Monday, November 8, 2010

Bell’s Generous Offer

Bell has an offer for its customers: a $100 credit toward a new Bell TV subscription or a new cell phone. This sounds like a generous promotion until you read the body of the letter and fine print on the back.

As a long-time monopoly, Bell was regulated by the CRTC and one of the things Bell was directed to do was to set aside some of the money it collected from its customers for “future use”. CRTC has now decided that this money should be returned to customers.

Bell’s letter states that the rebate amount “could be up to $67 per home phone line”. However, “as an alternative” Bell is offering the $100 coupon. While it may not be obvious, the phrase “as an alternative” means that if you take the $100 offer you give up your right to the $67 rebate. The last line of the fine print on the back of the page is much more direct:

“By taking advantage of this offer, you will not be eligible for any other offers specific to this program, or the rebate cheque mandated by the CRTC.”

Leaving aside the question of whether customers are adequately warned that taking the coupon means they won’t get the $67, one has to question whether this is a good deal. The offer is obviously a bad deal for people who don’t want a new Bell TV subscription or a new cell phone, but what about people who do want one of these things?

The fine print states that the $100 cannot be combined with any other available offers. So, its real value is less than $100 when other offers are available, which seems to be almost all the time. Even if I wanted a new Bell service I’d be inclined to take my $67 in real money and turn down this $100 in “marketing” money.


  1. What I was looking for was fine print on the letter that said if I didn't return the letter in some fashion, I wouldn't get the real money either, we shall see.

  2. It's unfortunate that this will likely work out well for them. They are probably giving out $10 to $20 of additional incentives in return for forgoing $67 in real cash.

    Of course, it could be less than $10. I got a couple free cell phones this fall from Speakout Wireless (for buying $100 in airtime), and my local TV services offer reduced rates for the first 6 months or so.

    Their offer stinks of trickery.

  3. @Big Cajun Man: Well done! You were even more pessimistic than I was when reading the letter. I never thought that I might have to take some action to get the money.

    @Gene: I'd like to think that if the offer is as weak as it appears, people won't be drawn in. But that seems hopelessly optimistic.

  4. Actually, you might be right. It's
    not a great offer, and it's offering things a lot of people already have. Cable TV and cell phones are quite ubiquitous. The hassle of changing phone or TV providers is quite a deterrent.

  5. I looked at it this way. I'm trading, potentially, $67 in cold cash for a $100 credit on something that Bell will happily charge me at least $50 a month for. Hmmm how about I pocket the cash and use it as a "credit" towards my Bell bill (or something else)

  6. @John: I think we got to the same place along slightly different paths. I'd definitely prefer to take the $67.