Verizon Retail Salespeople Randomly Access Your Account, Add Features

Christy is upset. She got a call from a strange Verizon sales rep who claimed he had sold her a phone. (He didn’t.) The stranger told her that she could have VCast free for one month. She declined.

Sure enough, the feature the strange Verizon rep had offered her showed up on her bill. Now Christy is mad. Really. Really. Mad. She doesn’t think that sales reps whom she’s never done business with and who are based in different cities than the one she lives in should be able to access her account and add features without her permission. Read her email inside.

UPDATE: Steve, our Verizon confessor, writes, “This is way more prevalent than you think. So much so they emphasize that it is not OK in their training.”

Christy writes:

I received a strange phone call on my cell phone a few weeks ago from a Verizon salesperson. The number is from my area code and starts with the same three digits as my cell phone. This guy, who does not give his name, claims to be the person who sold me my last phone (a female actually sold me the last phone). He then proceeds to inform me that VCast is now available in my area and I can try it free for a month. I told him that I don’t use the internet or anything but text on my phone so I did not have use for it. I politely thanked him and he quickly hung up. I just walked away slightly confused but thought nothing of it.

In yesterday’s mail I get a notice from Verizon stating there has been a change in my account. You have to look over these things carefully because they just lay out your entire plan and do not highlight changes for you. I finally noticed that a VCast package had been added for $15/month. This was apparently added around the same time I received the mysterious cell phone call from the salesperson. I immediately called the 800 number on the bottom of the statement to find out what was going on.

Now the fun begins… A helpful sales rep answers my call named Kwan (sic). I inform him that I did not make the changes on my phone line and asked if he could give me information concerning my account. I explained the entire situation to him and he quickly removed the VCast and even credited my account $13 for the trouble. I then asked him for information on how this could be added to my account without my permission. I wanted to know who added this also. He then told me that I was called by a saleperson in a different city and they added the VCast. The city where the sales person called from has my same area code, thats why I thought he really was local. He then gave me the store phone number and the person’s employee number.

Kwan informed me that he was going to call the store and find out what was going on too. I even asked again if this guy was from a Verizon store or an independent retailer since I had read on your site about issues with sales calls from them. He verified that he was indeed from a Verizon retail store located in a mall. For good measure I then asked to speak to a supervisor.

I was put on hold and a female supervisor then got on the line. She had been told about the whole situation by Kwan. I explained to her that I felt violated and wanted to know how someone could access my account from a store in a different city and add features without my permission. She was immediately defensive. She proceeded to explain to me that it was valid for local sales reps to call concerning new features but she was “concerned” that he added it without my permission. I told her that over my 5 year period with Verizon, I have NEVER had anyone local call me for any reason. If anyone calls me, it’s from a call center and it directly relates to my usage or bill.

She repeated that it was normal for local reps to call and if it bothered me I could be placed on a “do not call” list. I once again told her that my issue was the account violation, not the call. We then began going in circles as to how to handle the fact that I had serious issue with my account being changed without my permission. I told her that I was very sensitive to these kinds of things due to previous identity theft. I was not comfortable that a salesperson outside of my market could do this randomly.

She then changed her story to tell me that it was not a salesperson from that city in fact, it was a call center employee. I asked her how she knew that and why the story was changing now and she proceeded to ask me if I was planning on going to confront the employee! I never even asked for his name! All I wanted was to make sure this didn’t happen again and make his manager aware of the problem. She treated me like I was going to hunt him down. We were getting nowhere, so she asked how she could make me happy since they had already fixed my account and given me a credit. I told her I was tired of having billing and technical issues with them and if she couldn’t guarantee that this wouldn’t happen again, let me out of my contract.

She then told me that it would never happen again and I asked her if she could promise that. Her response was “I can say those words for you if you’d like”. What the hell? I repeated that since she couldn’t actually promise my account would be secure, I wanted out of my contract. Of course that was quickly denied and she claimed that I could only do that due to death or leaving the Verizon access area. Since she apparently could not make me happy, she bid me good day and hung up. I’m now about to begin round two. I am determined to be done with Verizon before the day is done.

