We’re heading to the States for a couple of days so the spousal unit can run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington on Sunday. Don’t ask me why – I’m just the driver, cheering section, and moral support.
Since we’re driving it seemed prudent to ensure our cell phone would work in the US in case of an en-route emergency. I have a Bell Mobility pay-as-you-go phone that gets used so infrequently that I am always carrying over excess unused minutes when I do a top up, unless I forget and all my accumulated and paid for minutes
I started with their web site only to find out, after waiting interminably for page after page after page to load, that I needed to phone them if I want to change my pay plan and activate the roaming capability.
Now I’m on the phone in auto attendant hell... “Please press 1 for English....”. About 6 levels in I have to enter my phone number so they can access my file. Progress of a sort, I suppose.
When I finally get to speak to a real live person, Sarah, the first thing she asks for is my phone number. Listen Bell computer system guys, it’s 2008. The technology to push that information to the agent’s desktop has been around since the last century! Get with it!
Okay, now she has my number and starts explaining the options I have to select in order to be able to activate roaming. And oh, by the way, a call will cost $1.80 plus $.99 a minute. That’s later clarified to be $1.80 a minute and $.99 a minute – total $2.79 a minute ... plus taxes. And it’s for any part of a minute – 3 seconds – that’ll be $2.79 plus taxes please. I explained that I wasn’t really interested in buying the company, I just wanted to use their airways, maybe, for a minute or two.
By the time she finished explaining the options, the plans, and the rate structures I was so confused that I was ready to pay her $2.79 a minute just to go away and take my headache with her. Clearly this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be (and as it really should be), so I gave up on Sarah and went back to the web to see if there was another option.
That’s when I discovered that what she told me did not agree with what was published on their web site.
Back on the phone. Auto attendant hell. Enter phone number. Reach Mat. Provide phone number again. Explain what I want to do and what I found online and now I’ve got Mat confused. On hold. Mat comes back and provides the right information (I hope) and clarifies the clarifications I got earlier. Problem is it’s still going to cost a small fortune to use the service (Sarah was right on that point at least) but Mat makes an effort to be helpful, suggesting it would be cheaper for me to just get a US phone if I was going to be travelling frequently in the States. Thanks for that! More questions, clarifications, answers, and it’s finally done.
So I now have roaming activated on my cell phone so I can pay outrageous rates to use it south of the border, I have provided Bell with credit card numbers so they can charge me on a regular basis for minutes I will likely never use and which they will simply take back when I don’t, and I have lost 90 minutes of my life dealing with Bell Canada that I will never get back.
And they wonder why they are losing business.