Reader Gets Free HBO, Cinemax And Showtime For Suffering Internet Outage

We Consumerist bloggers just love those stories of reader complaints that are generously solved by customer service before we even get around to posting the gripes.

Matthew has such a story — of how Verizon mucked up his online and entertainment world when he upgraded to fiber-optic service (FIOS) — and how his follow-up complaint led to him getting three months of free premium-channel bliss… and more:

On July 1, FIOS accidentally cut my service instead of changing names on the account (cause those are equivalent, I guess?). Since then, they’ve managed to restore my phone service and partially restore my TV service. They still haven’t fixed the internet, which is not only hampering my ability to do my job (I work from home a few days of the week out of necessity), but also to watch any OnDemand content or even have a channel guide on the TVs. I’ve spoken to some really great people at FIOS, especially a tech support guy named Mike, but no one seems to be able to help me. They’ve admitted more than a few times that the screw-up is on their end, and I just got off the phone with yet another tech, and he has decided they need to send me a new modem, which won’t arrive until Wednesday. They won’t have one dropped off tomorrow because they have to charge me for that (which is unacceptable and I won’t agree to being charged for support at this point), and waiting until Wednesday is really not an option. I just sent an EECB to their executives listed on your site, and I left a voice mail on the telecom president’s answering machine, but I was wondering if there is anything else I can do aside for bide my time (which is quite difficult without the internet). I’ve copied the letter I sent them below:

Dear Verizon,

My name is Matthew Z., and my family has been a Verizon customer for a long time—first with Verizon Wireless, and now with FIOS for a little over a year. Until this past Wednesday (July 1st), everything was great with our FIOS service. On July 1st, our service stopped working completely. Since then, tech support and billing have helped me restore our phone service as well as video (though the guides and on demand content do not work, due to the Internet issue), though the Internet is still not working. The phone number on the account is XXX-XXX-XXXX, and other account information can be provided to you if necessary.

This all started when the name on the account was supposed to change from “Michael Z.” to “Amy Z.” following the finalization of my parents’ divorce. Instead, it seems a disconnect order went in for all non-voice services. When I called on Thursday, support was great, and got my voice service back up. By Sunday, TV and Internet were still not working. Sunday afternoon, I called tech support, and spoke to two wonderful people. The first was a billing Representative named Crystal who helped me sort out the account name issue, and the second was a tech named Mike, who stayed on the phone with me on and off for about 5 hours working through the problems. Mike eventually restored my TV service (again, without program guides or on demand), but alas, he was not able to fix my Internet.

Despite the friendly, professional, and knowledgeable representatives’ efforts, they have not been able to help me through this issue. Mike and another tech I spoke with stated that my situation was escalated, but no one can tell me what the result of that escalation was. I was also told that my service would be fixed by noon today. When I got home from work at 10PM EST this evening, service was still not restored. After spending the last hour and a half on the phone with technical support, I am at my wit’s end. The last tech that I spoke to said that he wanted to send out a replacement router (even though all previous techs have told me it was a problem on Verizon’s end), which wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday (which will make it a full week without service), and that’s not even a guaranteed fix. He also stated they can’t send out techs to my house without charging me, which at this point is absolutely unacceptable.

All I want is for my Internet to be repaired. I have been incredibly patient thus far, but I really cannot go on like this much longer. I love FIOS, I really do. Its absolutely the best Internet and TV package I have ever used. The speed blows cable out of the water, and the picture quality is far better than what we had previously. Until now, I have always been a huge proponent of FIOS, encouraging my friends and their families to make the switch from Time Warner, Comcast, or Cablevision to Verizon. After this experience, however, I feel really let down by what was previously a great service. So I plead with you, please help! I need my service restored! Any assistance that any of you are able to provide will make a huge difference, if only in encouraging me to stick with Verizon. Please call (XXX-XXX-XXXXX) or email me at any time, day or night, if you are able to provide assistance.

A few days later, Verizon fixed everything by rebooting his router from afar, gave him the free premium channels, upgraded the internet service and told him they’d get send him a netbook they’re offering to new customers. We bet Matthew will be hoping for another service problem in exactly three months.

(Photo: 20 buckz)

Comments

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  1. missdona says:

    You might want to redact his number from the letter.

