Friday, November 21, 2014

Calling Bell Canada, 310 Bell...and reaching the Philippines

Its been months since I've written anything here, but today I feel the need to get my rant on.  

I am a Bell Canada (or is it Bell Philippines) customer for both satellite television and wireless internet.  Until September I was only subscribed to the satellite TV service, but then added internet.  I called, got the "bundled" package, and instructed them to continue billing me as they had been previously, pre-authorized to my credit card.

Pretty simple right?  Wrong.

Today I received a collections call from Bell because my Bell Internet account was in arrears.  I live in Quebec, so the call was in French, but the script is the same.  "Make a payment now".  I'm a suspicious type so I told them I'd call THEM back.  Instead of calling the 1-800 number I was provided, I called 310 BELL instead and I proceeded to rip into the very pleasant young lady on the other end of the line....Christina I believe was the name.

A little history.

It turns out my "bundle" wasn't a bundle.  Shortly after signing up for the internet service I received what looked like a suspicious email claiming to be from Bell asking me to arrange pre-authorized payments on my account.  "I've already done that", I said to myself, sensing a scam.  I called 310 BELL and was told that yes my account was already pre-authorized and that they'd received a lot of calls about this email.  I was told to delete it and not to click on anything, which I did.  

Well it seems that Bells TV Satellite service and their Wireless Internet service, it doesn't seem they talk to each other.  I was continuing to be billed for Television, but they didn't include the internet portion on my bill.  Yes I should have checked my credit card statement more carefully, but I saw that Bell was indeed billing me each month so I figured all was as it should be.  

They never sent a paper bill for the internet service. make this long story just a bit longer, I was told by the CSR that the issue could be resolved and that the billing could indeed be bundled and paid by a single pre-authorized debit to my credit card, but first I needed to bring the internet account current.

Ugh....okay.  But I didn't have my wallet with me, it was locked in the car.  The nice CSR said no problem, she could wait.  While fetching my wallet it occurred to me that this young lady on the other end of the line, that it isn't her fault that she works for such a messed up company.  And I have worked in similar roles before myself and I know the stress that can come from dealing with outraged customers.

When I came back on the phone I apologized for being so surly (how very Canadian of me eh) and that I wasn't mad at her, I was mad at her employer.  I told her professional and courteous phone manner was appreciated.  I'd also noticed that she spoke with accented English and asked her what her native language was.  She told me it was Filipino.  "Really", I said...."Well I guess I should say como esta mar-ay".  That's a general greeting to a female in Tagalog (which is the native language in the Philippines.  

Christina (if I recall correctly) was quite taken back.  I told her I also knew como-esta par-ay (greeting to a guy) and salama (thank you).  She said it was great to talk to someone from Canada who speaks "my language".  

That struck me as odd.  Speaking to someone from Canada???   Isn't she in Canada???  Nope.  She told me that she worked in the Philippines.  

I realize the chances of this coming to light through mainstream media is pretty small given the amount of advertising Bell does and the fact that they own CTV among numerous other broadcast properties.

It looks like Bell will be losing a customer however.  Any suggestions.  I want to engage the services of a company that will employ people here in Canada and not ship jobs overseas.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Les raisons pourquoi un anglophone va voter pour le PQ

J'habite à Québec pour une bonne boute, mais j'ai jamais essayer d'écrire en français...donc svp excusez me plusieurs fautes pendant que j'explique les raisons pourquoi un "tête carré"  va voter pour les pésquistes.

La première chose à confronter c'est la question d'un referendum. Philippe Couillard joue la politique de peur en disant que la journée suite à une victoire pour le PQ Pauline Marois va commençer de préparer pour un 3e referendum.  Je ne le crois pas.  

Peut-etre une journée il y aura un autre vote sur la separation, mais pas cette année et même pas l'année prochaine.   Jamais? Moi, je ne sais ça arrive ça arrive.  Le Québec, c'est une societée democratique, et si les citoyen(ne)s décide qu'ils veut un 3e referendum dans les années qui viennent, ça c'est leur doit.

Juste pour soit cent pour cent clair, si il y aura un referendum demain, je voterai non.

Donc, pourquoi voter PQ?

Parce que j'aime tellement la langue et la culture française-québecoise et de mon avis, ce n'est que le PQ qui va le protéger et le promouvoir.  Est-ce qu'il y a un bésoin?  Quant à moi, oui.  Le centre commercial de Québec c'est Montréal, et il est arrivée à moi de trouver des gens qui parle pas français dans les coffee shops et les dépaneurs.  Récenement je suis allée dans un dep à Montréal et j'ai demandé.  "Vendez vous les timbres".  La reponse?  "Sorry, I don't speak French".

Comment ça?  Dans la ville de Montréal, à Québec en osti!!!  C'est pas grave pour moi, un anglophone....mais imaginez un(e) Québecois(e) unilangue, dans un commerce de sa propre nation....pas capable d'avoir la service dans sa/son propre seul langue officiel de Québec.

Il y a d'autres raisons aussi.  Moi, je suis pas un idéologue.  Je suis pas gauchiste, ni sur le doit.  Et je trouve que le gouvernement PQ récent, ils essayent de faire le ménage sur les finances publique. Ce n'est pas un job façile car il n'y jamais assez de l'argent pour tous les bésoins.  Les commissions scolaires font des plaintes sur les coupures, mais c'est les choses ce qu'il faut faire pour nettoyer le portefeuille publique.  

Meme avec l'exploration pour l'huile sure l'ile Anticosti.  Est que ca va marcher?  Je ne sais pas, mais c'est pas un billet de lotto, comme disait M. Couillard, c'est un avec des investisements il y des risques.

Quant aux plusieurs sondages M. Couillard serai le prochain PM de Québec, mais crois de moins en moins dans les sondages.

