Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paying the price for a knee-jerk reaction...

Well, if 2013 was 'The Year of Being Crucified by Bell', then 2014 is very quickly turning into 'The Year of Realizing that Rogers is 100 Times Worse'.


WHO would believe it? I can't believe it, and I'm living it.
The saga, so far, is this:
Back in April, I bought an iPhone 5 from Bell Aliant. That didn't go so well, as I detailed at the time in this blog post. I reverted back to my flip phone four days later, and carried on, blissfully living in the '80's, telecommunicationsly-speaking.
Then, in September, I made yet more ongoing attempts to get reliable Internet service via a modem that would actually work, an effort that was years in the making, culminating in this heartfelt rant. Honestly, I really thought that "Six of Six" and I had a chance for happiness together. Alas, it was not to be...
In November, Bell jumped all over my one last nerve that they had been getting on, and - yes, you guessed it - the titular knee-jerk reaction occurred.
I did not detail in that last blog post what the instigating event was, the one that caused me to sever all ties. The fact of the matter was that even with my brand new modem (I assume it wasn't a reconditioned device), my Internet service was dropping on an almost daily basis. Despite multiple calls with someone named "Moira" in customer retention, no improvement happened.

It finally came down to ME asking HER if perhaps this brand new shiny "Fiber Op" that's all the rage these days might provide a solution. "Why, YES!", she said. "We could try that!!"

WHY didn't SHE suggest that to ME? After the hours we spent on the phone, why was it left up to ME to think of this? I suspect it was because it wouldn't have made the slightest difference, but she figured she'd get me off her back for a week or two by going along with this.

Regardless, I trudged on through life, and waited for November 26th, the day I was going to join the Fiber Op world.

That day, the young technician showed up at my door. He came in. I pointed him towards the electrical panels in the mud room. I turned to go upstairs when he asked me, "Where is the power bar?"

"What power bar?" I asked.

"The power bar you're supposed to have here for me to connect the Fiber Op."

"What do you MEAN, that I'm 'supposed to have here' for you?"

"They're supposed to tell you when you book this that you're supposed to have a power bar available because I'm going to need one to connect the Fiber Op."

I. Came. Unglued.

My car was having its winter tires put on. I had no way of getting this thing he needed. I was beyond livid. After every misstep by Bell along this tortuous route, yet one more stupid thing to go wrong.

Apparently, when the rest of the world's population calls Bell Aliant to get Fiber Op, it's customary to be instructed to ensure one has a power bar available for the technician. When people treat me like I live on another planet, because that's how I feel when I'm THE ONLY ONE ON EARTH WHO WASN'T TOLD THIS, then I get testy, I confess.

So I said to the technician, "We're going to stop this RIGHT NOW, and I'm going to ask you to leave. I have no car available to run out and get a power bar, and no one at Bell was interested enough to tell me this minor but significant detail BEFORE you appeared here today. Sorry to have wasted your time."

The first call I made was to Customer Retention Moira's voice mail, to let her know that my second call was going to be to Rogers, because, to quote the famous line from the 1976 movie 'Network', "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

So I called Rogers, and  got "Serge", their go-to guy for snagging beaten-down, frustrated, nowhere-left-to-turn, former Bell-ites. He had me hook, line and sinker. You can tell just by the enthusiasm in my blog post about breaking up with Bell how happy he made me, but I was ripe for the pickin'.

I lolled about in my blissful ignorance of what was about to transpire, until around December 9th.

My instructions from Serge regarding the cell phones were that three sim cards were to be sent to me, for the three smartphones I was bringing to Rogers. I was to hold onto these until I received my shiny new gold iPhone 5S, at which point all the phones would be activated at the same time. He was very apologetic to me in explaining that I could be waiting upwards of two weeks for the iPhone to arrive, as it was so near Christmas and they were in such high demand. "Not to worry", said I. "I've been 'living the nightmare' for the better part of a year. I can wait another two weeks."

In actual fact, my iPhone arrived five days later. "Woo hoo", said I. Unfortunately, the sim cards were nowhere to be seen, so I could not activate my phone. I waited a couple of days, then called Serge, who was in the midst of apologizing again for my iPhone's delay when I interrupted him to say my phone was already here, but... uh... where are the sim cards? He wheeled and he dealed with his management peeps, as if I was Rogers' most important customer, or so he was trying to make me believe. By this time (and not much had happened yet), I was starting to weary of his 'can-do' bluster. But, he did get the sim cards to me within two days, so here it was, December 9th, and we're all ready to get the phones up and running.

