"Poor" Customer Service
I became an Alltel customer in early 2004. I was very happy with their service, and generally didn't have any complaints. If something went wrong with my phone, they fixed it. If there was a mistake on my bill, they fixed it. I loved Alltel because when I was "roaming" off of the Alltel network, I frequently had coverage on Verizon's networks (or so the phone would tell me when I neglected to dial a necessary area code while traveling), without paying the big Verizon price tag.
I became a Verizon customer last fall (Aug 2009-ish), and I will be sending a formal letter of complaint to the BBB and to the FCC tomorrow. I never wanted to be a Verizon customer, and I doubt I ever will be in the future.
I'm over Verizon- I can't stand them. We (me and my four other phone lines) are totally sick of Verizon's "poor" customer service model. I wish I could think of a clean adjective to describe their customer service model other than "poor," but nothing comes to mind. I did not choose to be a Verizon customer, and among other things, I think it's complete bunk that I still have to pay $150+ PER LINE (5 lines, you do the math!!) to get out of our contract.
From the start, my Alltel phone had issues on Verizon's network. I would miss calls, messages, text messages, etc., and the phone had absolutely no record of missing those calls. How do I know this? I would compare phones with my mother, when my phone failed to ring when she called me. The call would be registered in her phone, but not mine. We are on the same family plan; there is really no reason why this should be happening. So, I upgraded to a Verizon phone. Two of my brothers (also on the same plan) were having similar issues, so we all upgraded at once. Two of us got a Blackberry Storm, because of a buy-one-get-one offer. This was mid-September 2009.
My experience up to that point with BOGO offers on cell phones had been that the phone model on sale was usually on sale due to overstocks, a new model coming out soon, etc. But not Verizon!! How do I know this? Read on.
The first 30 days of this phone were fine- no issues. From time to time it was VERY slow, which I assumed was a Blackberry issue, and since I really didn't know much about Blackberry phones, I assumed that the lack of knowledge and expertise on my part was to blame. My brother, who had the identical Blackberry Storm, complained about the same issues, but he'd had other Blackberry models before this one, and just wasn't a fan of the Blackberry, but wanted the PDA functions. And, the phone was buy-one-get-one, which was in our budget. So, we tried to learn to deal with it.
After the first month (which is significant to Verizon, because if you don't trade in your phone during the first 30 days, you're stuck with it for two years, until you are eligible for another upgrade.. a policy VERY different from Alltel's policies, which would have been nice of Verizon to explain, but they failed to do so at any time during the merger), our phones started consistently crashing, freezing, failing to register calls, etc. (remember, this is why we upgraded from our previous phones, with which we had been very happy!!).
At 34 days into the new phone, I sat next to a lawyer at a friend's wedding. We both had a Blackberry Storm. We spent about 30 minutes talking about how slow the phone was to open ANY application, how it constantly needed attention in order to work (period), and generally what we disliked about the phone. I really don't recall any shared positive points to the phone from that conversation. It is through this lawyer that I learned about Verizon's 30-day return policy. Yes, the phones will be replaced with a refurbished model if they break (without mis-treatment on your part), but after 30 days, you're stuck with it for 2 years.
I figure at that point, that I just need to live with that junk phone, and just regularly install updates from Blackberry.
By February 2010, I was still carrying the phone with me when I left the house, but primarily used our home business line for any and all calls. I had visited several Verizon stores in an effort to fix the "bugs" in the phone, but each and every time, I was told that there wasn't a THING the "customer service associates" were able to do for me to fix the problem. I needed to call a 1-800 number to speak with Verizon directly. Those calls ended in frustration and promises to myself to cancel our contract the first chance I got (without paying $1000 to cancel the contract).
Mid-April 2010, I had installed the promised Blackberry firmware update, and yet STILL had problems receiving phone calls, placing phone calls... basically using any type of function within the device that required a connection to the Verizon network. The device's camera, media player, calendar, internal applications all work just fine. However, the actual phone functions... don't. I visited a Verizon store (still conditioned by the excellent customer service model at Alltel), and was told AGAIN to call the 800 number. This has happened to me in multiple Verizon stores both in Arizona AND Virginia.
