Uncle Butch is drunk again

Image of Bell logo For several years now, about a decade and a half to be precise, I've had to call Bell Canada each and every month because mysterious long distance charges keep appearing on my phone bill. In most cases, the charges aren't excessive and, for extended periods of time, the phone numbers appearing are always to the same phone number.

Throughout the late 1990's, and well into the millennium, long distance charges kept appearing on my cottage phone bill, ostensibly made to someone in Havelock. I don't know anyone in Havelock, I've never called anyone in Havelock and I've never been to Havelock. Yet, despite these truisms, long distance charges for calls made to a number in Havelock kept appearing on my monthly phone bill. After about 5 years of calling Bell every month to have the charges reversed, I finally insisted they fix the problem once and for all.

Bell sent a technician out, about a decade ago, and he changed a couple of wires. Miraculously, it solved the problem and the Havelock number no longer appeared on my phone bill. Unfortunately, what started appearing in its stead, were charges made to a phone number in Ng. Ng? Where in the hell is Ng? I've never even heard of Ng, let alone begin to know how one would pronounce it. Imagine my surprise to discover it was an Ontarian hamlet and not a district in China's Gansu province, located somewhere between Jinchuan and Xifeng. For the next five years, the Ng mystery calls appeared on my monthly phone bill, each time requiring me to phone Bell's customer service line to have them reversed.

Finally, some time around 2012, after having called Bell on a monthly basis for over a decade, I insisted that a solution be found. It was suggested that a "toll restriction" caveat be placed on my phone line which would prevent anyone from making long distance phone calls from my cottage. "Excellent solution," I responded approvingly, "Put that sucker on posthaste!" That solution worked, for about a year, and sometime around 2013 mystery calls started showing up on my phone bill to a phone number in Northbrook. Now Northbrook I know. It's a village about a half hour from my cottage, where I regularly do some shopping, but I don't call anyone there. Having just received my December 2016 bill, I opened it up to discover, once again, a call to Northbrook: $0.58 in long distance charges and a $2.95 network charge. Clearly, the time had come for me to call Bell once again.

Bell appreciates my patience. A recorded message confirmed this, many times, as I waited on hold for 15 minutes this morning to talk to an agent. I explained the problem, once again, to the agent who, judging by her accent, lived in Ng. Nonetheless she was patient, took down the information, reviewed the ongoing charge reversals on my account going back for years, and promptly reversed the charges and credited my account. I gave her the reference number [R62754-370] for the toll restriction block that I had placed on the line about five years ago which, quelle surprise, no longer seemed to be in place. I assured her that the cottage was vacant apart from livestock, and that the mice at my cottage do not have the dexterity to make calls on the rotary dial phone. They are, however, strong enough for the task, evidenced by a hammer that went missing 30 years ago and was recently discovered inside a wall. (Those bastard hammer-stealing mice!)

I've concluded that a relationship with Bell is reminiscent of visits from my drunken Uncle Butch when I was a kid. You never quite knew what to expect, the damage would not generally be too great, but you could always expect mild disappointment.

Submitted by "Big Banana" Bob Loblaw, 31 December 2016