Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things just got a little comfier on this side of the couch

Recently, you may have noticed a parade of blue and red couches rolling out in subway stations, across buses, or on highway billboards. Bell and Rogers, the two main phone, Internet, and cable/satellite providers for Canada are duking it out, trying to firm up their market share at the other's expense before a number of newcomers enter the market next year.

To be honest, they're both full of disappointments. My sister, for instance, has gone on an anti-Rogers crusade after a big kerfuffle over her old Internet bill. After she got married, she moved across the hall into a bigger apartment. A new tenant moved into her old apartment. However, Rogers apparently consolidates their files based on address rather than last name. The result? The new tenant's bill was merged with her own without notification, not only causing a great deal of confusion but also giving each other open access to one another's personal and billing information via the online account management tools. After the matter was sorted out with little in the way of good service, my sister (not the type to be pushed around) also took the extra step of writing a letter of complaint to the appropriate regulatory body. That scared Rogers enough to call her to apologize, offer some free stuff, and assure her that this was an isolated incident and not common practice. That might be believable had the same thing not happened to another lady who worked in the same office as my sister. Two identical stories in such close proximity are likely indicative of a much more systemic problem.

As for Bell, we've subscribed to Internet with them pretty much since the advent of high speed. Over that time, they've improved very little. They still provide a paltry 5 Mb of webspace for a personal website (despite the fact that it's 2009 and I have music files on my computer that are larger than that). Additionally, they wave off any enquiries or complaints regarding this webspace with the magic argument, "We only offer the webspace, but we don't run it, therefore we don't offer any support regarding it." Bollocks to that.

Furthermore, my Internet in recent years has been highly variable, with speeds jetting up and down. Oftentimes it's so bad that I can't even load a YouTube video without it pausing to think every two seconds. We have, at times, considered switching providers but have occasionally tried to troubleshoot the problems ourselves instead rather than go to the hassle of converting all our webspace, e-mail addresses, and billing over to another provider.

Therefore, it is was quite astounding when Bell called us up the other day and said, "Hey, we noticed that your Internet is really slow! We're going to send someone over to fix that this week - free of charge." True to their word, a technician came over today and fixed up some settings outside, then came back inside and set us up with a brand spanking new modem-cum-router. Where there was once 300kbps now there is 4Mbps.

How did they know? Apparently, they can monitor the speeds of whole neighbourhoods at a time, and by comparing us with our neighbours with similar service they can say, "Well, if your neighbours are getting this speed, you should be able to also." In other words, they said, we weren't getting the speeds we were paying for.

Service provider-initiated customer service... on the house? My Internet woes a thing of the past? Suddenly, I'm feeling a lot happier on this side of the couch. Congratulations, Bell.


shirls said...

"They still provide a paltry 5 Mb of webspace for a personal website (despite the fact that it's 2009 and I have music files on my computer that are larger than that)."

Reminds me of my tweet except you obviously phrased your complaint more eloquently than me.

a_ndy said...

Understandable, given a 140 character limitation. If anything, my reference to music files was a shameless Shirls ripoff.

shirls said...

Oh! I am flattered! :)

Jerry said...

I agree, Bell pulls through sometimes. Congrats on your increase in speed!

Though, it would be nice if they increased your webspace too. lol oh well, one step at a time right?

Michael said...

Bell sucks 'nads. They want to force wholesalers to use UBB (usage-based billing) but they are charging wholesalers *RETAIL COST* for it. This is like Sony charging Futureshop retail price for a PSP... except the Sony Store ALSO sells the PSP for retail price. How the fuck is Futureshop (Bell wholesalers) supposed to remain competitive in such a setting?

Anyways let me know if you need some webspace. I think I could spare 100-200mb. lol (But no kinky 2girls1cup stuff okay?)

Jerry said...

damn no 2g1c? Mike, sometimes you are a tough daddy to us all