Verizon Loses FiOS Equipment, Sends You To Collections

Leon liked Verizon’s FiOS service when he had it. It wasn’t until he moved and sent his equipment back that he had any problems with them. He sent his router and CableCard back via UPS, and the card was taped to the side of the router. Verizon received the router, but the CableCard is still missing. “I have visions of the router at some new customer’s house with the cablecard still taped to it,” he writes.

Verizon FIOS of [redacted] was a very great service, while I had it. They evidently don’t put the same effort into their equipment return.

I needed to move out of area so I cancelled my account effective June 1st and paid the early termination fee because I was indeed terminating my account early. I was given two options to return my router and CableCard: I could either drive one hour each way through DC traffic to a FIOS storefront, or I could use a Verizon supplied box to mail in the equipment. I chose the latter and it was not a good choice.

I sent the box a few days early using the supplied label, UPS tracking number [redacted]. I figured all that was left was to make sure it was delivered, which it was on June 1st.

However I received a bill in early July saying I owed $108 for a missing Cablecard. I called Verizon on July 12th and I was told they would check and call me back. They gave me reference number [redacted] and told me they would call back in 1-3 days. After receiving no call back I called again on July 20th, and after repeated transfers spoke with a lady who said they could not find the card but were canceling the charge. I received one more bill very shortly afterward but it must have been in the mail while I was calling. No more notices or bills came and I considered the matter closed.

However it seems that Verizon simply lied and instead have now sent the account to collections.

I just got off the phone with Verizon. I was first transferred to tech support where a man said that he had just the other day managed to track down another woman’s cablecard, lost in the same manner, by looking up the serial number and finding that it was already redeployed in the field. He said I had to speak with accounts to get the serial number for the cablecard. Accounts said they showed it as being unreturned, and that I would have to get the serial number… from tech support. This is pretty typical of every call I have made to Verizon about this issue.

I am floored. I did everything they asked, and now they ding my otherwise perfect credit when they were the ones who lost the piece of equipment! My next step is to speak with a lawyer, but that’s something I would rather not have to do when this could easily be solved by Verizon simply admitting that they lost the card and honoring their representative’s offer to drop the charge.

The best part of all this was that the cable card was in a static baggie taped to the side of the router, yet they say they received the router just fine. I have visions of the router at some new customer’s house with the cablecard still taped to it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I would think that the accounts department would be the ones who would have, you know, account information such as serial numbers of items associated with the account.

  2. Cat says:

    Cable, satellite, and ISPs lose track of returned equipment all the time.
    I realize this helps very little now, but for future reference:

    1. take a picture of the open box showing the contents,
    2. include a letter stating the contents,
    3. send each major item in a separate package,
    4 use a delivery method that requires a signature from the receiving party for each package.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      It sounds like he sent it back with a provided label, all in one package. They claim they got some of the contents, but not all of it.

      Should he have sent each individual part seperately? The card seperate from the router? What if he was sending a cable box too? Send the remote seperate? The power cord?

      • Cat says:

        “Each MAJOR item”

        I’m mostly referring to returning Pay TV equipment. Each receiver/converter, along with its remote and power cord, in a separate bow. Not 2 receivers, 2 remotes, and 2 cords in one box, and not a separate box for each receiver, power cord, and remote.

        • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

          “MAJOR” is very subjective.

          Verizon could claim that a proprietary power cord, or remote control, is worth $50+. Something that could still go to collections and ding a credit report.

    • mauispiderweb says:

      I thought of the photo thing, too, but it’s not really proof. You can take a photo of the card taped to the router and then not pack the card. Too bad he couldn’t just personally return it to a Verizon store.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        What Verizon store? Only stores I see now are VerizonWireless, which will not help with anything not part of the wireless network.

