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Silver and Gold: Wringing Customers Dry With Bell Holiday Rate Hikes & Higher Penalties

Phillip Dampier December 7, 2011 Bell (Canada), Canada, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Internet Overcharging 13 Comments

Regular Stop the Cap! reader Alex dropped us a note sharing the bad news: Bell Canada is hiking rates for virtually everything effective Jan. 1.  Except Bell doesn’t call them rate increases.  To the phone giant, they are “price updates.”  They are also considerable, with sweeping rate increases for phone, Internet, and television.  They are even hiking rates for individual phone calling features like three-way calling.

Bell reserves rate increases for its long-standing customers. Potential new customers served by Bell in eastern Canada, where the company is rolling out its fiber-to-the-neighborhood service Fibe (similar to AT&T U-verse), report offers as low as $19.95 a month for selected services during the first year.  But prices increase dramatically when the promotion expires.  By how much is detailed below:

Prices listed are for customers in Ontario.

But Bell saves the worst for a footnote at the bottom of their Internet “price update.”  They are tinkering with the company’s notorious Internet Overcharging scheme, raising the bar on their overlimit penalty.  Customers who used to exceed their monthly broadband allowance originally faced a maximum penalty of $30.  But Bell has been revisiting that “maximum overlimit fee” regularly.  In 2010 the company raised the penalty cap to $60.  On Jan. 1, Bell is raising the maximum by an additional $20 — to $80 a month.  In our view, it is only a matter of time before the ceiling on overlimit fees is eliminated altogether, setting customers up for sky high bills.

Bell Fibe 25 customers with 25Mbps service will now pay $78.95 a month for Internet alone, and that plan comes with only 125GB of usage per month.  Want to use more?  You will have to buy Bell’s Usage Insurance in advance:

  • $5/month for an extra 40GB
  • $10/month for an extra 80GB
  • $15/month for an extra 120GB

But that may not help you avoid at least one month of overlimit fees.  Bell pro-rates customers adding Usage Insurance to their accounts, which means the first month’s extra allowance is limited by the number of days before your next billing cycle.

Bell’s prices for new customers are much lower, with Fibe 25 priced as low as $34.48 a month during the first year.  The real bite arrives when the promotion expires, when the price more than doubles.

Currently there are 13 comments on this Article:

  1. Alex Perrier says:

    Someone who has triple play with would pay an additional $7/month or $84/year starting in 2012. Yikes! :O

    i’m really thinking of switching to an independant ISP, if my usage is high enough. Bell’s rich enough. They bought a cell phone brand, an electronics retailer, and even a television network! They don’t need my money, and i don’t want to give them any.

    On another note, there may be a paper bill fee of $2. While it was waived throughout 2011, it will be charged monthly to all customers starting in January 2012. This raises the $7/month above to $9/month. While people like myself may be okay with e-billing, those born before the 80s may not be comfortable with this. Some people have never used a computer in their entire life! The over-a-century-old Bell keeps raising prices, without improving service. 🙁

    • Another option is to play “retention deal” to lower your price. Call and threaten to walk unless they deal. Aim for prices comparable to what new customers get. Don’t take the first offer they give you. If you get nowhere, we have readers who cancel and then sign up as a new customer under the spouse’s name.

      It’s a hassle every year, but considering regular customers pay double, it’s worth it.

  2. Mariette says:

    We have switch to Primus for our internet and phone .. internet is unlimited and phone has all the extras features for a lot less than Bell or Rogers for that matter … It works fine for us and we are happy with the price : )

  3. Alex Perrier says:

    Paper Bill:

    “As of December 11, 2011, e-bill will be provided at no cost and paper bill will be available for $2/mo.”

    Yet another cash grab. Old people who still have a home phone may have never used a computer once in their lifetime. They’re usually the same people who don’t use credit cards or debit cards. How is it fair for Bell to charge legions of fees?

