provided. This is by far the most problematic issue for wireless customers. For TV and phone customers, the largest area of concern is incorrect charges, and for internet customers the number one concern is quality of service.

Hmmm…. Bell have been accused of that recently. I wonder how they finished in this report. Let’s rank the telcos in order:

  1. Bell with 2275 complaints
  2. Rogers with 707 complaints
  3. Telus with 511 complaints

Additional details can be found here.

That’s not a shock that Bell is number one seeing as the sort of stupid stuff that they’ve been caught doing recently have surely annoyed Canadian consumers from coast to coast. It illustrates just how bad their customer service is. It’s also a major reason why I haven’t switched from Rogers to Bell for my telco services. Sure Bell has a way better Internet offering than Rogers. And unlike Rogers they support the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE. But their customer service is so bad and they have a reputation of “baiting and switching” when it comes to their pricing, that I would rather just live with what I get, and don’t get from Rogers than to switch to Bell. By the way, Rogers shouldn’t be celebrating Bell’s misfortune as they got caught doing some of the same things that Bell has been accused of.

One other data point. Clearly the increase in complaints is affecting the CCTS too as they have a job posting for people to help them to field all the complaints that are coming in. That shows the level of discontent that Canadians have when it comes to telcos.

If I were an exec at any of the three major telcos that was responsible for customer service, I would looking at this report and say to myself that I need to up my game. Then go about improving things so that my customers don’t complain. But when it comes to Bell specifically, they need to take a bit of a different angle as this just further highlights how bad they are as a telco when it comes to how they treat customers. And I don’t know how they fix that so that they can regain the trust of Canadians. Bell has a good product offering, but without quality customer service, that doesn’t mean anything.

Why Bell Has The Upper Hand Against Rogers When It Comes To Internet Access In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 9, 2018 by itnerd

Last week I posted a story about Bell rolling out fibre across Toronto and offering up 1 Gbit/s symmetrical speeds today, with faster speeds coming in the future. In that story, I said this:

Having symmetrical speeds is something that in the past was only found in business class Internet. The fact that Bell is bringing it to consumers is a big deal. And the fact that they’re the only ones thus far to do so has Rogers on the back foot as Rogers doesn’t offer fibre to the premises nor do they offer symmetrical speeds. 

That got me a few emails over the weekend asking why Rogers can’t compete with Bell. Thus I decided to write a follow up to explain why Bell has the upper hand against Rogers in this regard.

First of all Bell is delivering fibre optic cable to the home. Meaning that it’s an end to end fiber connection which benefits you the consumer by delivering a low latency connection that’s capable of delivering very fast speeds. Low latency is important when you’re playing Call Of Duty online or having a video chat with relatives overseas for example because in the former case, you’ll be better able to pwn your opponents as there will be no lag for you to contend with, while in the latter case you will get a fluid video stream going in both directions which means that you get a better video chat experience.

Now contrast that with Rogers. They deliver Internet access by using a system they call “Hybrid Fibre” which means that the Rogers network is largely fibre optic cable. But the so-called “last mile” to your home is copper cable. The problem with that scheme is that copper cable can only handle so much bandwidth. Since Rogers is in the process of rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 across their network (at present they have DOCSIS 3.1 enabled on the downstream part of their Internet connections, but not on the upstream part of their Internet connections), that means that they’re capped at 10 Gbit/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream as per this Wikipedia page. Bell is talking about speeds of 40 Gbit/s in both directions. Not only that, having the last mile over copper cable introduces latency to the connection. Sometimes as high as 30ms based on my testing with my own Rogers Gigabit connection. Some of the people in my condo who have the Bell product are getting latency as low as 5ms. Clearly, Bell has the upper hand from a technical standpoint. And that’s ignoring the fact that Bell is able to offer symmetrical speeds which Rogers can’t.

In order for Rogers to compete with Bell on this front, they only really have two choices. The first choice is to hope that a technology called DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex comes to market quickly and they can roll that out as that would give them a fighting chance with their current infrastructure. DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex would give them the ability to provide the symmetrical speeds that Bell does, which would level the playing field somewhat.  The last time I checked it was still in the R&D stage, so that may not be an option as any rollout would be years away. Plus it likely wouldn’t solve the latency problem as you’re still pushing Internet over copper which introduces latency. Which brings me to choice number 2. Rogers will at some point have throw in the towel in terms of “hybrid fibre” and provide true fiber to the home for that last mile. While that’s not instant, it may be their best chance to compete with Bell. And Rogers has done this in a very limited fashion in some places in Toronto. Thus they know how to get that done. Whatever choice Rogers picks, they have to get it done quickly as Bell is on a full court press to take this advantage that they have from a technical standpoint and turn it into something that makes Rogers an afterthought when it comes to Internet access.

This will be interesting to see how this plays out in the months and years ahead. Because right now Bell has the upper hand when it comes to Internet access and Rogers is clearly on the back foot with no clear path to getting back on the front foot.

