Final Update: Somehow “Brandon” in the corporate office got my blog post yesterday. He apologized on behalf of Verizon and said he would call financial services on my behalf to get me taken off “cash only” status. Thus resolves my 2 month issue. As compensation for my trouble, Verizon waived the remaining $240 I owed on my account.

Original Post with Updates

I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for as long as I have had a cell phone, which is around 2004 IIRC. Never missed a payment, always upgrade my phone, currently have 6 lines on my account. I’ve generally had good customer service, but a recent experience with getting new phones for myself and my wife has definitely spoiled me on the company.

I am not the only person who has blogged about this. See the source of this graphic, Peter Kreutzer’s The Spectacular Awfulness of Verizon Customer Service at http://www.peterkreutzer.com/blog/?p=703

 

The Short Version

The long version of the story, with supporting documents, is below. The short version of the story is that in April on release day my wife and I each bought Samsung Galaxy S8 phones to replace our old Note 4s. When they arrived on 4/21, we immediately realized that the screen was too small. Taking advantage of the “Try it worry-free with our 30-Day Return Policy” (see screen cap below), we decided to exchange our S8s for the larger S8+.

Screen cap of Verizon web page, April 24, 2017

Because we bought the phones on-line and were on the road when we wanted to process the exchange, we were not able to just walk into a Verizon store and exchange the phones. (For future reference: Do this.) I sought advice from Verizon chat who advised me to call customer care to help me exchange the phones.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

No problem. Received the new phones, packaged up the unwanted phones using return address labels provided by Verizon. Shipped those May 1st and received emails from Verizon confirming they were received on May 10th and 11th.

By May 30th I had not received a refund so I chatted with and called Verizon customer service again. After half an hour on the phone, the CS rep acknowledged Verizon mistake and said he would put in for the refund. Three weeks later on June 21st, still no refund so I call Verizon customer service again. This time I am almost 2 hours on the phone with 2 different people but “Katie” assures me that she is going to handle the situation.

When Katie did not follow through on her promise six days later, I contested the charges with American Express who on June 29th credited me back the $1,224 plus interest. Verizon promptly charged the $1,224 back to my Verizon account. On July 1st, after receiving a threatening text message from Verizon, so during my vacation while in the middle of the desert in Arizona I called Verizon. After over an hour on the phone, this time “Judy” assured me that the credit would be applied that day (though it would take 5 days to process).

Again thinking the situation was resolved I was surprised to receive yet another threatening text message today and to find that my Verizon account STILL had a $1,224 past due balance. Another hour on the phone with Verizon customer service and this time “Ken” assured me he was going to take care of it.

While on hold with Ken, I started chatting with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter. In the time that it took Ken to promise that he would try to get the credit, the Twitter CS people actually applied a credit to my account today, clearing the past due balance.

Which raises the question, Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And, furthermore, What compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closed our chat, an automated message popped up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding because of it.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, but before I published it, “Andrea” from Verizon social media customer service contacted me, in response to the negative response I gave to the “How are we doing?” survey at the end of my chat with @VZWSupport. She expressed concern about my poor experience and wanted to let me know that Verizon was very sorry. She noted that I asked what compensation I would receive for all of the time, energy, and worry I put into getting the situation resolved. She asked if I would be willing to accept an account credit of $110 — the portion of the $350 I pay monthly to Verizon that covers my unlimited data plan — as compensation. I accepted the account credit, but also let her know that the experience seriously damaged my relationship with Verizon and that I would be exploring my wireless options going forward.

UPDATE 2: Since I spoke with Andrea I went on line to try to schedule a payment for my regular balance due minus the $110 credit Andrea arranged. I find the “alert” below: Not eligible to make online payments. Must pay in cash at Verizon store or mail money order or certified check. LOLOLOLOL. Spent 6 weeks trying to get money back from Verizon now trying to pay my bill and denied. Can’t win.

UPDATE 3: According to @VZWSupport (on Twitter), because I have been put on a cash only basis due to Verizon trying to screw me out of $1,224 for phones I returned in May, *I* have to take *MY* time out to call Financial Services. The nightmare continues.

