Award Winning Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It’s Still THE Phone Company—Verizon Cuts Off Essential Long Distance Access to My 85 Year Old Mother!!!

            In the no good deed goes unpunished, consider this classic phone company hassle.
            I’m currently in Norfolk, Virginia to check in on my ailing Mom.  I also checked her phone bill and noticed she was paying for a bogus $2.49 broadband modem maintenance fee and $5 more than a bundled local phone plus broadband rate.  So I called Verizon.

            First I learned of a classic “Bait and switch.”  The bundled local phone plus broadband rate does not work for any wireline phone subscription, despite language on the Verizon web site implying that any local phone rate so qualifies.  Okay, so I find out that even with the now higher local wireline service rate my Mom would save about $5 by bundling and now qualifying for lower a broadband service rate.  I authorize the switch.

            The switch over provides access to 3 custom calling features like Caller ID.  But the switch inexplicably eliminated the presubscriptions to my Mom’s intra-LATA and inter-LATA long distance carrier.  Gee how inconvenient; how anticompetitive.  The Verizon rep never got the training—or thought to mention—that the upgrade in service somehow implicates long distance presubscriptions.  Of course the logical and practical way would have been to maintain the status quo.  That’s not the Verizon way.  And remarkably the Verizon rep. did not even try to sell Verizon long distance in addition to the soon to be discontinued, but heavily promoted DirecTV and the vastly profitable $4.95 a month wireline maintenance fee.

            So despite taking service for scores of years, my Mother’s upgrade order somehow is treated by Verizon as though she has just begun to take service.  But the Verizon rep does not ask about presubscription and the default position must be “made no long distance carrier selection.”  Therefore my Mother has special local dialing features she won’t use and now cannot make possibly critical long distance calls to family living away from Norfolk. 

Way to go Verizon.  You have put my Mother at some risk, but I don’t live in Norfolk and am scheduled to leave tomorrow.

            What do I learn from this incredible hassle.  Verizon has yet to evolve from the Bellhead, bureaucracy that it has always been.  The repair arm of the company apparently cannot talk to the ordering and billing department.  No one takes ownership of the problem and no one is going to make any effort to resolve the problem, or mitigate the hassle.

            So from this transaction I see Verizon staff as either undertrained or cavalier about following the protocol for handling service UPGRADES from existing customers.  Maybe this shows that Verizon simply does not care about its wireline business with its apparently low margins and needy customers.  It just so happens that my Mother relies on wireline service exclusively; she couldn’t make a wireless call even if she had service.  So Verizon matter of factly disables her lifeline to the rest of the world.

            I will file a formal complaint with the FCC, but I surely cannot expect that bureaucracy to do any better by my Mother and me.

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