Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Going email nuclear on Verizon

A few weeks ago, in early May, I had the worst.ever.experience with Verizon.  Back in January I tried to bundle my home phone (we'd been using Vonage) with my Verizon internet account because the phone was basically free when I did that.  I've had that account on auto-pay for 7 years, since we've lived in this house, and so I kept it on autopay.  Money kept coming out, the phone worked, everything worked, I was happy.

Until late March when Jonathan started getting emails saying we were going to lose our phone service due to nonpayment.  How can that be, I wondered.  It's on autopay.  I called, and it turned out the stuff was never bundled.  They set up a separate account, and the bill was going to my home address - we live in a rural area and don't get mail at home, so everything has to go to the PO box, and so I never saw a bill.  Since the money kept coming out, and everything worked, I'd never even thought about it.

So they tell me they're going to try to bundle it back, and it will take about 10 days, and the charges will be dropped since it was incorrectly bundled.  Then about 2 weeks later we get another call.  We're losing service tomorrow if we don't pay.  I asked how that could be, because the first person said she was going to bundle it properly.  No, the guy said, she can't bundle it because it was on a financial hold.  You can't do anything with a financial hold on.   So he takes the financial hold off for 24 hours so I can sort it out.  I call someone else, get bundled, and they even throw in my DirecTv for free, and there you go.  Sorted.  I asked about the charges, and the girl couldn't even find the other phantom account, so she tells me the next time I get a call about it, get the account number and then call her back, and she'll put credits on the account.  I got a call a few days later, got the account number, left a message with the info, and I figure it's all good.

I go to New Zealand.

I come back from New Zealand and everything still works.  When I log into the account online, everything is there properly.  I'm thinking it's all sorted.  Until a week later when I wake up and there's nothing.  No internet.  No phone.  No TV.  Nothing.  I look online, and apparently when the stuff all got bundled, the charges got moved over as well, and even though the account was on autopay for 7 years, they shut off the service.  I paid $400 to get it turned back on, which I shouldn't have had to pay since it was their error in the first place, and I wait.

But that's where the fun begins.  It never came back on.  I called several times through the day and kept being told it would be turned back on in 2 hours.  I wait 2 hours, nothing.  Day 2 comes along, still nothing.  I call again.  They escalate it.  Wait another hour.  Nothing.  I talk to supervisors and managers.  Nothing.  No one seems to be able to explain to me why my account isn't working.  I'm trying to work using my neighbor's wifi, but keep having to call every few hours to check on it.

I talk to customer care people, and customer care supervisors, and it turns out that...wait for account has been completely cancelled due to nonpayment.  No one could see that before?  Seriously?  I paid $400 to get service turned back on, which I shouldn't have had to pay since it was their f-up, and the account doesn't even exist any longer?  WTF?  I talk again to customer care people to get a refund.  No, they can't give me a refund, they say, because it was for services that I had received.  No, it was for services I was mistakenly charged for since you guys f*cked up the bundling.

I'm getting mad just thinking about it again.

Anyway, we finally called Charter, they came the next day, everything got installed, life was happy again.  I cancelled everything with Verizon, and while I was still steamy over it, I just figured I'd move on.

But then I started thinking about it, and about how rude the managers were, insisting that I had to pay the fees that I was mistakenly charged without even looking into it, and how they couldn't even tell that the account had been cancelled, and how I waited for 2 days with nothing working and no one calling me back or giving me any information as to why, and I got really mad again.

So I went email nuclear.  I drafted up an email with my long story, and I sent it to every Verizon executive I could find.  I sent it to the CEO, the COO, the CFO, every person listed on their website as being part of the executive team.  I guessed around to get the email addresses - I looked at some press releases to see what the general formula was - ie - and then tried a few variations.

I sent it to something like 40 addresses, and 7 bounced.  I got a few out of office responses, too.  I'm not sure who all saw it, but that very night I got one response.  The next day I got three calls from different divisions.  The best part of the whole thing was that finally somebody got the situation and didn't just give me the stock "I'm sorry for the experience you're having," line (I wanted to shoot the next person who was going to tell me that) and they really got how frustrating it was, and they actually seemed upset about it.  One woman said, "I was reading your email, and with each new paragraph I was thinking, 'Oh my ever loving Lord,'" so that was cool.

The end of the story is that they are refunding me all the fees I had paid to get the service turned back on.  They saw the bundling error, and they are trying to figure out what happened there (was it a computer glitch or was it a personnel error).  They have listened to the phone calls I made, and have given feedback to the various people who were really rude (Dianne, the collections supervisor, I'm talking to you right now).  I had also passed on the people who were good - Laura in the California call center who finally bundled everything, and Jennifer in billing, who had agreed to give me a partial refund (though I hadn't received it when I sent the email blast).

Also, someone from Verizon wireless called me, and is saving me $50/month off my bill.

So, all told, I'm now a turned around customer, and am pretty happy with Verizon.  The way they followed up, and continue to follow up to tell me the status of the refund, etc., was way above and beyond what I had expected.

The only thing that sucks is that I had to research the executives, research the email addresses, and send that email out to everyone.  I'm guessing most people who have bad experiences with front line call centers wouldn't go to that trouble.  They'd be like I was and just say, "screw them, I'm moving over to Charter," and that would be it.  My email saved me $1000 - the $400 payment and the $600 off my cell phone bill.

I'm going to still stick with Charter since they got everything hooked up so quickly, and I'm happy with them, but I'm so pleased with the way everyone in the executive offices at Verizon responded, and I'll stick with them for my cell phone.

So, in sum, if you're going to do a nuclear email blast on a company, it can pay off.  But just make sure that you really do have a case; it's just not you being pissy because you don't like your bill.  Make sure that you've tried to get it resolved through the normal channels, and this is only the final solution.  And research the executives to make sure you get the right people.  You can usually find executive teams on hoovers (a business and company database) or on their website, or on business databases at the library.  It takes some work and effort to do something like that, but as I saw, it can pay off in the end.

So this is my official Thank You to Verizon for getting back to me.  It's just a bummer that I had to go nuclear on you to get the service, but I'm glad that when I finally did, you took care of it so quickly.

1 comment:

Cynthia T said...

You freakin' rock.