Tag Archives: hidden costs

Lost in Translation: The Mire of Cellphone Help

cell phone, cellphone companies, miscommunication, customer service

My conversation was on two different tracks, just like this sign for a public urinal in China. Creative Commons by ToGa Wanderings

Today, I tried to email Bell to find out about using my cell phone in the US. Next week, I’m going for five days to the Rainforest Writers Retreat. I’m picking up another writer in Bellingham and want to make sure I don’t get lost. I’m navigationally impaired so it’s a strong possibility. Now, my cell phone has texting and calls but only in Canada.

I was at work and made the mistake of using Bell’s online chat. I forgot that every time I’ve done so it has been an exercise in frustration where belly crawling over glass would take less time. It was only less bloody because I couldn’t reach the chat representative with my hands.

I find that cellphone companies have always been about obscuring the facts. I’ve left Fido, I’ve left Telus and with Bell, it’s hit new heights of stupidity, but I’m not convinced there is a company that won’t rip you off, try to add hidden costs or just not pull their heads out of their butts long enough to care about the customer. It’s now my civic duty to lift the veil under which bad customer service cowers, and to warn you all, don’t use online chat.

I give you the unexpurgated text (except for removing my private info) of the 40 minutes I will never get back. Enter at your own risk.

info: Thank you for your patience an online representative will be with you shortly.  Your wait time is approximately 0 minute(s).  
info: You are chatting with Rolando.
Your name: colleen
Your number: 604
Your question: I would like to know what it would cost if Im in the US and want to text or in the US and want to call (in both cases US numbers). Id only be down for a week.

You: Your name: colleen
You: Your number: 604
You: Your question: I would like to know what it would cost if Im in the US and want to text or in the US and want to call (in both cases US numbers). Id only be down for a week.
Rolando: Hi there!
Rolando: How are you doing today ?
You: Good thanks.
Rolando: I am reading your message here.
Rolando: Colleen, we cannot prorate the amount of the roaming package for texting.
You: So there is no way to call using my phone in the US without paying the high roaming charges?
Rolando: We have a good package here for $20 you can have 1000 message incoming and unlimited outgoing.
Rolando: For calling feature we also have the package.
Rolando: You know what ?
Rolando: I can help you lower down your cost.
You: Just a minute… at work
Rolando: Eventually the individual package will cost you $40. Since I just wanted to help you I can give you the combination of Calling and Texting for Roaming for $30 only.
You: Sorry about that…
Rolando: You will get 100 in-out roaming minutes and 1000 text messages outgoing and unlimited incoming.
You: But I only would be in the US for less than a month so paying an extra $30/month for something I don’t use would not really help me out.
You: It seems the best thing to do is not use the phone at all.
Rolando: Basically, roaming feature is expensive since we will be borrowing tower in other country.
You: If I used it as my plan stands now what are the roaming charges/costs if I made a phone call whie in the US?
Rolando: it will cost you $1.45
You: per minute?
You: or text?
Rolando: Yes per minute call.
You: And a text is costed at a minute, I believe?
Rolando: for texting it will charge you $0.75 in-out.
You: Okay, is that .75 each way?
You: And that includes the roaming cost?
Rolando: yes Colleen.
Rolando: That is the roaming cost.
You: So really, if I need it for a few days but mostly for emergency or just if I really must contact someone that would be cheaper than having to pay and extra $30/month on my plan already.
Rolando: Do you want to be satisfy with my performance or my effort ?
Rolando: Let me see what I can do here ?
Rolando: To better assist you and for the security of the account I would like to have your E-mail address and the 4 digit pin if you have that on the account ?
You: I don’t know my 4 digit pin.
You: naiad@telus.net
Rolando: This time I will be calling the attention of my supervisor in order to sort this out .
Rolando: Thanks for the information.
You: I’m confused now.
Rolando: I am going to help you. Do not be confuse.
Rolando: This time I will be calling the attention of my supervisor in order to sort this out . my ability to convince her will lead to the adjustment on your account. Once I come back there is a positive results.
Rolando: Hi  there!
Rolando: Are you still with me ?
You: yes
Rolando: Please pay attention Colleen.
You: ?
Rolando: My supervisor approved the adjustments on your account.

