Verizon Kept Giving Me Worse DSL Service, Charging Me More

Joshua signed up for what seemed like a solid introductory deal for Verizon DSL, but the service was poor and the more he called for suggestions on how to fix it, the worse and deal he got. Verizon kept extending his contract while downgrading his service, insisting there was nothing else it could do to help him out.

He writes:

I am hoping that you and your readers can help me out, to give me some ideas of something I can do to solve this problem. We’ve had an incredibly frustrating time dealing with Verizon and are now at a loss of what we can do, if anything.

Back in December, we signed up for Verizon’s High Speed Internet, moving away from Comcast because they had been consistently raising our bill and offering lackluster service. The offer at the time was 6 months free, then $29.99 a month after that for 1.5 mbps DSL service. It was activated on January 21, 2010. On April 14, 2010, we began to have problems with connectivity, and had changed nothing on our end. After five phone calls, a technician came and told us that we were too far out from the central office, and needed to downgrade to 768 kbps service. That would supposedly fix the problem, even though everything had worked fine until that point. We called and made the change (April 21st) and were told we had to extend our contract for 3 months as a result.

Ultimately, however, that did not fix the problem. The connection still continuously dropped out, for as little as a few minutes to as long as a whole day. After nineteen more phone calls (I kept a log of dates and what the conversation was about, so this is the exact number of calls we made), several scheduled appointments with technicians (many of whom never showed up) and over a month, the problem was fixed by a competent technician on May 26th. They did some tests on the lines outside of our house, ran a new connection, among other things. I personally doubted that it would really fix the problem, so waited for several days to make sure. (Previously, it seemed like it would work for a few days, then the same problem would continue.) Finally, on June 1st, I was satisfied that everything was finally fixed, and called back in to restore our service to 1.5 mbps. This is the point where I’m needing advice.

What I really wanted to see was the original terms of the contract restored; that is that we would continue to get 1.5 mbps service free until July 21st and pay $29.99 a month thereafter until the contract expired in January 2011. The representative I spoke with told me that he couldn’t do that; the best he could offer was $23.99 for 3 months, then $33.99 thereafter. Doing this, however, would result in the contract being started over again. As a result, we would pay nearly $200 dollars more by the end of our year contract than what we would’ve payed under our original contract. I asked to be elevated to a supervisor, and after listening to him say he really couldn’t for quite a while, I insisted long enough to get him to actually do it.

The supervisor came on and wasn’t exactly the friendliest woman in the world. She told me that doing something like what I was asking for was impossible. She didn’t have the authority to set the terms of any agreement outside of what was being offered. I asked if there was anyone above her who could. “No.” was her simple response. Eventually it occurred to me that when we changed our service before from 1.5 to 768, there was no problem, they just changed the speed, extended the contract, and that was that. I asked why they couldn’t do it again, and she said that when we had previously changed our service, the offer was still available. Since then, the contract expired. I said: “So, basically, because Verizon took so long to fix the problem, we can’t get the terms of our original contract back.” Her simple answer was “Yes.” At a loss, I asked if it would be possible to take the current offer (3 months @ $23.99, $33.99 thereafter) but get some sort of credit since our service was non-functional for basically a month and a half. She responded with an attitude: “I can’t give you a credit for something you haven’t been paying for.” At that point, I ended the conversation. It was going nowhere.

It might not seem like much, us fighting over $200, but it’s the principal of the matter. Even though we weren’t paying, we signed a contract. Their end of the contract was that they were to provide us with service. We would pay after 6 months at the agreed rate of $29.99. They failed to uphold their part of the contract, and now I honestly feel cheated and lied to after the entire month-and-a-half ordeal. The only other option for internet in our area is Comcast, but at this point we couldn’t break our contract with Verizon anyhow, and Comcast would be more expensive.

Here’s where I’m hoping that The Consumerist can help. Were they (Verizon) correct in stating that there’s absolutely nothing they can do? Is it truly impossible for them to reinstate the original terms of our contract, or did they just not want to do it? Is there anything we can do to get someone to pay attention to our case?

When Comcast customer service starts looking attractive, you know you’re hard up. Have any advice for Joshua?

UPDATE: Verizon gave Josh two months of credit and the price and service he originally signed up for.