Verizon Charges You Extra $700 For Returning A Phone

Ron is a longtime, loyal Verizon Wireless customer. Things were going quite well until he returned a new phone recently. This phone was somehow never logged in at the warehouse, and Verizon keeps piling equipment fees on Ron’s account. Now his service has been shut off, which is bad news for him and for his patients: he’s a doctor and on call. He has FedEx tracking info indicating that he sent the phone back, but Verizon didn’t record it on their end.

Very long story short: I have been a VZ customer for ten years and always have paid my bills on time. I returned a phone to VZ warehouse in Texas by fedex. They have it, but apparently it did not get “logged in ” correctly. They are adding a $300 charge to my account. I have spent hours on the phone, a dozen phone calls, spoke with multiple supervisors, to no avail. My bill today now has added another $400 for equipment . I did not purchase any new equipment! On top of that, they stopped my cell service today! I am a physician on call, and had no cell service! I have paid my bill each month, minus the disputed amount, which is what the supervisor told me to do.

Any suggestions on how to resolve this? I have spoken with multiple supervisors including [S], [T] (who even texted me saying she would get back to me – she did not).

I spoke with yet another supervisor, [R], today. He said he would call me back in 20 minutes. That was yesterday afternoon!

I am ready to switch carriers. Very frustrated the way Verizon is treating a good customer. Any suggestions?

Verizon has responded well in the past to executive e-mail carpet bombs, and mentioning the “hey, I’m a physician” thing might get their attention. Another reader recently reported success with contacting the office of their Verizon Region President.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Harry Greek says:

    “Any suggestions on how to resolve this?”

    Switch pro,…

    “I am ready to switch carriers.”

    ,… carriers.

    • BobOki says:

      And go to who? AT&T with equally bad customer service and billing problems? Maybe T-Mobile with a bad network and bad customer service? Maybe Sprint with the NO network, bad customer service and nearly zero phones to pick from?
      Theres a huge problem going on in the wireless world right now. The current providers are all horrible, too big, and no longer care about innovation, thier customers, or providing a good service. New companies cannot just come in and compete becuase there is a limited amount of frequency they are allowed to use and the other companies already own all of it. It is basically a multi-company monopoly. Even worse what little competition there was is nearly totally gone as the larger companies are buying up the smaller companies just to get their towers/frequencies.
      Half the time they don’t allow your number to be ported when you try, whats this guy supposed to do just hope his customers get his new number? Don’t forget the costs of reprinting any of his business cards, ads etc.

      ECB might help him, as will possibly pointing out that any medical use equipment like phones that is used for patient contact is supposed to be flagged by the company as a priority #1 and handled before anything else. Short of that, the entire system is broke, theres not too much he CAN do.

      • scoutermac says:

        After having Sprint for over 10 years I’m about to switch to Verizon. I live in Indianapolis near I-465 and according to there is supposed to be coverage where I live, but there isn’t. when I contacted Sprint Executive Customer service via they were of absolutely no help beyond sending me a free Sprint Airave which piggy backs my AT&T U-Verse Internet. When I brought this to their attention they said “No it doesn’t”. I said then I guess I don’t need to plug it into my AT&T U-Verse box. Their response was “Then it won’t work”. So yes sadly Sprint is worse.

        • Browsing says:

          you both forget to mention that switching carriers in the US is an empty threat..woo-hoo I take my paid for phone to another carrier without the same equipment. In the US there is no discount for owning your own phone so just charge away

        • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

          Sprint has been a better experience for me compared to my times with AT&T and Verizon. Long story short, they all suck at one time or another. Until they burn a bridge, you go with the one that you aren’t having any issues with. After you switch, at some point that carrier will burn a bridge and, well, you see where this is going. Welcome to the 9th ring of Hell otherwise known as Cell Phones.

  2. Sanspants says:

    I’m surprised Shannon, Tracey and Tremell did not call him back. I would expect that sort of behavior from S, T, and T.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    This is what happens when you are a corporate behemoth; the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and frankly nobody wants to stick their neck out to help you because it will screw up their metrics.

    Break up Verizon into several Baby Verizons.

  4. oldthor says:

    AHH!@ good old American Cellular customer service!!! gotta love it!

  5. Aiesline says:

    I had the exact same thing happen.. It took 2 months but I finally got it straightened out. I kept my service on by disputing the charges with the billing department and made sure I kept the charges I actually owed paid and up to date. Hang in there. It finally took a letter from my lawyer to get it all fixed. Good Luck!

  6. scoutermac says:

    List of Verizon Wireless Executive Customer Service

  7. az123 says:

    This is why whenever I have had to return phones or equipment / exchange I will take the effort to go into a store location. It is not as easy and simple but if you go into a store you can walk out with paperwork in most cases and absolutely have recorded that I dropped it off on this date at this store to this employee.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      You think they give a shit about paperwork? I returned a phone to Best Buy and had all the requisite paperwork, even had Verizon talk to the store clerks and managers. They refused to cancel my account for nearly four months, and were trying to charge me both the fees over that period and the ETF, despite my return of the phone (and contract) during the first two weeks.

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    Small claims court. You have proof the device was returned. They are trying to bill you for a revce you do not have. I bet after you file your claim gets resolved quick.

  9. Coffee says:

    Sounds like it’s time for an EECB…If that doesn’t work, they might be happy to drop the erroneous charges if you threaten to take them to small claims court.

  10. homehome says:

    First of all, do you have any proof that you sent the phone back? That will determine how easy you can get this resolved. If not, I would say contact someone over them to see what they can do.

  11. dragonfire81 says:

    Also, why name drop the supervisors?

