Customers Fight Back Against Hyperaggressive Verizon FiOs Door-to-Door Marketers

Eric and Sarah write:

Thanks to the executive email listing found on Consumerist, I was able to fight back against the invasive marketing of Verizon Fios! Here’s the email I sent last week:

From: Eric XXXXXXX
Date: October 25, 2007 8:37:10 PM EDT
To: william.barr@verizon.com, robert.e.ingalls.jr@verizon.com, thomas.j.tauke@verizon.com
Subject: personal assault

Dear Mr. Barr, Mr. Ingalls and Mr. Tauke,

I am only taking the extreme step of writing to the highest levels of Verizon due to the seriousness of the invasion of our lives by Verizon sales personnel.

As I am sure you can confirm, we have been loyal Verizon phone and internet customers since we moved into our home nearly five years ago, and eagerly upgraded to FIOS immediately upon its availability in our area – first for internet and phone service over a year ago, and then also switching to FIOS TV earlier this year.

Nevertheless, we have been constantly bombarded with invasive FIOS marketing, even well after we signed up for these services. Not only direct mail, which we understand is unavoidable, if a nuisance. But then we began receiving special “deliveries” by carriers ringing our doorbell and demanding our signature for what turned out to be simply another Verizon advertisement in an important-looking express mail envelope. My wife and I have two small children, and on several occasions they were awakened by these inappropriate solicitations for services to which we already subscribed.

Since FIOS TV has become available in our area, however, the situation has become intolerable. We have twice received uninvited door to door Verizon hucksters, who have disturbed our peace with offers for products for which, again, we remain loyal customers. Tonight, however, was the last straw. Yet another salesman came to our door, after seven o’clock at night. My wife was putting our our three-year-old son to bed while caring for our seven month old baby daughter, and yet the salesperson loudly rang the doorbell (despite it being taped shut with a “do not ring” sign over it!). When my father-in-law explained to the man that my wife was not available because she was tending to our children, the salesperson became very rude and aggressive, and demanded to know when we could speak with him, even going so far as to ask my father-in-law for our personal information with which to contact us for a follow-up solicitation!!

I am sorry, but this is no way to treat a loyal, long-term customer who is an early adopter of your most lucrative products; a family with young children, or simply a way to act in a civilized community. At this point, I am contemplating communicating our distress at these invasions of our home to the local media, the better business bureau, and, if necessary, our local police.

I truly hope you are able to determine who is responsible for these assaults on our peaceful existence, and eliminate these harmful practices from your corporation’s marketing plans. At this point, we are considering switching our phone, internet and television service to Cablevision, your closest competitor. Our decision will be based on your response to this situation.

With appreciation for your attention, and in hopeful anticipation of your reply,

Eric and Sarah XXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXX
Port Washington, NY 11050
(516) 767-XXXX (acct. # XXX XX X)

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

As you can see, I sent this email at 8:37pm. Exactly ONE HOUR later, I already received this direct response from Mr. Tauke, the Executive VP for Public Affairs, Policy & Communications:

From: Date: October 25, 2007 9:38:24 PM EDT
To: ,
Subject: Re: personal assault

I apologize. I understand your concern, and I will try to address this issue.

Tom Tauke

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

At 9am the following morning, my wife received several calls from “executive customer service,” who promised to advocate on our behalf after hearing our story. We also spoke with Mark, the “door to door marketing customer service representative,” who explained that Verizon contracts out their door-to-door marketing to another firm, but still promised to take responsibility for repairing this situation. So, here are the results that we received by the end of the day, as confirmed by Verizon directly:

1) The offending marketer was being removed from the FIOS campaign.
2) Our ENTIRE STREET was being removed from the door-to-door FIOS campaign.
3) We were being taken off their lead sheets (why we were on the lead sheets in the first place, is another matter)
4) They credited our account for two months of FIOS internet, TV and phone. Total savings: over $300!!

Thanks, Consumerist! You made it easy to fight back, and get proper compensation for our troubles!

All the best,

Eric & Sarah

Eric & Sarah got started on their path to fightback success after taking a page from The Ultimate Consumerist Guide To Fighting Back (Revised Edition). Awesome! We’re glad that worked out for you. Great that Verizon was able to reign in their hyper-aggressive third-party marketers. I wouldn’t have expected them to throw in the two month bonus but that’s a very nice gesture as well. That’s the power of kicking issues right to the top of the heap.

Comments

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  1. darkened says:

    In all honesty the salesmen were doing what they are trained to do, if you do not take these steps you will be broke. You can blame verizon for putting you up to be solicited but from what was described here the sales people are performing their job perfectly. (albeit slightly rude to ingore the do not ring sign.)

