Shakedown

Bell actually tried to shake me down today.

Having trimmed my Bell service down to as close to nothing as possible (and still paying $40/month) Bell called me today, and told me that they were checking up on their “loyal customers”. Then, immediately after I’d explained that I want as little as possible to do with them, they tried to sell me their “wire care” plan. For only four bucks a month, you can get your wires insured against “normal wear and tear”. Because you wouldn’t want anything to happen to those nice, shiny wires, would you? It would be tragic if, you know, there was an accident.

The terms of their plan are awesome. $4/month, 1 year minimum, $25 fee for early cancellations. The best part was that they tried the hard sell, too.

I don’t know why I’m surprised by this, but I am.

8 Comments

  1. Posted April 19, 2005 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I can’t even imagine what the product development meetings for this sort of thing would have been like.

    Worse still, I can’t even imagine how much they’d charge you to fix the wiring if it did break in ways that only Bell could fix (ie: the local exchange tie in at your house ..)

  2. Mike Hoye
    Posted April 19, 2005 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I’d be surprised if the phrase “customer service” evoked any image of a customer or that customer’s interests in the Bell corporate brain. I doubt the sound of those words would evoke any higher mental function at all; they’d just rattle around the subconscious making everyone nervous until they got to whatever dark corner of the apparatus is in charge of deciding whether the thing you’re looking at should be fucked, eaten or killed.

    I strongly suspect that at these “meetings” they have one of their customers abducted at random, hog-tied with piano wire and dangled over a big pot, so that middle managment can get together and play “look what happens when I cut him like this.”

  3. Posted April 20, 2005 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Years ago, when I got rid of my pager, Ohio Bell (SBC/Ameritech these days) tried to sell me “emergency paging service”. Who the hell needs a pager when you’ve got a cell phone?

    Their reasoning was that if I kept my pager, I wouldn’t have to give my cell phone number out, and would thus save on calls I didn’t want to take. Because, you know, it’s too hard to look at your caller ID and just not answer.

    A year later, I got rid of my landline, too. No more Bell/SBC/Ameritech, EVER.

  4. Posted April 20, 2005 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I have no landline whatsoever, and the only thing that would convince me to get one would be Magma DSL.

    Damn Bell.

  5. Mike Hoye
    Posted April 20, 2005 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t have cable TV, so the only wires coming into my place are the landline. My fiancee likes having that line there for security-blanket purposes, and to some extent I agree with her, but it’s mostly because of my non-Bell ISP.

    .

    Yeah, they’re not competitive at all in their own space; they’re totally relying on customer inertia.

  6. Posted April 20, 2005 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    beltzner: Bell is responsible for all the wires and the demarc itself. Anything past the demarc (i.e. any wires on the inside of the house that connect to the demarc) is your responsibility. Costs for repairs are $75/hr for labour plus any parts and labour. About 70% of service calls/line quality calls are related to internal wiring problems. I could give you the lowdown on the product marketing meetings if you want, but it’s fairly boring. The 1 year minimum is so you don’t buy the service for $4 for one month, get a truck roll, and then cancel (even if you pay the cancellation fee, it’s not a bad deal, and I have actually had installers tell me to play it this way). It’s one of the few service areas which, if you suck at wiring, is not too bad a deal in the short run – long run, it’s a little different story. For the target audience here, I’d say it’s a craptacular deal, because we all know how to roll our own.

    mhoye: The sales people are compensated on meeting revenue targets. They blitz certain products at a given time, and when the blitz for a certain product is on, it’s a hard sell for that product. They have to pitch it, because calls are reviewed on a random basis. It’s like any other telemarketing activity, it’s just the company everyone loves to hate that adds to the furor. Did you remember to ask them to remove you from their calling lists? :)

    I will say Bell is actually quite competitive in the wireline space. If you think they’re expensive, the US is much worse. In NYC my monthly fees were around $60 for basic phone, call answer, call ID, and a decent LD plan, plus 0.10/call. Here it’s about $46 (CAD!) for the same deal.

    They used to be a lot more competitive, but that was before the lovely shareholders became the #1 concern, not the customer, and the tarriffs put in place by the CRTC forced them to up pricing where they could while grandfathering _everything_ they ever offered to a consumer in the past.

    I won’t deny they suck, but there’s a lot more to residential/consumer pricing than you’d think. I won’t even go into wireless in Canada, it blows monkey balls regardless where you go.

    I’m also not trying to defend the sales groups, but I know how difficult it can be. :)

  7. Melanie
    Posted April 20, 2005 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had a land-line in a long time. It’s just not cost-effective, especially when you’re commuting a lot.

    Speaking of your fiancee, do you guys have a date yet?

  8. Jamie
    Posted April 22, 2005 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    “Those are some nice wires you’ve got there. It would be a shame if someone were to come by and cut them all.” Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone got into the wrong businesses. :)