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Bell Employee Speaks Out About Unethical, High-Pressure Sales Tactics

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A former Bell employee is speaking out about the Canadian telecommunications company‘s “high-pressure sales tactics” that exist within the company’s various call centres.

According to a new report from CBC, Andrea Rizzo, a 20-year Bell employee, described the company’s Scarborough, Ontario call centre as “a non-stop nightmare.”

She described that part of her job was being forced to sell customers products they don’t need, don’t want, and may not understand, all in the pursuit of hitting sales targets – and keeping her job.

According to Rizzo, employees are expected to make a sale on every call.

“I feel bad,” says Rizzo. “I’m not really listening to what the customer called about. All I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Oh wow, this customer just said they didn’t want the service, it’s too expensive. And I’ve sold a service to them that they will not know how to use, or really need.'”

 

Rizzo related that many Bell customers are on a limited income, and selling some of the company’s products to such people who clearly cannot make use of them isn’t a concern for the “higher-ups.”

“We have a lot of seniors who call,” says Rizzo. “They tell me they’re blind, and I still have to sell them internet.”

“She says she talked a 90-year-old into signing up for internet service knowing  the woman was blind and couldn’t use it,” reads the report.

Rizzo also describes so-called “sales coaches,” and how they tend to randomly listen in on customer calls without her knowledge, coming to her desk if she is not successfully selling something.

“They’ll sit next to you and say, ‘Don’t tell them that. No, put the call on hold,’ or ‘No, tell them you have no other options, this is the best choice they’re making,'” she said. “Some of them will take over the call and actually talk for us.”

Additionally, Bell customer services agents such as Rizzo are trained to “talk quickly, not to let the customer speak, and to bury the price of products and services.”

“We’re supposed to mention the price really quickly and then jump to, ‘We can get a technician out for this day and this time,'” she explains.

Bell spokesperson Nathan Gibson writes that sales agents “talk about products and services to ensure that customers have what is ‘right for them’ and are ‘aware of new services or performance upgrades.'”

Gibson did not, however, address whether these agents are under pressure from the company to make a successful sale on every call.

Rizzo, who has struggled to meet her sales targets, states that many of Bell’s top sellers are hitting – or exceeding – their goals through unethical means, such as not telling customers that a price is on the verge of increasing or that a service comes with a two-year contract.

According to Rizzo, she is not the only Bell employee feeling the overarching pressure from her sales superiors. She, and many others, are feeling the emotional effects from such pressure.

“I was having panic attacks,” she says. “I was stressed out and crying, thinking ‘I don’t have enough time to get my numbers up.'”

“I’m not only speaking on behalf of myself, but everyone else,” says Rizzo. “It’s not just me.”

Rizzo is currently on stress leave, and worries about the repercussions of making her concerns public, but says the status quo has to change.

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  • Joe

    I worked at Bell in Vancouver for 5 years from 2008-2013. This is exactly correct. By far the worst company I have ever worked for. Middle and upper management at Bell are amazingly stupid. It was almost like living on another planet where black was white, up was down, etc…

    I now work in a normal company and it took awhile before I got my sanity back. Sounds like this Andrea is an entry level worker, but I should note the pressure continues as you get promoted. I was promoted several times during my stay there, and each new department I worked in was equally horrible. The only reason they make money is because of the monopoly and their insane overage fees.

  • FragilityG4

    I’m not surprised by these alleged actions by Bell… But having worked many years in sales I wonder if the ‘pressure’ was on her because her sales were far below the others? Now having said that, no one ever should be forced or pressured into doing something they deem unethical.

  • Riley Freeman

    fire her now and thats a lawsuit akaa settlement. bell cant do anything to her

  • johnnygoodface

    What I can’t figure out is why oh! why, after all those horror stories about Bell, do people still call them (or not hang up when Bell is calling them)?

