Cavalier Telephone Is Stoop-Sitting Hell

You know, sometimes, you practically need to diagram out the labyrinth of a customer-company horror story. It’s a maze of dead ends and twisted passages.

J. Bee’s story to us about his experience dealing with Cavalier Telephone is so winding that even we have a hard time following it. Needless to say, J. Bee decided to switch to Cavalier Telephone when he moved into a new apartment. He was assured it would be up and running when he moved in. It wasn’t.

And that’s merely where his troubles began: eventually, it came to be discovered that J. Bee would have to camp out on his apartment stoop for 9 hours, waiting for the Cavalier tech, if he ever hoped to get service. J. Bee’s email, after the jump.

I live in the Philadelphia area and a friend reccomended to me that, having moved into my new condo, I set up DSL and telephone service with Cavalier Telephone. ( I live with my partner, who is HIV positive and works 10 hours a day as a chemist, and I am a stay-at-home type. I do all of the errands he can’t do because generally he is working or resting/sleeping.

We arranged for Cavalier service about a week and a half before our move-in date on October 1st. We were told that the approximate anticipated date of the activiation of our service was October 7th. I recieved that information in an emai which indicated that Cavalier had our apartment number wrong: they had 3D and we are in 3B.

I attempted on numerous occasions to call Cavalier early in the mornings just before they opened; my partner has a cell but I dont, so I had to try to use his before he left for work and took it with him. Each time I waited for 20 minutes on hold until I had to hang up so he could leave with his phone. On October 1st I emailed Cavalier at the email address supplied in the email they sent me to let them know about the apartment # error. No one ever bothered to email me back.

On October 7th at 7PM no service was active though our DSL modem and “starup kit” had arrived. I called Cavalier from my partner’s cell phone that evening; it seems the tecnnical service department stays open later than customer service. I spoke to a young lady who looked over our account info. This, of course, was after 22 minutes of hold time. She told me that Verizon, whom Cavalier “leases the lines” from, had yet to come out and do the work THEY need to do before my service could be active. She told me this would be taken care of by the next day at 7PM.

The next day at 7PM I had no service. I went out to a pay phone and called again. After 18 minutes, I got a young man who told me that I was in Verizon’s “queue”, but that they had no power to make Verizon come at any given time. I said that I had been trying to get the problem fixed for two days and that surely someone in a position of authority could call their Verizon contacts and stress that someone needed to come get the work done. He put me on hold to speak to a “lead” and then came back and said that it was too late for anyone to call Verizon, but that a lead would call in the morning and make ABSOLUTELY SURE that service would be active by 5PM the next day (October 10th.)

At 5PM on October 10th I had no service. I went back to the payphone and called again. After 29 minutes of hold time, I got a young man. I brought him up to speed. He put me on hold, and came back to say that according to his records, Verizon had gone out to test the line and stated that there was “no issue.” But he further noted that a Cavalier tech was ALSO supposed to have been sent out to “bring the dial tone into (my) apartment.) At this point I told him that I was fed up with the B.S. and I wanted some answers. He said that he would arrange for a Cavalier tech to come out the next day at whatever time worked for me.

I told him that I wanted a Cavalier tech at my door at 8:30AM and not a minute after. I said “I know you stress punctuality and it probably doesn’t occur, but in this case it is vital. I have no cell phone and our door buzzer system rings up to a land line so that we can buzz people up. Since you havent INSTALLED my land line yet, I have no way to let anyone in other than to be at the door when they arrive and open it.” He ASSURED ME that a tech would be there promptly at 8:30AM.

At 8:45AM on the morning of October 11th I called Cavalier. I got a young woman. I brought her up to speed. She said, “Yes, I see here you have indicated you will make yourself available today between 8AM and 12PM.” I lost it. No one had EVER said that to me, and furthermore, as explained, it was impossible unless I were to sit on my stoop for four hours. The young woman put me through to technical service, where I reached Paul.

Paul put me on hold for ten minutes and came back. He explained that as of yet Verizon had not yet come out to verify that their signal was actually reaching my apartment, they had ONLY verified that it was reaching the local area’s phone box. He also apologized, telling me that the other gent should NEVER have said anyone could be at my door at any given time. The best they can do is provide a DAY for arrival, but I would have to make myself available until 5PM.

He then said he was putting in an order to both Verizon and Cavtel techs to arrive THAT DAY, and thus I borrowed my partner’s cell phone once again, with the implicit instructions to Paul that they HAD TO CALL ME TO GAIN ACCESS!
At 4:30PM the Cavtel tech showed up, went downstairs to the phone box, and was completley unable to do anything because Verizon had not yet done their part.

I called back Paul, and he called Verizon, who said their tech had showed up earlier, couldn’t find my apartment # on the outside box, and so just left. Thus I spent from 8:30AM to 5:30PM not leaving my home waiting for work that was never done. I went apesh*t. I told Paul I wanted to cancel all of my service orders immediately.

He put me through to customer service, where they offered me a free month of service if I would “give (them) another chance.” I agreed, not just for the freebie, but also because I knew that giving up at this point would mean finding another service and watiing ANOTHER two weeks for them to send out a tech.

I then hung up, researched, and called CavTel’s executive offices in Richmond, VA. When the receptionst answered I said: “Hello, I was hoping to speak to someone in Public Relations regarding my five day ordeal to try and get home service with Cavtel activated; I thought this might be a prudent course of action before taking my experience to the press.”

In about ten milliseconds I had Debbie of Executive Customer Service on the line. Debbie listened intently to my story. She immediately offered a $25 credit on my account in addition to the free month of service. She told me she would call me back in a half hour to give me definitive information on exactly when and who would show up – the next day (the 12th) – to solve the problem. She admitted, though, that they had no control over Verizon or their techs.

Half an hour later Paul called me back and told me he would be calling Verizon every hour, on the hour, the next day starting at 8AM, until they got someone to my apartment. As soon as that was done a Cavtel person would come out. He told me that he would be in constant communication with me with ANY info he had. I agreed.

On the morning of the 12th I again borrowed my partner’s cell phone, and waited. At 10:30 I called Paul to see if there was any info on WHEN I could expect someone, and he basically said he was in touch with all involved parties, and couldn’t tell me WHEN, but promised that they WOULD be here. At 2:30 the Verizon guy showed up and did his work. He made various comments about how stupid ihs co-workers are, how glad he was to service my place because he normally works “in the ghetto,” and how retarded it is that he can’t just do ALL of the work and that I had to wait for Cavtel’s peeps to do it.

The Cavtel guy showed up around 6:30PM and was done by 7, and everything was active.

In total, it took six days of telephone calls; no less than 7 hours of combined telephone conversations/hold time; no less than 15 hours of time spent in my apartment without leaving for fear that if I did I would be gone when the technicians arrived. A month of Cavtel service plus a $25 credit comes out to about $90, so were my time paid, I would have made less than $4 an hour for my trouble.

I only anticipate more screwups from Cavtel in the future, but I wonder: will I get anything better from an optional service?