The Checkout

Verizon's Big Disconnect

I'm not trying to bash Verizon. Really. But at least once a month I seem to be writing about some customer service or billing issue with the telecommunications giant. Maybe that's because Verizon is so large--or maybe it's because it doesn't know how to treat its customers. Or maybe both.

The latest tale stems from my attempts to try to sign up for a new local and long-distance phone plan, Verizon Freedom Value, which Verizon keeps promoting in ads, bill inserts and mail solicitations. I called early on a Thursday morning to ask about it. Here's what happened:

Call 1 to 800 number: First I have to listen to a long recording, telling me this is not the right number to call if I wanted to set up a new account (I don't), etc, etc. Then it asks about the phone number I'm calling about. My call is steered to Pam, who tells me sorry, my account has been tagged as a "special issue" and can only be dealt with by the local business office. She gives me the number.

Call 2 to next 800 number: I get a recording: "Indulge yourself with the most exciting conversations imaginable" and am told to call another 800 number. I think that's weird and probably should know better, but I call.

Call 3 to another 800 number: It's a sex hotline.

Call 4 back to original 800 number in the ad (where I again have to listen to a long recording). I ask for the correct local business office phone number.

Call 5: Another long recording, again asking about the phone number of the account before a man answers and asks if this is a business or residential phone. Residential, I answer. He asks me my phone number again and then transfers my call.

A new operator takes the call and again asks me my phone number. Enough already! "What can I do for you dear?" she asks. (Does anyone else out find being called "dear" by an operator really demeaning?). She asks my permission to review my account. Duh!? Why would I be calling if not to review my account! "Of course, that's why I'm calling," I say. She asks me to hold and after 30 seconds a new operator is handling my call. I wasn't even aware my call was going to be transferred and first say I'm sorry but someone else was helping me.

This operator, Mrs. Lacey, says no, the call was referred to her because our house recently had a fiber-optics line installed so we now need to deal with the fiber optics office, which is now where I've landed. "Welcome to Fiber Encore," she says. She asks for my phone number AGAIN. Then, asks what she can do for me? I tell her I want to see if Verizon Freedom Value is better than what we have now at our house. She said she would check. What was my phone number? (YES, she asked me twice!!!!!!!).

After 10 minutes, I finally get into a discussion of the new plan's merits. It turns out to be only pennies better than my current one with a few pros and some cons. I decided to ponder the switch, but probably will never make it--for fear of having to deal with Verizon's phone hell one more time.

My husband, a journalist who writes about computer technology, has had similar tales of woe as a customer (please don't get him started on talking about the difficulties he's had in getting the fiber optic line installed). He says Verizon is known for its call centers' state-of-the-art technology. But for some reason, there's a big disconnect between that technology and the customer experience.

By  |  May 8, 2006; 6:00 AM ET Customer Service
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Alas, your tale of woe about Verizon is all too common and not atypical of today's "advanced technology" and labor saving "press this, that," and all around the mulberry bush. I am more baffled by the list of "extras" on the bill I get monthly! Charges abound and sometime I think they add up to what the 'Basic' telephone charge is.
To give Verizon a check mark (and I am in no way connected with the company, own stock, know anyone there, etc., etc.,) I signed up a few months ago for their basic DSL internet connection. The entire procedure went smoothly from getting the service, doing the "self help" installation (amazingly straightforward and with a few questions answered by phone very promptly!) and so forth. Maybe the folks who handle that business should be transferred over to the phone service you were seeking!

Posted by: Bernie | May 8, 2006 7:28 AM

Verizon customer service has been a running joke in my group of friends for quite some time. After having a home phone line repeatedly disconnected for "billing errors" on their end, I finally cancelled the service- there are not enough free apologetic months of service when your phone isn't reliably working. My boss at work stormed out of the office in the middle of the day once because she had been driven to angry screaming by the support staff on her cellular line's billing. I much prefer their actual cellular service to Sprint, but the Sprint phone support is so much better (which doesn't take much) that I switched and never went back.

Posted by: Amy | May 8, 2006 7:41 AM

When we switched to Verizon cellphone service (yes, I'm told that's a "different" company... but what's so different if the name is still Verizon??) and immediately saw unrecognized charges of more than $10 for downloads on our first bill.

These turned out to be opt-in downloads, never requested, from a third party. CHECK YOUR BILL CAREFULLY. We had to spend a half hour on the phone with Verizon, who gave us an incorrect number for the third party to call and straighten it out. This month, I noticed a 30 cent charge for text messages (never used) and I suspect this is a probing charge - a charge small enough to be missed, to see if we're dumb enough to let it go each month. This NEVER happened when we were on T-Mobile, and Verizon has been uniformly unhelpful in straightening out false charges.

That said, let me also state that Verizon online help, for our DSL line, has been uniformly excellent.

Posted by: Peter J | May 8, 2006 7:55 AM

I, too, had similar problems. I switched to FIOS and promptly lost my Freedom Plan long distance service for a whole week. Yes, a week. That is how long it took for them to figure it out. This was after DAILY runarounds like Ms. Mayers received... 5 days of 20+ min. conversations with very nice folks who couldn't do a thing. They, too, would ask permission to review my account and then, if I didnt' know my account #, would do nothing (I didn't have it at work). Beyond painful.

Posted by: Bill R | May 8, 2006 7:59 AM

Phone companies do a lot of weird things. Your tales of woe with Verizon sound like the actions of a supremely competent and obsequious English butler when compared to the hell of dealing with BellSouth, which is the local landline provider where I live. While BellSouth's customer service system matches Verizon's voicemail labyrinthe in frustrating complexity and random misdirection, the resulting service is even more incompetent, often requiring four, five, six or more contacts to accomplish whatever it is you need, even when it's a very simple matter like attempting to correct an erroneous address on your bill.

But then there's Verizon Wireless. They actually cripple or deactivate some of the services available on their telephone handsets to prevent things like downloading address books to pre-installed Bluetooth HandsFree systems in many automobiles today. This is so frustrating that all it accomplishes is to create new customers for Cingular. And then they insult your intelligence by telling you that it's for some "security consideration" (on BlueTooth, with its 12-foot range).

Jeesh!

Posted by: Woody Smith | May 8, 2006 8:03 AM

I, too have had similar problems with Verizon, but it is not just isolated to them. Having recently moved, I had the great good fortune to have to deal with various utilities to get my mailing address changed and service switched over to the new residence. Talk about a nightmare! The customer service staff were always polite and nice, and I think genuinely wanted to help, but they are stuck in the same ridiculous system that we are when we call asking for help. By the way, many companies direct you to their website to make address and service change requests, only to tell you that you can't do it and should call the customer service number -- where, of course, you end up bouncing around from person to person.

One other complaint -- I'm sick and tired of calling these companies for a simple thing like an address change or clarification of a billing issue, only to have them push lots of additional and unnecessary (and expensive) services at me. Takes up at least another 5 minutes of my time, and frankly I'm not calling to expand the number of services. I know where to call if I want a new service or product, and don't need the push marketing and sales.

Posted by: Jon S. | May 8, 2006 8:19 AM

Verizon messed up my Yellow Page ad 2 year's running. It continues to bill me for this, saying it will give me a larger ad but cannot refund money. It has been one of the worst companies to deal with in trying to resolve an issue or order services.

Posted by: BS | May 8, 2006 8:41 AM

I know how you feel, Verizon is out only for the money NOT to provide service.

Twice Verizon has stolen our business line service from other companies causing us all sorts of problems and costing us lots of money in broken contracts and lost business. Verizon's only response is to offer us a "free" month of service. Service that is twice what we used to pay and still doesn't have all the features we had before.

