Verizon Is Only Friendly Until You Buy Something

Reader David sends us a heads up about a blog entry that nicely sums up Verizon’s consistently awful customer service.

Did anything outrageously horrible happen to this company when they tried to order a phone line? No. Were the Verizon people so incapable of doing their jobs that even a simple problem (“Hey, you forgot our voicemail!”) became an epic battle for truth justice and the American way? Yes. Is this at all unusual? No. From ParagraphNY:

Even the best of them will be reduced to a screaming idiot after spending three days trying to get through to Verizon representatives. And after three days of soul searching, we still cannot fathom why a business line ordered with voicemail came without voicemail and why it took the phone company 72 hours, 82 representatives, and three escalations to correct their mistake.

We make our first phone call to Verizon on Monday at 6:00p.

We get through to an operator on Monday at 6:30p.

The operator informs us that she is in California, everyone in New York has gone home and she has no way of giving us the access number for voicemail or helping us further. Because she’s in California. And this should make perfect sense to us.

Paragraph has managed to sum up, in one blog post, everything that is wrong with Verizon. We even like the title: “Why Verizon Deserves to Die a Slow, Painful Death.” —MEGHANN MARCO

Why Verizon Deserves to Die a Slow, Painful Death [Paragraph]
(Photo: The Consumerist)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Grasshopper says:

    Verizon may deserve a slow painful death but a slow death only prolongs the agony for their customers. In the interest of consumers, the death should be quick.

  2. Blue says:

    Whos says they are friendly even after you give them your money or sign a contract.

    their price for a stylus, existing customer or not…………$10! Thats not freindly.

  3. Charles Duffy says:

    It’s pretty darned affordable to run your own Asterisk-based PBX these days — and doing so means you can build in as many features as you want just by configuring the software — voicemail, conferencing, reverse hold, fax-to-email, software-based faxing, call queuing, menu trees, anti-telemarketer logic, etc etc etc. Asterisk is free/open-source software, though if your IT staff isn’t up to doing everything from scratch there are plenty of turnkey solutions built around it available.

    Things may change in the future, but for my $.02, the build-vs-buy decision on business telephony is presently weighted heavily towards “build”; among other things, such prevents one at being at the mercy of Verizon or anyone else (except for basic outbound connectivity — and there’s a thriving market for companies looking to provide SIP-based termination for folks doing in on the cheap, and PRI-based connectivity tends to be an extremely reliable approach that Just Works for folks doing it less on the cheap).

    Would you outsource your mail server to Verizon? If you wouldn’t, why are you outsourcing your PBX functionality to them?

  4. umonster says:

    @Charles Duffy: In the case of Paragraph, it’s because it’s a tiny establishment — an LLC on a nonprofit mission to give writers working space. It’s run by two people, and they basically have only one phone. Building a phone system for most tiny busineses is not an option from a time and resources perspective.

  5. micturatedupon says:

    “Building a phone system for most tiny busineses is not an option from a time and resources perspective.”

    i would disagree.

    not only is setting up asterisk easy, it’s also cheap, just buy a slug for around $100(linksys nslu2 – here for more info about asterisk on a slug), or scanvenge a old computer, and make your own pbx. route everything through whatever voip carrier cuts you the best deal(sunrocket usually has the $99 per year deal), and your golden.

    hell, i’m just your average 25 year old waiter, and i set one up in my house.

  6. john_nyc says:

    Why is it always a surprise to people that telcos suck?

    Have any of you tried to get an expedited (or even a long term scheduled) data or voice circuit provisioned? If they don’t give a rat’s ass about providing service that’s costing the customer $1000’s or tens of $1000’s a month, why should a piddly POTS line with VM service be anything more to them than a bacteria on the pimple on the ass of a rat?

    I mean really… some of the stories I have about getting them to provision circuits (or fix f-ed up installations) over the years are quite comical, or rather would be, if hadn’t happened to me.

    And why does Verizon and pretty much every other primary LEC operate this way? Because they CAN.

  7. Charles Duffy says:

    @umonster: As micturatedupon says, a minimal Asterisk install can be pretty cheap. Mine was closer to $3000 ($1500 dual T1 interface card + $700 cheap-ass used channel bank I wouldn’t ever think of buying again + $800 commodity amd64 server), but that’s because I’m supporting a bunch of fax lines (which don’t do well with the latency involved in IP-based communications, hence the need for a T1 card to talk to the phone company and the channel bank) and Polycom conference phones (which are only affordable if you’re getting analog models, thus the channel bank), and otherwise doing a bunch of miscellany a little two-man company wouldn’t need. Compared to the $20K+ a PBX would typically cost even before adding in the extra features, this is a downright steal.

    That said, it *does* require some system administration skills, so if you don’t have a Linux geek handy or have the extra cash for a turnkey solution I can appreciate going for something else. If your needs are voicemail-centric… maybe Grand Central + Gizmo Project, then; that gives you two completely free solutions (except for outgoing calls, which are still cheap).

  8. Charles Duffy says:

    @john_nyc: Damnit, you’re making me nervous. We’re moving in a week or so, and TWTC hasn’t provisioned our new location yet. If it was just telephony, we could fall back on a VoIP provider — but this is our data lines too.

  9. john_nyc says:

    @Charles Duffy:


    In one office setup I was involved with a few years back we ended up having to use the ISDN lines we’d had provisioned for videoconferencing as our primary i-net. Luckily we had enough time before the office opened to buy a 4 port ISDN interface for our router to gang them together so it wasn’t TOO painful for the first week or so.

    Verizon kept telling us that the field techs were showing up be that either there was no one there or that the building wouldn’t let them in.

    Finally we took turns sitting in the lobby of the building from 8am on. That was one of the high points of my IT career. Of course no one showed up. When we called in during the afternoon for status, the dispatcher said that the field tech had come but there wasn’t anyone there. We told him what we’d been doing all day and miraculously a tech shows up 20 minutes later.

    Right now I have a recently moved location that’s been running on their backup circuit for more than 3 months because Verizon is more interested in coming up with excuses than provisioning the local loop for our T-3.

    Good luck, man…

  10. bdgbill says:

    I have been horrified by many of the stories I have read here about Verizon and a little surprised.

    I switched to Verizon Wireless after over 10 years (and many, many, issues)with Sprint.

    Since then my dealings with Verizon have been nothing but pleasant. The contrast between Sprint and Verizon has been night and day.

    For example: I called customer service with questions about the plan I was on. The woman on the phone actually seemed to know her job and was obviously not reading a script.

    To my astonishment about 2 hours after this call, the Verizon CSR CALLED ME BACK to let me know about a new plan that she did not know about during the first call.

    Again, judging by some of the stories I have seen here about Verizon, it seems I may have just been lucky so far.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed.