Verizon BullS#%*t

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I hate spending the last day of the year ranting, but this pisses me off.  Maybe I’ll post it tonight, then do another post tomorrow.  I can’t go close out the year with a downer post.

I had a ton of stuff to do today.  But I decided to address a problem I noticed about a month ago on my cell phone bill.  I switched from AT@T to Verizon back in February.  Pretty much exclusively because Verizon works up in Cable and I hang out there a fair amount of time.  It has such good coverage, I can be riding my MTB way back in the woods and my phone still works.

Anyway, I was messing with my phone last month and there was an offer to get something like 18 gigs of data for the same as 12/15 or something, so I was looking at my bill and I noticed that I had been getting charged $11 x 2 for phone insurance, $4.99 a month for something called Family Base and another $4.99 a month for VZ Navigator.   So, I went back to look at my previous bills and those charges had been there since I got the phones.  So, I cancelled the services, got the extra 3 gig’s of data, and assumed my bill was going to drop something like $32 a month.  Plus, I figured I had to go to Verizon to see about getting refunded the money I was erroneously billed.

I have been travelling, of course, and then Christmas, then I heard something that  said that Dec. 31st was the last day to get a Verizon credit for some text messaging scam they got caught up on by the government, so thought I should get on my problem.

So, I drove down to the Verizon store in Topeka and waited a while.  I told the girl my issue and she said she saw it all the time, but I needed to call Verizon customer service “to resolve” the problem.  She told me she would remove the Family Base off my plan and I told her I already had.  She told me it was still there and removed it.

So, an hour wasted.  I drove home and called customer service.  I got ahold of nice guy and explained my situation.  He told me that the Family Base and VZ Navigator were their mistakes and would credit my account the $2.99 a month I was charged for 10 months.  I told him it was $4.99 and he seemed surprised.  Then he said he could refund me for 3 months of the insurance, which is another $66.  I told him to go ahead and do that, credit the approx. $100 overcharge for the two services and the $66 for insurance.   Then please transfer me to a supervisor that could give me the other 7 months of insurance payments I’d made back.  I was on the phone with him for over 30 minutes, then got Courtney.

Courtney was the supervisor, #232754, and he wanted me to explain why I thought I should be refunded the money.  I told him that I never approved of the services and that I had never used the services, didn’t even know what they were, and that I wanted the money back.  He told me that I was responsible for the problem since the charges had been on my bills since I signed up with Verizon.

I explained to him that I travelled a ton and that my bills were on autopay and that I only checked the full charge on my phone, which doesn’t break down the charges line by line.  And that the first few months of the Verizon bill changed month by month, so I didn’t even know what the “normal” monthly charge was going to be.

He said that I was responsible and that he couldn’t verify that I wasn’t the one that added the services.  He said anyone could have.  I asked him if my next door neighbor could have added them and he said no.  He said that I could have added them at any time.  I asked him if he would look up when the charges started and he said the first day I switched to Verizon.  I asked him if I had access to the Verizon computers at that time to add these services.  He said no, but he doesn’t have any way to verify whether I authorized the services or not.  I told him I had the service contract and he said that they woudn’t be on there.  I told him I did not authorize the services,  I hadn’t used the services, didn’t know I was being billed for the services and asked him for a refund.  That their representative had added the services without my authorization.

Courtney told me since I had cancelled the services myself, over a month ago, he would be willing, “as a courtesy” to give me two months credit for all the services.  I told him that the first representative had said he would refund the 10 months of both the Navigator and the Family deal, plus give me 3 months credit for both insurances.  He told me that he wouldn’t have authorized that and the first guy didn’t shouldn’t have either.  I told him I thought he was plain mistaken, because the only reason I was being transferred to him was to get the other 7 months of insurance, which is 7 x $22 = $154, back.  He said he was not going to  do that and that if I excepted the 2 months, he would sign on my account that it was a verbal confirmation that this issue was over and that I wouldn’t call back and address it.

I declined his offer.

What the guy didn’t get was he wasn’t giving back his money, he was giving me back my money that had I had been overcharged for.  And his argument, that since I let Verizon overcharge me for 10 months, somehow that made me negligent and partially responsible for the problem.   He told me “Your consent is when you pay your bill”.  I told him that is inaccurate.   I feel I have no responsibility other than stopping the services when I see the errors and then notify them of the problem.  After that, overbilling me is their mistake and I’ll not going to “eat”$154 because of their billing errors.   And the kicker is that both the customer service guys, Courtney and guy 1 both said they would refund some of the money, but not all of it.  Because I wasn’t timely in my request?  What’s that all about.