Of course, we refuse their "generous". But when we try to return to our previous service provider we are told that because WE broke the contract we can't reinstate it. So we are forced to enter into a new and more expensive contract. Yet, these contracts are still less expensive than Verizon.

Personally. I can think of no more deserving compay for boycotting than Verizon.

Posted by: Bill | May 8, 2006 8:44 AM

Yes, but with most service organizations especially utilities the interest is to stretch out your experience so they can either have you quit your quest in disgust or sell you something else. Verizon sells with veiled and partial discosure offers. The newest twist with the Fiber Optics is to outsource your call to broken English understanding sales folk who will let you ask and answer your own questions.

Posted by: Doyouneedhelp Hopenot | May 8, 2006 8:45 AM

I have an alternate story about Verizon, I ordered Verizon's FIOS service and I have to say, the customer service rep was great when I called the 1 800- and I got a person that actually took care of me. On the day of my installation the technicians were Outstanding.

Posted by: Darryl | May 8, 2006 8:51 AM

I had a similar experience trying to sign up for Verizon's Freedom Essential Package. Many calls to their 800 number were met with a message that they were simply overloaded and I needed to try to call again at a later time. When I did get through I had to wait up to one full hour for someone to answer, and then was met with the same frustrating experience of being transferred, told to call a local business office, given the wrong number for the local business office, told to call back to another 800 number...

I thought I had successfully signed up for the service on the first confirmation with a representative, but two weeks later, when the service was still not active, I had to repeat the whole cycle. It got to be a joke with my kids, that I could only call Verizon when I had hours of chores to do while the speakerphone kept repeating the same "thank you for your patience" line. It took a total of three rounds of calling, waiting on hold, signing up, waiting two weeks, and still not having the service, before everything was supposedly on track.

When I finally got my first bill after successfully signing up for the service, I was hugely disappointed to find the total was TWICE what the advertised package was supposed to cost. The had charged me for long distance calls when the package was supposed to be all inclusive, they had charged me for an international plan which I did not sign up for, and evidently there are "Base charges", which are not included as part of the advertised "get all your local and long distance service for only...", but are charged to everyone regardless.

Needless to say, I am quite fed up with Verizon. I am still bolstering my courage to get ready to try to make the switch to someone else. Wish me luck!

Posted by: Polly | May 8, 2006 9:22 AM

I have Verizon DSL service(???) in Rhode Island & I probably spend a couple of hours a week on their trouble line sorting out problems. Truly a nightmare but I have no alternative.
ddoolan@msn.com

Posted by: Dwight Doolan | May 8, 2006 9:43 AM

Maybe I'm just lucky but I've never had a single problem with my Verizon land/cell line or billing.

Posted by: Arlington | May 8, 2006 9:57 AM

I recently moved from Capitol Heights, MD to Germantown, MD. All I wanted to do was relocate my dsl package. But after 3 months and various disputes over bills, I still have yet to have this issue resolved. How hard is it to disconnect dsl from one account and reconnect it on another. They keep billing my old account. And everytime I speak to a rep, they say its been resolved.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2006 10:16 AM

I just called Cingular Wireless to cancel our cell phones. I talked with a man in France (the fruits of outsourcing). I told him how terrible American cell phone companies are compared to those in Europe, and he heartily agreed. He then explained to me the various benefits that he gets on his cell phone in Europe.....ah so much better.

It is ironic, methinks. So many people claim "capitalism" is the answer to all life's problems. Yet those are the same people who denounce Europe as socialist/communist, yet where is the better service?

Posted by: RHMD | May 8, 2006 10:19 AM

I have a sucessful home business. A few years ago when the VZ Freedom package first appeared, I signed up for the sake of budgeting simplicity. Back then the advertised price for the package was $49.95 per month, which is right around the total for my local and long distance bills, so I thought, why not?

Don't do it. The price they advertise does not include taxes, access fees, etc. - your actual bills will be much higher. My bill from Verizon was for $79, or at least $30 more than I would have normally paid.

This is not a swindle - except to the extent that is your *total* bill is more than the advertised flat rate, VZ operators "reviewing" your account will aggressively push it, even though it will end up costing you much more money.

DWIGHT - call Earthlink - it's not cheap, but Verizon DSL almost destroyed my home business by blocking almost all legitimate incoming email, without any notification to me or the senders, regardless of the origin of the incoming email, or whether the senders were in my address book. A huge problem which they refuse to address in any meaningful way. You are MUCH better off using any other service besides VZ DSL.

Posted by: Bye Bye VZ | May 8, 2006 10:26 AM

BERNIE: VZ is always helpful and efficient when new or additional services are involved. Just wait til you stop getting email, or the DNS server takes a 24-hour nap, or god forbid, you want to cancel certain services or your account. You'll find out what the company is really made of.

Posted by: Bye Bye VZ | May 8, 2006 10:29 AM

Let's face it: customer service stinks with most companies. Customer service is a financial loss leader. It takes a certain personality to work in customer facing jobs. Often customer service people have no real authority to actually do anything related to a technical problem other then relay your problem to another group. Verizon has the huge problem of also being a giant octopus. The group (and customer service people) are usually not the same people who take your order and are definately not the technical support people once it breaks. Add that to the fact that the residential customer service people are not the FIOS people and the number of handoffs get multiplied. Now add in the fact that customer service people turnover exponentially because they tend to be lower paying jobs, you really have a mess. Finally you have the fact that Verizon is still New england bell, NYNEX, GTE, with disparate unions, no unions, etc you have a huge mess. My advice is to escalate to a manager as soon as it becomes a mess. Get names, direct lines and email address so you can get some accountability rather then just the flavour of day.

Posted by: will | May 8, 2006 10:30 AM

My experience with Verizon DSL and landline repair shows what a crapshoot service is nowadays. A storm affected my telephone switchbox (only I did not know that) and I lost my landline and DSL connection. The landline repair people were great--amazingly fast. But when I called re the DSL, I would get customer reps who had no idea when or how it could be fixed. Then, on about my 4th call, I got a guy who was obviously a computer service professional who, with my permission, took control of my computer remotely, got onto the site of the company that made my DSL modem, downloaded whatever he needed and reconfigured the modem so it worked with no problem. I probably scared the poor guy because I was effusive in my praise, I sounded like a rescued hostage. My point is, you can call and get a bored nitwit, or you can call and get a total pro. That's really not fair, is it?

Posted by: Jack | May 8, 2006 10:43 AM

Caroline Mayer's article on Verizon. I wax vitriolic every time I think of Verizon. I'm on a $39 plan, but I pay about 150 bucks a mo. for 2000 mins on Sunday, 150 weekdas. They often bill me twice a month. They send no proof of your calls. U can pay extra for a listing, but I have a notion that Verizon is slamming all bills to clients, and there is no oversight I know of. I have no trust in them. If you switch from one plan to another they extend your contract starting the day Verizon's merry-go-round I', taking someone else's company: cingular,et al.

Posted by: bruce branick | May 8, 2006 10:53 AM

We have Verizon everything: wireless, DSL, and landline. Twice we've tried to sign up for ONE BILL to combine our wireless and local bills into one. Both times, we have received letters saying that we're not qualified for ONE BILL but a) not told exactly why and b) there is no number that we can call to find out what we need to do. I tried switching our wireless bill from online to paper, thinking that may be the problem, but now we get the bill both online and in the mail, which defeats the purpose. I just don't bother.

On the other hand, I called Verizon DSL technical help to find out why I'm getting spam and why I can't block senders. 30 minutes later, I find out that the block senders software was taken offline because of bugs and may be back online May 11--maybe. In the meantime, I just have to keep deleting my spam. BUT at least I got an answer to my question.

