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Dear Mr. Charlie Falco @ VerizonWireless.com

Dear Mr. Falco,

I’m writing you this story because at any point in this process your Customer Service people had the opportunity to turn a bad experience into a good experience and didn’t. I’m writing you because it seems your staff is either woefully undertrained in what you offer, or your options are so confusing even they don’t understand them. I’m writing you because I’ve been a loyal Verizon Wireless customer for at least a decade, maybe more, but in a few minutes I’m driving over to the AT&T store to see what they can do for me. I’m writing you because I fear whether I go to AT&T or stay, I am still several hours away from having this finished and as a recent chemo patient, the thought of spending any more than the 7+ hours I’ve spent on this makes me sick. I’m writing you because I hope you can once and for all answer the question of can I have a regular phone sync to my Outlook, and how much will this plus unlimited Data cost me each month.

Here we go.

On Sunday August 16th, my daughters, ages 16 and 13, realized they were eligible for a phone upgrade and logged onto www.verizonwireless.com to order two new phones. They both wanted the LG Dare, and did not see it in the list of phones for which we were eligible on the America Choice plan.

My eldest daughter, using live chat, spoke with a representative who explained that we needed to change our plan as the phones were not compatible with our existing plan. At which point, my daughter fetched me and I spoke, via live chat, with the representative. He explained the plan we were on is no longer available and to get the LG Dare phones we would need to change to the Family Select plan, which would be $99.99 for two lines and $9.99 for our additional line or $109.98. I asked him if that would be the same as we were currently paying and if there were any additional charges and he said no.

Then my daughter asked him if she could get Internet on her phone and he said there was a plan for $5 a month for which he sent us a link to a pop-up window, showing the plan.

I had him switch us to the new plan, ordered the two phones and then asked him to also sign us up for the $5 a month Internet plan on the eldest daughter’s line. He said he couldn’t do that and gave us an 800 number to call. By the time all was said and done, we were on the computer for over an hour.

My daughter then proceeded to call the 800 number where the representative informed her that there was no $5 option and only a $15 a month option. She insisted she that the on-line representative told her $5 and she was looking at the pop-up on her computer but couldn’t provide the phone representative with a URL because it was a pop-up. They didn’t believe her and in the end she decided $15 a month was too much and decided not to get it.

On Tuesday August 25th, I received an e-mail notifying me that my Verizon bill was on-line and ready for viewing. So I went on-line and reviewed my bill before paying it when I noticed a $16 data charge. Unsure what that data charge was for, I called Customer Service.

I spoke to Samantha (phone number 843-566-8600 extension 2025). Samantha immediately offered to credit me the $16 charge when I explained to her our experience with on-line chat and how we were not told of the data charge, which, by the way, occurred because my eldest daughter downloaded two “free” applications. What she nor I knew at that time was that while they were “free” on our old phones because the transfer time was charged to our minutes, which we never went over, on these new phones, the transfer time was charged as “data.” Samantha also explained that you (aka Verizon Wireless) were now charging all game downloads, ringtone downloads and even the sending/receiving of picture messages as data and you would charge us for them. She had a hard time grasping that I was upset because what were once free items on our old plan, you were now charging us extra for – thus incurring extra costs for the same level of service we had had just nine days earlier.

She offered to switch us back to our old plan and we would return the LG Dare phones and have to pick out other phones that were compatible with our old plan.

I knew my girls would not be happy with that option.

Samantha then explained that there was another plan she could put me on (though never giving that plan’s name), which would cost us $26 more a month, that would give us unlimited Internet/data. I asked her if that would cover all three phones, as it wasn’t something I was initially interested in but thought might be useful. She put me on hold.

When she returned she said it wouldn’t cover the Palm Treo that I used because that was not compatible.

Then she put me on hold for a moment while she “checked” something. When she returned she offered me an early upgrade of my phone to make up for the inconvenience. I explained to her that I needed something that would sync with my Outlook on my computer so that I could keep track of appointments without carrying two different devices.

She put me on hold again, and when she returned she stated that there were several phones I could get that would sync with my Outlook using software called PC Monitor. She sent me the link to the site (http://search.vzw.com/?do=viewdoc&id=17425&supportview=1&p=3885).

We then reviewed several phones and I settled on the ENV3. She said it would ship that day and arrive on Friday and that when it arrived I should call her and she would switch us to our new plan and help me set up the ENV3. I explained that I would be out of town but would call her on Monday, August 31st, when I returned.

On Monday August 31st I received my phone and I called Samantha back. I left two messages but did not hear from her, so late in the afternoon, I decided to go on the website to see if I could at least download and install the PC Monitor program on my own.

I did. Then came a point though where I had to select my hand-held device and download software to it. When I went to the page with the devices though, I didn’t see the ENV3, which Samantha had told me was compatible. I did see the ENV2 though (which I owned before the Palm Treo). Yet, I couldn’t figure out how to download the software so I contacted Technical Support. I spoke to Earmeka.

Earmeka started to explain how to do it and then said, “There’s a $20 charge,” (actually $19.99). I asked, “Is that a one-time set-up fee?” and she replied, “No, that’s a monthly subscription charge.”

Well, I was already into this for an additional $26 a month, once Samantha called me back and we switched my plan. I didn’t want to be into this for another $46 a month.

Earmeka said, “Let me look into this and I will call you back.”

Earmeka never called back.

On Tuesday September 1st, I called Samantha again, returning to the source but she didn’t answer her phone, nor did she return my call. I left at least one (if not more) messages.

Later that day, I called Customer Service again. This time I spoke to Jackie. I told Jackie my entire tale, which I’ve recounted for you here and she apologized profusely.

She had no idea what PC monitor or wireless sync was but basically said that the three phones we had, the two Dares and the Treo were not compatible. She said she could switch me back to my old plan, would send me slips to pay for return shipping on all three phones now, the two Dares and the ENV3, and ensure that the $16 credit went on my account (it still had not appeared). She also said I would not be charged a restocking fee and agreed to reset my contract date to expire on August 31, 2009 so I was under no further obligation to Verizon Wireless. She also promised to contact me every step of the way, so I knew what was going on. I asked her for her direct line, to which she replied, “I don’t have one but I promise to call you with status updates.”

I have not heard from Jackie since.

On Tuesday September 8th, I called Customer Service again. I did not speak to the person who answered the phone longer than to insist on speaking to a supervisor. I had to do this several times before she acquiesced. At that point I spoke to Norma Montez-Guerra (phone number 210-679-4562, email: normamontezguerra@afni.com).

Norma apologized for the inconvenience and seemed to have most of this story on her computer, on my account. She told me the Fedex return shipment labels had been sent to me and should arrive shortly (they did later that day) and I should ship the phones back and to call her and let her know what additional charges I incurred because my eldest daughter had purchased some accessories for her Dare (e.g., a case) that she would no longer be able to use.

I explained to her my ideal situation would be to use the new phone, so that I could sync to Outlook and keep my daughters with their Dare phones, if at all possible. I also explained the instructions were right on the Verizon website and I could send her the link for her to see. She asked me to do so, providing her email address and she promised to track down the previous people I had spoken to, to see if we could get this resolved.

After hanging up the phone from her, I tried to email her the link but the email bounced back to me (as I found out today, she told me afni.net not afni.com). I called her back within 10 minutes of hanging up the phone from her to let her know I had the wrong email and asked her to either call me back, or shoot me an email at my account.

I did not hear from Norma.

I did however finally hear from Samantha that day who apologized for not returning my calls from the previous week stating how she had been out sick for two weeks (let’s forget the fact that I had spoken to her initially less than two weeks prior). Anyway, I told her I was having issues with the PC monitor and asked her about the $19.99 charge, to which she replied, “Oh yes there’s a charge. Didn’t I tell you that?” No she had not. She asked me if I needed anything else and I told her I had someone else on the case, and that by the way, the ENV3 she sent me also didn’t seem to be compatible with the PC Monitor, to which she replied, “Oh.”

On Wednesday September 9th, I called Norma again and left yet another message.

I did not hear from Norma.

Today, September 14th, after spending over five hours on this issue since August 16th, I called Norma one more time (after finding your name on the Internet) to give her one more chance to resolve this situation before I contacted you.

She answered her phone.

But obviously thought I was someone else with a different problem. After refreshing her memory, she said, “Oh yes, I remember that phone message,” yet with no excuse or apology for not returning the call.

