Image via WikipediaI'm normally not one to rant about personal encounters or problems, but this one is an exception. I've had Verizon Wireless as my cell carrier for too many years to count. About a year and a half ago my son got a Palm Centro as part of our family plan. A couple of months ago the phone stopped working correctly and he contacted his local Verizon wireless store (in Fairfax, VA). There they said that he needed a replacement phone. They shipped him the new Centro and he was supposed to ship back the old one, unfortunately he couldn't seem to find the time and to ship it back.
We discovered this when a charge of 349.99 appeared on one of our bills. I called my son up and asked him to return the phone right away. In the meantime, we paid the bills we received minus the charge of 349.99. Finally it came to a point where Verizon Wireless was saying that our balance was overdue and to pay right away. It happened to coincide with my son coming home for Hanukah, so we asked him to bring the phone and any packing materials with him and we would send it in.
He brought the phone home and we did send it in according to Verizon Wireless's instructions by Fedex directly to them. I thought everything would be fine until a few days later, when I received a letter from Verizon Wireless stating that I still owed them 349.99 and if I did not pay right away my service would be terminated! I checked the Fedex receipt we had and logged on to my computer to check if the package had been lost. According to Fedex tracking number 793121868598 they received and signed (B. Wilburn, I was told by the Verizon Wireless representative that this is the person who usually signs for packages) for the phone on December 23rd, 2009. I immediately called Verizon Wireless up and spoke to a representative there about the situation. She checked their database against the tracking number I provided her and said that they did indeed have the phone as received in the database, but for some reason it had not been credited to my account. The representative said that she put a note in my file and my service would NOT be turned off, they just needed to confirm with the warehouse that they did indeed have the phone, which due to the holidays might not happen until after New Years.
I felt better already. So I wasn't really thinking about it when on the afternoon of December 31st I received a call from my son, except he wasn't, according to caller ID calling from his cell phone. He said he was having problems with his phone, it wasn't working. I was just asking him if it was broken again, when my daughter came into the room. She said her phone was not getting or sending text messages and she didn't seem to be able to make any outgoing calls. My son heard this and said that was the same problem he was having except whenever he tried to make any call he got some message from Verizon Wireless finance about contacting them. I used my daughters phone since that was close at hand and checked my account, only to get a message saying that it had been suspended for non-payment.
First things first, I definitely had been paying the bill each month, just the past couple of months subtracting the charge for the phone, first because it was going to be returned, then because it had been returned. So I was more than a little miffed that they suspended my service even though they had the phone, both by their own admission and according to Fedex. This is where they really got me angry, they suspended my service on a holiday when NOONE was available for me to talk to in order to get it reinstated. When I called the 800 number on my bill I received a recording saying that the Billing office was closed in observance of the holidays. I called in the afternoon on the 31st and on the morning of January 1st, 2010. Yes, if I wanted to pay the 349.99 charge, the automated service could reinstate my service, but that wasn't going to happen since I didn't owe the money!
So I'm still waiting on Verizon Wireless. If there was ever a major failure in customer relations, this is it. Not only is this not the way to treat your customers, but if a company feels the need to take such measures, they should be sure there is some way to remedy the situation - and paying money I don't owe doesn't count.
Followup: We called Verizon Wireless again on January 2nd at 9:44am. At first we were told that due to the fact that my son hadn't returned the phone within the allotted period of time, in this case 90 days, we would not be refunded the full amount of the phone. (Had we known this at all, we certainly would have taken care of it. As the people who pay the bill, we should have received copies of everything.) We then insisted that we speak to a supervisor when it became obvious that the customer support person did not seem to have the authority to do anymore. At that point the support person put us on hold and then came back a few minutes later saying that she would credit the full amount, this one time only. We felt like we were being treated like children having our wrists slapped.
The final result was the one we wanted but the support person felt the need to repeat continually that not only were we at fault, but that Verizon was being overly generous by letting us return the phone without paying any fee. The financial Services representative was much more friendly.