Verizon Phone Sales: How not to do it.

I normally don’t like to rant and rip at a company for bad service. Because I do customer service work, I can understand how little things can go terribly wrong.

But, today’s experience deserves a full blog post. Attention North Virginia Residents: Be warned. Verizon internet service may put you through hell in order to get your internet service order through. But wait, just when you thought it was finally over, they may just end up billing you a higher rate than what you are told over the phone.

So, here is my story.

I called this morning wanting to get a broadband internet service installed in my apartment — yes, its time to stop mooching of the neighbors generosity. So I go online, put in my address, specify that I want DSL without a phone line — no sense paying for a phone I won’t use — and hit submit. I get a webpage with various plans and options.

The one that catches my eye is one that says 24.95 startup plan that ask for a one-year service plan, and gives speeds of up to 768k. Ok, so it’s not blazing fast, but it should do just fine. Sounds good. The page says something about charged for a modem, and some other details — all very confusing.

So, I say to myself, “Let me call a real person, find out what’s the deal, and go from there.” That’s where the fun begins. First I get a robot that VIOLENTLY (ok…I’m exaggerating, but the darn thing kept asking for it…) asks me for my phone number. So, here I am trying to become a customer, but I can’t get through until I actually provide a phone number. I manage to get around it…wait on hold………… finally, a real person. I am then told, “Sorry, you’ll need to talk to a different department…we only help current customers.”

So, there I go again….I bravely battle the phone-bot once again, screaming “I DON”T HAVE A PHONE NUMBER…IM NOT A CUSTOMER!” Ok, so I didn’t scream. My darling and gentle wife made sure. But I sure felt like it.

You would think that a company would make it easy for a sales lead to just get right through a qualified sales consultant that can sell me exactly what I want? NOOooo….that would be making it easy. But I digress…

I get transferred to some other department…not sure which one. I get put on hold….. Finally, a real person answers. You know what is the first thing every single one of these Verizon service people asked for? Yup — You guessed it!! “What’s your phone number?” “I don’t HAVE a phone number” I say tensely. “I just want to get DSL internet service.” Well, on my first attempt, I get someone that has no clue what their website is advertising, and proceeds to tell me about their plans priced $10 to $20 higher. That’s all fine, but I still want to know about that start up plan for $24.99. “Can you tell me about that?” She tells me something to the amount of “I don’t know what you are talking about, and we don’t have any such plan, and I can’t help you.” Fine, says I right before I hang up.

Not going well. I am trying to give them money right? You think this would be a lot easier…but I’m repeating myself.

I grab the VA sales number I was given at some point, and call it again. I get put on hold….. I’m on a mission now. Nothing or no one is going to stop me! I finally get through a Mr. Gill. He sounds like a friendly guy, and right after explaining my recent adventures, he apologizes and assures me he knows what I am talking about and tells me it shouldn’t be a problem. The best part, he speaks regular American good old mid-Atlantic English. I asked him if it was a problem that I didn’t have a phone line. “No problem” he says.

I ask him if I’ll need to pay to get my place wired. It turns out that since I had Verizon phone in the past, my place is already wired — no new wiring or charges needed! Wow! I’m getting somewhere. I ask him about a modem, and whether it would be better for me to buy my own? “He tells me Verizon will provide a modem with WiFi capabilities for up to 4 computers at no charge! Free, I ask? Free he says. It doesn’t get any better than that.

To clarify, I ask him, “How much are the total charges, fees, etc going to come out to?” He assures me there will only be a $24.95 charge on my first bill, the modem will arrive by mail, and its plug-and-play. (I’m not worried…I’m a techie, and I’m confident I can install whatever is needed, or get my techie-genius brother to help out, so I don’t bother about installations or all that.)

Great. We hang up, and I’m excited and anticipating. Then,…DUMB, DUMB, DUUUUUM!!

I get the confirmation email. Here is what it said:

Dear Valued Verizon Online Member,

Good news! So far everything looks good and your Verizon Online DSL service is estimated to be turned on by the ‘Service Ready Date’ below.

Please keep in mind that although your location pre-qualified for DSL in the initial stages of the order process, further processing may reveal that DSL service cannot be provided at your location.

