I normally try to be nice to customer service reps on the phone; they’ve got a tough job, sitting in a cubicle with a headset to deal with irate and clueless people all day. To my knowledge there are only three times I have actually ever raised my voice to a phone CSR: once, when fed up with DotPH’s archaic “fax a document” domain transfer policy; the other two times have been with Verizon.
Long time readers may remember when I first applied for a phone line with Verizon back in 2003, with the CSR cheerily delivering a quick promise of next-day phone line activation which turned out to be a brazen lie, and led to two days of being tossed between support and billing to be erroneously accused of having bad credit before enduring a week-long wait for a phone line I would hardly use except for internet access. Now witness what I hope is the end of this sordid telecom saga, as I attempt to tell Verizon that I am moving my phone and DSL from one apartment to another in the same building, with a surprise ending that will leave you breathless.
Given my prior experiences with phone support, I decided to go the online route, filling out a “moving to my new home” form on the user account page, which inexplicably refused to understand my street address three times before shunting me to a more specific address form. This finally worked, and for some reason sent me back two emails, both confirming the address change scheduled for last Friday, each with a different confirmation number. The list of services being transferred did not include DSL. I called Verizon Support and, after a wrangle with the voice recognition system and a 15 minute wait, was told by the support rep that DSL transfers were handled separately, and that they could transfer me there now. There was a click, a long pause, and then a “phone has hung up” beeping.
The day of the move, I was gratified to hear a dial tone over the line downstairs, but DSL had not been transferred — it was still running, independent of phone service, in my old apartment. Verizon Online was no help, however, as checking the support page for DSL in DC only gave a list of phone numbers to call for states with no online support. From there I got the direct phone number to Verizon DSL Support, and tried calling. Again I navigated the annoying waters of their voice recognition system, again I waited countless minutes for human support. Finally the CSR on the line said this was a billing issue, and said she could connect me with billing right away. Click. Long pause. Phone-hung-up beeping. Curse from me.
Call DSL support shortly after 6 PM. Navigate annoying voice recognition system. Be told only after this ordeal that Verizon internet support is only available from 8 AM to 6 PM on work days. Swear.
Morning off from work, specifically to yell at Verizon DSL support. I was able to completely foil the voice recognition system by roaring unintelligibly at it and pressing zero repeatedly until it said “Just a moment while I get an operator.”
Once again, I received the “It’s a billing problem” spiel, but before she could redirect me, I told her that it had never worked before, and I would probably just get cut off again. She assured me I would not, and that if it did happen again, I could get to Billing Support directly via the annoying voice recognition system.
Guess what happened.
This time I navigated the annoying voice recognition system successfully, and was rewarded with a message to the effect that “All customer service agents are busy attending to other customers. There is no queue. You will have to hang up and call again later.” Click.
Finally, I reached a billing agent, who, upon my telling him that my DSL had still not been transferred to my new apartment, promptly informed me that my DSL had been suspended for non-payment. Outside of my regular billing cycle, and I had paid my last bill. I said as much, but he insisted that the system showed I had not paid, hence the suspension, but if there was an error- but this had been the last straw, and I snapped.
“I want to cancel everything. Phone and DSL.”
The billing rep put up surprisingly little resistance to this, and apologized for what I had been through, and forwarded me onward to cancellations. Surprisingly, the line was not cut, and I spoke to a rather jaded rep with a defeated-sounding voice. She explained that it would still be possible to restore and move my DSL access, but I was well beyond the event horizon of conusmer outrage, and simply demanded that all my services be cancelled, despite repeated attempts at keeping me talking for as long as possible.
“Sir, you’re aware that you’re giving up the cheapest phone and DSL service available?”
“And I seem to be getting what I’m paying for, too, this service has been horrible.”
When it became clear that that portion of her retention script was not working, she asked, “What will you use if you don’t have a landline?” and I made the mistake of going along with the script: “My cellphone, of course.”
She then resorted to blatant scare tactics, telling me that cellphones had no 911 support, that they worked differently and that I would not be able to get help in an emergency with my mobile — which was all bunk, of course, since I’ve actually called 911 and 311 on my cellphone at least twice before, and gotten a quick response. I interrupted her terrorization spiel with a curt “Thank you, but please cancel my service right away.”
Finally I got my cancellation number, gave a kinder-than-I-felt thank-you to the CSR, and hung up. By evening, the dial tone was gone.
I’ve signed up with Earthlink for “Freestanding” DSL, that is, naked without the phone line. Their call center is in Cebu, and the Filipina CSR was friendly, cheerful, brisk, and skillful. You could barely tell she was reading parts from a script. It’ll take 5-10 days for the line to activate, then we’ll see if it does any better than Verizon.
Update, 3 months later
Unsurprisingly, Verizon continued to bill me for service after cancellation. I called customer service and eventually got hold of a Verizon CSR who told me that “this does not happen.” I demanded that she check my records, and after a ten minute wait I was greeted by an extremely kind and apologetic voice who told me that I had paid my bills faithfully for years and should never have been disconnected. She gave me her direct phone number in case I ever wanted to come back to Verizon, which I did not. A month later I received a refund check for the part of the month after my cancellation.