Bell Canada, cellphone service, custoomer service, lost in translation

Hell’s Bell. It would be easier talking to an alien race. Creative Commons: WikiHow.com

You: I thought you said that it would cost me an extra $30/month to use my phone in the US, but if I just need to use it for a few days it will cost me .75 per text or $1.45 per phone call. What else do you think I need to pay attention to?
Rolando: I am going to give you the credit of $30 so that to make it even I am going to add the $30 package for roaming text and calling.
You: Paying $70/month for something I’ll only use one month doesn’t make sense.
Rolando: I am going to give you the credit of $30 so that to make it even I am going to add the $30 package for roaming text and calling.
You: But that would only be a credit for one month and then I would be paying more every other month afterwards, would I not?
Rolando: yes
You: I don’t want to pay $70/month for something I will only use one month. That’s not very cost efficient.
Rolando: As I have mentioned this roaming package is really expensive.
Rolando: It is not supported by your Plan.
You: I started out asking what it would cost to use my phone in the US. Was it so difficult to tell me .75/text or $1.45? That’s what I wanted to know.
Rolando: Ma’am Iam giving you the favor to help you use your phone in US.
You: If I only wanted to fly to the moon once would your try to sell me monthly tickets to the moon for the whole year? As usual Bell’s service is

not helpful at all.
Rolando: I am helping you lowering your cost.
You: Can I or can I not make a text in the US to a US number and pay only an extra .75 cents for that one text?
Rolando: You can text or you can call but you will be charge of the said amount.
Rolando: It would be beneficial for you because in return I am giving you this for free.
You: Is it .75 cents for one text, and $1.45 for one call by the minute or are there other costs you haven’t revealed?
You: Free for one month but then I pay $70 every other month instead of $40 and I won’t be using it so tell me how this is beneficial.
Rolando: There are no other cost Ma’am.
Rolando: What do you want to happen ?
You: Did you read my original message? I don’t want to add an extra $30 on to every month of payments for something I will only use once. How much clearer can I make this?
Rolando: Ma’am didn’t I tell you that Roaming is really expensive ? You are going to use your phone there for so many days. This is why I am giving you the favor to give it to you for free.
You: For one month and then you tell me I will pay an extra $30 a month on my plan every month afters.
Rolando: I am not adding extra $30 on your account.
Rolando: i cannot provide you the package for the whole year for free. I will be terminated for that.
You: How many times have I clarified above that this would cose me and extra $30 per month. And I said I only will be in the US one week. What would my monthly bill be?
Rolando: I know that you are going in-out in US but it seems to me that you want to avail the feature on a longer period.
You: Did I not say numerous times that I would not be using this in other months?
Rolando: You will only pay the regular bill on your plan. There is no extra charges because I want you to avail the roaming package for free this month. As I have mentioned you cannot prorate the cost of the roaming package.
You: And what would my monthly bill be in March, April, May?
Rolando: $72.46 is your regular bill.
You: EXACTLY! $30 extra for something I would only use once. How often must I repeat myself? I think you’ve convinced me to seek out a different cell phone company.
Rolando: As I have mentioned I am offering to give you the roaming package for free this month.
Rolando: It will automatically expired on the 30th day.
Rolando: Ma’am this feature is not part of your Plan that we can charge you each month. Roaming feature is differnt from a regular feature. I believe you misunderstood this.
You: You know what…I can’t tell what I would get or be signed up for so forget I ever asked a simple question. This is ludicrous.
info: Your chat transcript will be sent to naiad@telus.net at the end of your chat.
You: If my monthly bill for each month becomes $72.46 then indeed it is exactly that, part of what you’re charging me.

At this point I couldn’t take it anymore and had work to do. I disconnected. On further wandering through the backwoods of the Bell site I found out this great deal of $30/month that he wanted to give me was just a regular package to the US. Notice how I changed from Colleen to Ma’am after he told me to pay attention. Nice polite customer service. I’m no farther ahead but you know what someone told me about Roam Mobility and since I really need the phone for one day I can get what I need for $3 or just pay the $1.45 per minute per call and be done with it.

I can tell you one thing…I’ll be switching again when I can, to get away from the incompetent customer service of Bell.