    And for any person that lacks respect for this profession, i recommend trying outside sales and see how tough it is.

    Of course I’d love to be solicitied like this, I’ve been wanting FIOS for years. I want true fiber but since FIOS is as close as it exists in the USA I’d still gladly take that until real internet arrives in our country.

  2. shan6 says:

    Nicely done! Excellent results.

  3. majortom1981 says:

    Good outcome but still bad for verizon. You have to contact the head honchos to get it fixed? thats really bad.

    Would the same result have happened if he didnt live in a cablevision area (this matters actually because cablevision seems to be the only company really competing against fios)

  4. JustAGuy2 says:

    @darkened:

    What about FiOS isn’t true fiber?

  5. 8abhive says:

    Wow, nice letter, nice ending. Great to see such a quick remedy. It does sound like they contracted with some real bottom-feeders.

    It would have been nice to hear something about how the marketing manager for that project was demoted for failing to monitor the campaign closely enough. Contracting out anything with direct customer contact carelessly or with too long a leash can cause real pains ITA.

  6. kylere says:

    I wish I had FIOS here to annoy me, instead I am stuck with Comcast. Want to trade problems?

  7. Bladefist says:

    verizon is not too terrible of a company, this doesnt suprise me that they handled it this well.

  8. godai says:

    @darkend:

    Should I respect the people who put hard work into embezzling money?

    Just because someone is good at harrassing a person doesn’t mean I should respect them.

  9. babaki says:

    @kylere: seriously. i want me some FiOS.
    good story. always good to hear when customer service comes through. most of the time, you just have to bring it to their attention and things we will get worked out.

  10. DashTheHand says:

    @JustAGuy2: Its true fiber, although insanely crippled speeds compared to other countries fiber optic.

  11. workingonyourinvoice says:

    I’m glad it worked out in your favor! It seems like their executive support is actually willing to take measures and solve your problem promptly (unlike AT&T DSL). Read my blog to see what I’ve been putting up with:

    [web.mac.com]

    I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post a success story soon, but it really isn’t looking too good.

  12. wesa says:

    I am contemplating communicating our distress at these invasions of our home to the local media, the better business bureau, and, if necessary, our local police.

    Does anyone else think that this was over the top? The police wouldn’t want to be bothered with this and the local media would probably ignore the “story”.

  13. macinjosh says:

    Are they gonna stop that doofy kid (“You should see his truck”) and the true QAM guy?

  14. bobpence says:

    I recommend NOT trying outside sales. It is a genuine waste of time for both the resident and the salesman, evangelist, or politician.

  15. junkmail says:

    @darkened: I don’t care how tough it is, I still have no respect for the “profession”. There are better ways of making a living, (eg. working in a sweatshop, raising mosquitoes, developing an exciting new strain of ebola, etc. etc.)

  16. EagleTheta says:

    @dashthehand: I don’t know. If I wanted to pay a little more, I could have the fiber pipe openned up to 30Mb/s. That’s getting close to T3 speed at a much more attractive price point. However, the chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, so generally you would never see that kind of download from your favorite web sites.

    Been a FIOS customer (residential and business) for over a year, and been pretty happy with it. Of course, I don’t get repeated door-to-door hucksters, either…

  17. @wesa: Frankly if salesmen keep showing up on my doorstep and verbally harassing me and refusing to leave, yes, I’m going to eventually call the cops.

    In the community I live in now, we got an assload of shady door-to-door salespeople, some of whom are clearly just casing the block. And there’s no particular way to tell the difference between the legitimate ones, the shady ones (“Dear neighbor, this is an anonymous note to tell you your lawn looks like ass and the whole neighborhood is talking about it. You might try calling Local Lawncare Chain”), and the out-and-out con men and criminals.

    We recently had a “Comcast Rep” canvassing the neighborhood “To get an idea of local TV viewing patterns since we recently bought your local cable company.” I still have NO IDEA if he actually worked for Comcast (or a contractor) or if he was just casing the neighborhood. I literally could not tell.

    My local police are happy to respond to these situations. They’re even happier about it when we alert them to con men before they manage to rip off a bunch of elderly people.

  18. Hawk07 says:

    I don’t know why people feel the need to address corporate asshats as “Mr.”.

    It’s not like they’ve done the world any good, and I can guarantee you the homes they’re living in would probably call the police if a solicitor came to the door.

  19. Hawk07 says:

    I wonder if it’s legal to answer you door with a sig 556 in hand. Of course not pointed at the guy, but just casually pointed down.

