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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pushed Too Far

(If you must have politics, keep scrolling)

Last Wednesday, I went another round with Verizon.

I am a patient person with a long fuse.  Verizon Wireless, however, burned that fuse down all the way and kept on burning the fuse until I exploded.  The particulars are below the fold.

When Mr. AOW was approaching cataract surgery in June, the Medicare hoops to jump through required a great deal of my time. As a result, papers got misplaced. By "papers," I mean bills. The bill from Verizon Wireless was buried in the avalanche and didn't surface until after the bill was due. Of course, I decided to wait until the next bill arrived. When it did, I wrote the check and mailed the payment the very next day.

One day later – One day! – I started getting calls from Verizon Wireless on my cell phone. Do these people sit around and plot the most inconvenient time to call, or what? I missed several of the calls. Once Verizon Wireless started leaving messages, I immediately accessed those messages and, via my cell phone, attempted to contact the number given in the message.


When prompted, I entered the required last four digits of my Social Security number. Dead air.

I tried again.  Dead air again.

Then I thought, "Well, maybe the account is tied to Mr. AOW's Social Security number. Or – God forbid! – my father's Social Security number. You see, Dad originally held this cell phone number. I TRIED to get his name off the account immediately following his death in 1998. I even submitted two notarized death certificates. TWO! Well, his name is STILL on the account. Of course, Verizon Wireless didn't have any difficulty with changing the billing information. Figures.

Call after call came in from Verizon Wireless within a twenty-four-hour period. Finally, I decided to call the company from my land line, that is, to call the company number on the statement instead of the number consistently left in those voice mail messages. To access the number on the bill, I had to go digging through another stack of papers.  I didn't know what I was going to do if the company requested Dad's Social Security number, which I had long since forgotten.

By this time, I was loaded for bear. I had other things to do that day, for pity's sake, including squaring away the referrals for Mr. AOW's resuming physical therapy and contacting Medicare to find out just where to go to get his new eyeglasses.

Anyway, once I finally reached after a serious of tedious machinations, Verizon Wireless Customer Service, the company representative got nasty. The exchange went something like this....

Verizon Wireless (sneering): You haven't paid your last bill. We may cut off your service.

AOW: I have paid it now. I misplaced the original bill.  We had some trouble here....

VW (interrupting and more sneering):
When did you pay that bill?

AOW: I don't know. I mailed the payment the day after the second bill arrived.

VW: We don't have the payment. We may cut off your service.

At that point, I demanded a supervisor. She protested.

AOW (growling): Do you hear the anger in my voice?  I want a supervisor. NOW!

The supervisor, a man of dulcet tones, came on the line. I told him off, too, including the fact that, in some fifteen years as a Verizon Wireless customer, I had never before been late with a payment.  A lousy $80!  I screamed the details about my husband's surgery, misplacing the bill, and so on.  He started to say something. I slammed down the phone while he was still in mid-sentence.  I believe that my parting words were "Don't call here again."

A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. I couldn't answer the call because I was on the land line with Medicare.

A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. Again.

You guessed it.

Automated Voice: Verizon Wireless calling with a customer satisfaction survey.

I'm sure that you can figure out the gist of my input for that survey. Yep, scorched earth.

I am not the only one who has trouble with Verizon. See THIS, written some time back by Black Sheep of News Bleat.

Customer service is a wasteland.


  1. You'd THINK that they'd have instructions not to call back with the customer satisfaction survey when it's clear a customer is NOT happy. Talk about adding fuel to the fire. As if they're going to DO something about what you'd have said on the survey (I'd have liked to have heard that one!)

    Oh, man, AOW...as you say; for $80 and for someone who's always paid on time? AWFUL.

    no wonder you're mad!

  2. i feel your pain on this, aow. when we are juggling our many obligations (especially health care), the last thing we need is an insensitive company rep reading from a script. sometimes we lose our cool. *sigh* i've had problems with verizon internet, so i changed carriers. no internet issues since. i still use their cell phone service, which i've used for nine years. so far, my mishaps with the reps have been far and few enough to continue.

    you have every right to be upset over their automated response to such a small bill. i hope you find an acceptable resolution. good luck! :)

  3. You're probably lucky you even got to talk to a human, rather than computer generated prompts. I hate those. We have Verizon also, have had it for years, I don't think we have had any problems. However, I have heard of others having lots of problems with them.

