Dear Bell Canada,
I am writing this letter and posting it on the internet in the hopes that an employee or two of yours will come across and read it. Even though times are tough, I know you still have many, many thousands of employees, so the chances are decent one of them will find it eventually and perhaps draw it to the attention of Somebody who works in the Appropriate Department.
I’d call you on that device your namesake invented but...well...lemme s’plain.
In July of 2008 my wife died suddenly. At the time of her death we were living apart but as next of kin, I of course had to take care of her affairs. Unlike me, who only utilizes your services for my home phone (and have since the early 1970s) my wife had her home phone, her cell phone and her satellite television all provided by your company.
She, of course, had no further need for these services once she passed away. In August, I brought a copy of her death certificate to one of your service centres and a kind young woman there tap-danced through your voice mail system and eventually put me through to a Person In Charge. The PIC expressed her sympathy, noted that payments were up to date and promised any further charges would be waived. She asked that I return the satellite receiver in specific packaging which would be sent to me.
A couple of weeks later, I did just that and crossed off another in the seemingly-endless list of things to do following a person’s death.
Sometime in October, the first dunning letter arrived.
Your company wanted $87.65. The bill didn’t say what for, but the account number was different from my own, so I presumed it was to do with my late wife’s. I ignored it, thinking there was probably a lag in communications between the Department of Receiving Returned Satellite Receivers and They Who Send Bills.
In November, I got another letter which was now rather urgently demanding that $87.65, still however, without specifying exactly what it was for. This time, manfully, I waded through your voice mail system myself. Within a mere 15 minutes of listening to recordings, button pushing and department shuffling, I was speaking to yet another Person In Charge. Like the first, she was extremely sympathetic and apologized for the dunning letter. She would take care of it. There was no reason to pay. It was a mistake. Please forgive us.
Graciously, I did so.
Well, darned if I didn’t get another Urgent Notice a couple of weeks later, regretfully informing me that because of my refusal to pay this mere $87.65 for unspecified services, your company would be forced to turn my bill over to a collection agency and well, goshdarnit, if my credit rating went all to heck I only had myself to blame.
I decided to return to the same Bell centre I went to originally. This time, a kind young woman told me that it really wasn’t their job to intervene in situations like this. What, I inquired, was your job? Well, it was to sell cell phones and related services. She really wished she could help me.
I told her I could make her wish come true. She could do the voice mail dance for me and hand me the receiver when she reached a Person In Charge.
She did so and guess what?
No, seriously, guess what?
The PIC apologized profusely for some Nameless Incompetent’s error and promised she would take care of it.
I said Wow! It was like my guru Yogi Berra said about being deja vu all over again! But, hey, it was closing in on Christmas. I dug deep into my well of goodwill towards men, forgave the PIC and the NI and walk out whistling.
The Final Notice was dated Christmas Eve. A nice touch I thought. All those little Bell Canada elves working until the last possible minute to ensure a Merry Christmas for everyone. Call me a sentimental old fool but I found myself dabbing a tear.
This time I looked very closely at the bill. It was confusing. It said as of Dec. 3rd, there was a balance owing of $87.65. Directly below that, also dated Dec. 3rd, was a credit of $87.65. And below THAT, was an amount due of - yep - $87.65.
As my high school teacher, the sainted Mr. Elliot could attest, my mathematical skills are somewhat rudimentary. But it sure looked to me like the bill was saying $87.65 minus $87.65 = $87.65.
Yesterday, I got my first letter from the collection agency you hired, Total Credit Recovery Ltd. out of Laval Quebec. I suppose you know what they wanted. I considered calling them. They provided a helpful toll-free number just like you folks do. Somehow, though, I bet I if I call their number a human being will answer.
But I decided to write this letter instead and propose a solution to this ongoing problem.
My wife was cremated and her ashes are in a vinyl bag in Son #1's bedroom. I will put $87.65 in that bag. All you have to do is send a representative to my house, convince me why I owe that money and they can help themselves to it.
Then maybe we can all rest in peace.