And honestly, I don’t think it was a billing error.  I believe the Verizon representative in Arvada Colorado, added these “services”, without my permission.  I think it was a corporate cramming technique.   It was fraudulent billing and they do it all the time.   Trudi was there at the time and she heard me tell the guy that I didn’t want any additional charges or services other than phone, text and data.

I just looked it up and Verizon has 102 million customers.  Just take one of the monthly charges. Say $4.99 a month.  If they add this to each customer’s bill, then it is over 500 million dollars, a month, $5,000,000 a month!   That is $6,000,000,000 a year.  I have been overbilled over $300. Multiple that by the 102 million and you get a really huge number.  

This whole thing doesn’t even address the “free”extra data.  Same charge, 3 extra gigabytes. But, this is misleading too.  When they “gave” me the 3 extra gigs, they upped the monthly charges on my 3 phones by $5 a month, so $15 was added to by bill.

The Verizon store rep, the first customer service guy and also Courtney, all said they can see how this could be misleading.  The first two, not Courtney, said that is was wrong.  Courtney told me I should have called customer service if I didn’t understand how the change was going to affect my bill.  I told him I understood the offer completely.  Three extra gigs of data for the same price I was paying.  Not $15 added to somewhere else on my bill, to hide the fact that I somehow changed plans.  It is a shell game, or more like bait and switch plan.

I’m not exactly sure what to do now.  I’m thinking of calling the manager of the Arvada Colorado Verizon store and tell him my problem and ask for him to resolve it.  I have already spent close to 3 hours on it, plus writing this, so I’m pretty much sick of it, but it is the principle.  Someone needs to bring another class action suit against Verizon for this fraudulent billing.  These cell phone companies are constantly doing it and always make a profit, even if they get their hands slapped every once in a while by the government.   It is just too common and we shouldn’t except it as the norm.

Verizon-store

31 thoughts on “Verizon BullS#%*t

  1. Barb

    That totally sucks, I feel your pain. How I got around the contract deal is, I find out what brand/model of phones Verizon uses, and then buy them in next to new condition on eBay. The only time you have to sign a contract is if they’re giving you a free phone, or a deal on a new phone. I will never sign another contract again, especially since Verizon tries to hose people for a $50 fee to sign a contract and be tied to them for a year or more. I also never use autopay anymore, because then I forget about it, and they sneak things in. I’ve had pretty good customer service from them on the phone though, I can’t complain. I hope you get you money back. All of these customer service issues just suck up so much time too, it’s frustrating.

     
  2. channel_zero

    Courtney gets paid because she/he keeps the money in Verizon’s pocket. You will never get any satisfaction from the major telcos. Maybe try to find a wholesaler that uses Verizon’s network?

    All you light touch capitalists that want “the government out of the way” should be pleased with Steve’s story. That’s just a little taste of unfettered capitalism.

     
  3. Catherine walberg

    Totally on point, Steve. So much wrong with the response you got from “Courtney. “I told him I had the service contract and he said that they woudn’t be on there.” I agree with you, Steve. The contract should outline all charges. So he could bill you a million dollars a day and you auto pay it and wouldn’t have had to authorize him in writing to do that? They wrote the contract, right? I doubt you had any ability to negotiate its terms and then he says what he’s billing isn’t in the contract? They had all the time in the world to write it and use it nationally and they can’t list in there everything for which they are charging you? Nuts. Is there something in the contract about it being the entire agreement between you and Verizon, i.e., they nor you can amend it orally? I agree with your observation about the following statement being inaccurate: ” He told me “Your consent is when you pay your bill”. So they bill you for something you didn’t agree to even though they wrote the contract; they use your money for umpteen months, and then can’t seem to rectify it. Time value of money of a lot of customers’s money for Verizon if they’ve done this repeatedly. It reminds me of the Mellon Mortgage issue where Mellon kept more reserve money for property tax than they were authorized to do and were making a lot of money investing the “escrow” money. So, if Verizon accidentally gave you a credit for 10 months instead of your neighbor, do you think it would agree with you if you said, since you didn’t notice it for 10 months, I don’t owe you what I promised to pay you?

     
  4. dixon miands

    The only thing you can really is do is just cancel all services with them.When you threaten to leave they tend to become much more reasonable. I think that they tend to wait people out and extend the process hoping that the customer will become frustrated and agree to Verizon’s demands. The sad thing is it happens across the board with every company involved in the process. I got so frustrated I went to Walmart’s plan believe it or not. You do give up a few options but the price is right and so far the process has been hassle free.

