Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MegaCorp Risk

When signing up for a service with startups, you have to decide if the risk they'll be around in a year is worth it. With MegaCorps, you have to decide if the risk they'll cost you several hours a month on the phone is worth it.

I'm on hold with Bell Canada as I write this. Fed up with the way Rogers Cable Internet seems to go out for hours a week during prime Netflix time, I walked down the street on June 17 to switch my internet provider. They promptly signed me up and sent me on my way, informing me the modem would be in the mail and someone would be out to activate my line on June 19. The line went active as planned.

The modem didn't arrive. I called in, they called back. I finally ended up with a tracking number, which said it had failed to deliver for several days in a row. Someone at Bell suggested I go to the delivery distribution center to pick up the modem -- 30 minutes away by car, and only during business hours. Terrible customer service for a place that has a retail store no more than a ten minute walk from my place.

I knew I didn't want the service anymore. I called Bell proactively to cancel and was marched through a half-dozen cycles of being put on hold and transferred to another department. Finally I was told that if I didn't use the service, I wouldn't be billed. Sounded like nonsense, but after 45 minutes on the phone I was looking for any excuse to hang up.

Another bill came. I now owed $102 for a service I had never received and didn't want in the first place. I called again, went through the same holds and transfers, and ended up talking to a sales guy who just wanted to know "what [he] had to do to keep my contract going?" Reluctantly, he agreed to cancel the service, saying it would be canceled within the week.

The next month another bill showed up. I now owed $145 for a service I didn't want, had never used, and would never use. Calmly, I picked up the phone and informed the representative I had been wrongly charged, would not be paying, and wanted no further phone calls on the matter. She responded by saying that next a collection agency would be coming for me, all while agreeing it was ridiculous I owed so much money for something I never received.

Finally, after two more transfers I landed with the first competent, helpful person in the organization. After 38 minutes on the phone this time the account was actually canceled, and the balance was returned to zero before I hung up.

I prefer small- and medium-sized businesses.

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