Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bell Canada Responds! Well, Jasper Does....

Last week I wrote about an issue I was having with telecommunications giant Bell Canada regarding my late wife’s account. Despite telling me on three separate occasions there was no money owing and the account was closed, they began dunning me for $87.65, eventually siccing a collection agency after me.

If you missed it, you can scroll down to the previous post.

Shortly after the column appeared, longtime reader and fellow moderator at the Absolute Write forums, Lori B, looked up Bell’s contact information online. She then forwarded a link to the blog version of the column and suggested someone there read it. She got a response which she then forwarded to me. This is it:

Hello Lori B,

Thank you for visiting Bell's web site. My name is Jasper and I am pleased to assist you with your request.

I apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Lori, would you mind clarifying your request for me? I will require additional details to be able to assist you further.

Please do reply me back with the account number that you are referring to.

I do apologize for any delay this may cause in addressing your concerns.

We appreciate you using Bell Canada's eContact Centre. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Jasper
Bell Canada eContact Centre

Well, that was encouraging! Jasper sounded like a reasonable fellow. From here, I took the baton from Lori and replied to Jasper myself, reiterating the suggestion that he follow the link and read the post if he wanted clarification. Within hours I received this email:

Hello Frank Baron,

Thank you for your reply. It's Jasper again and I am happy to be of further assistance.

I have reviewed the link provided and I can certainly understand why you have been frustrated and angry with us.

Bell is very concerned about the level of customer service we provide to our customers. It is a very important factor of our business and how we treat you as a customer, matters greatly.

Frank, if you could reply me back with the account number that you are referring to, I will be able to check your records and assist you further.

Your situation is a prime example that we will use as a case study to improve upon our opportunities and our overall customer experience in general. Bell's ongoing commitment is to provide excellence of service and I can assure you we will make every effort to meet your expectations in the future.

I look forward to your return e-mail. We appreciate you using Bell Canada's eContact Centre.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Jasper
Bell Canada eContact Centre

Having been stung three times previously by eager-to-help customer service reps, I refused to get caught up in Jasper’s enthusiasm. My reply:

Jasper, you can't be of further assistance until you've been of some assistance. So far, all I've gotten from Bell reps are empty words and a collection agency. Hopefully, we can start that assistance process now. The account number is: xxxxxxxxx.

Jasper replied the next day:

Hello Frank Baron,

Thank you for your reply. It's Jasper again and I am happy to be of further assistance.

I appreciate what you are saying and I can understand your concerns.

Frank, our records confirm that we did not receive your last two payments. That is, the payment made on Dec. 3rd, 2008 for $87.65 and prior to that $87.65 on Nov. 4th, 2008.

In order to resolve this issue, you will need to contact your credit card company.

Please be assured that I have forwarded your e-mail directly to our Residential Accounts Receivable Management team for review. A Client Representative will be happy to note your account with the information that you have provided.

I recommend that you please call 1-800-477-9205 as well. For your convenience, their business hours are 8 am to 9 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.

Your understanding is truly appreciated.

We appreciate you using Bell Canada's eContact Centre. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Jasper
Bell Canada eContact Centre

Well, darn. This wasn’t going all that well. I’m afraid I was a tad cranky when I replied:


Hello Jasper (probably not your real name).

There you go with the "further" assistance thing again. It's really not that abstract a concept. Oh well.

No, you didn't receive those payments because they were waived. They were waived three times - by your company's representatives - because the person who supposedly incurred them died on July 19th.

Died. Dead. Expired. No longer on the planet.

Your company's representatives may call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. For their convenience - I will be home most of tomorrow (Thursday). If they fail to reach me tomorrow, they may try again Monday as I will be going out of town on Friday for the weekend.

There was a disconcerting, robotic aspect to Jasper’s response:

Hello Frank Baron,

Thank you for your reply. It's Jasper again and I am happy to be of further assistance.

Frank, I have made a note on your account with the information that you have provided.

Please be assured that I have forwarded your e-mail directly to our Residential Accounts Receivable Management team for review again. A Client Representative will be happy to note your account with the information that you have provided.

We appreciate you using Bell Canada's eContact Centre. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Jasper
Bell Canada eContact Centre

There was no call before the weekend and none after I returned. Sadly, I wrote Jasper one more time a couple of days ago:

Well, Jasper my friend, it appears that none of the Client Representatives of your Residential Accounts Receivable Management team have seen fit to contact me.

It appears that they, unlike you, are not happy to be of further assistance.

You know, I hate to sing the same old, tired refrain but you (and I use the collective term here, Jasper) folks might improve customer relations if you were to actually be of some, initial assistance before leaping right into the "further" part of the program. You know the old saying: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In order to get somewhere, you need to actually begin the going - if you catch my drift.

Kind regards,

Frank Baron

Equally sad, I like to think, was Jasper’s final response:


Hello Frank Baron,

Thank you for your reply. It's Jasper again and I am happy to be of further assistance.

Frank, I regret that this situation appears to be unresolved and I apologize that we have not met your expectations.

I want to assure you that we are continually taking steps to improve your customer experience.

We appreciate you using Bell Canada's eContact Centre. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Jasper
Bell Canada eContact Centre

Well, I don’t think I’ll contact Jasper again. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect there’s no such person. Or rather, there’s a horde of them, Jaspers #1 through #10,000, diligently helping people further.

But apparently there’s nobody capable of helping in the first place.

21 comments:

Reb said...

Frank, I suspect Jasper's name in another incarnation was H.A.L.

Even though we are well past 2001, I think they got the wrong computer ;)

If you decide to try to call again, keep pushing zero until you get a person, but I suspect you will then be told "that has gone to collections, we have no more to do with the matter"

Just ignore it. It can't hurt your credit rating, because it is not your expense and they are in the wrong for putting it on your credit rating.

