Verizon FiOS Customer Service Thinks You, A Human, Are Voicemail

Verizon’s customer service is operated by robots. Apparently, these robots are not too skilled at determining whether or not you are also a robot. This might be useful to know during the upcoming robot apocalypse (see this educational film about the subject,) but for reader Carlos it had no practical application.

Carlos writes (to Verizon):

Hi, friendly Verizon’s real-person customer-support representative:

This morning, around 7:00am, I tried to tune my FIOS DVR box so my son could watch cartoons while I fix him breakfast. All his favorite channels were not accessible. Instead of seeing a “You are not subscribe” or “We have a problem” warning, the box immediately switched to this adult comedy radio channel that I did not know that existed. I tried several channels with the same result. In summary, I did not have access to any public television channels and many of the kid’s channels.

I called Verizon’s 888 support numbers and went over the trouble shooting process with your friendly customer support computer. Your computer determined that it could not solve the problem and attempted to transfer the call to a real-person technician. Your computer could not find a real-person technician so it gave me the option to have one call me when available. After that I received three calls. In all of them your friendly customer support computer determined that I was a voice-mail service and attempted to leave a message that it will call later.
The original problem was never solved.

In short, I have to thanks Verizon to enhance my six year old vocabulary with all kind of profanities and to have friendly customer support computer that seem to enjoy making telephone pranks.

I sincerely hope that the FCC start a probe on this type of malfunctions of your services and hit Verizon with several multi-million dollar fines.

A friendly subscriber to Verizon’s FIOS Telephone, Network, and TV Services.

Carlos sent us an update that his TV has stopped swearing at his child, but he never did get a response from Verizon.

That’s robots for you. Rude.


Edit Your Comment

  1. flyingember says:

    I hate robot call systems.

    They say “I don’t care” like even an employee who’s trying to get fired can’t.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Ahhh, that comedy channel is the last available channel on FiOS. I know it well from when I don’t hit all the keys correctly and attempt to repunch them in, and apparently it defaults to the next highest channel you punch in. This comes in handy sometimes, as I tend to punch in the channel codes from when I have cable, and they are “non-working” FiOS channels, so if I type in 37, a non-channel, it forwards me to 50, which is USA.

    BTW, usually the “mute” and “volume down” button(s) are for the TV only, and will not be affected by technical glitches in a cable/FiOS box. The comedy station only displays info on the artist performing and other facts. Just remember that for the future should this happen again, and your childs ears will be saved from hearing those words. I know this because I have the output from my FiOS box going into the kitchen and living room, and if I mute the TV in the living room, the TV in the kitchen still plays sound.

  3. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Its always good when your television starts swearing at your child… Chances are however, given today’s society he’s heard them before :-/ which is depressing.

  4. Andrew360 says:

    It is really a shame that companies abuse technology and make everyone hate it. IVRs, when used appropriately, can be a good thing for customers.

    I’m also sad because I wanted FTTH for a long time, but now I know Verizon isn’t a great company to deal with.

  5. huadpe says:

    Were you using google voice by any chance? I’ve had that problem when apple calls me back on GV.

  6. hoi-polloi says:

    He was doing well until the last couple paragraphs. I understand his frustration, but it’s best to dial back the sarcasm. Wishing ‘several multi-million dollar fines’ towards them doesn’t seem too friendly.

  7. nakkypoo says:

    Outsourcing at its finest. Apparently, Americans are expensive people to employ.

  8. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Actually, the TV was showing a station featuring Hannah Montana singing a Christmas song.

  9. james says:

    To paraphrase Gil Scott-Heron, “The Robot Uprising Will Not Be Televised…”

    (Not so much paraphrase as mangle)

  10. MrHacks says:
  11. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    I hate when robots call me. I know it’s from a debt collection agency, but they call me up, I answer the phone, then they tell me to call them back at so and so number.

    If someone calls me, I expect a real live human on the other end. I don’t want a robot calling me to tell me to call them back, they should have been a human doing the calling in the first place.

    • ahleeeshah says:

      I work at a company that employs about 160 people, and while I have answered phones as part of my job at most of my jobs, I have never seen a place that has more collection calls for employees. Thanks to Consumerist, though, I am a complete hardass with them. Thus far I have had people lie and tell me they are calling about sick parents, refuse to tell me who they are with, refuse to delete the number without the permission of the account holder, and ask to speak to my supervisor for not allowing them to speak with someone. I will usually hang up on the harassing ones, call the number back again and remove the number that way, and then report them. After about seven months here I’ve knocked the calls down from about five-six a day to maybe three a week.

      I am thinking about using this for my answer to the “What do you consider your best accomplishment at your last job” question at my next job interview.

      • That's Consumer007 to you says:

        You (or maybe your employer) could have sued under the Fair Credit Collections Act. Everything you described was a violation and any state AG should have been more than happy to go after them.

  12. GearheadGeek says:

    These sorts of robo-callers are quite annoying… I had one recently that when it called back, it asked me to press a number on the keypad to indicate that I was a real person and not an answering machine… then proceeded to ignore the tones every time.

    As to the interesting profanities… I realize that people have different standards of profanity, but I’m generally amused at people being shocked by TV profanity; when I was young, I learned more colorful profanity than one can generally find on TV today… from my dad!

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      It wasn’t “TV profanity” though, it was one of the “MusicChoice” or “Urge” channels at the top of the lineup – it’s like having satellite radio via your TV. On my FiOS lineup, the highest number channel is “Comedy (Uncensored)”.

  13. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    I hate it when my tv service gets uppity, but i’ve never had it talk back at me!

  14. Red Cat Linux says:

    I really hate the robot support’s voice recognition. It always tells you to just ask what you want, and supposedly it figures it out.

    Well, some of them apparently speak Mandarin or something. After it flunks the recognition three times, I’m on the ‘0’ button.

    Persistent application of the zero on the phone keypad will eventually get you to a real person most of the time.

  15. d says:

    That’s why I don’t deal with voicemail systems. I immediately start hitting 0, or the *, or the #, or yelling Rep, or mumbling some made up nothing into the phone to get it to transfer me to a Human. Some will do it quicker if you swear.

    I’ve run phone centers before – I realize the issues. I don’t care. Answer the damn phone when I call, answer it quickly, don’t put me in a queue or on hold, no music, no “oh you can find the answers online” bullshit messages, just pick up the friggin phone, have a person who understands and speaks English and doesn’t lie about their name, and SOLVE the problem quickly on THAT call.

    I’m not letting you call me back – I took the time to call you NOW, so solve the problem NOW.

    If you can’t do these things, I’ll find a company who can and give them my business.

  16. Rachacha says:

    The solution to most FiOS DVR Problems:
    1) Unplug your router and NID box (if you don’t have the Actiontech router) wait 10 seconds and plug in again.
    2) Un plug your DVR , wait 10 seconds ane pug in again
    99.98% of the time this will resolve whatever glitch the system encountered.

  17. Namrok1 says:

    Robots see customer service as a huge opportunity for human integration: