The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Please! Ma Bell, When Will It End??

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Hubby and I finally did it – we cancelled our satellite subscription. November 18h to be exact. Our 3 year mandatory term was up and with much research we knew we could save a few bucks each month by switching to cable. We also knew that our reception would be so much better – no interference, disruptions and total blackouts whenever a snow storm was about or, in fact, right in our own backyard. Not to mention cleaning off black ice from our receiver in the wee hours of the evening! Our account with Bell Satellite would end on the 4th of December but with 30 days notice we would be disconnected on December 18th.

During our research we had also realized that our Bell account (satellite, internet and home phone) had increased $20.00 a month over this past year alone. We have to start cutting corners, as dear Hubby’s GM pension will be reduced starting in January and if we think things are tight now, then 2010 is going to be even more of a challenge. We’ve done pretty good in most things – the hydro, water and gas bills have been reduced as best we can by using cost-saving measures – so it stood to reason that we’d have to look at our viewing habits. We knew right away we were paying for all kinds of channels that we never watched, and after a lengthy call with Bell we were able to reduce our satellite bill to a certain extent – albeit not by much. Trust me, that telephone call with Bell was like pulling teeth in trying to get them to reduce or delete one of their “theme packages”. We were at least able to reduce our monthly bill by about $13.00 and more than willing to take what we could get.

Naturally, the discussions then started about switching to cable and after a lot of research, price checking, and consultations with the cable guys at the Mall, we were satisfied that we could save close to $60.00 each month for the first year and then close to $40.00 each month the second year. (Cable gives you a one year price reduction and the second year you go to their regular rates.) We signed up. A no brainer, I think – comparing a $13.00 monthly savings with Satellite to a $40.00 monthly savings with cable. That’s money in our pockets – not theirs’!!!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the calls then started. God Bless Ma Bell – she was on our case 3 days later. At first they wanted to confirm the reasons why we were leaving – the bad weather in our area – but naturally tried to convince us to reconsider our decision. We stood our ground while on the phone for close to 8 minutes and insisted we still wanted to have our service disconnected.

The 2nd call came 3 days later on a Saturday afternoon. Someone a tad bit higher in the rankings. Yes, he understood our problems with the weather, but he was ready, willing and able to send out a technician (for free, mind you!!) to re-align our satellite dish. They were pretty sure this would fix our reception problems. Again, stood our ground and insisted on the disconnection. Time on phone: approximately 8 minutes.

The 3rd call came 3 days after the 2nd. I’m sensing a pattern here!! This time someone even a little bit higher up on the corporate scale – a “Senior Agent”. He was nice. I was nice. Again, I explained the weather. Again, he was ready, willing, and able to broker us a deal we couldn’t refuse, along with sending out a technician to re-align our dish. Suddenly there was a 40% reduction in cost on the table for a year, if we wanted it. Again, I explained the weather, my husband’s pension reduction, my limited income and the fact that they couldn’t guarantee this savings beyond a year. Sorry, fellas, no deal!!  “Always leave with the door open” my mother use to tell us, so in my best voice I thanked him for the offer but was declining. He was going to “leave the offer on the table” and should we change our minds to just call!

The 4th call came 1 day after the 3rd. Whoooaa, a real Senior Agent !! We could tell – the first three calls were only showing an “800” number on the call display. This guy was showing up as “Bell Canada”. I’m curious as to what he’s got to say, but getting close to loosing it!! Giving him the benefit of the doubt I listened intently. He was confirming our satisfaction with the home phone service (our last connection with Bell). “Yes, no problems there”, I replied. He then begins to inquire regarding the other services available for our phone, but just being the two of us, I advised we had no interest in anything except call display. I could sense something else coming on. I interrupted him before he could get past the words “I understand …”.  “I’m going to save you the time and effort”, I said. With that, I began to explain our whole entire situation from beginning to end – the weather, the pension reduction, the channels we pay for but don’t watch and so on. I was nice!!!! (My family knows all to well that I can get excited and go off on a tantrum – but again, I was cool, calm and above all nice!!) With that he stopped in his tracks. He asked if there was anything else he could help me with or any other questions I had. God knows, I was good to go!!!!

It amazes me that suddenly there are all kinds of offers on the table when leaving a satellite or even cable company. This same scenario happened when we moved and decided to switch from Star Choice to Bell Satellite. However, Star Choice wasn’t as intrusive. They only offered a whack of deals the day we tried to cancel. The fact still remains that there are deals out there – only for those customers that want to leave. Why aren’t these deals available to those customers that are struggling with their cable/satellite bills now – especially some seniors and retirees that struggle to make ends meet?? The satellite guys wonder why their signals were being stolen in the beginning, if not  still. Like the internet services, the greed is at the corporate end!!! Don’t even get me started on internet services – downloading and bandwith restrictions, or even the music industry and their long arms reaching into peoples’ computers!!!!

Sorry, Ma Bell, but the time has come. Our money is low and your rates too high. BUT the door has been left open should we wish to pay the $50.00 fee to re-connect – or was that going to be waived in one of your offers, too??

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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