Bell Canada lowers my expectations

March 3, 2008

Logo for Bell CanadaThere are certain things I expect from my telephone company. The first is that they know my phone number.

Apparently, even this is too much to expect from Bell Canada, as I discovered in my still-ongoing quest to get the FreshBooks phones working the way we’d like.

“Hi, this is FreshBooks”

A few months ago we started calling our users on a regular basis, to find out how we could serve them even better. We found an inordinate number of people just plain ignored our calls.

That’s when it dawned on us: if “2NDSITE INC” showed up on your caller ID in the middle of the day, would you know that’s our corporate name, or figure it was a telemarketer?

We also had a long-standing issue where incoming calls to our main number weren’t rolling over to one of our secondary lines. With our call volume increasing daily, it was high time to resolve both issues.

This should be quick, right?

I called 310-BELL. After navigating obnoxious voice menus and enduring a couple transfers, I struggled to explain things to the service representative. Seemed simple enough to me: change our caller ID listing and fix up our rollover service. Unfortunately, communicating this proved tough.

Finally I broke through the language barrier, and she submitted two work orders to two different departments. It would be completed in a few days, I wrote down two confirmation numbers, and I hung up thinking, “all done!”

This would become a familiar routine.

A comedy of errors

At one point our rollover service started working correctly, only to stop a few weeks later. On another occasion they updated our caller ID listing for some of our outgoing lines, but not all. And, of course, there were all those times my calls led to no changes whatsoever. Nothing went right.

FreshBrooks? What the heck is FreshBrooks? And why is our number wrong?But the “winner,” without a doubt, is best explained with an image. What you see on the right was our caller ID for lines one through five a few weeks ago.

Now, in spite of everything that went wrong previously, a typo might still be understandable; people make mistakes. But look carefully at line 5.

Yes, that’s right. Bell Canada got our Bell Canada phone number wrong.

Another fifteen-minute call led to another apology, another due date and another confirmation number. Three days later our name was spelled right; our phone number was still wrong. It still is.

I can’t bring myself to call 310-BELL a seventh time. My will to fix this is fading. Maybe this is as good as it gets?

I’ve seen tales of poor customer service with far worse consequences, but this one might take the cake for sheer ineptitude.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.