    No Verizon bigwig who sees this will have a clue who those people are. The company has hundreds of supervisors across dozens of call centers.

    Not mention they may not have even been supervisors. A lot of call centers will allow experienced employees who are NOT supervisors to take escalated calls and pose as a Supervisor. I’ve done it myself before.

    • Jawaka says:

      I thought that this was odd as well. Usually Consumerist will censor real names in stories like these.

  12. Rocky says:

    This is sounding like a really good time for a small claims court action. As a physician, the hourly rate for the time he has spent trying to get them to fix their mistake has been racking up quite the amount of actual damages for the case. In addition to the $700 of false fees, penalties for their violation of contract for wrongly shutting off his service, and the billing of his wasted time, he’s probably got a few thousand dollars coming to him.

  13. themonkrat says:

    Did the OP see on the tracking information that the phone was successfully delivered? When I mail in anything to a company I always send it using a traceable method. If this was the case, I would show Verizon proof that it was recieved by them. It doesn’t matter if they lose the phone in their warehouse lose the phone. The OP did all he was supposed to do.

    I had a similar thing happen with me with HTC. I had a phone that I dropped a lot and the screen was super cracked and I could barely use the phone. So, I call AT&T and they told me to send it in to HTC. I called HTC, and they said send it in. Well, I sent it in (via a traceable method) and it took them MONTHS to “fix” the phone. Well, I’d call every week to see what the status of my phone repair was but no CSR I ever spoke to gave me an answer. Every week it was the same deal. I finally cracked and said look, there’s no way it takes this long (it might have been 6 weeks at this point) to fix a phone. Send my phone back. Now. And overnight it back too. And they did. But surprisingly, they didn’t mail me back my broken phone I sent in. (Again confirming they lost the phone.) They mailed me a brand new phone. I also refused to pay the “diagnostic fee” which every phone gets charged regardless of whether repairs are performed on it or not. I claimed that there was nothing they even did since they had lost the phone.

    tldr… NEVER send in a phone to HTC to be repaired.

  14. chucklesjh says:

    “I spoke with yet another supervisor, Tremell, today. He said he would call me back in 20 minutes. That was yesterday afternoon!”

    Time traveler?

  15. CoachTabe says:

    I had this exact same problem with Qwest. Signed a new contract and got new phones. The phones were significantly worse than advertised so 2 days into the contract, we canceled. I returned the phones and Qwest logged them as received. They then sent me a bill with two ETFs on it as well as two equipment charges – $700 in all. When I called to complain, they admitted they’d received the phones and I shouldn’t have been charged but that the charges would come off the next billing cycle. A month later – another bill, same amount. Another call, same result. Next bill – same amount. Another call and again they admit there’s no reason for me to be charged but there’s “nothing” they can do. This went on for six months. I finally got ahold of somebody who told me there was no reason something couldn’t have been done sooner and that the previous reps flat out lied to me. She took care of the problem and I actually got a refund check for about $70. What a joke.

  16. mikeMD says:

    Go to your nearest Verizon store, Walmart, or wherever and pick up a $15 prepaid flip phone. Activate it using your old number and it will work on that phone and transfer the number back to the new device when you get one. Alternatively just get a new number and some prepaid minutes until this is sorted out. I have dealt with Verizon’s left hand not knowing what the right one is doing but you don’t need a smartphone for taking call. I’d have switched but they are the only carrier that works at my home.

  17. techman001 says:

    I had this happen to me, I called customer service once, who told me it happens that they sometimes miss scanning a package when they get 1000’s a day there. Said could do nothing for me. Not liking the answer and not wanting to go around the phone tree, I contacted the head of customer service for verizon who I have a direct contact for. I left him a message, and within 20 minutes he responded that someone would fix it right away. Someone else called me within the hour, and said my account has been credited and apologized.

    No I am not posting how to contact him here, because too many will contact him with complaints that have no merit. However, if the writer of the issue wants to contact me, I will get him connected with the right person.

  18. scottd34 says:

    If you have the tracking number and it shows delivered, then all the rep has to do is put in a form for the warehouse, 24-48 hours turnaround.

  19. MedicallyNeedy says:

    As a potential new customer i worked through the steps of getting a service and Droid phone quote then gave credit card info and was re-quoted a 20% higher service rate. I canceled the order on the SAME PHONE CALL. The operator said “it was too late, the phone shipped instantly from the warehouse” and she would call the order back and get back to me. SHE DIDN’T! I refused delivery, was billed over $600 for successive errors. and spent countless hours on the phone, over weeks, trying to clear it up. I had the charge removed from my card but to this day, it still isn’t cleared up! I’m getting bills from them for around $10 and I refuse to spend another minute of my time dealing with Verizon Wireless. DON’T BUY A VERIZON WIRELESS PHONE! (If you do it probably won’t work well with your AOL account that you haven’t canceled yet.)

  20. wkm001 says:

    The very first thing you should do is file a complaint with the FCC.

    It won’t be quick but someone with executive customer service will call you.

  21. gregpaul says:

    Verizon tried the same stunt on me. Working with Tech support to resolve 4G connection issues, I tried a series of 3 refurbed phones and returned each one within 24 hours to the designated depot. The credits and offsetting debits for the series of phones eventually seemed to have worked itself out. Then a mysterious $700 charge showed up on my bill several weeks after the last phone had been returned via FedEx and signed for on their end.

    For over a month after that, I worked with the Customer Service to walk them step by step through the logic that I had incontrovertible proof of getting the phone back to them, so how could it matter whether the warehouse people log it in properly or not? I had legally-admissable proof that they had the phone in their possession.

    I wore them down eventually or someone in the mysterious warehouse (13?) did their job and the problem was finally laid to rest.