  20. darkened says:

    @JUSTAGUY2

    Fios is fiber to the curb, not fiber to the home, this is not what we paid 100s of billions of dollars to the teleco’s to deliver to us years ago and then have them say well it was impossible then and now but no we’re not giving you money back.

    @GODAI

    Your analogy is inherently wrong, you’re comparing a true career to a undeniable crime.

    And the comments about harressing them are sensalitionalized. If it’s in person, you have a door. Close it. If it’s on the phone, hang up. If they try to physically keep you from closing the door then it’s far more just assumptively closing all parts of a sale.

  21. IndyJaws says:

    @kylere: Add me to the list of FIOS wanters (if that’s not a word, it should be)!

  22. Oh, and the ones that say, “Dear Eyebrows,” and try to personalize? I think they’re creepy and ridiculously clumsy. (Apparently somebody is not properly targeting my level of advertising sophistication.) Also, you’re not my frakking friend. If you’re wanting to do business with me, I’m Ms. McGee.

    The ONLY places I tolerate that crap from is local charities, because I know they have limited budgets and not a lot of advertising expertise. But the ones that do a lot better are, like, the local PBS station that has volunteers and college students actually hand-write “Thank you for your donation. -Jane Doe, PBS volunteer”

    Any political organization that tries loaded language, scare tactics, or tons of font formatting with ridiculous amounts of underlining and double-underlining in their direct mailings goes directly in my trash can and on my list of “Do not donate.” Any organization that thinks I’m that stupid doesn’t deserve my money, even if I agree with them.

  23. Whoops, sorry about that.

  24. IndyJaws says:

    One of the best-written complaint letters I’ve seen on Consumerist in a long time. Very professional, not smug or cutesy, no outrageous demands or inflated sense of entitlement. Kudos to Eric and Sarah.

  25. Beerad says:

    @darkened: Ummm, if you’re ringing somebody’s doorbell after there’s a “do not ring” sign taped over it, you aren’t just a “diligent” salesperson, you’re also a jerkface. Bugging someone who has asked not to be bothered is a bit more than “slightly rude”.

    You might love to be solicited for the service initially, but one wonders if you’d continue to love it if you were continually solicited in person, waking up your kids, long after you’d bought the product.

  26. stephenjames716 says:

    I have had a similar success story with Verizon DSL thanks to the information posted on this site. I emailed a corporate vp and within 2 hours I received a call to remedy my problem. I had a horrible customer service experience, and they took my bill down from $160 to $50 and personally took care of the install problem. (I was supposed to be setup on a dry loop only dsl line over a month ago and that was never done). The rep also promised to call me back today to verify that the install was done. thank you consumerist!

  27. Munsoned says:

    I wish that I could see the “Verizon face” associated with this one…

  28. darkclawsofchaos says:

    one, get rid on the doorbell, so people have to knock which takes a lot of effort to be heard beyond the first floor, lock your screendoor at all times, so when you open the door, you can see what they want and quickly close it if you want, the screendoor prevents some stranger from inserting his body parts into the doorway

  29. goller321 says:

    @darkened: Are you an idiot? Even more intrusive and annoying than a telemarketer, door to door should be outlawed. Not only does it provide an extremely irritating experience, it also gives scammers an easier mode of ripping people off. I’m sure someone could expound on the perils of dealing crack, but I doubt you’d find any sympathetic ears…

  30. goller321 says:

    @darkclawsofchaos: You shouldn’t have to do any of this. By getting rid of the doorbell, you are reducing the chances that a INVITED guest would not be heard.

  31. jeffjohnvol says:

    When they come bugging me at my door, I just tell them I steal my neighbor’s cable and its free. I actually pay good money for my cable, but if they ever tries to report me, I’ll just play ignorant and show them my bill and say “I never said that…”

  32. jay29 says:

    @darkened

    FIOS is a fiber to the home (FTTH or FTTP) service and does not terminate at the curb. AT&T uses fiber to the curb in some of the areas that they service.

  33. JustAGuy2 says:

    @darkened:

    It’s fiber to the home (or, the demarc on the side of the home), not fiber to the device, true, but then again very few people have fiber inputs for their routers, so why not go coax (which has 6Gbps+ capacity and is already in the home) for the last 50 feet to the TV or router?

  34. Wish they came marketing to my home…

  35. LAGirl says:

    good job!

  36. Brad2723 says:

    I hear so many great things about FIOS that I can’t wait for it to come to my area… but then I remember all of the trouble I had with my DSL connection and how Verizon DSL’s apathy toward my situation drove me to their competition. And then I also remember the trouble I had dealing with Verizon Wireless customer service, which again drove me to their competition.