  4. Clayton says:

    Vonage for home phone: $35.00/month
    Teksavvy for internet: $55.00/month (unlimited)
    TV: Over-The-Air (HD antenna) $0.00/month 1 time setup costs vary depending on hardware costs mine 1 time cost was approximately $200.00
    Sports: CBC Hockey Night in Canada and onine streaming from free sites not always great quality but is good enough for me
    Movies: Online from a pay service $35.00/month

    My Monthly my cost is $125.00 + taxes

    Not giving my money to Rogers or Bell: Priceless (although Teksavvy does pay Rogers to use the cable network I’m still not giving my money directly to Rogers who would not sell me an unlimited internet package)

    I have friends who subscribe to Rogers cable TV with HD package + sports + movie channels and they pay well over $100/month just for cable TV.

    • psychic99 says:

      You should look @ voip,ms. Switched my inlaws to it almost 2 years ago. I dont think their phone bill has gone over $12, and they call India all the time (0.03). Since I use voip.ms in the states, it is free to call them, and visa versa. Calls within Canada 0.5c. No taxes either, no contract. They run over Bhell DSL, and it works perfectly. I tried to get them to switch, but w/ the asian channels Bhell wasnt actually that bad, way cheaper than Rogers (almost $30/month). Still dish tho, no fibe yet.

      BTW- They had vonage. I couldn’t believe how much more expensive it was than VOIP in the US. When I started, Rogers was charging them over $50 a month for just voice. Holy batman. I can see why they are buying up Toronto 🙂

  5. Andrew Range says:

    Teksavvy master race reporting in. I have ditched inferior trash such as Bell years ago, and I am proud of it. People still on Bell/Rogers should feel very, very ashamed of themselves.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you, Mr. Range, for the snap judgment. Shaming is always the right next-step! For some of us, bell is the only option. You find me another cellular provider in central Yukon (maybe one that can hijack Bell equipment, as theirs is the only tower within hours) and I’ll show you a community which isn’t ashamed, and will be glad to have a choice.

      • I think Andrew is talking about Bell’s wired services. I recognize from my own research that cell service in the Yukon, Nunavut, and northern Ontario and Quebec is “take it from wherever you can get it.”

        TekSavvy resells broadband on Bell’s landline network. I’m not sure who your provider is in the Yukon (Telus?).

        Just as in the USA, rural residents don’t have the luxury of choosing a provider — the provider chooses them.

        The good news is western Canada has it better than Ontario and Quebec, where usage caps are stingy thanks to Rogers, Bell, and Videotron.

        It can get even sillier. We have one reader in Niagara Falls who has a friend on the U.S. side who is hooked up to Time Warner Cable and sends everything wirelessly over the Niagara River to his home on the Canadian side. That is partly thanks to the worthless U.S. dollar.

  6. Darth Vader says:

    An additional problem with going e-billing-only is that people on welfare or disability are occasionally required to produce paper bills as proof of their rent and utility expenses. Charging these people, in particular, an extra $2 a month to be able to prove their phone expense when the government randomly asks them to amounts to a regressive tax levied specifically on the poorest of our country’s citizens.

  7. Michael Artelle says:

    What some folks may not know is that Bell’s been charging that paper fee for some time now to some customers. They were dinging me back in 2010 when I had ebills at first and then I switched back to paper only to be charged for it. Sadly, I had to switch back to paper bills to justify writing off the costs on my income taxes for my home business.

    Also, I’m not surprised for these price hikes… I have both Bell and Acanac for my internet services and sheesh… Bell charges almost twice as much for the same service I’m getting from Acanac (save for the cap). I don’t qualify for their Fibe services in my area as the fiber hasn’t been laid yet.

    Acanac – $33.95/mth for 5mbit DSL/No Cap
    Bell – $47.95/mth ($49.95/mth after hike) for 7mbit DSL/60gb Cap

  8. Patchy says:

    Smaller companies introduced a paper charge because they were cutting costs so many places to attract customers, they had to really be frugal.

    Then the big giants added the costs for a bill just cause the little guys were doing it….

  9. Dustin says:

    So they need more cash to upgrade networks, install fiber optics, and maintain our already low quality service BUT they can spend a half a billion on MLSE to own a few Toronto franchises. Hmm…sounds to me like we need to open up the telecom industry in Canada and get some competition up here. Sick of being gouged and told its not enough.

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