Posted by: Corinne | May 8, 2006 11:01 AM

"My advice is to escalate to a manager as soon as it becomes a mess." That's often good advice, but one time when I was having a mess with Verizon and asked the young guy I was talking to to let me talk to his supervisor, he acted as though he didn't know what I meant. I said, "Do you have a supervisor?" "Yes." "I'd like to talk to your supervisor." "You can't." "Why not?" "Because he doesn't talk to customers."

Posted by: jaded | May 8, 2006 11:02 AM

Don't even get me started on Verizon! I attempted to pay my first Verizon Wireless phone bill through a direct link to my bank account and accidentally paid Verizon Communications (the ground line folks). Well, that was back in November and I am still attempting to rectify the situation. It seems that Verizon Communications and Wireless are not connected and that they couldn't simply transfer the money from one account to another. My money is sitting out in limbo somewhere. I have been on the phone with representatives from both sides for a cumulative minimum (I kid you not!) of 8 hours. Several faxes, emails and other attempts at communication have resulted in no resolution. Verizon is ridiculous and I can't wait to fix this situation and move on to another carrier...never to return to Verizon again...ever!

Posted by: Andrew | May 8, 2006 11:12 AM

Last week I signed up for Verizon landline service; five days later I cancelled it. I'm getting Vonage.

I moved into a new condo and needed new phone service; Verizon assigned me a phone number but I could never get a dial tone. I had agreed to pay a monthly 'wire maintence fee' of about $4 to cover maintenance visits re: wire problems. Otherwise it would be $91 for them to come out whenever there was a problem.

Verizon did wire tests (remotely) and determined that it was a problem in MY apartment, with my wiring.

OK, fine. Here's the thing. Depending on what customer service rep (CSR) I talked to, my wire service fee either WOULD or would NOT cover them coming onsite to fix the wiring problem. Finally, a Verizon "supervisor" informed me that it would NOT....it would only apply if I had successfully gotten a dial tone. Then it could be classified as a repair issue, and be covered. As it was, I had NEVER gotten a dial tone, so it was an intallation issue, and so for them to come out and fix it I'd have to pay Verizon $91...FOR THE FIRST HALF HOUR. Who even knows how much afterward.

(I said, "So I should have just said I HAD gotten a dial tone? Then I wouldn't have to pay?"
"Uh, well, no....because then you would be lying."
Thanks for the lesson in morality, Verizon!)

I said forget it. I wanted to cancel service.

But the saga wasn't over! It wasn't that easy! The "supervisor" transferred me to someone else, who was apparently uniquely gifted with the ability to cancel my service. THAT person led me on a 10-minute journey of not being able to cancel the service, b/c she said she was not even allowed to discuss the account with me unless I had an account number. In my previous dealings with Verizon, I'd only used the new phone number they gave me as a sort of account number. This CSR could not find anything about my account using that number, my office number, my cell phone number, any other information I could come up with, etc. She advised waiting a month for my bill to arrive, b/c it would have my account number on it and THEN I could cancel.

"So I should just wait and pay for 1 month of service I could never use? Do you realize how insane that would be?"

I quickly got off the phone with her, called right back, and the CSR that answered was immediately able to look up my account by phone number, cancel the service, and give me a confirmation number.

Of course, we'll see if I still get billed. For all I know, that last CSR could have been making up the cancellation confirmation number!

Oy.

Posted by: Briefly a Verizon Semi-Customer | May 8, 2006 11:19 AM

I used to be a Verizon wireless customer. For me they were #1 in two very different categories:

Best wireless coverage.
Worst customer service.

Posted by: Steve C. | May 8, 2006 11:27 AM

My experience with Verizon phone and DSL service has been that problems are fixed quickly and competently but that communications with the company about the problems is difficult. In both instances in the last year and a half, the problem was fixed sooner than the company said it would be!

Posted by: Samantha | May 8, 2006 11:29 AM

Verizon local phone service specializes on "double billing". Whatever lowest service plan you choose, the total charges will be $60 to $70. Once, I noticed $20 jump in the bill and found out that they are charging double for the same package. It is all computer billing error, very high tech cheating. I now have at@t local service. They don't double bill.

Mona

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2006 11:32 AM

"I moved into a new condo and needed new phone service; Verizon assigned me a phone number but I could never get a dial tone. I had agreed to pay a monthly 'wire maintence fee' of about $4 to cover maintenance visits re: wire problems. Otherwise it would be $91 for them to come out whenever there was a problem.

Verizon did wire tests (remotely) and determined that it was a problem in MY apartment, with my wiring."

THAT HAPPENED TO US TOO! We switched to Vonage and haven't had a problem since. (and it's only $30/month taxes included) It's also a nifty feature that Vonage emails you everytime you receive a voicemail!

Posted by: Long ago VZ customer, never again! | May 8, 2006 11:33 AM

If you are tired of Verizon, switch to Vonage. I have. It is much cheaper, and the quality of the phone calls did not diminish.

Posted by: Stevek7 | May 8, 2006 11:37 AM

This experience reminded me of what happened years ago when my little, no-name cellphone company got bought up by what would one day turn into MCI Worldcom. Though my account was small potatoes to them for sure, my experience dealing with hours of customer service calls & billing mistakes (e.g., continued to be billed & harrased by collections for YEARS after cancelling my account, which they had record of, but couldn't explain why I was still in the billing system) gave me an indescribable glee when I heard of their accounting scandal. I know the top execs still got off relatively scot free, and I tried my best telling all the operators and store clerks that they'd best do themselves a favor and quit before they got laid off, but that experience really opened my eyes to the types of scams these companies run. One thing that is sometimes helpful (maybe) is to go to an actual store and have the sales rep call customer service for you. I've found that they often have to deal with the same 1-800 crap that we do, but sometimes they can get through to the right people faster. Also, besides trying to keep you as a customer, they'll want to make a good impression on anyone else who sees you in the store...it doesn't help them if potential customers see me fuming over their bad service!

Posted by: KC | May 8, 2006 11:41 AM

I made the mistake of getting Verizon FIOS service when it came to the area. I've had service reps come to my house 4 times now in the past year to replace the battery. The 4th time seems to be holding up, the last technician rewired the setup.

Once a month my phone and internet service does not work and there is no explanation. Between 24-48 hours outage each time.

Needless to say I want to switch to another company, but what are my alternatives? Comcast which charges an arm and a leg, whose customer service answer to my problems is that "It is my problem even though we made the mistake and would you like to pay for another service?". Vonage depends on a reliable internet service, see above complaints.

Before Verizon starts charging extra for prioritized services, could they please fix the service they have now?

Posted by: PTT | May 8, 2006 11:54 AM

It's the same all over. I hear stories galore about how aweful AT&T is, then Comcast, then Verizon, and so on and so on. Everyone has their tales of woe...bloggers and media writers alike. If everyone could truly see through the haze, you'll notice fees being tacked on to almost all utilities that are labelled as 'regulatory' fees. These are gov't imposed, not utility co. imposed. Don't believe me? Ask your Public Utilities Commission. They won't be apologetic. "Pay it!" they'll say, because they have the power to impose it.

Money saving technology (for those of you who HAVE to have your own technology in your homes will be more forgiving here) is available to EVERY company. Try dealing with credit cards. I can RANT for hours about vectoring systems that put you in pushbutton hell for almost every major business out there...even my beloved L.L. Bean. Yup, it's true. But sadly there are journalists who would write the negative and not to positive. Hey Caroline, next time you write an article, fill it with some good news. I'm tired of seeing all the put downs from writers who are too shortsighted to place blame where blame is really due... try the gov't for a change.