After making another call to that crap phone number, I received a refurbished device, followed all the set-up and activation instructions. For about a week, the device worked as it should. Meanwhile, my brother's phone was a buggy as it ever had been.
I should spell out quite clearly here the reactions from various "customer service representatives" that I have received in dealing with his crap phone. Essentially what I've gotten during an in-person visit to a Verizon retail store is a brief look of frustration from the Verizon employee, and a patronizing speech about how they can't do anything about the problem, the problem is with Blackberry, etc., etc. During my calls to the 800 number, I have been quite clear about the problems with the phone, and that I have NEVER been a satisfied Verizon customer. The response has been fairly similar, except there's usually an added line: 'I know exactly what you're talking about, and I'm sorry you've had those issues. How many times have you had the phone replaced?' (Something along those lines.)
I work in customer service. Because I work in customer service, I know that it really does not take much to have a successful customer service department. HOWEVER, if you are looking for a failed customer service model, go sign a contract with Verizon. If you work in customer service, you shouldn't EVER have to ask "how many" times a product has been replaced.
This afternoon (5/4/10), my brother called me (from another phone), to tell me that his phone had completely died (screen froze while he was listening to music on headphones, and the headphone jack seemed to die at the same time, because although he hadn't unplugged the headphones, his music started playing through the phone's speaker), and despite trying to turn it off (which he couldn't do), and removing the battery, the phone was dead. Plugging it into a computer via USB cable didn't resurrect the phone, and charging it for 12 hours didn't work, either. At that point, he slammed the phone on the floor, cracked the screen, and then he was able to turn it back on. Go figure.
He had gone to a Verizon store, but they refused to help him with anything- wouldn't even tell him the amount of our current months' bill. (We pay about $250 per month for our current contract.. the least Verizon could do is fix their own mistakes.)
I called phone number to the Verizon store that he had visited (someone from that store called me, but I missed the call while at the doctor's office), but they were closed for the day (my brother is on the east coast, I am on the west coast). Angry, I called that crap 800 number, and told the girl with whom I spoke what the situation was, and apologized if it seemed like I was directing my anger at her personally. I informed her that I was already going to submit a formal complaint to the FCC, but that if Verizon couldn't resolve this issue (in other words, replace our phones with a different model) by the end of tomorrow's business day (5/5/10), I would be canceling our contract, no matter what the cost, and finding another provider. She was very nice, and tried to be helpful, although my experience on the phone tonight was the same as others. She told me that Verizon HAS KNOWN about Blackberry issues for several months, and that "Blackberry is working on it." However, even though my brother had cracked the screen when he threw it on the floor in frustration, they were willing to replace his phone for free, as it had already died on him. Silver lining?
My question to her (being in customer service for an international sales company), was: "Why is Verizon carrying a product that they know is faulty?" She didn't know. I wasn't surprised at all, seeing as I was talking with Verizon. I explained that if Verizon knew this product was faulty, they shouldn't be selling it. Or at the very least, they should be providing a disclaimer to customers.
Now, from a business standpoint, continuing to sell a faulty product doesn't make any sense. If Verizon stopped carrying ALL Blackberry models until Blackberry had fixed the issues, I'll bet those bugs would be fixed in a week's time. Loyal blackberry users don't refer to their phones as "crackberry" without reason! I suppose, anyway.
As of tonight, there is no resolution to this problem. There wasn't a supervisor or manager available earlier this evening that I could speak with; apparently they had all gone home for the day. That begs another question- why doesn't Verizon have ANY managers available during normal call center hours - 7am-10pm, CST??? I called about 7:30pm, CST. There should have been a manager able to take my call.
I am anticipating a large charge on my credit card tomorrow in order to get out of my Verizon contract, as well as a search for a new cell phone provider. At this point, I don't care if I end up with a pre-paid phone, as long as the phone actually works!! I know several former Alltel customers who have already paid to get out of their contracts because of their "disappointment" with Verizon's customer service. I anticipate to count myself amongst them tomorrow evening, because unless Verizon pulls some miracle hat trick tomorrow, we will be GONE.
I will be faxing my complaints to the FCC, BBB, and Verizon tomorrow, whenever I get a break during my workday. There is simply no reasonable explanation for Verizon allowing this problem to continue as it has. Inexcusable.