Cell Phone Woes


All forms of media were flooded with advertisements from Bell and Rogers recently. Changes in the law had made it possible for foreign owned cellular companies to move into the Canadian market. Our cell phone companies knew that they would be under great threat and took to the airwaves to try to drum up support.

They likened WiFi to natural resources like water. They played the employment card claiming jobs would be lost to Americans. They even said that it was ‘unfair’ that infrastructure that was paid for by the companies themselves and the taxpayers would need to be shared. Boo Hoo. Their very livelihood was under attack and they knew it.

The only reason that the large cell phone companies have survived is that there is very little other choice in the market. Given the opportunity, many Canadians would flee to another provider, even if the choice turned out to be ill conceived.

Recently, my now adult daughter decided to upgrade her phone. We all know what that means. She was forced to sign a new contract in order to do this. I was unwilling to keep her account bound to mine. So, we agreed that I would transfer the responsibility to her and she could sign a new contract and get her new phone. Not so simple.

Several hours (I’m not exaggerating this point – at one point I was on hold for almost an hour – thank goodness for headsets!) on the phone with Bell still has not resolved this issue. My daughter went into the Bell Centre in the mall on a few occassions and they instructed her in how to get the “transfer of responsibility” done. I called and let Bell know that my daughter would now be responsible and they said, great, she can go back into the store and get her new phone. Not.

What no one had checked, and let’s face it, I didn’t even know it was important, was that I had the infamous One Bill. Its not as frightening as it sounds. It just means that all of my Bell telephone charges come together on one bill. Apparently, this is a huge deal. The problem, you see, is that the land lines and the cell phones are managed by different parts of Bell. So, in order for them to get together to only bill me once requires a huge amount of internal co-operation that they are simply not designed for or able to handle well.

Now, I have complicated this even further. I apologize to Bell for being so demanding and unreasonable but I wanted to take one, only one, of the cell phones off of this One Bill and let my daughter take responsibility. This was understood, or so I thought, until I received the updated bills. I now have my land line on one bill and the two cell phones are on One Bill. This means that the transfer of responsibility cannot go through because she is only responsible for one of the phones on the One Bill and it simply cannot be done.

I called again and spoke with a quiet spoken girl that kept insisting that she needed to transfer me to the department that does the “transfer of responsibility”. I repeatedly told her that I had already spoken to that group FOUR times and each time they had assured me that the responsibility had already been transferred. What I was trying to explain is that the cell phones could no longer be on the same bill. The cell phones had to be billed separately in order for the transfer to take effect. This was baffling to her.

I still don’t know if this was understood or if they will be able to do the split. Once the split is accomplished, we will still need to change the billing to my daughter and then, wait for it, I want my cell phone and landline back onto the same One Bill. I may get wore out before that dream comes true.

Just to add some amusement to this tale of woe, my daughter did upgrade her phone. We knew that the promotion would be over before Bell got it sorted out so we went ahead agreeing that we would keep track of the charges and square up later. I noticed a $8.00 charge on my cell phone One Bill that I didn’t understand.

The Bell billing change from my daughter’s last phone, that did not have data, to her new phone, that did have data, was delayed enough that they had charged her for using data on her new phone because she was still on her “old plan”. This occured even though she had signed the contract and had her new phone in her hand. Really? They were encouraged to remove this charge. We’ll see if it shows up on the next bill.

Is it possible that if Bell and Rogers spent more money on customer service and less money buying advertisements to try to convince us that we should be loyal to them that we might actually hate them less? Its just a thought.

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