Cavalier Telephone Is Stoop-Sitting Hell

You know, sometimes, you practically need to diagram out the labyrinth of a customer-company horror story. It’s a maze of dead ends and twisted passages.

J. Bee’s story to us about his experience dealing with Cavalier Telephone is so winding that even we have a hard time following it. Needless to say, J. Bee decided to switch to Cavalier Telephone when he moved into a new apartment. He was assured it would be up and running when he moved in. It wasn’t.

And that’s merely where his troubles began: eventually, it came to be discovered that J. Bee would have to camp out on his apartment stoop for 9 hours, waiting for the Cavalier tech, if he ever hoped to get service. J. Bee’s email, after the jump.

I live in the Philadelphia area and a friend reccomended to me that, having moved into my new condo, I set up DSL and telephone service with Cavalier Telephone. (www.cavtel.com). I live with my partner, who is HIV positive and works 10 hours a day as a chemist, and I am a stay-at-home type. I do all of the errands he can’t do because generally he is working or resting/sleeping.

We arranged for Cavalier service about a week and a half before our move-in date on October 1st. We were told that the approximate anticipated date of the activiation of our service was October 7th. I recieved that information in an emai which indicated that Cavalier had our apartment number wrong: they had 3D and we are in 3B.

I attempted on numerous occasions to call Cavalier early in the mornings just before they opened; my partner has a cell but I dont, so I had to try to use his before he left for work and took it with him. Each time I waited for 20 minutes on hold until I had to hang up so he could leave with his phone. On October 1st I emailed Cavalier at the email address supplied in the email they sent me to let them know about the apartment # error. No one ever bothered to email me back.

On October 7th at 7PM no service was active though our DSL modem and “starup kit” had arrived. I called Cavalier from my partner’s cell phone that evening; it seems the tecnnical service department stays open later than customer service. I spoke to a young lady who looked over our account info. This, of course, was after 22 minutes of hold time. She told me that Verizon, whom Cavalier “leases the lines” from, had yet to come out and do the work THEY need to do before my service could be active. She told me this would be taken care of by the next day at 7PM.

The next day at 7PM I had no service. I went out to a pay phone and called again. After 18 minutes, I got a young man who told me that I was in Verizon’s “queue”, but that they had no power to make Verizon come at any given time. I said that I had been trying to get the problem fixed for two days and that surely someone in a position of authority could call their Verizon contacts and stress that someone needed to come get the work done. He put me on hold to speak to a “lead” and then came back and said that it was too late for anyone to call Verizon, but that a lead would call in the morning and make ABSOLUTELY SURE that service would be active by 5PM the next day (October 10th.)

At 5PM on October 10th I had no service. I went back to the payphone and called again. After 29 minutes of hold time, I got a young man. I brought him up to speed. He put me on hold, and came back to say that according to his records, Verizon had gone out to test the line and stated that there was “no issue.” But he further noted that a Cavalier tech was ALSO supposed to have been sent out to “bring the dial tone into (my) apartment.) At this point I told him that I was fed up with the B.S. and I wanted some answers. He said that he would arrange for a Cavalier tech to come out the next day at whatever time worked for me.

I told him that I wanted a Cavalier tech at my door at 8:30AM and not a minute after. I said “I know you stress punctuality and it probably doesn’t occur, but in this case it is vital. I have no cell phone and our door buzzer system rings up to a land line so that we can buzz people up. Since you havent INSTALLED my land line yet, I have no way to let anyone in other than to be at the door when they arrive and open it.” He ASSURED ME that a tech would be there promptly at 8:30AM.

At 8:45AM on the morning of October 11th I called Cavalier. I got a young woman. I brought her up to speed. She said, “Yes, I see here you have indicated you will make yourself available today between 8AM and 12PM.” I lost it. No one had EVER said that to me, and furthermore, as explained, it was impossible unless I were to sit on my stoop for four hours. The young woman put me through to technical service, where I reached Paul.

Paul put me on hold for ten minutes and came back. He explained that as of yet Verizon had not yet come out to verify that their signal was actually reaching my apartment, they had ONLY verified that it was reaching the local area’s phone box. He also apologized, telling me that the other gent should NEVER have said anyone could be at my door at any given time. The best they can do is provide a DAY for arrival, but I would have to make myself available until 5PM.

