Bell Sympatico customer service: an oxymoron

Friday, September 1, 2006

I have a love/hate relationship with Bell Sympatico (DSL, for those of you not in Canada). Most of the time, it just works. When it doesn’t, however, I’ve learned not to call because the customer support people really seem to have no clue about how to troubleshoot problems: their first plan of attack is to have me disassemble my home network, connect my PC directly to the DSL modem instead of the router, and install their bloated and misbehaving Access Manager software to connect. I think not, because I’m usually pretty sure that it’s not my own networking equipment before I call them. Much easier to just latch onto a neighbour’s unsecured wifi for a few hours and wait for Sympatico to sort itself out.

I did have occasion to email their customer support earlier this week with the following question after I couldn’t make things happen the way that I wanted on the web:

My boyfriend recently moved in with me, so cancelled his own Sympatico account. Can we have his Sympatico email address, xxxx@sympatico.ca, associated with my account as a secondary address? I tried to create it as a secondary address but it refused, so I assume that it is reserved for some period after his account was cancelled.

A couple of days later, a response arrived:

Hello Ms. Kemsley,

You have reached Bell Internet Services, my name is Jean-Francois and I appreciate the opportunity to respond in regards to your cancellation request.

Eeeek! Not at all what I asked for!

The message continues with lengthy instructions on all of the information that I need to provide in order to cancel my account, which luckily I am not deemed to have provided even though I emailed to them from inside a logged-in area on their website.

The message finished up with the one bit of information that I actually wanted:

As for your the email address, it cannot be used for another Sympatico account since it will remain in a locked state for a minimum period of six months.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. If I have a Sympatico email address (which I do, but I never use because I don’t like being tied to an ISP’s email system), why shouldn’t I be able to move that email address over to another Sympatico account if I move in with someone who already has Sympatico? Luckily, I had talked Damir into getting his own domain and using that email rather than Sympatico some months ago, so he thinks that he already weaned everyone off the Sympatico address, but if we hadn’t done that, he would have been screwed.

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