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New frontiers in customer service: Bell telemarketers swear and make death threats

Late last year, the CRTC announced that it was slapping Bell Canada with $1.3 million in fines for violating the National Do Not Call List that the regulator had set up. This was a huge jump from the tens of thousands of dollars the CRTC had fined companies in the past—it was kind of hard to imagine what Bell had done to deserve it. Today, the Toronto Star is reporting the details of exactly what Bell’s telemarketers did wrong: profanity, abuse, suggestions of homicide.The calls from the telemarketing companies on contract—some of them in India—were at times aggressive and abusive, documents show. In some cases, telemarketers cursed at people who showed no interest in their sales pitch and even threatened them.

An example of one of those calls:

“I had a telemarketer call, on behalf of Bell Canada offering me a free cellphone … he kept interrupting me saying, ‘You listen to me, I have this offer,’ so I asked what company he works for. I intended to ask to be placed on their ‘do not call’ list. He says, ‘Shut the f— up’. . . I said, ‘Excuse me?’ He said, ‘You shut the f— up,’” stated a complaint made to the CRTC last July.

“I asked to speak to a manager, and after a few moments of silence someone said, ‘Where do you live . . . I come and kill you.’”

And then there’s our favourite: when one person complained about being annoyed at home, a telemarketer responded, “Why the f— did you pick up the phone?” Hard to imagine why Bell continues to trail Rogers [PDF] in the wireless world.

While we certainly hope that Bell cuts out the death threats, this level of hilariously bad customer relations is great fodder for bloggers and reporters everywhere. Perhaps Bell could go even further and deliver people’s monthly bills in bags of flaming dog excrement or on bricks hurled through customers’ windows.

• Bell telemarketers aggressive, abusive: CRTC documents [Toronto Star]

  • Elee

    Not surprising at all

  • Jonathan

    So funny to read this. When the current CEO of Bell took over two years ago he said customer service was a priority. What a joke! Good work George!

  • MissLizz

    I am not surprised one bit. Two years ago I spent every day for two weeks trying to get issues with my internet and home phone resolved. It was nothing as extreme as experiences mentioned in this article but let’s just say my problems were never addressed properly or fixed AT ALL. We are now with Rogers.

  • AB

    This actually happened to us – telemarketers saying they were from Bell calling at least twice a day for weeks. We constantly asked to be placed on their do not call list, made separate calls to Bell customer service (we are already on the national do not call list for direct marketers) and even had a telemarketer swear (F word) at us (and we were polite! We know sometimes people need crap telemarketing jobs to support their family). When we called Bell customer service to report the swearing, the manager I spoke to inanely said it had nothing to do with Bell. We cancelled our Bell service, got a Rogers home phone (kept our original phone number but blocked unknown caller numbers) and are NEVER going back. Now we get about two pieces of junk mail every week from Bell asking us to switch back. Are they for real? Am now trying to stop that….Don’t be afraid to give up your Bell landline, the alternatives work well and won’t tell you to f*%# off.

  • Jay

    Rogers’ customer service is just as bad. I never go back and will be ordering Bell internet next month.

  • Chantal

    They’re all equally awful so it’s six of one and a half dozen of the other… For my Mom, it’s even more fun: my Dad died 10 years ago – the phone line used to be in his name – and she switched it to her name at some point. Then she started getting calls from BELL and they would still ask for my father. She would loudly exclaim that he was dead and start pretend bawling on the phone: they invariably hung up. Call it a little bit of fun! :)

  • Anne Moses

    Hey, that happened to us a few months ago. They called and we said we weren’t interested, hung up and the guy called back and left an obscene message

  • Yugi

    Alexander Graham Bell would be rolling in his grave!

  • Al Burke

    DON’T Just say “no” and hang up!

    The only way to ultimately STOP cold callers is to keep them on the phone for as long as possible. More of their time wasted = less profitable occupation = fewer telemarketers. Keep talking to them, then ask them to hold on while you walk away and leave them hanging. Have them send their sales literature to a fake address.

    Nothing could be more nonsensical than worrying about the telemarketer having to make a living – they don’t need to do it at your expense and this is NOT a real job! They’ve thoughtlessly wasted your time without asking, wasting as much of theirs as possible is the only truly effective response.
    nonsensical than worrying about the telemarketer having to make a living – they don’t need to do it at your expense and this is NOT a real job! They’ve thoughtlessly wasted your time without asking, wasting as much of theirs as possible is the only truly effective response.

  • Katherine

    I must agree with Bell’s spokeperson, about fraudelent calls. I had the same problem with a duct cleaner caller, those people were using the name of another company to harrass me & calling me a bitch & to go f…myself. When I contacted the company who’s name they used, I came to learn more about the real callers. I think that nowadays the competetion is dirty, they literaly mess up someone else’s business without any regards & in the end the ‘victim’ has to clean up their image. On the other hand, I think that the people in those call centers should be closed down, as they have very poor customer service & don’t deserve the chances they get from Western companies.