Sure enough, expressvu screwed it up again…

Bell Canada just blows my mind.

Okay, ongoing saga. 2 days ago I went online to my account (they do have some decent online tools for account management, I have my phone, dsl, and sat tv all in one place… a nice touch) and changed the programming on my system. They sent me this:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for using our web site to update your programming. Please note that any addition to your programming will be effective within the next 24 to 48 hours.


Thank you,

Bell ExpressVu Customer Service Department

If you still experience problems, fill out the Contact Us form at (I took the URL out, it is useless).

So I figured, hot damn, they actually have a system in place that works!  I should have come here to start with!

Wrongo Bongo.

I had this feeling today (2 days later) that nothing was happening.  So I call their ever friendly customer service and check to see how long it is going to take for the automated change to go through.  The girl puts me on hold for a damn long time, and comes back and says “there was a programming change, but it was reversed on the 8th”.  Wrong change, girl.  I put this one in on the 9th.  This confused her beyond all get out, she asked me stuff about three times and then put me back on hold for about an ice age of time.   Finally she comes back and announces somewhat proudly, I thought: “We have no change for your account”.

I think it was how happy and pleasant she was about saying that there was nothing on file.  It really seemed to make her day that there was (hopefully) nothing else for her to do here.  I was really blown away by the attitude.

Thankfully I had a printout, and she had to manually enter the programming.

Anyway, all to say that finally I have programming I want at about $35 LESS than I was paying before.  That by itself is a major piece of joy for me, understanding that they would have been getting more money out of me if they hadn’t fucked it all up so badly.  It is quite pleasant, really.  One of the few minor victories in all of this for me.

Now, tomorrow I will start to work on moving the dish outside.  I have spotted a decent enough location that should work well with the 91 bird, but I am not so sure with the 82.  That will be a whole different game when we get to it, I guess. Then I can look at getting the upgrade done one of these years, but I think I am putting that off for a while now.

More expressvu sucks

Well 14 hours after submitting a programming change, still nothing except a very simple email that says it takes 24-48 hours to process… I am sure glad I did this online instead of with a customer service agent that would have changed the programming right away.

Bell certainly hasn’t earned the right to be a monopoly, not only on phone and sat tv, but also by owning the largest network in Canada CTV and most of it’s affiliate stations.

Bell Expressvu has horrible customer service.

Well, it ain’t a ranch, now is it?

Anyway, I have the ongoing disaster that is Bell Expressvu. It has been a seriously shitty experience all around… let me explain:

I have had expressvu for a bit more than 3 years now. I take pretty much all the normal programming from them, about $90 a month or so for a couple of hundred channels, movies, etc. I have an older 3100 series receive and single gun dish. Anyway, I have had issues with my local housing authory (I live in a planned community, stupid move on my behalf) that said the current install location of my dish outside was unacceptable, and they threatened me with a $60,000 fine if I did not move it quickly.

So, I figure “what the heck”… Expressvu is pushing rental 6100 series receivers which is compatible with HD TVs. I don’t have an HD set yet, but I am sure it will happen sooner or later. So I figure why not rent a new receiver, and get them to move the dish at the same time. This is where the fun starts.

As an existing customer, I would have to pay significantly MORE than a new customer would for the same thing. Basically, I would pay the install charge ($75) and I would get no signup bonus or rental bonus as a result… the net difference was upwards to $200 just to start with, plus two or three months of free HD programming that I wouldn’t get. I contacted Bell, and they agreed that this was silly, but it “is the way it works, nothing we can do”.

So I decided to cancel their service and try another provider for a while.

This is where the “save” department comes into play. Pretty much every subscription company has a save mechanism to attempt to keep clients. Most companies don’t want to tell you the truth, but it costs them MORE to find a new client than it does to keep an existing client. Advertising, freebies, spiffs… they spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to drive new clients to their services, and when they know that you could leave them (big loss of income) and go to a competitor (with little expense on their side) it is katie bar the door and they bend over, pretty much willing to give you whatever you want to make you stay.

I should point out that one of the more frustrating things about dealing with Bell Expressvu is that their phone system has a pretty amazing rate of hangups. Over the course of 5 days, I have been on the receiving end of no less than a dozen total hangups, transfers to space, and such. This is our phone company, remember… you would think their stuff works. My feeling is that employees are happy to accidentally push a button and make clients who are asking difficult questions go away, as difficult sitautions no doubt lower their call ratios and make them look ineffecient.

Anyway, “Jason” finally said, well, if you go to a store, get the $49 rental install kit (which is nothing more than a paper contract), we will pay for the install, refund your install costs (near net $100) and give you 3 months free service (did I mention they would bend over?). Net numbers on the table for me was about $450 if I stayed in the game.

Okay, you guys are frustrating the heck out of me, but I will give it one more shot.

The next day, I go to the local bell store and buy the install kit, call the number, schedule the install, etc. No actual problems here, shockingly.

Later that evening, a bunch of the channels on my current system disappear.

Contacting customer series (I have the number memorized by this point, which is a bad sign), and they say “oh, your software is out of date, yadda yadda…” over and hour on the phone and a little bit more time and the new software is downloaded and “it can take up to two hours for your programming to reactive properly”.

Next morning, the programming is still screwed up. Call them back. They ask me for what channels I am missing. I tell them. They say “you aren’t paying for those channels in any package you have, so your programming is correct”. I am a bit confused at this point, until I realize what has happened: When “Jason” gave me three months free, he “accidentally” bumped me to a weird combination package that doesn’t include about half the channels I normally watch. Free indeed.

