Round 36: DeBeers vs Verizon

This is Round 36 in our Worst Company in America contest, DeBeers vs Verizon!

Inside, readers comments from previous rounds on why they hate each company…

DeBeers:

“their ever increasing “month’s salary” figure. I pay the government with my first 4-5 months of salary, and now, if I don’t want to be castrated in my sleep, Debeers says I better spend 3 months salary on her diamond. I remember when it used to be 1 month.”

“showing the person you love isnt buying them a chunk of carbon, how you treat that person every day of your life together is love, shiny overpriced rocks are epic fail.”

“DeBeers is a racket. But they probably have the world’s most successful marketing campaign in convincing women that diamonds are valuable and equal Love.”

“If she loves you, she won’t care about what diamond she gets.”

“DeBeers for sure. I can’t stand what the diamond industry has done to American culture. He doesn’t love you unless he spends $10,000 on a ring? Uh, right.”

“No, really honey, here’s how this works. I give some crappy monopoly $10,000 and you get this little shiny glittery thing and that proves how much I love you. See, I prove my love for you by giving away all my hard earned cash. Why, you ask? Because the TV said I had to!!”

“Speding a quarter of a year’s salary on something an exploited african pulled out of the ground is the only way to show someone you really care.”

“Speaking of DeBeers, when do I get that check from the class action lawsuit?”

“hey have a near monopoly on diamond mining and use it to create an artificial scarcity about diamonds driving the price up. Second, their evil (yet successful) marketing campaigns created the idea of diamond engagement rings as a necessity and are the reason diamonds are almost never resold. Third, the activities of the original founders of DeBeers makes Ford look like Mother Theresa (if she weren’t an anti-semite, as well).”

“If you want a non-blood diamond, you can get yourself a Canadian diamond. Not only do the miners survive, but Canada has been standing up to DeBeers for years. Plus, they have micro-engraved maple leaves on them. Which is neat.”

“Really? No mention of slave labor? That’s my #1 reason I’d vote for DeBeers over all other competition, including Comcast. But hey, children dying in diamond mines halfway around the world? Who cares, I missed the latest episode of Lost because my cable went all screwy! *Le sob*”

Verizon:

“Verizon recently tried to charge me a $175 ETF for getting out of my contract 1 day early.”

“In addition to their terrible customer service and stealin ways, add to it all the data they illegally gave to the gov’t with no warrant”

“the basic structure of pricing in verizon gets me. their v-cast network is simply retarded.”

“Verizon has (incorrectly) turned me over to collections twice, now. Yes, I’ve gotten it straightened out twice, but it’s time spent that could have been spent more productively.”

“With Verizon, you’re screwed. In our area, there’s only one other ISP – Comcast. So it’s get screwed by Verizon or get screwed by Comcast. Not even the opportunity to pick the lesser of two evils…”

“these damn locked cell phones are a hindrance and sooo many hidden fees”

“Their Fios system is absolutely terrible. 50% of my calls are dropped. They lie. They say things will be sent that they won’t send. They not only forgot to show up to install, but had no recollection of the order. They have several different systems, some of which can’t recognize you – good luck calling in. They suck!”

“Verizon does keep setting people’s houses on fire installing FIOS …”

“They half-ass build networks and then tease those without accessibility to their service with advertisements to sign up for their service. It pisses me off that they claim they are available in Baltimore County and for the past 3 months, I’ve been seeing advertisements for it while for the past 3 months, I have yet to see the service as available in my area.”

“For making me call THREE different geo-locations (India, Pennsylvania, Missouri) just to get my DSL bumped UP to 3.0Mbps…

AND then to have them call me five days later to inform me that since I am more than 13,000 feet from the central office I cannot realize the full potential of 3.0 thus I am saddled with my pre-order speed of 1.5Mbps with “the ADDED BONUS of a FULL YEAR CONTRACT!

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america

STILL OPEN FOR VOTING: Exxon vs United Airlines, Sony vs Ticketmaster, Comcast vs The American Arbitration Association

Comments

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  1. DeBeers, hands down. Probably responsible for the most useless aggregate outlay of cash for artificial wealth in the Western world. WorldCom to the Enron power.

    At least Verizon has a place I can call with issues (with varying degrees of success)

  2. Bladefist says:

    I know my experience with verizon is not the same with everyone, but I dont think they should even be in this contest.

    Debeers hands down.