She offered me a $50 credit and brought her associate, Jonathan on the phone because Jonathan was much more familiar with your plans and options.

Jonathan said that yes, he could switch me back to my old plan since it was within the 60 days, but said if I changed my plan to the Family Connect Plan, then all three phones could have Internet and it would cost me $110 plus $9.99 for each additional line. Hallelujah! I thought. I told Jonathan, that’s what I wanted from the beginning.

Jonathan put me on hold.

When Jonathan returned, he explained that wouldn’t work because of my Palm Treo. I explained I wasn’t married to the Palm and if there was another phone I could use with which I could sync to Outlook, I’d be happy (basically, giving him a rundown of this whole sad saga). He asked me to hold and when he returned, he suggested the Krave.

So we looked at the Krave together and when I asked him how it syncs to Outlook, I had a hard time pinning him down. He kept telling me they were compatible but as I glanced at the reviews I said it didn’t sound good and asked were there others? He suggested another phone, which was almost $200 and that I wasn’t willing to pay, so he suggested I go to the store.

Before I did that though, I told him, I wanted to understand exactly how these phones could be synced with Outlook. Would I have a cable or using the PC Monitor Wireless Sync because if that were the case, I didn’t want to pay the $19.99 monthly subscription fee. He said, “No that would be included in the Family Connect plan.” But I asked him to verify the syncing process and he eventually put me on hold as he spoke to Tech Support.

When he returned, he basically told me there were no phones that could sync to Outlook, and that I would need a Blackberry for that.

A Blackberry would be fine – but wait for it, the Blackberries aren’t compatible with the Dare phone plans so we would have to have two different plans, one for me and one for my girls, now costing well over $200 a month!

Jonathan had me on the phone going through all these options, in this goose chase (which I’d already done with Samantha) for well over 80 minutes! And I was right back where I started from.

I asked him to put Norma back on the phone, to which he hesitated but again, finally acquiesced.

When Norma returned, she apologized profusely that they couldn’t help me. She reset my contract date so I am free to go to AT&T, told me to ship the phones back and that I had her number if any other unexpected charges appeared on my bill.

I explained I couldn’t understand how no one there understood what was offered, what was on the website, and that a family could not have one person with a PDA and the others with regular phones as far as VerizonWireless was concerned. I was stunned that basically they had wasted all of my time on wild goose chases and she offered to credit my most recent bill $139 in addition to the $16 when I explained I was on the phone with them for over 80 minutes on a non-toll free number. She also couldn’t understand how I was looking at the website, and seeing the information for PC monitor and Wireless Sync, and how there it says it should work on many phones and yet no one in Customer Service knew anything about it. She offered to transfer me to Website Support, where I was put on hold and finally gave up.

Finally, after over 7 hours invested in this, I decided to try something. Using my old ENV2, I installed PC monitor on my laptop, signed up for wireless sync, installed the software on my phone (yes there’s a $19.99 a month charge), and synced my Outlook to my ENV2! It took me 15 minutes to finally figure out and do what in the past three weeks I could get no one at Verizon Wireless to do or that many at Verizon Wireless said was impossible!

I called Norma back and told her. She couldn’t speak at that moment as she was in a meeting, so I asked that she or Jonathan call me back to make sure I got on the plan Jonathan mentioned so that I would not have to pay the additional $19.99 a month for the wireless sync.

That was at 12:30. It’s 3:15pm now and I’m still waiting.

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Other Thinks (17)

Tourmama:

Wow, Kim - GREAT letter in response to an amazingly BAD situation. You have recapped it so well!

BRAVA, girl! As a technophobe, I think I would have just thrown all the phonew out and gotten out the tin cans and string.

Judy

jgk:

So typical!
I hope you get a response!

Mindy Smith:

I don't even smoke and I want a cigarette right now!! I'm doomed to go through something similar with Comcast as my plan is up for renewal. Want to take care of that for me?

I don't know what's worse, your Verizon horror story or your Sebring story....

I hate how these big companies have us by the "cajones" and no one really knows what the f*&K is going on within their own company.

I bet you feel better after writing your email and blog post.

