Man Escapes Verizon ETF Via EECB

Talyor was able to leave his Verizon contract without paying an early termination fee by launching an executive email carpet bomb loaded with a polite email. In it, he says that customer service reps have refused to transfer him to a supervisor and now he needs some help. In the ensuing email exchange with the executive customer service rep who helps him, he tells her how he wants to leave because of the raise in text message rates. Frequent readers of The Consumerist will remember that when a cellphone company raises its text message rates, it’s a material change to the contract, meaning that the original contract is void and the other party can walk away from the contract without penalty. Taylor wins because he’s polite, professional, persistent, and acts like he’s conducting a business transactions, which is exactly what he’s doing. Read his blow by blow exchange, inside…


From: Taylor
To: Ivan.Seidenberg@verizonwireless.com; Strigl, Dennis F.; Townsend, John; McAdam, Lowell; Lynch, Richard; Gurnani, Roger; John.Hinshaw@verizonwireless.com; Zipperstein, Steve; Debra.Carroll@verizonwireless.com; Delehanty, Martha; Jim.Gerace@verizonwireless.com; Melone, Anthony J; Steve.Zipperstein@verizonwireless.com; Margaret.Feldman@verizonwireless.com; Lanman, Mike; Michael.Lanman@verizonwireless.com; Gerace, James J; Plating, Jack (EVP & COO); Waghray, Ajay; Small, David; McGean, Jim; James.McGean@verizonwireless.com; Walden, Marni; Devlin, Patrick J; Maiorana, Michael; Falco, Charlie R.; Berberich, Christine; Eileen.M.Creeden@verizonwireless.com; Creeden, Eileen; Bowman, Anthony E.; Tony.Bowman@verizonwireless.com; Stacy, Brian; Nancy.B.Clark@verizonwireless.com; Clark, Nancy; TJ.Fox@verizonwireless.com; T.J.Fox@verizonwireless.com; Lou.Sigillo@verizonwireless.com; Ivan.G.Seidenberg@verizonwireless.com; Dennis.F.Strigl@verizonwireless.com; Lowell.C.McAdam@verizonwireless.com; Richard.J.Lynch@verizonwireless.com; Steven.E.Zipperstein@verizonwireless.com; Haller, Greg; Tang, Roger C; Jerald.M.Fountain@verizonwireless.com; Jerald.Fountain@verizonwireless.com; Cruz, Luis (Regional President – Central Texas); Pamela.Tope@verizonwireless.com; Mango, Jeff; Henze, Kay A.; Dixon, Kenneth S (Regional President); Hand, Charles;

Good afternoon all,

I have been having pretty poor luck with your Customer Service Department today.

While I always intend to follow proper procedure, it does not seem as though I am going to make any progress by contacting them. I have now been refused a supervisor on two separate occasions.

I am hoping that one of you fine folks may be able to put me in touch with someone in a position of higher authority who may be able to assist me and get this issue taken care of.

Here is my pertinent account information:

Name: Taylor XXXX
Phone#: 612.432.xxxx
Account#: 0485xxxxxx-00001

Please have someone who may assist me contact me via e-mail to discuss this further.

Thank you for your time in consideration in getting this matter resolved.

Taylor XXXX
612.432.xxxx (Cell)
763.263.xxxx (Home)

———————–

2/15/08, Lisa.Beichner@verizonwireless.com wrote:

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless.

I received a phone call from our executive staff that you are seeking assistance. I called your work and home numbers and left voice mails in an effort to assist you immediately. Later, I was informed that you prefer email communication. I sincerely apologize if I bothered you or your family with voicemails.

How may I assist you?

Lisa Beichner
MWA Supervisor, Executive Relations

————————————-
From: Taylor
To: Beichner, Lisa

Lisa,

Thank you very much for your attention in this matter. Please do not worry about the phone contact – it is completely fine; I just requested e-mail contact as this is a much more accessible option for me at this point in the day.

I recently received a postcard from your company indicating that the terms of my wireless contract would be changing. In this postcard, it stated that if I would like to cancel my service within 60 days of receiving the notice, the ETF would be waived for the cancellation. It also stated that if I continued to use the service, the company would assume that I agree to the changes, which I do not.

Earlier today, I contacted Customer Service to pay the final balance on the cancelled account; however, I was advised that an ETF was included in the balance, which I explained should be removed. The representative seemed to have some trouble understanding my request, so I attempted to clarify further. At this point in the call, she still did not seem to understand the request, so I requested to speak with her supervisor, who refused to take the call.

