Verizon Interprets "Materially Adverse" Differently From Reality So You Can't Cancel Without Termination Fee

Joseph would like to cancel his Verizon contract without early termination fee by arguing that the recent monthly administrative fee increase is materially adverse, but unfortunately for Joseph, Verizon’s lawyers have filled their customer service reps brains with a bunch of hooey about what materially adverse means. In fact, when Joseph was reading the very clause in the Verizon contract that allows him to what he wants, the call center supervisor laughed at him. According to his account, when he criticized the poor customer service, she started screaming at him. The text of Joe’s attempted EECB, inside…

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to inform you of an issue I am having with your customer service department. Today, 5/7/08, I tried to contact customer service around 5 PM. Unfortunately, every time I was transferred to the department I requested, I received the message “We cannot process your call at this time. . .” and then was disconnected.

I finally reached customer retention nearly an hour later. Among my many calls, of note, I spoke with Stephanie (ext. 7476) and Trish (ext. 7129) at the Cranberry, PA call center. When I informed these CSR’s that I wanted my ETF waived due to the increase in the monthly administration fee being materially adverse, I was put on hold between 5-10 minutes EACH call, presumably so that the CSR could find a way to reject my request. (Although I want to close my account, I want to port my number to another carrier, so I cannot have my account closed before the number is ported).

Both calls escalated to the floor supervisor (once at my request, the other to “confirm that [she] could complete my request.” Both calls were escalated to Danielle (ext. 4075, also at Cranberry, PA). This “Danielle” denied my request to have my ETF waived. During the first call, she was relatively professional, granting my request for an escalation contact number/address. However, when I criticized the poor customer service, she began screaming at me. During the second call, she laughed at me when I read the following clause from the contract:

Our Rights to Make Changes

Your service is subject to our business policies, practices and procedures, which we can change without notice. UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU’RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE.

She then said that the 15c per month charge wasn’t materially adverse. I explained to her that the phrase “material(ly) adverse” has no quantifiable limit; one definition is: “of such a nature that knowledge of the item would affect a person’s decision-making process.” In the canon of law, (any) price is considered as having this nature.

I am hoping that one of you fine people may be able to assist me with this issue. My account information is:

Name: Joseph XXXXX
Phone#: XXXXXXXXXX
Account#: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Please contact me to discuss this further. I would greatly welcome an effort to restore my opinion of your company. Thank you for your time in consideration in getting this matter resolved.

Sincerely,

Joseph C. Tkocs

If the EECB doesn’t work out, Joe, you can also try some of these phone numbers.