He then said he was putting in an order to both Verizon and Cavtel techs to arrive THAT DAY, and thus I borrowed my partner’s cell phone once again, with the implicit instructions to Paul that they HAD TO CALL ME TO GAIN ACCESS!
At 4:30PM the Cavtel tech showed up, went downstairs to the phone box, and was completley unable to do anything because Verizon had not yet done their part.

I called back Paul, and he called Verizon, who said their tech had showed up earlier, couldn’t find my apartment # on the outside box, and so just left. Thus I spent from 8:30AM to 5:30PM not leaving my home waiting for work that was never done. I went apesh*t. I told Paul I wanted to cancel all of my service orders immediately.

He put me through to customer service, where they offered me a free month of service if I would “give (them) another chance.” I agreed, not just for the freebie, but also because I knew that giving up at this point would mean finding another service and watiing ANOTHER two weeks for them to send out a tech.

I then hung up, researched, and called CavTel’s executive offices in Richmond, VA. When the receptionst answered I said: “Hello, I was hoping to speak to someone in Public Relations regarding my five day ordeal to try and get home service with Cavtel activated; I thought this might be a prudent course of action before taking my experience to the press.”

In about ten milliseconds I had Debbie of Executive Customer Service on the line. Debbie listened intently to my story. She immediately offered a $25 credit on my account in addition to the free month of service. She told me she would call me back in a half hour to give me definitive information on exactly when and who would show up – the next day (the 12th) – to solve the problem. She admitted, though, that they had no control over Verizon or their techs.

Half an hour later Paul called me back and told me he would be calling Verizon every hour, on the hour, the next day starting at 8AM, until they got someone to my apartment. As soon as that was done a Cavtel person would come out. He told me that he would be in constant communication with me with ANY info he had. I agreed.

On the morning of the 12th I again borrowed my partner’s cell phone, and waited. At 10:30 I called Paul to see if there was any info on WHEN I could expect someone, and he basically said he was in touch with all involved parties, and couldn’t tell me WHEN, but promised that they WOULD be here. At 2:30 the Verizon guy showed up and did his work. He made various comments about how stupid ihs co-workers are, how glad he was to service my place because he normally works “in the ghetto,” and how retarded it is that he can’t just do ALL of the work and that I had to wait for Cavtel’s peeps to do it.

The Cavtel guy showed up around 6:30PM and was done by 7, and everything was active.

In total, it took six days of telephone calls; no less than 7 hours of combined telephone conversations/hold time; no less than 15 hours of time spent in my apartment without leaving for fear that if I did I would be gone when the technicians arrived. A month of Cavtel service plus a $25 credit comes out to about $90, so were my time paid, I would have made less than $4 an hour for my trouble.

I only anticipate more screwups from Cavtel in the future, but I wonder: will I get anything better from an optional service?

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Funny that another commentator and I had mentioned that Cavtel was the weakest link in the Speakeasy awesomeness chain. Must be a theme here:

    http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/ask-the-consumerists/h

  2. Er not cavtel, Covad. Dangit.

  3. steve says:

    Sorry to hear you had such troubles getting Cavalier to come out and hook up your phone and DSL.

    Apparently Cavalier has uncapped DSL connections (that is, no artificial speed caps), so hopefully you get to enjoy that.

  4. rickyw says:

