In the modern digital world that we’re now living in, having access to high speed, reliable and affordable Internet access is no longer a recommendation, but a requirement. The web is more than just a way that we kill time looking at funny cat videos or sharing pictures of our lunch on Instagram. It’s how we stay connected with our friends, family members and other loved ones—even if they’re halfway around the world. It’s how we stay up to date on local news and politics, a subject that is becoming more and more critical as time goes on. For many people, it’s even how they earn an income— freelance, Internet-based jobs have exploded in popularity over the last few years.
But all of this begs the question, what, exactly, are you willing to pay for all of those aforementioned benefits and more? It’s a sore subject for many people, particularly as Internet access prices continue to soar. But as one recent CBC Marketplace investigation proved, if someone offers you a price for Internet service that sounds too good to be true, chances are high that you’re probably right.
The Case of the Misleading Door-to-Door Sales Reps: What Happened?
After a series of tips from frustrated local consumers, CBC Marketplace and Go Public recently launched a hidden camera-powered investigation into Bell Canada earlier in 2018. For those unfamiliar, Bell Canada is currently the biggest telecom company in Canada—and this is certainly not the first time that they’ve been accused of deceptive practices. Initially, CBC and Go Public just wanted to learn more about how Bell’s television, Internet and home phone services were being sold by sales representatives who go door-to-door. Their investigation lasted for seven days—spread across the final in December 2017 and the first in January 2018.
One of the issues is that Bell’s services are rarely sold by the company directly; they are often sold by third-party companies who get a cut out of every new customer who signs up. Many have argued that this creates an opportunity for deception and, as it turns out, they were right on the money. Once customers are locked into a two-year contract based on fictional monthly rates and nonexistent promo prices, they often have to pay as much as $150 or more to break that contract early—which means that they’re often stuck between a rock and a hard place.
CBC’s network of hidden cameras captured sales representative after sales representative in one neighborhood, all sharing one frustrating trait in common: almost all of them misrepresented nearly everything about what would actually be provided to a customer. From monthly billing prices to the strength of current promotional deals to Internet speeds, the capacity of Bell’s fiber-optic network and more—these representatives used a series of misinformation (and, in the best of cases, omission of facts) to dupe as many customers as possible.
After reviewing all of the hidden camera footage during the creation of its story, CBC naturally reached out to representatives from Bell for an interview. This negotiation period lasted for several weeks and, while it did not end with someone speaking on camera, Bell did send forward a statement of apology.
Essentially, Bell’s spokesperson Nathan Gibson said that the sales practices captured on hidden camera were “in no way aligned with Bell’s commitment” to both its customers and the experience that the company offers. He went on to say that “we apologize to anyone who may have been adversely affected” by these types of shady sales practices.
But the issue is that these deceitful sales reps—mostly young people in their 20s—are often knocking on doors seven days a week. They fan out across residential neighborhoods in an attempt to sign up as many customers as possible, and there is no limit to the lengths they’re willing to go through in order to do it. They’re still out there, right now, knocking on doors and trying to sign up new customers. Sadly, it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop anytime soon—despite Bell’s apology.