The $47,000 phone bill

11.18.10

Imagine the surprise of a woman who was charged $47,000 by Bell for the use of mobile internet, after being instructed to set up her phone that way by Bell’s customer service department:

“The guy on the line told me: Oh, it’s no problem. Your cellphone has unlimited Internet, so you can just connect your phone to your computer.”

 After Rooney asked three times if there would be an extra charge, Alexandra stayed on the phone with a customer service representative for about an hour to figure out how to connect the phone to the computer to get Internet service.

 A week later, all of Rooney’s phones were disconnected. She borrowed a phone and called Bell customer service.

 “When I spoke to the agent, he told me I had a very high balance,” she said. “He told me $47,000, and then told me I had to agree to pay a minimum payment of $300 for my phones to be reconnected.”

 Since that day, Rooney’s phone bills have not been less than five figures. Her most recent bill was for $12,000, and Bell has cut off her phone service six times.

It took Rooney over four months to get the issue resolved:

On Tuesday, Rooney got a call from someone named Gina, who said she worked at the office of the president. She apologized on behalf of Bell, and said it was unacceptable for it to take this long to settle her problem. The woman told her all charges had been reversed, and her current balance was $181.16.

“When I heard, I was so happy that I cried,” Rooney said. “She told me, she understood why I went to the newspapers about this because it’s been since July. I gave them a lot of time to handle this and they didn’t. She was really nice.”

From now on, the woman told Rooney she no longer has to contact customer service and if she has any problems, she has a special number to call.

Francoeur said the settlement of Rooney’s problem had nothing to do with the fact that a reporter contacted the company on her behalf, and that the problem would have been solved this week anyway.

Yep, that was my experience back when I was a Bell customer, too. Months of running around in circles on the phone with various customer service agents accomplished nothing. Only going to the top – in my case, to a VP – finally managed to solve anything. Which begs the question of what, exactly, the point of having a customer service department is in the first place. I mean, could nobody below the level of the president see that there was clearly something wrong with a $47,000 phone bill?

Rooney says she’ll probably remain a Bell customer, which sounds crazy but is likely because, in her rural area, she has no choice. As for me, I fully divested myself a few years ago and will never look back.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim Royal 11.18.10 at 4:25 PM

Or you could do what I do and refuse to buy a mobile phone.

You know what’s the worst part of mobile phones? Calling people who answer the phone with them.

*ring*

*ring*

*ring*

*click* *rumble* *scrape* *pthpthbpthbpth* *cough*

He-hello?

I always get the impression that the person is answering the phone while in the middle of dental surgery, and I’m imposing by simply calling them. The only people who routinely answer phones in a clam unhurried tone are people with landlines.

Gad, I think I’m channeling Stephen Fry.

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2 segacs 11.18.10 at 8:53 PM

LOL! Guilty as charged. I think it’s because I’m always scrambling to fish my phone out of my purse so I can answer it.

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