    I had Cavtel for 5 years. After 6 months of tribulation trying to get Cavalier’s DSL services (Finally took a 26 page diary of all events, lies told etc. by both Cavlier and Verizon to the Va. SCC. I had Cavalier’s DSL service in two days , after that), the service was basically wonderful for the first 4 years. The last year was a nightmare. Their service and support degenerated to the point that it was absymal. I think they must have had extremely high personnel turnover, and been forced to hire simians to staff their tech support. When problems occur , all tech support could do was read from the script. I’m a computer consultant and I knew the script better than they did. They would lie about the cause of problems and try to blame the customers equipment, when they causes of the problems were clearly internal. Unfortunately the average customer, would know any better (or have the tools to run diagnostics that would tell they what was really going on.)
    After aboutseven months, I couldn’t take the horrible service and lack of support, so I dropped DSL, and got cable. My same equipment that they tried to blame for their problems, runs flawlessly on cable (of course it does, the only difference is I no longer have Cavalier’s line and modem).
    Although I dropped their DSL service I kept Cavaliers Regular phone service. Biggggg mistake!!! It became horrible, and they continued to bill me for DSL. Also I discovered that they were billing me for an addtional telephone line that I didn’t have, and that I had never had. My wife pays the phone bill so this went undetected for about 11 months. It took three months to get that resolved, and Cavalier had no explanation of how a phantom line suddenly appeared on my. bill.
    On of the main problems with the DSL the last year was rain would short out the line somewhere down it’s path (not near my resisence, possilbe at some junction, Dslam , or wherever). Cavaler would have to contact Verizon , Verizon would come 2 days later, by which time the water had dried up, so their would be no evidence. I was very familiar with this because the same problem had occurred during my first year of DSL service. Because it was intermitent (occuring after rains, drying up by the time it was investigated), it took Cavlier & Verizon an entire month to diagnose an correct the problem.
    Anyway, when this problem reoccured during my fifth year of service, and I told the tech support rep about the how if took a month to get it corrected the first time , he actually had
    the gall to tell me that “That never happened”
    That is when I got tired of dealing with the simians and dropped DSL service. In Hind sight I should have dropped the regular phone service at the same time. To try to shorten what has already been to lengthy a diatribe, there were many truley unbeleivable incidents that I haven’t mentioned here,of horrible service and horrible suport, over the time span from dropping DSL support to finally ditching Cavlier altogether. I never would have belived that I would have something positive to say about a cable company, but since I switched from Cavlier to Comcast for my high speed internet service, my life online has been carefree. I get my phone service from Skyrocket now. There have been a few minor glitches with it, but all in all compared to Cavalier It’s Heaven, along with being much cheaper.

  5. scottso says:

    I had a similar experience using Verizon a few years back when I lived in upstate New York. They were a complete no show, three times in a row, and with great arrival windows like “somewhere between 8 and 5.”

    After the third no-show, I called the appropriate consumer affairs line at the state’s department of telecommunications. These are the guys that grant Verizon (and other phone companies) the license to exist.

    Amazingly (or maybe not so much!), after this state department got in touch with Verizon, I had a guy out to my place within hours, with a confirmed time slot.

    Highly suggested for anyone else with a landline installation (or any other) issue.

  6. shawn.hambright says:

    Five days? That’s nothing.

    My roommate and I had been trying to get Cavalier to install DSL in our apartment since early February. At first, we chose them because on the phone, they said they were able to set us up with a dry loop, meaning we did not have to pay for a phone line we weren’t going to use save for internet. The lady on the phone said she put our order through.

    About a week goes by. My roomate calls them back. Apparently, the first person he talked to never finalized the transaction. So he gives them the debit card number again (for the $40 deposit they required from us) and we wait. A week or so later, the letter arrives, saying our DSL would be activated by February 15. We got the modem a few days after that, and we were most definitely not connected.

    Call after call after call was made. A technician came by to test the lines. They were fine. A few days later we get the same song and dance about how Verizon had to do something before Cavalier can proceed. Verizon dropped off the wrong cable and refuses to switch it for the right one, etc.

    By now it’s towards the end of March and still, we have no internet.

    About this time we recieved our first bill.

    From Cavalier. For internet we never had for a moment. For something like $60. My roommate calls them, furious, and somewhere in there mentions that the only reason we went with Cavalier was because they offered us a dry loop.

    It turns out they were unable to set up a dry loop. Many people he spoke to didn’t even know what it was. After two months of lies and bullshit, and my roommate constantly riding these morons on the phone, daily, he demanded that the order be canceled and that the security deposit be put back in his account. Our relationship with Cavalier was over.

    We thought.

    Late April came and with it not only no $40 refund, but another bill for around $47. Apparently someone had put a credit on our account for our trouble, yet they still not only had the audacity to bill us for services not rendered, but to print on the bill that we would be referred to a collection agency if the bill wasn’t paid.

    Livid, my roommate called them, cursing profusely, and demanded that this bill be fixed, and the money we were owed be put back into our account. He gave them his card number again so they could do the refund.

    The next day Cavalier took sixty dollars OUT of his account.

    At this point words fail me. Here it is the end of May and as far as I know, Cavalier still has our $40 deposit, plus the $60 they literally stole from my roommate’s bank account. Also, they never sent us anything to mail back the modem, which we requested on many occasions. I guess they won’t be satisfied until we take the modem, light it on fire, tie it to a brick, and hurl it through their window.

    But then, they’d probably just bill us for that too.