Wednesday, November 2

Verizon: We Never Stop Working You

Years ago, Verizon was my cell phone provider. I would not be surprised to learn that my calls to their billing department were used to train new phone reps on how to handle irate customers. Since then, I have hated Verizon with a passion.

Alas, I hate Vonage too (see below.) So, when I flew to SoCal to visit family last month, I gave Jared express instructions to have a "real" phone installed in the apartment before I got back.

He did his best. He called and ordered a new line. Unfortunately the local phone co. is . . . yeah. Them. Big V.

Yesterday I called the billing line. Here's roughly how my conversation went:

"Hi. My husband called and ordered a new residential line. We just got a bill for $102.29, but the line has never been activated. There is no dial tone from any of the phone jacks in the apartment."

"Okay, can I have your account number?"

"I'm sorry, I don't have that. My husband wrote this all down somewhere and he's at work."

"Okay, the phone number?"

"Again, I don't know. The line has never worked."

"I can look it up by social."

"[Jared's SSN.]"

"All right. I see the account. It was activated on October 17."

"Well, we have no dial tone and have never used this service. I am not going to pay a hundred dollars for a service I have yet to receive."

"Let me transfer you to Repair and they can help you."

Pause. "Hello, this is Mrs. Gordon with Repair, can I have your account number please?"

"I don't have it, the person I just spoke with had to look up the account with my husband's social security number."

"Well I can't look up accounts that way, only with the account or phone number."

"Well the person I talked with KNEW I didn't have it, and she transferred me."

"They KNOW I can't look it up that way . . . I'll have to transfer you back to Billing and you can ask for the number."

*smacks forehead*

Pause. "Hi, this is Ramona with Billing, can I have your account number please?"

"No. I don't have it, which is why I've been transferred back to you after the first two people couldn't help me."

"The account number isn't on your bill?"

"No, it's not."

"Look in the upper right hand corner."

"Oh. OH . . . I'm sorry, it's there! Could you transfer me back to Repair, please?"

"Sure thing."

(Incidentally, why did it take until the THIRD person to point out the obvious? I felt dumb-- but then so should Mrs. Gordon and the Person Whose Name I Didn't Catch.)

"Hi, this is Thelma with Repair, can I have your account number, please?"

"[account number]. [explains problem]."

"Okay, let me check your line. Hold on." Pause. "Yes, it appears we need to send someone to your house to do some repairs on the line."

"Okay, let's schedule that."

"Wait, did you try checking the [something?] box out front?"

"Umm, I don't know what that is."

"The box. It says right on it [something?] Next to the house."

"I live in an apartment, I don't know where the phone boxes are."

"Oh, it's an apartment?"


"Oh, all right, let me transfer you over to someone who can help you with apartments."

Pause. Click. Recording: "Please enter your account number now." I do. "According to our records, your phone service was activated October 17. To repeat this information, press or say 'repeat.'"

I am used to this game. "Speak with representative."

"I'm sorry. I am having trouble understanding you. Did you say 'yes' or 'no'?"


"I think you said you'd like to speak with a representative. If this is correct, say--"


Pause. "Hi, this is Juanita, can I have your account number please?"

"Why sure, Juanita. I've given it to a recording, Miss Chambers, Thelma, Ramona, Mrs. Gordon, and someone else before THAT, I suppose you should have it to!"

Please note: Juanita apparently doesn't have much of a sense of humor. I get her up to speed anyway. She confirms that yes, work needs to be done on the line, but they require permission from the maintenance department first-- they need access to the telephone box. I will need to call my apartment management and then get back to them. Oh, and if our line isn't "tagged" yet (whatever that is) an extra fee will apply!

"Okay. Well, in the meantime, I have this bill for $102.29 for phone service I obviously haven't used. With whom do I speak to take care of the bill?"

"Let me transfer you back to Billing to take care of that, ma'am."

Pause. "Hello, this is Miss Jones, can I have your account number please?"

I give it. I tell her I do not wish to pay the bill until my phone is repaired.

"Okay, let me transfer you over to someone who can credit you."

Please, God. Stop the pain.

Pause. "This is Kristy, can I have your account number please?"

"Yes, you can, Kristy, but I'd like it noted you are the NINTH person I have spoken with today for this issue." I give her the number. I tell her no phone, no bill. She says she will put a note on the bill, and I need to CALL BACK once phone service is restored so they can credit me appropriately.

Too tired to protest, I thanked her and hung up. Now I need to call my apartment maintenance and arrange for Verizon to make a repair. Then I must call Verizon to schedule the repair. I may or may not owe an extra fee, depending upon whether the box is "tagged" or not. Then I need to call Verizon once again so they know how long I was out of service, total, and thus how much credit is applicable. In the meantime, I still owe them $102.29 despite a dial tone dearth. I am therefore still using Vonage, which dropped another call on me last night-- thank God not during the 40-minute call to the Verizon Troupe.

I couldn't make this crap up if I tried.