Good luck.

Jennifer Jilks said...

As I said before, Frank, you have to call every day, twice a day.

Document your calls, and your actions, i.e., e-mail, etc.

When you phone Bell, hit the 0 button 6 times, you'll get a rep directly. Get the rep to tell you his/her name, and ID #. (Have them repeat it as they say it too damn fast. It gets their attention.)

Tell the rep. you are really angry and s/he isn't paid enough to listen to your rants and demand you speak to a manager. Tell them you have called X number of times, and still have not had satisfaction.

It is not fair. It is incredibly stupid, but these people do not care as long as they get you off their phone and get on to the next caller.

Go at it! You'll feel better once you do. Let me know what happens. You go!

Jennifer Jilks said...

P.S. I disagree with Reb. It WILL hurt your credit rating! Whether you are wrong or right, it appears as default. I have seen this before when I missed ONE mortgage payment, for example. (I was on holiday!)

It is a black mark against you. Get it fixed as credit is a tricky thing. Check your credit rating later, too, as it needs to be fixed up once you clear this up.

Stace said...

Goodness me... Even in my most professional, I-don't-actually-care, mode when I worked for Australia Post, I was more helpful than that!! lol
It must be just telecommunications companies... maybe we should start our own??

Big Plain V said...

This is so crazy. I'd be seriously losing my cool with every human being I could get on the phone.

Lyrist said...

Ridiculous. I've had the same problems with Bell Canada AND Rogers. Mostly more so with Rogers than Bell. But even so... ridiculous. Honestly.

Hilary said...

Rogers called me today - to thank me for being their customer, and in order to provide better service, she asked me if there was anything she could do for me today.

I said "Yes, I'm being billed for a rental that should have been free."

She told me that I'd have to call their billing department for that, and was there anything else she could help me with? (sound like Jasper's "further assistance?")

I told her that my internet connection was also choppy today.

She said I'd have to call tech support for that.

So I asked her why she was really calling.

She repeated that she was calling to see if she could so anything for me.

Evidently not.

Frank Baron said...

Reb, I dunno whether I'll call or not. I'll flip a coin in a few days. Thanks for your support. :)

Jennifer, once I let my indignation percolate to overflowing - that sounds like a plan. I absolutely should have gotten names and made note of dates etc. That'll learn me to take people at their word.

Stace, the irony is thick eh? Communication company seemingly incapable of communicating. It would be funny if...oh hell, it IS funny. ;)

Ray, I must be mellowing in my old age. Or maybe it's my dotage....:)

Lyrist, I've had a a couple of head-butting sessions with Rogers over the years too. No surprise really - they're another telecommunications company that has yet to master the art.

Hil, sounds like Jasperette. Maybe it's time we bought a couple of voodoo dolls. ;)

Maud said...

Frank,have you seen The Twelve Tasks of Asterix? If not, check out the section "The place that sends you mad" on Youtube. It'll provide a bit of light relief in between calls! I wish someone would start up a resistance organisation to put pressure on these companies. I'm sure millions of us would join.

Frank Baron said...

I haven't seen that Maud but I will. And there's no doubt you're right, corporate indifference has alienated many. The frustration I'm hearing from some folks is nearly palpable.

Cassandra said...

This is pretty crazy... wonder how many people you'll need to talk to when you decide that their lame services aren't what you want for your own home phone...

'I'm sorry, sir, you're going to have to call on the tenth Wednesday next year, but only in the months that start with the letter J... any further services I can do for you today?'

Meredith Teagarden said...

Do do, do do,do do, do do..This sounds like a Twilight Zone episode.

Jasper starts off so perfectly and then it is as if the responses he has been programmed with go onto a default mode when the system overloads with continued human feedback that isn't giving him the expected reply.

This is what customer service has come to. Jaspers.

Frank Baron said...

Cassandra, it IS just about that surrealistic. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Yep Meredith. Something just wasn't computing. It's pathetic, maddening and blackly funny. :)

gorida said...

I had really bad, almost similar experience with Telus. Well, "How poor are they that have not patience!" :D

Rick Rosenshein said...

Hi Frank,
Believe me...I know how frustrating it can be dealing with some of these businesses and companies. Eventually they will figure it out...hopefully before it cost you more than time. Take care. Rick

Frank Baron said...

Gorida, I didn't expect my experience was unique but I have to admit the number of folks who've had similar problems surprises me some.

Hope so too Rick. Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara Martin said...

I am sending you via e-mail the name and contact information of a person who may be able to help you with your Bell problem. At least it's more than an email address to nowhere.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Barbara but I've received no email. Please try again to frank(at)frankbaron.com. (at=@, of course).

the Bag Lady said...

Gosh, Frank. I spoke to someone who actually fixed my problem.
At least, I hope he did.....

Guess I'll find out when the next bill comes.

In the meantime, by telling the woman from the collections dept. when she called that I had spoken with S***, and giving her his ID number and telling her that it was all sorted out, caused her to remove my name from the computer-generated list of Bad.People.Who.Need.To.Be.Called.

I haven't had a call since. Do you want me to email you his name and ID number so you can call him? He was actually very helpful. Of course, he's probably been fired since then....

Barbara Martin said...

Frank, I have resent the email. I committed a faux pas: I spelled your name wrong.

Bag Lady, love your tactics.

Frank Baron said...

Baggie, sure, if you don't mind. If Barbara's contact doesn't work out, I'll have a fall-back. Thanks.:)

Ok Barbara, thank you. I'm at Hilary's this weekend so won't be checking mail 'til I get home. Thanks for taking the time. :)