"Why I Never Want Anything To Do With Verizon Ever Ever Again"

Verizon is finally installing FiOS in my area. But I’ll never use it. I’ll never sign up for another Verizon account in my life, and I’m encouraging my parents to change to a different service when their Verizon cell contracts end soon. Over the course of eight months, I’ve become completely appalled at the horrible customer service I’ve gotten from that company.

This all started in March of this year, St. Patrick’s Day, to be precise. While out with friends, my phone slipped out of my pocket without me noticing. It wasn’t until the next morning (Sunday) that I realized I didn’t have my LG Chocolate phone. I traced my footsteps back, hoping I’d be able to find it, with no luck. A couple of hours later, when my roommate woke up, he realized he had a missed call. Hours after I lost the phone, someone had called his number from it. They left no message, and when we tried calling the phone back, it would go straight to voicemail. Hoping that whoever had the phone would call back again, I held off on contacting Verizon to report the phone stolen. By Monday morning, having still not been able to contact the person who had my phone, I called Verizon and reported all the details I’ve relayed so far – not only that my phone was lost, but that someone apparently had the phone. I was told that the phone would be placed on Verizon’s lost/stolen list so that if someone else attempted to register the phone on a Verizon Wireless account, they would be able to do so (although I would not be given this information to help me find the phone). The phone would also be deactivated for a month and would be removed from my account.

Writing the phone off as gone, I bought a used Verizon Razr off eBay, which I received within a few days. I once again called up Verizon Customer Service. In that call, I registered the Razr with my account, and also checked again that my old phone was off my account. I was told that because my account was a single-phone plan, there was no way for both the Chocolate and the Razr to be registered simultaneously. The Razr was associated with my account, and therefor the Chocolate could no longer be used with my account.

Fast forward one month, towards the end of April. I logged into my bank’s online access, and realized I had a negative amount of money, when I should have had a few hundred dollars. Looking at the pending transactions, a charge of $435.03 had been debited from my account the day before. I was stunned. The only bill I pay that’s over $150 is my rent – there was no reason I should have such a large debit on my account. I hadn’t lost my debit card, so I first checked those accounts which are automatically debited from my checking account. It didn’t take long to find the culprit. Verizon showed a just-paid bill – sum $435.03. I opened the bill online and quickly scanned it – I had a couple of new media services that had been added to my bill (which then charged me for the prorated current month, plus next month for each of the services). But the kicker was the hundreds of dollars of data downloads. Music, games, ringtones – if you could get it from VZServe, it was charged to my account.

Remember also that this is the end of April – the 20th, in fact. I have to send my rent check out, but I have negative money. I call Verizon, and explain the situation. I’m already pretty sure of what’s happened – the month that the Chocolate was deactivated for is over, and whoever has it is using it to make charges to my account. To make a long story short, I talk to numerous customer service reps over the next few days, explaining and reexplaining the situation. I am told that it is impossible for the Chocolate to still be able to charge downloads to account. I am told numerous times by supervisors and regular reps that they’re looking into the issue and will call me back in an hour/this evening/tomorrow morning. I am told that I am lying, and that I must go to my local Verizon store and show them my Razr to prove that the data downloaded is not on that phone. I spend two hours sitting in that store, waiting as the store rep talks to the customer service rep, on my phone. It is determined that the data is not on the Razr.
Finally, on the 26th, I get somewhere. A database tech hears about my problem and looks into it. Apparently, when the Chocolate was deactivated and taken off my account, there was a problem. The Chocolate was removed from my account for the most part, but in some database, it was still connected to my account. This might, incidentally, explain why there were times when friends would call me and the line would ring and ring, without going to voicemail, and without my Razr ever actually ringing. Troy Brice, the supervisor I’ve been talking with for the past day or so, apologizes again and again. Yes, they can cancel my service. No, they won’t charge me an early termination fee. They’ll refund my entire bill (even the part that was actually my bill), and they’ll even pay me back the horrible $100 overdraft fee that my checking account incurred for being so overdrawn (though I was required to send them a screenshot of my online checking account to prove that I was charged an overdraft fee). I get only apologies for the fact that I haven’t had any money for the past week, as this fell between my biweekly paychecks. I should get my money in 4-6 weeks. Yeah, 4-6 weeks. This is, obviously, not acceptable. Troy and I chat for a little while, and he discovers that he can expedite the transaction. I’ll have my money in 2-3 days – the amount is just under $600.

Late the next week, I do get my money deposited into my checking account – about $300. This pissed me off. I had no problem paying my actual bill, but my actual bill was only about $55, not $300. I go to their website and attempt to log into my account, but I can’t. That was shut down when I closed the account. So I call customer service again and explain the situation. Again. They grant me limited access to my online account so that I’m able to see my last couple of bills. I quickly spot the problem – they’re still charging me for the extra services and the data downloaded through them. I call Troy’s line and leave a message. No reply back. Ever. So I go back to the regular reps. Again and again, they can’t help me. My calls are dropped. They can’t request refunds. When they can and take my bank information, the refund request is gone when I call back later to see how it’s going. There are no supervisors available.

Finally, after dealing with this for over a month, I give up. I got some of my money back and I’ll never have to deal with them again – I’ve got a new Cingular phone. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.
Fast forward to yesterday, December 10th. I have, in the intervening time, moved. I go to my mom’s house, where I still get some mail because I used it as my permanent address while I was in college. And I have mail! I owe Verizon $114.07 and they’ve sold my account to Miracle Financial Inc, a collection agency. Add the agency’s fees, and they want $134.60 from me. I have 30 days to dispute the validity of the claim.

I call the agency’s number, at about 5:15 PM, and talk to [redacted], who is surprisingly polite and helpful, though she does ask me multiple times if I’d like to settle the debt, even though the first thing I told her was that I was calling to dispute the entire thing. She asks me to explain, and I do. She tells me that she can put a comment that I’m disputing the debt in the notes on the account, but that I should fax a letter, detailing why I’m disputing the debt, to the agency’s Client Service Department, and gives me the fax number. They will then contact Verizon directly and discuss it with them.