I later called back again in an attempt to rectify the situation, but was met with the same battle.

I am just looking for my ETF to be waived as I was previously advised it would be. I feel that I have been fair and consistent in my dealings with your company and have always received fantastic treatment. I was absolutely shocked and disappointed when this occurred as I do not feel that it is a correct representation of your company or how it wants to treat it’s customers.

If I can provide any additional information or be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Once again, I am truly grateful that you have taken the complaint seriously and have taken the initiative to contact me. This alone speaks volumes about your company.

Best Regards,
Taylor

————————————–

On 2/15/08, Lisa.Beichner@verizonwireless.com wrote:

I apologize for the difficulties you experienced when speaking with our Customer Service personnel. Please know that your feedback is very valuable for training purposes. I will personally follow-up with our Customer Service personnel.

I am disappointed that Verizon Wireless would lose your valuable patronage only after five months of service. I understand that you disconnected because of a text message rate increase. Because you had Unlimited Messaging, this rate increase did not apply to your account.

Please help me make our business better. Is there another area where we failed you? Perhaps you had an equipment or network problem? Is there any way to win back your patronage?

—————————————

From: Taylor
To: Beichner, Lisa

Lisa,

I appreciate the attempt; however, I have already ported the number and switched the account to another network provider. I had attempted to pursue service with Verizon again (the recent five month membership), but could not get signal at my home. Furthermore, when switching to a data-based account/plan, I was not able to find a plan to suit my needs.

Also, while I did have unlimited text messaging on my account, the text messaging rates that were in place at the time of activation were a huge contributing factor in my decision to activate service with your company. In the event of financial hardship, if I were to eliminate my text messaging plan, the rates would most definitely affect my service, which is another reason that I made the decision to cancel.

Unfortunately this last experience with your company has left a bad taste in my mouth and I do not wish to reactivate my service. Again, I am very impressed at your ability to offer this in such a non-threatening manner, but am not interested at this time. I will be sure to save your contact information in the event that I change my mind.

When you have a free minute, could you please send me my final adjusted balance? I will be happy to call and pay this in full upon receipt.

Thank you again,
Taylor

——————————————

From: Lisa.Beichner@VerizonWireless.com
To: Taylor

I truly appreciate the time you have taken to elaborate on this information. Thank you for your time.

I have issued an account credit of $152.63 that reduces your balance to zero.

On behalf of the Verizon Wireless executive staff, please accept our sincere apologies. I hope we may be your provider of choice in the future.

Sincerely,
Lisa Beichner

—————————————–
From: Taylor
To: Lisa.Beichner@verizonwireless.com

Thank you very much for your help.

Have a great weekend!

Taylor via Sprint Motorola Q9c Wireless Handheld
t.xxx@gmail.com

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. APFPilot says:

    I like the last email signature, ZING!

  2. This is a good template. His e-mails were polite, professional, and concise. Nice work, T-dawg!

  3. moore850 says:

    “I received a phone call from our executive staff that you are seeking assistance. I called your work and home numbers and left voice mails in an effort to assist you immediately. Later, I was informed that you prefer email communication.I sincerely apologize if I bothered you or your family with voicemails.”

    Wow! That’s the type of response I’d expect if I were King Of The World or something… awesome.

  4. Beerad says:

    While it’s always a good practice to be courteous and professional, be careful about coming off like a time traveler from 1890 — I’m not sure when the last time was that somebody outside of a Faulkner novel used the phrase “one of you fine folks” with a straight face.

    Still, this is a great example of how civility will get you much farther than threatening to discharge a firearm in someone’s face, or perhaps smashing up their office with a hammer.

  5. nerdherd628 says:

    It’s true, civility will get you much farther. I work at a Best Buy
    as a salesman and I will bend over backwards to help people if they are
    nice and polite. It will usually get you what you want assuming you
    don’t have unreasonable demands. Best Buy does this because one goal is
    organic growth, so even if a customer experience in the store taking a
    loss, if you leave happy on account of the service you get you’ll more
    than likely come back for other purchases.

    On the other hand, someone being rude to me or contempuous often
    puts me (and others) on the defensive and often makes us want to “hold
    the line” policy wise, meaning it will be harder for you to get what
    you want.

