Verizon Customer Abuse: A Complaint and Cautionary Tale - Customer Service
by DJ Arnoldo
I was a Verizon (VZ) customer from 1996 through 2011 (15 years!), and I paid every VZ bill in full immediately. Although there's never much to like about the phone company, when things went wrong VZ usually made things right one way or another. About a year or two ago, I noticed a significant decline in VZ customer service generally. In September 2011 my service bundle fee went up by $15 without warning, and I called VZ several times to try to get back the rate I had. Failing in that, on September 17, 2011, I called to disconnect my phone service, but keep my Internet service. Little did I know that would start a four month nightmare. After dozens of phone calls and dozens of wasted hours on the phone trying to resolve the same problems over and over, problems that never should have occurred in the first place, I ended my VZ services completely. But that did not end my VZ nightmare...
The Internet consumer complaint boards (see below) are full of complaints by thousands of customers ranting about the horrific abuses they suffered across all VZ businesses. My experience is echoed again and again in nearly every post, so I won't recount my personal VZ nightmare in detail here. The question is, why does a company with $110B in annual revenue and 200,000 employees treat customers so poorly? I will attempt to answer this by sharing what I learned about VZ during countless infuriating encounters.
-- VZ accounting systems are a mess, with multiple account numbers for one customer. Despite the much touted "OneBill" and "My Verizon", VZ systems do not communicate with one other. Neither is the "My Verizon" (verizon.net) website connected to VZ's phone, Internet, and wireless billing and payment systems. Repeatedly I made payments online but would not get credit even though I could see my payment and confirmation number on the website. I kept getting billed for the same amount, and when I called, the conversation typically went like this: "I made that payment two weeks ago, here is the confirmation number". "I'm sorry, I don't see that payment." "I can see it on Verizon.net, why cant you?" "We have a different system." "That's not my problem, how are you going to fix this so I get credit for my payments?" "Click." Back I went into the phone queue.
-- VZ phone answerers (they provide no "service" or "support") are generally poorly trained, apathetic, and hostile; some even lack basic phone skills like getting your ten digit account number right within three tries. And every now and then you will get a real thug (see below).
-- When you call VZ, the phone answerers either don't bother to write detailed case notes, or can't see case notes of others. Therefore calling VZ means transferring around two, three, or four times, telling your story from the beginning each time.
-- Hang-ups are the preferred way VZ phone answerers resolve problems; a question they cannot answer, or a customer who says the wrong thing the wrong way, will get hung up on and sent back into the queue.
-- The VZ billing and payments department is only open until 6 PM weekdays, and never on weekends. I frequently had to waste valuable time at work trying to resolve problems that never should have occurred. They hang up the phone at exactly 6 PM, even if you had been working with them for 30 minutes to resolve a problem. On several occasions I had to speak to three phone answerers before finally getting transferred to a payments specialist who could solve my problem. After spending 15 minutes with her, and making some progress, the phone went dead -- at exactly 6 PM. The next day I had to start all over with a new crop of idiots. If you try to call the payments department directly, you either wind up with a phone answerer, and then spend 15 minutes on hold, or payments doesn't pick up the phone at all.
-- VZ supervisors and managers never answer their direct line with customers, do not return phone calls, and never do what they promised they would do. Asking to "speak with a supervisor" is a complete waste of time and will not get you satisfaction any quicker than battling VZ's legions of idiot phone answerers.
-- VZ doesn't feel obligated to provide service at the price they agree to on the phone, and they will change the amount you owe on a whim. On several occasions, after I paid a bill in full and had a zero balance due on the website, I would get another bill with a new balance due because "the price went up". Funny how the price went up twice in the three months I had my VZ Internet.
-- VZ uses an undecipherable hodgepodge of charges and "adjustments" to make it impossible for you to understand your bill and how your balance was corrected, and they can recalculate or reverse these adjustments retroactively at any time. This is their preferred method of charging you again for a period for which you already made payment, or reneging on a concession made by a VZ "supervisor" on the phone.
-- If you call and select the phone menu "Disconnect" option for a VZ service, you will get transferred around in the phone menu ether until you invariably arrive at a dead line or the recording "No one is available to take your call, please try again later ... click".
-- If you tell the phone answerer you want to disconnect your service, they will transfer you to a thug who will try to lie and intimidate and strong-arm you into keeping the service. If that fails, he will attempt to pry information from you like your cell phone number or what other services you have before he dumps you back into the phone queue.
-- Etc. etc. etc.
Fast forward to December 19, 2011. After three months of calling VZ two or three times a week, I finally managed to clear or pay off the last of the billing problems and have the last of my VZ services disconnected. Just when I thought my VZ problems were finally over, during the week of January 6, 2012 I received three more VZ bills, one each with a balance due of $15.50 (which I had paid months earlier and had straightened out several times), zero, and a credit balance of $7.50. I had to call back another three times to get this resolved. Finally, I begged the VZ idiot in billing, "Look, keep the $7.50, just zero everything out, close all the accounts that used to be in my name, and leave me the f--- alone!" We'll see if it worked; I may yet get another bill from that horrible company, if not in reality, then in my worst nightmare.
By comparison, on December 16, 2011, I called Cox and inquired about High Speed Internet. Young, polite, and well trained, the Cox customer service guy explained the service tiers and promotions. He told me which package was most popular, and which would be the best deal for me. He told me about equipment options and pricing, and gave me deals on the installation and wireless router. And the cable guy would be there tomorrow between 1 and 3 PM to hook everything up. Wow, I thought, I'll believe it when I see it. Sure enough, the Cox cable guy showed up when he was supposed to: "We're going to have your high speed Internet up and running before I leave today." About 45 minutes later, everything was set up and working as advertised. For the same price that Verizon tried to extort from me, I now had fifteen times the speed (46 Mbps vs. 3 Mbps). Pingtest.com confirmed that I now had an A- quality connection with Cox, compared to the D- quality third-world connection I had with Verizon. And my first Cox bill? Exactly what the guy said it would be. And only one account number. Verizon -- it feels so good when it stops.
Read thousands of other Verizon customer abuse horror stories on the consumer websites below. On the home page search for 'Verizon'. If that doesn't work, Google 'Verizon' and the site name (e.g., "Verizon complaintsboard"). The number of Verizon complaints posted is shown for the most popular websites.
verizonpathetic.com (links to many VZ complaint websites, lawsuits, and articles)
www.yelp.com (17 for 'Verizon Communications Headquarters' in NY)
hissingkitty.com (small but excellent new site)
www.customerservicescoreboard.com (great rating website)
complaintwire.org (interesting open forum)
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