Monday, October 16, 2006

Why I hate Bell ExpressVu... and other gripes
So, as usual, I’m behind on my blogging. Ugh. So instead of talking about shows I’m watching, I’m going to talk about things that annoy me about television networks and providers.

Weeds continues to be hilarious, though I really, really miss Malvina Reynolds and her shaky voice singing the theme song. Now that they’re playing the ol’ “who’s singing the theme song this week” game, it’s lost its charm there. That said, it’s pretty cool to hear Elvis Costello doing it one week, and some indie band doing it the next. By the way, I want to express my fury at sites in the U.S. that are currently closing their doors to their Canadian viewers. I went to the Showtime site to check out bands who were performing the theme song, and instead of accessing it, there’s a blank page with this on it: We at Showtime Online express our apologies; however, these pages are intended for access only from within the United States. Oh. Well. Excuse me for being a fan of your show. Maybe I’ll stop. I wish Showcase in Canada would get a better site. And when they put up shows to watch online after they’ve aired? Only accessible to Americans. We couldn’t watch Veronica Mars up here in advance of the first ep the way the Americans could, because, you know, we’re a terrorist country or something.

I missed the Amazing Race last week, which sucked. My PVR also didn’t tape The Wire. I set it up to tape both, but I was away on the weekend. So I called Bell ExpressVu, my carrier, which is one of the WORST customer service places on the planet. I also have my phone and Internet with them. Once our phone was knocked out in a storm so the Bell guy came by to fix it. But he drilled through something where our Internet connection was, and when he left our Net didn’t work. My husband called Bell, and they said no, you have to call Sympatico, because they deal with your Internet. So he called Sympatico (sitting on hold for 15 minutes each time, I should add) and they said no, if a Bell technician went through the line, then you call Bell, it’s a phone line thing. So he called Bell, and etc. etc. It was insane. Luckily, he knew the VP of customer service, so he launched a complaint and we got something done. But what if he didn’t know that person? Would they have just yanked our chain for the next 2 years over this? So then we get ExpressVu, and a few months later decided to upgrade to the PVR. I called them to get some info because we considered going to Rogers instead. The woman said to be honest, she knew nothing about the PVR and how it worked or its features, and couldn’t pass me on to anyone who did. Sigh. So I called some friends who had it, and they told me. We ordered the PVR, which was $22 a month, instead of the $2 we’d been paying for the other tuner. They began charging us for both tuners. We called them and they said we’d bought into a 2-year contract for the original tuner, and if we get out of that they’ll charge us $200. ???? We explained to them and their tiny brains that we weren’t LEAVING Bell, we were UPGRADING, and if they knew what they were doing, they should be encouraging their customers to go with the more expensive option, not forcing them to stay with the less expensive one. They wouldn’t listen. Eventually my husband, again, had to go to higher-ups and got it resolved with an apology. They picked up the original tuner. And then charged us for it for the next 4 months until I finally got someone to take it off and credit us the amount.

SO… if you phone, you get nowhere. After my PVR didn’t tape anything last week, I decided to go onto their website to get some information on the PVR to see why it didn’t tape stuff for me. Hahahahahahahaha…. Ahem. Their site is worse than their customer service department. I began to dread that I would have to speak to some dimwit on the phone. And then I saw something on the bottom. “Click here to be connected to a live person for customer support.” I thought hey, I’m working online anyway, let’s do that. So I clicked, it said my wait time was 2 minutes. Five minutes later someone came on and said, “Hello, my name is Alpha D. Can I have your name and phone number please?” So I gave it to them, and while I waited for the response, typed up my concern in Word so I’d be able to instantly cut and paste it. And I waited. About six minutes later he (it could have been a she, it could have been a computer, who knows, but for the sake of ease I’ll say he) came back on and said, “Thank you. What is the problem?” So I cut and pasted it. And waited. He said after 3 minutes, “I am sorry to hear you’re having problems with your PVR. I’ll have to connect you to the specialist, Jean Robert. Please wait a moment.” So I waited and went to do something else. After about 3 minutes he said, “Thank you for your patience. Please wait to be connected to Jean Robert.” Another 2 minutes, and then, “Hello, my name is Alpha D. Can I have your name and phone number please?” Huh? I gave both to him and said, “I’ve already told you my problem and I’m waiting for Jean Robert? I’ve been trying to get an answer for about 25 minutes at this point.” After 3 minutes, “Thank you for waiting. I’ll connect you to Jean Robert right now.” I waited. Five minutes passed. Then, “Hello, my name is Alpha D. Can I have your name and telephone number please?” ARGH. I said, “I’ve given you my name and phone number twice now, and I’ve been told three times I’m being connected to Jean Robert. Is there a Jean Robert? Are you a real live person or a computer? All I want is an answer to my question, and I’m getting very frustrated. Can you help me?” I waited. Two minutes later, I get, “Thank you for your patience.” And waited. I went off to work on something else while I continued to wait, and got caught up in work, and then half an hour later went back to check and it was still sitting on ‘Thank you for your patience.” Which means the person typed that, and disconnected me.

Awesome. Thank you, Bell ExpressVu! Your phone service is terrible because you hire people who know nothing about your product. Your online service is apparently automated, with some evil customer service rep tired of people griping at him who can just disconnect customers at will. Our phone line crackles, our Internet disconnects all the time, and if one tree outside sways in the wind, we lose our satellite service.

And the problem is, I have 100 hours of saved programming on my PVR, and so I’m stuck with this place. And the other option is Rogers, which doesn't have the skip commercials option on the remote, and it's... Rogers. Possibly the only place on earth to rival Bell in horrifying customer service. I used to have Look TV, and I LOVED it, but their channel lineup is so limited. So I just might be stuck here.

OK, enough griping from me for one day.


leor said...

totally agree with you on some of your bell gripes. i called up recently to find out about promotions to upgrade to the HD PVR, told them that rogers was offering a FREE PVR for 2 years if i switched from satellite...and bell told me there's nothing they can do to compete with that offer! unfortunately for me, i then discovered that to get similar programming on rogers would be almost $30 more a month!

has this ever happened to you (probably): you call in and "emily" asks you to enter your phone number. you do...then when you get a live operator, the first thing they do is ask your number again! what's the point of entering it the first time??

bah...looking forward to your "heroes" recap!


ps - i hate the showtime website too...just because we're in canada, why aren't we allowed to look at their website? what effect could that possibly have?

Nikki Stafford said...

I despise "Emily." There's a commercial on TV right now for Verizon or something, and this guy calls up and an automated voice introduces herself and then asks him to say what he needs, and he keeps saying, "Customer Service" and then there's a long pause and she says something like, "I'm putting you through to technical support." That's Emily in a nutshell. I once asked an operator why I had to give my number to Emily and then had to give it to them again, and they had no idea. But I find that happens with every place, like Toronto Hydro, etc. Apparently technology only goes so far...