Posted by: Longwinn | May 8, 2006 12:07 PM

Long Ago VZ Customer, thanks for sharing your story! I've heard the same thing happened with several other people in my building too. They all have Vonage now (or only have cell phone service), as I will too, as soon as the equipment arrives - hopefully tomorrow. I hope it works out. I know many people that say the sound is just as good as traditional landline (and cheaper), so hopefully it will be.

(To be honest, I don't even CARE at this point! I would rather go without any phone than use Verizon! There's always smoke signals, or carrier pigeons.)

I guess Verizon doesn't care that they're funnelling all this business to Vonage - or at least away from Verizon. They're probably making up the difference by charging all those outrageous "taxes" and fees to people that stick with them.

Posted by: Briefly a Verizon Semi-Customer | May 8, 2006 12:12 PM

"These [fees] are gov't imposed, not utility co. imposed."

Not true. At least according to an article I read recently in, I think, the NY Times (possibly the WSJ, but I think it was the NYT). It said that those fees rarely if ever reach any government, and are just charged by the utilities b/c they want to, not b/c any govt. entity forces them to or sets any particular amount they must charge.

If they are uniformly government-imposed, why are Vonage's fees like $3/mo and Verizon, RCN et al's like $30/mo?

(And they should eat taxes as a cost of doing business, not pass them on to customers. If they "need" to roll the cost in to the monthly service charges, fine, then say "Our Freedom Package costs $60/mo." Not "24.95/mo.....oh, and these taxes and fees, uh, hm hm hm.....yeah, those add up to $35.05/mo, so your total is going to be $60." It's false advertising to claim a package costs $25/mo when it's really going to be $60/mo.)

Posted by: Regulatory Fees = Scam | May 8, 2006 12:18 PM

You are lucky that you did not choose the new package. Verizon's package comparisons play a really nasty trick. See, built in to your standard local phone service is a $6.28 fee from Verizon. This one looks like just another ridiculous tax, but it is really just another price from VZ. The trick is that they do not include this fee in what they tell you is the price of the new service. Some people will ask the sales rep to add in the taxes, but VZ doesn't count this as a tax. If a customer asks for the bottom line ("What will I pay on my new bill?") the VZ sales reps are trained to respond only with relative rates ("You'll pay $2 more"). But, their calculator is always including the old $6.28 per line in what you pay now and not in what you will pay. If your package only looked a little cheaper, it was probably going to end up more expensive. And, how would you have known? With all the "legitimate" taxes on your bill that nobody knows how to interpret (Did anyone know that Northern Virginia residents get hit with over 30% taxes on their phone bill?), its only natural that you would stumble into a situation where your new total was more than your old total even though you seem to be paying less to Verizon.

Posted by: fee decoder | May 8, 2006 12:20 PM

Add me to the list of people who has had their share of woes with calling Verizon and I SWORE I'd never deal with them again....

Then the whole FIOS thing comes to my neighborhood, with promises of super highspeed internet and kick ass television service. I'm intrigued to say the least, but I put it off. Then I get 3 UPS packages in the mail in successive weeks from Verizon, promoting the FIOS service in the area. So I start to do research and read up on comments made by people who have FIOS. 99.9% of them say if you're able to get it and don't, that you're crazy. About a month ago, I even had a Verizon representative come to the house in an attempt to sell me the FIOS service, but I still refused due to my disdain for Verizon, but I was slowly crumbling.

THEN, my best friend gets the FIOS service....and he's surfing the net at BLAAAAAZING speed. That was the last straw...I was not going to be outdone by my friend.

I picked up the phone, called Verizon, ordered FIOS, they gave me an install date, it was changed to an earlier date, the installers were unbelievably courteous, the install was clean and professional, and the service....oh my gosh, the service. The TV channels look much clearer than what I had with COX. No extra charge for HDTV. The FIOS internet is lightning quick. Verizon, however improbable, has won me back. Now I've only had the service for a few weeks and its been flawless up to now, but I am knocking on some wood.

Sorry if this sounds like a Verizon ad, but it seems like at least their FIOS dept is a top notch group from my experience.

Posted by: FIOS Lover | May 8, 2006 12:24 PM

I am part with the generation that lives on the cell phone but also likes to have a home phone for emergencies and because my mom says so. Verizon's phone service offered me nothing but basic service and fee upon fee. Why is it that my home phone costs more than my cell phone?

I read about the new Comcast Digital Voice for $33 where I can keep my home phone number. I got an installation three weeks ago. IT has all the features I had before and cheaper as well.

Mom is happy I didn't ditch the home phone all together and I am happy I get one less bill to open and pay.

I don't know much about Verizon Fios but my Comcast internet speeds seem to be going faster than I can read. I am happy to have all my services on one bill!

Posted by: New Comcast telephone customer | May 8, 2006 12:41 PM

I live in the Oak Hill/Herndon area where Verizon has claimed some kind of authority over our neighbourhoods. With no previous notice a Verizon crew arrived and unloaded all kinds of equipment in front of my house (keep in mind I live on a "pipe stem", so it is a narrow road).
I asked them what they were intended to do and one of the crew members said that they were to dig a "small hole" in my property to be able to transfer some cables to the new box they were installing in the neighbour's house. I complained about not getting prev. notice, but still agreed.

One hour later I saw they had dug FIVE big holes along my garden and our sprinkler system. I angrily requested to speak to their supervisor. This person said that him and his crew just get the work order each morning and had no idea about VErizon informing us or not about the work that "NEEDED" to be done.

For complaints he gave me an 800 number that belonged to the contractor that was doing the work.

They finally finished their work, covered the holes and left, but they certainly ruined my morning and my lawn.

Posted by: E. Hernandez | May 8, 2006 12:53 PM

I don't know why, but after all my experience with prompts, pins, passwords etc. I'm still amazed when I use a # prescribed by ads or direct mails that the people on the other end never seem to know why I have called them. Maybe the employer doesn't tell the employee what they are suppose to be doing that day. Being in the communications industry I am amazed as to what this might do to a companies customer base. As for me I know one mortgage co., three insurance companies, two phone and one brokerage co. that won't be profiting from my business any longer.

Posted by: DB | May 8, 2006 12:55 PM

When I signed up for their DSL service, I was impressed at how well everything went. But about a year later, my Intenet connection just stopped working, and then I had to endure their call service hell. After hours of being on the phone, they finally sent a technician over. While he had the connection restored in a matter of minutes, it vanished again with the hour. I finally got a reliable, faster connection by calling Cox Cable.

Posted by: Alvin | May 8, 2006 12:56 PM

OMG u are all losers, oH my bank paid the wrong company so now I'm mad at Verizon Wireless! Oh you gave me the wrong # and it took me to a sex line... But I never thought that I could have wrote it down wrong tho... does anyone take accountability? GUESS what!?!?, YOU'RE human, and so is the person you're dealing with on the phone. With that, People LIKE YOU make mistakes. You get a cell phone bill for $150 cuz you used 150 pk min and 2000 night and weekend, well u stupid idiot, look at your bill and see why, did your night and weekend promotion end and you're now being billed, did you call Fiji and FORGET, you're not f**king double billed you moron! OH YOu're SUCH victims BOO FU*king Hoo. So you're charged taxes on your phone, or a charge for this, or a charge for that.. Welcome to America, where taxes are a bit*h, oh wait..GUESS what ya don't have to stay here, LEAVE, taxes are part of the game. If you're constantly on the phone with your phone company ya DON'T HAVE TO STAY WITH THEM!!!! Caroline is obviously the biggest loser here, she falls victim constantly and takes it out on verizon.. hey Caroline, get laid sometime!