I then call Verizon. At this point, I now want all my money back, so all I want right now is my bills. I’d had copies of them on my laptop but, foolishly, I’d deleted them after a few months. I need them in order to itemize each item and see what I should and shouldn’t be charged for. Zach (who won’t give me his last name), the supervisor who I explained my situation to, cannot give me access to my Verizon online account. He also cannot email or fax the bills. He can only send them by mail, which might take a few weeks for me to actually receive them. I inquire as to when I was first billed the $114.07 – July. So my account is already, in Verizon’s eyes and quite possibly in the eyes of various credit reporting agencies, five months past due. Plus, I’ve got that 30 day deadline to dispute the debt.
A quick sidenote – Zach checked what address they had on file for me – it was my previous address. I’d never updated them because I had no business with them anymore. So I never received the bill back in July. Why I was billed in July for a service I cancelled in April, I have no idea.

I told Zach to please send me the July bill, and the last three bills before the account was closed.
I then went to consumerist.com and looked up Verizon’s Executive Customer Service number. I called the number, and left a message, detailing my tale much more concisely than I’ve done here and asked to be called back. It’s now 9:30 AM, and I haven’t heard back yet. I’ll call again later this morning. As soon as I send this, I’m writing a fax to send to the collection agency, ccing it to whatever fax numbers I can find for Verizon.

I’ll send updates as more happens (or doesn’t happen, which is more probable given Verizon’s track record on this issue).

Veronica

Yuck! We certainly do hope that Verizon is able to call off the debt collectors because there’s not much you can do once your debt has been sold. We have some tips for dealing with abusive debt collectors by phone, and a sample letter for disputing a debt collection notice.

(Photo:Ben Popken)

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Sue. Sometimes it takes the threat of a judge ordering a company to get them to do something.

  2. aparsons says:

    I just called Verizon Wireless this morning to request a credit for the 5 spam messages I received Sunday night – they were obscene, and vulgar. The most a manager said I would get credited: $0.50! I asked to speak to cancellations, and then they gave me $25 for my inconvenience.

    Also, I can’t log into MyAccount on Firefox anymore, and verizon wireless has stated, “yeah, we no longer support Macs.”

    Seriously?!?!

  3. HRHKingFriday says:

    Comcast did something similar to me a few years ago- I canceled my account and moved halfway across the country. Lo and behold, a month later I have a bill for 200 bucks. The people that moved in after us were not only able to keep the service, but add on premium channels and add a pay per view package. Luckily my situation was a little more obvious, as I proved my new residence and saved all my paperwork for returning my boxes. It was still a hassle though- you’d think it would be a fairly obvious situation.

  4. Xerloq says:

    I ditched them after six years of cellular service because they refused to refund a HUGE erroneous bill which drained my bank account and caused my student loan checks to bounce, thereby trashing my 100% pays on time discount and raising my interest rate 2%.

    Verizon regocnized their error and started the six week process to get me a credit. I told them that was unacceptable – if you can take it out instantly you can put it back instantly. I was told that if I didn’t pay (even though it wasn’t my fault) they’d send it to collections!

    I ported my number to Cingular an hour after the call. Verizon called me two days later (on day after the loan checks bounced) asking what they could do to fix the issue and bring me back – after all I’d been a loyal customer for six-years.

    I asked them to credit my bank account for the erroneous billing, which they did while I was on the phone (why couldn’t they do that before?) and then asked for $5000 to cover the interest they cost me by billing me five-times my normal monthly rate. The guy laughed. I said I was serious. He was silent. I hung up on him.

  5. form3hide says:

    5 spam messages? 5 x 10cents to receive = 50 cents, no? Am I missing something?

  6. Buran says:

    @aparsons: “I no longer support you. Competitor X will let me use the OS I want to use. Goodbye.”

  7. MeOhMy says:

    So very annoying!

    This is a major reason why I don’t let the vast majority of my vendors auto-debit from my account. It’s a lot harder to get money back from them compared to giving it to them.

    PS – T-Mobile, you still owe me $150 plus an apology.

  8. BigNutty says:

    The evil cell providers will be taken down someday by the consumers of the world.

  9. nightshade74 says:

    1) If you’re going to auto-debit use a credit card
    at least then you can dispute the charge

    2) Keep your dispute letter brief
    something like–
    “Pursuant to the FDCPA I dispute these charges.
    They were made from a stolen phone after it
    was reported stolen to Verizon. It is inconvenient
    for you to call me at any time please send all
    communication in writing”

    I would send it certified mail — return receipt.
    Then you wait for them to either fix it or call
    you again. If they call you after being
    asked not to in writing… I would then march
    down to small claims and sue them as
    allowed under the FDCPA….

    I had a similar situation involving a
    “zombie” debt collector and an ancient
    bill they were trying to collect
    from my wife.

  10. MonsterDon says:

    I never let a company auto debit from my account. If a company needs to bill me then I have a credit card specifically for that. I’ve already worked for my money once. I do not need a heartless company incorrectly taking my money and making me work again to get it back.

    If a company screws up I only pay what I know is owed and make them fix the problem.

  11. Caswell says:

    A bit of a digression, but in no way a “blame the victim” comment…

    Why do so many let companies automatically draft from their accounts? My wife and I have Verizon, and they’ve never indicated any savings whatsoever for allowing the automatic drafts from my checking account. In fact, the only automatic draft I have set up is one of our student loans, and only because there’s a 0.5% interest discount is I allow that.

    I’ve gotten slammed before with a huge unexpected bill – from Verizon no less, for $550 when my normal monthly bill is less than $100. Even though the bill was entirely my fault, you’re in a much better position to negotiate when they don’t already have their money. In my case I had them rerate my entire contract and didn’t pay a dime of the $450 in overages I had that month.