The Long Version (With Documentation)

4/20/17: Ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 phones from verizon.com website

4/21/17: Phones delivered to Half Moon Bay, California

4/24/17: Decided S8 phones too small, wanted to exchange for S8+. Chatted with Verizon customer service, then called customer service as advised by chat agent.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

4/24/17: Ordered new phones and requested they be delivered to Verizon store in Rome, Georgia where we were traveling.

4/28/17: Picked up Galaxy S8+ phone from Verizon store, activated them, and put S8 phones into same boxes and returned using return address labels provided by Verizon.

5/1/17: Mailed S8 phones back to Verizon (confirmed by email below).

5/10/17: 9 days later, the first of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it was not credited.

5/11/17: 10 days later, the second of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it too was not credited.

So at this point in the story, I have two charges for $612 on my American Express card for phones I returned to Verizon as instructed by Verizon, and which Verizon received back into inventory.

5/30/17: A month after mailing the S8 phones back to Verizon, and over two weeks after Verizon acknowledged receiving the phones, I still had not received a credit to my credit card (or to my Verizon account). So, I entered into another chat with Verizon customer service (screen cap below).

Again the chat agent could not help me and advised I call the Financial Team, which I did.

5/30/17: Spoke to Verizon Customer Service representative on phone for half an hour, explaining what happened. At end of phone conversation he said it was clearly a mistake to follow the advice given to me to pay off the phone and then return it, but that because I was given bad advice by Verizon, the request that he was filing advising I be refunded $1,224 would be no problem.

6/21/17: Three weeks later, still no refund to my credit card or my Verizon account (despite the fact that the charge is on my American Express card accruing interest at 16% APR). I call Verizon Customer Service again. I explain the situation to another representative, who does a partial investigation and then suggests that I might be able to get the $1,224 credited to my Verizon account, which I could then use to pay my wireless bill over the next 3 months. I flatly rejected this suggestion, since it would mean basically loaning money that Verizon owed me back to Verizon. At this point she puts me on hold to connect me to a supervisor. After nearly an hour on the phone, my call is disconnected.

As is evident in the screen cap above, I call back immediately and this time ask to be immediately escalated to the next level of customer service. I am connected with Katie. I explain to Katie everything that happened with my first two phone calls, and that I would not accept anything other than a credit back to my American Express. Katie says that the notes the CS rep put in the system on 5/30 were not clear and so I walk her again step by step through the problem. Katie assures me that she will see my problem through to its conclusion and will continue to stay in touch with me until it is resolved. After nearly an hour on the phone (102 minutes total for 6/21/17), Katie says that the fault was Verizon’s and that she would be able to file a request for a refund that would be processed.

I receive an email confirmation that the payment is being investigated (below) and I also speak again with Katie later that day for another 7 minutes so she can confirm my credit card information so that she can make sure the right account gets credited (above).

Before the end of our first phone conversation, I tell Katie that I either would have a refund to my credit card by the end of the week or I would be contesting the charges with American Express.

6/23/17: Over six weeks since Verizon received the second of the two S8 phones I returned, I get a text message from Katie two days after our phone conversation informing me that she is still working on the refund.

6/27/17: The following Tuesday — 6 days after I spoke with Katie who said she would resolve my problem — I finally disputed the charges for both phones with American Express.

6/29/17: Still no refund from Verizon and no word from Katie, 8 days after my conversation with her in which she assured me she would handle the situation. American Express also does not hear back from Verizon concerning the disputed charges and refunds the $612 x 2 as well as the accrued interest to my card. Customer service at American Express could not be any different than at Verizon.

7/1/17: While I am on vacation in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, I receive a message from Verizon stating that I need to make a payment to “avoid interruption and a reconnection fee per line.” I take time out of my lunch to call Verizon. This time I speak to Judy, for over an hour (see below). She once again reviews my entire case file and I once again explain the entire situation to her. She insists that she does not want to get off the phone until the matter is entirely resolved, and I say that is a good thing because I am out in the middle of BFE Arizona and if I cannot use my phone I could be in big trouble.

