Friday, May 15, 2009

Verizon Frustration

Hello, Thrifters,

I haven't written since last winter--more on that another time.

Wanted to quickly share an absurd encounter that ultimately validates the worth of hanging in there with customer service issues.

I recently signed up for a mobile broadband account with Verizon Wireless. I now own a cute little (overpriced) USB wireless modem and for $60/month, I can use it to download 5GB of data each month.

The gizmo had a 30-day money back guarantee, so I waited until it ended to pay my bill as the jury was out until the last minute.

I then tried to go online to pay, but in order to set up an account, I had to have a temporary password. The only way to get a temp pw was to receive a text message.

Verizon has set up their mobile broadband service as though it's a mobile phone service. I have a phone number attached to my account. But, remember, I don't *actually* have a mobile phone, just a little USB dongle/router.

Since there was no way around the temp pw text situation and my bill was due, I put a check in the mail.

I then got my next bill, which included a $5.00 late fee and a .20 cent charge for the text.

It's the kind of eye-roll inducing big-sigh moment when you wonder if it really is worth it to make a phone call and navigate the phone trees and talk to at least one person just to get your money back.

I decided it was.

Luckily, I was able to convince the automated voice to give me a human being fairly quickly. Three selections and an assertive "speak to a representative" command later, Lisa came on the line.

At first, my dilemma puzzled her. "Did you post-date your check?" she wanted to know.

"What?...Post-date? No." I couldn't think what else to say.

Turns out, the check was received and credited to my account nine days after it was due, so she thought I had post-dated it.

At any rate, she was nice and after I explained the reason for my late fee--couldn't pay online because couldn't get a text message--she refunded me for the late fee and also for the text message, which was supposed to be free.

After a short while on hold, she then connected me to Collette, who took me through a circuitous pre-determined script for setting up my online account. Turns out, I *can* receive text messages to my modem (who knew??) via the management software. She showed me how to find the password.

A few frustrating loop-de-loos later, and I was in. I paid my next bill early.

But, we'll see if the two additional texts with two new passwords that Collette and I sent to my modem result in forty more cents on my next bill.

Collette, by the way, confirmed they are supposed to be free. What a racket, right? If Verizon is forcing any customer who wants to pay their bills online to receive a text message and pay .20 cents for it...those cents would really add up.

For another Verizon encounter, read this blog post from a colleague of mine.

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