  3. B says:

    Hey, Verizon recently tried to charge me $175 for getting out of my contract one day early, too. I was able to get them to reverse the charge, but now I have to wait 2 months to get the $17 they owe me back. It only took one call to get the charge reversed, which was nice. I still voted for DeBeers, though.

  4. AndyDuncan says:

    36% of you are saying Verizon, really? The incompetence and anti-consumerism of “My phone got cut off” or “They showed up late to my FIOS install, twice” doesn’t really compare to a systematically cruel, nearly genocidal mining operation of a commodity product coupled with one of the largest, most successfully deceptive marketing campaigns of the last 100 years.

    People are dying, but yeah, your cell phone coverage is horrible!

  5. amyschiff says:

    Awful personal experience with Verizon involving staff literally pointing and laughing at my mother and myself when trying to enter the store about 10 minutes before closing. When we tried to open the door they just stood there and shrugged with really smug looks on their faces. They could have at least been kind enough to open the door and say we’re sorry, we’re about to close.

    On top of that, trying to get a discount applied (from my father’s work) as well as adding phones to one account took 3 months to get it sorted out. Nothing is more frustrating than having to re-explain a situation to new sales associates who don’t seem to understand (or care).

  6. Why should Verizon waive their ETF one day early? There has to be a cutoff at some point, and the prescribed service anniversary date is the one you agreed to in your contract, after all.

  7. DeepFriar says:

    DeBeers for the blood diamonds, not so much the salary thing. They can’t be blamed for people being suckers.
    …or can they?

  8. gamehendge2000 says:

    @B:

    Umm, couldn’t you have waited on extra day to have canceled?

    DeBeers should be in this for price fixing. Not because everyone disagrees with their marketing.

  9. @Ash78: It’s harder, IMO. When you call Verizon with a problem, you have to talk to a BOT over the phone, and if you don’t give them exactly the expected response, or you have a strong regional accent, or you’re just getting a cold, forget it. “Press 1 for English” is nothing compared to the level of rage this inspires in me.

    DeBeers is in the business of selling shiny rocks. There is no law in most advanced countries that says you have to spend $(annual salary)/4 on one of the their shiny rocks, so you are perfectly free to not buy them if you don’t want to. If your significant other doesn’t like it, if just handing her an equivalent stack of $100 bills (or a new Corolla, in her favorite color) simply won’t cut it, you can find another one of those, too.

    Unlike DeBeers, Verizon hinders commerce with its crappy customer service and all-around incompetence. So Verizon wins, IMO.

  10. blackmage439 says:

    Wow… the return of the stellar, WORKING voting app, AND a lengthy description of why people voted for the companies. Nice work, Consumerist!

    BTW, we don’t need THAT many quotes. I think it would be more efficient to just give a brief description of the despicable practices the companies engage in, rather than a slew of isolated incidents. I.e., I would rather hear that a company’s CEO eats babies, than “TEHY MESED UP MAH ACCOWNTZ!!11!!1″

  11. scarysnow says:

    Wow, I have to choose between either petty annoyances with cell phones (already a luxury) to murder, misery, and mass deceit. Hmmm…!

  12. B says:

    @gamehendge2000: Well, Verizon was supposed to terminate the services the next morning after my phone number had been switched to the new company, but it was done that night instead.

  13. @Steaming Pile: Good points. I’ve only been with VZW for two billing cycles, and so far they’ve screwed up both bills. But I’ve gotten a person on the phone within 2 minutes and they’ve been able to access the information quickly and efficiently (moreso than any other IVR phone call I’ve had, save Discover Card which has been pretty awesome to me over the past 15 years).

    Yes, the DeBeers marketing can be ignored, but with most of 51% of our population completely brainwashed, fighting it can be a losing battle.

  14. mtarget says:

    We’ve had Verizon cell phones for 8 years or more and had prompt service for what few problems we’ve encountered.

  15. Gann says:

    Ben, nice quote-based summaries.

  16. chiieddy says:

    DeBeers – Verizon hasn’t killed anyone… yet (or that we know about)

  17. nadmonk says:

    I got to go with Debeers on this one. You kind of expect a phone company to try to screw you out of money and have bad customer service.

    But Debeers is trying to make you feel good about spending way too much money on artificially inflated prices and ignore human suffering.

