Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

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

Canadian Contractor Business canada risk

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.

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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