My day with Verizon

The first time the Internet  connection was dropped while I was chatting online with a Verizon technical support person, it was ironic.

By the fourth time it happened,  with four different techs in some other country, it was maddening. And right now there are four Verizon chatroom support techs looking at four different reports on the same problem asking what does it mean.

It means that Verizon’s customer service is awful, and sadly, looking at what I went through Friday, it seems to be  by design.

Repair is a foreign word, but sales is not. So when on their webpage Verizon directs a consumer to a drop-down menu of “support” options, what they are really  trying to do is sell you some more equipment.

Anyway, here’s the tale. You decide.

Since the early spring, after one or another of the storms with high winds passed through the state, the internet connection to the house began to be erratic. But the cut-offs were sporadic and generally easily solved by rebooting a computer or the wireless modem in the house.

It was an inconvenience, not an annoyance.

Over time it became  an annoyance, so finally I set aside some time Friday to call Verizon to get this fixed.

Of course, by this time the service was being dropped regularly every 10 minutes or so, so it took nearly 30 minutes to get to the company’s website to even begin the search for help.

And the system crashed.

And, further, there is no local telephone number to call for service because Verizon got rid of all those people because they are not in the repair business, but in the sales business.

So at the Verizon website, there is this misnamed link “Contact us.” It leads to another link that provides options to find solutions, but  nowhere does it list equipment failure as a discussion point.

Because, in the 21st Century, no one’s equipment fails. The power never goes out and the car always starts and the washing machine is perfect.

Our advertising says so.

But this is the point: Verizon looks at the demographics of who uses landlines or has a separate Internet connection and, first sees them as potential customers for their overpriced combination service packages, which by the way rely on the reliability of landlines — your “wireless” call? It is transmitted to a cell tower which feeds into the landline system — and second as older consumers who they would just as soon dump.

Thus the bill in Trenton to “deregulate” the local phone system. It is  not about competition,  but about giving the  providers a way to stop serving landlines, or overcharging those customers who hang on to their landline.

Since they have no employees actually in the field maintaining the system, how much does it actually cost to keep up a phone system that was bought and paid for decades ago? The issue is tariffs. The system in the ground was build by the old Ma Bell before she became Ma Bell. Local systems charge tariffs to outside users, a system like railroad tariffs put in place in the 19th Century. One  robber baron overcharging another. Dismantle it? Possibly.

But anyway, after searching the Verizon support site for any semblance of help, I end up in a chat room.

Help, for Verizon on the website, just consists of reminding the consumer just how stupid they are: “Need help logging in?” “Need help changing your password?”

Third graders can change their passwords. Why would I call the phone company for that?

So they can sell you service that lets you set up a private account to address such vexing issues.

First,  that is an admission that Verizon ain’t gonna help you, and second, it is, see above, not their fault because their equipment is perfect.

The key here is that there is no shortcut to get to speak with a person, who in about two minutes could run a test and determine the correct plan of action. That finally happened about five hours after starting this quest.

The search for the  Holy Grail took less time.

After four failed attempts to chat my way through the problem, a person from another Verizon office calls, and the three hours of phone fun began.

Now I feel bad for the Verizon employees. They are working off a script, aimed mostly to sell you some more of their perfect equipment.

They have a list of questions and possible solutions.

None of which involve the phrase, “let me have you speak to a person who can schedule a service call.”

The Verizon employees I encountered Friday were in for a rough time. I image on their call evaluation report that they must file, I received low marks for language and demeanor.  And I’m sure the woman who I had to bully into letting me speak with her supervisor — I imagine those lower employees get demerits for that because they failed to solve the problem by selling me something — probably left her desk to read her Bible for a few minutes to regain a sense of Christian justice.

But, know what? Tough.

She had trouble verifying my account because I’ve only been a Verizon customer at this address for 18 years and have had the same home phone  number for 21 years. And they couldn’t find me in their computer system.

Then she said the problem was that we didn’t have a Verizon modem in our home and they couldn’t run the tests property.  Except one of the chat room guys had run a test of the system just before it crashed.

We’ve never had a Verizon modem. The one they sent us didn’t work.

But that befuddled her. Because on her checklist, if  the customer says no to “do you have a Verizon modem?” she is supposed to sell me one.

Now, she was just trying to do her job, but the company had not given her the tools to do it properly. They give her a script and she is rewarded for  getting the customer to follow that script, but if  solution is not included  in the pat phrases she is trained to use, she has no place to go.

And that’s where the whole process broke down. I wasn’t  going to buy a new modem because the modem was not the problem. The problem was with Verizon’s lines somewhere outside the house.

She got herself in real trouble when I cut off her planned dissertation based on the questions the company provides her and said, “you need to schedule a service call for someone to come to my house and fix your line problem.”

She said: “Oh, we don’t do that.”

Her ears are probably still burning. That’s not what you tell someone who has been trying for nearly five hours at this point to find one Verizon employee who could actually help.

Fifteen minutes later, she finally connected me with her supervisor — it must be discouraged because she  tried like hell to talk me out of it — and his first question was about whether I could  verify my identity and account. He was the fifth Verizon employee to ask that same question. They are electronically transferring notes about this service call. Don’t they transfer that information as well?

Then, of course, according to script, the supervisor started to tell me the problem was my fault, at which point his ears started burning.

Sensing, finally, that he was backed into a corner, he said, “let me run a line test. I’m running a line test now.”

And guess what. The test revealed a line problem, and a service call was arranged.

It only took more than five hours.

I’m a freelance writer. Time is actually money. How do I make that up? Is Verizon  going to compensate me for that lost time?

Of course not.

As a final note on all this, while I was waiting for one of these folks to get back to me, I was composing an email to Dennis Bone, president and CEO of Verizon.

But while writing it, the line crashed and I lost the message.

About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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