Bell customers, employees flood CBC with complaints about high-pressure sales

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Bell Canada fellows and employees from coast to coast are speaking out in the wake of a Go Public scrutiny into customer upselling at Canada’s biggest telecom.

“Enough is enough,” said Shaelene McInnis of Oshawa, Ont., who beheld that Bell was charging her aging in-laws for internet service, unbeknownst to them.

“They’ve not ever even turned on a computer!” McInnis said. “They have wholly no need for internet services.”

When she called to find out why the Bell charge was so high, she learned that a customer service representative had signed them up for Fibe TV, which is gave through a network enhanced by fibre optic and automatically includes a fee for internet air force.

She threatened to cancel all Bell services if the customer service rep wouldn’t discount the bill.

“When he was trying to avoid taking it off the bill, I said to him, ‘How diverse other senior citizens are you doing this to? How many people are you attacking when they don’t need internet service at all?'”

Customers complain 

McInnis is one of dozens of forlorn Bell customers who emailed Go Public after reading a story earlier this week with respect to Andrea Rizzo, a Bell call centre employee in Scarborough, Ont., who judged she is under intense pressure to make a sale on every call.

One Bell fellow wrote to say she felt misled.

“After fulfilling a two-year [cellphone] obligation, I was told by a rep on the phone that because I was a valued customer, my phone intention be upgraded for free,” writes one Bell customer. It wasn’t, she said, and her nib skyrocketed. “I fell hook, line and sinker.”

‘I fell hook, stock and sinker.’ – Bell Canada customer

Another Bell customer asseverated a rep offered him a TV/internet deal of $78 a month, but “after three months of eternal calling and confusing answers with confusing bills, I was told that no such large existed and was basically told I made this up.”

Others wrote that they were charged for upgrades that were not requested, charged for months for internet aid that had yet to be installed, have spent hours on the phone trying to redeem products and services and were often disconnected during those awakens.

“I experienced three frustrating weeks attempting to cancel my landline,” one guy wrote. “I had to emphatically insist I did not want their service.”

Bell commiserate withs

In an email to Go Public, Bell did not address customer complaints CBC has received.

“Bell make its in a highly competitive marketplace by ensuring we serve our customers well and that’s in any case our focus,” spokesperson Nathan Gibson wrote.

Bell is a trusted Canadian rule that has built a reputation for service and technology leadership with our assorted than 23 million customers nationwide.”

‘Bell was hell’

A torrent of Bell employees, past and present, are speaking out, too.  

“I went on stress up-anchor and returned to find things even worse when I came promote,” wrote a former manager who said “high-pressure sales tactics” and “hand mistreatment” were common.

John Lawford

Public Interest Advocacy Centre government director John Lawford is calling on the CRTC to take a ‘holistic’ look at in stocks practices at Canada’s telecoms, with an emphasis on upselling or misleading yard sales. (CBC)

A customer service rep said he and his colleagues “are actually penalized if we let a ‘downgrade’ go result of without convincing the customer to keep the package or add more.”

Many transcribed about the extreme stress of trying to meet sales targets and the apprehensiveness of losing their jobs.

“If you meet the stats, they raise them,” erased one customer service rep. “I’ve sat at my desk in tears many a day.”

“Bell was hell,” disregarded a longtime employee who quit just a few years short of retirement because the sophistication was “toxic.”

‘Upsell their grieving relative’ 

Several Bell staff members described a tipping point for them: taking calls from human being requesting that an account be closed after a death.

“When a bloke dies, we’re still expected to save the service and upsell their bemoaning relative,” one customer service rep wrote.

Another wrote, “When my omnibus told me I had to push services on folks who were calling in to report the account holder’s annihilation, I refused, and things did not go well after that.”

Bell’s Gibson wrangle overs those allegations.

“The behaviour you describe would be completely contrary to Bell’s learning and values, which are reflected in a clear code of conduct that fixes to all Bell team members — more than 50,000 people across the provinces,” he wrote.

“Bell team members can always report any concerns that they organize with their job situation for action anonymously and confidentially through our intranet, by email or phone, and can do so finished with a third-party governance agency if they choose.”

Labour issues 

Toronto labour pains lawyer Lior Samfiru says the allegations being made by Bell workers are troubling.

“If it’s true that no matter who you’re talking to, you have to upsell them on x, y and z, that’s take advantage of,” said Samfiru. “They should give more discretion to their salespeople to categorize appropriate situations to upsell, and certainly not to penalize people for not upselling to someone who shouldn’t be promoted to.”

Lior Samfiru

Lawyer Lior Samfiru says pressure to sell inappropriate issues to customers could spell legal trouble. (Andy Hincenberg/CBC)

He also demanded employees who feel their work environment puts so much load on them that it affects their health could make a constitutional claim against the employer on grounds called “constructive dismissal.”

“In other terms, the employer’s put them in a situation where they shouldn’t have to do what they’re chew out tattle oned — it’s uncomfortable, it’s immoral,” Samfiru said. And if their claim succeeds, “their retaining is deemed terminated and they can leave with compensation.”

Samfiru replied in some cases, customers who have been sold products and utilities they shouldn’t have been sold “may have cause of influence against Bell, as well, for costs that they have invited.”

Call for CRTC inquiry 

The growing number of allegations about Bell hands using high-pressure sales tactics to upsell customers has prompted the Communal Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) to call for a public inquiry.

“The CRTC emergencies to take a look at the sales practices of telecommunications and broadcasting companies in Canada with a specific emphasis on upselling or misleading sales,” PIAC executive director John Lawford guessed.

“Right now, there’s nothing in the Wireless Code that says you secure to sell customers products that are suitable,” said Lawford.  

“If transaction marked downs practices that are inappropriate and ripping off consumers are endemic in the industry, that’s wholly appropriate for the CRTC to say ‘We’re going to set out rules.'”

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