  12. sleze69 says:

    Verizon doesn’t like to pay money it owes. After a year of fighting them on an ETF they falsely claimed I owed them, I just gave up. Still haven’t paid but it will be off my record in a year or so.

  13. SuffolkHouse says:

    Great story. I’m not surprised. I used Verizon’s FIOS on Long Island, and (Honest to God) each time I call they have NO RECORD OF MY ACCOUNT! The last time I called, I swore. The person literally told me, “I wouldn’t talk to me that way if I were you. I know who you are and where you live.” I know that was BS, because he had no record of who I was!.

    Solution, and I know this is old tech, pay all your bills with checks or credit cards. Credit cards are better because they have legal services that pursue your money when you get screwed.

  14. jwarner132 says:

    @form3hide:

    Yeah, I think Verizon text messages are 15 cents to send a receive, not 10 cents.

  15. howie_in_az says:

    “And I have mail! I owe Verizon $114.07 and they’ve sold my account to Miracle Financial Inc, a collection agency. Add the agency’s fees, and they want $134.60 from me. I have 30 days to dispute the validity of the claim.”

    Uh, correct me if I’m wrong, but debt collection agencies cannot add on any fees beyond what you owe the original creditor. Check “Unfair practices [15 USC 1692f]” of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    [www.ftc.gov]

  16. youbastid says:

    @Caswell: I use auto-debit with Verizon and they always send me an e-mail 5 or 6 days before they take the funds out stating how much they’re going to take out, which leaves me plenty of time to take auto-debit away or call them to renegotiate before they have my money.

  17. Tonto99 says:

    I’ve had extremely poor experiences with Verizon as well. I changed to Earthlink VOIP (another nightmare) and canceled my Verizon landline. I had made the mistake of having them auto debit my account; when I canceled the account I wanted to cancel the auto debit, something that I could never figure out how to do. I called Customer Service and was told that they were closed because even though I live in California, CA’s customer service is based on the East coast – after finally contacting them and being assured my auto debit was stopped, it never was. Months later after running up a sizable credit balance with them, I received a refund check in the mail. It has been over 6 months since I’ve canceled service and I still receive statements from them. At least my balance is zero.

  18. youbastid says:

    But don’t take that last comment as support for Verizon. I’ve been a customer of theirs for 5 years. I moved to a new apartment where the phone averages 40-50 dropped calls a month. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and called them to tell them I would be switching – only until I moved someplace else, mind you. I emphasized how well the phone has worked literally everywhere else, and that I would re-join Verizon once I was in a place where the phone worked.

    My contract expires January 15th, and after 5 years of loyal service with never a late payment, they wouldn’t let me end my contract 4 WEEKS EARLY without charging me the FULL $175 early termination fee. This is after talking to 3 or 4 CSR’s and being very polite and concise with each of them. Well guess what? Once the contract is up, I’m never going back. They lost what would have amounted to thousands of dollars over $175.

  19. nweaver says:

    What ticks me off on Verizon’s setup is they gimp their cellphones so they can’t sync address books etc.

    When my contract goes up and this phone dies, I’m getting an iPhone.

  20. DallasDMD says:

    @Caswell: I let everyone charge my credit cards. If they bill me for something unexpected, I can chargeback the transaction. Plus I get my rewards payments from my CC.

  21. aparsons says:

    @form3hide: Well, I think that verizon should be a little more accountable – more than $0.50 – for letting vulgar spam slip through on a motherfucking Monday morning (Sunday night) at 3am. $25 is fair, $0.50 is a slap in the face. Their solution was to allow me to “block text messages altogether.” It’s a shame that you have to go through the cancellations department in order for anyone to be held accountable.

    And seriously, I’m not the only Mac User (or firefox user) in the country. I shouldn’t have to go to work just to pay my bills online because some company is chinsing out on making a website accessible from both Firefox and IE.

  22. Buran says:

    @youbastid: Wait a minute. Aren’t ALL the carriers prorating ETFs now?

  23. impute says:

    I completely agree with not allowing automatic withdrawals.

    A number of years ago I even had a problem with a pre-authorized cheque. The long distance phone carrier I was dealing with decided to change my fixed monthly fee without telling me and started withdrawing more money from my account, which eventually resulted in cheques bouncing. My bank insisted that they could only stop a cheque if they knew the amount, and that they trusted the carrier’s bank to verify the amount on the cheque, and that they couldn’t tell me what the carrier’s bank was for privacy reasons. I ended up closing the account, changing banks and I have never allowed any form of automatic withdrawal again.

  24. chrishop says:

    First off, Verizon is screwing you.
    Hopefully you will have some luck with the executive custumer people. HOWEVER, when you lose your credit card to you wait around to see if you can find it? No way! You report it lost imidiately. Same thing with you cell phone. If you legitimatly lose it then call and repot it so things like this don’t happen.

  25. youbastid says:

    @Buran: Yes, but only if you opened your account after a certain date – Verizon only started doing it for customers that opened their accounts this fall.

  26. failurate says:

    Veronica was lazy and dumb. Verizon, and any company that sets up automated payments for fluctuating accounts, just took the obvious advantage of said laziness and dumbness.
    You are responsible to protect yourself at all times. Quit being lazy and dumb. Cancel the automated payments and review your bills before paying them.

  27. failurate says:

    @aparsons: Are you kidding? Receiving unwanted texts damaged you to the amount of $25??? Your compensation was disproportionate to your loss, yet you feel like you deserved it or even more.

  28. EvilConservative says:

    Don’t ever let any company, even one you like, into your bank account with permission to routinely take what they think they are owed. Make the rounds of the web sites each month and pay them what you think you owe them or write a frigging check now and then. The mail folks have to eat, too.

  29. FredTheGreat says:

    Pre-pay is the only way I will deal with those people. If you can call them people.

  30. aparsons says:

    I was woken up to obscene spam text messages. Five times. And then I wasted an hour trying to get into pay my bill online. $25 is fair.