  2. Riff Raff says:

    Matthew, your service was out for less than two weeks, and you received more than adequate compensation. Verizon did indeed go above and beyond in this case. Congrats, I’m surprised.

    Try that EECB with AT&T, and I guarantee you you’ll get no where. Granted, I didn’t fire off a EECB for my problems, but I had crappier service than you for longer (at least 3 weeks). It took no less than four calls on my part, four visits from technicians, and no less than 12 hours of my time wasted to fix the problem. All I got was a lousy $30 for my trouble.

  3. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Those “free” channels will need to be cancelled on the exact day the three months is up, or you’ll end up with a partial month charge.

    Signed,
    Another Veteran of the FIOS Wars

    • Julia789 says:

      @larrymac: Yes, the token “free service” is a gimmick to get you to sign up for premium channels. After three months they’ll just be added to the bill. The trick is to cancel before the time is up, like you suggest.

    • manus manum lavat says:

      @larrymac: Actually, this is not the case currently. The way the system now works, the channels will simply disappear once the promotion ends.

  4. HRHKingFridayXX says:

    Yeah, be careful with this. I had AMC HD as part of my comcast package, they took it away for no reason, and gave it back after a ton of harrassment. Then, a few months later, my bill shoots up because I had “requested” a better package. Nevermind they didn’t tell me that it was only a promo, and that I’d had the channel as part of my original package…

  5. davere says:

    There was a storm in my area which knocked off my AT&T U-Verse service (Internet and TV) for about 8 hours. When I called to ask for a credit, I got a credit and all the movie channels free for a month. It was then just a matter of setting up a reminder in my calendar at work to call and “downgrade” right before the month was up.

  6. UstinLorton says:

    Thanks for dude’s phone number and full name.

  7. apd09 says:

    Also remember, you need to pay taxes on that “Free” netbook. You can bet your ass that Verizon is claiming everyone of those as deductions on their corporate taxes, and the commercials touting the netbook say you have to pay taxes. So do not be surprised when a bill for 20 bucks or something like that shows up or you get a form in the mail that you need to file with your taxes.
    The last thing you want is for Dog to be hunting you because you did not pay for your “free” netbook.

  8. rwalford79 says:

    Congratulations on winning a battle with Verizon and their shoddy FiOS that they peddle with slower speeds then cable. Dont know where you are, or how you really are getting faster then my standard 20mbps, or upgradable 50mbps speed (on Comcast).

    Unfortunately, you did not win a war…

    The war is that Verizon might have fixed your service yes, but now you have to call and complain to get those premium channels canceled BEFORE 90 days.. think more like 88 days JUST TO BE SAFE! Also, that netbook they sent you IS ON 2 YEAR CONTRACT. Surprise, you likely “verbally” agreed, even unknowingly to a new 2 year contract for something. Likely by even accepting the premium channels you agreed.

    Sad day for you…

    • David Bixenspan says:

      @rwalford79:

      1. Depending on the area and the provider, Verizon’s standard speed is faster than the cable company’s. Where I am, Cablevision’s standard speed in all of their regular packages is 15/5 while Verizon’s triple freedom bundle speed is 25/15.

      2. The FiOS contracts aren’t for 2 years. There’s a 6 month contract and a 12 month contract that includes a free gift (Netbook where you pay shipping or digital camcorder w/ free shipping). The 12 month contract locks in the price for the following year, which is not in contract.

      3. The netbook was offered as a “sorry we screwed up” gift. He’s probably under contract already and I don’t think you can start a new promotion in the middle of one. I highly doubt they’d do something as shady as what you’re suggesting.

    • manus manum lavat says:

      @rwalford79: “but now you have to call and complain to get those premium channels canceled BEFORE 90 days..”
      This is not actually true. The channels will disappear after 3 months with no help from the customer. I work Fios tech support, and I have gotten the (silly) angry calls from customers asking what happened to their premium channels, and I calmly explain that their free promotion ended and so the channels were automatically removed. This is usually followed by the customer telling me they should continue to get the channel for free, because they never had to pay for it before. (seriously!)