    You can give them the boot, save money, and look good doing it too. I bought my wife a 1 ct. princess cut simulated diamond that is so good our jeweler had to measure the specific gravity to determine it wasn’t a diamond. And it only cost $50-70 (I don’t remember exactly). That was from Diamond Nexus Labs. You can get loose or mounted, and their customer service was actually really good when I did need to exchange something.

  18. Verizon was guaranteed my vote when they sued the FCC to stop open access on the 700 MHZ spectrum but since their anti-competition actions like crippling phones (cough, iPhone) and ridiculous contract termination fees aren’t exclusively their trademark, I’ll cut them some slack.

  19. Pigmann says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate Verizon as much as the next consumerist reader, but as far as I know, horrible customer service hasn’t killed anyone yet.

  20. @nadmonk: Alternatively, you could have gone to any pawn broker and found a really nice piece of actual crystallized carbon for a fraction of what one might expect to pay at the jewelery store. Does it represent someone else’s broken dreams, or did it come from someone’s estate? Who knows, and who cares? You didn’t buy it from DeBeers, so your hands are clean.

  21. Nighthawke says:

    Consumerists have yet to tangle with their business departments, and I pray you don’t either. Had trouble with a T1 at the ISP I worked for, took them over 6 hours while our clients kept calling in asking when, when, when. All the problem was that some jerk linesman unplugged the wrong dammed smart jack at the CO.

    More recently, trouble on a WAN circuit, they kept insisting that it was on our end. Dead circuit, red lights on the jack. Come to find out a backhoe got hungry and sliced a cable… The fools!
    And their billing, a nightmare to behold!

  22. Bad customer service (Verizon) vs. death due to blood diamonds. Who voted for Verizon?

  23. GearheadGeek says:

    de Beers may be more intrinsically evil, but they are much less necessary. In fact, they and their products are completely unnecessary. NO ONE needs a natural diamond. Many millions WANT them, yes, but no one needs them. While someone will doubtless argue that no one needs telephone or internet service in order to survive, I would point out that I’m currently dependent upon internet and telephone service for my livelihood, because we live near my partner’s medical school rather than near my employer’s offices. (Oh, and happily I’m not dependent upon a single provider for either service, I have a choice of a couple of broadband providers.)

    If enough people really believed de Beers is evil, they could be put out of business in short order. A lot of people would have to die in FiOS-technician-related fires before Verizon is more worthy of a boycott than de Beers, forget about voting on a forum.

  24. Geekybiker says:

    DeBeers is evil. Diamonds went from a nothing stone to being something every girl wants to “prove” your love under them. They manipulate supply to keep prices unreasonably high. They supply what will quite possibly be the single largest waste of money in your life.

  25. Balisong says:

    Oh man, my wacko quote was used in the description. I feel silly :|

    But yeah, DeBeers all the way!

  26. marchhare22 says:

    @GearheadGeek: First good argument for Verizon.. still no one dies. You say lively hood but in reality you could just go work at some crappy food place. At this crappy food place no one is standing around you carrying automatic weapons making sure you don’t eat a fry.

  27. Trai_Dep says:

    Kudos on including contextual quotes for the nominees, Consumerist!

    Hey, point of clarification for those more knowledgeable than me: I thought Verizon was one of the telecoms (and Qwest) who didn’t roll over and illegally spy on us because Bush asked them to. What’s the scoop?

  28. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Blood Diamonds FTW!

  29. IrisMR says:

    I hate diamonds. I want something that is actually colorful. You know, a stone with color.

    And there’s lots of fake cheap stones that do the trick. All I want is for the actual ring to be silver. Gold is ugly and cheap stainless metal leaves ugly marks on your fingers (and grow uglier with time.) You can usually get a ring of that status for 15-20 bucks.

    I’m a cheap date aren’t I?

  30. karan1003 says:

    @GearheadGeek:

    True, but Verizon hasn’t caused third-world countries to fall under political stress.

    Verizon is necessary, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re the worse company. Somehow, manipulation of the masses beats out bad customer service.

  31. Kounji says:

    @karan1003: Seconded

    @Pigmann: also seconded but I can think of a dozen hospital stories

  32. DeBeers hands down.. the stupid stuff Verizon does pales compared to the world wide effects of those guys!

  33. holocron says:

    Hey, when should I expect my claim settlement again DeBeers for the diamonds I bought?