Filed under consumer affairs, Culture

Cruise Ship Comparison: Norwegian and Carnivale

I have now had the opportunity to take two four-day cruises; one to the Bahamas and one repositioning cruise up the coast from LA to Vancouver. These cruises have confirmed that I am not in any way a cruise person.There is just way too much time on a boat than out seeing the sites. If you like doing things in a hotel, that’s what a cruise ship is; a grand hotel with shows, casino, bars and restaurants, and a small pool/hot tub.

The two cruise ships were Carnivale and Norwegian for the Bahamas and North American coast respectively. The Carnivale ship was older and as one of my friends said about the decor, “It looks as if a gay fashion designer took acid and threw up all over the place.” The decor was very date and garish with green, yellow and gold decorations (and then tacky Christmas decorations on top of that). Chairs and design overall were date. Norwegian’s cruise ship (the Sun) is only ten years old and is fairly tasteful with wood accents.

Both ships have small outdoor pools and hot tubs (I think). Carnivale had assigned seating for dinners. The problem with this was that you were always sat with the same people and whether you got along or not, you didn’t get a chance to meet new people. However, the meals were excellent and definitely top of the line in desserts and in flavors. The other choice was the ongoing buffet for late night munchies or fast food stuff, which was mediocre.

Norwegian boasted thirteen restaurants, freestyle dining (you sit when you want to) and lobster. The reality turned out to be five restaurants that had an extra cover charge ($10-$25) and then on top of that there was often an extra $10 for any food of quality on the menu. Three restaurants seemed to be the same buffet, which was mediocre, with two (the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas) having the same menu. There was a pasta/pizzeria buffet (with dinners in the evening) and a Mexican tapas bar with only light items. When you count up the restaurants available without spooning out more money, the number goes way down. Oh, and lobster, well yes, they did have it at the other main restaurant. I had to send mine back because it was mushy (and half a tail). Other meals were dry or bland, with a shrimp bisque being so salty it was inedible. Desserts were kind of what you’d expect Mom to cook. Overall, Norwegian’s food was disappointing and middle of the road.

Extra costs are something cruise lines don’t always tell you about up front. Norwegian certainly did not advertise they had restaurants asking extra charges on their website. They also charge $12/day per person for gratuities to the staff while Carnivale charged $10/day (that cruise was about three years ago so prices may have changed). Booze is never included but Norwegian also added in an “autogratuity.”

Carnivale’s entertainment contained a song and dance number and maybe other things I don’t remember. All their bars had the same 70/80’s music and nothing but rap being played in the one disco every single night. Most of their “socials” saw no one going to them and the music was not that good.

Norwegian had a preview night of a comedian, some music and a woman gymnast doing a nautical number using the silks (two long pieces of fabric suspended from the ceiling in which various moves, spins and drops are done). It was beautiful, well executed and worth watching again. On the second night they had a musical adaptation of Peter Pan (called “Pan”) which had few words and was very well done in dance. I enjoyed it a lot. The following night had a guy from Vegas (George Solomon) who had a great voice but it was very old style Vegas, and a magician from Montreal, Jean-Paul (not sure if that’s his last name or not) who mixed comedy with his tricks. He was good even if he played up the creepy stalker jokes just a bit too much.

The musicians in the various bars, including a lovely Observation Deck (enclosed) with views of the ocean, were good and varied, compared to Carnivale’s mediocre music. Norwegian did seem to have better success in social gatherings, including people in the disco. This included having the comedian in there one night and having the dancers come in to kick off another party, mostly to sell more alcohol.

The staterooms weren’t bad in either ship. However the beds were more spacious in Norwegian but uncomfortable. I tend to have back issues and though my back had been okay before the trip I was definitely in pain afterwards. Both ships had casinos, duty frees and art galleries. Having been duped into the free piece of art in the Carnivale cruise (which meant I couldn’t carry it away but they had to ship it for an exorbitant cost of $40–I told them to keep it) I steered away from Norwegian’s, especially after they said they were the originators. Nothing, truly, is free.

All in all, it wasn’t anything I’d do again. I’d rather fly to the place and stay in a land hotel where I can get out when I want. And if I want a casino I’ll just go to one. I can see how it would be good for families and for elderly people who may get tired faster. For some people, they loved the games, and the whole gestalt water hotel experience, but for me it was being stuck in one place too long.


Filed under consumer affairs, Culture, entertainment, food, life, people, shopping, travel