  31. shertzerj says:

    I use Sprint wireless (contract’s up in August, yay!), and while I do have automatic payments set up to charge on my credit card, it doesn’t charge my card until about 3 weeks after receiving my statement. I just make sure to actually *look* at the statement and not ignore it.

  32. remthewanderer says:

    my bank account is like a castle with a mote full of alligators around it. I will NEVER let anyone in without my permission. Automatically drafting money from your account is just plain stupid.

    However, As a verizon wireless customer I find it completely stupid that their website no longer supports Firefox.

  33. failurate says:

    So the hate for IE (or the love of Firefox) is so great that people would rather default on an account, spend quality time with an automated phone system, or waste time at work than simply install IE to be used once a month to perform a super simple task?

    Where is the logic in that?

  34. aparsons says:

    @failurate: Where can you get IE for Mac? It’s no longer supported…

  35. virtuesplea says:

    @HOWIE_IN_AZ: Thanks for the tip. I don’t plan on paying either Verizon or Miracle Financial money that I don’t owe in the first place, but I didn’t know that a collection agency couldn’t charge their own fees.
    @CHRISHOP – I would normally agree, but I didn’t see why whoever had my cellphone would call one of my contacts. And I have this nasty habit of believing the best of people until they prove me wrong. Either way, the charges didn’t start until after the phone automatically reactivated, 30 days after I reported that it had been stolen – nothing was charged in the day I waited.

    While I don’t use automatic debit anymore for any account, the ultimate issue here is that Verizon allowed someone to use a phone I’d reported as stolen a month before, a phone that was not supposed to be connected to my account in any way, to charge data downloads to my account. Then, two months after they realized and acknowledged their mistake, two months after I completely closed my account and was assured that I owed nothing more, they charged $114.07 to me and then sent the bill to an address I no longer live at.

  36. wesrubix says:

    Um, the real lesson here is not to set up automatic payments where issues like these can happen from your BANK account.

    If the payment was done thru a credit card, you dispute it and the cc company takes care of it.

  37. bonescotch says:

    @APARSONS
    Are you using Firefox from a Mac, and it’s the Mac they don’t support? I just used Firefox from a PC to pay my VZW bill without any problems.

  38. eheynowg says:

    How does their website no longer support Firefox? I used Firefox to pay my wireless bill less than a week ago?

    And not to pile on, but you should never allow any company to directly debit your bank account. This is what happens.

  39. gingerCE says:

    For me, the biggest lesson here is not to use autopay. I have always been appalled at how many people sign up for auto pay with their phone bills, electric, credit cards etc . . . if they have your money, they don’t want to give it back. Even if you autopay on a credit card vs. debit, it’s still a big hassle. I once disputed a charge on my credit card for shoddy services–they sent me a thick enveloped of paperwork I needed to fill out. It was a pain in the butt and time consuming and I lost which meant the charges reappear.

    I have T-Mobile and though I am never late cause I know my due date and it hasn’t changed in 3+ years, the late fee is only $5 if in case I forget to pay it. I pay online, but there’s mail, there’s any T-Mobile kiosk, and there’s a payment center next to my post office, bank, grocery store etc . . . All I can say is once they have your money, or the charge on your card and there is a disupte, it is that much more time consuming and harmful than if they had zero money and you are in a much better position to play hardball.

  40. gingerCE says:

    @wesrubix: I have to dispute that–it’s autopay period. I have disputed a credit card charge, had to fill out the paperwork, was denied, filed an appeal which means more paperwork, was denied, and the charge reappeared. It’s still a pain in the butt and if you lose, you have to pay it or worry about interest fees, etc . . .

  41. emjsea says:

    I use Firefox and Verizon’s website works just fine. So I don’t know what commentor-above’s problema is. A

    nyway, I have their auto-bill-pay and I get the email that it’s coming up and it’s charged to my credit card. My cable bill, and most of my other bills get charged to that credit card and then I only have to do a 1x a month online bill-pay to that credit card from my checking account. Super sweet.

  42. dirty foreigner says:

    @youbastid: Indeed. I tried to cancel my account recently and was informed of this.

    I had a lovely encounter with Verizon recently. On their website my usage said I was 100 texts under my plan (with my cycle ending that night). When I got my bill I found out I was actually 50 messages over. When I tried to complain about that, they said that the ‘usage’ page on their site is just an estimate (even though it doesn’t say “estimate” anywhere on the page).

    And then when I inquired (nicely) about what incentive I had to stay with Verizon when my plan expires in a couple months the lady got all annoyed/defensive saying “well sir, those are our plans, we can’t make up a plan where we give you more minutes and charge you less!”

  43. Motoguy says:

    I feel for you. I went through a similar situation with Sprint and Cingular/ATT.
    1. Document everything
    2. Submit it to the Better Business Bureau
    3. Submit it to the Attorney General’s office in your state. (cc Verizon – its amazing how fast they try to resolve issues when its escalated to the Attorney Gen office)
    4. Don’t ever sign up for auto payment. You basically have to close your bank account or change your credit card number to stop the reoccuring payments.

    Good luck to you.

  44. gypsychick says:

    @aparsons: Looks like something was up on Sunday night. I received 2 spam texts but I deleted them immediately since I was mad. The next morning I wondered if I dreamed the whole thing.

    As for the OS/browser problems, I just tried to log in to my Verizon account on my Mac through Firefox and had no problem at all. Perhaps they already fixed this?

  45. zbruno says:

    I am using safari on a mac to access my account. If you have a mac you should have safari. (Granted I still can’t figure out the bookmarking on this browser – so crappy compaired to firefox), but i have no trouble accessing verizonwireless.com through this browser. Also – a word to the wise, firefox, while agreed - awesome, uses up a lot of RAM and can mess with other programs that are running. Just an FYI.

  46. kc2idf says:

    @failurate:

    So the hate for IE (or the love of Firefox) is so great that people would rather default on an account, spend quality time with an automated phone system, or waste time at work than simply install IE to be used once a month to perform a super simple task?