ESTIMATED SERVICE READY DATE: 02-27-2007**.
———————————————————————————————————–
RECAP OF YOUR ORDER
Please review the following. If you see any errors or have any questions regarding your order, please visit our self-help site at http://www.verizon.net/whatsnext or call us at 1-800-567-6789.

DSL Dedicated Data Line Number: 7037505482
This DSL dedicated data line has no voice service.

Shipping Address: Your Verizon Online DSL Self-Install kit will be shipped to the address you provided when placing your DSL order.

Verizon Online DSL Plan*: Dry Loop Annual Plan-$36.99/$38.99

If there are two rates listed in the package information above, the first is your monthly rate for each of your first 12 months of service, and the second rate takes effect at the completion of your 12-month commitment.

Shipping & Activation Fee: $0

You will be billed for the following equipment:
$29.99 – Westell Gateway w/SIERRA949/mo Service Plan– $ 29.99
DSL for Home Terms of Service– $ 0
DSL for Home Dual Filter Kit– $ 0
DSL Gateway – Service Contract– $ 0
DSL for Home Install Poster w/DSL CD– $ 0
DSL for Home Resource Guide– $ 0
Consumer Welcome Letter– $ 0
FREE * Filter Wall Mount/Dual Line– $ 0

Your total equipment charge will be billed in 3 equal monthly installment(s). Taxes may apply and if so, will be included in each of the 3 installment(s).

Now, I have no problem with Verizon charging what they want for their service. I have a HUGE problem with their employees promising one thing to my face, and then me getting surprised with a higher bill. It’s insane! I just wished I could have gotten my questions answered, or even an “I don’t know, let me find out for you” would have been a lot less insulting, and a lot more honest.

When I call back, I get transferred a few times once again. I finally get upgraded to a supervisor who firmly holds her ground, and with a resolve of steel informs me she is sorry for the confusion, but there is nothing she can do. At the last minute, she puts me on hold…..and comes back to tell me I may have been right. In fact, there IS an internet-special startup plan that provides speeds of 768k at the price of 24.99, but unfortunately, I was misinformed about the modem, as that will cost me $29.99 in three easy payments. Who the heck pays for a $30 modem in 3 payments? Never mind. I don’t want to know!

So, my options — stick to the faster, phone-ordered plan at 39.95, plus pay for the modem, or cancel the whole thing and place the order online. If I had been told that to get that price, I HAD to order online, I would have done that from the beginning!! I got no problem shopping online.

The end of the story is that I got transferred (again) to Mr. Brian, who very kindly canceled my order, and informed me I would be able to go online and place the online special order in about 2 hours. Very nice, very prompt, and very knowledgeable in regards to canceling an order. I just wish the Verizon sales people knew that much about their products. As it is now, I am going to reconsider my choice of Verizon, and the extreme troubles they put me through has increased the amount I’m willing to pay for a quality internet broadband service. I may just as well go with the more expensive competitor — anything to avoid Verizon.

It is a sign of serious institutional problems when a business has these symptoms:

A) They have too many phone numbers, and each one can only handle one kind of service. They don’t clearly advertise the differences between numbers, or which number to call for what!

B) The right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing. Phone service personal, sales people and managers need to ALWAYS know what’s going on in their website. ALWAYS! It is a waste of money otherwise. They don’t have to know what is up there exactly, but need to know how to check, how to verify, and how to find information when a customer refers to it.

C) A customer has to jump through 100 hoops, call 3 different numbers, talk to a grand total of 8 people to get anything done, and still walk away unhappy and without the service I really desperately wanted.

So, that was my adventure for today. Am I alone? Have you had a similar experience with Verizon? Maybe with a different company? Leave your comments below, or email me. I’d love to know that I’m not the only guy that has gone through this.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Gypsy says:

    I’m so relating to your post!!!! I’m in the middle of going through the same thing with Verizon right now in Michigan. I’m not sure how many people I talked to on the phone, but the information they gave me was very different from what I found online…. and every body I talked to gave me different information from the person before them. I’m holding my breath right now to see what really happens. I just signed up online today after going around in circles with these people for a week. I will certainly cancel if they don’t give me what was promised online.

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