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Verizon Wireless Can Lick My Balls
Entered on: February 9, 2008 11:39 AM by Ross

Time for another classic Ross RantTM, kiddies...

So Heather and I have been counting the days until our Verizon Wireless contract was up so we could switch to another carrier that doesn't have shitty phones with even shittier custom firmware on them, crippling the functionality of the already-shitty phone.  So last weekend, I made sure that our contract had expired before we went out to the Apple store and picked up a couple of swanky new iPhones

Well, you know where this is going.  Hell, even I knew where it was going at the time:  I told Heather the day we activated the new phones that the odds of Verizon not fucking us were slim to none.  Sure enough, yesterday morning I got an email telling me that my Verizon bill (which is automatically billed to my debit card and hence deducted from my checking account) was $455 this month, whereas in a typical month it's around $115.

Disappointed but not surprised, I called Verizon immediately.  I was sure that they were going to pull some bullshit about my contract not being expired (it was close, I'll admit, probably only a week had gone by since expiration), but no: they admitted that I had done everything right, but that their system simply always applies an early termination fee upon any cancellation, and only the next month (and presumably only if the customer notices and complains) tries to credit your account back for the erroneous charge.

vzw sucks

Well, as you can imagine, I wanted none of this.  At first, I was okay with it since I planned to not pay the $350 in bad fees ($175 for each line on the account), but then I realized that I had the auto payment plan turned on!  So I called them back and told them this, and they told me that I'd have to use their automated system to unenroll from the auto payment plan.  Luckily, I had the wherewithal to realize that since my account was terminated with them, the automated system didn't recognize me and it wouldn't work.  Sure enough, the operator tried it numerous times and it wouldn't work.  She had no idea what to do next, but figured that she'd have to talk to the financial services department. 

Then suddenly, I was disconnected.  Say what you will about Verizon's customer service and billing practices, but I never had a dropped call with them unless I was traveling in a spotty coverage area, and never in my house.  My iPhone with AT&T has done it 3 times in the past week, and I'm hardly ever on the phone. 

Anyway, it worked out to my advantage because when I called back, I got a representative who knew what the hell he was doing and immediately unenrolled me from the auto payment system by some secret backdoor process that operator #1 apparently had never heard of.  I asked him for some kind of confirmation that I wouldn't be billed the $455 and the best he could tell me was that I was definitely taken out of the auto payment system.  He suggested I could put a stop on the payment on my bank's end.

Well, this morning, I logged onto my bank's website and noticed my checking balance was looking a little low.  Sure enough, the $455 from Verizon was listed as a pending withdrawl.  I immediately called my bank and asked them to put a stop on the payment, but they said if it was listed on the site as pending, it was already too late. 

Incensed, I called Verizon back.  I got an operator who was mostly friendly with a slight undercurrent of bitchiness (let's be fair: if I had to work in a call center, there'd be more than an undercurrent coming from me).  Again, no one at any point has denied that this early termination charge was incorrect.  So after about 15 minutes on the phone with her, she comes back all pleased and says that in 30 days they'll send me a check crediting me back my $350.  Well, that was no better than what I knew yesterday! 

I explained to her that I did not feel that it is just for them to take $350 from me and hold onto it for a month for no reason.  She responds by saying that it's not an error, it's just how their system works.  My response is, of course, that the system itself contains the error.  Just because your system behaves a certain way doesn't make it correct!  Alas, these finer philosophical points are lost on a mere call jockey, who responds with a condescending "you're entitled to your opinion."  Argh!

I express my extreme displeasure at the situation and ask to speak to her supervisor.  She puts me on hold for 10 minutes or so, apologizing for not being able to get ahold of one.  Eventually she takes my callback number and says that she has one available but they're finishing up a call and will be ready in 5 minutes or so.  That was almost an hour ago.  So in the meantime I decided to share the experience with you all.

If and when the supervisor ever does call, I will be sure to mention that not only will I not be returning to Verizon in the foreseeable future, but I will be blogging about my poor experiences and warning everyone of their shady practices.  But hey, what do they care?  I'm not a customer anymore.

Updates to follow as events warrant.

NEWS 504 - 23 Comments
From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 9, 2008 11:41 AM

I'll have to read the full rant when I have more time and can enjoy it. Laughing

In the meantime, I was watching the Today Show a few days ago and in discussing cell phones they showed that Verizon was #1 according to Cosumer's Reports.  While AT&T was at the bottom.  So if you hated Verizon...