    IE requires Windows. Windows requires paying money to Microsoft. This, I refuse to do, because I can get a superior product (Ubuntu Linux) for a much lower price ($0.00).

  47. easyfnmoney says:

    A company called AFNI handles most of Verizon Wireless’s Customer Service. Just keep in mind, when you call “Verizon” you’re actually talking to outsourced employees who only are doing what their script tells them to do. Even the supervisors have scripts to go by. It’s illegal for someone to take money out of your pocket on the street, but its okay for Verizon to take money out of your checking account. You’re best bet is to go to your bank and dispute the charges and say that they were not authorized. What happens then is.. You are credited the money back into your account, Verizon loses that money, and has to pay $35 as a chargeback fee. If Verizons chargebacks equal over 1% over a month, they will lose their privledges to process credit cards.

  48. frdprefct says:

    I’ve had similar problems. My wife got her phone stolen. They didn’t properly execute the protection plan we purchased – so it wasn’t on the account. My wife goes in, and tries to get a new phone to find this out. After some battle with them, they pretty much tell her to “f off”. Yes, the guy actually used those words. I’m driving on my way home when she tells me this. I stop by the store and make a fairly large scene. It was the manager of the store that actually said this! I reported it to Verizon, and they were willing to give me a whopping $25 credit.

    Long story short – we’ve been with Verizon for over 7 years. I want to cancel my contract. I’m tired of the bad customer service, the poor billing practices, etc. Problem is, I don’t want to pay the cancelation fees. If you look at their contract, THEY can terminate the contract if they see so fit based on comments made. I feel I should have the same right, considering what they told my wife. In short, had to get a new phone – was cheaper than canceling the service, which would cost me $325 according to them because there are 2 lines with the contract!

  49. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    I’ve had really good experiences with Verizon, and reading this makes me sad. What is it about their support that the CSRs have to be constantly reminded of this poor gal’s story? How can they not dedicate one intelligent manager to her case? I’m so baffled by this. I’ve worked in support (for software, mind you, and for a smaller company with many few clients) but we’re so careful to develop a good relationship with customers, and that includes maintaining detailed records of our interactions with them.

    Also, even though it’s illegal, I think we as consumers should all start recording all of our phone calls to CSRs. I don’t care if it’s admissible in court. It’s only fair that we should have a record of what’s been said.

  50. badnewsblair says:

    I have had only one experience with Verizon Wireless’s customer service representatives in the 5 years that I have used their services.

    I recently purchased a house in April only to find out that my Verizon RAZR and my fianceés Samsung phone (also through Verizon) did not receive any signal inside our house. The reception out in our front yard and back porch was almost as bad.

    Calling Verizon, I had to jump through one or two minor hoops such as visiting the store to get a technician to look at the phone. However, every representative was courteous and helpful and none refused to give me their full names.

    My experience with their customer support team actually made my (almost) regret leaving them. However, I’ve never been happier with my new service provider (even though I am sure they are probably just as evil as the last).

  51. Klink says:

    You could just use the magical words of “Attourney General” to expedite the process. From what I’ve seen, it works quite well.

  52. Roadkill says:

    You know what’s going to happen – Verizon is going to scan Consumerist for more angry letters, find a ridiculous situation, and finally step in and Do The Right Thing.

    But you know what, that is the WRONG way to do things. A company should do it RIGHT from the get-go. I hate that blogs like this get problems solved. We shouldn’t have to complain publicly just to get decent service. We shouldn’t have to have a special, privileged line that solves our problems.

  53. vatechtigger says:

    Verizon is ridiculous.

    I ordered DSL from them. Got the self install package, no luck. Scheduled a tech to come out, never showed. Took a day off work Scheduled another tech to some out, never showed. Lost another day. Canceled my account. Got a call 2 weeks later, tech wants to come and install. Um yeah……..

    Im glad cable internet is kicking their ass.

  54. portmeister says:

    i dont know man, i understand you had a bad experience with Verizon but turning down FiOs, thats crazy!

    the only Broadband provider worthwhile where i live is Comcast and im really tired of their shiftyness and their prices.

  55. TechnoDestructo says:

    @aparsons:

    “We no longer support standards.”

  56. Traecey says:

    My husband I an switched from Cingular to Verizon in anticipation of FIOS coming to our area. I was looking forward bundling my services (internet, television, land line and cell phone). After advertising this service extensively, we STILL don’t have anything available. In the meantime, I’ve come to find out what crappy service Verizon provides. More frustrating it that I get mail at least once a week offering me packages and services that are not available in my area. Additionally, their website is terrible to use. I went online to look at ringtones and there is no way to sort (categories, etc.) and, according to them, I can’t even download to my phone from their website. Cingular had an awesome website for this type of service. I would also love to get rid of my Verizon land line as it costs us $75.00 per month for basic service (with calling to Canada) but just can’t seem to do it. (Sigh). Are there any good, customer friendly companies of any kind left?

  57. majortom1981 says:

    And everybody wonders why I am sticking with cingular at cablevision . I would rather have service problems then billing problems.

  58. majortom1981 says:

    sor@majortom1981: Sorry I mean cingular and cablevision

  59. Taiyoryu says:

    one word: prepaid (a.k.a. pay for what you actually use)

    When you cancel your service, it’s canceled… at worst, you’re out the unused minutes, but it’s non-refundable anyway.

    Oh, and if you think that shiny new “exclusive” fashion phone is free or is discounted, think again. The cost of the phone or discount is amortized over the contract period. Once the contract is over, the profit margin for the phone service increases because the monthly fee does not drop.

    If you need/want an expensive phone, I recommend doing it the old fashioned way. Save and pay for it.
    I refer you to an SNL PSA:

    [www.youtube.com]

    Moral of the story. Phone contracts suck. You’re being fleeced and you don’t even know it, or you do and you don’t care.