    Maybe I can wait after all

  37. rooben says:

    @darkened:
    JUSTAGUY2 is absolutely correct FiOS is FTTH (fiber to the home); a optical terminal is mounted onto your house. If you were expecting fiber wires inside your home, that cannot come from the phone company, since you own the wires inside your house. Until fiber is standard wiring inside your house, there would be no point for Verizon to add a fiber connection to the terminal to run inside the house (although they could, it wouldn’t be that expensive to do, at some point when it would be at all necessary).

  38. Buran says:

    @junkmail: Exactly. “I was only following orders” doesn’t get you very far. If you can’t realize that, then you shouldn’t be in that kind of job.

  39. Buran says:

    @Papa Midnight: As do I. So I could tell them how I will never, ever, EVER give Verizon a single red cent after hearing what I’ve heard about their various divisions’ practices, even if they add more services that aren’t cell service — and then slamming the door (and my front door slams very nicely) in their lying faces.

  40. Buran says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Agreed. The police SHOULD be involved if there are people who harass you on your own property, and don’t leave when ordered to.

  41. Xkeeper says:

    I wonder what would happen if you replaced the doorbell with a water gun trigger?

    Not terribly good, but funny to watch though video :P

  42. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Hawk07: I usually answer the door to strangers with a SW 1911 behind my calf. Where you can’t see it until I show it to you buisness end first.

    I have only had to actually show it to 2 people one was a druggie who refused to stop begging for cash. The other was a guy looking for the girl who had lived in my apartment before me. He thought I was hiding her or something. Needless to say after showing them my backup they decided discretion was the best course of action. I didn’t even point it at them I just showed them what was in my hand.

  43. junkmail says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: While I’m all for proactive self defense, you’re probably just asking for trouble. I was raised on the firing range by a 17 year veteran of the Logan County Sheriffs Department, (my dad), and the first lesson is, and always will be, don’t pull it unless you’re willing and ready to use it.

  44. Crazytree says:

    sounds like civil harassment to me.

    send them a cease & desist letter, to be followed up by a civil injunction if necessary.

  45. dextrone says:

    2 Months of service looks like nothing for loyal customers. I mean, I understand that being compensation for new or 1-yr old customers but that long?

    Really, what kind of company has that kind of moral to do those things under any circumstances. It is their responsibility to prevent this from ever happening. From Verizion’s records this is the not 1st time they have committed acts of the sorts.

    Additionally,
    “3) We were being taken off their lead sheets (why we were on the lead sheets in the first place, is another matter)” HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN? (yes I am rather quite complexed at this, how do they get on marketing lists for services they already have, especially aggressive marketing, Cablevision does this too, with their own ads on TV, but in doing so also blocks out those other annoying ads from the TV networks, hooray?)

  46. mbrutsch says:

    @darkened: Hey, it’s tough all over. Doesn’t excuse being rude. “No Soliciting/Do Not Ring” means exactly that.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Verizon promisaes a great price for their bundle, but when you get the bill it’s nowhere near what they quoted. I was quoted $118. per month and so far for the first 2 months I’ve paid approx. $600. I know the first bill is prorated so it would be more, but I received a bill for $90. and then another for $275. and my latest bill for $226. I’m sure they know what you ordered and what your monthly bill will be, but they give you a lowball price to get you t subscribe. They spend millions on advertising and when they get a new customer they lie to you so they not only loose you, but all of yopur friends & relatives who you would reccomend them too. Satisfied customers are worth far more than false advertising. Word of moputh can either make them or break them and the way they conduct business I’m betting an them loosing market share. With the economy and the competition the way it is they should have enough sense to satisfy their customers.

  48. Anonymous says:

    darkened, it is “fiber to the home” . Fiber optic goes all the way to the box mounted on the side of your house.
    Verizon does contract but monitors these contractors. They are given “Do not knock” addresses and the first rep that knocked on your door should of put you on that list at your request. Verizon takes harsh action against reps knocking on these as you saw..they fired the guy. These door to door reps do provide a personal education on all the products available to people that otherwise would not know they were available. How else are they going to get the word out? With the “Do not Call” laws. And who out there reads their advertising mail? If a company can’t get enough subscribers to get the product they won’t develope and build it. In other words if these reps weren’t out knocking on doors (about 35% of their subscribers come from Door to door sales) then you my friends would be listening to Dial up Internet tones.
    Just tell them no thank you put me on your Do not Knock List and if they persist call Verizon. Like any occupation a few give it a bad name.