If only it had been that easy.

I had dispersed the sim cards to the owners of the other three phones. I called Rogers, and here's where it began to fall apart, epically.

I called the number Serge had given me for the porting center. Some young missus answered, and was belligerent from the git-go. She was the poster child for Monday morning hangovers, I swear. Snippy, talking down to me, and all I wanted was to activate my phones!!! I finally said to her, "Miss, you are the very first person at Rogers that I've come across who has been as impatient and rude as this. I am going to hang up the phone now and call back, and hopefully be connected with someone who has even just a fleeting interest in helping me today, which you do not." As I was about to press the button on my phone to disconnect her, I could hear her shout, "I'M NOT RUDE!!" Ri-i-i-ight!

I then did as I said I'd do. I called back and was connected with a young man who was very pleasant and helpful, but who had never done this before. It took well over an hour, but eventually he managed to get all the numbers ported over from Bell to Rogers. YAY.

But then, he told me that I was going to have to call Bell in order to get the phones unlocked. HUH?!?! But-but-but, I explained to him, Serge had told me that I would never have to deal with Bell again. All I had to do was call the porting center, and my phones would be taken care of from there. Not so, I learned. I had to call Bell to get them to unlock the phones, and no one else could do that for me.

So, I called Bell, grumbling an imagined conversation with Serge the whole time. I get in touch with a guy who took it as a personal affront that I was leaving Bell. He unlocked the phones for me all right - at $50 + tax EACH for the privelige. No wonder Sweet-Talkin' Serge left out that little detail.

I called one of my three phone-holders, only to discover that the sim card sent for her phone was the wrong one. It didn't fit her Samsung. Dammit. So, in the midst of all these calls, (every one of which, I might add, was prefaced by at least 20 - 30 minutes of "Please do not hang up! Your call is very important to us! You will be taken care of by the next available representative!"), I then had to down-tools and pick up my niece-in-law, and take her to the Avalon Mall so she could get her proper sim card.

Once this was done, they all had to call and get their phones activated. Every one of the phones had various things wrong with them following the activation with Rogers. One didn't ring, it went straight to voicemail. Every time another rang, regardless of who was calling, MY name appeared on the screen. And so on. I had to call Rogers and give the three of them access priveliges so that they could call at their own convenience and sort out the issues. I had enough on my own plate to deal with.

That night, December 9th, I finally had a chance to play with my own, new iPhone 5S. I discovered that in the course of less than 4 hours' use, I had used 80% of the battery power.Not one song, not one video, only a few phone calls, no texting. Just downloading about 10 apps, and looking at the various ones that came with it. Nothing outrageous or intense. Now, I know these phones chew up batteries way faster than flip phones, but I was pretty certain that 4 hours was a tad quick, even for an iPhone, certainly when you consider that I spent most of the day on the OTHER phone with Bell and Rogers!

I plugged in my phone to charge it, and after 6 hours, it was still only 80% completed. This couldn't possibly be right.

The next morning, I called the Apple Store. They did remote testing of the phone over the course of the day, and at the end of it, they agreed to repair / exchange it for me. There were two ways to get this to happen: #1 - they'd send me a box, I'd put my phone in the box, send it away, and get it or a replacement back in a week, or, #2 - pay them $30, they'd send me a box with a new iPhone in it, I'd take that one out, put in my broken one, and send it back. I knew I was soon going to get nailed by Bell for breaking contracts on two of the phones already, so paying more for a phone that was sent to me broken just was not an option.

So now, for a week, I was without an iPhone, OR a flip phone!!

The phones, as I've already said, were activated on December 9th. A couple of days later, I received my first bill from Rogers, which detailed the "partial month payments" for all these phones plus my own iPhone, from Nov. 27th to Dec 9th!! I was being charged for 12 days for phones which didn't even have the right sim card (in one case) and which had not even been activated, in all cases!!!! Up until Dec. 9th, these were all STILL Bell phones! And in the case of MY phone, it was in a box on it's way to the Apple Store, a useless paperweight!! GMAFB!!!

I had a sneaking suspicion there and then that moving everything to Rogers was not going to end well.