  60. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    Not sure if this is feasible, but has anyone bit back at Verizon, Comcast, or anyone else that fails to refund money promptly by sending the debt (and that is what it is!) to a collection agency? We can use scum to go after the scummier! I bet they’ll take that seriously.
    I don’t know where to start, but anyone smarter want to find out?

  61. gella1102 says:

    Me and my boyfriend had verizon dsl. What a waste that was, the service went back and forth between working and not working and then not working at all. We made several calls to customer service all asking us to do the same set up thing over and over and over again, about 5-9 times in all – very frustrating, we even told them we had done the same thing before, still they insisted. They even sent us a new modem. No luck. They also said they’d send a tech out to the house, 3 times they said this, we both took off work and no show, no call, nothing. Eventually we cancelled and vowed never to return.

  62. iramike says:

    I thought that maybe I was the only one. Now the same thing didn’t happen to me but the big V giving me the snow job did happen. I canceled 5 lines in a time when they were changing the terms of my contract and I was told by several reps that they wouldn’t charge me a EFT on any of the lines. So I canceled and once again double checked about the ETF and was told once again that I was not going to be charged. I got my new service and all. I called again got the total for my bill and once again asked if I would be charged and ETF and was once again told no.

    So a few months later I get a bill from the big V for $1100! I was shocked. So I called and was told that I was being charged a final bill and the ETF. I talked to someone and they said they saw the notes and that they would take care of it and not to worry I would get a final bill.

    So a few more months go by and I get a letter from a debt collector for this amount, I go through all the dispute processes faxing all the junk and what not, and guess what, the big V still wants their $1100 and there is nothing I can do. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one getting the screw job, big companies need to see that we all are internet smart enough now to post and share our issues and work together. Big companies just want their money and they don’t care how we get it. Its a real shame. If I could live without it, I wouldn’t have a cell phone anymore, just cause of all this.

  63. Buran says:

    @kc2idf: Some of us, yes, use Macs or Linux, and CAN’T just use IE. Or some of us choose not to. So we choose to air the gripe (which is a legit one) and/or change providers.

  64. atrusredtalon says:

    I had problems with Verizon a while back, went to the verizon store several times, called their wonderful customer service line several times. Then I got pissed off enough I went to the BBB’s website and filed a report. Low and behold I got a call back from them saying that i will be credited back all of the money that they were screwing me for and a few months of service. Guess the BBB really is worth having around.

  65. rw2 says:

    This is a perfect example of why *never* to use automatic pay systems. Pay your bills online if you wish, but never allow people to take your money from you. Always push the money yourself for the amounts you deem appropriate.

  66. consumerd says:

    @Taiyoryu:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I will never do contracts ever again. I want a phone that works, and doesn’t cost me a lot. I am still looking at finding a Qwerty Keyboard phone (nokia 6800 comes to mind) to use with my prepaid t-mobile service. I am not going to pay a lot for a phone or take a plan that requires me to maintain a phone for 2 years. I pay for what I use… I lose my phone the most I lost is about (as of today) is $112.09. I can come up with $50 for a new phone and the minutes I hope the person that has it, has fun! I am on T-mobile, and so far I like it. I can even get phone cards from Ebay at prices you wouldn’t think are possible. I pay less than $23 most times for $25 TOGO refill cards. Right now I am watching a bid for a 10x$10 and the bid right now is about $43.99 at last check. If that auction doesn’t crack $50 within the next few days, I will make it crack $50 Cause after all, if I can get a $10 for $5 who am I to complain?

  67. failurate says:

    @iramike: It’s difficult, maybe even impossible, but promises and guarantees need to be in writing. Words over the phone don’t mean jack.

  68. merk says:

    Not to blame this on the person who experienced this, but this is one reason i NEVER let anyone do automatic debiting from my checking account. NEVER NEVER NEVER. I can’t understand why anyone would agree to this. Would you walk around paying for everything by letting people just reach into your wallet and take what they want?

    The only automatic thing i let people do with my checking account is put money into it. Anyone can feel free to put money into my checking account at any time :)

    I do online bill pay but I pay the bills. I login, I decide who to pay and how much. I would suggest no one ever allow any company to automatically take money from your checking account.

  69. pyloff says:

    I’m kinda slowe. I’m not slow enough to have any direct bill pay linked to any account of mine. NEVER, never authorize that.

    Would you rather have the money and dispute it, or they took the money and dispute it?

  70. Buran says:

    @AnnieGetYourFun: It is not illegal to record a conversation. It just varies by state how many people need to know you’re recording. And they give you permission, too – “this call may be monitored or recorded…”

    So go right ahead and record, and make sure to record them granting permission.

  71. prthealien says:

    That’s why you should normalize your database schemas!

  72. psyop63b says:

    Why do people give Verizon PERMISSION to take money directly out of their bank accounts???

    Here’s how the story always goes:
    1. You sign up for Verizon/Comcast/BGE/etc. direct debit bill pay.
    2. There’s some billing “error,” and your bill this month is 8x what it should be.
    3. Company (above) takes ALL that money out of your bank account.
    4. YOU get hit with overdraft fees, returned check fees, AND the unpaid bill.
    5. YOU now have to clear up the mess with the bank AND the mess with the billing error.

    REALLY… FRIGGIN’… CONVENIENT! Don’t give Verizon permission to raid your bank account. Just don’t.

  73. niteflytes says:

    I’m convinced. I’m transferring the few direct pays that I have set up to a credit card rather than having them come out of my bank account.

  74. siberian1967 says:

    I use AMEX for autobillpay for just this reason. Amex has two things that really make them great

    1) No questions asked refund usually in cases like this.
    2) They can block charges from vendors

    So. when I cancel a service I just call them and they block future charges. You just give them a sample transaction number and they stop them from billing you.

    Really works great for me, I highly recommend Amex. You pay for the service you get but the service (for me) has been insanely fantastic.

  75. donTHEd says:

    @Taiyoryu:

    Prepaid is not the best option for the majority of the obligation.

    Take, for example a person who uses the lowest advertised plan offered by AT&T or Sprint (I believe Verizon also).
    $39.99 for 450 minutes. Roughly 11 cents per minute.