Christy

Christy is mad, Verizon, and we don’t blame her. You have made an enemy for life. —MEGHANN MARCO

RELATED: Watch Out For This Cellphone Scam

(Photo: Meghann Marco)

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    I don’t get why people who read this site willingly defect TO Verizon which is known for doing scummy things like this and like crippling its phones…

  2. biledemon says:

    I used to pay $42 a month for verizon ONLY local calls, very little regional calls and no long distance: nothing else included except damm taxes.

    I now use VOIP Trixbox with an olde Pentium III 500mhz I found on my garage and I manage all my phone calls with it.

    I spend $7 a month on local/regional/national UNLIMITED! and I have $15 left for INTERNATIONAL calls. I talk for HOURS and i spend maybe a dollar at most. YES better than skype (btw..don’t use skype it monitors your content)

    Comcast tried to sell me their VOIP package. I laughed at their ridiculous price. Verizon tried to find me after I disconnected my phone to sell me VOIP; I laughed when I mentioned how much I actually pay now.

    Since I am not an advertising goon if you want to know what VOIP provider I use for such cheap rates e-mail me at mont_alfredo at yahoo dot com (notice the underscore)

    If you don’t want to mess around with Trixbox, some VOIP providers give you the VOIP box (but it’s locked to the provider so I don’t use them)

  3. BillyShears says:

    @Buran:
    Every cell phone company has shady people like this working for them. It’s why you have to kind of police your account.

  4. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    I am willing to bet that:

    1) Local Verizon sales reps are not authorized to randomly call accounts and offer to add features
    2) Local sales reps are not authorized to randomly access your account
    3) There is some kind of reward program for these reps for signing people up for these features
    4) Therefore, they are doing 1 and 2 illegally to earn these bonuses

  5. rmz says:

    To be fair, the guy named Kwan sounded very professional and helpful. If only the supervisor could have shared the same qualities…

  6. JCSaint says:

    Isn’t there an argument to be made that adding features without her consent constitutes a breach of contract? They obviously admit their fault when they removed the charge and credited the account.

    There should be a security feature such as providing a PIN or other security question before sales reps can add features as well.

  7. VicMatson says:

    This stuff happens with Cingular also, the carriers need to get fined for this theft to stop!

  8. plim says:

    more importantly, did this change to hercontract automatically renew her for a whole new 2 year contract? i would be even more upset about that than the vcast charge/credit, esp if i was thinking about leaving verizon. hope Christy checks up on that.

  9. minneapolisite says:

    Let me get this straight: Sales reps can randomly add features, but my husband who is on a family plan with his parents can’t add a feature without having his mom on a three-way call with customer service. Not even his dad is allowed to modify features without the mother on the line. But again, a random sales rep is able to modify my account with reckless abandon…

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    @VicMatson:

    Screw fines. There should be prison time. And if it can be proved that there’s a pattern of it, upper level executives should get prison time.

  11. wesrubix says:

    that’s not disturbing at all… end sarcasm.

    I usually notice my bill amount, so if it’s ever off, investigation mode engages. I’m glad this hasn’t happened to me on Cingular. That is sketchy, sketchy stuff…

    how to chose the lesser of evils!

  12. Jasmo says:

    let’s all calm down for a second here … she gets an unwanted feature added to her plan. she calls and wants to know what’s up. a helpful rep removes the feature and credits her account. at this point, the immediate problem is solved.

    why not stop there? in a huge company like verizon NO ONE is going to be able to answer the existential questions and make the universal promises that we all want. getting into a cat fight with a “supervisor” isn’t going to get us anywhere. do we really think that this random supervisor has the power to change the structures and policies of the whole company?

    my advice: when your time is up, take your business elsewhere. in the mean time, watch your bill, and don’t waste any more life energy than you absolutely have to with these fools.

