"Automatic Bill Payment" Means Verizon Pays Your Bill, Then Sends You Another One

Just when you think you’ve head everything, Rebecca writes you. She thought she’d set up her Verizon DSL with automatic payments. When she could suddenly no longer log in to her Verizon email, she called them up and found out that she was way overdue. Once she paid her past balance, and waited several days for Verizon to turn her service back on, she logged in to her account and sure enough she did have automatic payments set up:

On Monday I came to work and was finally able to log into Verizon.net. This allowed me to view past bills, which did state that they were paid in full every month automatically. I called Verizon again and demanded to know what was going on. The man explained that because I originally asked for my (Verizon) DSL to be on the same bill as my (Verizon) phone line, the way they handle it is to have Verizon’s phone department pay off the Verizon DSL bill every month and add that amount to the Verizon phone bill. Logging onto my Verizon account would only show an amount paid in full each month, which I assumed was paid by my bank account but was in fact paid by . . . VERIZON.

Gee, that’s not confusing at all. Rebecca canceled Verizon and called AT&T, but was given the usual AT&T runaround over the price. Now she doesn’t want to give her money to liars, and,consequently, is without internet.

Can anyone recommend an ISP? Because you know us. We can’t. We’ve stared too long at the sun that is our tipline.

Rebecca writes:

Last week, I was suddenly unable to log into my Verizon account to retrieve e-mail. My DSL and phone line still worked, but when I tried to log in on Verizon.net I got a message simply stating that my account had been “disabled.” There was no explanation, no instructions, and no contact information. I searched the site for a phone number, first clicking through “help” and then a “contact” link, which asked me whether I’d prefer e-mail or phone. With no way to e-mail, I clicked “phone” and was prompted to log in. Upon doing so I got the same message about my disabled account. No information.

I visited gethuman.com and dialed the number posted for Verizon. I spoke with someone at Verizon who told me that my account was overdue, even though I could have sworn I checked my bill online a month ago and all was fine, set up with automatic payment. They assured me I owed them, and the account person on the phone could not take my payment. She had to direct me to another system that would take my payment, and then I’d have to hang up and call the first number back to get my account reinstated. She said this might all result in a few days of disruption to my DSL service.

She transferred me to the system, which simply asked me to enter the amount I’d like to pay. The woman had never told me what I owed, and the system wouldn’t tell me either. So, I had to call back, go through the waiting process, finally got the figure (more than $200!), transferred back, paid off the amount, hung up, and called the first number for a third time. This person told me that she couldn’t simply turn my account back on – she had to cancel my DSL and put it through as a new order, a process that would take up to two weeks during which time I’d have no DSL service. I pointed out that my DSL was still connected, and I had now paid off the bill, so why would she have to cancel it? The woman claimed that it was because they needed to give me a new account number and there was nothing to be done about it.

Thinking this was absurd, I decided to check my options and see if I should just switch to another service. I made a list of other providers, but before I switched I wanted to make absolutely sure that Verizon couldn’t streamline the process to get my DSL back up and running quickly.

The next day was Friday and my DSL was still working. From my office, I called Verizon one last time. I explained the ordeal to the man, pointing out that service was still on and the account was paid in full, but I needed my e-mail log-in turned back on. He said that was no problem, that he could have it running in a few hours. I asked him repeatedly whether or not my DSL would remain on, and each time he said yes. While we were on the line, he asked if I wanted to upgrade to faster DSL. I had been considering it, so I agreed on the basis that my DSL would have no interruption in service. He assured me I’d have it all weekend, and on Monday the faster service would start.

Arriving home from work Friday night, I found that my service was disconnected, and it remained so all weekend.

On Monday I came to work and was finally able to log into Verizon.net. This allowed me to view past bills, which did state that they were paid in full every month automatically. I called Verizon again and demanded to know what was going on. The man explained that because I originally asked for my (Verizon) DSL to be on the same bill as my (Verizon) phone line, the way they handle it is to have Verizon’s phone department pay off the Verizon DSL bill every month and add that amount to the Verizon phone bill. Logging onto my Verizon account would only show an amount paid in full each month, which I assumed was paid by my bank account but was in fact paid by . . . VERIZON.

This explanation took awhile to sink in with me. When I finally got it, I moved on to the next problem. Why was my DSL shut off? The man explained to me that the man I spoke with on Friday was mistaken, and that there was no way to stop the shut-off order which had apparently been sent out Wednesday but wasn’t acted upon until Friday. The third person I spoke with was the correct one – it would take two weeks to reconnect. He made it clear there was no way around this.

I was so frustrated by that point that I asked him to please stop the DSL upgrade I had ordered and cancel the DSL altogether, as well as the phone line, because I had no desire to do business with Verizon any longer. He put me on hold for five minutes while he wrote a detailed note of everything we discussed (covering his ass, I’m sure), and then confirmed that all services would be shut off. There was absolutely no attempt to keep me as a customer.

On a side-note, I then called AT&T and asked for information on the cheapest phone and Internet plan they had, explaining I wanted something comparable to what I was paying through Verizon (less than $30 a month). The woman first told me the cheapest combo was $65, and when I balked she pretended to spend three seconds looking again and said the cheapest was actually $45. When I asked a third time if that was the lowest price available she changed her mind again and said it was actually $35. I hung up on her. If it weren’t for the fact that I need the Internet to run my web site and do my weekly podcast, I’d settle for using the library. Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do, since I’m in no mood to hand over money to liars.

(Photo: Maulleigh)