Driod on the phone says “that is your package, but if you want to spend an extra $X per month, we can move you to this other package so you can get those channels that you want” – the price quoted would have pushed my monthly bill to just over $100.

I lose it. This may be the one time in this process that the “transferring me to a supervisor that turns into a hangup” was earned.

Anyway, back down the line, time to cancel all this shit and get it over with.

All the way to cancel, get an actually pleasant african guy on the phone (his full name I won’t post because I am sure he is the only one with that name in the company… but it starts with MB, which is a pretty interesting combination at the start of a name). He admits outright that many current phone service employees have techniques for losing a difficult call, that my experiences are NOT unusual for anyone asking difficult questions, and that he was personally sorry (not bell sorry) that I had to put up with shitty service. He very carefully worked to try to get the programming right… and offered me three months additional free service when I covert to the new HD plans within 12 months. So net, Bell has put about $750 on the table to keep me in the game. Against the odds, I agree, and allow him to work on the program. Standard “it takes a couple of hours” deal, so I thank him, and the night ends unhappy but hopeful.

Next morning, check the programming… it is certainly DIFFERENT, but not correct. The failure rates here are pretty much blowing my mind.

Anyway, I figure the HD installer is due later in the day, I will bite my tongue until he is done and then give another try to fix this stupid situation. Installer shows up a little later than I thought (They said betwen noon and five, it was about 2 when he called to say he would be there soon… why couldn’t they just say “between 3 and 5?”). He came in with the new receiver under his arm, and I stopped the show and said “let’s talk about dish installation”. Remember, the need to move the dish a bit is why this all started to begin with.

I walk him outside, show him the current install, show him the potential install locations and he has one look and says “It won’t work” (he said it in french, but same thing). He didn’t have any equipment to do the install of anything outside of the standard box, wouldn’t go on the roof at all (not insured) and generally said “no chance”. Remember now, I have been a client for 3 years with full service, and the dish move is literally less than 10 feet.

With that, he picks up the receiver in the box, says “sorry”, and leaves.

You can picture the steam coming out of my ears at this point.

Back on the phone with the cancellation people. This time I get a real droid, someone filling time. I know it is useless, so after giving him my basic information and talking to him a minute or two, I ask to speak to a supervisor. He puts me on hold and miracle of miracles, the phone hung up. Call back, I get ANOTHER droid, and immediately ask for a supervisor, no wasting time. I get a supervisor that honestly sounds like he has no interest at all in trying to find a soltution, and he floors me with this: “your account has already been closed, there is nothing more I can do”.

What the fuck? Turns out the hangup employee took it on himself to cancel the service outright and thank you good bye. He didn’t want to talk to me, and he was VERY happy apparently to cancel my service. Upset and unhappy supervisor managed to restart my service and tells me to suffer (nicer words, but basically “nothing I can do”).

Anyway, my programming is still fucked beyond belief (I am apparently paying for 7 option packages, but I don’t have any CNN or anything like that, and many of my local french channels have gone AWOL as well), and I still have to move my dish. I am convinced the new location will work out fine, and I have the measurements and angles calculated that say it is good to go. I even tested and peaked out the dish in it’s current location and I have signals between 90 and 100% on all transponders.

Now let’s get into the really fucked up parts of this deal.

First, if you are getting rental equipment, only a Bell installer can put it in. They will not just send you the stuff, they have to install it. If you want to BUY the receiver, that is $300, and I would have to buy a switch and a second LNB to add the second sat to the system to get HD and whatnot… another $100… plus my dish really does need to get replaced, considering the paint is off of it completely… that is another $99 plus shipping… so I would be looking at shelling out $500 plus shipping instead of $10 a month rental charges… but because one single tech decided he couldn’t do an install, well, they won’t do it.

Second, none of their stores have any stock. You have to order online and take delivery by courrier in 3-5 days. They won’t send a new dish to existing customers (but an installer can replace a defective or damaged dish when making the rental install). So even if Ibuy the thing, I can’t get everything I need.

Finally, the replacement dish thing drives me nuts. Even the supervisor type said that Bell will not sell only dishes, they have to be part of a system – but because I am an existing customer, if I upgrade my equipment I don’t get a new dish because I already have one. I took 3 calls to get anyone to admit I could buy one, and that took 20 minutes and two sessions on hold to find that out: $99 plus shipping. It would appear that an existing customer with any issues with an installation is pretty much screwed over and has to find their own suppliers outside of bell to get any parts.

I was also shocked to see that major stores like Futureship and Bestbuy (same owners) no longer stock any expressvu equipment, they just have the same useless rental packages (a programming guide, and a rental contract… no equipment). Not a single receiver or any equipment in my local FS store at all.

So here I am, 10 days later, and I still don’t have a new receiver, still don’t have the dish moved, and time is running out.  I have to go to my local “What use to be a radio shack now a circuit city mutant thing” and get some stuff so that I can relocate my current dish, plus probably a can of rattlecan grey primer to keep it from rusting, and I will do the work myself, relocating the dish to it’s new location, getting perfect signal, and telling Bell to “GFY”.

I submitted a change to my programming tonight, we will see if they can manage to make it work.  I wonder if they will notice that I have cut my bill almost in half.

Anyone from expressvu reading this?  Shame on you all.  A near monopoly that should be broken up and sold like the junk parts it really is.