It's great that ya'll on the eastcoast have a freaking newspaper you can write to when you're having issues... but com'on, there are 100's of better places to get industry info. USE your dang resources, abandon this column and get a grip!

OH OH. about the person who talked to a Cingular outsource in Europe. LOL, I think you're the #2 biggest loser here today, 1st of all, Cingular does not outsource, and ahh you took their word and just posted. Have you ever heard of following up on someones word? NO, oh well here I'll start your search for you.

http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPayMonthlyPricePlans

Oh look, it's LOTS more.. they don't get nights and weekends either. Cell phone service here is CHEAP! Oh and if you cry about taxes visit our friends in Canada.. We have it good here!

Posted by: LOL | May 8, 2006 12:57 PM

I have disconnected from Verizon entirely. I have sunrocket, which is voice over IP, for phone service and get long distance, local, and calling features (like call waiting, caller ID, etc.) for $17/month and I can check my voice messages online. I still have the Comcasts jerks for my ISP but they just overcharge slightly, I can usually get good customer service from them.

Posted by: Meg | May 8, 2006 12:59 PM

I had FIOS installed as soon as it was available in my neighborhood. Basically b/c I'd save $20 per month from my Comcast High speed connection. I love it. It's great. Install was easy.

I haven't switched to FIOS TV for two reasons. Still under contract with Dish but they don't have all the international channels I view. Hopefully they'll add programming to their line up soon.

BUT, then it comes time for phone service. I want to switch to Verizon phone. Now they are showing signs of being the company difficult to work with. I've tried twice and the CSRs are not bright. I guess they just won't get extra $$ from me. Though the single bill would be nice. The aggravation isn't worth a switch for no cost savings.

Posted by: FIOS Heaven | May 8, 2006 1:02 PM

We got FIOS, and have been happy with the ability to actually surf the web at home (versus the pain of dial-up ... for some reason, Verizon DSL was not an option for us, though they didn't tell us that until AFTER we had been pre-cleared, gotten the install equipment, and were 24 hours away from our supposed connect date).

Having upgraded to broadband, we decided to check out Verizon Wing (I think is the name) -- their VoIP service. Despite having been Verizon phone customers for years, they couldn't port our number!!! We weren't going to give up the number we've had for nearly 10 years, with all that would entail, so we switched to Vonage. They ported our number without problem, the service has been almost flawless, and our phone bill is a fraction of its former self.

VoIP is the future, and the future is now ...

Posted by: Another Vonage switcher | May 8, 2006 1:06 PM

I gave up on Verizon months ago after a similar experience. We had moved into a new townhouse in Fairfax in April 2005. We arranged for Verizon telephone service (the Freedom Plan, $49.99, excluding taxes and fees) to start on the day we moved in. One week later, on a Thursday, the phone service just cut off. Using a neighbor's phone (we didn't have a cell phone at the time), I called Verizon to report the problem and to see how soon they could get someone out to the house to fix it. Very non-chalantly they said a repairman would not be able to come until the following Tuesday (5 days later), but I would get to choose the morning or afternoon! I asked them why couldn't someone come before then; what if there was some emergency with my wife or two young daughters in the middle of the night? With no sympathy whatsoever, they said they just didn't have anyone available. What ticked me off was their attitude, which was not customer-friendly at all, but a sort of "you take this or leave it attitude. We got through that weekend okay and they fixed the problem, but when I got my first telephone bill it was more than $64.00! I had expected taxes, but there were so many fees and unknown charges to the $49.99 that I was totally upset. After spending 10 minutes trying to get a Customer Service/Billing person to explain the charges to me, and receiving an unsatisfactry explanation, I paid the bill and promptly switched to Cox Communications for my phone service. After switching services (and keeping my original telephone number) Verizon had the nerve to call and ask me to "come back." I explained to them in detail the two major reasons that I was not ever coming back to them, and why I was advising all my friends and relatives not to. Occassionally I get a card in the mail from Verizon offering some low price deal. I promptly tear it into small pieces and discard it in th trash.

Posted by: Charles M. | May 8, 2006 1:12 PM

Hi guys! I'm just a very lonely, angry, half-witted person with nothing better to do than visit the comments section of a consumer issues blog and flame people who are discussing consumer-related issues. Feel my scorn! I, of course, have never had any kind of customer-service issue, or, if I did, it was my own fault. At least, that's what the customer service rep told me, and they wouldn't lie!

I have to go post infantile comments in another discussion forum for people who've found mechanical problems with their new cars. I'm going to tell them that the pinging noise is all in their heads, or if not, that they should have bought more expensive cars so that wouldn't happen.

Then my mom will probably make me get off the computer for naptime. Bye!

Posted by: LOL2 | May 8, 2006 1:45 PM

Shortly after moving to Ashburn in 1998, VZ sent several ads by mail to my home touting their DSL service. I called VZ to order and was told that DSL would be coming to my neighborhood in a few months. (According to an online DSL service qualifier, my home is well within the 10,000 ft range to the central office.) I kept checking with VZ customer service every 6 months only to be told a few months more. After 2 years, they finally admit that they don't know when DSL will be available. (By that time most of the nascent DSL providers had gone out of business... Gee, I wonder how that could have happened?) So I contacted the VA state utilities commission by email to complain that VZ should provide the promised DSL service or get out of the way. About a week later, I get a nasty phone call from VZ and was told not to expect DSL in my neighborhood at any time ever.

Just over a year ago I had an online bill payment to VZ that came out $3300 instead of the usual $33. (My wife swears to this day that she did not forget to enter a decimal point in the amount field.) Nevertheless, it took nearly 4 months of battling VZ customer service with numerous phone calls and endless time on hold while being transferred to other departments and supervisors to get the overpayment refunded. If I didn't believe in having a landline for safety, I would never do business with VZ again.

Posted by: VZ Customer disService | May 8, 2006 1:58 PM

Cell Phone Companies are a rip off. I recently ordered a phone from cingular and returned fedex within 3 days. Cingular told me it was their policy to return your money after two billing cycles--60 days. If I did nogt pay them even though they had the phone they would disconnect my service. It's funny that when they send the phone out they instantly bill you but for some reason a refund takes 60 days to process--go figure. Somebodys coming out ahead and it's not their customers.

Posted by: nick | May 8, 2006 2:04 PM

Reading this blog reminded me that I needed to call Verizon. They're offering a new DSL plan that's cheaper than the one I have now. I checked the website, and if you are an existing customer you have to call a toll-free number to switch. I called the number and got a message that the number was unavailable from my calling area.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2006 2:12 PM

We use to have all of our services with Verizon (home, long-distance, cellular, DSL); however last summer they couldn't get our DSL up and running. In the whole process our cellular minutes topped out, so we incurred additional charges; they sent us a router even though we already had one from our previous residence then billed us for it even though both were returned; disconnected our dial-up stating it would be a month before we could have our e-mail addresses back; and had us change our telephone number, which meant informing everyone and have new checks etc. printed. In the end, we ditched our DSL in favor of a cable modem, which was up and running within an hour of picking up the equipment. I still cannot get our Verizon bill straightened out. I hate calling, because you can never get back to a good customer service representative once you've managed to find them thru the maze of press this or that number (which takes forever!). The company is either neglecting their customer service department or is having some serious growing pains. Perhaps they could take a look at Citibank's just press zero campaign and cross-train their representatives a little better.