    • That's Special Agent, Sir Mr. Dr. Esq. the 1st to you. says:

      That is very brilliant and very true Cat. Five years ago I had problems with Direct TV screwing around with my cancellation of service. And although I spoke to several CRS giving me the bold faced lying run-around claiming that each time I call “they” would cancel my account and send a pick up box, but then a week later when I call back saying “the other” never recorded the cancellation. So I got very wise and put them on tape and told them I have the evidence of the phone calls and if they pull that crap with me I will not hesitate to take legal action should I see even one bogus charge. Three days after that last CRS I received the empty return box that was smashed and damaged. So again I was very wise to their crap, and I did send it as #1 and #2, with signature confirmation. I had no choice in #3 & #4 because it had to be their box, and it was prepaid UPS shipping.
      But still they had a PHOTO in the package showing the box before I packed it, after I packed it, and a note informing them don’t try any crap with me.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Well there’s his problem, he used United Package Smashers.

  4. Rocket says:

    Some idiot at Verizon probably saw the bag taped to the router and threw it away thinking it was trash or something.

  5. Hoss says:

    I don’t think that Verizon is going to report this to any credit agency. Does anyone feel differently?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Verizon won’t, but the collection agency will.

    • jeadly says:

      I really don’t know what relationship ISP or wireless providers have with my credit report. As post-paid services they become sort of defacto creditors on a monthly basis. Though I’d certainly rather pay my subscription fees (my monthly bills do not vary) at the start of the period, it seems like they almost enjoy this position of being tangled up as a pseudo credit cart agency.

      Perhaps an explanation of the rights and responsibilities of this relationship would be a good article for Consumerist to undertake.

  6. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I hope it has been less than 30 days since you received a notice from the collection agency. If it’s only $108 just hit them quick (a lawyer would cost more for you or them. Really?).

    Send the collection agency a certified letter that you dispute the debt. Include copies of all your tracking information (even if just a screen shot from UPS). Tell them any further collection activity, including any negative tradeline on a credit report, would be a violation of the FDCPA and you will respond accordingly.

    Last time I had a collection situation (I had canceled checks I included) I simply never heard from them again, but it disappeared from my credit very quickly. Collection agencies have no power. If they ignore that letter you can sue them in small claims court for $1000 (and use the proceeds to pay off the bogus debt). Sending them the above letter forces them to stop collections and drop it, or to sue you for it where the burden of proof is on them.

  7. DanKelley98 says:

    I’d tell them simply “Let’s go to court”….and see what happens

  8. Dallas_shopper says:

    Same thing happened to me with AT&T u-verse. Took 3 months of daily phone calls to sort it out.

    • Nidoking says:

      I just canceled one of my boxes the same weekend that I had a tech in to replace a different box. I asked when I canceled the box whether I could just give it to the tech to bring back, and they told me not to do that because the tech couldn’t issue a receipt. It was a pretty painless operation at the UPS Store, and I’ve got a receipt for turning in the old box. So the tech visit was just an excuse to finally cancel that particular expense.

  9. BillsCat says:

    I’ve noticed over the years that a majority of the service providers are all about new accounts. Returned equipment seems to get shuffled off somewhere to await a hand-held scanner searching for bar codes.

    I once switched from ComCast to RCN when moving, and soon got a letter thanking me for being a great customer, statement with credit for all the equipment and ya’ll come back now. The cable box and remote sat on my back porch for six months, the calls I made seemed to slant toward “YOUR account is fine, so don’t make trouble!”

  10. KRF says:

    When Verizon sent me to collections for a similar issue, I found out that they have different warehouses for internet & cable equipment. When you send it back, they must be sent in separate boxes to the different warehouses.

    UPS put my cables boxes and router in the same box and shipped it all to the cable warehouse. The router took months to get shipped to the other warehouse – in the meantime, they billed us for the “missing equipment” then sent us to collections.

    Call executive customer service (I found the number on Consumerist). They were able to resolve this for me and take my account out of collections.

  11. bender123 says:

    I wish there was a way to send companies to collections when they screw up…

  12. KyBash says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in UPS opened the box, removed the cable card, and sealed the box again.

    Pilfering from packages happens all the time.

