Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blogging customer service

One of the great joys I get out of this blog is airing grievances about various idiots I come into contact with as a consumer. And one of the reasons for this joy is: people who google "UPS customer service" get to read my diatribe about what a bunch of IDIOTS UPS can be.

It is my duty, then, to now turn my ire upon Verizon Fios:

Hopefully, these little emails will take on a life of their own. It makes for fun blogging. However, my hope is also to resolve this situation ASAFP so I can get back to picking apart celebrities, movies, advertising, and other things that matter more than the frigging phone company.

Let me first say: utility companies rival the government for shitty customer service. With an arched eyebrow and a "what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it, asshole" attitude, you have to step nimbly lest they "inadvertantly" cancel your service, leaving you in the dark.

After approximately 10 months of smooth billing, service, etc. I get two bills from Verizon. I'm don't know why. Fios is supposed to be TV/internet/phone on a single bill.

I pay the two bills.

My cable is turned off days later. We find out as reports of hail and tornados are whipping across North texas and my weather-channel gene starts to itch.


We figure out (huge, painful call-center fiasco that my wife gratefully left out all the details about goes here) the cable has been shut off and they agree to rehook it up. The separate bills continue. We notice we are not being billed for internet. I decide to check it out online. What follows will be that correspondence.

Expect me to get angry.

10PM Sunday, 4/29/07

My Fios account used to come to my house on a single bill. Now I get two separate bills, and I can't find the Internet charges on either. How can I fix this problem. Your call center has been NO HELP. Thanks!

When I Submit this email I get the following confirmation:

Thank you for contacting Verizon via email. You will receive a confirmation email with a tracking number shortly.

Shortly does not mean in the next five minutes.



I guess shortly does mean ten minutes. Not bad for a robot.
Their cheeky reply:

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter, where we never stop working for you.

We will respond to you within one business day.

Your tracking number is: XXXXXXXXX

When sending us a reply, please ensure that the "Subject" of your email is unchanged and includes this tracking number.

If you haven't already registered on, visit us at to enroll now. Doing so gives you exclusive access to manage your account, view and pay your bill online and more!

While submitting an email from the Contact Us form is protected, subsequent emails transmitted from commercial email services may not be protected. Do not send credit card, password or other sensitive information in a standard email message.

I take issue with the phrase "we never stop working for you." Actually? Yes. They do. For instance, their billing department stops working every weekday at 6PM, and doesn't work weekends. Something which, unlike most other questions we've had for their customer service call center shmoes, each of them seems to know and is quick to tell you with a "I KNOW how disappointing this is to you" inflection that makes me want to smash things.

Oh, and another thing. The Verizon website doesn't work with Mozilla, which I find out through ten minutes of trial and error to trying unsuccessfully to login, reset my password, etc.



3:38, Monday 4/30/07

Dear J. Helms,

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. I have received your email dated April 29, 2007. My name is Laura, and I will be happy to assist you. I understand your concern.

It appear as if your telephone number has been ported out to another provider.

I regret I cannot access your internet account with the information provided.

Please provide your account number for your internet account so I may access your records.

Once I receive the requested information, I am confident I will be able to assist you. In the meantime, if you have additional questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Verizon eCenter

I like Laura. I decide she WILL be able to help me as soon as I give her the one crucial piece of information that she is missing (which I included in the web request, but strangely she doesn't have.) Still, I too am confident this will all work out.

I reply:


the account number is XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Thanks for your reply.




2 days of CRICKETS.



I decide to rattle Laura's cage:

10:50, Thursday, 5/3/07


It's been three days since I supplied you with my account number and I haven't heard back from you.
Has this issue been resolved?




10AM, Friday, May 4

Not one to disappoint, Laura responds:

Dear James,

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. I have received your email dated May 3, 2007 regarding your bills.

I regret I cannot locate an account with the information provided.

Please contact Verizon directly at (800) 839-1788 for further assistance.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Verizon eCenter

I am not shocked.
Even though they continue to bill me at this account number.
This phone number only works between 8am and 6pm M-F.
I am not shocked about this either.

I respond:


How is this possible?
Can you provide me any information as to why my account number which, in January,
was associated with my phone, internet and cable no longer is associated with those services?

Can you provide me with an option which will not necessitate me waiting on hold for
45 minutes in the middle of what is, for me, a very busy and fully scheduled day,
to talk to yet another person who can not help me?

How is it that Verizon "Never stops working for me" yet cannot seem to locate
my account number for a service I have been paying for at a rate of well over $100/month for a year?

Is there a customer service person I should be contacting directly who appreciates my business enough to look into it and actually help me figure it out?

I was sure you were that person.




No surprise, Laura's respnse is right out of the helpless call center lackey textbook:

8:45, May 7, 2007

Dear James,

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. I have received your email dated May 6, 2007 regarding your bill.

If you wish to combine all three bills, please contact Verizon at (800) 839-1788.

I hope I have resolved your reason for contacting us. If you have additional questions, or if we may be of assistance to you in the future, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Verizon eCenter

I decide to take Laura's direction and phone this number.
I am put on hold for 10 minutes
A call center employee asks for the phone number associated with my account and when I give him my area code, he tells me I have called a New Jersey call center. He cannot help me. He offers to transfer me. I agree. The phone rings, goes into hold music, five minutes later a stern voice message tells me the office is closed and to call back another time. And disconnects me.

I dig up a second phone number for customer service.
I spend 10 minutes on hold.
The person who answers says "Your account shouldn't have been split up."
This is the most encouraging thing I've heard since Laura told me she was sure she'd be able to help.
I hold for 14 minutes as she tries to get in touch with someone who can help

At 24 minutes "Bobby" comes on the line. He says he can help me.
He asks me about my existing services and thoughtfully tries to upsell me to digital cable.
I decline.
I am put on hold.

At 34 minutes he says it's taken care of.



Moda di Magno said...

Yikes. I listened to one of my young (young) co-workers on the telephone with Comcast for more than an hour today. I felt her pain as she tried to explain that her roommate is leaving for a year abroad and that she needs to take over the bill. They tell her she can only take over the bill by coming into the office to change the billing. The office is nowhere near downtown Boston (where we spend our days.) They close at 6 and aren't open on the weekends.

Nice business models the telecom bastards have going.

James-H said...

Seriously. Head-in-the-sand availability seems to have its advantages.