    Tracfone offers Net10 service, which is .10/minute.

    However, factor in mobile to mobile minutes and night and weekends, and not only is the contract the better value, but overall cheaper.

  76. Jay Levitt says:

    So, um, here’s the thing:

    Verizon Wireless and Verizon are two different companies.

    Verizon Wireless (VZW) is a joint venture between Verizon (VZ) and Vodafone. That means that VZ has a financial stake in VZW, and there may be some upper-upper-upper-management in common, but otherwise, it’d be like not buying a GE refrigerator (made by GE) because you hate GE phones (made by Thomson, last I looked). Or not buying a Mitsubishi TV because you had a bad experience with their car dealership.

  77. nonzenze says:

    ^^ Please listen to Jay. The FIOS install guy was great. Very professional and did absolutely excellent work. The service is fantastic and a better deal than Comcast or Cablevision.

    Sucks though.

  78. NemesisDesignz says:

    Sorry for the pain… But I have dealt with Verizon’s BS before as well… I was a LONG time customer coming over from it’s previous owner (forget the name) Well my story is I had some rough times going on and let my bill slip behind until it finally got cut off. I was told it was going to be sent to collections if I didn’t pay…. Once I was able to get a credit card with some money on it… I payed it off.. It was somewhere in the sum of $460…. well… almost a whole year went by me with the same activated Verizon line and #… Til Suddenly on a Wednesday my phone got cut off. I called and asked why it was cut off… and they told me it was sent to collections. My bill was current have you mind… I was irate and told them to look at my bill. They had no access to it and gave me a # to call.. I called the # and they said they had no record of me paying off my bill when it got cut off a year ago… I asked them to explain then..how the hell have I been using my phone for a year then??? They asked if I had proof and I said I do not know that was a year ago… They said if you find proof of payment then fax it to us. Well luckily my mother is a packrat and she had my old bill from then and it clearly showed it was payed… I faxed it to them the next day…. Then I call.. their office is closed on Thursdays and Fridays. I was out of contract at this time… and I was going out of town that weekend. I called the main # again and spoke with someone demanding my phone to be turned on for the weekend because this was their f*ck up not mine… They wouldn’t do it.. I said fine… I am canceling my account NOW and going to Sprint… So do the data work and put in cancel notice for my account.. I went that Friday and bought a Sprint phone and have been with them ever since. This was in 1999-2000. So I had to bad credit marks from them… the 2nd not my fault so I demanded they remove the 2nd. Verizon will never be my choice again… especially if they never get better data packages that are cheaper than Sprint…

  79. jyrus says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have read this…it’s stories like these that make me sick. I myself vowed last year never to do business with Verizon again. I really hope the day comes soon where ubiquitous, open wifi frees everyone from dealing with these atrocious wireless companies.

  80. benh57 says:

    Get FIOS anyway.

    ALL The media companies Suck. All Of Them.

    But FIOS is still #1 as far as internet service goes.

  81. b612markt says:

    I used to hate Verizon. Then I found Consumerist. I used an EECB for my big giant issue, and Verizon bent over backwards and kissed my butt. They’ve given me “courtesy minutes” when I’ve gone over my allotment, handed over free phones, chargers, bluetooth headsets… All this and they have the best service in Chicago.

    I learned to bitch productively, and it really worked.

    Thanks to Consumerist, my hair is shinier, my wages are higher, I found the perfect car and my cell phone was free!

    Thanks, Consumerist!

  82. wflan says:

    I’m stuck with verizon for the next three years!

    I’m an American studying at UBC. Verizon’s the only carrier where I’m from that has decent rates in Canada (with a special, well hidden plan). I don’t want to have to choose between talking to my American friends and my Canadian friends. Verizon lets me do that w/o changing my number or relying on the internet fro all U.S. communication.

    Unfortunately, I’ve ALREADY had a bad customer service experience involving their stupid website. It was being VERY stubborn about changing the online account from a regular user to the billpayer version (only way to track usage-their normal methods don’t work North of the border). I had to do teh same failed login/re-create password (about 2 mins) over 10 times ON THE PHONE until the CSR was satisfied that the process wasn’t working. He finally agreed to foreward it to a technical team and I never heard from them again.

    The worst part is i was a happy Cingular customer whose contract was coming up for renewal at the same time as the iPhone launch… (gr)

  83. Trackback says:

    If you’re ready to sell your soul to the telco store on the base of some promise of triple-play nirvana, you may want to take a gander at this rant against the many-tentacled Verizon.

  84. VerizonStockholder says:

    This is why I am a Verizon shareholder. Customer Service is designed to be a profit center, not a cost center. I’m entertained that consumer clones like you are so naive. When will you realize that the world is designed for people like me, not you. You’re the labor. You’re the ant. You’re the consumer clone feeding my grandchildren’s fat trust. Thanks for the chuckle… And your money.

  85. papibear says:

    I have had a good experience getting my money back from Verizon. When I was overcharged more than $400 because the moron at the Verizon store set up my account wrong (didn’t activate the in-network option). The first person I spoke too was a horrible CSR who would only say in a condescending voice “You went over on your minutes, so there is nothing I can do but put you on a plan with more minutes.” This is immediately when I stop wasting my time with that person and hang up. I called back and got a nice sounding young man, who listened as I explained the error. I was asked to call back, and the next CSR asked her supervisor for some time away from answering phones so she could research and credit all my overcharges. Within two weeks I had all my money back. I spent less than an hour total on the phone.

    Never had an issue getting on via Firefox.

    Store service has always been total crap.

    Verizon has always had the best service in my area but their pre-paid is crap, as is all prepaid except Virgin Mobile.

    I think cellphones are a total rip off no matter how you stack it.

  86. pyloff says:

    @siberian1967: Yes Amex the 5%ers in the 1.9% world

  87. holdout says:

    My wife worked for a bank, and she informs me that automatic debit is one of the worst things you can do. It can NEVER be revoked. You can send letters, you can close the account, but you’re still on the hook. They will actually pay for a debit on your behalf and then come after you for the money, even though you no longer have an account with them.