There was 'peace in the valley' until December 28th. Nothing more had gone wrong with the phones. I had received my new iPhone on December 17th, and its battery seemed to be vastly more muscular than the other one. Whew!

However, out of every 10 calls I place, 9 of them 'fail' on the first attempt. This is not a hill I'm prepared to die on, just yet. Too many other battles before this one rises in urgency, but I am not forgetting it, not a chance. It will be fun watching Rogers and Apple do the "it's-your-fault-no-its-your-fault" dance.

December 28th was the day that the young Rogers technician was coming to my house to set up my new Internet, television and home phone. No more dropped Internet service. All was going to be right with the world, right?


Very, very wrong.

He rang the bell. I answered the door. Almost the very first words out of his mouth were, "Do you have the power bar???" A true deja vu moment, if ever there was one.

I said something to the effect of, "You've gotta be kidding me." But alas, he wasn't.

I flipped, yet again.

He continued talking, asking me where I wanted the cable/modem for the telephone. The TELEPHONE? What do you mean, "the telephone"??? In the same sentence with the words, "cable/modem"???

I was about to learn something that many others, thankfully, seemed not to know as well:

Rogers' home telephones run off a cable/modem system, NOT the 'copper wire' system that has traditionally powered landlines since landlines came into being. The difference is a pretty huge one - the traditional phone is not affected by power outages, whereas the cable/moden telephones have a battery back-up, which will last only 8 hours. After that, you must revert to smoke signals, tin cans on either end of a string, or yelling really-really loudly. Your Rogers landline will be useless. Those with copper wire systems will have uninterrupted telephone service, even if the power is out for a month.

I did not know this. Serge sure-as-hell didn't tell me this.

So here is this poor technician, looking at me, a crazy woman, who not only laughed uncontrollably when he asked for the damned power bar, but was NOW having a fit because of the lackluster landline limitations to which I was about to be subjected.

I got on the phone to Rogers. I spoke to everyone I could think of, from Serge's weekend colleagues, to people in the technical department, to customer retention. Same answer. It is what it is.

I felt completely had. Ripped off, fooled, and foolish. I'm an educated, responsible adult. I should have seen this coming. I should have stepped back from Too-Good-To-Be-True Serge, but I was so blindly angry at Bell that there was no way in my reckoning that Rogers could be worse.

In my particular line of work, one aspect is related to being on call. HOW can I be on call with any confidence when I'm now relying on a cell phone that must be charged daily, and another phone that could be subjected to a power loss overnight, hence rendering it inactive?

Every time I've expressed this concern, about the loss of phone service in power outages, to Rogers, their response is invariably, "Is that really likely to happen?" My response - "Hell, ya!!" So far this year, in the first WEEK of this year, we've already had two storm-related power outages, both in excess of 8 hours. Again last week, lights out! This is Newfoundland. It happens. For real. And the winter is just getting underway. Just because Toronto gets a bit of ice every century or so, they figure no one else can possibly have it worse than they do!!! Mainlanders!

Later on in the evening after the Rogers tech had hooked up everything, my brother stopped by to fix my snowblower. When we were done with that, he came up into the living room, and we discovered that my TV picture was all distorted, and the TV was no longer connected to my surround sound system. For the next several hours, he got right into the guts of everything, and at the end of it I finally had HDTV and surround sound, using more of my own cables than anything Rogers had provided! The Rogers guy had left me with totally substandard television, that I would have had to just put up with if I didn't have a brother who is an Electronics Technician with CBC.

The TV remote control: 8,000 buttons - no source of instruction. Every page I went to on the Rogers website, and I read every single one, emphasized how to use Rogers on Demand, but NOTHING about the basic operation of the remote. Fortunately, my sister was able to lend me her wisdom and now I can at least find and change channels.

The interesting thing about Rogers on Demand? I've gone into it, and opened most all of the folders for the various shows / movies / features, and all I ever get is this message:

Every single option I choose under "Rogers on Demand", this is what I get. No exceptions. If I cared enough, I'd probably call tech support, but I really don't. It just makes me a little more angry that something to which I'm supposed to be entitled is not available to me.

Channels that I used to get with Bell I now have to pay $10/month for, so I don't get them. There are about 5 channels I watch with any regularity. I have 265 channels that are absolutely of no use or interest to me.

