Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight
I miss the old days of the telephone world.
You know - busy signals, no messages.
Visiting friends in the country who were on party lines and listening to others' conversations. Not that my best friend Barbie and I ever did that...
Well, maybe now and then.
In the old days, New Brunswick had a telephone company, NB Tel. Well run, transparent relationship with customers. Oh it was a monopoly in those days, and you would be right to say "Wendy - it can't have been all wine and roses and anyway, didn't your father pay those phone bills, not you?"
But as is the way with all things of our postmodern telephone world (postmodern of what? good question! Postmodern of conglomerates in this case, not cell phones), NB Tel was bought by Bell.
For our house phone (are we the only ones left with a house line?), we left Bell last year after an increasingly frustrating relationship with the company, and switched to Rogers. However, we still have two cell phone with Bell until those contracts expire and then we will leave for ever.
Why? Because no one, themselves included, could read their phone bills.
It is apparent to me that the new world order involves bills which are so complex that they are undecipherable. We would get bills, question charges and then spend 2 hours on the phone with personnel that passed us back and forth, back and forth. The home phone people could not talk to the cell people and vice versa. No one could explain certain charges and we were told on more than one occasion that we should just trust Bell Aliant.
At one point, the bills and overcharges (because we and they did mutually discover that they were double-charging us for some things) required me to make a matrix of the last 6 months of phone bills! Now I am currently gainfully transitioning in the employment area so I could devote the 2 hours that was required to make the grid and follow the money and bill trail. I felt like a forensic accountant or a NSA agent, digging, digging, digging, and for what good end?
As a caveat, I must say that I have a beautiful smart cousin who works for Bell Aliant and I think they ought to put her in charge of making the bills simpler. And yet, I am not convinced that they would want to do that at all, since the complexity had resulted in us overpaying on quite a few occasions...
Fast forward to this week. I asked Bell Aliant to return to mailing the cellphone bill for my kids' phones, as there had been some confusion and a previous payment had been missed and I did not want that to happen again. They said they were happy to do so. I was happy to hear that they were happy. Happy, happy, happy.
Then the bill arrived. The first 7 pages (excessive amount I would think) were relatively straightforward. It was the 66 pages that followed that made me stop and say "WTF, Bell Aliant". You see my kids have unlimited texting plans. Good stuff. And Bell Aliant felt it was necessary to print off, and send me 66 pages listing all of their text messages. All of which cost me nothing. 66 pages of 0s:
This monstrosity came in a large envelope. My phone bill was 73 pages long. We can all appreciate what the paper and postage would have cost. Now I know why my bloody bills were so high.
I am so gobsmacked now that I don't even want to call some customer service person who will be nice, but will in no way, shape, or form be able to address the stupidity of this kind of thing.
Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more of this kind of thing - companies that send bills that require PhD's to understand? I have even contemplated drafting a mock bill template for their consideration, one written in plain English and that the average consumer would understand. But something tells me I would get nowhere.
I am not a crank, but I am officially cranky. And you win Bell Aliant - I am calling and getting back on an electronic bill. But you kind of suck, too.
I'll be back later with something more cheerful, but in the interim, how are you making out with these kinds of companies?
Have a great morning and stay safe out there!