     
    1. Bryan

      Huh? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      Having been in CS, I can tell you for a fact that they don’t care if you threaten to leave. Go ahead. If still under your service agreement, you are going to pay a fat termination fee, and if you don’t pay it, then it WILL appear on your credit report as delinquent. I’ve seen this too many times.

      When you go under a service agreement, you sign for everything that is going on your account. This is imaged – it can be seen by everybody who has access to it. It is also visible in the documents section of your My Verizon online account. You MUST be very careful and actually read it all.

       
  5. mks

    Sorry – different viewpoint here. You paid for the services for 10 months, now “wake up” and ID an error, and want to make the vendor repay you for something you failed to notice for 10 months. Please correct me if that summary is not correct. #1 problem in America today – people not taking personal responsibility for their actions (or, in this case, lack of action). Accept their deal and learn a lesson. Remember – it was YOUR choice to enter into a consumer agreement with Verizon.

     
    1. Jim

      No MKS, I believe the #1 problem here, and in Steve’s case also, is the business not taking responsibility for their actions … you know, like adding services he never asked for!

       
  6. Flahute

    I got pissed @ Big V too. So I bought their stock which pays a fat dividend. If you can’t beat em…

     
  7. Krakatoa East of Java

    In football, they call what Courtney was doing “running out the clock”. He knew darn well that the deadline is today. His sole job is probably to reduce payouts.

     
  8. Shano

    I think Courtney was that dude you flamed in that post couple months back – shouldn’t oughta done that!
    Just kidding 🙂
    I’ve been rolling with verizon for over 10 years now and had no problems. I like them for same reason you mention – great coverage everywhere I go. Sounds like you just got a real sour apple with this rep, I’d call their corporate help services and discuss it, they’ve always been really helpful whenever I’ve had problems like this. I think it’s *611. Good luck and happy new year dude

     
  9. darkcloud

    I’d contacts the FCC or whoever it is that oversees the telecom industry and share your story, in writing. I’ve received the short end of the stick from several of these companies. That contract that most of us enter into relieves them of a lot of their “give a sh_t.”
    And Steve, I completely understand your situation. Anyone who travels for their employment “gets it.”

     
  10. Tripod Ron

    You have to see where Verizon is coming from though. Let’s say you had broke your phone and you went in to replace it and they said “looks like you have the insurance so here’s your new phone” Would you have said I never signed up for that. Please refund me and here’s $650 for a new phone? Them refunding you 3 months seems like a fair compromise.

    Direct TV will try a similar sneak move as well. When you sign up they will give you Sunday Ticket for free for the first year. However, if you don’t ‘Cancel’ your free service at the end of the season, come the pre-season, you will see a $55 charge added to your bill. The TRUE crime though is trying to charge $55 for pres-eason games. WTF. If they were smart they would only charge $10 and a lot less people would notice the price change and then ramp it up to $55 starting week 1. That way when people call, DTV can say “you did watch that out of area Bills v. Chargers game though so we can’t refund you.” Then you sink into the chair and evaluate your life for a minute.

     
  11. Bryan

    Although I understand everything you are saying, I need to point out a few things (this is coming from a former Alltel/VZW customer service rep):

    1. You do not have a ‘contract.’ It is a service agreement, thus you cannot pull out the old “contract law” card – I don’t know how many people threatened me with that.
    2. If you pay the bill, you are agreeing with the charges in it. This is in the fine print.
    3. You cannot take them to court. You agreed to binding arbitration when you entered into the service agreement – and VZW WILL enforce that. Count on it.
    4. They will give you what they are allowed to give you. A representative may offer you some money back, but it still has to be approved by a supervisor. If you force them to send you a supervisor, they can disallow what was offered by not approving it. CS reps know what they can offer that will be approved.

    To be honest, it is usually NOT a good idea to ask to speak to a supervisor. It rarely goes the way you want if you force that issue. Supervisors generally do not have any more authority on granting money back to you than the front-line CS rep; usually for the bother they will do what you found out – they will withdraw what was offered to you as a “courtesy.” I’ve seen it too many times.

    Also remember that when you enter arbitration, they can usually afford WAY better legal counsel than most consumers.

     
    1. JB

      Contract vs. Service Agreement: the phone co. is agreeing to provide certain services, etc. and the consumer is agreeing to pay a certain amount. That’s pretty much a contract, right? I don’t know that it matters what it’s titled.

      To the google machine!

       
  12. Champion86

    BBB complaint is the way to go. The AT&T clowns pissed my wife off so bad a few years ago she went on rampage. After being a customer going all the way back to the fat Motorola battery pack phones in the 90’s they wouldn’t let us out of contract when they knew we (now) lived in an area with horrible reception.

