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Annapolis Royal: Bell Aliant and Rogers, A Frustrating Saga


A representative of Environment Canada approached Corinne, and requested of her that her home become the 'weather reporting station' for Annapolis Royal, for which they will supply her a laptop computer. A whole 98kb will be broadcast to Environment Canada every 10 minutes, recording temperature, wind speed, and other weather-related information (humidity, barometric pressure, dewpoint, etc.). Corinne agreed.

In order for Corinne's home to perform its weather reporting function, her home requires an 'always on' high speed connection. As Corinne is not overly tech savvy, VanRamblings was asked to shepherd through the high-speed Internet order with Bell Aliant, the only game in town. A tale of woe and poor customer service followed, although, as of this writing, Corinne's home does now have a toasty fast wireless DSL connection.

A decision was made to have the Internet high-speed order placed first thing Monday morning (she had a meeting to attend at 9 a.m.).

The first of five calls (!) to Bell Aliant was placed at 8:15 a.m. Bell Aliant, like most other large corporations, contracts out its customer service offshore, to New Delhi, India; Lahore, Pakistan; the far reaches of China; the Philippines; and, in some cases, Montréal, or small provincial centres in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

The sad, instructive tale of Corinne's high-speed order placement, and subsequent setup, follows ...

  • As reported previously, the initial contact with Bell Aliant was made at 8:15 Monday morning. After navigating our way through voicemail hell, we finally reached a customer service agent, who proved far from helpful. While attempting to place the order, the agent informed us that there was a $149 cancellation charge, and that Corinne must sign up for one year. VanRamblings attempted to clarify aspects of the order and pricing, but (during the conversation) it became clear that the individual to whom we were speaking was offshore, from what we could tell, India. At 8:35 a.m., having gotten no satisfaction, having none of our questions answered, and finding ourselves no closer to placing the order than we were 20 minutes previous, Corinne suggested we terminate the call, and try again, hopefully to reach a more informed sales agent.

  • At 8:37 and 8:42 a.m., we placed the second and third calls to Bell Aliant, each voicemail navigation resulting in a dial tone.

  • At 8:45 a.m., we placed call number four, this time reaching a sales agent by the name of Carrie (we think) located in Nova Scotia, she said. Over the course of the next half hour. Carrie placed us on hold three times for periods exceeding 5 minutes. Corinne had spoken with Carrie at the outset of the call and given her all her particulars, stating to Carrie that she wanted high-speed, that VanRamblings simply understood the ordering process better, thus his intervention, and could VanRamblings act on her behalf? "Yes," Carrie answered. We informed Carrie that Corinne had to leave by 9 a.m. local time, and would not be available after that time, should Carrie have any follow up questions, or require further confirmations(s). Carrie said she understood. Corinne left at 9 a.m.; Carrie didn't come back on the phone until 9:15, saying she needed to speak with Corinne to finalize the order. VanRamblings reminded Carrie that Corinne had to leave at 9 a.m., and that she was now not present, as she had been half an hour previously. Carrie informed VanRamblings that she could not place the high speed order, and hung up.

  • At 9:20 a.m., VanRamblings called a Bell Aliant customer service agent to place the high-speed order, this time portraying ourselves as the holder of the Bell Aliant telephone account, Corinne. After some futzing about ("Thank you for using Bell Aliant, sir, I mean ma'am"), the order was finally placed.

Constant reader won't be surprised to learn that the high-speed wireless modem we had ordered did not arrive on Tuesday, as the sales agent had promised. Instead, we received a wired modem.

VanRamblings placed a call to Bell Aliant on Tuesday afternoon to order a 'modem' swap'. The Siemens wireless modem arrived today, and as of 2:30 p.m. Atlantic Daylight Time, Corinne's household has entered the world of wireless surfing!

VanRamblings can now use our iPhone (yippee!), we've configured our outgoing mail server, so we can now use our laptop's e-mail programme for the first time since arriving in Nova Scotia. We can post from 'home', then, which is a boon (not that we didn't love posting from The Internet Café or the library ...). And almost all is right with the world.

Now onto the Rogers portion of the saga ...

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As difficult as was our experience with Bell Aliant, in some ways, our recent Annapolis-Royal-based experience with Rogers Wireless has proved even more frustrating.

In 2004, VanRamblings was a Rogers customer (terrible mistake, that). At that time, when visiting Annapolis Royal, although we were given information to the contrary by Rogers prior to our departure, we were chagrined to discover that Rogers did not offer cell phone service in the Annapolis Valley. Our cell phone was, then, useless. VanRamblings doesn't need a cell phone to exist, but we have some expectation that when a technical support person informs us that our cell service will operate in the town of our destination that person might be believed.

At present, VanRamblings owns an iPhone (yes, it's true, we have no life). At the time we acquired our iPhone, Rogers was the only carrier which offered the phone. Prior to our departure from Vancouver, we had a look at the Rogers wireless map, and spoke with both a customer agent and a tech support person, and were assured that our iPhone would work wonderfully in the Annapolis Valley, and all throughout the region, that we could avail ourselves of the tethering function, that our connection would be 3G, and that we'd find ourselves able to call, surf the 'Net, retrieve e-mail messages, and otherwise enjoy our smartphone as we do in Vancouver (we use the mapping, Yelp, CBC and many, many other iPhone app functions).

Well, you won't be surprised to learn that upon arriving in the Annapolis Valley we are experiencing almost no Rogers cell and smartphone service in Annapolis Royal, and in and around Digby, along the French Shore, and throughout most of the region, we received a far from pleasant, and we believe unjustifiable, No Service notification on our phone which, one supposes, is a metaphor for Rogers' customer service.

Today we learned from the local Bell Aliant outlet that Telus Mobility works wonderfully and in full 3G in the Annapolis Valley, piggy-backing as it does on the Bell network. In 2004, we dumped Rogers in favour of Telus. In 2010, were it not for the 3-year contract that Rogers (and most other Canadian wireless companies) make you sign, upon our arrival home next week VanRamblings would quit Rogers Wireless for Telus in a flash.

Although we're far from pleased with Rogers, as reported earlier in this post, we are pleased that, finally, Bell Aliant's wireless modem arrived, that we were able to install it with a minimum of fuss, and that we are now experiencing a first-rate wifi service, which not only allows us to post from Corinne's home on the Annapolis River, but that we are, too, afforded the opportunity to once again employ our iPhone to good advantage.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at August 12, 2010 6:49 PM in Travel


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