Bell Lights Up All-Fibre Broadband Network In Toronto

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 5, 2018 by itnerd

Bell has laid down the gauntlet in terms of wanting to have the fastest Internet access around by launching an all-fibre broadband network in Toronto. What that means is as follows:

  • Bell now offers fibre to the premises (FTTP) service with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second with symmetrical upload and downloads. Meaning you get those speeds on both directions rather than a fast download speed, but a substantially slower upload speed.
  • Bell claims that they will increase these speeds to at least 5 Gbps next year and ultimately to 40 Gbps and beyond in future.
  • Fully symmetrical speeds are available at all Internet speed tiers.

Having symmetrical speeds is something that in the past was only found in business class Internet. The fact that Bell is bringing it to consumers is a big deal. And the fact that they’re the only ones thus far to do so has Rogers on the back foot as Rogers doesn’t offer fibre to the premises nor do they offer symmetrical speeds. It will be interesting to see how Rogers responds to this because if Bell can deliver all of this at a decent price without the sort of shenanigans that they’ve been caught doing recently, they will eat Rogers alive.

Here’s a tip for Bell, just serve up your best price and not the “introductory price” games that you play. That will get you a ton of customers in a hurry.

Bell Canada Caught Red Handed Misleading Customers…. And Issues Apology…. Sort Of

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 2, 2018 by itnerd

You have to hand it to the CBC who broke this story about Bell misleading customers both at the door, and via their call centers. They have really been pushing this issue to try and hold the telco accountable for their shady business practices. And today, they released a story revolving around using hidden cameras to prove that these shady business practices are going on:

CBC’s Marketplace and Go Public teamed up to investigate how customers are sold Bell’s Fibe TV, internet and home phone at the front door. A Marketplace producer went undercover in the telecom industry, getting hired for a job selling Bell products door-to-door, documenting sales tactics during seven record-breaking cold days and nights in December and January.

“Everybody can make a ton of money [selling Bell products],” said Mohamed Abdelhadi, the man who hired our producer, and who runs one of the third-party companies Bell uses for door-to-door marketing.

As CBC’s hidden cameras rolled, sales reps knocked on door after door — misrepresenting monthly prices, promo deals, internet speeds and Bell’s “fibre optic network” reach, often using misinformation and omission of important facts to dupe customers.

Now I watched the video that is part of this story. And to be frank Bell should be ashamed. There is no excuse for the sorts of things that are in this view. I’m guessing that getting caught red handed is what led to this apology:

CBC requested an interview with Bell, to discuss the hidden camera findings. After several weeks of negotiation, Bell declined to speak on camera and instead sent a statement.

“The examples of the sales practices you provided are in no way aligned with Bell’s commitment to providing the best customer experience possible,” wrote spokesperson Nathan Gibson.

“We apologize to anyone who may have been adversely affected by this conduct.”

That’s not even close to an acceptable apology. Saying sorry is easy. Now to be fair, they say they’re taking corrective action and the company who Bell hired to sell their products (as Bell outsources that, likely to create plausible deniability) is no longer working for them. But they need to do more. They need to explain how things got to this point and why Canadians should trust them ever again. Without that, their apology is pretty meaningless.

Ex Bell Door To Door Sales Rep Claims That He Was Trained To Lie To Customers

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 28, 2018 by itnerd

Well, this keeps getting worse for Bell. Hot off the heels of this report where customers of Bell say they were misled about the costs of their services by door to door sales reps, a former door to door sales rep has come forward to the CBC to say that he was trained to lie to customers:

Krys Weiss contacted Go Public after reading about sales pressure on staff at Bell call centres.

“We misled people at the front door, too,” says Weiss, who sold Bell’s “Fibe” TV, internet and home phone services two years ago in Toronto-area neighbourhoods. Bell subcontracts all its door-to-door marketing to third-party companies.

Weiss describes how he and other other sales reps would be dropped off in a neighbourhood and expected to hit about 60 houses a shift. Working mostly on commission, he says he was desperate to get people to sign up for a “triple play” — TV, internet and home phone.

“You want to do whatever you can to finalize that sale,” he says.

Weiss says he was coached not to mention fine print in contracts, to fudge on prices and internet speeds.  

“I wasn’t telling the whole truth,” he says. “I was only telling the small things and leaving out the big things that could be potential harm for them.”

Now, these sales reps are outsourced, which gives Bell plausible deniability when stuff like this comes up. But you may not know that they are outsourced when they come to your door because of the fact that they’re wearing Bell shirts, and jackets and handing out business cards with the Bell logo on them. I know this because I’ve seen them numerous times in and around our condo trying to sign people up for their services.

In any case, it’s pretty clear that Bell has a serious problem on its hands, and one that requires a fix via the government intervening and saying that their behavior is not acceptable. Either that, or customer simply should dump Bell and tell others not to sign up for their services. Because Bell needs to understand that their bad behavior needs to immediately stop.