Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How Bell Canada lost a customer for life - will Rogers be next?

Bell Canada dropped the ball. I tried to stay with them when we moved but they drove us away. I have heard that it costs more money to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer, but how much does it cost to drive one away? Bell wastes their money by calling us every 10 days asking what it will take for us to switch back. We always tell them our sad story but unfortunately their script cannot answer our questions nor offer us what we really need to repair this damaged relationship. I often ask them to pass this info onto their supervisors, yet we get the same call again about 10 days later. If there is no feedback loop on the customer acquisition team, how can I trust that they can even provide me with service, when they let me down three years earlier?

Before I moved three years ago, I was a Bell Canada girl all the way -- so was Dan. I was happy with the service and had no intention of changing. So when we moved, I called all my service providers and arranged to take them with me. Days before moving, I thought that maybe we could get a dedicated phone number for Dan's home office and that's when I discovered the problem. Our phone would not be connected until five weeks after we moved due a labour strike and the earlier customer service person gave me the wrong information. If I had not made this call, we would not have learned about this error until the day that we moved. And unfortunately, there was no recourse. I was tempted to kill the landline and go mobile, but Dan needed it for work. Our only landline alternative was to go with the provider of the previous homeowner's telephone provider: Sprint (which had been just bought out by Rogers).

The problem extended into our internet service provider (ISP). We were both with Sympatico DSL provided by Bell and were planning to take it with us too. After being slapped in the face with the five week wait for the Bell landline installation, we found out that we'd have to pay an additional $10/month for our DSL since we would not have Bell as our TSP. And since we didn't cancel with 30 days notice, we'd have to pay for an additional month. They did not offer me a special rate for a few months until I could switch back to Bell. Instead, they told me that my only choice was to cancel Sympatico or pay the higher fee. This was the nail in the coffin for Bell.

Will Bell's current re-branding save them? They have gotten rid of those horrible beaver commercials. They've abandoned all the other brands such as Sympatico. I'm not sure what the blue "er" is all about, but the new print campaigns have an "er" suffix like faster or sexier. Are they implying that they are better? I am not fooled by the crisp and clean aesthetic even if I do like the casting choice in their latest commercials. I'm curious to see what the Teacher's Pension Plan is going to do with Ma Bell after the world's largest leveraged buyout. But I do know that a new ad campaign is not going to pull me back.

Am I happy with Rogers Home Phone? I was until June 2008 when I was told that I had to switch to the Rogers digital home phone or cancel my service. They were forcing me into the arms of the competition. I wanted to keep an analog landline because it will work in a power outage. I guess that we're all frightened after the big blackout in the summer of 2003. I've learned to stock drinking water in the basement, get a solar powered radio, always keep a healthy supply of beer, and keep an old analog phone that will work in case of power outage. But VoIP & Rogers digital phone will not work when the power is out. So I have played it safe and kept the landline. But this aggressive action on Rogers side has made me take a look around and I'm realizing that I'm paying far too much for this service. A traditional VoIP service offers much better features at lower prices. Sure, there may be issues with quality of service, but if I'm paying about 40% of what I'm paying now, it will be worth it. I can supplement the bad times with a cell phone.

It is the lesser of all evils - instead of going with the best, I'm settling for the service that bothers me the least. It makes me wonder that if I'll be looking to switch in another three months or even three years. What new technology will temp with? But will their marketing and advertising turn me off? Only time will tell.

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