Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Telephone tag

I think my ordeal with the phone company is finally coming to an end! I'm not sure this cautionary tale will be of help to anyone but it makes me feel better to vent!

My ordeal (without naming the company - although it starts with "R" and is six letters long) began last August. I decided that I would change from dial-up to high-speed Internet and also change my home phone from company "R" to Videotron (my cable TV provider). Thus I would have three services with the same company and it would mean better rates and one consolidated bill.

Well, Videotron said that they would handle the transfer of the phone number but I needed to contact the old company to tell them I was cancelling the Internet. When I spoke to the company "R" rep about the Internet, I mentioned in passing (actually it was in anger due to some previous incidents) that I was changing my phone too. So there! ... but here comes my first mistake. I may have used the word "cancel".

So this rep took it upon himself to cancel my phone NUMBER. Thus each time Videotron set up an appointment to come to do the phone "transfer" company "R" refused to allow it! Videotron had no explanation why. This went on for about four weeks while I tried to figure out what was wrong. Finally a new "R" rep explained that the phone number was cancelled and therefore not available for transfer. This number, by the way, was mine ever since I left home at age 19 - sob!

He told me that from experience it would be better not to ask them to try to reactivate it (this should have sent off warning bells that they don't know how to manage their systems) and to tell the new company that I needed a new number. OK ... so I did that and things seemed to be fine until the old company sent me a phone bill (which went through my credit card).

Hmmmm. This is not right, I thought, so I called customer service and the rep said it was because of a 30 day notification policy which meant I had to pay this bill. But ... the next month another bill arrived. Again a call to customer service. This was "an error and would be reversed" - OK. Next month - same thing! Next month after that another bill arrived and this one went through the credit card before I knew about it. OK, another call to customer service. This rep said that it seemed that the cancellation had only been done in one system and not another but NOW everything would be OK and the charge would be reversed. I even got a bill showing the reversal ... but on paper only ... it never went through my credit card - because company "R" still thought they were providing me a service and the credit would be offset in future bills. BUT - I cancelled five and a half months ago!!

So, finally I WROTE to their office in Ontario sending an assortment of copied documents (requiring extra postage) and now, two and a half weeks later, I've received a call that the problem was that it was not "completely cancelled in their system" but that a credit will be processed through my credit card (I checked and it has gone through - yay!) and I should receive one more bill with a zero balance. Okaaay .... (she says nervously).

All this hassle when all I wanted to do was transfer my "legacy" phone number to another provider.

I guess the lesson is - do everything in writing from the beginning! This will save hours (literally) on hold or in conversation with reps and all the ensuing frustration.

P. S. Yikes! Now I just got a letter from Videotron telling me their rates are going up! Arghhh!

P. P. S. the BEST phone company that I have ever dealt with is SPRINT! They were just wonderful but were bought out by the "R" company. A sad day that was ...


  1. Hmmm ... and I was just thinking of switching to them. They are offering very good deals right now.

  2. It's just as bad over here in the UK, with most phone companies being a nightmare to deal with! Flighty xx