  13. ctate says:

    It’s not about if the feature was taken off or not, nor the charges being refunded. The issue is that a SALESPERSON in a different city can just access my account and make changes without my permission. As a previous commenter wrote… I need to give them my name, last four digits of my social, and an account passcode in order to even speak to someone about my account. I even added that account passcode as an additional hurdle to cross for anyone trying to access my account. It was put in place to prevent anyone that might have access to my social security number from gaining access to all accounts.
    Maybe some people think I am blowing this out of proportion, but I don’t think that I am. I have been a victim of identity theft three times and have had multiple run ins with Verizon with billing issues.
    As for your other statement, I was planning on just letting my current contract run out but this has prompted me to exit early. I have found out alot since sending the first email and maybe you will understand more when I update. More forthcoming…

  14. enm4r says:

    @minneapolisite: All the mother has to do is add authorized users to the account. It’s not difficult and takes about 2 minutes of her time. I have done it to my family plan, so that the people with other lines can make changes, and I am an authorized user under my parents plan even though I don’t even have a phone on that plan anymore. This has nothing to do with verizon, and they should have suggested this to you earlier. Add authorized users, problem solved.

  15. FLJOE says:

    Verizon FIOS TV also adds unrequested service to an account.

    When I moved to a new home, I had my FIOS TV and HSI moved. My first statement after the move was almost double the previous statement. A line by line investigation showed premium packages added (movie channel, HBO) in addition to new unjustified activation charges. After speaking with several CSRs I was told I couldn’t speak to a supervisor but one would call me but couldn’t tell me when. Four hours later I got the call and 30 minutes after that the charges were reversed.

  16. dj_skilz says:

    Outbound calling campaigns are a metric that retail sales reps are measured on. This is a requirement, that carries punishments if not upto par. That is unfortunately why some reps are so aggressive and may even cause them to be dishonest in their actions. While pressure is never an excuse, VZW is a performance based company, and this is always evident! In the direct channel (VZW Employees, not dealers you can access most local accounts without the customer present. We must ask you to verify the password/4# ssn before we will give you any info though. Dealers are required to enter a password and the last 4# of ssn to before bringing up an account in their pos systems.) To your benefit everytime a feature is added to an account, this is remarked in the permanent notes on your account. Although you will not be able to read them CS, along with MGR’s REPS, SUPERVISORS can track down an employee based on the POS user id stamped in the notes, or the sales id used to process commission accrual.

    Many reps call from the store phones to your registered home phone per guidelines, or their demo lines (if calling your cell phone as it should be free in calling)

    I suggest that you obtain the District Managers contact information for the store that is in question and escalate to deal with them directly on the issue. This is NOT TOLERATED, and will be dealt with. Reps who practice this crap don’t last long.

    *** DISCLAIMER ***

    This is opinion/experience not fact. I am not a representative of Verizon.

    ******************

    See another similar post of mine for further details;

    http://consumerist.com/consumer/consumer-alert/watch-out-f

  17. r81984 says:

    It is their job to read over accounts, change customers accounts, and then call customers to buy more service.

    My girlfriend has Verizon and received a call out of nowhere from a Verizon salesperson that works at the Schererville, IN, store. The salesperson said she saw she was getting close to her text message limit and offered to switch her to unlimited for like $10 more a month.

    My girlfriend already had unlimited text messaging and bought her phone from a Highland, IN, store. She thought this was odd, so she called the original Highland store and they said she never had unlimited text.

    The Verizon rep canceled her unlimited text off her plan without lowering her price per month and then tried to get her to pay $10 more a month to get it again. They said the plan she claims she was on for 2 years that included unlimited text never existed and there was no way she was getting unlimited text.

    As soon as your contract is up they will modify your account and call you up to get you pay more for service that used to be included in your plan.

    Also you have to wonder why someone in Schererville, IN, was viewing and modifying accounts for customers of another Verizon store.