From: Ross Entered on: February 9, 2008 12:04 PM

Well, I do kind of mention that in my rant... no one carrier has it all - I admit that Verizon's coverage and call quality is excellent.  But it depends on what's imporant to you.  I just don't like their phones nor their practice of crippling them. 

I'm not a big phone talker anyway so it's not super important to me that the quality be the best.  I'm more of a technology guy, and to be honest the iPhone is cooler for most of its non-phone featuers (though visual voicemail is termendous and it sucks that this isn't the industry standard way of doing voicemail).  So overall, I'm happy with things so far, but I realize that when I had AT&T before I switched to Verizon several years ago, I was less than happy with them too. 

You just can't have it all, it seems.

From: BigFatty Entered on: February 9, 2008 2:11 PM

I am waiting for Zilla to brag about him never having a cell phone, doesn't see the need, blah, blah, blah.  He leaves out the fact that his wife has a phone and when they are out, her cell phone is very handy for him.

From: BigFatty Entered on: February 9, 2008 4:32 PM

The early termination fees mobile companys have in concert with their promo phones are pretty shady.  Most dumbass people just look at the 'free' phone they are getting without looking into the company or service they are getting roped into.  If you pick a company with poor reception in your area, you are screwed for the length of the contract.  Granted, it would be worth to pay the fee early and chalk it up to the true cost of the phone.

I was able to get out of Verizon early termination fees - twice!!!  I really don't know why either.  Both times they let me out was because I could prove I was moving out of the country.  Still, this doesn't make sense to me why they did this.  Oh... I take that back....  I do remember why they did...  I still had my original phone, but changed plans that extended my contract.  I did not have the promo phone cost to pay back.  Well, the first time I should have had something to pay back...  Oh well, it does show the inconsistency there.

Johnny should chime in here with the 'behind the scenes' action.  Plus cell phones are his favorite topic.  He used cell phones as his opening move to talk with a sexy model at one of the Comic-cons... I believe the line was 'I see you are using the Treo 750.  How do you like it?  I found them.....'  Smooth my man!

They say the fee is used to payback the true cost of the promo phone.  Cell phones calling plans are certainly expensive, and the costs are going up all the time.  I think they make plenty of money on the calling plans to make up the cost within a few months.  The rest is high profits.  I doubt that they discount every phone $175.  From what I understand, there is a very high mark-up on accessories.  So I assume this is the case in the retail price of a phone as well.  Shit, I remember hearing on some Asian city where kids get a new cell phone every 3 months (average) because the all the new models coming out so damn fast!  I can't believe they could do this if the phones were so pricey over there.

Wow... is it me or was all that just random babbling..

From: Ross Entered on: February 9, 2008 5:37 PM

Well, from my recent internet searching on the topic, it appears the Verizon is now facing what might be the largest class action lawsuit ever, based on its shady early termination fee practices. 

What's fucked up is that everyone agrees that I was off my contract! This is a whole other level of shadiness - the idea that they will charge you for early termination even if you don't terminate early!  It's "charge now, ask questions later".  I haven't found many other people complaining of the same treatment, but when the Verizon people say that's their normal practice, I have to wonder what the hell is going on.

From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 9, 2008 10:52 PM
BigFatty said:

I am waiting for Zilla to brag about him never having a cell phone, doesn't see the need, blah, blah, blah. He leaves out the fact that his wife has a phone and when they are out, her cell phone is very handy for him.

Ok, I'll take the bait, Fats.

I'm not going to say cell phones aren't useful for a lot of people.  But I refuse to believe that they are the necessity that their marketing departments would have us believe.  Most are expensive trinkets that are great providers of annoyance in the modern world.  Can I ever go to the movies and not see a cell phone screen light up anymore?  Or worse, actually ring?  Do I really have to hear people's conversations in public all the time?  ...including my own store that I'm trying to conduct business in?  Some assholes even send pictures of their crank to you, blah, blah, blah...

From: BigFatty Entered on: February 10, 2008 3:26 AM

The cell phone phenomenon is pretty interesting.  Our generation was the one that straddled the gap between no-cells to cells.  Cell phones perpetuate our 'need' for instant information.  It complements the 24 hour news, Internet explosion, etc.  When something happens in the world, don't you kind expect to be able to turn on the TV or Internet and see something about it instantly?