    Even without automatic debit, you’re not safe. I once wrote a check for $700 to pay a $700 credit card bill. I got my next statement from the credit card, saying I had paid them $200, so they were charging me for the other $500 plus interest. I called the bank with my checking account and they said they would not be able to find my check until it was mailed back to me with my monthly statement. So I assumed I wrote the check wrong, and then paid the $500 plus interest. I finally got my checking account statement, and there was the check with $700 clearly written and spelled out, but only processed as $200. I photocopied the check, and sent it to the credit card company with a letter asking for a refund of the interest. (Remember, I had already sent them a second check for the $500 plus interest.) A few days later, I got a letter from my checking account bank saying the credit card company asked them for $500 from my checking account, and they sent it to them. I contacted the bank with the checking account, told them the whole story of how the original check was processed wrong and I paid the remaining balance with a second check, and they agreed to put a stop on the check they had already mailed to the credit card company. A few days later, the credit card company sent me a letter saying the bank check bounced and therefore they were demanding the $500 plus a fee for a bounced check. Eventually, I got everything straightened out and immediately closed the checking account and the credit card account.

    What I learned from this is that if a big company even knows your checking account number, then they can raid it whenever they want to. I now pay my Verizon Wireless bill with a credit card. They don’t know my bank account number, and I get a 1.5 percent rebate on my payments.

  88. cheeseinaz says:

    Veronica…Want to get somewhere with Verizon? Email your issue to the CEO of Verizon(Ivan G. Seidenberg)and everyone else in excecutive managment and here’s the important part: cc the CEO of AT&T (Ralph de la Vega), CEO of T-Mobile (Robert P. Dotson)as well as the CEO’s of every other major competitor. If you know how to use Google, you’ll be able to find their email adresses pretty easily. The last thing these guys want is their competition (peers) becoming aware of their dirty laundry. A buddy of mine had similar issues with Home Depot so he took this approach and got a phone call within about an hour of sending it. Good luck.

  89. Jay Levitt says:

    Or you could e-mail Lowell McAdam, President and CEO of Verizon Wireless, since Ivan Seidenberg is not in charge of Verizon Wireless and would presumably have to forward it there anyway.

  90. Charred says:

    @failurate: Not everybody uses Windows.

    Or Mac.

  91. akalish says:

    I can’t claim to have read all the comments, so my apologies if someone already suggested this, but there’s a simple way to prevent surprising debit amounts: don’t sign up for auto-pay.

  92. Xerloq says:

    @youbastid: According to Verizon, once the auto debit is scheduled and you’re notified, it’s too late to stop.

  93. CSR says:

    First off, I used to work at a VZW call center. It was actually working there that made me vow to NEVER do an auto-pay, because when an error is made and a huge amount taken out of your bank, it’s a nightmare to get things sorted out.

    Also, if you ever even suspect that your phone is stolen, have it suspended immediately! If you find the phone, it takes all of two minutes to get it unsuspened. I used to love getting calls to unsuspend a phone, because it was so easy to do. All we literally had to do is click a button. Some reps will then place a test call to the phone just to be certain that it’s working–I would–but it’s pretty rare that there’d be a problem. Maybe twice in the three years I worked there that there was an issue. And even then, all I had to do was have the customer power the phone off and back on. So, minor hassle. But what most people do these days when they’ve stolen a phone is start downloading like mad. If they make calls, the calls can end up pointing back to the person who stole it. (Example: they check the calls made and find out the one person the people that were called all know is John Doe). Now, it sounds like there were technical issues as well, but even if that weren’t so, I’m sure whomever took the phone started downloading right away. I’ve seen statements where the customer lost the phone at 9pm, didn’t know it and went to bed. Found out it was missing at 8am when they got up. In the meantime, the thief stayed up all night and did nothing but download games and music. You can just imagine how high the bill was with a download being done every couple of minutes or so. And if they don’t have a data plan, they’d also get charged $1.99 a MB. That’s why I would always tell customers that if they have no intention of ever doing any downloads, to go ahead and block data so that if anyone ever gets ahold of the phone that shouldn’t have it, they won’t be able to run up a crazy bill. Yeah, if it’s clearly a stolen phone issue VZW would refund the money. But say you are on a fixed income, have auto pay set up, and a $500 bill comes in when you were expecting it to be less than $100. Far better to keep the problem from coming up than to have to get it fixed later.

    And the bit about VZW not giving him the info on the stolen phone list—what VZW does is put a block on the ESN (electronic serial number) of the phone. Having this number won’t help you find the phone. And, before he had the account canceled, he could’ve gotten the ESN off the website. But if anyone wants to have their ESN handy for any reason, you can get it off the website or (if it isn’t already missing) off the phone itself. If you take the battery out, it will be underneath where the battery sits. Some phones will say DEC or HEX–that just tells what type of ESN it is.

    And the reason the rep wouldn’t have given his last name is actually to help prevent someone from getting info on accounts that they shouldn’t. People would call into VZW trying to get passwords and other info. Often, they’d claim to be VZW reps. Usually they’d give a common first name (the one I heard most often was Bob). Then they’d give a last name, hoping that we’d have a match. Now, even if they give a correct rep’s name, we weren’t supposed to give info without them verifying either a password or last four of SSN. But some people don’t follow policy, and are too trusting. So say someone calls in with a random problem or question, and wants to know my last name. If I give it to them, they can call back and claim to be me. If the rep checks the directory, my name would’ve been listed. It would’ve been especially convincing in my case, as I have an unusual name.

    However, any rep that enters an account has their first name and call center time stamped into the account. So any time you call in, make a note of the rep’s first name, and the time and date you called. If they give you wrong info, or are rude, or even if they give you awesome service and want to make sure the company knows about it, having that info would be enough for them to know who you were referring to.