Mindy

OMG!!!!!
I hope you send a copy of this blog to everyone in the telecommunications business.
Better yet!...Why don't you read it out loud in front of a camera, using the phones and the computer screen as show-and-tell props.
Then put it on youtube!!!

Your saga makes my current skirmish with an ebay seller over $30 worth of golf balls look like a walk in the park.

OMG!!! Unbelievable.

The funny thing is just one hour ago I canceled my service with Verizon!! I decided to go with a pre-paid sim card using my unlocked phone since the minutes roll over and I rarely ever even reach my number of minutes on my plan figuring it would be cheaper in the long run. I spoke to a very nice person named Gabriel who was more than willing to tell me about every other possible plan I might be interested in before canceling. He is in the Sacramento office in case you need to talk to someone who seems to know all about Verizon plans.

I hope you get it all worked out.

Barb Cabot:

OMG...OMG...this is so bad. I cannot imagine how long and how much energy it took for you to recount the above story...well done YOU but how infuriating. I'm sitting here boiling with the ineptness of Verizon. I hope you get a decent response. What fools! So sorry you had to run into this problem. Sounds unfortunately common. Again OMG!

Kim, I'm sorry for your experience but thanks for telling us how bad Verizon is - we'll be looking for a new cell plan soon, and Verizon will NOT be on the list!

OMG! I hate stuff like this! I so admire your tenacity. What a great letter. I switched from Verizon to AT&T when I got my iphone in May. They ALL keep finding ways to add $5 here and there...

I have this $3500 paperweight TV and a Tivo box under my bed (since November 2005). Brad has been dealing with customer service for years. I think you would be great at picking up where he left off with customer service...

Lisa:

I am exhausted from reading this. I can't believe you went through this. Actually I can. Everytime I have to call them I go from one misinformed person to another.

sheri:

Kim what an awful,but not surprising, story. I had a similar horror story last year with Verizon Wireless..It did get resolved when I contacted the Executive Offices. I think that I will change providers when our current contract expires.

Terry (teaberry):

Believe it or not, Kim, I had a similar back-and-forth problem with AT&T after I got my iPhone, but at least I got resolution. I had to work my way through about a dozen "supervisors" until I got satisfaction. Don't give up the fight - they count on wearing you down. I admire your tenacity. Good luck!

Sheena:

Oh Kim I feel your frustration. All of these telecommunications companies are the same. We had a similar experience with Bell Mobility, and it makes me so angry that what should be a simple straightforward process becomes such an completely exhausting waste of time and energy.
Now, four days later, have you had a response from Mr Charlie Falco?

Wow. What a nightmare. I hate dealing with cell-phone companies. I'm unhappy with mine now, but within the last year signed another contract for who knows how long so I'm stuck for now. Good luck in getting it all resolved. Let us know if you hear back from Mr. Falco.

Brad'll Do It:

I think you must be part terrier, 'cause I can't believe how you grabbed this vermin and shook by its throat until dead (mostly). Talk about tenacious!

Aaack! It was painful just reading what you went through.

Yesterday I was talking to some friends about my recent problem with Orange and their portable modem that didn't work - and they were amazed that I got my money back for the useless dongle.

Heh, nobody f**ks with the az.

Or with The Kimmer either!

Hiya Wasup
I i saw yer post
Very well constructed
In fact I have been searching for this for ages
www.slowtrav.com is just what I was looking for.
Great effort congratulations!
John

Richard Mmorrill:

I have spent 6 hours trying to straigten out a $15.00 charge for collections, a charge off in the CBR report, all of which is Verizons fault.

The bill was electronically paid, the idiots didn't know where to put the money so it went into uncollected funds. In the mean time they sent the account to their collections company.

The collections company contacted me and I told them all about the bill being paid. They didn't care and only wanted their $15.00. I told them this account showed as a charge off in the CBR report and Barbara indicated she didn't care. Pay the $15.00 collection fee but the charge off would stay in the CBR report. All of this because they screwed up in the first place. I have emailed Mr. Falco, sent a second email to confirm he received the first, and I haven't heard from him yet. I have conacted the CBR and they say I have to get it straightened out with Verizon Wireless. In the mean time I have been paying Verizon almost $200.00 in monthly bills. What amazing non-customer service.

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