Monday, October 03, 2005

Ma Bell Hates Her Customers, Wants Their Money

Tyler Hamilton of The Toronto Star wrote today on Ma Bell's propensity to shoot herself in the foot:

"...CRTC chairman Charles Dalfen told the Star he was pleased to see Bell recognizing that VoIP is, well, just another type of local phone service after
all.

Yet Bell and the other big phone carriers continue to call the CRTC's decision
[to regulate VoIP] unfair and 'out of touch' with the technology and the new market environment....no evidence has emerged that Bell or technologica innovation is being held back by the regulation of VoIP....

"If only Bell invested as much money in customer service as it does on regulatory theatrics and cat-fights with the CRTC."

So this is my rant on Ma Bell.

Ring.

"Hello?" (WHY did I pick up? I have Call Display for a reason, and unknown caller is a giveaway!)

Once we get past the usual asking for the name on the phone listing and not identifying themselves first (which under telemarketing rules, they're supposed to do), I find out it's Ma Bell.

The nice lady, who sounds slightly desperate, goes through her spiel to find out how I like my services and what my phone needs are.

"I suggest from what you've told me that Call Privacy would be a good option for you."

"Will it cost me more?"

"What I've suggested, which will meet your needs, will only add on $11. This is a good fit for you. I'll sign you up."

"I don't want to increase my bill. I want to reduce it. Any way of doing that?"

"What I've suggested will meet your needs. The Call Privacy is a good deal for you and will screen out those telemarketers you've told me bother you."

"Been there. Done that. I don't like Call Privacy. That's why I have Call Display [WHY did I pick up?!]"

"It's very easy to use. I'll sign you up. It won't take a moment."

"I've got to go [else I'll miss the start of Dr. Who and then I'll REALLY be mad at myself.] Bye."

Click.

That was a very abbreviated version of my last telemarketing call with Ma Bell. Then a couple weeks later, Ma Bell calls again, via a research firm.

"Hi. We're doing a short survey on your satisfaction with Bell's service." No chance to say no. She just rumbles right over me.

"How would you rate your satisfaction with Bell. Very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, satisfied, not satisfied?"

"Satisfied, except for the endless telemarketing calls from Bell trying to get me to spend more money."

Click.

I see from my Call Display they're after me again. Unknown name. Unknown number. That's them. Only Bell uses the old tech lines -- for their telemarketing -- on which the name and number can't be transmitted.

Does Ma Bell really think CRTC and cable competition is to blame for any falling revenues? They had the market sewn up when it was first deregulated. They had inertia on their side, and for most people only cavalier customer service has the power to turf them off their couches to look for alternative phone providers. Since as a landline user, I can keep my phone number, no matter who my service provider is, there is no incentive for me to remain a Bell customer other than good service and better pricing. And if I was to move, after hearing the hook-up horror stories (for a city blanketed in phone wires and for such a simple tech to hook up, these boggle the mind), I'd look at the alternatives first. Bell's competitors are motivated to get me and my dollars. Ma Bell isn't motivated to keep me, only to pester me to spend more money.

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