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Bell Canada apologizes about door-to-door sales rep, says ties have been severed

Last Updated Feb 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm PST

BCE Inc. logo is shown at the company's annual general meeting in Montreal, Thursday, May 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

TORONTO – Bell Canada has severed ties with one of its contract door-to-door sales representatives, who allegedly told a Toronto man his monthly bill for a home service package would stay at $100 for two years, a company spokesman said Monday.

The customer said he learned months after agreeing to the two-year contract later that Bell’s only guarantee was that there would be a monthly discount of $25 per month — not a price freeze.

Customer Gianmarco Minichillo also said he didn’t receive an email copy of the contract immediately after hearing a Bell subcontractor’s sales pitch at his home and agreeing to it by phone in a conversation with a Bell sales support centre.

Bell spokesman Marc Choma said in an email Monday — after a CBC report on Minichillo’s experience — that there was a serious breach of its policies by a subcontractor working for one of the phone, internet and media company’s suppliers.

“We apologize to anyone who may have been adversely affected by this conduct,” Choma said.

Choma also said the unidentified supplier has severed its relationship with the subcontractor, who also wasn’t identified, and that Bell has implemented immediate corrective training.

“Like other communications companies, Bell employs neighbourhood marketing agencies to tell potential customers about our new products, network enhancements and special offers they may be interested in,” Choma said.

“While the agents are not directly employed by Bell, all door-to-door sales agents must always provide consumers with complete information about Bell products and pricing, receive direct training from Bell experts to ensure all Bell sales procedures are followed, and abide by Bell’s code of conduct.”

However, Bell Canada — the country’s largest telecommunications company, with its core territory in Ontario and Quebec — has been the target of complaints by employees and consumers following reports by CBC’s Go Public team.

Additionally, the 2016-17 report by the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services — a federal agency — says Bell was the subject of 770 of the 2,000 complaints it received about the lack of disclosure by service providers.

Lack of disclosure is the second-biggest category of complaints received by the CCTS.

“If a customer is not receiving service under the terms and conditions they agreed to, then CCTS can help try to resolve the complaint. Customers first need to contact their service provider and try to resolve it directly,” a CCTS representative said in an email Monday.

Minichillo told The Canadian Press in a phone call that he was unaware of the CCTS but had obtained a $36 credit from Bell after spending hours on the phone after learning about the $3 per month price increase.

The Competition Bureau, another federal agency, has more power to deal with false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices — under either criminal or civil law.

Bell, Rogers, Telus and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association agreed to a total of more than $24 million in rebates to customers in 2015 and 2016 after an investigation into billing for unwanted premium text services.

As part of those agreements, Bell committed to issue up to $11.82 million in rebates to its current and former customers, publish a notice to affected customers, and pay $800,000 towards digital media research and awareness

Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:T)