    Her complaint was eventually escalated to the President’s office (whatever that is) but what really got their attention was when she filed a BBB complaint against them. They had a whole separate crew to handle that issue and the next morning they called and the contract was yanked.

     
  13. Steve Tilford Post author

    Guys – I got the email address for the CEO of Verizon, Lowell McDowell. I sent him an email. I’ll let you kow how that goes. Figured, best to go to the top.

     
    1. Jay

      I’d follow champion86’s advice. File a complaint with the BBB. That will get their attention. I’ve heard that (over the years)is very effective.

       
    2. BZ

      Steve, I appreciate your optimism that the CEO of a $250 BILLION dollar company has time for customer service. Yes, please follow up on your interaction.

      Between this and your recent and parallel checking account experience; I would recommend regrouping on my agreements fine print, regularly read billing statements and if need be, act in a timely manner. (Thumbs down, I bet)

       
      1. Steve Tilford Post author

        BZ- I received an email, late in the day, from the CEO’s assistant, leaving her personal extension number and saying that she was instructed by the chairman to handle my problems. I’ll let you know how that exchange goes. So far, so good.

         
  14. Bryan

    Good luck with that! He probably has somebody else screen all his email, so he will likely never see it. I hope I’m wrong. He’s not a very reasonable guy, and having seen many webcasts with him, he comes across as a momentous asshole.

     
  15. euro

    It’s your bill. It’s your responsibility to look it over. Just because you’re busy traveling the world and enjoying a permanent vacation doesn’t mean you can’t be bothered to look over your phone bill every month or two.

     
  16. Tim

    As to the Class Action route, I bet your contract has a clause in it where you waived your right to go to court and agreed to private arbitration. No relief there.

     
  17. Franz

    They are making you pay for insurance you don’t want on your phones. I wonder if Verizon self insures those phones. It would be a shame if something happened to those phones.

     
    1. Bryan

      No, VZW does not self-insure the phones. The insurance is handled by Asurance – who does this for several wireless companies and not just VZW.

       
  18. Michael

    Steve,

    Verizon is famous for it. And what’s funny is they do it all the time, to the same people over and over again!!! I dated someone who got overfilled. Called them on it. Next bill was fine. Bill after that was back up to the higher amount. She called them on it and they credited her. Then two months later did it again!
    I had a super expensive plan with tons of minutes back in 1999. It was $300 for 3000 minutes. I got my bill one time, $2800!!! I had used only 2400 minutes. When I called them he said that I used 2400 minutes. I told him my plan and he agreed I was right. But that my bill for $2800 was correct and I needed to pay it.
    I was like, I didn’t even use all my minutes! How could I owe more than what I used? He didn’t get it.
    I left Verizon after that. They are horrible. Same with when they offered home phone service.

     
  19. Bryan

    I once had a customer call with a bill for almost $15,000 for a month. Needless to say they were EXTREMELY upset and exceedingly rude and demanding.

    When I researched the account, I discovered that almost all the charges were from cell phone use while on a cruise ship/vacation in the Bahamas. Rates for that were, at that time, about $4.99/minute charged by the cruise ship, plus an overseas roaming charge from our company of around $1.99/minute. The rate charged by the cell provider while on the islands was roughly the same charge.

    The caller was furious, screaming that when he called and asked if his phone would work while on the ship/in the Bahamas, he was told it would. However, he never once inquired as to what the charges would be.

    So, who was a fault there? Bottom line is that he got stuck with a legitimate $15,000 bill as nobody budged an inch – it was all legitimate. Further, nobody was overly inclined to help him when all he was doing was screaming at us and calling us some very choice names. Again, he never paid attention to the fine print. Read it, folks – it will wake you up.

     
  20. Peter

    Tell your sponsor they need to supply you with a cell phone .

    Verizon has the best network, but they are an awful company. Really dishonest, almost to a criminal level if they didn’t have their army of lawyers carefully craft the fine print.

    I have my cable TV through them and for a while, when I turned it on, there would be a pop-up on the TV saying “press OK to upgrade the speed of your fios (internet) service for only $10/month”. Luckily the kids never did it, but I found that really annoying.

    My employer recently supplied me with an iphone 6 with AT&T service. It’s been great so far. My wife has a Verizon phone — sometime she gets better service than me, sometimes not. Pretty much a wash.

    Be careful about them automatically renewing your service contract. Yes, they do that. Some bill are worth getting in paper and paid with a check so you get a chance to look at it closely. Ignorance is no defense.

     

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