They are both wonderfully useful and extremely annoying.  The phones are mostly used as a time-waster.  Giving us something to do while we wait on something else.  Now they are loaded up with games, music, TV, Internet, email....  all sorts of things for us to do when we are bored.

I do hate my dependency on them.  Once in a while I forget it at home.  The feeling of not having my phone is fairly uncomfortable.  For some reason the idea of 'what if something happens' is much stronger these days.  The ability to get/ share that communication is very comforting.

The days of not having a cell phone seem crazy.  The idea of coordinating 2 people to be at a fixed point at a certain time just to talk???  Come on!  How can we do that??  Let me call you on your cell to set this up.

From: Ross Entered on: February 10, 2008 7:55 AM

Well, I'm not going to say that automobiles aren't useful for a lot of people.  But I refuse to believe that they are the necessity that their marketing departments would have us believe.  Most are expensive trinkets that are great providers of annoyance in the modern world.  Can I ever walk down the street and not see someone drive like an asshole anymore?  People not paying attention, acting like they own the road?  Do I really need to see people's political opinions on their bumpers?  Some assholes even give you the finger when you call them on their crappy driving, blah blah blah...

From: The Bone Entered on: February 10, 2008 6:23 PM

I haven't even read a single word beyond the windshield. Fuck I'm hurting from laughing so hard. Ok, I'll read the rant now but that pic is f'n hilarious.

From: John Entered on: February 11, 2008 11:31 PM

All I know is that in spite of Ross's disdain for Verizon you all need Ionia idiots to keep coming into the Cellular Connection to buy high end phone contracts with shitty termination fees in order to keep Bells paychecks looking marginal. This will enable the continued Roche purchases at Rookies, and make the possibilty of Bells going "live" more feasible. Neither of these can be considered necessities, but both seem to be highly desirable by most of the Jackassery crowd.

By the way this is Jeurge not Bells. I have completely forgotten how to get on this site as myself.

Also don't get me started on wants versus needs. We currently seem to "need" two cars, four cell phones, Dish Network, good internet access, two old X-boxes, one x-box 360 (and I have thought of getting another to keep all of my gamers happy) five TVs, numerous DVD players, multiple Ipods and Mp3 players, and the list of questionable necessities could go on and on. Maybe we should just drop out of the modern worls and give minimalism a try.

From: Ross Entered on: April 10, 2008 6:15 PM

I would just like to update this and say that I still have not received my refund from Verizon!  I called them about 2 weeks ago and it's supposedly still in process.  They said it would be here by now.... but of course it's not, so I'm going to have to fight them some more.



From: Ross Entered on: June 2, 2008 9:50 PM

Verizon refund update:

Still no money.

I filed that complaint with the BBB last week, and I got a call today from Verizon saying that they received it and I will be contacted "within the next 15 days."  What a joke.

On the other hand, I also re-learned a lesson that I forgot long ago when dealing with Comcast: if you have a nasty customer service problem, do not call the main customer support line more than a few times: they are basically designed to not be very helpful.  The reps are unable to contact anyone who is able to solve anything but the most trivial problems.  Therefore, you must find another channel through which to bitch.

So I sent an email via their site to the corporate HQ, explaining my issue in detail (and threatening to take them to small claims court as well).  I got a call the next day from a guy there who was very helpful (so far), who has claimed to "take ownership" of this problem.  He's tracking down the treasury department to see what the current status.  Since they claim to have sent me 2 checks already, I told him I do not want to use mail to send me a check - I want the funds deposited back in my checking account - the same way they were stolen from me in the first place. 

So we'll see what these guys come up with.  I'm not holding my breath - I've dealt with reasonably helpful people there before, but they all want to try the same thing which never ends up getting me my stolen money back.

From: Bunky Entered on: June 3, 2008 1:06 AM

Can they hear you now?

From: BigFatty Entered on: June 3, 2008 2:16 PM

Originality - D -.  Creativeness - D -.

Bunky has shown great potential earlier in the year.  Her current performance is out of character.  Perhaps she is experiencing issues at home or is having trouble adjusting to her new classmate (Spider).  We will work with her in class to make sure she is getting the attention she needs.