  9. Hil-fish says:

    The FIOS customer service folks are friendly and likeable but completely ineffective. I’m glad they were able to sort out this gentlemen’s issues, but they lost me as a customer when I was moving and wanted FIOS set up at my new address. I needed the account moved and FIOS installed at a new address. The first CSR I spoke to gave me incorrect information, which required a cancellation of the original order and the placement of a new one. Except Verizon is apparently incapable of cancelling an order – the order never disappeared from the account, so no one could place a new order. I spoke to nearly a dozen perfectly lovely CSRs over the course of two weeks, including several on Verizon escalation team, and they were all incredibly sympathetic to what I was trying to deal with (more than one said something to the effect of “Wow, you’re really getting the run-around here, aren’t you?”), and all of them tried mightily to fix the problem by cancelling the order. Three of them over the course of three days told me that they had, in fact, cancelled the order. But none of them did – the orders would not vanish from the account. After a week and a half, I got fed up, called Verizon to cancel my services altogether, and switched to Cox. Three weeks later, I discovered that Verizon failed to cancel my services and is still billing me for them.

    I will never, ever use Verizon for home services again.

  10. Black-Cat says:

    It all comes back to the fact that Verizon sucks ass. They get so many complaints on here.

  11. kingofmars says:

    Make sure to check your bill. That three month of free HBO, might not be as free as they promised. They’ve lied to me before and told me that I would get a month free, and I wouldn’t have to do anything to cancel it. You can guess what happened.

    • kingofmars says:

      @kingofmars: I forgot to mention something else. If they say that it will take 10 days to send a tech out, and there is nothing they can do about it, they are lying! There is a rule that says that if they say 10 days, and the customer accepts it, then that doesn’t count as a miss. So if they tell you 10 days, tell them it is unacceptable, and to count this as a miss.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Uh-Kids,

    Verizon offered this for me “just for being such a great customer” Why was I great customer you ask? – Because I signed up for FIOS on May 28th, and paid my May and June bill on time (~June 15th)

    Actually I did pay it, but It was autodebited from my VISA that was required when I signed up for FIOS.

    It’s good that CSR’s are given the power to give freebies in the case of customer service issues, it’s just too bad it’s so difficult to get anything else done effectively within Verizon.

  13. Yehudit says:

    I have a story. July 28, 2009 we had FIOS installed. My husband is 80 and I am younger (never tell); The technician was there for 9 hours and when he left we left as well, because we had to do some chores. We got home around 10 p.m. and I put my tv on. It worked perfectly. About 12.30 p.m. my husband comes upstairs and told me he had no tv at all, on and off all night, and the logo kept floating on his tv screen. I said ‘no problem’ I will just call in the morning when they open. I called 8:30 a.m. and i explained the problem. The technician tested my husbands box (or whatever) and said the box was defective. I said okay, so send someone over please, there are technicians all over my street this morning. They said there will be a charge of 90 dollars even though the installation was 12 hours ago. I got really upset and said I would take them to Small Claims Court. They said ‘cancel if you must’. I said they already made a hole in my living room and outside my home and they said a technician will assess the hole in the wall but I could cancel. Remember, only 12 hours earlier..I said you are willing to send a tech guy to remove the equipment but not to install a working box and they said ‘right’. I hung up and called customer service and told them I had a heart condition and my neighbors are hanging by their fingernails to see the outcome of this before they order FIOS, AND THEN they said ‘okay’ we will send someone but it is up to them whether to charge you. Anyway, the guy was nice, gave us a new box and no charge. But I spent 2 1/2 hours on the phone plus the agita (spelling!). Thanks, am I sorry I started with FIOS, ‘yes’ but don’t tell my husband..

  14. debaclerx says:

    I’m sorry but I have fios and its great my speeds are 35/25 and never had a problem. the only thing was it took 4 hrs to install. the tech was great explained all and was very neat. never had any issues. internet it lightning fast, and all the networks have the on demand for free. abc,cbs,tmc,usa,tnt,liftime.and multi room dvr is amazing. also you dont have to cancel the free Hbo just let them know when you get it you only want the free months they will not charge after that. I dont know about you but I’m in a cablevision area and I was always out and the data was only 2/1 at best. cablevisons technicians are all contractors they know nothing. hope fios is here forever!