Bell bills customers in full, despite four-day outage

No proactive reduction to West Islanders’ monthly charge

By Robert Frank
www.thesuburban.com
Thousands of West Island home and business-telephone users were billed the
full amount for their Bell Canada landlines last month, despite a massive outage that deprived them of service for four days.
Some 2,500 customers were reportedly cut off Dec. 16-19, after flooding affected Bell facilities. Together, this represents tens of thousands of dollars of telephone service that they were billed for which they did not receive.
A Bell customer service representative stated that the company is aware of the problem and will credit the accounts of West Island clients “on the honour system” if they phone and ask to be reimbursed.
“This is a forborne area,” said Patricia Vallado, a spokesperson for Canada’s telephone
regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission. “We do not get involved in unregulated terms of service. Customers have to take their complaints to the
Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (www.ccts-cprst.ca).”
CCTS commissioner Howard Maker confirmed in a telephone interview that “most local phone service in Canada now is unregulated. It is governed by contract.”
“Bell’s terms of service might not require them to be proactive in compensating their clients for lost service. It’s their business decision about how they would like to treat their customers.”
Mr. Maker added that “where a service provider has been unable to deliver because of a technical problem, it is rarely disputed. We always tell them to credit customers for the period when they could not get through, through no fault of their own, and I’m not aware of any provider that would not do that.”
Bell Canada has remained opaque about the cause of the outage and has not as yet disclosed what West Island telephone switching locations were affected, the number of clients affected and what measures have been implemented to prevent a recurrence.
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