Verizon Informative - Theft by Large Corporations
So I just got off the phone with the wonderful people at Verizon Online Billing Center (800) 567-6789. The reason I had called was I received a bill dated 10 months after my service began, informing me my 12 month introductory rate period was over and I was now being switched to their regular rate.
The reason this happened is, a year ago, I decided to take advantage of Verizon's $14.95 per mo. introductory rate on DSL. When I called to enroll, they told me I could only take advantage of the deal if I had Verizon phone service as well, so I went with a package of DSL and Verizon landline service, and cancelled my former phone service with Cox. The problem began when Verizon never came out to hook up the phone line (required for DSL service). They were however, efficient at billing me promptly from the time I initially requested service. I had to repeatedly call to eventually get someone to actually come out and connect a Verizon phone line (I was told more than once someone would come out, but no one did); it was two months later when someone finally came to my house and connected service.
This entire two months I had been emailing people left and right from Verizon's "customer service" site, and phoned several customer service reps, trying to explain that I'm being billed for Verizon DSL and phone service, but no one has come and hooked it up yet.
Each of these emails either explained they couldn't help, or told me I had to call the billing dept. who would refer me to someone else, and so forth in an endless chain of explaining to me that my contract had begun, and that I was therefore obligated to pay. Each phone rep gave me the same run-around, explaining there was nothing they could do for me, and ignored my explaining that I shouldn't have to pay for service that wasn't provided, and that I should be billed from the date my service began rather than the from day they began my service-less "contract," by repeating phrases over an over, such as "our records show your service began 2 months ago, sir," often in increasingly rude and berating tones.
When I finally got someone to come out and connect service, I cancelled my previous phone service with another company (Cox). Eight days later Verizon disconnected my phone service. That's right, I received only eight days of phone service before Verizon, disregardant of all my emails and phone calls regarding their billing error, disconnected my service.
So then I needed to get my phone service back. I called and reached a rep who steadfastly refused to even acknowledge the situation, even when I asked her if she thought it made sense that I was disconnected after only eight days of service, and, after--in no uncertain terms--letting me know she was no longer interested in taking my call, and after being asked if I could speak to someone else and explaining to me that "there is no one else," told me she could not help me if I couldn't give her my account number (I had called from work--remember my phone was deliberately disconnected which was the primary reason I was calling--and I didn't have my account number at the time nor did I remember it)--this, she decided, was her out--her means of getting rid of me; I told her I'd give her any other identifying information she wanted, but she repeatedly explained to me they weren't allowed to give out any information without an account number (which was false as I'll explain later) and kept repeating that, thinking it would end my call. I tried to explain to her that I wasn't asking for any information--I didn't need any information--I just wanted someone at Verizon to have the decency to look into it and restore my phone service. I didn't even need to be the customer in question for them to look up the records on that customer, recognize the discrepancy between when I was billed and the date my service began, and amend it. The part about needing an account number was a not true, because every time I called a representative, the first thing they asked for was my "phone number or account number, please," and my phone number often sufficed.
To this day my phone delivers a very fuzzy service which Verizon blames on my residence despite my previous service (with Cox) being loud and clear, through the same wiring at my house. That fact still did not deter Verizon reps from blaming my home's wiring.
For some reason, after 11-12 of these encounters, I eventually reached a reasonable rep on the phone who credited my account for 2 months. I was so impressed that I asked to speak to her manager so I could give her a verbal commendation, and her manager told me they take such accolades into account at employee reviews.
Still, after that experience it became obvious to me that Verizon had surrounded itself with layers of protection from its customers, especially the ones it was blatantly and arrogantly stealing money from, in the name of "service."
So, back to the present, today I called to ask for them to once again amend the discrepancy, since I didn't receive a full year of the agreed-upon introductory rate, and was again shouted down by a rep who, in proper Verizon customer service rep fashion, kept repeating to me when my "contract date" began, no matter how many times I tried to explain to her that even Verizon finally acknowledged my service began two months beyond that contract start date, via their refund, and she also informed me there was no one else I could talk to, which turned out to be another ridiculous statement because a few minutes later she was putting me through to her manager with the parting words "but you WON'T be getting a credit!"
The manager who then came on the line began repeating the same lines about how their records show my contract began at such-and-such time and that further, I was "already refunded" the amount for two months of no service. I tripped him up in getting him to agree I was only getting 10 months of the twelve months Verizon's offer promised, but of course that was followed by, "but your contract started at such-and-such date, and we can't change that" mantra. I told him "they sure train you people well," and let it go, thus allowing yet another untouchable corporation steal my money. Of course there's a fee for early termination of the account.
From this experience it seems obvious that Verizon has purposefully and painstakingly erected layers of insulation from customers (those trying to prevent Verizon stealing from them anyway.) It's as though they've provided a rat's maze, designed to appear customer-oriented on the outside whereas you can easily go in (Verizon ads show a legion of supporters standing behind a customer, right?), but all the paths only lead back out. It's very difficult to find any genuinely responsive corporate contact information in order to effect any accountability. It seems customers can only reach these insulating layers designed for the one-way flow of money. Verizon's priorities are revealed by the fact their billing division was extremely prompt, while their service to my residence was nonexistant, for two months. It's obvious to me after dealing with Verizon's email contact points and its customer reps that they're trained to dispense with customers as efficiently as possible, and to not allow any flow of money in any wrong direction, regardless of whether or not the customer has a case. I've read before they're provided incentives to implement this policy, which would explain the emotional and berating kinds of temperaments one can encounter from them. It's telling how disrespected customers are these days--gone are the days where businesses' keys to success in the marketplace involved the adage of the customer always being right. I really wonder if Verizon would do better in the long run putting resources into providing service instead of these bastions of protection from customers. But I really doubt this isn't happening with their competitors as well. Banks certainly operate the same way; the more layers of this one-way insulation they have, the more they can bank on percentages of customers not noticing they're being ripped off, or if they do, another percentage will become frustrated or discouraged in trying to recoup their losses against this customer baracade and give up, the vast majority of whom probably don't have the time or resources to take legal action for relatively small losses; yet all those losses multiply to amount to a not-so-honorable element of profit for large corporations, who are really being aloud to run amok these days in so many ways, to the point where they're heavily influencial in writing their own rules beyond accountability to the general public; they really need to be reigned in.