Our Smartphones Don't Work, But Verizon Plays Dumb And Won't Let Us Switch Them

Sophia and her husband are loyal Verizon customers who feel burned by the company because it won’t let them replace lemon smart phones with anything but refurbished versions of the devices they’ve come to despise.

She’s on the verge of switching companies because CSRs tell her she’s stuck with her chosen model of phone for two years. She writes:

About a month after my husband got his LG EnV Touch, the touch screen started acting weird, and it wouldn’t flip around very quickly when you went from portrait to landscape. He didn’t think much of it, since he mostly uses his phone for talking and using the internal flip open keyboard for texting and email. Then his screen started acting up, and within the month my phone started doing weird things, too (it reset to factory defaults, deleted pictures and text messages, and the memory was really going, to the point where I could not even load the VZW internet homepage without the phone shutting down or telling me it was ‘out of memory’). Both of us have issues while charging. Very shortly after, my mom’s phone started acting in the same manner. So in March I called VZW to ask them what sort of recourse we had. They suggested we get replacement EnV Touches, I mentioned that being 0 for 3 didn’t inspire much confidence in the brand/model, and would we have any other options since the EnV Touches have been ill performing. The telephone customer service person assured me that, since it was the telephones and not any sort of customer inflicted damage, I would definitely have other options. She told me to head into the store whenever we had time, that we would be offered replacement phones on the spot, of either EnV Touches or an equivalent, and that we would be offered a software and firmware upgrade. We didn’t have time to go into the store immediately, so we waited for a couple months.

Finally, today, we went into the store. The associate at the store was terrible! She rolled her eyes at us, and tried to act like all we wanted was a new upgrade. I told her what the customer service person over the phone told me and she said that ‘policies change every day’ and that ‘they’ll tell you anything to make you happy on the phone, and it’s a completely different story when you come in to the store’. My husband pointedly asked whether that meant the associate was lying, or customer care was lying, because we were hearing two completely different stories, and we were waved off. We told her that we had been long standing customers, we carry a large (almost $170) bill monthly, and we valued the Verizon service. We told her the issue was we did not trust these phones anymore, they were not reliable, and both my husband and my business (we are both contract/self employed and work directly with clients who call/text/email any time) depend on having reliable phones. We offered to even switch to a comparable Smartphone even though it would RAISE our monthly payments, anything to get rid of these phones. She proceeded to tell us about how she understood because she had just bought a $5,000 TV and had already have to have it serviced a bunch of times and that ‘warranties just don’t work like that’. She ordered us refurbed EnV Touch phones to be sent to our home with no offer of an in-store trade, and without even our OK, then pretty much said good bye and turned away.

We immediately called customer care and they were very sympathetic, but told us until we were up for our upgrade in October, they could do nothing but offer us ‘nearly new’ returned phones for around $100 a piece for a comparable multimedia phone. We very nearly went to another cell phone company today to sign up for a different service, we were so upset at the treatment.

We feel completely devalued as customers. We have never requested special treatment, and we only want well functioning phones without having to pay for ‘nearly new’ ones. We are not really sure what to do next, so I thought I would ask your opinion.

It might be best at this point to switch back to either older phones in their possession or ones they find for sale online. What would you do in Sophia’s situation?