Verizon Talks Elderly Parents Into Pricey Phones They Can't Use

A fast-talking Verizon rep talked Joanna’s septuagenarian parents into buying expensive Blackberry Storm 2’s, but after they got them, they found that when it came to using the devices, they were all thumbs. Her dad has large fingers and rheumatoid arthritis, and the gadgets were overall too complex for her parents.

The reps at two Verizon stores Joanna went to to swap for easier phones heartily agreed, and said Verizon should have no problem exchanging them, even if the folks were a few days past their first 30-days. But when Joanna called, Verizon wasn’t “hearing her now” one bit.

Joanna writes:

My parents are smart older people, but, despite my dads love of gadgets, electronics still elude them to some degree. A while ago, I recommended my parents switch to Verizon or Tmobile and my dad, specifically, get a Blackberry. He usually uses an old school HP PDA, but it was failing and was nearly 5 years old. Plus he had never figured out how to sync it with the computer, so all the data was at risk.

This summer it nearly failed and I told them that when we got back to the States (we were overseas) I would help them find phones and a new carrier. My 73 year old father, who always makes panicky decisions, called Verizon and spoke to a woman. He told her I had recommended Blackberries and she immediately told him to buy the most expensive one they had, the Storm 2.

My father has rheumatoid arthritis and large fingers. My mother can’t work the camera in a NON-smartphone. I come to visit and see these two news phones. My father admits he cannot use it and my mother won’t even answer hers.

I take them to the Verizon store where the sales guy immediately say to me, “why do they have these phones?” I explain the problem and he says that he recommends my dad get a curve (which is MUCH easier for him to use already) and my mother get the LG ally for the screen, but it also has a keypad. We play around with them, I make my parents touch the screen, type phone numbers, etc. The Curve is a MUCH less complex Blackberry and my mom can handle the ally.

Ooops! My mother is ONE day past her 30 day trial and my dad is 4 days past. The nice Verizon guy says to not worry, just call Verizon and he can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t trade in the phones.

He was wrong. TWO HOURS with Verizon customer service has an associate accuse me of lying, tells me my parents were at fault, that he would do nothing. A supervisor comes on and is JUST AS RUDE, and when I explain that my dad can’t even really USE the touchscreen he tells me that it isn’t his problem. That they bought the phones, they can buy new ones but that Verizon has RULES AND GUIDELINES for this. I ask him if he is abiding by a RULE or following a GUIDELINE as those are two VERY different words. I point out to him that the woman who first advised my dad did not ask him ANY pertinent questions about his use of the phone and just sold him the most expensive stuff they had. She didn’t care to know if he could juse the phone.

After I came back to NYC, my parents went in and talked to a DIFFERENT guy…all the sales people say the same thing: Verizon had NO BUSINESS selling my parents Storms. They are WAY to complex and beyond their capacity.

I am going to have my parents break their contract, NOT pay the fee, and sign up with someone else. I, honestly, have never been so outraged in my life.

You can try calling up and asking for retentions and see if Verizon would rather bend the rules and let you swap the phones or lose them entirely as customers.