Posted by: Carol Anne | May 8, 2006 2:13 PM

MAYBE ITS JUST ME..BUT I WOULD NOT SWITCH FROM VERIZON TO ANY OTHER COMPANY...BEEN WITH THEM FOR 12 YEARS... THEIR SERVICE IS THE BEST...AND I NEVER GET THE RUN-AROUND

Posted by: JAY | May 8, 2006 2:14 PM

What gets me is the fact that a major phone company does not have the technology to pass on a phone number (inside Caller ID?) from one person to the next. I always assumed from my experience with good CSR companies that good software systems will bring up your entire account particulars based on the phone number that is placing the call.

Posted by: celticann | May 8, 2006 2:32 PM

Consider yourself lucky you didn't have to deal with Comcast. At least with Verizon I don't feel like I am dealing with a monopoly AND aweful customer service. Comcast takes the cake for worst customer service ever!

Posted by: Meena | May 8, 2006 2:41 PM

I recently switched my internet and TV to Verizon with the promise that they could deliver these two service for less than Comcast. I retained my phone service with Cingular.

Besides from a few issues during the Fios installation, I did not have any problems with the service itself, but try to contact Verizon customer service WITHOUT HAVING A VERIZON PHONE NUMBER. It took them ten minutes each time just to locate my account. Needles to say, the automated system was worthless because it incessantly kept asking for a Verizon phone number which I of course didn't have.
I tried the Verizon service for 30 days and now I am back with Comcast, at least they know who I am and can locate my account.

Posted by: Jess Berndt | May 8, 2006 2:46 PM

RE: CelticAnn

I don't like Verizon but... That whole getting passed around and repeating your phone number thing? Its hard to make probably 5 totally different enterprise systems run that smoothly togethor. I can't believe I am defending Verizon but as a guy who does that for a living, trust me it is hard.

PS Comcast is better the better of these two evils. DirecTV is pretty good.

Posted by: Sean | May 8, 2006 2:53 PM

We are told we live in the information age. It seems that everyone has one, two, three or more phones and you still can't make a phone call without it being a hassle. Ma Bell, where are you? I miss your bulletptoof phones that never had to be replaced and service that was worthy of the word.

Posted by: Bill M. | May 8, 2006 3:11 PM

I couldn't agree more with the Ma Bell comments.

Posted by: Jess Berndt | May 8, 2006 3:15 PM

I worked for Congress during the Telecomm Act debates. I heard over and over again about how integrated services would benefit consumers.

Well, as all these comments make clear. It is no easier for a single behemoth corporation to integrate its services as it would be for several smaller ones to do so.

I did without Verizon phone and DSL service for 18 days last January before they could fix the problem. Not surprisingly, I racked up a lot of extra cell phone (also Verizon) minutes. When I asked for the bill to be forgiven because of the delays in fixing my landline service, I was told that wireless billing was separate and they would not forgive anything.

Is that service?

Posted by: Chris Weare | May 8, 2006 3:30 PM

In this area, Comcast service is a crapshoot, but always guaranteed expensive.

Verizon service varies, even within the same Verizon company.

Perserverance is necessary.

Wireless - Some wireless CSRs are horrid, some have been incredibly helpful. I asked the helpful ones for a supervisor mailing address, and send along a complimentary handwritten note.

DSL - Service has been smooth for over 8 months. Lots of VZ help at start-up.

Posted by: Philly guy | May 8, 2006 3:39 PM

My husband and I had Verizon Cell Phone, Local, Long-Distance and Internet and decided to change to a different provider for all services. We cancelled the services for Verizon and soon after got a bill saying that we owed -42.50. I assumed this was a credit and even called the company to confirm. They assured me that we did have a credit in our favor and that they would be remitting that to us soon. About a month later we received a notice from a collection agency telling us that we owed Verizon exactly 42.50! It has been about three months now and numerous calls to Verizon for me to learn that we did indeed pay the correct amount on our last integrated bill. However, since we cancelled both our long distance and internet services (two separate companies) they were unable to apply the proper credit from the long-distance side to the internet side. I am still trying to get this sorted out before our credit is ruined. Unfortunately, the collection agency can do nothing to help and, no matter which manager I talk to and how sweetly or obnoxiously I state my case, no one can seem to help me. I hate to let Verizon win, but I have the feeling we should just pay the extra 42.50 and move on with our lives. It's a shame because I was always happy with our services, but will never go back to using Verizon.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2006 3:52 PM

I had a similar problem with Verizon's customer service. My DSL line went down--I called the number given for service. I was then told I had to call the FIOS number because I live in an area where it is available (I don't have it nor wish to). The FIOS person got testy when she asked for my phone number and I told her I had given it twice before. I hung up on her--whoever she was, she gives Verizon a very bad name. The next day I went through a different chain of offices and phone numbers until I found someone who understood the problem and dealt with it quickly and correctly. I agree with your husband--Verizon had great tech support people, terrible customer service staff.

Posted by: Ed Harrigan | May 8, 2006 3:52 PM

lol. your comments about the verizon phone tag you have obviously experienced like me have a familiar ring to them. for all that is going right for verizon (and i really do like verizon everything---landline, dsl, mobile---except...), their customer support service that they have setup via their "phone system" is clearly something that is broken. i admit i was laughing about your experience while reading it, except that it brought back way too much pain and anger that i have experienced in my own personal travails with verizon. RING, RING. VERIZON? ARE YOU LISTENING? FIX YOUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT SERVICE!! how many times you are passed off to someone else who will pass you off again, and again, and again. and how many times do you have to verify who you are by providing either your acct #, phone #, etc.??? the funniest experience for me however was, after about 20 minutes of navigating the waters, was getting put through to the spanish recorded track where, of course, i was unable to dialogue at all and had to reinitiate the process (i think i gave up by then). i guess this was for the (il)legal immigrants who use verizon.

Posted by: randy | May 8, 2006 4:09 PM

Our politicians have sold us all down the river. Just like with the oil companies, banks, electric power and cable TV, phone deregulation has resulted in extortion, theft, mugging (AKA "service"), and no real competition (except among the thieves trying to get a bigger slice). We might consider trying gangsters. The Mafia probably offers better service and is more polite than verizon.

Posted by: Joe Hellner | May 8, 2006 4:18 PM

I also find Verizon DSL service to be excellent, but the other "areas" or "branches" of Verizon service hopeless.
How is it for my land phone it will take service department more than a week to schedule an appointment for a technician to visit my home to check the line for problems, but DSL service (using of course the same phone line) can schedule an appointment the next day? I hate that it takes almost 20mins of sitting through the phone tree options and diy instructions to test the line before you ever talk to a real person. Their DSL customer support is fantastic, the wireless support is OK, but the land line support is awful.

Posted by: Jennifer | May 8, 2006 4:23 PM

"OMG u are all losers, oH my bank paid the wrong company so now I'm mad at Verizon Wireless! Oh you gave me the wrong # and it took me to a sex line... But I never thought that I could have wrote it down wrong tho... does anyone take accountability..."

Oh look, the sixth graders are home from school.

Posted by: SteveG | May 8, 2006 4:59 PM

We have discovered the trick to VZ - call their president's office. My husband and I decided to combine our local, long distance, intrastate calling and DSL two years ago. When we made the decision, VZ offered us a package that was $10 more than our current bill for local, long-distance and ISP - but it then took us three months for VZ to honor their offered price. Then, when DSL was installed, it didn't work and our phone service became static. Scheduled service was to be there at some time between 9 and 5 on X day, requiring a day off (no dial up, no DSL) - they never came. DSL customer service told us was told that the window was not guaranteed (never said before), and that the service call might happen anytime in the next three days. The customer service supervisor was of no help - couldn't schedule evening service or get guarantee. Then we found the phone number to the VZ president's office, and left a long, detailed message about the issues we'd had. The next day, we had an assistant from the president's office call us back, schedule a service call for that evening, after 7. The service guy was so knowledgeable and fabulous - we've not had a problem with the service since.

