Verizon Will Waive Late Fee Only If You Pay Through The Automated Phone System

Verizon was willing to refund the late fee on reader Steve’s bill, but only if he paid through Verizon’s automated phone system. Steve instead offered to give his billing information to the Verizon CSR to whom he was speaking, an offer that was refused. Steve writes:

I used to work at a call center for a certain mobile provider. I understand exactly what reps deal with. I’ve had my manager tell me I need to cut back on bathroom time. I’ve had them tell me I need to get my calls shorter. I’ve had them tell me I can’ waive reconnection fees. I’ve been there. I know.

So, typically, when I call someone about my bill, be it for mobile phone, or otherwise, I’m pretty understanding of their predicament. I try to be quick and to the point. One fell swoop if you will.

This brings me to last night. I get my Verizon mobile phone bill and whoops, somehow I forgot to pay last month. So instead of the typical $45 or so I owe $95. I also notice that I had a 5 dollar late fee assessed. Knowing that I haven’t missed a payment in Lord knows how long, I decide to use this as leverage when I call. I know how important it is for a call center reps, especially in a Receivables Management department, to get the balance in full. I figure, I’ll mention I haven’t missed a payment in a long time and that if they waive the fee I’ll pay in full.

I dial the 611 and play the waiting game. First I had to go through the annoying voice recognition menu system. I said “Bill” three times and it finally figured out I was calling about “Billing.” Next menu I decided to try hitting zero to see if I could skip right through and get to a person. Bingo, it worked.

Then I encounter the long drawn out message about call volume being higher than expected. I’ve always found this message amazing. Having worked at a call center we know what the call volumes are going to be every day. The only times there are truly “higher than expected” call volumes are when there is a storm or natural disaster that takes one of the other call centers down, or prevents them from taking calls. Otherwise it’s just managed delay.

At any rate, I get through to “Crystal” and let her know my predicament and ask about the late fee being waved and paying in full. She checks my billing history, says Verizon wishes we had more customers who had a payment history like me (excluding my current lapse natch), and then says before she can credit my account she needs to put me on hold for two minutes or so. She’s back in like 30 seconds.

Now this is where things start go wrong. She says she’ll waive the fee if I pay the bill by going through the automated phone system. I said, “No, it’s annoying, I want to pay by a human.” She says, “I’ll only waive it if you go through the phone bill pay system.” I said, “I don’t want to. I have to type in all the numbers, verifying it and all that jazz, its annoying and takes too long. I just want to pay with you.” She again refuses and says she “will only waive the fee if I use the system.” I said,” I’d rather just pay online. I just think its ridiculous that the only way I can pay my bill is through the phone system or computer.” She asked if there was anything else she could do for me, I said no and she moved into the regular thanks for calling schpeil.

At this point I’m miffed but not angry. There is a reason Verizon doesn’t do so hot on customer service rankings. I just experienced it first hand. Regardless, I still thought I’d accomplished my goal of getting the fee waived. So, as I said on the phone, I log into my account to pay my bill.

Sure enough, the fee is still there. Okay, not a big deal, maybe it takes time for the credit to show up online. I pay everything but the fee and decide to check back in the morning.

I get into work today, look online, and sure enough the fee is still there.

I mean COME ON! Was she really only willing to waive the fee if I used the phone bill pay system? Using the net wasn’t good enough? I’m I just being an ass to expect them to still credit my account after refusing to use the phone pay system?

Now you tell me, should I really have to call back at this point to follow up on them waiving a fee?

I know one thing, I’m not getting a new contract. I don’t need a new phone. The phone I already have with all the cool features locked out by Verizon works fine. Heck, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get an iPhone. But then, would I be getting into bed with an even worse mobile carrier?

Ah the dilemmas that a middle class man in developed country has to deal with on a regular basis.

Steve was willing to immediately pay in full; the payment method should not matter. If the slight is enough to make you cancel your service, just be aware that the requests are not any less imbecilic with other carriers.

(Photo: samwilkinson)