  13. apasserby says:

    On Sept 24 I transferred FIOS service to a new location. All the equipment was picked up by the technician. I have the technicians card and an email from him with the serial numbers. Sept 30 I got a letter stating that the equipment has not been returned with in the 30 days of service termination. That letter was dated Sept 27 – three days after the transfer. I called the number on the letter to ask what gives. Seems they sent boxes when I made the transfer request in August. Problem is they sent them addressed to me but to to my ex-wife’s home in another city. Her name hasn’t been on the account in years and neither has her address. She tossed the boxes in the recycle bin. I offered to email copies of the techs card and serials numbers as proof Verizon has the equipment. CSR said not necessary as it’s now noted in my account.

    Got in today’s mail a collection notice. They will get a nice response from me via certified mail, with copies of of the card and email. I’ll give them 10 days to respond.

    • scoosdad says:

      I would love it if Congress (maybe Senator Franken?) would push through a bill making it legal in all 50 states to record and use any telephone calls involving providers of services and products, without notification or legal retribution.

      Boy, you’d see the end of these shenanigans pretty quickly.

      I can almost envision a product that records the call, time-stamps it with date and time, as well as the number you dialed out to, including entered steps through a voicemail tree (or captures incoming caller ID, if they called you). I’m on it….

  14. jvanbrecht says:

    Welcome to my live and the horror story that is VZ CS and Billing. They are the most inept group within any company I have ever had to deal with, and I am currently fighting with collections agency number 2 now.. VZ sent me to the first one, which I disputed and never heard back from, now I am dealing with a second one (I thought the first collections agency sold it, but they state they got it directly from verizon).

    My story.. Mid March, I switched from a triple play to a double play (I had no need for the phone line now that I replaced my alarm with a vicious Dalmatian and Great Dane pair).

    For some reason they could not just change the account, they had to cancel the triple play account and open up a new double play account. So for both, I payed a pro rated fee for the month since the change was in the middle of the month. Nothing special there. I have had no issues, and had been paying my bills monthly. Out of the blue about 2 months ago, I get the first collections notice from company number 1. I sent them a copy of the transaction statement for each month starting in December with an explanation. 2 months later (last week), I got a notice from company number 2, and am doing the same thing.

    Sometime in that story above, I spent about 5 or 6 hours getting transfered around, hung up on, transfered to no where, and generally not helped by VZ, I spoke with cancellations, their in house collections department, CS, Billing.. the list goes on.. It is pissing me off, and if FIOS was not the best service around (my only other option is Comcast), I would turf them in a heart beat…

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Sue them, at once. Don’t delay. Once it gets in the hands of a lawyer, it will get straightened out.

  15. calibri says:

    More importantly, is that a picture of Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica?

  16. skapig says:

    Definitely shouldn’t have shipped the CableCARD with the router. It’s small and easily overlooked. They wouldn’t expect it and the devices could very well need be shipped to different places. Seems counter-intuitive on the surface, but you have to consider the logistics behind the scenes. Verizon provides the packing material and return label upon request for free. Best not to over complicate things and simply go with the process rather than take a chance.

  17. Hub Cap says:

    February 5, 2009

    Slime Wad, President
    DBA Illegal Debt Recovery
    2491 Paxton Street
    Looserville PA 12345-6789

    Dear Mr. Wad:

    This will serve as your legal notice pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 805, to Cease and Desist all further communication with me in regard to any alleged debt or debts. You are hereby instructed to cease collection efforts immediately or face legal sanctions under applicable Federal and State law.

    I will file suit against Slime E. Wad and/or Smell E. Wad personally, and XYZ GROUP, LLC.
    corporately if you contact me again.

    I will file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania if you do not comply with this letter.

    I will digitally record any future telephone conversations or messages from you.

    I will file suit against you if any negative information is placed on my credit reports.

    I will keep a detailed log of any future contact you make with me.


    Worst F. Enemy

    This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law.
    Any information obtained, will be used for that purpose.

  18. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    So glad I read the posts about this stuff!

    When I return my cable box and the other 2 little digital TV boxes to Comcast, 3 items with 3 remote control units, I’m going to take them personally to the local Comcast office. Before I take them, I’m going to photograph the units, with serial numbers showing, and make sure my receipts from the office match the serial numbers. I may even take a picture of said units on the counter at the office. And I’m going to get a legible signature and name of the person who accepts them and gives me the receipt.

    Hopefully this will help if they try to say I didn’t return their old outdated equipment.