I went to check what recordings I had set up the other day, and there were none there, even though I had figured that part out. They HAD been there, and had been recording for over a week, but then all of a sudden, nothing! Another day, another call to tech support. I wouldn't mind if it wasn't for the 30 minute wait to get someone on the line.

After the power outages I mentioned, which occurred earlier this month, my ADT home security system ceased functioning, partly because it, too, has a limited battery backup, but also (I firmly believe) because something was screwed up with the crappy cable/modem phone I now have, the two of which are inextricably linked. So, I called ADT to make an appointment for a technician to come fix my security system. Purely by coincidence, I opened my front door the morning the tech was supposed to arrived, and found a 'sorry I missed you' card hanging on my front door. Here I was, sat in my living room watching TV, waiting for the guy to arrive. No knock on the door, to be sure, but my phone certainly did not ring. I called ADT and asked what had gone on. They told me that the guy said he'd phoned, but it had gone straight to voice mail. I tried calling my own home phone with my iPhone, and sure enough, no calls were coming through.

I called Rogers. AGAIN. I have always hated that little musical clip that they use as an audible logo or something, but now it rattles my every nerve. I got yet another tech, who told me that "this happens from time to time", and the best way to prevent it is to reboot my telephone every two or three weeks. Is he for effin' real?

I hung up the phone from him, and went to get my mail. In my mail was a card from Bell, saying how sorry they were to see me go, but if I called now, I could get my home phone hooked back up again with no reactivation fee. It was a sign from God.

I called Bell, and they are coming tomorrow morning, JUST to install my trusty copper-wire phone system again. I have eschewed voice mail, caller ID, 3-way calling (which is not something I'd ever use, anyway), and all the other bells and whistles. All I want is a phone that will ring when someone calls. If you don't get an answer, call back. Simple as that. Plus, when Rogers finds out that I've dismantled my 'bundle', I'll be paying a bomb in penalties, because I am unable and unwilling to be satisfied with a Mattel-quality phone at this stage of my life.

My landline phone has a light which flashes when I have voicemail. It's been flashing for over a week. I keep turning it off, but it keeps flashing. I have set up voicemail to email, but only today did I actually get an email. I have no idea how to retrieve the messages that are apparently there for me to hear. Bad, bad, bad. But after tomorrow, I won't have to worry about that, any more!

I found a place on the Rogers website where a person can submit a complaint. One can send it to Management, and if not satisfied with the response, it can go to the President, and again if one is not satisfied, it can go to the Ombudsman.

It asks for a brief description of the issue. My starting line was, "I cannot give a brief history. I have had an almost daily history since November 27th."

About two days later, on January 25th, I received a request from someone named "Leah" asking for my name, address, date of birth and a PIN, which I don't have, so they could verify me re: my complaint. I responded. That's the last I've heard, and the last I expect to hear. I'll give 'em a week, and then I'll go to the next level.

I ended my email to Leah, "If all of your customers have had the shocks and surprises that I have had in one month, I wonder how it is possible that you are in business at all." And, my friends, as they say, no truer words were ever spoken.

It's been an exhausting experience, one from which I will emerge not even close to victorious. Whether I stay with Rogers, or go back to Bell, or share services between them, I shall forever be left with the distasteful sensation that I am being fleeced at every turn by substandard services and half-truths. A terrible way to feel about those with whom one must do business.

Where's Verizon when you want them? Oh yes, that's right. The government kept them out, in order to keep the coffers at Bell and Rogers overflowing, and their CEOs in pocket change. A slightly-but-not-entirely-off-topic fact: Did you know that most CEOs make more by noon on January 2nd of each year than the rest of us earn in an entire year? Food for thought.

The question I ask myself at times like this is this: "Is this the level of service Stephen Harper receives from his personal telecomms service provider(s), and if not, why can't I receive that level of service, too?" I don't mean the high-tech security stuff. I mean TV. Telephone. Internet. Mobility. Those facets of Western society that most take for granted, until something goes wrong. I'm just hoping that one day soon, something will start going right.


  1. Hi Margaret, I am sorry to hear you had that experience. I replied to you on Twitter and will look into this.

    1. I will be fascinated to hear the response.

      In fairness, I should really have added that I have not had my Internet drop, not one single time, since switching to Rogers, and my download times are noticeably better. The length of time to open web pages is horrendous, but at least now, I do not wonder IF I can connect online anymore. The one issue that Bell could not resolve.

      It's just a damnable shame about all the many-many-many other issues.


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