    On a side not, I just want to say that I had a kick ass experience with an AT&T store when I had to get a new phone.

  6. He ran into problems canceling due to a text message rate increase that didn’t apply to him (because he has unlimited) and was surprised the low-level CSR’s had problems? Wow. I’m not shocked the EECB didn’t just turn into a “do what it takes to make this go away”.

    He was polite and clear in what he wanted, I’ll give him that…

  7. amejr999 says:

    @structuralpoke: I agree. The increase didn’t have a material change to him. He should have called Verizon and had them agree to waive the ETF before porting.

  8. Ben Popken says:

    @structuralpoke: @amejr999: Even though that’s a lie cellphone companies have had their customer service reps tell, that’s not the way material changes to contract work. It doesn’t have to materially affect him at the moment he decides to cancel. The rates were there when he initially activated the phone and they factored into his purchase decision. That’s all you need.

  9. impudence says:

    @structuralpoke: You are wrong that the rate change did not apply to him. I got out of verizon with no hassle and no ETF just 2 weeks ago based on the same issue and I had a txt plan. International txt message rates were being raised as well even if you had a txt plan. I asked for the ETF to be waived by the CSR, she refused, I asked for a supervisor. Within 5 min I was speaking with a supervisor who while trying to convince me to stay relented to my requests and made a notation in my account to waive the ETF. I picked up my new iphone that same evening. Got my final bill from Verizon last week with no ETF.

  10. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Beerad: I use that phrase all the time. Usually in an ironic context, but still.

  11. PermanentStar says:

    @Ben Popken:

    So…what if your contract states that the company reserves the rights to revise the rates and charges?

  12. youbastid says:

    @amejr999: It’s irrelevant whether or not it caused a material change. He got a postcard in the mail that told him he could cancel with no ETF.

  13. tmlfan81 says:

    The point is that he was notified by mail that an increase in text message charges would go into effect. Based on the wording of his contractual agreement, he was entitled to cancel his service without an early termination fee. The agreement does not take into consideration whether or not the user has an unlimited text messaging plan as this could be considered a promotional rate and subject to change at any time, where as the cost per text message shouldn’t usually deviate.

    Prices go up all the time – based on market demand and network load. Verizon saw the need to increase the per message pricing and since this would technically void a contract they must notify end users in writing of the change and offer a window of opportunity to be let out of their current contracts without penalty.

  14. sprocket79 says:

    After reading that whole thing, why was I not surprised to hear that he was on Sprint? Sounds to me like he was using an excuse to get on SERO. Not that I’m knocking him for it, it’s just pretty transparent.

  15. BrianH says:

    OK for the love of God, why in the world where this is not officially documented in one place in an unequivocal manner for each carrier?

    In other words, it seems like depending on how the customer asks, and which CSR the customer gets, the fee may or may not be waived.

    I went through this a while back with Sprint until I escalated to the Consumerist hotline when Sprint changed their fees.

    Some smartass will probably reply “you answered your own question… they don’t spell it out unequivocally because then more people would cancel, they want to make it hard.” Bzzztttt… I guess my real question is more WHY ARE THE CARRIERS ALLOWED TO BE SO DECEPTIVE, SNEAKY and UNDERHANDED?

    Who’s looking out for *us*? (Besides Consumerist that is.)

    Sorry for the rant, but I just don’t understand how every week there can be so much damn confusion over what should be a simple policy-based procedure. Every week there is something about “avoid ETF via…” and then the comments are 50-50 regarding success rates even when they follow the same script and cite the same material changes.

    When I go to In-N-Out to buy a Double-Double, I don’t go into the transaction wondering how much I’m going to pay “this time”. It’s clear & consistent. You would think a frickin’ multi-billion dollar conglomerate could have its s*** together at least as well.

    Whatever. No more coffee for me in the morning. Or at least decaf from now on.

  16. oakie says:

    @HeartBurnKid: i don’t think you know the difference between irony and facetiousness.

  17. matto says:

    I just don’t get why the airplane is dropping toilet paper.

  18. midwestkel says:

    I love that stab in the back signature on the last email!

  19. prameta1 says:

    while i usually don’t like “blame the consumer” comments, in this case it really is a shame that they didn’t stiff him with that ETF. was that obnoxious signature at the end really necessary? with people like these it’s just a matter of time before the EECB becomes useless. and isn’t sprint the best buy of wireless? who’s really having the last laugh here?