From: Bunky Entered on: June 3, 2008 2:39 PM
Fatty, if you were to participate in LIVE nonsense, you would know I actually prefer to shout "can you feel me now" when playing with Bells. I am actually off right now and feeling run down. I am traveling a lot for work. As for as Spider goes, he is the teacher and I am merely a humble pupil in sitting in class. I am in awe of his powers and ability to pull charts out of his ass on a moments notice.
From: Ross Entered on: June 19, 2008 6:23 PM

I finally got my money from Verizon:


Of course, the Verizon guy is putting things mildly and leaving some things out, even though overall his account is factually correct.  Most importantly, he is leaving out the fact that the majority of the "overpayment" was due to erroneous early termination fees.  But that's all in my BBB case.

So two things to note: contrary to what Spider intimated, getting the BBB involved does actually tend to be a much better route than simply calling customer service over and over.  I have had a few coworkers who have gotten the BBB involved in other customer relations nightmares and it tends to produce results.

That said, it wasn't the BBB that actually got me my money in this case, although they did kickstart some higher-ups like this Dion guy into examining the case, which calling customer support never would have done.  What actually got me the money was the asshole customer service guy, who after I told him repeatedly not to ask the treasury department to re-issue another check (because they had issued two others that failed to materialize and each time it's just an excuse for them to make me wait 2 weeks before bothering them again when the next check doesn't show), but this time it actually arrived.  So kudos to the disobedient asshole, and no prize for the people who work for the "Office of the President". 

Anyway, I'm still a big fan of the BBB at this point.  I had this Dion guy calling me and apologizing up one wall and down the other, and I gave him a good half-hour ream-out session where I articulated all the various ways in which Verizon failed me.  He sounded genuine when he said they were opening at least two internal investigations surrounding the specifics I gave, but even if he's full of shit, I'm glad I at least gave him the opportunity  to try to fix things. 

So four months later, the case is finally closed.

From: Swerb Entered on: June 19, 2008 8:58 PM


That's it. I'm sticking with AT&T. I was considering switching to Verizon based on Johnnybells' claims of good cell performance, but I won't now, simply on principle. You can tell that twat at the "office of the president" that at least one associate of yours was influenced enough by your experience to get service from a competitor...

It makes me wonder how many people lack the tenacity to follow through on such matters, and Verizon just capitalizes on their apathy.

From: Bunky Entered on: June 20, 2008 12:28 AM

Hey Swerb, I saw this when I was signing into my email tonight and thought of you. What are your thoughts? Aerosmith really?



From: Swerb Entered on: June 20, 2008 6:34 PM
Bunky said:

Hey Swerb, I saw this when I was signing into my email tonight and thought of you. What are your thoughts? Aerosmith really?

Ah yes, the highly subjective list... well, it doesn't dig very deep into the underground. Credibility points for Meshuggah, Mercyful Fate and Kyuss, but everything else is obvious (Sabbath, Slayer, Metallica) or vaguely misguided (Robin Trower? Huh?).

My opinion: No list of the best heavy metal bands would be credible without Venom, Mayhem, Neurosis, Opeth, Sepultura, Megadeth, Celtic Frost, Carcass, Tool, Trouble, Immortal and Death - and possibly Bathory, Deathspell Omega, Leviathan, Monster Magnet, Nevermore, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Anthrax, Darkthrone, Emperor, Godflesh, Danzig and Entombed. But it would be very, very long.

See, I can whip out a bunch of obscurities and have everyone just as baffled had I called Jimi Hendrix "metal."

From: Bunky Entered on: June 20, 2008 10:41 PM

I don't know what this guy was thinking. I found Jimi Hendrix quite odd and don't even get me started on David Lee Roth and Valen Halen.

How do they pick the idiot's who write these things and then allow them to be published?

When do you get to see Batman? I am eager to hear your review....

From: Jackzilla Entered on: June 21, 2008 8:39 AM

These various Lists must be popular space fillers -- They sure do have enough of them!

Entertainment Weekly is celebrating its 1000th issue by naming the top 100 movies, TV shows, albums, books, etc of the past 25 years.  These lists are always questionable but I think at least Purple Rain earned its #1 spot on the music listSmile

From: John Entered on: June 21, 2008 8:45 AM

Your opinion wouldn't be biased by any chance would it?

From: The Bone Entered on: August 19, 2008 11:00 PM

Bert - thought this would amuse you.


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