    As to the customer survey, that's rich. Just another opportunity for you to tell them what you think.

    I'm betting you are not the first person to misplace a bill and go through this same thing. You would think a long time faithful customer like you would get a little consideration.

    Right Truth

  4. Just thank God if you DON'T have CenturyLink!!!!

  5. I didn't use a single four-letter word.

    When I get REALLY enraged, I typically don't let fly with nasty words.

    But my voice gets incredibly gutteral.

  6. I would switch companies if I were you.

    Losing money is the only thing that teaches robotic corporations a lesson.

  7. Verizon did drop that $145 charge, it seems, since I've never heard back from them on it. Who knows what the future holds, though.

    I've had a Verizon account for over 9 years now, so they've made a nice bunch of money off me. From my point of view, that's leverage and I don't mind using it.

    Every once in a long while, some company's policies conflict with my opinion of what's right and it's usually in the form of them wanting money for something I never wanted or agreed to. When reason fails to work with them, I tell them I'm a blogger and would they like a nice write-up? Who knows, it might go viral? So far they've always come around to see reason after that.

    The Internet is my friend.

  8. AOW, I crap you negative, about eight years ago I had a similar experience with Verizon's billing dept. They were charging me for calls made to the Virgin Islands! These consisted of about three hundred calls of a duration of thirty seconds or so.

    When I refused to pay, citing the fact that I know no one in the VI, and why on Earth would I make three hundred thirty second calls, they threatened me with disconnection.

    Well, I paid the $175 'early termination' fee right then and there. It was cheaper than the bill (which after FINALLY getting a supervisor was forgiven), and I made it abundantly clear that I'd rather pay the fee than spend one more second as one of their customers.

    Verizon sucks.

  9. letting that steam off once in a while is good for your kealth and your soul.Our cell phones are set-up to use time cards. We buy time cards for X minuted and when the time runs out we enter another. No monthly bills.

  10. I have been wondering if I should obtain one of those Verizon 4G phones; you just helped me to make up my mind about that.

  11. I feel your pain and anger. Not to sound racist, but were they from India or Pakistan? Or did you actually get an American. It's like they don't hear a word we say and just keep repeating the same crap and do nothing.

    I had that happen with Avon, whose reps are in India and it is one HUGE pain in the rear-end. I went round and round and finally lost my temper and called my district manager and got the same crap.

    One more pet peeve, I HATE that they continually say my name on every other word...arghh....

  12. Leticia,
    Both the first agent and the supervisor were American. At least, I detected no accents.

  13. AOW,

    that really is bad, I would go to local media on that.

    We have many options here on our little rock and I have to say I was lucky and found even better. Apart from BT (British Telecom) we have Orange and access to three Spanish providers, however when I was in Ceuta (a Spanish island literally 50 yeards off the Moroccan mainland) I found that locals were using Moroccan providers (they have two). I asked a few technicians and found that the Moroccan providers are obliged to support Spanish businesses on the two Enclaves (Ceuta and Melilia) and thus using our office in that city signed up and now I get broadband at my house subsidised by both the Spanish and Moroccan states. I pay basically 50 Euros a month for a wireless connection that connects to my laptop or a router when I am home and my iPad grabs it as well. As a bonus, my second mobile (a new Galaxy IIIs) was purchased and registered in Ceuta with Maroc Telecom and thus included in that 50 Euros I have internet as well.

    Homework does well and if your going to change providers, spend some time, discuss with various people and like banking, you can save a pretty penny!


    Damien Charles

  14. Damien Charles,
    Thanks for the advice.

    The reason that we've stuck with Verizon is that Verizon Wireless is the ONLY cell phone service that works consistently on the subway system, which I use from time to time.

    Of course, Mr. AOW and I have a family plan with free party-to-party service. We also use our cell phones as a kind of intercom system in our home.

  15. When you're down and out,
    Lift up your head and shout:



    ~ FreeThinke

    PS: So sorry you had to deal with that. I would have wound up smashing the phone and stomping on it. (Not really, but I'd be tempted. ;-) - FT

  16. FT,
    I was in a snit for days over Verizon Wireless's rudeness.

    I'm over it now. Writing about what happened helped a lot, I think.


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