  34. GearheadGeek says:

    @marchhare22: @karan1003:
    I should perhaps have been more clear in the way I wrote that. I think de Beers IS more intrinsically evil, but I think a vote on a Consumerist forum isn’t the way to deal with them. Just stop buying diamonds. No one is using natural diamonds for industrial purposes, no one NEEDS to give de Beers a dime. Let their investors eat their diamonds if they’re hungry. I certainly didn’t mean to say that Verizon is more evil, I meant to illustrate the fact that Verizon is more USEFUL, therefore more worthy of tolerance of its minor evilness.

  35. Cervantes3773 says:

    Just as something to chew on; most (~80%) diamonds mined are not gem-quality and are used for industrial purposes (saws, drills, abrasives, experiments with heat/pressure).

    So, yes, DeBeers is shady and horrid and eats babies but diamonds have uses beyond shiny-pretty things…

  36. JustaConsumer says:

    People die because of DeBeers.

  37. Lucky225 says:

    @JustaConsumer:

    Meh, people die because of verizon too:

    [consumerist.com]

    But yea, DaBeers is def. more evil.

  38. BlackFlag55 says:

    DeBeers. I can’t think of a good reason why Debeers shouldn’t be in a Class by itself, they’re so evil. Epic, epic stories of colonialism run wild, lives ruined in the tens of thousands, diamonds bought off the market all over the world to keep an artifical price level. Ridiculously evil.

    But then … Verizon. Hmmmm.

    OK. DeBeers. Middle finger and all.

  39. Lambasted says:

    DeBeers definitely! Rotten stinking company. Diamonds have lost all of their luster for me. It dawned on me one day that the obsession and worship humans have for a rock–albeit a bright, shiny one–is silly.

    But our silly obsession wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t perpetuated from the toil and lives of so many poor Africans. Companies like DeBeers swoop in and rape African countries of the only real revenue-producing resource many of them have and we wonder why so many Africans are still living in huts while the rest of the world is driving Mercedes.

    Middle Eastern countries would be as poor as African countries if foreigners came in and pumped out all the oil for their own profit. At least Middle Eastern countries were smart enough to fend off greedy, self-serving foreign companies.

    African countries should repatriate their diamond, gold, and silver mines and kick out exploiting foreign companies.

    By the way, those were excellent comments posted in the DeBeers recap.

  40. edosan says:

    @JustaConsumer: Just was I was thinking. Nobody ever dies because of getting cable.

  41. unravel says:

    I voted for Verizon. I was in the final trimester of a high risk pregnancy when we moved into this apartment. Two weeks prior to moving in, we called Verizon and scheduled an appointment to have them turn service on, on our move-in date. It was a Thursday. Having dealt with Verizon in the past, I was not shocked when Saturday rolled around and there was still no dial tone, so I called their residential services and asked when somebody would be out, and explained my need. I was told somebody had been out (news to me! I was here all day, and in the past, even when they haven’t needed to enter to turn a phone on, somebody’s always knocked to let us know it was on, or to drop off a phonebook and some info, or whatever).

    They said they’d send somebody out on Monday, and they did. The guy was creepy beyond belief. He was like, some crazy hippie who was overly friendly in a way that made my skin crawl, until I told him that the Grateful Dead stuff ’round the apartment was my husband’s and I never listened to them, because they weren’t my thing. His mood did a complete 180, which was nice because rather than talking to me, he went down to the basement and connected stuff. He came back up, PLUGGED MY PHONE IN and had me listen to the dialtone, then told me he would CHECK ON ME TOMORROW. As he left, I was like “What?!?”. He didn’t drive off immediately, his truck was still in back of my apartment for like 10 mins. I checked the phones again in that time, and channel surfed, then he was gone. I rushed to get online (yAY dialup), only to realize that I had no dialtone. I unplugged the phone, powered down my computer, and waited 10 mins before trying them again. No go.

    I had my husband’s cell at that point, so I called the repair line, and explained what was going on, asked if they’d send somebody out ASAP, and explained why I needed a phone. The woman that I spoke to said there’d be somebody there that afternoon. Nobody showed. I called back that evening, and somebody was supposed to come out the next day. They could only give me an afternoon appointment the day after that, so I had to miss a doctor’s appointment. NOBODY CAME. I rescheduled yet again, and they were supposed to show the morning after that. They didn’t, and when I went to my doctor’s appointment that day, my blood pressure was so high they sent me to the hospital and were talking about inducing labor. Finally got released, came home, called Verizon, and asked what was going on. The rep I talked to told me that my appointment had been canceled because Mr. Crazy Hipppie/Mr. Gonna Check On You Tomorrow Sugartits!, said there was a problem with my wiring (nevermind the fact he had me listen to the dialtone to let me know things were working and never mentioned wires), and they canceled the appointment on his word. Not bothering to inform me (they had my husband’s cell #). They tell me that I can have this fixed for $92.00 PLUS LABOR, for the first 30 minutes. I tell them I’ll need to speak to my husband.

