Free Netbook From Verizon Not Quite Free

There is no such thing, dear readers, as a free computer. Particularly, Ray learned recently, in the case of Verizon’s “triple play” promotion for new FiOs users, where one of the options is a “free” netbook. Sure, you never expect “free” items to be completely free, but his situation is even more complicated than that.

Last week, I called Verizon to set up a landline for my mother, who had gotten out of the hospital and had to move to a new apartment. I told the Verizon rep that my mother doesn’t have a PC right now, so I was only calling for a landline. The Verizon rep offered a bundle including DSL, and would throw in a free netbook. The cost of this package was only $20/month more than the landline itself, and I thought this would be a great deal and signed up for it. I was told that a voucher would be issued, I’d have to fill it out online for her, and she’s have the computer pretty quickly.

My mother, of course, was thrilled.

Except, of course, the deal isn’t that good. After my mother had the landline installed, I called Verizon back to see about the status of the voucher. Turns out that you don’t get the voucher for at least 60 days after internet installation (which isn’t scheduled for another 10 days), and she’d have to pay for 2-3 months of internet service before being eligible for the netbook offer. In addition, there’s a substantial shipping and handling fee for the netbook (I’ve heard $45). And of course, you must pay all bills on time.

So it’s going to cost about $80 or so for this “free” netbook. I don’t have a problem with the shipping fee, but paying for two months of service that she can’t use unless I find another PC is galling. Unfortunately, Verizon is sticking to their guns. I talked to the customer service supervisor’s manager for NJ, Gerri Maclosky, and she confirmed everything. Despite the sales rep’s assurances, my mother’s not getting a netbook from Verizon for 90 days.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to cancel the service for my mother yet.

What do you think? Does Ray have a legitimate complaint, or should he have known better than to take a sales rep’s word at face value? Or, to flip it around, is it actually okay to mislead customers or misrepresent a deal to close a sale? Even if it was ignorance rather than intentional dishonesty on the sales rep part, shouldn’t that be Verizon’s issue instead of Ray’s?

FiOs Bundles [Verizon]

(Photo: warrenski)