Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Customer Service Strikes Again...

At the end of the school year, I posted here about an awful experience I had in a local retail store and wondered what happened to customer service. Today I learned that lousy customer service does not discriminate against large corporations.

In 2005, I was an employee of Cablevision, our major cable company here on Long Island. When I decided to leave the company, our family said au reviour to our employee perks of free cable, internet and telephone. We decided to change the account over to my husband's name, making him a new subscriber and therefore eligible for introductory rates. For some reason still unknown to us, Cablevision insisted on sending a tech out to our house to work on the account's name change. Even the tech had no idea why he was here and due to errors in the main office, he wound up spending the day and part of the evening with us - he was here for more than 4 hours! Soon after this very long afternoon, we decided to scrap Cablevision and move to the other side. We became customers of Verizon Fios. And the story begins....(right, the above had nothing to do with the awful customer service I'm ranting about today, it was just background!)

ClearlyI think our first mistake was signing up with one of the sales people who walk around neighborhoods knocking on doors selling the service. At sign up we were promised a $100 American Express gift card and a $150 Target gift card to be received within 60 days of installation. A few weeks later, we had the installation, which went relatively well.

After about 6 months and we hadn't received either of the promised gift cards, I started to call Verizon. Do you have any idea what it's like to try and get someone on the phone there? It's more than tough. I finally got a woman named Mrs. Brown on the phone who asked me to fax over the sales slip. I did. About 25 times over the next 6 months and for some reason, they would never receive it. Which generated another call to Mrs. Brown, another request to fax over the paperwork, another faxing of 5 fronts and backs of papers, and another result of nothing. At some point, Mrs. Brown transferred departments or left the company stopped taking my calls. The whole calling and faxing and refaxing and calling back had turned into almost a part time job for me, one where I had well earned the $250 in gift cards about 10 times over. To be honest, the whole cycle was so infuriating to deal with on a daily basis that I just wound up dropping it and forgetting the whole thing. 1 point for Verizon!

About six months ago, a salesperson from Cablevision came knocking at our door. We talked, I found out the "deal" he was offering and immediately called Verizon to let them know, hoping that they would save us from their competition and match the price. The woman on the phone expressed her "I'm sorry's" and told me how important we were as customers to Verizon, especially given the state of the economy. By the end of the conversation, this very nice woman wound up giving us enough discounts to beat the competitor's offered price by about $10/month. Perfect. 1 point for us!

Come last week, the honeymoon was over. I received that bill and read something that I was never told - the discounts we were given were to last for 6 months. 6 months that clearly were up, as our bill was now well over what we've been paying. In my mind I started figuring out how much time this was going to take, but thought it wouldn't be a big deal, another call to Verizon, another discussion about how they don't want to lose customers as clearly the economy is not much different than it was 6 months ago, they would reinstate the discount and we'd all be happy. Right?

Wrong. Really, really, super wrong. The rep I spoke to on the phone did not hesitate to tell me that there are no longer any promotions being offered that we were eligible for. I explained to her the situation that occurred 6 months ago and how at that time there were no promotions either but that Verizon doesn't like to lose customers so they were able to compromise and keep us on. The conversation was absolutely futile and in the end, I told her that although I am sure she is doing her job, I can't imagine that Verizon would want to lose a customer for $30/month and I'd like to talk to someone else that would be available.

After another 15 minutes some fantastic hold music, a supervisor gets on the phone. I quickly go through the same conversation with her and she tells me the same thing. "There are no promotions that you are eligible for." I'm still not quite sure what that means but I did voice the same reasoning I had used on the other rep, that I can't imagine how 6 months ago we were so important to Verizon and now they were willing to lose us for $30/month - customers who use every service they offer, phone, television, internet, cell phone service. So what did she say next?


She said, "If you'd like, I can cancel your service for you right now, effective immediately so that you could switch to Cablevision."

Huh? I have to say that I didn't even know what to say. I managed to get out that I would have my husband call Verizon at a later date, thanks for your help.

As I hung up the phone, I was puzzled. Has Verizon recovered so well in this crazy economy that they train their customer service reps to offer to cancel service for their customers? Very interesting tactic, I hope it works well for them.

For us, we're looking at our different options but I will say that Verizon has been extremely disappointing. On the bright side, now that my level of loyalty to Verizon's has significantly decreased, iPhone here I come!

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure that your experience with the poor customer service from cablevision is a pretty common occurrence from that company.

    I havn't heard as many bad things about Verizon though.


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