    I call back the next day, prepared to pay $92 plus god knows what, so that I can have a phone. This time, they tell me that they cannot fix the wiring because I live in an apartment complex, and the wires are the building owner’s responsibility. I call the property manager, she basically tells me to fuck off because “phones aren’t a necessity!”, even when you’re *this close* to a medical emergency. No big deal.

    I call Verizon back, tell them that the apartment manager has no intentions of paying, and that I will do it. THEY WON’T LET ME. Fearing that dealing with Verizon will be the death of me, I have my husband cancel service and add me to his wireless plan. He’s told he won’t be charged anything for the “service” that we got, they’ll apply a credit to the bill and yadda yadda yadda. Next month, we get a bill, we call back, we’re told it’s taken care of. The next month, we get a notice from a collection agency, seeking $$ for Verizon. HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE.

    We do get wireless service from Verizon (he’d gone through a bankruptcy and didn’t want to get hit with high fees switching carriers, and Verizon does offer the best coverage in our area, boo! VW has been good to us, but it’s the principle!!!) but it will be a cold day in hell before I turn to them for residential services of any sort, FIOS be damned.

    People say that nobody dies because of Verizon, and while that might be true, I really have to wonder. In my last neighborhood, their lines were an atrocity, and phones were unusable a good portion of the time – either dead, or clouded by static to the degree you couldn’t hear yourself. HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE.

  42. Anonymous says:

    @unravel: so yeah, knee jerk response to your post? Pregnancy = female = voted for Verizon.

    (might wanna check your credit report about that collections thing)

  43. quail says:

    @GearheadGeek: Actually diamonds are used in lots of manufacturing processes. Back during WWII DeBeers smuggled diamonds to the Nazis so that they could keep their war machine humming. Not all diamonds are used for jewelry.

  44. WhoMee says:

    How does DeBeers work into this, they are not an american company, so how could they be the worst company in america?

  45. GearheadGeek says:

    @Cervantes3773: @quail: Yes, but industrial diamonds are for the most part not the ones de Beers is mining and cornering the market on. Industrial diamonds are for the most part manufactured these days. I think it’s something like 30-1 manufactured to mined for industrial diamonds. It was an overstatement to say “no one” is using natural diamonds for industrial purposes, but the 1/30th that are used in industry aren’t paying the big-time bills and aren’t sold on manufactured emotional bases.

  46. GearheadGeek says:

    @GearheadGeek: Wow that was just poorly phrased. In fact most of the diamonds that are mined are only good enough for industrial uses, but most of the diamonds used in industry (the 30-1 ratio I mentioned while I was stumbling around trying to express my point, damned beer!) are manufactured rather than mined, and the natural diamonds sold to industry sell for much less per carat than do the pretty ones sold for jewelry. On top of that, the ones sold to industry are chosen strictly on physical properties, not some emotional reasons thought up by ad agencies and marketing scum. There, I think that’s a bit less muddled.

  47. Nighthawke says:

    @unravel:
    Check with the local Tenant’s association for local regulations regarding telcom service rights.
    Also the state PUC regs reign supreme here. Both the installer and CSR broke at least a half dozen statutes in your state in their lame attempts in foisting you off their backs. Make calls to the state and file complaints with them, soonest!

  48. Allura says:

    Poor choice. AGAIN: Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless are TWO DIFFERENT COMPANIES. It’s pathetic that Consumerist can’t keep this straight.

  49. litbruin says:

    Shenanigans! This is like comparing Hitler to Satan. There are not many other companies in this competition that can hold a candle to the evil slavery machine that is DeBeers or the dank and labrynth like realm that is customer service for Verizon along with their 12-hour hold of a service call. I demand you spare both of these evil corporatoins for latter rounds. This should have easily been a final four matchup.

  50. BScrivner says:

    I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for over 10 years. Reason why–all call centers are in US. I never speak to some guy in Mumbai.