  18. Echomatrix says:

    I’ve honestly never had a problem with sprint. And now that they are putting up that phone number for us, it makes me want to stay. Especially with the Sero Plan

  19. concreteangel says:

    Being an employee of Verizon Wireless, I can confirm the comment left by dj_skilz. As a matter of fact, I use this program quite often as a job requirement. There are various “campaigns” set up to offer customers products and promotions, and at times save them money by offering a plan or text package that may better suit their needs than the one that they are on. The reps in the stores should only be working customer accounts specific to their store and district, however customer service reps at the 800# may have access to all areas. Never should anyone be adding features to anyone’s account without their permission. I can understand why you’d be upset for that. However, the program itself isn’t meant to be a sneaky thing to trick anyone into buying anything, but simply a way to offer a customer more options.

  20. ribex says:

    I have never been contacted on my mobile phone OR at my home number by any Verizon Wireless representative, excepting one occasion where a technician called me back about a problem that he was helping me with, so I am surprised to hear that others are getting sales-type calls.

    @r81984: “As soon as your contract is up they will modify your account and call you up to get you pay more for service that used to be included in your plan.”

    I have never experienced anything remotely like that, and my contract has been up 4 different occasions since I’ve been with VZW. Actually, I’ve never even heard of that practice with regard to ANY cell phone provider.

  21. Secularsage says:

    I’m passing this along to a relative who works for Verizon corporate. They take this sort of thing very seriously there, and hopefully, some sort of corporate line can be set up for these sorts of complaints to get fast-tracked.

  22. FLConsumer says:

    @biledemon: Using Viatalk here… They ship UNLOCKED PAP2′s and support Asterisk/Trixbox with no extra charges.

    On the cell phone side, happy with Alltel, 10 years now.

  23. Yourhero88 says:

    You should argue the fact that Verizon altered your account, therefore you are liable to an early cancellation.

    Read the fine print, I’m sure there is something in there relating to unwanted changes.

  24. backspinner says:

    @ctate: Other than an empty promise from a low-level supervisor that she will make sure all of Verizon never screws you over again, what do you want?

  25. ctate says:

    @backspinner: First of all she couldn’t make that promise, she just offered to “say those words” to me. What I would like is to be done with Verizon. That is in progress…

  26. northernlad says:

    People “defect” to Verizon because they have superior coverage. The worst part about them is their favorite word is NO. The run around Christy got is typical as well. It took me three months to get creditted for family calls that were charged to my bill.
    ctate, if you want to “move” to a locality that does not have Verizon service, let me know. My sister in law got out of her contract by moving to this area.

  27. asplodzor says:

    @ctate: What many people don’t seem to realize is that all the security features on the account (passcodes, needing your first and last name, etc) are security features meant to allow employees to screen everyone else, not for you to screen employees. I worked retail for a major cellphone company last year, and all we needed was our login and their phone number to see ALL of their info: password, full name and address, payment history, etc. We used that info to verify what they were telling us, not the other way around.

    The security lay in the fact that we were liable if something happened to their account that they didn’t want because our looking up their account was logged.

  28. asplodzor says:

    @northernlad: Technically, since Sprint phones roam onto the Verizon network, and roaming is free with Sprint, Sprint has the same coverage area.

    The same can be said about any CDMA carrier that allows free roaming, though Sprint and Verizon are the main two.

  29. Anna_Banana says:

    Verizon has the worst customer service I’ve ever encountered. I think part of the problem is it’s too big and the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing. For instance, you have the local business office, verizon online, tech support, cell services, etc etc. These are all independently operating departments. It took me four weeks of daily calls to get dsl service from them. I knew the whole time the problem was on their side but it took a call to presidential appeals to get somewhere. I would suggest calling their 800 number and filing an executive complaint.

    Their automated answering service sucks eggs. You have to jump through hoops of fire to talk to a human. After you go through all that it will tell you the call volume is high and call back later, click.

    As soon as my contract is up I’m switching to Roadrunner.