  20. sam says:

    @APFPilot: Ha, I thought the same thing. Not sure if it was intentional, but I think phones sometimes add those automatically. Still funny!

  21. tmlfan81 says:

    I think the OP knew what he was doing when he submitted that last reply. I just wish Verizon had IMAP offering for Gmail Apps for your Domain.

  22. tstephen says:

    To all of those who have responded to this -

    The cancellation was based on my decision to move to Sprint; however, I was still entitled to cancel the service with no ETF as they had sent me the notification. I suppose I could have mentioned that I managed several cell phone stores in the past and understand carrier contracts and the hoops they normally make you jump through. Unfortunately, it took my initial e-mail to finally get some action taken.

    As far as the signature in the last e-mail is concerned, it was actually unintentional at the time. I had been corresponding with them while at work and by the time she sent the last reply, I was no longer in the office. Fortunately, the Sprint SERO plan allows for all incoming e-mail to my Gmail account to be delivered to my phone. It wasn’t until forwarding this over to Consumerist that I even noticed the signature… :)

  23. HeartBurnKid says:

    @oakie: Everything I know about irony, I learned from Alanis Morisette. :p

  24. sprocket79 says:

    @tstephen: Guess I called it right.

  25. speechteach says:

    It actually works.

    I’ve had a problem with a refurbished Voyager going out me on the first day of a 8 day vacation in New York. No phone and no GPS in an area I had never been to before. I was on a month-to-month contract. I spoke to a rep who sent me to the Newark, NJ main store because “they have technicians who can repair the phone”. After driving through Newark for an hour (without GPS), we found the store. The store had no technicians. I then spoke to one rep and two supervisors who said I would have to 1) purchase a new phone with a new 2yr agreement or 2) purchase a “certified pre owned” phone. I had no alternative than to purchase a new phone (and new 2 year agreement) with the intention of most likely returning it within 30 “”worry free guarantee” days (going back to m-to-m agreement, etc.). After returning home, spoke with 2 reps/1 supervisor – same response.

    I used Taylors approach and the email addresses. Within *5 minutes* of sending the email, I received a call from Patrick Devlin, head of NY Region. He offered to send a new Voyager with a new 2yr contract. Instead, we agreed to another refurbished Voyager and resuming the month-to-month agreement.

    I was reluctant to use the mass email approach, but it worked. Below is my updated executive email list (based upon the returned email addressed I received from Taylors list).

    The question remains, though, why they as a company decided to put me through three days without a phone or GPS while I was on vacation in an area with which I was not familiar – and sending me through Newark, NJ for no good reason. Sending another refurbished phone is a much better (and simple) business decision rather than stranding a customer without phone or GPS in an unfamiliar area or forcing the customer to buy a new phone and enter into a new 2yr agreement. The latter leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth…

    Here’s the updated email list:

    john.townsend@verizonwireless.com; lowell.mcadam@verizonwireless.com; richard.lynch@verizonwireless.com; roger.gurnani@verizonwireless.com; steve.zipperstein@verizonwireless.com; martha.delehanty@verizonwireless.com; anthony.melone@verizonwireless.com; mike.lanman@verizonwireless.com; james.gerace@verizonwireless.com; ajay.waghray@verizonwireless.com; david.small@verizonwireless.com; marni.walden@verizonwireless.com; patrick.devlin@verizonwireless.com; michael.maiorana@verizonwireless.com; charlie.falco@verizonwireless.com; christine.berberich@verizonwireless.com; eileen.creeden@verizonwireless.com; brian.stacy@verizonwireless.com; nancy.clark@verizonwireless.com; greg.haller@verizonwireless.com; roger.tang@verizonwireless.com; Pamela.Tope@verizonwireless.com; jeff.mango@verizonwireless.com; kay.henze@verizonwireless.com;
    anoly.bristol@verizonwireless.com;
    jim.davis@verizonwireless.com

    Thanks, Taylor!

  26. PLATTWORX says:

    I just want to say I used the updated EECB list recently and it was a great help.
    My phone broke under warranty. The local Verizon store had none and refused to let me swap for something else… instead, they insisted I let them order it and wait 4-5 days.

    I did so with no choice but was without a working phone.

    I decided to EECB them and within 30 minutes I had call from a VERY nice person on the list who called the local store, TOLD them to swap my broken phone for a new one of a model in stock and done.