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The Nine Stages of Canadian Telecom Hell

01/15/2014 05:43 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT

I have descended through the nine circles of telecom hell and lived to tell the tale.

The Greeting

For some unexplained reason, I broke the golden rule of home ownership: don't let door-to-door salesmen inside your house. For 23 years, I had faithfully followed this directive without regret until one recent Monday evening found me ushering two Bell salesmen into our home. What was on offer was a package of three services (TV, Internet and home phone) that would save us hundreds of dollars if I simply switched from our current provider Rogers.

The Hook

Being naturally skeptical, I questioned the two gentlemen at length. But every question was met with a positive response. How long would I have to commit? Not to worry; there was no contract. What would be the cost of the snazzy new PVR I would be getting? No charge. And the computer modem? A free rental. I was hooked.

The Close

Normally, I like to receive a sales pitch and sleep on it before committing myself. When a salesperson says this deal is only good for today that usually gets my hackles up, not to mention my fur and my dander. But this time I ignored all the warning signs and barreled ahead in a gluttonous grab for the goodies on offer. I signed the request form and agreed to an installation date four days hence.

The Wait

Although I had signed up, I wasn't that worried. As the main salesguy said, Bell would be transferring our telephone number and I would definitely be getting a call from Rogers enticing me to stay with them. I was now consumed with greed, anticipating the promised call from a customer service rep offering me all manner of discounts and deals.

The Install

The Bell installer arrived on Friday afternoon and began to hook up our new services. At one point, he made a phone call and it sounded like he was asking for our telephone number to be "ported" over from Rogers. It suddenly dawned on me that there would be no call from Rogers since they didn't know we were leaving.

The Problems

It took a while but the installation was finally complete. We now had a fancy new PVR, a new modem and a new sleek TV remote control. It turns out, however, that one thing we didn't have was a working home phone. And when I tried to return our old equipment to a Rogers store, a customer service rep said "no" because our phone number had apparently not yet been transferred. She also said that it wasn't too late to cancel the switch to Bell and accept her offer of a 25 per cent discount and a free PVR for one year.

The Cold Feet

I returned home with the Rogers equipment, my head spinning with options. The next morning, however, I decided to stick with Bell and so I called a Rogers rep and formally cancelled our service. She said it was too bad since she could have offered me 50 per cent off our current bill. I tried again to return our old equipment but couldn't since it turned out that our number had still not been transferred. I returned home to await the Bell technician who arrived that evening and connected our phone. My third trip to the Rogers store the next morning met with success and I was finally allowed to give them back their equipment.

The Reality

It turns out that the rosy picture painted by the two salesmen had some flaws. They conveniently forgot to mention that I had to give Rogers thirty days notice. They also forgot to mention that there would be no retention-offer phone call from Rogers because our number wouldn't be transferred before the installation. Furthermore, our new TV package was not "the same as" our previous Rogers package as there were a number of missing channels. And with the loss of the bundling discount on our Rogers cell phone service, it turned out that our savings were negligible.

The Resignation

I was now resigned to my fate. We weren't going to save much money and likely would have fewer channels. My instinct was confirmed when I received my first new Bell bill headed with the words: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." But I'm no quitter; I'm sure there's a third way out of this telecom hell. Why just yesterday somebody told me about a company called Telus that might be able to help me out.

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