After an hour of sitting in my car in 100 degree Arizona desert temperatures, my phone conversation with Judy ends as follows (transcription of phone call):

David: Yes

Judy from Verizon: OK, we are taking care of this. The credit will be going through. And I’m contacting financial services today on your behalf to tell them not to turn off your services because we are processing a credit for the $1,224 today.

D: That’s going back to my Verizon account not my American Express card right?

J: No, it’s going to clear your Verizon account out here. Correct.

D: OK. And the whole matter will be settled then, there’ll be no problems?

J: Yes, it’s going to be cleared up today. Everything’s going to be applied today. And we’ll get it taken care of, and then I’m going to call financial services on your behalf to let them know not to turn the services off, and that we have a credit that is being applied to the $1,224 to clear that out.

D: Well, that’s very good news. I appreciate your help with that. I wish I would have talked to you the first time.

J: And I do apologize for this having to take so long and for you having to repeat it so many times. It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out. I just need to get to financial services to let them know it is going to take about 5 days so that way they’ll be able to see the credit sitting in there just waiting to be applied to the account.

D: OK, just as long as I don’t lose my service. I could die in the desert if I do.

J: No you are absolutely not going to lose your services. I am going to take care of that call just as soon as I get off the phone with you, OK?

D: OK, thank you very much and GOD BLESS YOU.

J: And thank you as well, and you go and enjoy your vacation. We have the rest of this taken care of on our end. Once and for all.

D: OK, thanks Judy.

This conversation took place two weeks ago.

7/14/17: Two weeks after Judy assures me “It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out,” I receive the following text message from Verizon again telling me to pay my bill or have my service interrupted and pay a reconnection fee.

I check my account and sure enough, plain as day, it shows that I STILL have a past due balance in the disputed amount of $1,224. All of Judy’s sincere assurances were as meaningful as all of Katie’s. At this point I am 6 weeks, 4 phone calls, and nearly 4 hours into an ordeal of trying to get credit back to my credit card (and now to my Verizon account) money that should have been credited back to me in mid-May.

I call Verizon customer service again and tell the agent that I had already spoken to 5 different people and that I did not want to speak to her and please connect me to her supervisor. After being on hold for 6 minutes, I remembered the earlier call that I was on hold waiting for a supervisor for 30 minutes only to get disconnected. So I hung up and this time spoke to customer service representative Ken, explaining my situation and frustration that each customer service interaction was like the first, despite the fact that both Katie and Judy insisted that they were taking copious notes in my record so that it would be perfectly clear what was going on.

After a brief investigation, Ken puts me on hold for 30 minutes. During this time I struck up a chat with Verizon CS on Twitter to pass the time being on hold with Ken (which amount to nearly an hour total time again when combined with my initial 7 minutes on hold).

After having me on hold for 30 minutes, Ken comes back on the line to let me know, “You’re in luck.” When I (not politely) let him know that I didn’t think 4.5 hours on the phone over 6 weeks made me lucky, he punitively put me back on hold. 5 minutes later he came back on the line to tell me that a credit would be issued to my account for $1,224 but that it was too late for that to show up on this billing cycle so he would call the financial people to ask them to put my account on a 2 week hold so I could not have my service interrupted.

So, basically telling me — like Katie and Judy did — to trust him to get the credit processed at some unspecified time. I told Ken I had been told this three times before and what should I do if what he promises will happen doesn’t happen? He had no good response other than it wasn’t going to happen this time. As President George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

While Ken was doing all this, my chat with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter was ongoing. The text of the entire chat appears below. In the end, one of the Twitter customer service representatives, TAB, said that a credit would be applied to my account in 24 to 48 hours. When I asked for a phone number to call if this didn’t happen, another rep (RD) jumped in to say that the credit had been applied immediately.

I did as RD suggested and called #BAL and found the $1,224 credit issued. Which raises the question: Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And what compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closes our chat, an automated message pops up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding.

 

 

 

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