If only Verizon could now figure out our bill, and stop overcharging us...

Posted by: LaChatteAgile | May 8, 2006 5:06 PM

If you think that's bad, try their website. I switched my plan a month or so ago, and a few features stayed on (there was no way to de-select them). I logged back in to try to remove them and again - no way to remove them. I emailed and finally got it fixed after 5 days.

Posted by: lpr | May 8, 2006 5:10 PM

Several people have commented about the phone companies asking the caller to repeat his/her phone number. This may reflect a business decision to avoid having to pay "highway robbery" licensing fees to a patent litigant who obtained a patent on the business process of electronically displaying the phone number at call centers. To avoid paying the high licensing fees, some companies are changing their business process to avoid fitting within the scope of the patent. Here is a summary of the infamous "Katz" litigation from a law firm website:

"Scenario 1: Targeting Industries

Ronald Katz filed and obtained patents on technologies involving call centers where operators are presented with pop-up screens related to the phone number called. Katz has obtained more than 50 patents, each with long descriptions and hundreds of claims. Most companies facing the 3,000 total patent claims included in the Katz patents are eager to find ways to limit their costs in analyzing and licensing the patents.

Katz set up a patent holding company called Ronald A. Katz Licensing, L.P. (RAKTL) that sent letters to energy companies, banks, telecos, airlines and others in an effort to have the industries coordinate settlements jointly. Some of the target industries formed consortiums to jointly negotiate licensing terms. RAKTL tells potential licensees that such group negotiations reduce negotiation costs and, therefore, licensing fees.

In a recent development, the Director of the Patent Office has ordered re-examination of four of the Katz patents. Since 1980, when re-examination laws and rules were enacted, there have been more than 6,000 re-examinations. Of that number, only 157 (or 2%) were ordered by the director/commissioner.

Despite some potential setbacks from the Patent Office, Katz's patent enforcement demonstrates that patent owners can enforce patents against groups of companies, in a collective fashion, without facing challenges to the patents in court. Presumably, these companies could pool their resources and reduce litigation costs to each individual company. However, in the majority of instances-for whatever reasons-companies opt to license the patents instead of going to court."

My understanding is that they may enter into the licensing arrangement to get out of the litigation but then change their business practice so that the total volume of "covered transactions" is reduced to a small number.
The customer suffers as a result.

Posted by: Lindy | May 8, 2006 5:14 PM

For all of the Verizon haters - be sure to oppose consumerfreedom.com (all the phone companies trying to attack cable companies) who is pushing all the ads against the cable companies. They don't like that the cable comps. can offer internet and phone service cheaper than them...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2006 5:19 PM

The best way to get action from Verizon is to call the DC Public Service Commission. Complaints filed get routed directly to the President's Office at Verizon.

Posted by: DCPSC | May 8, 2006 5:20 PM

In mid-January, I had two additional Verizon phone lines installed in my home. Verizon no-showed for the internal work, failed to honor its second promised completion date, and could not give a straight answer. And yes, one two occaison one of Verizon's reps referred me to a WATS number that turned out to be a porn line. Given the time I had to take off from work, the countless hours I spent on the phone trying to resolve these issues, and Verizon's arrogance (including its wonderful message announcing that due to heavy call volume, customers will have to try again at a later time), and its refusal to compensate me in any way except for waiving the installation fees, I plan to sue Verizon in small claims court.

I sincerely hope that competition kills Verizon. As a company, it is arrogant, incompetent, and rude. It exists only because it's a regulated monopoly, and it deserves to die.

Posted by: EJB | May 8, 2006 6:28 PM

Can I add anything to the stories? Not much. Verizon Wireless billed me $300 for a broken cell phone when their service centers refused to take back the broken phone. Our DSL service has dropouts on the order of 1 per minute, which is WUNDERBAR when attemtping to complete an e-commerce transaction. Their DSL filters make calls impossible to hear over our in-house wireless phone. We'll be able to switch our DSL service and land line this Sept, and our wireless next Sept. We look forward to switching. And we look forward to taking Verizon to court then they mess up our bill and put us into collections. My significant other works for an attorney, and one of her fringe benefits is free legal representation. We look forward to taking Verizon to the cleaners.
Couldn't happen to a more deserving company.

Posted by: Mr Methane | May 8, 2006 10:58 PM

I think some of this is a regional thing. When I lived in Northern Virginia we had terrible problems with Verizon-- no shows, our phone number forwarded to another house without our knowledge, etc. Now we've moved to southwest VA and all three contacts with Verizon have been unusually positive. Friendly, competent workers who have come to our house, and also competent assistance over the phone. Yesterday my husband called Verizon and they not only solved our problem but switched us to a plan that fit our needs better and cost $6 a month LESS than the other plan!

Posted by: Ms L | May 9, 2006 7:53 AM

My major complaint is with Verizon's websites--specifically the one for remote access to e-mail. Is it me, or does everyone else get 10 error messages for every one time the website performs correctly? Moreover, some of the features Verizon promised to provide with my FIOS account (mail filtering and blocking) are missing. For someone who needs to check mail frequently while away from home, it's maddening.

Posted by: TC | May 9, 2006 11:10 AM

Verizon's customer service is universally awful. Even on that rare occasion when the first person to take your call is able to solve your problem, a caller is likely to be treated rudely.

Posted by: john | May 9, 2006 12:33 PM

In my section of Florida panhandle, the only true service is, I believe, GlobalStar, a satellite company. A number of cell plans are offered, most of which would work well in Washington, and probably at at least 3 locations in my home town. (Unfortunately, no one has marked these with Xs on the pavement to make them easier to find.)
Also, some carriers require you to use at least half the service locally or they charge roaming. For example, if you had a 100 minute plan and were able to use 10 minutes locally, any time over the 10 minutes, out of area, would be considered roamimg.
Who makes a phone with a keyboard that is large enough to have key separation for dialing, or sell an accessory keypad?

Posted by: Lester McCracken | May 9, 2006 2:30 PM

I have been with AT&T for local, long distance and now DSL. I can't say I am ecstatic but for the most part I have very few problems with the service and/or customer service. I had Cingular Wireless but couldn't get a signal at my house so had to go with Verizon a year ago - again, so far so good.

Posted by: Silver Spring | May 9, 2006 3:12 PM

VoIP VoIP VoIP. I had Verizon for less than two weeks. I switched to a VoIP service which gives more than twice the number of features Verizon offers for less than half the price.

And here's something else I learned. If your telephone number is listed because you didn't want to pay Verizon that monthly non-list fee, porting your number to a VoIP won't get it delisted (at least not quickly). Order a new number when you sign up for VoIP and you don't have to pay any fees to keep your number out of telephone directories.

Posted by: ProfessorB | May 10, 2006 8:11 AM

Customer service representatives at Verizon are very arrogant and rude. The Verizon Wirless dept is even worse , actually I paid the 175.00 fee to set me free from a 2 year contract.Verizon was charging me for calls I never made and then treated me like I was lying about it . Amazing ,, Im glad Verizon wireless is behind me. I still have verizon for land phone service but I avoid them at all cost.

Posted by: Jose Cruz | May 10, 2006 4:07 PM

Another complaint: I was moving last fall and called Verizon to set up DSL service in my new place with an effective date three weeks away. No problem, they said.

