When service sucks

Gerry Phelan
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I don’t mean to seem crooked, but I do feel a little ornery. I just got off the horn with my telephone/Internet/television service provider, and I’m not happy.

What’s up with these national companies that can’t get their billing straight? Every month since November I’ve had to call Bell Aliant to get something fixed on my statement.

A credit for bundling services suddenly disappeared. Every month I call, every month I get an apology.

Now I’m told I should never have received the credit in the first place. Oh, by the way, I only found that out after I was billed for a movie that was supposed to be free as part of a company promotion.

The same month, I got nicked for a service that was free under my particular home phone package. I find it amazing that I have to go through a five-page bill with a fine-tooth comb.

I feel for the person who answers my complaints at the call centre, but seriously, how many more people experience the same kind of thing?

How much money are certain companies raking in because people just pay the bill, and don’t read the details?

To be fair, I will compliment Aliant’s repair service. They’ve developed a same-day service approach. On two occasions, I’ve called in the morning and had in-home service the same day. Excellent.

I’ve got a few more consumer arrows in my quiver. How about the airlines’ all-inclusive pricing?

It has gotten better, but frequent travellers know that buying a seat, while not guaranteeing anything, makes your chances better in the event your flight is overbooked.

The seat cost is not included in some fare classes; likewise the cost for checked baggage. It depends on the airline, and where you are flying, but if you are comparing prices, you’d best include those variables. They can make a difference.

I’d like to tip my hat to the supermarket and department store clerks who go out of their way when someone questions a price.

Having been burned several times by incorrect scanner codes, I watch the register readout like a hawk.

I’m the kind of guy who keeps other shoppers waiting (sorry), while I run to a store aisle and grab the sign that said Nescafé coffee is a certain price.

Perhaps someone forgot to remove it, but that sign may have prompted me to buy that brand.

On occasion, a supermarket may have all but one kind of Delissio Pizza on sale. I’ve complained that the promotion and, even worse, the product display can be misleading, but it doesn’t matter.

By the way, has anyone else noticed how, more often than not, there seem to be fewer cashiers and more closed registers in the larger chain supermarkets? One manager told me they had problems finding and keeping staff.

I’ve also got a beef with airport transportation in St. John’s. When you arrive on a flight, City Wide Taxi is really the only ground transportation choice.

The drivers are friendly and provide good service, but there is now an airport surcharge tacked on to the meter rate to residential areas.

Visitors sometimes wonder why there is no bus service or even an airport shuttle like they have in Halifax. It’s a valid point.

We have to pay for everything these days. I was surprised when the post office told me it would cost $25 to hold my mail for a few weeks.

And how about moving files if we change doctors?

A relative changed physicians because she could no longer easily travel to the other end of town.

She paid $25 to have her files transferred to the other doctor.

I also know of a case where a patient had to pay the fee when her physician moved from a certain clinic.

Most of us don’t like to be labelled whiners, but if no one complains, the status quo becomes the new norm. We expect to pay for goods and services, but we also demand fairness and accountability.

 Now, off to the supermarket.

Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached

at gerryp@bellaliant.net

Organizations: Bell Aliant

Geographic location: Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Jet Setter
    March 23, 2013 - 08:03

    I have no problem with the $5 airport taxi surcharge, These drivers work 100% on commission, no hourly wage or other benefits. They sit at the airport between flights (sometimes hours) wasting time which could be spent around town making money just so we can get a taxi as soon as we walk off the plane. On top of this, they have to give the airport dispatcher $2 every time they pull up to the door. If you do not want this service and rather save the $5 call Bugdens or Newfound and wait five minutes for them to drive up Portugal Cove Road.