  • “We have a lot of seniors who call,” says Rizzo. “They tell me they’re blind, and I still have to sell them internet.”
    Because blind seniors can’t use the Internet….Seems like she needs some education.
    Customers should do their research before picking the products and services they want. The sales reps are not there to help you or give you the best deal, they are there to increase company figures.

  • Sly C

    Exactly. It seems to me like a toxic employee ensuring she doesn’t get fired.

  • Joe

    They pressure you regardless of whether you have high or low numbers. The mantra is that you need to present a sales offer on every call. Failure to do that means you fail call quality, which means you’re on your way to getting fired.

    Also, your manager has his/her own numbers, and those need to go up every month/quarter. It’s a very top heavy company as well. For every front line worker, it seems like there’s 4-5 managers. They’re constantly meddling and micro-managing you, which makes it impossible for even a good salesperson to succeed.

  • Joe

    Also, that’s why they need you to sell so much. Somebody’s gotta earn money to pay for all the management salaries! It’s a pretty egregious form of exploitation.

  • FragilityG4

    I’ve always felt that they are disconnected from the customer. That’s why I’m not with them. My wife is because of a corporate plan but dealing with them is a terrible experience to say the least.

  • Joe

    Did you miss the part where it says she’s been there for 20 years? “Toxic employee,” really?! Where is your heart, man? I know it’s the internet, but wow what a terrible thing to suggest about someone you don’t know.

  • Riley Freeman

    oh i am not on that side of the fence. i am 99.9% on her side of the fence.

  • Sly C

    Oh my apologies I misinterpreted your comment.

    I don’t think my view is mean, I guess just jaded having worked in the industry for over 20 years myself.

  • jabohn

    The article says she is 20 years old, not that she’s worked there for 20 years.

  • Joe

    It says “a 20-year Bell employee.”

    Also, if you read the full article, you’d see that:

    “Andrea Rizzo, 50, has worked for Bell — Canada’s largest telecom service provider — for 20 years, and says the pressure to upsell customers who call in has become relentless.”

    Thank you for your comment though!

  • Tasha Brock

    I agree with Rizzo. I myself know someone who is currently a Bell employee and they’re sharing a lot of the same concerns. They absolutely dread going to work and feel an emense amount of pressure to meet Bell’s ridiculous and unethical requirements. Bell does not value it’s employees or the hard work and effort they put in each day to try and meet Bell’s needs. To them everyone is a number and treatment is based on what you can do to make Bell more money. They expect people to behave like robots and to keep their comments, concerns or personal opinions to themselves. They definitely lack empathy for others. Needless to say my own view of Bell has changed drastically. I always assumed that they were the top dog and offered the best deals. I thought they actually cared about what the consumer wanted and essentially needed. I was sadly mistaken.

    Sincerely,
    Disappointed

  • Joe

    Jade it towards the employer next time dude. It’s not the worker’s fault that the industry is f*cked.

    Also, trust me when I say that Bell is uniquely bad. I’ve worked dozens of jobs in my lifetime, including Telus, PayPal, and lots of other corporations, many of them were ridiculous in their own ways. Bell, however, was BY FAR the worst one. Made a lot of money though.

  • Philippe-Andre Trottier

    i would like to see you at 90 years old doing your research about what are your needs on new technology.

  • Robbie Adams

    You obviously are a Bell Manager to even SAY THAT. Typical response. We all know better

  • Robbie Adams

    It’s Bell… This is to be expected. Horrific company to work for in the sales department. I have heard this story so many times before.

  • Patrick Bouchard

    If I ever would have considered any service with this company, that has just been dashed. Wish the CRTC would just shut Bell down.

    I can’t decide what’s worse: The fact Bell lets their employees think blind people can’t use the internet, or the fact that, believing this, they get them to try to sell it to blind people anyway. The Internet is one of the best things to happen to us, so selling it to us is actually good, but doing it because they think we can’t use it and trying to take advantage is disgusting.

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