Canadian Contractor

Opinion: Is Bell Canada gouging you on fees and interest?

Giant corporations seem to dine out on smaller, entrepreneurial companies that rely on their essential services. One of my members has serious complaints about Bell Canada's contracts, billing practices and interest rates.

July 9, 2014
By Alec Caldwell

It seems to me that Bell Canada is gouging companies who try to move away from them to another carrier. It’s a game of Monopoly without the use of the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. At least, the recent experience that one of our CARAHS members has had with Bell, leads me to this conclusion.

As reported to me by my contractor-member, it seems that Bell automatically renewed their 3-year agreement period for their office phone line and they did not, my member said, send any sort of advance notice to them that this was being done. They simply locked them back in. Or they way I see it, sentenced them to another 3 years in jail.

So if my member decided, the first month after the Bell “renewal,” that they wanted to switch carriers (say, to Rogers) they would have to pay Bell 50% of their monthly basic line cost till the end of the 3-year contract period. One month into the new “contract,” my member owed Bell 35 months at this 50% rate. Wow.

Our member’s bill was $520 plus tax. Further, this member was billed for the balance of the month, which seemed to overlap the new Rogers line. After calling Bell to look for some relief from this giant bill, my member was further told that, on the back of every Bell monthly bill, it shows that interest for late payments are charged at 3% per month. This adds up to 42% per year. That’s twice the incredibly high rates of some of the most expensive credit cards!

How does Bell get away with this? Are they not accountable to some governing body? Do they to not care about gouging their customers – including their business customers?

Making a profit as a small or medium-sized business is already tough going. But giant corporations – and I would include the utility companies in this, as well the petroleum companies – seem to dine out on these much, much smaller enterprises.

Let me know what you think about this.

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2 Comments » for Opinion: Is Bell Canada gouging you on fees and interest?
  1. Sarah says:

    I would suggest that person seek legal advice, as far as I understand, without having a signature or some sort of proof of authorization, they can’t be held to that “contract” unless they signed something initially that said it would automatically be renewed at the end of their initial contract period and that cancelling would carry those fees.

    Bell has been nailed before for massively unright fees and fine print. I think the CRTC governs them, but I’m not entirely positive. They definitely should find out more, and not pay a cent until they know for absolutely sure that they legally HAVE to. But I’m 90-95% positive they do not have to pay the full amount. My only uncertainty is that there may be different rules for land lines which may be more outdated because they haven’t been a large issue that has been raised much lately. Perhaps Bell is taking advantage of lax land line laws since there have been so many crack-downs on what mobile providers are allowed to charge and the contract term lengths. You can’t even do a three year term for cell phones anymore….

  2. Kevin Smith says:

    What about those expensive yellow pages advertising. In most cases the cost of Yellow page advertising is billed on your Bell Canada Bill. So is you cash flow is tight and your late paying Bell charges 42 percent interest on the cost of yellow page advertising. This is wrong as it clearly states on contract you sign with yello pages if you late interest is 1.5 percent per month. Have to wondered how many millions and millions of dollars Bell Canada has over charged and don’t care that they have. A lot of companies were paying tens of thousands of dollars each year in advertising and I’m sure all over Canada there were those that may have paid there bill just over 30 days trigging interest charges. In a way it is some sort of justice seeing yellow page books shrink to a fraction of the size it use to be

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