On va voir.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

True freedom fighters welcome dissent - Be at peace Pete Seeger

The United States, in fact the entire world lost a great man when Pete Seeger died on January 27th of this year.  I was away and missed the news, only learning of the folk music legend's passing yesterday.  For some reason I've been on something of a Pete Seeger binge the past couple of months, listening and watching videos spanning several decades on Youtube.  It was while watching one of those videos yesterday that I saw a comment posted that said RIP, that's how I found out.

My mother introduced me to folk music, and eventually to Pete Seeger.  We were watching a reunion concert of an old folk group called The Weavers on PBS.  They were performing a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall, it was (I believe) 1981.  The opening song blew my socks off, Wimoweh.  Pete Seeger is the tall gent toting the banjo, this melo sopranic yodelling coming from a man in his sixties sent chills down my spine.  Here is the video from the concert, the singing starts about 1:35 in if you want to skip ahead.

Thanks to seeing that concert I was introduced to many more great songs, songs  with a message.  One such song was 'Wasn't that a time".  It covers over 200 years of American history, but not in the usual rah rah flag waving manner.  The song refers to both the American Revolution and Civil War as 'a terrible time'.  

This same song asks rhetorically:

How many times, 
we've gone to kill, 
in freedom's holy name, 
and children died, 
to save the pride of rulers, 
without shame.

Ahhhhh, not exactly mainstream popular thinking.  At least not from what I see, hear and read in the mainstream media these days.  Nope, not from where I sit.  In fact some people get right angry when someone has the audacity to question whatever the prevailing wisdom of the day is, prevailing wisdom that usually comes with  Corporate and Government seals of approval.    

Ahhhhh dissent, Pete Seeger did a lot of that.  Big business, the war machine, he shared his world view by playing his banjo or guitar and inviting people to sing along.  Sounds pretty benign doesn't it? Well, Plato didn't think so.  In fact one of Mr. Seeger's favourite quotes came from the Greek philosopher:

"Rulers should be careful about what songs are allowed to be sung".

Actually 'the man' (to use an old 60s term) did somewhat succeed in keeping Pete Seeger from reaching a wider audience.  It seems 'Pete' cut his chops with America's labour movement, back when many jobs didn't even provide a living wage, or benefits, or a pension.  

Hrrrrrrm, are we talking about the past or present here?  

Anyway Mr. Seeger it seems had some involvement with the Communist Party, including membership I believe.   And when the 50s came along, with American politicians scaring everyone they could with talk of the Red Menace...well, Mr. Seeger's involvement was front and centre when he was brought before the house committee on Un-American activities.

But while many hid behind the 5th amendment's protection against self incrimination, Pete Seeger didn't hide , instead he invoked the constitution and the enshrined right to freedom of association.  That didn't stop him from being black listed though, which basically meant he couldn't work in the entertainment industry in the United States.  Thankfully America's loss was the world's gain, he performed often in Canada and abroad.  

Here's a great video I came across from when he was in Australia in the sixties:  I love the way he steps back from the mike, inviting the crowd to join in.  Pete Seeger believed that getting people to sing, that you could change the world.  I agree, something vibrates inside when I sing along with certain songs, and it just feel true and right, no matter what I've been told and taught to believe.  

Over time the power of the black list faded, and old friends like Johnny Cash brought Pete Seeger back to the masses.  But he still wasn't playing nice, singing out against America's involvement in Vietnam on one appearance.  I love the line when he sings that he might be right or wrong, but that he has a right to sing this song.

I could go on and on and on.  But the world needs voices like Pete Seeger's, now as much as ever.  We need people who have the courage to offer up dissenting opinions.  Government and corporate media have so much power to get their message out, and groups like those opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline should be applauded, instead of being spied on by their own government.

Rest peacefully Pete Seeger, I wish I'd had the chance to see you live and in person.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Does tolerating intolerance make one tolerant? Québec's secular charter

Québec's secular or 'values' charter is quite the paradox.  Those who are opposed to it accuse proponents of being xenophobic and intolerant.  Supporters of the charter consider detractors to be supporters of intolerance.  So who are the intolerant ones, the supporters of the charter or its detractors?

While the legislation is aimed at banning many different religious symbols from being worn in certain public spaces, the flashpoint for discussion is the various forms of head and/or full body coverings worn by some Muslim women.  

Québec society is very secular in nature.  I go to church here on a semi regular basis, a Roman Catholic church, and my wife and I are always among the youngest attendees.  The congregations are dominated by elderly parishioners, if I had to guess I'd put the average at somewhere between 70 and 80 years of age.  

Why have so many Québecers turned their backs on a church that at one time was such a huge part of their identity?  One of the reasons is Rome's treatment of women.  Women here were the last Canadians to be given the right to vote in provincial elections.  It wasn't until 1944 that Québec women could vote for their provincial MNAs.  

A big opponent to the cause of suffrage was the Roman Catholic Church. Then Québec cardinal Rodrigue Villeneuve objected to women voting based on the perceived authority structure of the family, that is to say MEN ARE IN CHARGE.

The government of that day opted to be intolerant of Roman Catholicism's intolerance when it came to equality of the sexes, and it was obviously the right choice.

In that light it should not be surprising that many Québecers support the charter.  They see it as a continuation of the feminist movement and a fight for the equality between women and men.

And frankly I have to say I agree.

Even Québec Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pépin, the only Muslim woman in the National Assembly, supports at least some aspects of the charter.  Actually that should be former Liberal MNA, as her opposition to her party's negative stance on the charter has forced her to leave the party and sit as an independent.

Now I'm not suggesting that there isn't a red neck element who support the charter for reasons more xenophobic....yes, there are plenty of those.  But sometimes even small and wrong minded people can be in favour of positive change, even if its for the wrong reasons.