I moved in, hadn't received any installation materials, so I checked my order status online while at work...to discover that my new effective date was in January.

Kind of insane that it takes 10 weeks to set up Internet access in a major metropolitan area, no?

Posted by: Logan Circle | May 10, 2006 7:50 PM

The attorneys general of every state in this union ought to press charges against cell phone companies over price gouging when customers cancel their contracts. It's bad enough to pay $200 to cancel a subscription that you've paid thousands to already, and that only works half of the time, but if you have a family plan, every single phone is charged a $200 cancellation fee. As a single mother of two, that would have been $600 for me to get away from Ntelos. Ntelos told me, when I complained that I couldn't take calls in my house, that cell phones were made for outdoor use. Holy smoke! Wish they'd told me that when I signed the contract! I'll vote for the next guy who slams the telecommunications companies for robbing their honest, paying customers.

Mag

Posted by: Margaret Overstreet | May 11, 2006 3:49 PM

I've been on hold with Verizon for 20 minutes right now, it's obvious they want me to hang up. No one can tell me why I owe them $64 or what they did with a payment of $65 I paid that I never owed but did so because I didn't want to end up with a black mark on my credit report for money that I don't owe. This has been going on since Feb.

Posted by: Glen | May 12, 2006 11:06 AM

It's funny how many people are suggesting Vonage as an alternative to Verizon. I found Vonage does not answer submissions to their Contact Us form (yes, I was logged in, so they should have had my e-mail address AND phone number), and their tech support is as bad as any out there...making you unplug something and wait 30 seconds because it's in the script, never mind that you rebooted that device, and powering off for 30 seconds does the same thing as 5. Verizon CS (for FIOS) has been OK, but nowhere near as abysmal as Vonage CS.

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | May 17, 2006 4:01 PM

It's funny how many people are suggesting Vonage as an alternative to Verizon. I found Vonage does not answer submissions to their Contact Us form (yes, I was logged in, so they should have had my e-mail address AND phone number), and their tech support is as bad as any out there...making you unplug something and wait 30 seconds because it's in the script, never mind that you rebooted that device, and powering off for 30 seconds does the same thing as 5. Verizon CS (for FIOS) has been OK, but nowhere near as abysmal as Vonage CS.

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | May 17, 2006 4:02 PM

To the person who posted about using Verizon's website to access e-mail: DON'T. Set it up so that your verizon.net e-mail is forwarded to another e-mail account (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail... anywhere other than trying to access it through Verizon's website).

I'm looking into other landline, broadband, and cell phone services because Verizon has been so arrogant as to tell me it "cannot comment" on whether or not it SOLD (yes, SOLD) customer's calling records to the NSA, even though no court order called for it.

Posted by: Robin | May 22, 2006 7:32 PM

This was a thread about customer service, no? The only people who report a good experience are those who just installed the service, it works great, and they haven't yet called customer service.

Give them time. Customer service that lies to you so you port to another service and invoke their early termination fee (oops!?) should be criminal. I bet they never accidentally give away the farm.

Posted by: Disgusted... | June 10, 2006 1:00 PM

i am confused after reading all these comments. i wanted to get the verizon DSL and add to my existing verizon phone account. Maybe i should change to comcast and get their new package which they offer via their urgents. High speed internet (19.99 for six months), cable TV 13.00 and change phone line which will come to &19.99, after six months only the internet goes up (to 42.00? The combined bill is lower compared to having different accounts from different providers.Has anyone tried this? How do you rate comcast versus verizon services.

Posted by: benson | June 14, 2006 7:50 PM

I recently had a bad cell phone replace on warranty by verizon. Two days latter I am cheaking my minutes used (#min) and there are close to 1500 used minutes(that I know I did not use) tacked onto the counter.
Costomer service says they cannot help until the bill comes out, and that if I want a detailed bill I will have to pay a couple bucks extra. Any one else experience this type of crap?

Posted by: Derek | July 9, 2006 4:05 PM

Well, the July 4th 2006 storm really hit our neighborhood bad so I was giving Verizon some slack in getting landlines working again. But, 1 week later & still no service. Plus -- 3 times, when checking the web from work for status updates I see where the repair request was closed as completed when it hadn't been fixed? Very strange -- you'd think Verizon technicians would know when a problem was resolved, wouldn't you? So, who are they sending to fix the lines? If I had another choice for landline service I'd sign up right now but I don't.

Posted by: Mad@Verizon Too | July 11, 2006 12:13 PM

Verizon took 3 weeks to restore phone service ten blocks from the US Capitol. Their customer service is a torture. Endless do-loops. Requests to speak to a supervisor result in being put on terminal "hold" or being put back into the initial phone queue. They promised to have service restored by 9:00 every night, but did not do it. They "closed" service requests every night without doing anything. It's necessary to call every day to refresh the request. Last night they said that a technician would take care of it between 8am and 6pm. I called this morning to see if I needed to be at home. They said "no," so I left the house. Soon there was a garbled message on my cellphone asking me to confirm an incomprehensible appointment. I had to make more frantic calls. No one had been dispatched. I listened to the garbled message (blurp "street number" blurp "appointment" blurp "An 18 year old or older person must be present" blurp) I pressed to confirm. The response was "An 18 year old must be present to allow the tech into the house." I pressed again to confirm and got the same response. Service went out on about June 24. Service was finally restored this afternoon.

Posted by: MEB | July 12, 2006 9:20 PM

I have never experienced frustration with trying to resolve a service issue like I have experienced in dealing with Verizon. I located this link as I was Googling for consumer complaints about Verizon, hoping to locate some venue where I can complain and hopefully get some results. I have a new contract for DSL service that is not functioning properly and the technical support is inadequate. Earlier this year, I had problems with my landline's voicemail and it took Verizon a solid month to correct the problem, and only after I sought intervention from DC's Office of People's Counsel. Right now, I am too exasperated from dealing with them today to type the details, but I will share them later.

Posted by: RCP | August 25, 2006 4:37 PM

OMG! I can't believe Im not crazy. I was on the phone with Verizon for 3 hours this morning and the problem still is not solved. Ater being transfered I don't know how many times, told to "not speak like that", told that i was on oline billing which is why i haven't recieved paper bills in 6 months when clearly it stated online "recieving paper billing".

THEN, they tell me that one reason why my bill has been climbing higher is because of long distance charges, varying every month from $10 and lower. some charges were very small, but I DID NOT MAKE THEM!!!!

but so you think they believed me? or said it was fraud? NOPE! Its not fraud, they say, because the phone clearly made the calls, whether I did it or not. Well, I guess the phone mysteriously makes long distancew phone calls for 92 minutes at 3 in the morning to Florida, Texas, and Washington. And, I couldn't see these charges for myself because they wouldn't send me copies of the bills they never sent!!!!!!

FINALLY, I got talking to online services and she confirmed that I was supposed to be getting paper bills, so then gets some other stupid guy on there and he actually had the nerve to say he couldn't see why they didn't send them but therre was nothing he could do about it! this is when I get MAD, and say what is the f#@^%ing problem here!!! And get told to not speak that way, but then he agrees to send me the stupid copies of my own expensive bills that I paid.

Well, needless to say, the long distance charges are not resolved, and I was told to WRITE to the Corporate office as THEY DO NOT HAVE A PHONE! Ok, verizon corporate office does not have a phone, just so you know, dont try to call or anything.

Verizon sucks, and the stupid contract money is not worth their fraud and bull and crappy customer talkback. cant call it service by any means. so check your bill.............

Posted by: Zoe, San Mateo CA | September 7, 2006 1:38 AM

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